A woman in the audience once handed Elvis a crown saying, “You’re the King.” “No, honey,” Elvis replied. “There is only one king—Jesus Christ. I’m just a singer.” Most know that Elvis was a deeply religious man, yet few are aware that he engaged in a spiritual search that led him far afield from traditional Christianity. The Seeker King: A Spiritual Biography of Elvis Presley retells the story of “the King” with a focus on his spiritual odyssey.
While he read from the Bible almost every day as an adult and recorded three albums of gospel music, Elvis suffered through a spiritual crisis in the mid-1960s. Heartsick to think that he was squandering his life making frivolous movies, he felt a gnawing hunger in his soul. Then he met a fellow seeker in 1964 and the relationship changed his life, giving him a new perspective on his talent and his charismatic power over the public.
He began devouring the works of Gurdjieff, Krishnamurti, Helena Blavatsky, Manly Palmer Hall and scores of other spiritual writers. In 1965 his search led to an epiphany while he was driving through northern Arizona—a direct encounter with the divine. Transformed, he took up meditation and received personal instruction from Swami Yogananda.
Elvis came to believe that God wanted him to use his light to uplift people. And so he did. Elvis’s excesses were as legendary as his generosity. Yet despite his lethal reliance on drugs, he remained ever spiritually curious. When he died, he was reading A Scientific Search for the Face of Jesus.
This intimate, objective portrait inspires new admiration for the flawed but exceptional man who said, “All I want is to know and experience God. I’m a searcher, that’s what I’m all about.”
The Seeker King is the third in a collection of spiritual biographies that includes Working Class Mystic: A Spiritual Biography of George Harrison and The Cynical Idealist: A Spiritual Biography of John Lennon.
The Seeker King: A Spiritual Biography of Elvis Presley author Gary Tillery was recently interviewed by Jim Harold on The Paranormal Podcast.
“While chronicling the full arc of the life and career of Elvis Presley, Gary Tillery zeros in on Presley’s constant search for inner peace and spiritual growth. The Seeker King probes beyond Elvis’ meteoric rise, worldwide impact, and ultimate demise, casting light on many of the man’s personal quests that played out behind the scenes. This book will be treasured by Elvis fans everywhere.”
— Dave Zimmer, author of Crosby, Stills & Nash: The Biography
"Elvis Presley was an icon of sex, stardom, and rock and roll, but beneath the glitz and Las Vegas glamour brooded a sensitive soul, deeply troubled by life's mysteries. Gary Tillery's highly readable biography shows us another side of the King, as a seeker eager to grasp life's secret meanings, and to explore a whole range of spiritual paths. Elvis may have left the building, but as this book shows, his spirit carries on."
—Gary Lachman, former Blondie bassist and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee and popular religion writer