If Elvis Presley was a twin, what was his relationship with this person and how did that relationship affect his life and public image?
Elvis had a twin brother called Jesse Garon Presley. As the King of Rock’n Roll, a legend worldwide, and maybe one of the biggest American icon’s, you are probably wondering why you didn’t know he had a twin. That would be because Jesse passed away at a very young age.
Read on to learn more about what happened to Elvis’ twin brother and how that impacted Elvis for the rest of his life.
How Elvis’ Twin Died
Elvis Aron Presley was born on January 8, 1935 to Vernon and Gladys. From the outside looking in, the family seemed to be very close knit and happy. They appeared to be almost insulated from the outside world, with Elvis being very attached to both of his parents. There was a bit more going on here than met the eye though.
When Elvis’ mother gave birth, Elvis’ twin brother, Jesse, was delivered first. He was stillborn. This news brought on a deep sense of loss that overcame the parents. This was despite the fact that thirty-five minutes later, Elvis emerged into the world. A healthy baby boy gifted to his parents did not change the fact that a scar ran deep within the family from the death of his twin brother.
Gladys, Elvis’ mother, was not able to have any more children after the birth of Elvis and Jesse. Although, she did believe that when one twin dies the other would gain the strength of both, which is relayed in Peter Guralnick’s book Last Train to Memphis. This sentiment would have lasting effects on Elvis’ self-identity. Jesse was buried in an unmarked grave in Priceville Cemetery, Tupelo, Mississippi.
Elvis’ Childhood as a Twinless Twin
Elvis’ parents never appeared to hold Elvis accountable for the death of Jesse; after all these things happened from time to time. However, Gladys and Vernon did become very protective of him. From the accounts of his childhood friends, it appeared that Elvis was content within the protective cocoon provided by his parents. He often worried about being home late and was concerned about leaving his mother’s side.
Elvis grew unusually attached to his mother. Many speculate that this was because he felt the need to be both himself and his twin, stated Bobbie Ann Mason in her book Elvis Presley. He felt a deep guilt over the fact that his life began with the death of Jesse. Even as a child, Elvis often visited his twin’s grave due to the feeling that somehow things should have been different. He felt that something was missing and still sensed a connection to his lost other half.
Elvis even recounted to his friend and hairstylist, Larry Geller, that as a child he often heard a voice in his head that was not his own. He thought that this voice could have been that of his deceased twin, Jesse. Elvis thought it was Jesse trying to tell him what to do. You can watch Larry Geller speak about the incident in the YouTube clip below.
Elvis’ Undeserved Guilt
Although there was nothing Elvis could do about it, his mother’s constant reminders of the son she never had followed him for his entire life. He put on this image of the man who had it all, fame, money, and women. Nonetheless, the guilt and the question of “why did I live when he died” seemed to haunt him right up until his death in 1977.
Larry Geller recounts that Elvis brought up the death of his twin brother upon their first meeting. In this Facebook post, Larry Geller recalls their first conversation. It was then that Elvis said “being a twin has always been a mystery for me. I mean, we were in our mother’s womb together; so why was he born dead and not me?”
Geller goes on to say that Elvis confided in him that he felt as if he were responsible for the death of his brother. He compared himself to Jacob in the Bible. Jacob killed his twin brother in the womb when trying to stop him from being born first. It was clear that the death of his brother was a burden he carried not only through childhood, but his entire adult life.
Twins Reunited in a Dream
Mere months before his death in 1977, Elvis told Larry Geller about a dream he had. It had been years since the two had spoken about Elvis’ twin brother. In the same Facebook post mentioned above, Geller recollects entering Elvis’ room while they were on tour. It was then that he immediately recalled this crazy dream while still in his bed.
Elvis remembered that “there we were, the two of us – together on stage. Seemed like thousands an’ thousands of people in the audience, and they were all screaming at us. It was wild! And we were dressed alike, both of us were wearing white jumpsuits, and we were both playing matching guitars slung around our shoulders. There were two blue spotlights, one shining on him, one on me. An’ I kept looking at him, and man, he was the spitting image of me.”
Only a few months later, Elvis Presley passed away on August 16, 1977, from a heart attack. Many fans have a theory that this dream was an omen. They believe that the dream foretold that Elvis would soon be reunited with his long-gone twin brother in the afterlife.
Although they never knew each other outside of his mother’s womb, Elvis’ twin Jesse clearly had an everlasting impact throughout his entire life. While the image that Elvis displayed was of a rogue rockin’ roller and sex icon, the man inside was deeply burdened and haunted by a ghost. A ghost that followed him his entire life inside of his head, his heart, and his dreams.
Even though there is no way to know for sure, one can only hope that Elvis was reunited with Jesse in the afterlife. Maybe he was able to finally find peace. In that peace the two rock the heavens every night, just like in the dream.