The Elvis Presley Theory That Changes Everything

Elvis Presley's death on August 16, 1977, remains one of the most tragic events in popular music history. In a career that spanned slightly over two decades, the King of Rock 'n' Roll transformed the nascent genre into a pop-culture phenomenon. He somehow found a way to remain relevant amid changing trends — even if it meant keeping busy during the British Invasion by starring in a series of cheesy B-movies before his successful "comeback" special in 1968. Nine years later, he was dead, and there is all sorts of documentation, as well as eyewitness accounts, to prove that fact. Yet not everyone is convinced, even to this day.

There are many conspiracy theories out there purporting that Presley may still be alive, and there are many variations on this claim. This is not an uncommon phenomenon when it comes to major celebrities whose deaths came as a tremendous shock to their devotees — from actors such as James Dean to musicians like Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, and Michael Jackson, the unsubstantiated sightings of these individuals and the theories behind them are too many to name. However, there is one particular "Elvis is alive" theory that stands out, one that could potentially change everything we know about the King's final years — assuming, of course, it was true to begin with.

Elvis purportedly faked his death to avoid getting whacked by the Mafia

When Elvis Presley died, it was hard for many to accept that he was no longer with us, but as is the case with any other celebrity death, most fans quickly moved on with their lives. Twenty years after his passing, an overwhelming majority of Americans (93%) said they believed Elvis was dead, with only 3% saying they were unsure and 4% asserting that he was still alive, according to a 1997 Gallup poll. We could probably count author Gail Brewer-Giorgio as part of that tiny minority, as she wrote a 1988 best-selling book, "is Elvis Alive," that cited thousands of purported FBI documents and interviews to come up with her theory that Presley went into hiding to avoid a Mafia hit. In a 2017 interview with Time, Brewer-Giorgio stood by what she wrote, telling the outlet that "Elvis faked his death because he was going to be killed and there was no doubt about it."

How could this have happened? According to Brewer-Giorgio, the FBI approached Presley in 1976, asking him to work undercover to help them bring down a group of racketeers called "The Fraternity." She alleged that the rock 'n' roll legend was the ideal man for the job because someone from The Fraternity had been in talks with him regarding the sale of an airplane he owned. But when the racketeers found out that Elvis was working for the feds, that's when the FBI — again, allegedly — decided to put him in their Witness Protection Program to keep him safe from the wrath of the mob.

The FBI's files don't mention Elvis actually working with the agency

Based on the FBI's 760-plus public files between 1956 to 1980 that contain references to Elvis Presley, there is no mention whatsoever that he had assisted the agency on any kind of investigation. Yes, it's well-documented that Elvis greatly admired the FBI and had, in fact, volunteered his services to the agency back in 1970 during his visit with President Richard Nixon (via The Washington Post). The files also mention extortion attempts against Presley, as well as details on his aircraft and business dealings relating to the plane. But there isn't any corroborating evidence to back up Gail Brewer-Giorgio's claims, and that was made perfectly clear by Elvis researcher Patrick Lacy while speaking to Time.

"Those FBI files are available to the public. I have them. There's nothing in there," he told the magazine. "All of the evidence points to a death — the medical evidence, the eyewitness report. To have him have faked his death would have required the silence and the services of literally hundreds if not thousands of people over the years."

So there you have it. Elvis Presley isn't — or wasn't — hiding from the mob while living as Aaron (or Aron) Q. Incognito or some other assumed name. But if Brewer-Giorgio's theory was true, we could possibly be talking about a treasure trove of unreleased Elvis songs recorded while in hiding — and record sales of peanut butter and bananas in whatever small town he relocated to.