Elvis Presley has almost been dead as long as he was alive. Now in an interview with Musicians Hall of Fame & Museum, The King’s TCB bandleader James Burton has recounted how Elvis’ famous friends spent hours with his open casket at Graceland and had to be pulled away. The 80-year-old said how The King’s Viva Las Vegas co-star and on-set lover Ann-Margret would spend hours by his body in the aftermath of his death.
Burton said how Elvis’ ex-wife Priscilla Presley wanted him to go in and see the body, but he insisted on waiting for his spouse arriving from Louisiana.
On the celebrity mourners, the guitarist said: “Ann-Margret was there. Ann was in the room with Elvis in.
“She would go in for maybe three or four hours and come out and then go back in.
“James Brown, he was in there for hours. I think they had to pull them out, he didn’t want to leave. Ann-Margret was in there a long time.”
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Elvis Presley death: ‘Ann-Margret and James Brown had to be pulled away from his coffin’
James Brown in 1977
Burton was lucky to make it to Memphis from his LA home the day after Elvis died.
It turns out there were 500 people on waiting lists to get to Graceland to pay tribute to the King.
But luckily a woman working for an airline, who was an Elvis fan, managed to get him a flight the next day.
Burton had been told of Elvis’ death on the day he passed at an airport in Colorado by one of the TCB band members.
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He said: “I couldn’t believe it. It was like shock. I said, ‘Is this a joke?’
“The thing that came to mind was Vernon. His dad had been sick with the heart problems.
“And I thought maybe something had happened to Vernon, but this particular time it was Elvis.
“I mean, it was a sad flight back to Vegas.”
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Burton wasn’t the only one there who thought it could have been a mistake and that Vernon had died instead of his son.
In another recent interview with Billy Stallings Spa Guy, Elvis’ pilot Ron Strauss said how he saw Elvis’ father was looking far from healthy on the day.
He said: “I saw Nancy…who worked with Vernon all the time…escorting [him] into the mansion.
“And I thought, ‘Oh boy, he don’t look too good’.”
The pilot added: “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, his planned tour, which was to begin in Maine, was obviously cancelled.
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.