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Elvis Presley was born in a two-room house in a Tupelo, Mississippi, on January 8, 1935. The only living child of working-class parents, young Elvis grew up in Tupelo — where he first began performing publicly and playing guitar — before his family moved to Memphis in 1948. A few years later, in the early 1950s, he would start recording the songs that would eventually make him famous and earn him the nickname the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll

Elvis was on the road to massive success. But an early tragedy continued to haunt the life of the King.

Elvis had a twin brother who died at birth 

Elvis Presley
Elvis Presley | Bettmann / Contributor

While Elvis was his parents’ only living child, he had an identical twin brother who died at birth. Jesse Garon Presley (sometimes spelled Jessie) was stillborn 35 minutes before his mother Gladys delivered Elvis. He was buried the next day in an unmarked grave in Priceville Cemetery. 

Elvis never knew his twin. But he never forgot his sibling, speaking frequently about Jesse, according to

Elvis was deeply affected by twin’s death 

According to some, the death of Jesse is key to understanding Elvis’s life. “Elvis’s twin’s death at birth was a tragedy that triggered a process that made his dead sibling the bedrock, the singular driving force in his life,” argued clinical psychologist Peter Whitmer in his book The Inner Elvis. His brother was “a restless spirit who eventually haunted all of Presley’s relationships,” he writes. 

Elvis would sometimes visit his brother’s grave and talk to him, Whitmer told a reporter from the Associated Press, while his mother reportedly told her son he was “living for two people.”

Other biographers have also suggested that Elvis was haunted by his twin’s death and that it left him with feelings of loneliness and guilt throughout his life. 

Twinless twins feel a special connection to Elvis 

Jessie Garon Presley grave marker
A grave marker for Jesse Garon Presley at Graceland | Paul Natkin/Getty Images

Elvis died in 1977 at age 42. Despite speculation, fans will never know exactly what he thought about the tragic death of his elder brother and how it shaped his life. But some who have also lost twin siblings feel a special connection to the “Hound Dog” singer. 

“If you talk to any twinless twin, any surviving twin, Elvis is big in their life,” Whitmer said. 

One woman who, like Elvis, had lost her twin at birth, told the AP when she first heard his music when she was a teenager it felt like there “was this famous person putting words to what I had felt, but I didn’t talk about it.” A support group for twinless twins has even held its annual conference at Graceland, Elvis’s home in Memphis, where there is a memorial for Jesse.

The story of Elvis’s twin inspired a movie 

The story of Elvis’s twin has long fascinated some fans of the singer. Conspiracy theorists even believe that Jesse Presley did not die at birth. They claim that Elvis used his brother as a body double in interviews. And a 2014 movie titled The Identical was inspired by the idea of there being another Elvis, with filmmakers telling the story of Elvis-like twins who are separated at birth and go on to pursue careers as singers. It received overwhelmingly negative reviews.

Read more: The Night Led Zeppelin Met Elvis Was About as Bizarre as You’d Expect

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