VOICES

“Ya know, I can remember when I was just a little guy, couldn’t’ have been more’n four or five years old, I heard a voice talkin’ to me, like it was in my head.  I just figured it was my twin brother Jesse Garon. But I never told anyone – not even my mom.  It was like a special secret between Jesse and me.”

Elvis and I were relaxing in his dressing room during filming of “Roustabout” at Paramount Studios, a few days after I began working for him in April of 1964.  In those few days the pile of books I had brought him had already begun to grow.

Elvis was innately inquisitive; he wondered about everything, especially where he fit into the scheme of things, what his ultimate purpose might be, and what special meaning lay behind the improbable and extraordinary events in his life.

Interesting…of the hundreds of books in the library I assembled for him over the years, it was the first one, The Impersonal Life by Joseph Benner, that struck the deepest chord in him, articulating things he had long felt but could barely conceive of, let alone express.

In the years to come, Elvis always kept a copy of The Impersonal Life with him wherever he went and gave away hundreds of copies to others.  He wanted to share something that meant so much to him.

That afternoon Elvis thumbed through its pages curiously, and then stopped.  He was struck by a paragraph which he immediately underlined.   This was to become his lifelong habit.

Elvis read the passage aloud, very slowly, as if he were trying in this way to impress it on his consciousness. “I speak with many voices-with the voice of all human emotions, passions and desires.  I speak with Nature’s voice, with the voice of experience, even with the voice of human knowledge.”

He paused, “Larry, I’m tellin’ ya, if I spoke about hearing voices around here they’d have me locked up for being crazy.”

‘Not me” I said.  “I know just what you’re talking about.  When I was a little boy in kindergarten, I remember hearing an inner voice talking to me. I thought it was my father, and I used to think, ‘oh wow, he’s telling me things.  So this is how dads teach their kids.’ How else could I hear a voice that told me the truth about myself and what I should do and how I should behave; what was right and what was wrong.  Conscience, I guess you’d call it.  All I could think back then was that it had to be my daddy.”

Elvis replied, “Now I realize that the voice I heard was that still small inner voice of God.”

What touched off Elvis’ all-consuming search was his life.  From the few hours I had spent with him that first day in April, it was apparent that he felt stranded by both this disenchantment with his religious education and the vacuousness of the lifestyle that fame had thrust upon him.  Neither offered anything of value that he could use to offset the emptiness of the other.  Elvis realized that he needed something more substantial and nourishing in his life. As a deeply spiritual person, that’s where he naturally turned.  He lived in constant pursuit of that elusive “something else” that gives life real, true meaning.

The seeming inequity of his past, and its paradoxical nature, never lost their power to confound him.  The years of degrading poverty suddenly ending in a grand flush of fame and wealth; Gladys’ dying and leaving her son at the most frightening, vulnerable moment in his life.  Elvis’ inability to reconcile the contradictory nature of a personal God who blessed his parents with only two children, yet took one away at birth; one who bestowed on Elvis riches beyond his wildest dreams but stole away his mother.  To someone with a fundamentalist turn of mind, Elvis’ life could be seen as a series of blessings and punishments in which one hand gave while the other took away.  Elvis yearned to know why, and if the why was unknowable, he wanted to know what wise people had thought, written and said through the ages.  He hungered for understanding.  He needed to know that in his quest for understanding he was not alone, that seeking these answers didn’t set him further apart from other people but instead brought him into an ages-old community that includes some of the greatest minds who have ever lived.

One night when Elvis was taking his bows at the conclusion of a concert in South Bend Indiana, he spontaneously removed a diamond ring from his finger and flung it into a wildly cheering audience.  I was on stage standing next to him acting as security.  For a moment everything seemed to move in slow motion, as the ring arced in the air, landing unseen in the crowd.  Elvis didn’t wait to see who the lucky person was who caught such a valuable gift; he quickly spun around the moment he tossed the ring, exiting the stage.

When we got back to his hotel room, someone blurted out, “I can’t believe you did that!  That ring was worth about thirty thousand dollars, it was one of your favorites.”

Elvis was still aglow with what he had done. “Well, I tell you, I didn’t plan it, that’s for sure.  It was what I felt at the moment.  Something in me told me that someone was in big trouble out there; that they needed that ring much more than I do. I just knew the right person got it. Hey, I can buy all the rings I want.  But when that voice within tells me what to do, I follow it, it’s as simple as that.”

That voice within also told him to make the gospel album How Great Thou Art.

We were in Nashville staying at the Albert Pike motel, getting ready to go to RCA recording studios to begin the first sessions.  Elvis told the others to wait in the cars downstairs; said we’d be down in a few minutes.

Elvis grew solemn.

“Millions of people around the world are going to hear this album.” He said. “It’s going to touch people in ways we can’t imagine.  Listen, this isn’t rock n’ roll music or some of those songs they have me sing for my movies.  This is God’s music.  I just want to be his channel, but I can’t if my ego is in the way.  I have to empty myself so the channel is totally pure and the message is heard loud and clear. So Lawrence, turn down the lights and let’s meditate.  Because I’m not going to move out of this chair and use the voice He gave me until I’m guided by that still, small voice within.”

We meditated in our chairs for about fifteen minutes, facing each other.  At the same moment, as if on signal, we both opened our eyes.

“So be it, Elvis said softly.  “I’m ready.”

Reflecting back on his life Elvis once told me, “Man, the very first thing I could remember in my life was sittin’ on my mom’s lap in church. What did I know when I was that young?  But all I wanted was to run down the aisle and go sing with the choir.  This voice in me kept saying, ‘sing, go up there and sing. I knew it then; I had to sing.”

About Larry Geller

Before becoming Elvis Presley's personal hairstylist, spiritual mentor and confidant in 1964, I worked with the famed Jay Sebring in the very first men's hair styling salon. Our clientele read like a Hollywood Who's Who: Frank Sinatra, Paul Newman, Marlon Brando, Steve McQueen, Peter Sellers, Rock Hudson and many more. The last time I did Elvis' hair was for his funeral in August of 1977.
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22 Responses to VOICES

  1. priyanka says:

    Did Elvis believe that there is only one God. And that he has come to human beings in different avatars at different times, as Lord Jesus , Lord Krishna, Allah and many others.Please reply.

  2. priyanka says:

    Mr Gellar please reply to this question of mine. Did Elvis read the Bhagavat Gita and about Lord Krishna?

  3. priyanka says:

    Dear Mr Geller,
    I am from India and I love Elvis. God showers his grace in many ways and in my life he has done in the form of Elvis.The reason I am alive because God gave me a hope for life through Elvis.Elvis is truly the bell sheep about which i had read some where. Elvis rightly said that “God is love”.How can one live without love? how can one live with out God in their life.God is the living water without him we will be spiritually and mentally dehydrated.Thank you for sharing about soul behind the image “Elvis presley”.I am one of those who crave to know about the real man beyond the world’s greatest actor and singer.Thanks once again.

  4. ecfan says:

    Elvis was raised a Christian, and he stated he was a born-again Christian and that Jesus was the only King. I believe he would have found much more peace had he focused solely on Jesus Christ, and left the Asian and other religions alone. To find out facts about their beliefs and practices in only an academic sense is fine, but I’m afraid that his interest may have gone too far beyond that. To hold on to Christ with one hand and dabble in other religions with the other is not conducive to inner peace. God will not allow His own to be snatched from His hand.

    Larry, I’m sure your friendship meant a lot to Elvis, and you no doubt nurtured his intelligence in many ways which filled an intellectual need. But I truly believe he would have been happier had he not been encouraged to “dabble” in those other religions. Christians believe there is only one way to God, and that is through Christ–solely. I know Elvis loved the Bible, and the answers he sought are found there.

    Thanks for helping keep Elvis’ memory alive. May Christ live in your heart as well.

  5. Christel Lowe says:

    I love Elvis, his mucic, his charisma, his great looks. And now, after finding out how important that spiritual book was to him.. I love him so much more! I feel more connected with him now and thats beautiful. Spirituality has been a big a part of my life always and now my life is much better after I have found Jesus. I have peace and contentment.
    Iam happy that God guided you Larry to become a trusted friend and mentor for Elvis.
    It was great to learn that you had similar experience as a child, hearing that small inner voice of God, Thank you again Larry, you are a beautiful soul.

  6. Hana Landa says:

    Larry l have your book about Elvis and l love it ,,Leaves of Elvis garden,,L would like to have a farther book about Elvis

  7. Patricia Kistle Dorris says:

    I don’t have much to say, I just want to thank you for being a good friend to Elvis and the dedication you gave him was way beyond the call of duty. Mostly I want to thank you for not taking advantage of a wonderful man with the Amazing looks and voice that made him so famous. Again thank you with all my heart.

  8. Elizabeth Strong says:

    Thank you.

  9. Erica Hillhouse Hagood says:

    I have loved Elvis since I can remember. It must have been an honor to get that deep with Elvis. I am happy that you were able to talk about Jesus and God with him.
    I just found your website and after reading some, my question is about the Colonel. I have seen films that Parker didn’t want Elvis to get too deep into religion because of the fear of losing him. Is this true? Also, my 3 year old daughter loves Elvis and knows his voice when she hears him on the radio or sees him on tv.

    • Larry Geller says:

      It is true that the Colonel didn’t like Elvis becoming more spiritual for fear of losing control. Your 3-year-old daughter has good taste, and so do you!

      • Somee says:

        Dearest Larry,
        I feel you were the best friend Elvis had. You were the one that helped his soul.
        It must have been hard to always be in another’s one shadow.
        God gave Elvis a special gift, but we all have this special gift in our own way, but luck found Elvis early and he was also at the right place at the right time. No doubt that Elvis was very talented, and I love the music. What I know about Elvis is that parts of him were lovely and some were not. Like the rest of us, he had faults.
        I am spiritual also and know this life is all a lesson to learn to better ourselves and become more and closer to the universal power.
        I admire your modesty and your love and care for Elvis. But Larry, you are just as much a man and cared for by the great power that is all loving. What I am trying to express is that Elvis seemed to suck the life out of his companions where they are not the men they could have been, serving a King who self destructed.
        YOU will always be remembered too, as a spiritual guide at a time here in the west where it was not common place as much as it is today.
        I believe Elvis could have been saved when he was so far into addiction. He was mentally ill at that point and physically may have had a few years left. I also believe that fate is what it is and time of death and birth are not in our hands, but suffering is dictated by our perception of pain and the intensity of the pain. I was in the medical profession, turned artist. I know a twisted colon is a horrible painful condition. I have seen patients wanting t die from the cramping, like third stage labour pain, waning back and fourth in intensity. I wish this on no human being or even animal!
        What I wanted to ask you is why did you or didn’t you start your own line of products and put it under the Elvis name? I know you do not want to use it to profit, but hell you did dedicate your life to the man and even his family is making money. Elvis is gone and it does flatter him to have a product on the market. I know his enterprise is looking to make more and more money, so why not? You can give the money away and help others if you wish. Elvis shampoo would sell like mad. Larry all those years of work and you could finally feel a bit better centred, not that you are not already. I think if it were Elvis, he would jump on the idea, he was very ambitious, unfortunately at the expensive of others. Everyone should have been paid properly and lived at there own homes and had there own lives, instead of this family that Elvis created. I cant image the jealousy the back stabbing and begging for attention this type of environment created, not to mention the poor wives who were just waiting around for an invitation to join in. It would have been great if everyone was a monk living in unison, but most of these guys were uneducated mentally and spiritually. Just not a workable plan. The isolation alone created a psychological jungle. You are a strong man to have survived it, mentally sane. I pray for you that as time goes by, that you can see forward and not drop into despair at the loss of your dear Elvis and the gone life style.
        Larry, I also wanted to ask you why did Elvis pick women( girls) that were not mature enough to handle the man? A spiritual woman could have feed this hole Elvis said he had. Why did he allow himself to be s lonely and surround himself with beauty queens who were not seasoned with the knowledge of the needs of a man in a relationship? Was physical appearance so important that he could not see the inside of a person? Also why did he dump women( you know who I mean) who cared so deeply for him? These flings he had,
        which I doubt were so sexual) would have left him more empty then he was. We both know that sex without meaning is a poor feeling, better alone then empty. I do not understand it unless
        he was building himself up on the right while destroying himself on the left.
        I am a spiritual lady, well versed and educated in matters of the soul. I will take anything you say to my grave. As a spiritual person, think you can feel my words!
        Warm Regards, Somee

        • Larry Geller says:

          Thank you for your kind words. I am launching my company Larry Geller Organics very soon, with the first product of my hair care line. It will not be ‘Elvis shampoo,’ but it will be worthy of my association with Elvis.

  10. Allegra says:

    Ones call it “intuition”, others “vision” or “inner guidance”… it’s the inner voice of oneself as a soul. It is said, that every soul is connected with almost another in the role of a non-incarnated spiritual guide taking care that the incarnated part will achieve their goals in life. We come to earth to make emotional experiences which we chose long before we will be born. But we forget that. So, not to get lost on the “map of our lives” we have this “inner voice” as a compass across the most important dates of our human existence.

  11. Peter mcgee says:

    What was elviss thoughts on the Mayan end times and December 2012? He must have talked about it since his favorite jumpsuit had the Mayan calendar on it. This was the last suit he wore in 77.

  12. John says:

    I wonder if you have any inside knowledge as to why one of Elvis jumpsuits was the Mayan sundial? With the end of the Mayan calendar marking the end of this age less than a year away now 12-2012, was Elvis interested in the Mayan presto toons of the end of this age and the beginning of the age of aquarius? Elvis must have been interested in the Mayan or why else would he make a jumpsuit with the calendar on it.

  13. Thomas Burd says:

    Hi Larry,
    Just watched with interest a documentary , albeit an older one of Elvis’ mob. I enjoyed your calm reasonable part that showed the spiritual side of Elvis. The end credits said that you are still looking for the truth. I found it. Jesus said, “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free”John 8:32. It has set me free and my search is now rewarded. I too searched in may areas for truth. I read this scripture one day:”12 As regards anything besides these, my son, take a warning: To the making of many books there is no end, and much devotion [to them] is wearisome to the flesh.” Ecclesiastes 12:12.

    John 17:3 “This means everlasting life, their taking in knowledge of you, the only true God, and of the one whom you sent forth, Jesus Christ.”
    I would love to share the truth with you. It’s free.

    • Larry Geller says:

      Thank you for your kind thoughts. I had no say in what the production company put in the credits, and that statement is not true. I stopped searching long before that documentary was made; once you find, you no longer have to search.

  14. CARMAN FIORE says:

    Oh Larry thanks,,, so Much i realy loved this ,i will read it over and over sincerly carman

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