Weird Musical History #3 ~ The Elvis Presley Séance (1979)

Two years after Elvis Presley died, a seance was arranged in a North London Spiritualist Church. The aim was to contact the King of Rock and Roll from beyond the grave. The event was recorded and released as a vinyl LP by Shadow Records in 1979.

Front cover of The Elvis Presley Séance (1979)

The event is narrated by the softly spoken Radio One DJ Stuart Colman, and the séance was also attended by fan club member Theresa Currie (whose job it was to test the medium by asking questions only someone who know Elvis could answer), some tabloid journalists and a few other witnesses.

As side one of this odd record progresses, the medium, Carmen Rogers, arrives. She is, the sleeve notes tell us, a ‘nationally known medium of exceptional talent’. Carmen organises those present into a semi-circle with her at the front.

When the spirit of Elvis enters the building, there is little fanfare. Carmen mutters ‘the fella’s here,’ and tells us that Elvis is getting annoyed. Carmen then describes the King’s nervous habit with his fingers and his stuttering, which she claims he always did before a performance. Carmen also sensed that Elvis suffered from terrible headaches and was taking drugs (not LSD, Carmen clarifies, but ‘medicated drugs’).

Back cover and sleeve notes

Then Elvis, through his medium, asks those present: ‘Who’s got the music?’ It seems the spirit Elvis is unhappy about someone messing with the arrangements of one of his songs for a commemorative concert. Perhaps it’s someone called Lenny who’s doing the messing, Carmen says, before moving on to say that there is some argument between two performers as to who will sing at the concert.

Here Stuart Colman interrupts and suggests the spirit Elvis may be referring to a 1979 movie by John Carpenter which starred Kurt Russell as Elvis but had vocals recorded by country singer Ronnie McDowell.

Carmen is having none of this. She is adamant the performance she’s talking about is some kind of posthumous award.

As the séance progresses, Carmen says Elvis drank a lot. When this is met with silence, she adds that it wasn’t alcohol but something else. Theresa from the fan club suggests it’s Gator Aid. The medium claims she can taste it in her glass of water.

Next Carmen offers some comments on Elvis’s autopsy. He had a problem with his throat and was losing his voice, she claimed. No, answers Theresa. Undeterred, Carmen goes on to observe that the King’s feet were terribly big….

But now comes a killer question from Theresa: ‘What kind of magazines did Elvis read?’ Carmen answers that he didn’t read much, mainly trade papers….

Which is not at all true. He apparently took trunk loads of (mainly spiritual) books on tour with him.

But with that clanger, side one draws to a close. I was disappointed that the medium did not try to speak in Elvis’s voice and that the spirit Elvis didn’t sing us a song. In fact, the whole affair was rather tawdry and dull, and I only listened to side two so you don’t have to…

So here we are on the Other Side. The séance continues where it left off. The fan club member asks the medium what Christmas gift Elvis gave to Lisa Marie Presley in 1976 that she still uses. Carmen answers that it was a silver car, though it was in fact a golf buggy. ‘Was it silver?’ Carmen asks repeatedly with a touch of what sounds like desperation in her voice, though the fan remains non-committal.

Theresa from the fan club asks Carmen what happened to Elvis’s blingy TCB (‘taking care of business’) ring after his death. Carmen says it’s in a bank or safe, which doesn’t enlighten us much, though when pressed says it’s in the possession of a female family member. From what I gather, Elvis had more than one such ring. In fact, one of them (given by Elvis to one of his backing singers in 1969) was sold at auction in 2020 for over $400,000.[i]

However, this leads Theresa to ask the question of what happened on Elvis’s last day. Carmen clearly doesn’t want to answer this. ‘You don’t really want a description, do you?’, carmen asks. ‘Yes,’ comes the reply.

And so Carmen describes how Elvis was unshaven and in his dressing gown after just getting up. He felt a blinding headache and a choking sensation, as well as feeling heavy as if he was drunk. He heard a door slam and the ringing of bells before he lost consciousness. Carmen’s account seems devoid of detail and pretty far from the official narrative, it has to be said.

In reality, it seems Elvis died on the toilet on the evening of August 16th. His death has been variously blamed on the cocktail of prescription drugs he was taking, heart problems, allergy to codeine and Valsalva’s manoeuvre (in other words, straining to poo too hard).

Anyway, soon after, Carmen intones that ‘he’s away…. He’s away….’ The spirit of Elvis had left North London… Somehow the medium resists the temptation to say he has left the building, though I can’t.

Side two finishes with interviews and discussions with the participants, all of whom think (or at least say they think) that Elvis had really been present.

The participants believed that the medium had successfully identified the present Elvis had bought his wife as a silver golf buggy, though the medium actually said a silver car. And the golf buggy, as far as I can tell from photos, was actually cream. Several other of the medium’s comments were also deemed correct, though the misses were not discussed, or were reverse engineered to fit. One example of this is Carmen’s claim that the ghost of Elvis was unhappy with a commemoration performance where the organiser (‘Lenny’) was planning to alter his musical arrangements, and that there was a disagreement between two singers as to who was going to sing an Elvis song. Stuart Colman is pretty insistent that this is referring to John Carpenter’s TV movie, though this is a rather a stretch as the medium herself insisted she was referring to a performance at an award ceremony.

The record finishes with the revelations that several of those who attended had heard Elvis songs on the radio or a juke box shortly before the séance… Hardly unlikely as the séance was recorded as the second anniversary of his death was approaching.

This record promised high weirdness, but instead delivered a dull performance of supposed mediumship to gullible attendees, and is likely to convince no one. Perhaps I’ve just got a suspicious mind!

I’ve seen this crappy album go for £30 (apparently only a few thousand were pressed, which is more than enough!). It’s worth picking up for a quid or so (as I did in a Haworth charity shop), if only for the moment when a fan is allowed to ask the disembodied Elvis any question she likes about life, death and the great beyond. She asks what magazines he likes reading.


Published by Paul Weatherhead

Author of Weird Calderdale, musician and songwriter

2 thoughts on “Weird Musical History #3 ~ The Elvis Presley Séance (1979)

    1. Thanks Andy! The medium on the record seemed to rely entirely on ‘cold reading’. If she’d done a bit of research beforehand, it would have been less ‘honest’ but might at least have been entertaining!


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