THE MOST INSIGHTFUL HISTORY OF ELVIS PRESLEY EVER WRITTEN
Leaves of Elvis’ Garden is not a conventional Elvis Presley biography, another version of the story that’s been told and retold. Pretty much everyone knows the facts of Elvis’ life: when and where he was born; his family moving from Tupelo, Mississippi to Memphis, Tennessee when he was a teenager; how this young truck driver got his break recording a song at Sun Records for his mother; and so on. That information is available everywhere: in books and on the Internet.
I will reveal to you the nucleus, the very essence of the man; it’s the unexplored dimension of his life, a story dramatically different from any other. Elvis was already looking for answers when we met, and we both came to realize that it was no coincidence that our lives intersected at that moment in time.
April 30, 1964 was the first time I did Elvis’ hair, at his home in Bel Air. A professional visit soon turned into a profound and intimate conversation about his past, his family, his stillborn twin brother, his searching for the meaning and purpose of his life.
“Larry, I can’t believe you came along just now; I really need this. What you’re telling me is what I secretly think about at night, but I don’t have anyone to talk to or to help me go deeper.”
“I’ll let you in on something. I’ve always felt that there had to be some purpose for my life. I mean, ever since I was a little kid an’ growin’ up, I felt this unseen hand behind me, guiding my life, an’ getting me to the point where I’m at now.
“And most of all, why me?” Elvis leaned forward, his fingers delicately picking something invisible from the air. “Why was I plucked from all the millions of lives in the world to be Elvis? There’s gotta be a purpose in all this, a reason why I was chosen to be Elvis Presley.”
His eyes took on a faraway look. “Larry, I want to tell you something about myself. Listen, I grew up in the heart of the Deep South. Man, we were so poor you wouldn’t believe where I’ve been, and what I’ve seen in this life boggles my mind. I mean, from pain and tragedy to the very heights of glory—way, way beyond my wildest dreams. But deep down, I always felt there had to be real answers to why this all came to me and not some other guy.”
“As far as I’m concerned, Elvis, your life and the talent you’ve been given are no accident; frankly, I don’t believe in coincidences. The way I see it, God’s handiwork is behind what you’ve attained. I’ve learned from the teachings I’ve studied that behind every event there is a chain of causes, reasons for everything. We’re all connected to an infinite, intelligent, living, breathing universe that’s guiding the whole of life.”
“I believe what you’re saying, but I have lots of other questions, too, Larry. Like, why was my twin brother, Jesse Garon…” Elvis paused for a moment. “Larry, do you know that I’m a twin?”
“Yeah, my two younger sisters are identical twins; they read about your twin brother in a fan magazine and told me about it. It’s so interesting to see them together, Elvis; they have this deep emotional bond and an uncanny telepathy between them. And I’ve seen it happen so many times when one knows exactly what the other is thinking, almost like they’re the same person.”
Elvis showed an immediate interest. “I’ll tell ya Larry, being a twin has always been a mystery for me. I mean we were in our mother’s womb together, so why was he born dead and not me? He never even got his chance to live. Think about it, why me? An’ I’ve always wondered what would’ve been if he had lived. I mean why my mom’s life was cut so short, especially after all her pain and suffering and finally seeing her dreams start to come true when I first started to make it. These kinds of questions tear my head up. There’s got to be reasons for all this.”
Elvis sat in silence for a moment with his eyes fixed on the ground, then looked up at me. “No one knows, Larry. No one knows, an’ it might surprise you just how God-awful lonely I get, how empty my life feels sometimes.”
I studied Elvis’ face as he spoke, tears running down his cheeks. He had the perfect profile; he was as handsome as any man could be. He had drunk deeply of fame and fortune when he was only twenty-one. In 1956 Elvis’ music career and his movie stardom exploded all at once. He instantly became a living legend who could live anywhere, go anywhere, do anything, yet he had an air of unhappiness. It was clear to me that this unhappiness lay in his unrealized spiritual potential. I took a deep breath and wondered if perhaps meeting Elvis was connected to my own purpose.
Elvis’ eyes carefully looked into mine, and with a wistful note in his voice, “Larry, let me ask you something…what d’ya really think God is?”
“Required reading for anyone who cares about the man behind the myth.”