Elvis Presley was known around the world as the “King of Rock and Roll,” but it was his Gospel renditions that garnered the attention of The Recording Academy.
While it’s believed Elvis sold more than 1 billion records worldwide, according to Graceland, he only won three Grammys, each of which were for the Christian songs “He Touched Me” and “How Great Thou Art.”
So it’s safe to say the king was at least intrigued by the Christian faith. And now there’s some evidence of that in a new online Bible study in the YouVersion Bible app.
According to Norm Conrad, the curator of American and Biblical imprints at the Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C., “90 percent” of Presley’s annotations can be found in the Book of Psalms.
Conrad told Independent Journal Review that the King James Version Bible was given to the rock and roll legend by his Uncle Vester and Aunt Clettes for his first Christmas at his Graceland home in 1957.
“What’s really impressive about this Bible is it’s well worn — he read it,” Conrad said, later adding, “By all impressions, he had a strong faith in God.”
It’s no secret Presley battled demons in his life — his likely addiction to a cocktail of prescription drugs, his unending tour dates, and his divorce from Priscilla Beaulieu in 1973 — but maybe the notes he scrawled along the margins of his tattered Bible gave him some hope.
Here are some of the scriptures Presley read and the notes he jotted down alongside them:
Psalm 46:10 — “Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.”
At the bottom of the page, the legendary singer wrote: “Be still and know that I am God.”
Presley also underlined Psalm 47:2b, which reads, “[The Lord] is a great king over all the earth,” and verses 6 to 7, which read, “Sing praises to God, sing praises: sing praises unto our King, sing praises. For God is the King of all the earth: sing ye praises with understanding.”
Psalm 118:8-9 — “It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man. It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in princes.”
At the bottom of the page, Presley declared in blue ink: “Trust in the Lord, not man.”
On the next page, the singer underlined verses 13 and 14, which describe God as “my strength” and “my salvation.”
Presley also underlined Psalm 118:29, which reads, “O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: for his mercy endureth forever.”
Psalm 149:1 — “Praise ye the Lord. Sing unto the Lord a new song, and his praise in the congregation of saints.”
Right under chapter 149, at the end of the book of Psalms, Presley wrote: “Sing for the glory of God.”
He also underlined Psalm 149:5-6, which reads, “Let the saints be joyful in glory: let them sing aloud upon their beds. Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a two-edged sword in their hand.”
Perhaps most powerful of all, though, as Conrad told IJR, is what Presley wrote in the blank pages at the end of his personal Bible.
“Elvis wrote, ‘To judge a man by his weakest link or deed is like judging the power of the ocean by one wave,’” Conrad read, noting that the quote “really gives you an insight into the character” of Presley.
The king might not have done everything right, but it’s clear he was searching for the answers in the right place, and for that, he should be commended.
Presley died 40 years ago Wednesday, on Aug. 16, 1977.