The stepbrother of music legend Elvis Presley is opening up about the artist's faith, a side many people often didn't see.
Billy Stanley, the stepbrother to Presley, released a memoir this week called The Faith of Elvis.
"Elvis was a Christian," says Stanley during a video interview with The Christian Post. "They see the glitz and glamor and everything like that. But during his concerts, he always did two gospel songs during the middle of his shows. That was to show his fans his faith. He used the stage as his platform to let people know he was a Christian."
When Presley was overseas serving in the military, his father and Stanley's mother met and connected quickly. While Presley grew up an only child, when he came back from his time in Germany, he had three new stepbrothers living in Graceland. This was Stanley as well as his brothers Rick and David.
Elvis as an Older Brother
"Elvis played a lot of roles in his life, but one of the roles that he really enjoyed the most was playing big brother. He was an only child, and he always wanted to have brothers, and we gave him a chance to be a kid again."
Stanley was only seven years old when he joined the Presley household while his older stepbrother, a well-known musical icon already, was 25 years old.
"He welcomed us into the family, and he tucked us into bed that night. But before we did, he said a prayer. Now you got a picture of Elvis Presley, the King of Rock 'n' Roll, getting on his knees and saying a prayer. I'll never forget this prayer."
The prayer included thanking God for bringing these three little boys into his life.
"That was probably one of the first prayers I ever heard in my life. He started teaching us about the Bible at a very early age because he would share some stuff in his Bible. He had stuff underlined, and he made notes and stuff like that. He read the Bible several times all the way through, and he had several verses that he loved."
This introduction to God was instrumental in bringing Stanley to saving faith in Jesus Christ.
In his book, Stanley recalls a story of when he saw his older stepbrother hand a wallet full of money to a homeless man. The man began to weep and said, "God Bless you," to which Presley replied, "Sir, He already has."
Out of all his songs, some of Presley's included gospel hits like 'How Great Thou Art' which became the title track of his 1967 gospel album. The rendition of the well-known hymn won Presley his first Grammy.
"When he was growing up, his mom and dad were always going to church. That's where he got the music from, watching the choirs and stuff like that in church. That's what moved him was the gospel music that he heard, and that's what made him want to sing."
Stanley's Near-Death Experience
Presley died of a heart attack at the age of 42 in 1977. According to Stanley, he believes his stepbrother is in heaven.
In 2018, Stanley had a near-death experience that he shares in detail in the new memoir.
"I didn't know what was going on. I was just sitting there watching TV with my younger brother, David. And I felt like ... [I was] going to take a nap. I don't remember the convulsions or any of the things that happened. The next thing I know, I'm standing, and it looks like clouds. I'm looking around. I've never seen that many people before in my life; all different color people, different hair colors, all nationalities. I was looking, and I saw city off to the right."
Stanley shares he experienced an overwhelming sense of love and warmth, as well as a light that he couldn't tell where the source came from.
"So as I was walking, I see a figure in front of me, and I didn't know who it was until he turns around. It was Elvis, and he smiles. The great thing about being in Heaven is you don't have to speak with your mouth. You can hear their thoughts. He said, 'Great to see you, Billy, and he gives me a big hug.' Without moving his mouth, he said, 'Tell my fans, my family and friends, I love them. I'll see them when they get here.'"
According to Stanley, he wants to share this experience so others can come to a saving grace and knowledge of Jesus and when the time comes, go to heaven.
While Presley struggled with drug addiction on earth, Stanley says the experience gives him hope that his brother's soul is secure.
"Out of all the people I've ever met my whole life, this guy read it every day of his life. He was always in the Bible. So there was no question of where his faith was."
The last conversation Stanley had with Presley before the heart attack included Presley asking him if he believed that God forgives him for all his sins.
"He knew how much I loved him, and when I saw him in Heaven, that right there took all that worry and stuff away from me. The biggest thing for me was I was happy to see him there."