Could Elvis Presley Be Alive?

Is Elvis Presley Alive?
••• Rock and roll singer Elvis Presley strolls the grounds of his Graceland estate in circa 1957. Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Every now and then, I receive an email from a reader who wants to know if I think Elvis is still alive. I have even received a few emails from those who claim to have seen Elvis in the years and decades following 1977. 

Let's take a look at some of the reasons people believe that Elvis Presley is alive as well as the evidence that supports his death.

After the death of a celebrity, it is not uncommon for rumors to circulate suggesting that the celebrity is still alive.

This can happen for several reasons: the most common is that people do not want to accept the death of the idolized sta. Another explanation is that some people look for conspiracy in every newsworthy event. 

It didn't take long for these kinds of rumors to get started about Elvis Presley. Here is some of the most frequently cited "evidence" for suggesting that the King of Rock and Roll is still alive:

Cause of Death

On the night that Elvis died, an autopsy was performed. The medical examiner listed the initial cause of death as "cardiac arrhythmia," which simply means the heart stopped beating. This was true, of course, but he did not make mention of the possibility of drugs causing the cardiac arrhythmia.

Meanwhile, pathologists from Baptist Memorial Hospital (where the autopsy was performed) suggested that drugs had played a role in Elvis' death. The contradicting reports led some people to believe that there was a cover-up going on.

The most likely explanation, however, is that no one wanted to tarnish the reputation of such an adored celebrity. Furthermore, when Vernon Presley--Elvis' father--saw the entire autopsy report including toxicology, he petitioned to have the report sealed for fifty years, reportedly to preserve his son's reputation.

Grave Misspelling

Elvis' gravestone reads, "Elvis Aaron Presley." The problem is, Elvis' middle name was traditionally spelled with only one A. This led some fans to believe it was a deliberate misspelling, indicating that the King is still alive.

In truth, though, Elvis' middle name was always legally spelled with two A's. His parents intended to name him "Elvis Aron Presley" but a record clerk's mistake resulted in the two-A spelling. Neither Elvis nor his parents realized the mistake for many years. It was only when Elvis, himself, was considering legally changing the spelling, that he discovered he already had the name he wanted. From then on, he used the traditional spelling of Aaron and that is why it appears that way on his gravestone.

Elvis Sightings

Over the years, a number of people have claimed to have seen Elvis Presley in person and in photographs. One widely circulated photo supposedly depicts Elvis behind a screen door at Graceland after his death. In the 1980's and 1990's, there were rashes of sightings in various places including Kalamazoo, Michigan and Ottawa, Canada.

While such photos and sightings can be great fodder for someone looking for a conspiracy, they can just as easily be explained away by skeptics.

After all, photos can be manipulated and there are many, many Elvis impersonators (the official term is Elvis Tribute Artist) walking the streets as well as others who simply happen to resemble him.

New Conspiracy Theories

In 2016, due to the seemingly large number of celebrity deaths (Prince, David Bowie, George Michael and others) a Facebook group called "Evidence Elvis Presley Is Alive" was created by an unknown source. The page focuses on alleged "evidence" that Elvis faked his own death, including mostly a) grainy photos of men in crowds that may look like Elvis or his brother, Jesse, or b) scanned images of documents such as supposed lab test results, tabloid newspaper clippings, and more.

This page's claims are particularly far-fetched, as they believe that Jesse Presley is alive, and that there is another brother, Clayton Presley, who is also alive.

There has been no confirmation that this group, mostly followed by passionate Elvis lovers and conspiracy theorists, has any reliable information.

Personal Claims

There are a handful of people who claim to be personal friends with Elvis today. Some of these people have made their claims very public either through books, websites, or other outlets. Admittedly, some of these "friends" offer somewhat compelling evidence that Elvis Presley did not die on August 16, 1977.

Unfortunately, none of the evidence is conclusive. From a scientific standpoint, it would take comparing a known DNA sample from Elvis (or his daughter, Lisa Marie) with the DNA sample from someone claiming to be Elvis. As of this writing, no one willing to undergo such a test has come forward.

When you combine the facts and understand that none of the above theories can be substantiated, that it would have required the cooperation and secrecy of many to fake Elvis' death, and that it would have been terribly difficult for such a high-profile celebrity to stay undercover for all these years, it seems very unlikely that Elvis is still alive.

Elvis' Memory Is Alive In Memphis

Even if theories of Elvis' undercover life are not reliable, hundreds of thousands of Elvis fans and music appreciators keep the King's memory alive by visiting Memphis, Tennessee. In Memphis, you can visit Elvis' home, Graceland (including his grave) as well as Sun Studios where he first recorded his music, among other landmarks and attractions relating to Elvis' life and legacy.

More Frequently Asked Questions About Elvis

This article was updated April 2017 by Holly Whitfield.