A Father’s Day Tribute: Vernon Presley

One of the constants in Elvis Presley’s life was his father, Vernon Presley.

Elvis’ dad was always there, raising his son in Tupelo, supporting his early career in Memphis and working behind the scenes as his son became the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll.

This Father’s Day, on Sunday, June 21, we celebrate Elvis’ father, Vernon Presley.

Jesse D. and Minnie Mae Presley welcomed their son, Vernon Elvis Presley, into the world on April 10, 1916, in Fulton, Mississippi.

As a teenager, Vernon met the lovely Gladys Love Smith at church, and quickly fell in love. The young couple wanted to get married, but a little detail slowed them down: Vernon’s age. He was 17, and Gladys was 21. They changed their ages on their marriage license to say he was 22 and she was 19, and the pair were married in Verona, Mississippi, by a Pontotoc County circuit clerk on June 17, 1933.

The home Vernon Presley built

Vernon and his family built the home that would become the birthplace of the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll.

Vernon, his brother Vester and their father built a two-room house for the growing Presley family. Gladys gave birth to Elvis (and his twin, Jessie, who was stillborn) on January 8, 1935, in the home.

Vernon worked odd jobs and manual labor to support the family. They never had much money, but they had plenty of love. The Presleys went to church and loved singing gospel music together around the family piano.

Elvis and his parents in front of their home

Vernon, Gladys and Elvis lived in Tupelo through Elvis’ 13th birthday, and then moved to Memphis, Tennessee.

Elvis was very close to his mother Gladys, but he was close with Vernon, too.

On Elvis’ 14th birthday, Vernon gave Elvis a paperback book of cartoons by George Price, and he inscribed it: “May your birthday be sprinkled through ‘n through with joy and love and good times too, Daddy.”

Elvis kept this book and brought it with him to Germany when he served there in the Army, but he lost it there.

Elvis and his parents in Tupelo

Elvis’ parents returned to Tupelo with their young superstar son when he performed a hometown concert in 1956.

Elvis was so close with both of his parents that he brought them along for the ride when he became a superstar.

Vernon and Gladys Presley moved in with Elvis when he purchased Graceland in 1957. Vernon managed his son’s business affairs in an office behind the mansion.

Graceland was truly a family home. Vester and Vernon Presley, who worked at the gates of Graceland, often greeted fans at the gates. Elvis’ grandmother (and Vernon’s mother) Minnie Mae lived there, as did Vernon’s sister, Delta, who also helped open Graceland to the public.

Many of the documents pertaining to Graceland and Elvis’ business affairs are signed by Vernon, who took care of such matters so Elvis could concentrate on his career–a clear sign of the trust Elvis had in his father.

Sign from Vernon’s office at Graceland

Vernon meant business – check out this sign that’s at his office at Graceland.

Vernon was by Elvis’ side throughout his life and career.

He often traveled with Elvis while he was on tour, and Elvis would even introduce him to the audiences. Vernon would also show up to visit Elvis on movie sets. He was an extra in “Live a Little, Love a Little.”

Elvis and Vernon Presley on a movie set

Vernon lived up to Elvis’ motto, “TCB.” He handled all kinds of business, but also took the time to visit Elvis on movie sets and on tour.

Vernon Elvis Presley died on June 26, 1979, and he’s buried with Elvis, Gladys and Minnie Mae at the Meditation Garden at Graceland.

While Elvis ruled on the stage and on the screen, it was his father, Vernon, who made it all possible, handling all of the details and business so his son could focus on and enjoy his career. Fans can see Vernon’s business headquarters here at Graceland.

Happy Father’s Day, Vernon Presley.


7 Comments

  1. Beverly groom

    It’s nice to see a picture of their home in Tupelo as it was back then.Thanks to Graceland.

  2. Helen Weaver

    I could feel so much love in that home at Graceland in Memphis, TN. Thanks to the Presley family for sharing Elvis Presley with all of us fans. I listen to Elvis Radio everyday and never tire of it. Whenever I can I share my love of his music and life. So many people have seen the Elvis license plate on my car and always remark to me what an inspiration and love they also have for him. Elvis lives on through the legacy that was left by Vernon saving every little thing. Thanks and I hope to get back to Graceland at Christmas time. I always watch that live feed.

  3. Robin Newman

    Thank you for sharing this beautiful story. I have been an Elvis fan all of my life, I am 57 years old. My Children and Grand Children know lots about Elvis and are very big fans also. I have been to Graceland several times. I had the great pleasure of meeting Uncle Vester who was very kind and spoke with me for a long time about Elvis! I felt like he knew how much I adored Elvis he was in no hurry in our conversation. I am sure he made plenty of people happy talking about his God given Nephew. God Bless you all may Elvis lives on and on! He will never be replaced by another!

  4. Derrell Lewis

    I saw Elvis in Savannah,Ga. In February of 1977 and instantly became a fan I don’t know what the man had but I knew that I wanted just a small portion of it he was truly” THE GREATEST ENTERTAINER” who ever walked this planet and was taken way too soon. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about him and wish he were still with us.

  5. Janet Davies

    I remember reading that Vernon used to say to his son to stop spending money, he was always buying gifts for others, and I think if Vernon hadn’t kept on eye on his spending, he would have spent the lot, typical Elvis, getting pleasure from seeing peoples faces, when he gave them a gift, however small

  6. Phyllis Petty

    I have loved Elvis since I was 13 and I always will. Elvis is forever and there will never be another. I just love seeing Vernon and Elvis together. Thank you Elvis for all that you gave to this world.

  7. David Gould

    The first song I heard Elvis sing on record was Crying in the Chapel .it was my pals record and he was a devout fan. I soon became a fan as well in 1962 especially after seeing him in Jailhouse Rock. About 15 years ago my wife and I went to Gracelands, we had been visiting my wife’s sister in Macon and it is just an hour flight from Atlanta to Memphis. We enjoyed the Memphis experience but we won’t be jetting anyplace from Scotland again due to the cost of health insurance. I am now 71 and have fond memories of when ELVIS hit the world with his vibrant music.

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