By Cheryl Thurber
Writers and fans have tried to examine the phenomenon of Elvis, but his impact has been complex. One side that has received very little attention is the longstanding relationship between Elvis and gospel music. That Elvis loved gospel music has been mentioned many times. But few accounts have gone beyond that simple statement. Elvis was influenced by gospel music, he had gospel groups as his backup singers, and they toured with him when he gave concerts; when Elvis wanted to relax or when he wanted to warm up for recording sessions he used gospel music to get him in the mood.
Elvis was a spiritual seeker, and this spiritual side of him took many different forms. The books he read repeatedly were religious and about spiritual quests. Elvis' books were an important part of his life and they went along on his trips and tours. The Bible was always with him, but he also read The Autobiography of a Yoga and The Prophet and books on Eastern religion and mysticism. Although his fame and popularity were overwhelming and difficult to deal with - he had problems with drugs and dealing with the pressures of his life - he was very open to the search for meaning in life. Elvis was troubled, but he constantly turned for spiritual guidance, sometimes to books, sometimes to individuals, but he seemed to find the most comfort and satisfaction in gospel music. He sang gospel music and his own personal record collection - the records he actually listened to-always contained a large portion of gospel records, particularly Southern Gospel quartets.
Elvis' love for gospel music seems to have continued throughout his life. In the documentary film Elvis on Tour Elvis said, "We do two shows a night for five weeks. A lotta times we'll go upstairs and sing until daylight - gospel songs. We grew up with it...It more or less puts your mind at ease. It does mine."
As a child Elvis attended the First Assembly of God in East Tupelo with his parents. The Rev. W. Frank Smith was the pastor and had not been there very long, when at the age of nine Elvis received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. This was not an old traditional church out in the country but a simple church that met in a building in one of the poorer working-class neighborhoods of East Tupelo, that didn't look very different from the houses around it. It was a small congregation of about 25 members, some of whom were relatives of Elvis' on both his mother's and father's sides of the family. His father's cousin, Sayles Pressley, was one of the principal singers and had also organized a gospel quartet. The Rev. W. Frank Smith played guitar and taught a few chords and guitar runs to Elvis.
Smith told Albert Goldman that when he taught him, he noticed Elvis already had an instruction book for guitar. The church had a piano and Rev. Smith would sometimes play his guitar as well.
His music was fine but not my favorite
I very much like music...my folks thought I'd make a career of it (or writing) but I had stage fright so bad I knew that no one was gonna pay to see me passed out colder'n a brick in winter weather :) My grandma once told me she thought I would die if I didn't have music. But Elvis songs were not my favorite...the gospel songs yes,but others,,,not really.
john Wayne couldn't hold a candle to my real favorite cowboy, Roy Rogers! IMHO
F-Troop was just a really goofy show...the cowboy version of Hogan's Heros