Elvis’ death the first hours: Lisa Marie took sanctuary in the treehouse with her cousins

Elvis Presley: Priscilla and Lisa Marie discuss singer in 2012

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Elvis’ cousin Billy Smith was a part of the star’s inner circle, The Memphis Mafia. He lived on the grounds at Graceland with his wife Jo and sons Danny and Joey. In a new emotional video, Billy remembers the day The King died, his feelings of heartbreak and disbelief. His family share their memories of the devastating first few hours and how Lisa Marie came to them for comfort.

Billy’s son Danny posted their family memories on his Youtube channel Memphis Mafia Kid this week.

Elvis was found in his bathroom early in the afternoon of August 16, 1977. Billy was immediately called with the terrible news.

He said: “The phone rang and, if I remember right, Joey answered the phone. It was my cousin Patsy. She said, ‘They’ve taken Elvis to the hospital. Elvis is gone.’

“I said, ‘What do you mean? He’s gone to the hospital?’ She said, ‘No, he’s gone.’ 

Billy added: “I went in, there was Dr Nick (Dr Nicholpoulous, Elvis’ private physician). Nothing else had to be said. I said ‘Is he gone?’ And Dr Nick said,’Yeah, he’s gone.’

“Dr Nick asked if I wanted to go in and see him and I said, ‘No, I don’t think so.'”

Back at Graceland, Billy’s wife was trying to comfort Lisa Marie, who was only nine years old at the time.

Jo said: “Lisa called out and said, ‘Jo, my daddy’s dead’ and I said no, because I couldn’t believe it was happening. I said, ‘No, he’s just sick.’ And she said ‘Do you promise?’ And I said, ‘Yes, I promise, it will be OK.’

“I remember she came out and got with Jo and Danny. They had a treehouse and they got up in the treehouse sat for hours.”

Joey recalled: “Lisa spent some time there with us.”


Danny was away from hoem when teh news broke and hs father had to go and get him.

He said: “I was at school at football practice. I remember Daddy pulling up and coming my way and I could tell in his face something wasn’t right. He didn’t say anything until we got in the car. He said, ‘Elvis had gone.’

“I told him, not in a bad way because Vernon has been sick, ‘No, You mean Vernon.’ He said, ‘No, I mean Elvis.’ We didn’t even talk about it more until we got home and then everything was chaos.”

Jo said: “He was the centre of our lives, with our kids. That was the only thing we ever knew… That was our life. We travelled with him, lived with him.”

Billy is clearly emotional recalling the loss of his cousin, even after more than forty years.

He added: ‘It was a haze.”


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