Harold Loyd & Elvis

More music from Wes…


Side B –  A Message From Harold

Sometime in the mid 80’s I picked up an Elvis tribute record in one of the tackier gift shops across the street from Graceland, entitled “A Prayer for Elvis”. It was recorded by one Harold Loyd, Elvis’ first cousin and night shift gate-keeper at Graceland Mansion.

It was true, Harold was indeed Elvis’ first cousin (their mothers were sisters), and starting in 1962, Elvis had employed him as the gate-keeper at Graceland.  It was in fact Harold who fended off a drunken pistol waiving Jerry Lee Lewis in the early morning hours of Nov 23, 1976, calling the police and hiding in the guard-house until they showed up and hauled the Killer away (http://www.elvis.com.au/presley/jerry_lee_lewis_arested_at_the_gates_of_gaceland.shtml).

Little was I prepared for the weirdness I was about to experience when I put the record on the turntable and set the needle down.  Harold’s voice spoke over a bare instrumental piano track with backing chorus.

“Elvis, he was the greatest gift you ever bestowed upon us as our lord, Jesus Christ”.
The b-side (“A Message from Harold”) was even stranger and more compelling.  At the 2:20 mark Harold tells the story of a woman who went into a deep depression while watching Elvis’ last tour on TV, went into another room and shot herself in the stomach – “Now Elvis wouldn’t want us to do anything like this”.

A year later I was back looking for another copy, only to find that the gift stores had been “cleaned up” by the Elvis estate and now were only selling officially licensed Elvis items.  Luckily, down the road apiece, I found a gift shop that was selling a hardcover memoir (apparently self-published) by Harold called “Elvis Presley’s Graceland Gates”. An entire book written in the same style as the 7 inch tribute record!  All I had to do was picture Harold’s voice in my mind as I read it, and this became the greatest book ever written.

I went to the gates and asked to meet Harold.  “Oh, he don’t work the gates no more, he’s across the street takin’ tickets at the car museum”.  I walked across and there he was, looking bored and lonely in his new position.  When I produced my record and book and asked him to sign them, a big smile came over his face, and you could see that he was filled with pride.  Over the next hour (and another hour the next day), Harold told me the story behind every picture in that book.  Priscilla was always referred to as “the bitch”.

When he got to a picture of Elvis with a beard (Elvis was filming a Western called “Charro” at the time), Harold framed Elvis’ face with his hands so that you could only see his face, and asked “now who does that look like?”

“I don’t know” I replied, “it looks like Elvis with a beard”.

Harold looked me in the eyes, and slowly gave the answer to his riddle… “He looks just like Jesus.”

One Response to “Harold Loyd & Elvis”

  1. Just scored this “A Message” 45. I have a funny feeling more copies ended up signed than not. 1 copy on ebay for $99 buy it now, thankfully I paid $3 for mine! Cool story about tracking the man down.

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