By Amy Silverman
By Olivia LaVecchia
By Monica Alonzo and Stephen Lemons
By Chris Parker
By Michael Lacey
By Weston Phippen
"I have barely scratched the surface of stories that I have," Smith writes, then lists several of them (including the night he met the owner of an adhesives company, and the time that rock star Lita Ford refused to pee in the bathroom of the sailboat he was navigating, and he had to run aground so she could go find a public restroom). But he never actually tells the tales he's teased us with.
"There are these stories and much, much more," Smith assures us at the end of Chapter 10. "But it is late. I am tired, and I am going to bed."
Among the tales Smith was too sleepy to tell is a bombshell that would almost have made his meandering, half-written memoir more interesting — a shocker he drops casually into a conversation but which is nowhere to be found among the yawn-inducing yarns in his book.
"Well, you know, my adopted parents were related to Elvis, and so was my mother," he mentions during a phone interview. "I think they're cousins by marriage, because my supposed birth father was related to the Smith side of Elvis' family."
In short, Smith's birth mother's husband's cousin was married to the brother of Elvis' mom, Smith claims — kind of a big deal, if it's true, and certainly worth mentioning in a memoir of one's unusual life among the Presley elite. Isn't it?
"Oh, not really," Smith chuckles over the phone. "Not if you're from the South. Pretty much everyone in the South is related by marriage."
They may well be — but Smith's adopted parents don't appear to have been related to Elvis Presley, at least if one believes the dozens of family trees and exhaustive genealogies of the Smith/Presley clan published in books and on the Internet. Not one of these documents makes mention of an Ira Dee Smith, or of Elvis' grandfather, Robert Smith, having been married and sired any other children before he was wed to Presley's grandmother, Doll Mansell. (Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc., which owns and licenses Elvis' image, failed to respond to questions about Elvis' lineage, and the Smith-Presley's family's official genealogist sent a text message saying, "We do not respond to queries about relatives of Elvis Presley's who are not documented family members.")
"I.D. Smith was the half brother of Gladys [Smith Presley]," Carlburg insists, when pressed. "He was the high tenor singer in the Deep South Quartet, which later became J.D. Souther and the Stamps."
Yet not one biography of the little-known Deep South Quartet mentions an I.D. Smith among any of its several lineups. And the Deep South Quartet, which disbanded in the mid-1950s, didn't become J.D. Souther and the Stamps. No such band ever existed, according to a text message from J.D. Souther himself.
"If any such band ever existed," says Souther, the popular SoCal singer-songwriter who's currently a featured player in the ABC drama series Nashville, "they owe me money!"
One wonders whether Smith's original ghostwriters were dispatched once it became clear that much of his story was completely invented. Both writers admit that Smith was vague about precisely how his family was intermarried — a fact that apparently meant little to Smith's friend Carlburg. Carlburg owns a company that builds custom guitars, and considers writing "more of a hobby." He is the third co-author to work on the project."We had a couple of writers come along who wanted to tell John's story their way," Carlburg explains, "and we said, 'No, we want to tell a story that brings honor and dignity to John's life.' So we got rid of them and did it ourselves."
One of the writers dumped from the project was Rico Austin, another self-published author whose career began in Idaho, where as a boy he wrote for his 4H Club newsletter. Later, as a stringer for the local paper, he covered the happenings at local senior citizen homes.
"I don't know why John chose me to co-write his story," muses Austin, who, like Carlburg, met Smith in a bar. "When I met him, he said he had a $1.5 million book deal, and my share was going to be $600,000. I was planning to pay off my house. The next thing I know, it's 'We have to come up with $3,800 to pay Tate Publishing to get the book out.'"
Austin says he agreed to bankroll Smith's book, but when he objected to working with Carlburg, Austin says he was fired. But Austin is getting the last laugh by self-publishing his own rambling account of working for would-be rock royalty. In the Shadow of Elvis: Perils of a Ghostwriter dishes dirt on Smith and Carlburg's work ethic, and details the fun Austin had promoting My Bad Tequila, his previous pay-to-print novel.
Despite having been sacked from the project, both Austin and Karen Albright Lin, the first ghostwriter Smith worked with, report having seen convincing proof that Smith is Elvis' kid.
"I did see all three of John's birth certificates," Austin says, "and he showed me the paper with the DNA evidence printed on it, and it was 99.9 percent conclusive. I wanted to see those papers because, you know, if I was going to write a book about the guy, I didn't want to look like an idiot."
In the case of this writer he should get all the facts before he writes another word. In the case of John Smith let him go to court like Alice Tiffin (who submitted DNA) and like Deborah Presley-Brando (who WON in the Tennessee Supreme Court). I believe that anyone who writes a book, or article is entitled to Freedom of Speech as long as they are not libel in their writings. Court documentation especially from Family Court are private. Maybe Alice and Deborah and John don't want to spend their lives proving what is sealed in the courts because of irresponsible writers like this one.
I am very disappointed in Mr. Pela for this worthless piece. For an expose' to be worth the reader's time it needs to make a successful emotional connection between the reader and the subject. I need to either gain sympathy for the subject so his wrong doings will trigger an emotional reaction from myself...or I need to gain sympathy for the subject's victims. There are no victims. And by giving us a history of those before Mr. Smith that had claimed to be the blood of Elvis, there appears to be nothing special about him. There is no reason for me to care. The only thing that could had saved this article was some unbiased hope from the writer that maybe Mr. Smith was indeed the son of Elvis. Every bit of evidence detailed was revoked by Mr. Pela before the reader could absorb it and make a decision for themselves. So basically Robert Pela took a subject that 99.9% doubted in the first place before even reading the first paragraph and by the end of the article 99.9% still doubt Mr. Smith. Congrats! Mr. Pela's expose' impacted no one.
This stupid fake story is still in here?
Don't you have people that can write stories? I say NOT , there is no good stories in the New Times for a long time maybe you should call this paper LONG TIME!
I do hope "In the Shadow of ELVIS, Perils of a Ghostwriter" is as great a read as "My Bad Tequila" by author & writer - Rico Austin!
Seems like a lot of Elvis connections are here in Scottsdale! I dated one just recently. Believe me, Elvis has left the planet 'in pieces' and these guys are probably 'meteorite pieces' of Elvis for sure. Sad, that none of these guys could ever get a real life, and live their entire lives sadly believing People believe them, in hope to hide who they really are....which I find to be, totally uneducated no-bodies seeking public (mainly women's) attention thru their multiple personality disorder and, or, sick fascination to become their idol and most likely the man they wish they could (ahem) .... yuck! YOu should do an article on my story! 'Dating the ghosts of Elvis' . Pretty funny story, which would make a lot of these guys go back into the closet!
With he penchant for lying about his past, it seems Mr Smith is more likely to be Joe Arpaio's love child.
@Rico Austin I want to read your book. Dennis is a pathological liar and has completely lost touch with reality. I know this because I was married to him when he says he met his birth mother. I would have known that if it happened. In the new book, he claims his second marriage was annulled. That is a lie. It took years to find him to get a divorce. He attempted suicide on more than one occasion and was hospitalized in a psych ward. I really feel sorry for him. He needs professional help.
On the facebook page ELVIS ' "In The Shadow Of" they provided a link to this article as if it would give legitimacy to his claim... and it will if no one actually reads it. Well, okay. He has 114 "likes" on the page and there probably is a good chance that no one will actually read the article.
Really? reLLY? REALLY? He doesn't look a thing like Elvis!
Lets see the proof not talk the lie.
Hi, folks: I'M Elvis Presley, and I've been hiding in my trailer home here in Salome for years, and I can tell you all right now, that guy is NOT my kid! Thank you, thank you.
lol the King of Rock 'n' Roll married one time and had one child.
If what this fool is saying IS true thenhe should be required to prove it or shut the fuck up.