Elvis Presley Cried When He Saw These Historical Figures’ Faces in a Cloud

Elvis Presley didn’t just leave behind a great catalog of hit songs — he also had a wild life. For example, the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll once cried when he saw two historical figures’ faces in the sky. Here’s how he reacted to this — and a look at a pair of songs inspired by the incident.

Elvis Presley with a guitar
Elvis Presley | Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Elvis Presley cried after he saw a cloud shaped like the face of a tyrant turn into the face of a religious figure

According to Paul Guralnick’s book Careless Love: The Unmaking of Elvis Presley, Elvis was once driving toward Hollywood with his hairstylist Larry Geller riding shotgun. Other members of his posse were in the back of the car. He saw a face in the cloud — that of Joseph Stalin.

Shortly thereafter, it transformed into the face of Jesus Christ. Geller discussed how he and Elvis reacted to the change. “He smiled at me and every fiber of my being felt it,” he recalled.

Joseph Stalin | Keystone/Getty Images

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What Elvis Presley said to Larry Geller as he cried

Elvis seemed incredibly happy and calm. Geller never saw him look quite the same way ever again. The singer wondered why the cloud looked like Stalin. He thought it perhaps said something about him. He started crying and holding Geller. “For the first time in my life God and Christ are a living reality,” Elvis said.

Geller recalled Elvis saying “Oh, God, Oh, God,” over and over. “Then he paused and added a peculiar aside — ‘Can you imagine what the fans would think if they saw me like this?’” Geller remembered. Geller said the “Can’t Help Falling in Love” singer’s fans would love him even more and Elvis hoped this was true.

Jesus Christ walking on the sea | Culture Club/Getty Images

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2 songs inspired by Elvis Presley’s vision

Interestingly, The New York Times reports this incident inspired a pair of songs. One of them is Al Stewart’s song “Elvis at the Wheel.” Stewart’s song was included on his album Sparks of Ancient Light, which includes references to several historical figures, including President Dwight D. Eisenhower, President William McKinley and Hanno the Navigato. Sparks of Ancient Light did not chart on the Billboard 200.

“A Private Understanding”

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Subsequently, Protomartyr released their album A Private Understanding. The title track of the album includes the lyrics “Elvis outside of Flagstaff/Driving a camper van/Looking for meaning in a cloud mass/Sees the face of Joseph Stalin/And is disheartened/Then the wind changed the cloud into his smiling Lord/And he was affected profoundly.”  A Private Understanding didn’t chart on the Billboard 200 either. Regardless, this odd anecdote about the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll had a bit of an impact on popular culture.

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