Can we let dead rock stars rest in peace? Celebrity death conspiracy theories abound for many deceased rock stars and actors like Jim Morrison, Michael Jackson, Andy Kaufman, and most recently Coolio, who tragically died in 2022 due to an accidental overdose of fentanyl, heroin, and methamphetamine, not some crazy conspiracy about deets he had on clandestine business within the recording industry.
The most persistent, though, must be Elvis sightings. The occasional tongue-in-cheek news report of an Elvis sighting pops up here and there, but do people really take this stuff seriously? Since I love weird conspiracies I decided to take a closer look at a few of these theories that some believe prove Elvis faked his death and is still alive sipping Mai Tais in Tahiti and randomly showing up in movie scenes.
ONE: The Overloaded Elvis Coffin Theory
Did Elvis fake his death and have a co-conspirator load sand bags into his coffin? That’s one theory. The reason it persists is that conspiracy theorists claim Elvis’ coffin was heavier than it should have been if his body was really inside. So Elvis must have faked his death and escaped to parts unknown.
Did some nitwit really overload the coffin? In this entertaining hoaxed-death conspiracy it is suggested that Elvis’ burial coffin weighed in excess of 900 lbs, which would mean either the dwindling mega-star had gained substantial weight prior to his death or the person responsible for the simple task of loading some sandbags into the empty coffin screwed up. Can this be true? I’d say no, but let’s take a look anyway.
According to a 2016 article on Huffington Post, written by retired homicide detective and forensic coroner Garry Rodgers, re-examining the details known about Elvis’ health and the circumstances surrounding his death, Elvis was in pretty bad shape at the time of his death, and weighed in the general neighborhood of about 350 lbs. I’m not sure where the author got that estimate but some reports of that weight claim the information came from a close confidante of The King, a member of his Memphis Mafia.
350 lbs sounds like a lot, but there are also many reports stating that he was somewhere in the range of 250 and 300 lbs before he died, which is more likely. It has been reported that Elvis was bed ridden for some time before he passed away and an autopsy revealed that he had about four months worth of poop backed up in his colon. He had gained weight and literally had not taken a dump in awhile. This is hardly fine form, and a man in this condition wouldn’t be dashing off to catch a waiting helicopter.
Is 900 lbs a lot for a coffin with Elvis in it?
In short, for a regular run-of-the-mill coffin, yes 900 lbs is a lot. Most burial boxes don’t exceed 200 lbs or so but a fancy National seamless copper deposit casket, like the one Elvis was buried in, can weigh in the area of 600 to 800 pounds. Just the box! So a 600 lb coffin holding a 350 lb Elvis would have topped out at 950, which is, as the conspiracy states, in excess of 900 lbs.
So what about a 260 or even 280 lb Elvis? Given the weight variation of the particular style of coffin—let’s say the coffin was closer to 700 lbs—this would still put the total weight well over 900 lbs.
If some sneaky goon loaded that coffin with sandbags to replicate the weight of Elvis while The King was putting in a call to the helicopter, they were pretty much right on the nuggets. But just because the coffin weighed more than what some fervent conspiracy theorists think it should, doesn’t mean Elvis wasn’t in it.
Elvis had gained substantial weight and was in pretty poor health. His regular use of prescribed narcotics and notoriously poor diet, along with some genetic predispositions, led to a rapid decline in health between 1973 and 1977. Sadly Elvis Presley passed away of cardiac arrest on August 16, 1977, while sitting on the throne at his Graceland mansion.
Let’s let the sleeping King of Rock rest in peace. Yes, I said helicopter. Next…
TWO: The Mysterious Elvis Escape Helicopter Theory
Apparently there is a photo in existence somewhere that depicts a black helicopter flying over Graceland on the day of Elvis Presley’s death. I can’t find the photo in its entirety online however, just a fudged comparison between it and other Graceland images. The claim made by whoever brought the photo to pubic attention is that the helicopter is secretly flying Elvis, alive and well, away from Graceland at the time of his funeral.
First things first: the photo is not from 1977. The height of the bushes, trees or whatever they are, along the front of the house is consistent with the height of the bushes, trees or hedges, after it was turned into an historic landmark attraction, not at the time of the legendary musicians death. When Elvis passed the greenery along the front of Graceland mansion was quite a bit taller. At some point in the years after his death the greenery were either trimmed down to the nubs (which , in the case of shrubs, can regrow) or completely torn out and replaced.
Here’s what I’m thinking: why the hell would Elvis wait until the exact day of his funeral to fly off to parts unknown? Anyone trying to fake their own death would get the heck out of Dodge as soon as possible, before anyone notices the sandbags in the coffin. They’d be long gone, sitting on a beach while the trick went down. That’s what I’m saying.
The photo isn’t necessarily a piece of Photoshopery either. It could simply be a picture of a dark colored chopper flying along in the distance with the Graceland mansion in the foreground. This is an un-conspiracy. Simply a dumb hoax.
THREE: Elvis is Alive and Appears as an Extra in Home Alone Theory
This is a good one. I’m not sure of the actual number of people who resemble Elvis Presley, but I’m sure it’s a big figure. Many people can, sort-of, resemble anyone. I bet there are more ordinary people who bear a closer resemblance to Elvis than most Elvis impersonators do.
With that in mind, and the basic understanding that coincidences occur, I suggest that the extra standing behind Macaulay Culkin’s mom at the airline ticket counter in Home Alone is just some guy who happens to resemble Elvis. In reality the fellow’s name is Gary Grott, and in my opinion he also shares a passing resemblance to Bob Seger, and also some guy who lived down the street from me when I was 15. Some people just have a look.
Sadly Mr. Grott passed away in 2016. So we’ll let him rest in peace too.
And now… Conspiracy Number FOUR: Elvis is Pastor Bob Joyce
Wait a minute, let me get this straight. Elvis faked his death so he could move to Arizona and pastor a faith ministry?
No. Just, no. Anyone with a few brain cells can see that Bob Joyce looks a hell of a lot more like an aging Jim Morrison than Elvis Presley. Regardless of this obvious oversight, conspiracy theorists, and even some of Bob’s congregants, think that Bob Joyce might be the return of The King despite the fact that Bob Joyce himself doesn’t even support the idea.
If the man himself denies it how does the conspiracy persist? I don’t know what Pastor Joyce is selling but it can’t be much more than a hunk-a-hunk o’ burnin’ Jesus love. Give the guy a break.
That does it for me. No confirmed conspiracies here. I’m sure there are more theories but I’m up for simply accepting the fact that The King of Rock and Roll is gone. He was in poor health, regularly taking prescription drugs and generally living an unhealthy and high stress lifestyle.
The poor guy died of a massive hear attack while sitting on the toilet trying to go to the bathroom, can we just leave his memory alone?
Now, maybe Bob Joyce is Jim Morrison. It’s not much more of a stretch than the Elvis conspiracy to think that Mr. Mojo Risin’ himself faked his death in Paris and high-tailed it to Arizona to preach.