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|IS SCOTTSDALES JOHN SMITH THE
SECRET LOVECHLD OF ELVIS PRESLEY?
John Smith is the secret love child of Elvis Presley. And he has, he swears, the DNA evidence to prove it
By Robert L Pela (Pheonix NewsTimes)
Asked whether he's sure his famous father commissioned the song about his mom, Smith is adamant. "Yes, sir. To the best of my knowledge, he did. I think
Bo Diddley wrote that song for my daddy." But, when he's then told that the song was written by Pomus and Shuman, he back-pedals. "Well, I wasn't born
then," he mutters. "So I wouldn't know."
Some of Smith's prevarications provide unintentional humor. "I am still not sure how it happened, but we got the call to audition at Juilliard," he writes.
"Looking back now, this was a big deal. At the time for me, it was a school. School and I did not see eye to eye. . . . I was thinking, school? In New York?
They talk funny, and there is too much concrete. You can educate me all you want. I like being a hick."
He claims he deliberately blew the audition by singing a song he refers to in the book as "Pistol Packin' Annies," but which was probably the Al Dexter
standard "Pistol Packin' Mama," since no search of the RIAA catalog turns up a song called "Pistol Packin' Annies."
"I guess that the good folks at Juilliard figured that I was already so good that they really couldn't do too much for me," he writes, "and so they had better
induct some other singer that needed the help, or something like that."
Most of the rest of the book is less amusing. Scheduled for publication this month by Oklahoma-based Tate Publishing (which brought us A Busy Mom's
Guide to Family Pleasing [sic] Meals and 'Til the Slipper Fits: Godly Encouragement for Single Women), Let the Boy Sing is riddled with the
tense-shifting and narrative rambling found in most pay-to-publish books by would-be authors. Before it gets around to not delivering anything that might
prove its premise, it makes a lot of promises it doesn't keep.
Austin got even with Smith and Carlburg by writing his
own book about being sacked by a would-be Elvis heir.
"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' 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 sening 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 Ira Dee 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 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
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." Continue To Page 5