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The King and I: Travels with Elvis’ stepbrother
It was there, in a little storefront church on Oct. 16, 1977, two months to the day after Elvis’ death, that he says he had his “Damascus road experience.” His hands were shaking when he stood up to give his first public testimony, but the core of his life’s message was already firmly in place.
Louisiana evangelist Moody Adams heard about Stanley’s conversion and asked him to speak at a revival he was holding in Pearl, Miss. Moody says he tapped Stanley “because he was a drawing card, of course, at the time.”
The July 2, 1978, revival was in a high school football stadium where Stanley says Elvis had once played. When he arrived, police were directing traffic, and people were waving signs _ only this time, it was for him.
“And I realized at that minute why I went through everything I did as a child and a teenager,” he wrote in his 1986 book, “The Touch of Two Kings.” “Why was I Elvis Presley’s brother? Why had I been saved? It was for this!”
Two years later, the Rev. W.A. Criswell, founder of Dallas’ Criswell College and a former two-term president of the Southern Baptist Convention, offered to put the young evangelist through school. Stanley got his GED certificate and, in 1986, emerged from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary with an associate’s degree in divinity.
Stanley and his wife (they have two daughters) live in Niceville, Fla. In the years of his ministry, he says he has visited more than 4,000 churches, and held revivals here and in Europe. He gives a secular stay-off-drugs version of his presentation at about 200 high schools a year.
But there are those who don’t buy his of his spiritual rebirth.
“The Stanleys, including Ricky, would lie to you with two Bibles in his hand,” Marty Lacker, Elvis’ friend, former bookkeeper and one of the best men at his wedding, wrote in an e-mail to The Associated Press.
Schilling, Elvis’ former manager, would say only that he doesn’t “find him consistent.”
“I don’t really have much energy to put on Rick Stanley, you know?” he says from his home in Los Angeles. “I try and spend my life not thinking of the negativities of the past.”
There are discrepancies _ some subtle, some not so _ between the stories Stanley tells in church and those contained in the three Elvis books he’s co-authored. If he has gotten some things mixed up over the years, Stanley attributes it to faulty memory, the fog of addiction or “adult ADD.”
David Stanley _ who has co-written a book and made a film about his life with Elvis _ says much of the criticism is born of envy.
“The one thing that no one can take away from Ricky Stanley is the fact of the fact that he was Presley’s brother,” he told the AP in a phone interview. “And God bless Ricky for what he does. Because the only king is Christ.”
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