No crying in the chapel at Elvis funeral

0
Have your say

Family and friends set a crematorium rocking after South Yorkshire’s own Elvis Presley died in a nursing home at the age of 63.

Two of the King’s classics - Always on My Mind and There Goes My Everything - played as superfan Brian Smith, who changed his name by deed poll 30 years ago, went to meet his maker after a fatal bout of pneumonia.

Elvis’ proud daughter Zoie, 33, said: “The service might not have suited people who like hymns but my dad would have loved every minute of it.”

The former forklift truck driver, from Kimberworth Park, Rotherham, dumped his given name in 1979 - and refused to answer to anything but Elvis ever since.

Relatives honoured his memory with a startling obituary notice which read: “Presley, Elvis, Passed away peacefully...”.

Zoie said: “A lot of people thought it was a fad when dad came home from the solicitor’s with his deed poll and said he’d become Elvis Presley.

“Everyone imagined he’d go back to being Brian Smith before long.

“But it was dad’s way of keeping Elvis’ name alive, and he wouldn’t budge one bit.

“It wasn’t easy because everyone had known him as Brian, but he went round ignoring people if they didn’t call him Elvis, and that seemed to do the trick.

“Dad changed everything so all the utility bills came to Mr Presley instead of Mr Smith. He altered his records at the doctor’s as well as at the bank and the tax office, and everyone got the message eventually.”

Zoie’s mum Joan couldn’t wait to return the Presley name to sender after the couple split up in the 1980s.

“Mum wasn’t happy about becoming Mrs Presley in the first place,” said Zoie. “Dad even wanted to call me Priscilla when I was born, but mum put her foot down and wouldn’t let him go through with it. Mum went back to being Mrs Smith after they split up.”

Zoie, and Elvis’s partner Helen, were at his bedside when the final curtain fell at his nursing home.

“Dad was very poorly near the end, but his face always used to light up when we played Elvis at the home,” said Zoie.

“All the staff called dad Elvis. It was lovely, and the vicar never mentioned the name Brian at the funeral. It was all about Elvis Presley, not Brian Smith, and that’s just how dad would have wanted it.”