Elvis death: ‘I thought Vernon Presley had died’ – The King’s pilot recounts the FINAL day

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It’s been almost 43 years since The King of Rock and Roll died at home in Memphis, Tennessee. Now in a new interview with Ron Strauss, Elvis Presley’s pilot of the Lisa Marie, the former employee has recounted what he was doing on the star’s final day at Graceland. The pilot even admitted he thought it was Elvis’ father Vernon Presley who had died since he was not in the best of health.

Speaking with Spa Guy about August 16, 1977, the pilot said: “I was at the mansion. We were going to Portland, Maine that night.

“So I had to get some business done with Vernon Presley, [who] was not in that good health.

“When we travelled lots of times he brought a nurse along just in case.

“So I finished with him and I’d talked to Elvis [a few months before] and said, ‘Y’know you’ve got some real wicked go-karts, would you mind if…’”

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Elvis death: ‘I thought Vernon Presley had died’ – The King’s pilot recounts the FINAL day

Elvis death: ‘I thought Vernon Presley had died’ King’s pilot recounts FINAL day (Image: GETTY)

Elvis death: ‘I thought Vernon Presley had died’ – The King’s pilot recounts the FINAL day

Elvis’ funeral (Image: GETTY)

Ron continued: “And Elvis [had] said, ‘Run them all you want!’ I think the one out in the [Graceland] museum is the one I drove that day.

“Anyway, I was out driving his go-karts, raising hell, having a blast.

“And then it got a little bit later in the day and I thought I’d better go home and get some sleep.

“But in the meantime, I saw Nancy…who worked with Vernon all the time…escorting [him] into the mansion.”

Elvis death: ‘I thought Vernon Presley had died’ – The King’s pilot recounts the FINAL day

Lisa Marie at Graceland (Image: GETTY)

The pilot added: “And I thought, ‘Oh boy, he don’t look too good’.

“Anyway, I got home and my daughter’s just crying. ‘Elvis died, Elvis died!’

“And I said, ‘No, that was probably his father.’ Well, I was wrong.”

Since Elvis had died, the flight to Maine for his tour was cancelled.

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Instead, Ron flew to Long Beach, California to pick up Priscilla Presley and Elvis’ friend George Hamilton.

He took them to Memphis for the funeral and after a couple of days flew them back to LA.

And it was the return flight back to Graceland that was the last time he ever piloted the Lisa Marie.

The pilot also recounted a time he was caught sleeping in Elvis’ bed on the airplane one morning.

Ron Strauss said: “By the time I got done with the stuff that I was doing, the other pilot was asleep on one of the couches [and] the flight engineer was on the other couch. So the only thing that was really left was Elvis’ bed.

“So I just went back there, threw my boots off, jumped in bed and pulled the covers over my head. I was sleeping and then the security came out and woke me up.

“‘What the hell are you doing sleeping?’ I said, ‘I was tired until I got rudely awakened.’ And then Elvis came, and off we went wherever we went.

“On route, I guess security had to tell Elvis what happened. So Elvis came over and said, ‘Hey, Ron! I understood you got in a little trouble?’ And I said, ‘Yeah, Elvis, I got caught sleeping in your bed.’ He said, ‘Ron, you can sleep in my bed anytime you want!’”


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