August 15, 1997

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"Misspelling" prompts suspicious minds

Fans say Elvis grave is clue that the King lives


PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Die-hard Elvis Presly fans say an apparent spelling mistake on his tombstone offers a clue that the King of Rock 'n' Roll and his blue suede shoes still walk among the living.

The coffin-sized copper plaque that marks Presly's remains in Graceland reads "Elvis Aaron Presly."

But Elvis always spelled his middle name "Aron" -- with one "a."

With the 20th anniversary of Presley's death on August 16, some of his fans are all shook up about the mistake, and they've begun calling complaints in to the Pittsburgh-based company that made the marker.

Daniel Majestic, the marketing manager for Matthews International Corp., said he blames Graceland for the error.

"We manufactured Elvis Presley's memorial according to our customer's specifications. That's the way the family ordered the memorial," he said. A spokeswoman for the company, Corinne Laboon, said she didn't know why the Preslys didn't order a new marker when they saw the mistake.

"His wife, Priscilla, and his daughter, Lisa Marie [and] all the people who were close to him have have all seen it. You'd think if it were wrong they'd want it fixed," she said.

"Maybe the fans are wrong. Maybe the name is spelled with two 'a's'"

For any suspicious minds out there, Graceland spokeswoman Danna Yarmowich offers an explanation for the misspelling: Elvis wanted it that way.

Yarmowich said Elvis was named after a friend of the family, Aaron Kennedy. His family spelled his middle name with one "a" because they wanted it to match that of Elvis's stillborn twin, Jessie Garon.

But during the later years of his life, Elvis wanted it spelled "the way it is in the Bible" -- Aaron.

Several months before his death, Elvis began checking on the possibility of legally changing the spelling, Yarmowich said.

Then Presley found a pleasant surprise on a copy of his birth certificate - someone had accidentally spelled his middle name with two "a's," exactly the way he wanted it.

From then on, everything Elvis signed carried the middle name "Aaron," Yarmowich said.