An icon in his own right, Elvis Presley oo zed style in every way. From his music to his performances to his legacy, Elvis was the epitome of cool. However, that coolness wasn’t limited to his music. He was also a style icon with his pleated plants and perfect pompadour. But who was the man behind the mousse?
Enter Larry Geller. Geller acted as Elvis’ hairdresser from April 30, 1964, until 1977, when Elvis passed away. During Elvis’ early years, he recruited Geller to help him keep his hair jet black. Elvis was born with sandy blonde hair but wanted to have it dyed black. To maintain the color, the Hollywood hairstylist would mix up various ingredients that helped keep Elvis’ hair healthy.
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Presley would also dye his hair with shoe polish to hide the natural blonde color during his early career. In addition to getting that jet black color, the shoe polish also helped him keep his hair slicked back. As time went on, Presley made the switch to hair dye, which Geller helped him apply. In addition to helping him with his hair, Geller also acted as Elvis’ spiritual advisor.
As odd as it sounds, Geller introduced The King to spirituality and even acted as his spiritual guide until he died. When his family announced that he had tragically passed away, Geller said back in November of 2020 that he was “shocked, but not surprised.”
In the months leading up to his death, Elvis Presley was recovering from a grueling tour that had taken a toll on the singer and his health. Geller once recalled the lengths people would go to get Elvis on stage: “About six months before Elvis died, we were on tour in Louisville, Kentucky. It was late afternoon and Elvis was in the bedroom with his doctor. Suddenly, there was a pounding on the front door. His manager, Colonel Parker, came in. He went into the bedroom.”
He continued, “I saw that Elvis was semiconscious and Elvis’ doctor was dunking his head into a bucket of ice water. Elvis was moaning.” For Geller, he thought this might be the moment Elivs would get his act together. “I thought to myself, OK, this is good because The Colonel finally saw the reality. Elvis should be in a hospital; he should not be on tour.’
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“About a minute and a half later, Colonel Parker came out and walked up to me and stared coldly into my eyes and said, ‘The only thing that’s important now is that man is on the stage tonight.’ And he walked out. And my heart dropped.”
After Parker left the room, Geller said Elvis Presley told him something he’d never forget. “The doctor left and Elvis called me. We had a conversation and Elvis said, ‘Larry, my life’s on the line and I know it. I’ve been hiding from the truth for too long. There are too many people around me that I’ve outgrown.’
“He said we would go to Hawaii for at least a year and he was going to get off the pills, read, meditate and get healthy. He wanted a new life.”
Geller added: “What’s sad is that the greatest phenomenon in history ended as a tragedy. But it’s not a tragedy because Elvis took pills and had an unhealthy lifestyle—who doesn’t have addictions of one form or another?
He concluded by saying, “When he had that flash, he should have fired everyone and gotten on the plane and flown to Oahu. If he did, he would be alive today.”