The Seeker King: A Spiritual Biography of Elvis Presley

Gary Tillery. Quest, $16.95 trade paper (216p) ISBN 9780835609159
Much as he did for George Harrison in Working Class Mystic, Tillery ploddingly traces the spiritual dimensions of Elvis Presley's life. Retelling the already well-told tale (see Peter Guralnick's Last Train to Memphis) of this young Mississippian's somewhat unlikely ascent to the heights of popular music, Tillery focuses on Elvis's 1964 meeting with Larry Geller, his hairdresser. Geller became Elvis's spiritual director, introducing him to a book that revealed to the musician his purpose in life—to serve others—and set him on a short-lived journey through a variety of spiritual traditions, from his own Pentecostal Christianity to Hinduism, Gnosticism, and New Age teachings. Yet Presley's manager, the domineering Colonel Parker, feeling threatened by Geller and the changes he witnessed in Elvis's personality under Geller's tutelage, eventually made it difficult for the hairdresser to remain in Elvis' entourage. Once Geller left, Elvis descended into the self-destructive behavior and excess that characterized his last seven years and from which he never recovered. Tillery illustrates Presley's deep insecurities and constant need for love, but his portrait of Elvis as a saint and seeker is ultimately unconvincing. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/23/2013
Release date: 10/01/2013
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