between the liner notes
Joe Moscheo: Did the King Know the 'King of Kings?'
By Shannon Woodland and Scott Ross
The 700 Club
It’s estimated that Elvis Presley sold over one billion records worldwide. That’s more than anyone in the history of the record industry. But he only won three Grammy awards, and those were for “How Great Thou Art," and “He Touched Me” – all Gospel performances.
Joe Moscheo, member of the hit Gospel group, The Imperials, who performed with Elvis for many years, knows another side of Elvis unknown to many Elvis afficianados. Recently, The 700 Club's very own Scott Ross sat down with Joe Moscheo to learn more about the King of Rock 'n' Roll's faith.
Scott Ross: My wife Nedra and I were listening to his Gospel albums. They’re CD's now and when you hear that man sing that music, he wasn’t just singing songs. This was something coming from his heart. Was that real for him?
Moscheo: Oh yeah, my favorite performance of Elvis is from the '68 special when he sings in this white suit, “If I Can Dream." But he sings, if I can dream of a better land. It’s so convincing and it’s so honest, and that’s the real Elvis. That’s what the book is all about.
Ross: In the early part of the book you said people have talked enough about the negative side, so I want to emphasize another side. That’s what the title says, The Gospel Side of Elvis, and story after story after story, he’d come off stage, and he’d work and work and work. He would literally call you guys together backstage or in the hotel room, to have Gospel sessions that went for hours--sometimes all night long.
Moscheo: That’s what he wanted to do. There were like two parts. There was Elvis, the superstar, and he went out on stage with his jumpsuits, and he was 'Elvis.' And then when he came off stage, he was Elvis Presley from Tupelo, Mississippi, that was brought up in the church, and he wanted to sing Gospel music.
The Imperials toured with Elvis from 1969 till 1972 and recorded two Gospel albums with him, including Elvis’ final Grammy award winning album, “He Touched Me." In 1998, the Imperials were inducted into the Gospel Music Association’s Gospel Music Hall of Fame. Today, they still perform worldwide and have Elvis to thank for it.
Moscheo: Elvis opened the door for us and so now, 30 years later after his death ... we’re still singing around the world, and we’re still singing Gospel music to an audience who has never really heard it before, and Elvis is the one who opened the door for us.
Ross: As I understood it when Elvis died, he was reading a book about Jesus and the search for the historical Christ.
Moscheo: Yeah, there’s...
Ross: ...all sorts of stories.
Moscheo: Yes, all sorts of stories...
but, I gave him a Bible. It’s really hard for me to talk about it. I said, 'Elvis, I got something for you. I know you’re really struggling, and I know you’re having a hard time, but every answer you need is in this book. All you have to do is read it. It’s real simple now, it’s plain English. Read this book. And we hugged, and I left. And that’s the last time I saw him.
Ross: To use the terminology, to use the vernacular, was Elvis Presley saved? Did he know God? Did he know Jesus Christ?
Moscheo: Well, of course I believe that he was. Now, I’m not the judge and I’m not the final word on this, but from my experience and from my being around him and from his attitude, you know he wasn’t perfect, none of us are.
Ross: I don’t see any here.
Moscheo: No. Thank you, yeah. He had demons. He had problems. It’s really hard to imagine a guy that was Elvis Presley could be without that. But from all these indications and being around him in these intimate settings, I really feel that he was a Christian, I really do. And I felt he was trying as hard as he could and was holding on as hard as he could. And I hope to see him one day.
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