Was Elvis Welsh?

How often, while listening to the music of Elvis Presley, have you found yourself transported from the Music State to the Land of Song? The passionate intensity, the poetry and lyricism, the Celtic good looks, the unintelligible lyrics – surely, you think to yourself, this fellow must be Welsh? Well, you’re not the only one to think so. There is, apparently, a school of thought [of course I use the word ‘thought’ loosely] that maintains that Elvis Presley was indeed of Welsh extraction. This theory, based largely on the resemblance of the name Presley to the Welsh placename Preseli (English: Prescelly), was recently aired in the Guardian newspaper, prompting the following letter to the Editor:

The astonishing resemblance of the names Presley and Preseli is conclusive enough, but that is not all. Recent research at Aberystwyth has revealed that, if Calon Lân and Jailhouse Rock are sung in the same key, a large number of the same notes occur in both. A preliminary study of Land of My Fathers and Blue Suede Shoes points in the same direction.

If any doubt still lingers concerning Presley’s Welshness, consider this: the designation Elvis the Pelvis, hitherto thought to refer to the singer’s gyrations when carried away by the hwyl, is now known to be is now known to be a corruption of his original name – Elfys ap Elfys, which not only showed the purity of his Welsh descent but also served as his bardic name in the Tennessee eisteddfodau which nurtured his early talent.

Yours faithfully,

C. P. Campbell.

Sadly, the letter was not published.

© 1999–2001 Harry Campbell (except letter)
Page added: January 2001