Elvis and Priscilla Presley Once Burned His Books at 3 A.M. Behind Graceland

Elvis and Priscilla Presley did quite a few unusual things together. For example, they once doused a stack of Elvis’ books with gasoline and set them ablaze behind Graceland. Here’s what Priscilla said about the incident years later — and a look at one of the singer’s books that survived.

Elvis Presley tried to take Priscilla Presley on a spiritual journey

In her book Elvis and Me, Priscilla spends quite a bit of time discussing the “It’s Now or Never” singer’s love of spiritual books. While he enjoyed reading them, Priscilla felt he was too attached to them. His hair stylist, Larry Geller, talked to him about religious figures like Jesus, Buddha, Moses, and Muhammad. Elvis hoped everyone in his posse –particularly Priscilla — would embrace his spiritual quest.

“Happy to share everything… he read to us for hours and handed out books he thought would interest us,” Priscilla recalled. “He announced that in order for us to be perfect soul mates, I’d have to join him in his search for the answers to the universe. To help me, he gave me several large books, including Vera Stanley Adler’s The Initiation of the World.”

How Priscilla Presley reacted to a proposal to get rid of the books

Colonel Tom Parker felt Geller was a bad influence on the singer and convinced the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll to expel him from his inner circle. “After Larry left, Elvis locked away many of his books,” Priscilla recalled. “I told him I was glad, that they were literally destroying us. We were engaged to be married. ‘Would it make you feel better if I just got rid of them all?’ Elvis asked. I nodded.”

The couple moved past this phase of their lives in an unusual way. “That night, at three in the morning Elvis and I piled a huge stack of his books and magazines into a large box and dumped them into an abandoned water well behind Graceland,” she wrote. “We poured gasoline over the pile, lit a match, and kissed the past goodbye.”

One of Elvis Presley’s spiritual books survived and sold for top dollar

Despite this incident, not all of Elvis’ spiritual books were destroyed. For example, The Guardian reports he was given a Bible in 1957 during his first Christmas at Graceland. He used this Bible until his death in 1977 and he wrote annotations in it. 

An anonymous bidder bought the Bible at a 2012 auction for £59,000 when it was only expected to fetch £25,000 or so. By comparison, the singer’s movie contract for the film Follow That Dream and a pair of his shoes only sold for £6,000 and £6,500, respectively. Priscilla didn’t like her future husband’s obsession with spiritual books, but one of those books was clearly valuable to someone.

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