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Elvis pitiful at death: stepbrother

By SUE ALLISON

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Elvis Presley, the legendary king of rock 'n' roll, was a fat, pitiful drug addict who desperately wanted eternal youth, according to his stepbrother.

'It was pitiful. He'd already done it all,' said Rick Stanley, 32, of the rock star idol who died in 1977 at the age of 42 on the bathroom floor of his Memphis mansion.

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'I think he knew it was over and he didn't have much more. He was lucky he made it as long as he did,' Stanley said in an interview.

He called Elvis' death a blessing, adding 'Elvis is in heaven leading the choir.'

Now, Stanley, with assistance from Michael K. Haynes,has written a book about his life with Presley -- a book he says his big brother would have liked and one he says he hopes will show that Elvis' good qualities far outnumbered the bad ones.

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In addition, Stanley says 'Touch of Two Kings' ($13.95, 186 pp.), which he published himself, is aimed at giving Elvis' only child, Lisa Marie, 'a positive impression of her daddy.'

'I love her with all my heart. She asked me questions about him and it hit me like a truck. This little girl doesn't really have the right perception of her daddy.'

But the portrait Stanley paints of Elvis is no whitewash.

According to Stanley, his stepbrother, a former truck driver from a poor family, had grown vain as he entered his 40s.

Elvis hated the prospect of old age, Stanley said. He died his famous sideburns because they were turning grey. He wore reading glasses, but only in private.

'He liked to be that 19-year-old hip kid. I don't think Elvis Presley could have handled pulling a Sinatra or George Burns,' said the evangelist who spent 18 years living at Graceland and traveling with the singer.

One of the most painful blows was on Presley's 40th birthday when Walter Cronkite referred to him on television as 'fat at 40,' Stanley said.

'That really hurt him.'

Stanley, a Texas resident, was 5 years old when his mother, Dee, married Elvis's father, Vernon Presley.

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Elvis had been devastated after the death of his mother, Gladys, but he was willing to accept Dee, Stanley said.

His first encounter with Elvis was in the music room at Graceland, Stanley recalled. The young superstar was waiting there to greet Stanley and his two brothers when they arrived, wide-eyed and frightened, at their new home. From that moment on, Stanley became his new brother's friend, confidant and, at age 16, a member of the so-called 'Memphis mafia' -- a group of young men hired to take care of Elvis's needs and serve as bodyguards.

The beginning of the end came for Presley when three former aides wrote 'Elvis -- What Happened,' Stanley said.

'I cannot over-emphasize what this book did to my brother. It completely overwhelmed him with a grief that he had never known. He was actually horrified about the book and suffered extreme depression when he considered what his daughter would think about him, and also what his public would think,' Stanley wrote in 'Touch of Two Kings.'

Stanley said the authors of 'Elvis -- What Happened' were remorseful when they learned how the work had hurt their former boss and friend.

At the same time, the early 1970s, Presley's emotional health was failing, and he was killing himself with drugs, Stanley said.

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'All of us have to admit we didn't do anything to stop it. But if I said anything he'd say, 'If I want any lip out of you I'll ask you.''

'He knew nothing about moderation in anything. He was an extremist.'

The young men who surrounded him, however, did try secretly to reduce his drug intake.

'We would cut it and give him placebos,' Stanley said.

Stanley said he always will feel guilty because he gave Presley a packet of prescribed drugs the night he died. But, Presley demanded the medication and left him no choice.

He said he hopes that his book's description of Elvis' fatal drug habit and his own substance abuse will help turn youngsters away from drugs and alcohol. He also openly admits that he hopes the book will prove lucrative, since he was not included in Presley's will, which left everything to his only daughter.

In spite of the drug habit, bad health and emotional problems, Presley loved performinguntil the day he died, Stanley observed.

'He was a showman to the end.'

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