Gary James' Interview With
the retired Director of The Presley Commission
As the years go by the questions surrounding Elvis Presley's death remain. Did Elvis fake his death? Is Elvis alive? On the eve of the 40th anniversary of the world being told Elvis died, we again interviewed Phil Aitcheson, once the Director of The Presley Commission, which explored the possibility that Elvis is alive.
Q - Phil, I guess the big question has to be, if Elvis went to all the trouble to fake his death, why then would he start calling select individuals to say, "I'm not really dead." It makes no sense. Is there some kind of end game being played out here? If so, what is it?
A - There is no end game to my knowledge, however that would be up to the person who is the subject of our inquires. The commission, up to myself and staff, would have no bearing on what is decided in the end other than what the evidence proves. It makes perfect sense when one regards the intensive investigation that was undertaken with regard to Elvis' lifestyle, extracurricular, law enforcement activities and such. Also, the F.B.I. investigation regarding Operation Fountain Pen brought forth many facts that to this day have not been disputed.
Q - Did Elvis in fact call a radio station in Texas and a radio station in Australia? Do you know anything about that?
A - There were a number of rumored reports regarding phone calls placed by someone sounding like Elvis Presley to a variety of radio stations and even TV stations over the years. Unless there could be voice print reports available of those incidents, there would be no way to know who the caller was. Did it happen? Probably. Was it Elvis? Maybe, but without the voice prints no one knows.
Q - Alright. So, was that really Elvis on the tape that Gail Brewer-Giorgio released along with her book?
A - I have been a friend and colleague of Mrs. Giorgio's for many years and I have no reason to doubt her claims considering the evidence that she presented at the time of the release for her books. Her credibility is impeccable. I have no reason to think otherwise.
Q - What news organization was it that said Elvis died on August 16th, 1977? Do you know? And more importantly, where did that person(s) get their information from? I believe Joe Esposito changed his story several times about discovering Elvis, didn't he? And Ginger Alden, was she the person who discovered Elvis dead? Did she call the National Enquirer before calling for help?
A - If memory serves correctly, nearly every media outlet in the country and beyond reported the incident at Graceland that day. Whether a real death occurred is still in question. As I remember, some of the news items that we received, the Memphis newspaper did report it also. Others included Graceland personnel and a number of others close to the family. Obviously the information was reported to the world by Graceland officials. Joe's story has come into question many times over the years. Opinions regarding his explanation of things is still regarded as confusing. There was a report that indicated Ginger Alden was on hand in Elvis' sleeping quarters and discovered the body in the bathroom, but there are some inconsistencies as to what she saw and what had transpired. The Elvis Files and the Commission Report covered a good bit of this information and I would refer folks to those publications. The press was called according to our recollection of the events.
Q - What do you know about Elvis having problems with his colon? I was told that Colonel Parker approached Baptist Memorial Hospital about performing a colostomy on an individual. When the hospital asked who, Colonel Parker said Elvis and the hospital backed away because the operation was considered too risky in 1977. So, Elvis faked his death so he could get the operation done in Switzerland. How do you keep doctors over there from talking?
A - I had been made aware of the colon problem years ago and to the best of my knowledge, Elvis was seeing a doctor regarding the problem. He was also soaking in a tub which would help with the pain, but there is no further evidence to my knowledge that an operation was done or not done and Switzerland didn't enter in to the scope of our investigations. Incidental comments did persevere.
Q - How do you get people from talking? If they know Elvis faked his death, do you pay them off? Do you threaten them? Elvis's inner circle all say he died. If Elvis faked his death, wouldn't it be the biggest hoax of the 20th century?
A - There were people who claimed to be "in the know" who talked with investigators who pursued the hoax claim. Some information provided contradicted many things that were supposed to be part of the reports from that day. Obviously those who were closest to Elvis at the time know much more than they ever told and yet by the same token, Graceland employees had to undergo special training to respond to such claims and faced being fired if they didn't comply with the rules. Beyond that, too much time has gone by in the matter and employees have come and gone. It is true that such as incident would be huge and certainly controversial.
Q - What's this about Ottawa, Canada being a hot spot for Elvis sightings? What do you know about that?
A - I was only aware of one sighting in Canada, near Tweed (Ontario), and it is a matter of public news reports. This is just one of many sighting reports in various places.
Q - If Elvis is moving around the world, he had to be using a fake passport, right? He certainly can't be using one in his own name, can he?
A - The issue of fake passports is a gray area. Since Elvis was involved with The Department Of Justice for a time, proper papers for travel would be provided to an agent or person who was able to obtain them. Since there are many countries all over the world that offer passports who are dual citizenship, it would be one way of someone of Elvis's station to obtain one. Whether this is what he did is unknown and not part of our enquiry.
Q - How do you know that Elvis is alive? Have you ever had a phone conversation with him? Have you ever met him in person? How do you trust the people giving you information that Elvis is alive? How do you know they're telling you the truth?
A - I have not talked by phone with anyone purporting to be Elvis Presley. Others associated with our effort however have claimed to experience many interesting things. As the former National Director of The Presley Commission I was privy to a great deal of information regarding Elvis's situation. But it was our directive to keep much of what we learned under wraps in concern for the safety and security of our subject and his family members. The evidence certainly puts forth more questions, but most importantly brings into focus reasons to consider and believe the hoax story. Our investigators and folks who were part of the Commission's research were of high quality and worked tirelessly on this case. Currently I have no reason to doubt their findings.