"Following the Path of the King..."



          THE MEMPHIS MAFIA

In the words of a friend...

"The plain truth is that we were a group of young people, traveling in the fast lane of life with the brightest star the world had ever seen. We lived lives upside down where night was day and day was night. We took a lot of foolish risks. and we made a lot of dumb decisions. Many of us lost ourselves and our families along the way. We shied away from responsibilities, hurt loved ones, and made extreme sacrifices to be with Elvis. But we did it willingly. We were there and we wanted to be there. "We paid a high price for that lifestyle... and Elvis paid his. More importantly, we all share a brotherhood and camaraderie with one another that no other group of men could ever duplicate or experience. no matter what it cost or how much it hurt me when I lost it, I would never trade the memory of those days for anything in this world.
Deep in our hearts, despite the discord between the Some of us, I think we still love each other like brothers. We will always share something unique that only a handful of people on this entire earth can claim. I had the time of my life and I sincerely thank all of them, and especially Elvis, for being a part of it."
Joe Esposito

The Circle of Friendship
Summer 1957.



From the beginning, Elvis needed to be surrounded by trustworthy people. Despite his success, his family and his girlfriend, Anita Wood, he felt alone. This happened to him on concert tour or in Hollywood. For some reason he felt different and didn't fit in with the environment, plus the Colonel had tried to keep him away from Scotty, Bill and Dj, his musicians. They felt isolated from him and there was also the unfair economic issue they were suffering.
Elvis was already accompanied by his cousins ​​and some of his friends, but the group would grow.

Alan Fortas would meet Elvis Presley in the summer of 1957.
He and George Klein knew each other from high school and he introduced him to Elvis, because Alan was a good football player.
Although he had seen him in concert two years before, he would never have imagined how far Elvis would go with his success.
Since he shared that hobby, Elvis considered him special because of his ability and he too was accepted into Elvis' group.
His description of what Elvis was like then; Alan said that he wascheerful fun, as well as handsome and impeccable in his clothes, with his characteristic hair smeared. Elvis called his hairstyle "his Tony Curtis cut."Elvis was close, friendly, a person who made everyone feel comfortable and accommodating.
They talked a lot about football and this brought him closer to the group playing many times at Graceland.

Elvis was also a good player, but even though it was a tough game at times, everyone knew that his face was untouchable, because by then he was already shooting movies.Already in the summer of 1957
Elvis had a kind of "inner circle," a group of friends some of whom lived there with him or went everywhere, a kind of bodyguard fraternity.

It would be the birth of the "Memphis Mafia", but this nickname would come later. The point is that Elvis
With his popularity he could no longer walk alone, he needed protection and for his affairs, trips, his house, etc. and the truth is that he also did not want to be alone.

At Graceland they always had a good time playing games, listening to records, drinking Pepsi and watching TV, riding motorcycles, shooting fireworks, etc.
They shared laughter and jokes because Elvis was a joker, but by then he was happy with his buddy.

Elvis liked that his friends were from the south and shared hobbies, cooking, music and above all loyalty. It was what he valued most in friendship.
He really was not prepared for what he had to face, he was too big and in his solitude he needed support or at least distraction. Besides, there was this other world around and the women who came out in his path.

At that time, Lamar Fike, Elvis's cousins, Gene and Billy Smith, Cliff Gleaves and Alan Fortas already formed this circle. They were in charge of various tasks and there was also George Klein, but he worked at the Radio and on occasion traveled with Elvis.
George seemed to be the closest, for the music especially.
There was also Red West, who was in the Marines at the moment, but had accompanied Elvis on tour in 1955/56.

Over time, this circle of friendship would grow, becoming very important for them and of course for Elvis himself, who would maintain a kind of brotherhood with them.
From Tupelo to Memphis
"Following the Path of the King..."

The particular world of Elvis Presley
The friends of his youth and his companions in the Mafia


RED WEST

 (November 20, 1936 – July 18, 2017)Robert Gene West was born in Memphis, Tennessee. His mahogany-colored hair eventually gave him the pseudonym of Red. From a young age he was an excellent athlete and former United States Mariner. He met Elvis in high school and was greatly noticed by his hairstyle. his striking clothing and his personality. Over time they met when Elvis was already singing and he made him the proposal that he work for him. In 1955, Red West was the conductor for Elvis and band members Scotty Moore, Bill Black and later with D.J. fountain. It was the time of Sun Records and the start to fame... at this time they were still touring the southern US performing live concerts as the 'Blue Moon Boys'. It would be from 1960, after the time of the army when Red went to work for Elvis as a bodyguard and became known as one of the members of the Mafia. When he began to work for his friend and partner Elvis as a protector or bodyguard in the early days he would leave everything to follow him on his artistic path. His restlessness towards music and the influence of Elvis made him learn to play the guitar and encouraged him to compose songs. Red learned to play with Scotty Moore and also sang very well, on several occasions he composed for Elvis Presley. The sheet music "You'll Be Gone" and "That's Someone You Never Forget". "You'll Be Gone" was also co-written with Charlie Hodge. On one occasion he was asked if Elvis had wanted to compose something with him, but in the end he only named the song

"That's Someone You Never Forget" without writing any notes...Red also co-wrote "If You Think I Don't Need You" with Joey Cooper for the movie Viva Las Vegas. He teamed up with Joey Cooper again on "I'm A Fool", which Ricky Nelson recorded. "I'm A Fool" later became a hit for Dino, Desi and Billy, the partnership of Dean-Paul "Dino" Martin, Desi Arnaz Jr. and William "Billy" Hinsche. He would have opportunities to become a songwriter for the singers of the moment... but he really didn't know how to take advantage of that opportunity. "Separate Ways" for Elvis afterwards. His path as a composer could have been a more interesting one if he had focused on this aspect. But from a young age he would work with Elvis and his dedication and company were more demanding than his own aspiration as a composer, which would be one of the reasons why he did not evolve either or did not dedicate much more time to composition. He also collaborated as an extra in the films of Elvis playing small parts... in the future he would continue down this path as an actor. When Elvis Presley was making movies in the 1960s in Hollywood, Red West appeared in small parts in sixteen of his films. During this time, like Elvis, he also befriended actor Nick Adams and thanks to his physical abilities he was hired as a stuntman on Adams' television series The Rebel. 

From there, Red went on to do more stunt work in film, as well as pursue an acting career in a number of films and on television.


In recent times Elvis was very bad, his life was taking a very complex path and those who were with him, some could not bear it. Red was finally fired in 1976 by Elvis's father, Vernon. It is then that he and his brother Sonny West wrote the book that explained the reality of Elvis's life in his words and in his vision. Entitled "Elvis: What Happened", it was published weeks before Elvis's death. Red West was always criticized for this book. He always said that his intention was to help change the situation, the life that Elvis was then leading and his habits that were leading him to destruction. Red always said that he loved Elvis and for many years he proved it. Staying by his side, he never really got any benefit from it, his work would be his compensation. It is very difficult to live in the shadow of a God... it is very difficult to live in the shadow of someone loved and admired by all and to live almost without a name, without a face, without a presence... to be behind him protecting, sharing his successes, his failures, their laughter, but it is even more difficult to be a friend and an employee at the same time, to be submissive, and faithful without being able to do anything to change things,,, and to be criticized for the acts without knowing the truth of them Even with the years , continue to be someone else who was part of his life, his success, being invisible... and being accused of being disloyal, unfaithful, and also interested... The best example of this composer's sensitivity is his music... .

That Someone you never forget written by Red West

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A6ob5ObFNB4

FROM TUPELO TO MEMPHIS


"Following the path of the King..."



"The particular world of Elvis" 

Charlie Hodge his friend and accomplice.

Much has been written and said about the Memphis Mafia. Friends, bodyguards, workers for Elvis Presley. In many moments for hours and in other pending of him, much more time than a normal worker should be. It's hard to be a friend salaried at the same time and in many moments several of them have been criticized these components without taking into account his sincere affection for Elvis and his loyalty from him. Obviously there are always bad examples but there are others very good and always by his side that left proof of his love for him. 

There are many reasons why it was difficult to combine this work with the friendship, since the life of Elvis Presley, his customs and his
dependence on other people could make this task more complex. An artist and his special world envelops the atmosphere of situations
strange and add to this the personality of Elvis that over time made it a little more difficult to hold, they may have caused some of they will change over time or disappear from your path and others remain faithful to the end. One of these exceptional members
Elvis' friend would be Charlie Hodge. Companion since military service and sincere friend of Elvis at all times. a nice man, kind, humble and always with the eternal smile that he shows in everything moment his optimism and good humor. I would always be a reference for him
because he helped her to learn new vocal techniques during the first years. Charlie started singing at the age of 17 in a Gospel group and
later he joined a group called The Foggy Rivers Boys with the who was touring in Memphis in 1955 when he met Elvis. Before he was famous he came over to say hello and told Charlie that he heard them on the radio. Later they coincided in the military service and from there their friendship and trust arose. He came to record a duet with Elvis and accompanied him vocally on many occasions on recording and in concert.
But over the years his collaboration and support with Elvis. 

Starting in 1968 with his return to TV since then his opinion It would be very important for him, in his performances. The choice with Charlie from the repertoire, his collaboration as a musician and vocal accompanist on stage and also as help and support with the public, they would make Charlie indispensable until the end. His humility and fidelity would be qualities to even play valet, with Elvis putting out tissues,
holding the mic for Elvis... Charlie Hodge would be his little shadow on stage (he was very short next to Elvis) always good humour, a jolly funny man with whom Elvis had a trust and maximum complicity, with Charlie he had security and also his jokes and laughter will become part of the show. Sometimes these extreme could be excessive on stage and complicate the interpretation of the protagonist but this wasn't Charlie's fault. In 1988 he wrote an autobiography and memoir book titled "Me 'n Elvis".

 Lovable and sincere.

Elvis' private world


Jerry Schilling

Jerry was a very special friend to Elvis, who became almost like a brother. It is very possible that he was because of his way of being, his fidelity, his understanding. His understanding with him was maximum and Elvis would always want to have him by his side, until the end. In 1954, when Jerry was 12 years old, he met Elvis, who would be his friend for years, on a soccer field. Since then, his admiration has grown for him, not only because of his music, but also because of his way of being, his personality. He first saw it on stage on his thirteenth birthday at The Ellis Auditorium in Memphis on February 6, 1955 and would be impressed. He always said that he liked the early days of Elvis better, because for him it was an impact, not only the music, the strength, the movements, and because he knew that Elvis was fresh and knew how to impress the public. In the time of Las Vegas when he would perform in public again, his strength, his maturity and his special way of treating his public would also fill him with admiration. When he was going to graduate as a teacher, Elvis made him the proposal to work for him and his life changed since then. His friendship would be sincere and loyal. Elvis trusted Jerry and valued his opinion highly, because he always told him the truth without embellishment. Jerry said that Elvis was so special, that he could see through people, he was a deep man, but without pretense. He was always generous with himself and others. In his memories he said that Elvis sometimes played the piano alone at home, singing with all his heart... on many occasions he was able to witness those moments that would remain in his memory, in which he could feel his friend's soul through his voice. Jerry's anecdotes tell of a sincere group of friends who surrounded Elvis, singing, protecting, being confidants, friends. It was a small group at first, fellow travelers, but he describes them in his book as brothers. From there the Mafia would be born, over time it would grow in number around Elvis, like an entourage. The main reason would be that Elvis didn't trust anyone because as a kid, he wasn't very popular and he wanted to have people working for him that he could believe in and also share the good times with. His path was marked by Elvis but over time he wanted to be independent so he would stop working for him, he would move away to work in Los Angeles as an editor, although he was still in contact, but finally in 1971, Elvis convinced him to go back to work for the. From this time on, Jerry would become his personal trainer, helping him to concentrate and focus all his energy before going on stage. Their friendship was always very special, despite many personal circumstances that could have broken that affection. and loyalty. Of all the members of the Mafia, Jerry could be defined as a brother, more than a friend to Elvis, because he loved him through thick and thin."


Following the Path of the King..."



Elvis' personal world




LAMAR FIKE 








Lamar Fike was one of Elvis Presley's most loyal friends. Their friendship would be a reality until the end, their support and opinion would always be important in his life. The first time Elvis and Lamar met was in July 1954. It was during a recording session in which Sam Phillips introduced them to . It would be at Sun Records, where Elvis would begin his musical path and his success. At this time Lamar was learning to be a disc jockey and it was Sam, his teacher. One night Sam took him to Sun Records, he told her that he wanted her to listen to someone he had discovered then, an unknown young man with whom he would start recording. Sam wanted Lamar to give him his opinion. He played him a demo of recordings made by Elvis and asked him what he thought of Elvis. Lamar told him that he didn't quite know what to say, but he sounded great to him. He invited him to see how they did Elvis's first professional recording session, working on the song "That's alright Mama". When he heard him, Sam asked him again what he thought of the boy. And Lamar, who was very impressed, told him that he was someone different, exciting and also with a different appearance, very good. It was clear that Lamar had been impressed by the way of singing of this young man, who had not yet officially recorded any album. It was the beginning of his artistic career at Sun Records and Sam Phillips would be the architect of his success. Lamar would talk to Elvis after the session and told him that he thought he was special, different. They talked about more things and from this moment, Elvis began to call him and they went out together, at this time a friendship would begin that continued for years. In 1957 he began working for Elvis,

He proposed to join him, after a while of being disc jokey. At this time he moved to Graceland where he would begin to live. Elvis and Lamar would begin to be good friends, since he cared a lot about his opinion and his loyalty. Lamar Fike worked at Hill & Range publishing house from 1963 to 1973, while collecting songs for Elvis from authors in Nashville. This way she kept a bit of independence when she worked for him. He would be one of the members of the Mafia that accompanied him until the end of his days.

"Following the Path of the King..."






Friendship and Radio







George Klein

He met Elvis when they were boys at Humes High School in 1948, although at this time he was not yet friends with him, eventually their paths crossed and their friendship would last until Elvis's death 29 years later. He was a witness and often a participant in many of the important events in Elvis's life, his most important moments in his artistic career, such as the tours in 1957. Elvis would be best man at his wedding in 1970. He became one of his closest friends intimate because George was the kind of man who could understand Elvis. His opinion within the musical environment was important because of his profession, his collaboration in his career, his help and support would be fundamental, because apart from being a friend, he was also one of his means of connection with the world and current music.
George would be an influential voice on his recordings and Elvis would always look to him for advice. His life would also be marked by that of Elvis, as for many of his Mafia companions. George was a disc jockey and his career continued on Radio and TV. At the end of 1957 he left Elvis's employ to pursue his own profession, but he was always there as a friend. Nothing would be lost, or at least almost nothing, because Elvis would count on him at all times. He began as an assistant on the radio with Dewey Phillips and Elvis recruited him to accompany him in his concerts that he would perform from then on. It was the year 1957, an intense year in the life of Elvis Presley, in which George Klein was a witness at his side. When Elvis left for Germany, George would return to Radio and with his return he would be asked to return to his service. But George decided to follow his path, as a friend of Elvis and would be invited to his tours, his vacations, etc. In the 1960s, George Klein became the director of WHBQ in Memphis and, through his own television show, "Talent Party," he was one of the leading local figures in Memphis. Elvis affectionately called him "GK" and liked George's outgoing personality, loyalty and sense of humor. It is very likely that in the case of friends who had their own livelihood and were not in full service with Elvis Presley , they could carry their loyalty and friendship in another way.
https://youtu.be/tHbBJRjg1_0

Those who worked for him, apart from being his friends, were his employees and this made the relationship somewhat complex due to the influence of economic issues, family, time... It was difficult to be friends and worker at the same time for Elvis. But George was always a loyal friend at all times. "Following the Path of the King..."





Trust and sincerity.
Marty Lacker

Although originally from Brooklyn, New York, he grew up in the South Bronx, moving to Memphis when he was fifteen. There he met Elvis Presley in 1953 at Humes High School. Marty was also a special boy and he dressed a little differently, as he dressed in New York, Elvis caught his attention for the same reason, they liked bright colors in clothes and that made them know each other at this time. Also the approach through soccer games through Red West, his cousin Sonny with whom they played from time to time. Marty would return from his military service and in 1957, he would start in the world of Radio. At this time he would be invited to Graceland, where Elvis who remembered him told him to go there whenever he wanted. He used to go there from time to time and became friends with Lamar Fike, Billy and Gene Smith and Red West who were already part of the Elvis group. Marty would go on to radio, though, where he was hired as a program manager on WKGN in Knoxville and in Memphis, production manager and late-night DJ for WHHM Radio. From then until 1961, which would be when he started working for Elvis. By then Marty was already married with a child and although he was working for Elvis he would be forced to leave him again to work in Memphis as a director at Radio WHBQ. They didn't lose touch, because he was still dating them when they were in Memphis. But it was really in 1964 when Elvis asked him to work for him as a foreman, due to the argument and dismissal of Joe Esposito. When Joe came back they continued to share functions. Elvis trusted Marty, because of his experience in the musical world, on the radio, apart from as a person, because he gave him another type of security or tranquility that he did not have with other mafia boys, another point of view. His confidence and friendship made Marty and Joe also share the sponsorship of Elvis's wedding with Priscilla Beaulieu, in May 1967. At this time he had the opportunity to found a record company "Pepper Records", although Elvis insisted that he continue working for him . But Marty wanted to have a little independence. Although Elvis asked him to do some function for him, at this time Marty did it without charging a single penny. By then he was already producing some young promise in collaboration with American Sound Studios, where he collaborated with producer Chips Moman. Marty was already involved in the Memphis music industry. This moment was important because they were the third largest recording center in the world because of all the hits that had come out of it. Marty saw a big difference in the way American studios recorded and the way Elvis had been recording for the last 10 years La Rca had not yet updated their media at the Nashville studios, this would be done a year later, it is evident that there was a technological delay in the media used. In 1969, Marty convinced Elvis to that he make his new recordings at the American Sound Studios, a success that would overturn Elvis's musical career in terms of records at the hands of Chips Moman, a young producer who was renewing the sound and producing great artists. A short time later, Chips asked Marty to direct the Americans with him. Their friendship was very important, so Elvis fully trusted and recorded there, in addition to changing the type of new repertoire, compared to the previous one, it was an important moment for him. . Elvis then promised that he would never again let them control his repertoire of songs and he would always choose something that he really felt, not out of obligation... over time this stopped being the case, unfortunately. Marty would also be key in contacting Stax Studios and having Elvis record there, regardless of this, he would go on to have his own Mempro company and represented publishers and did artist management. All of this would have nothing to do with Elvis, his work in Memphis serving the entire music industry made him one of the leaders of the Memphis music industry and he produced, directed and wrote three highly successful music award shows a those attended by most of the executives of the national music industry. For his work in November 2010, Marty Lacker received a "Beale Street Blues Note" honor, the equivalent of a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Despite being independent of Elvis's payroll, Marty maintained their friendship for years, until the death of Elvis and at all times I was in contact with him and the rest of the Mafia boys, since I tried to be with Elvis and the group. He would never lose contact. Marty would always be honest with Elvis, he was one of the few who dared to tell him the truth, even if he expected something not very pleasant in response. Elvis always valued this sincerity and confidence.

"Following the Way of the King..."


The circle of friendship

SONNY WEST

Although he had humble beginnings as Elvis, he was also a fan of James Dean like him, he was also very fond of sports, but they did not know each other as children. The first time he saw Elvis was when he was a sophomore at Tech High in 1954 Elvis went to sing on campus to promote his first album "That's all right" and sang several songs. He liked what he heard and would later see him become famous on TV, his cousin Red (Bobby) worked as a bodyguard for Elvis. He later went to see him at a concert at the Tucson Rodeo Grounds on June 10, 1956. His date wanted to meet to Elvis and went to see him, when they saw how the fans fell on him and left him on his knees with enthusiasm... He would witness the affection that Elvis had for Red, his mother and Red's father would die within a day of each other and this would unite them more. Although he didn't officially meet him until later at a skating rink, where there was an incident with a stalker fan who was bothering Elvis and Sonny would lay him down to defend him. In 1958 Red West, who was his cousin, introduced him to Elvis Presley and in June 1958 Elvis asked him to join his group, after some recording sessions to which he was invited. But it was not until 1960 that Sonny finally He would begin to work regularly for Elvis as a bodyguard, until July 1976. Sonny would talk about the first time he met him, he was impressed by his warmth, charm, sincerity and manners and his physical attractiveness. But then he did not know to what extent his influence would be so great in his life since he started working for him. Sonny would describe him as an older brother and companion including his early marriage and father. They had their own code of life, with Elvis at first he was a personal assistant, not only did he protect him as a bodyguard, from 1969 he became his head of security for years. They lived in a different world, when Elvis wanted something, they were at his side. 24-hour service, they slept during the day, at the same time as him and attended to any request he had. It was a chosen and special group with some demands, their confidences, but they also shared great indescribable moments. But although it was a salary, they were like friends, colleagues and also employees, they shared their ups and downs with him. In recent times, Elvis would depend excessively on medication and this harmed his health, Sonny would live this time as a situation that was already of control. There were doctors who listened to her and others who didn't, so he wanted to advise her to stop self-medicating. They tried to intervene to get him to quit, but Elvis saw it as disloyalty and fired them, along with Red West and Dave Hebler. Although they say that the excuse was the dismissal for economic reasons by his father, Vernon, although it is believed that this is not true. Later they published a book entitled "Elvis: What Happened?" in which they explained this whole situation that was not understood as such, but as treason and falsehood. Unfortunately Elvis passed away two weeks later, from this publication. The book, Sonny said, was an attempt to find solutions and help. Obviously no one but them knows the reality and it is true that over time it has been possible to confirm that everything that would be told in this book was later explained by other people who knew him. Although it is possible that it was done in a softer way, but the reality was the same. Sonny would write another book about Elvis after a long time, "Elvis: Still Taking Care of Business", in which he leaves no doubt of his affection, friendliness and camaraderie with him 

"Following the Way of the King... "


The private world of Elvis

RICHARD DAVIS

There are characters that go unnoticed by people, who are there but are more discreet than the rest and who, curiously, are also part of the group that accompanied Elvis for years, such as Gigi Campbell or Richard Davis. Richard Davis, since 1961 would form part of the group of friends and member of Elvis's personal entourage. Born in Memphis, he was a faithful friend of Elvis, bodyguard, even a substitute of cinema in some of his films. He met Elvis Presley in 1960 when he worked as a manager in the Memphian theater and Elvis He went with Anita Wood to see a movie and asked if he could go up to a box so he wouldn't be noticed. Already in 1961 Sonny West took him to Graceland and from then on Elvis told him to go whenever he wanted, becoming a regular friend at the house and later from 1962 he already proposed to work for him. Since then he worked for him for years . Although he was present around Elvis from the beginning of his services, he is more recognizable in the time since the Concerts because he normally always appears next to him. Interestingly enough, he was laid off in the late 1970s to cut costs. But he would remain close to Elvis as a friend and would occasionally return to his service. Richard Davis took care of Elvis's wardrobe in collaboration with Billy, he also bought his clothes, but he also had other jobs. In Memphis, he took care of the vehicles (washing, gas, repairs) and oversaw the storage of Elvis's necessities in the kitchen and the rest of the house. He was also expected to be at Graceland at 1:30 every day. And at the time of Concerts as an escort also with Sonny and Red West. They say of him that his humor was acid and joking and the anecdote in which he he slammed a water balloon on him. Richard said that working for Elvis was fun and happy back in the days of the movies, when it was all jokes and laughter. He says that he treated them like his family and if someone wasn't like that he would turn them down.He says that Elvis always made it fun. When he slept they slept, when there was a party they celebrated, when someone was sick Elvis asked him: What's wrong? His love for Him was unquestionable despite the most difficult times for everyone. It is also incredible the multiple tasks that each of they had to do for Elvis. And the sad thing is that they have been so criticized over time. A single salary, many functions and after hours... Richard would never write a book talking about Elvis Presley... he did give interviews to talk about him. He was always a loyal friend.


Spirituality and Style

LARRY GELLER


April 30, 1964 a special moment in the life of Elvis PresleySometimes people change the course of our history...Elvis finds himself in a moment where disappointment with his movies, and the people around him takes an unexpected course.. .. It is time to question your life, your professional course, to ask yourself questions....to search in spirituality, faith... At this moment Larry Geller appears in your way. A man who was seemingly a normal person, he was one of the most well-known hairstylists and early celebrities in Los Angeles in the 1960s, working with the famous Jay Sebring. His Hollywood clientele would include Frank Sinatra, Paul Newman, Marlon Brando, Peter Sellers, Steve McQueen, etc. After combing Elvis's hair for the first time, they started talking and Larry stayed with Elvis for another three hours. than normal. The reason was that Elvis talked to Larry about everything, he confided in him, he would talk to him about anecdotes, sensations, situations, from the world of entertainment, which was the one he knew, to the nature of life. Larry was special, a man with a high understanding of things, of people. This conversation was so special that Larry didn't realize it then, but at that moment... that day he was going to change two lives: his and Elvis's forever. Elvis immediately found in Larry a special empathy, a sincere relationship and from there they began a close friendship until Elvis passed away. Elvis needed to focus his inner self, search for spirituality and found in Larry a friend and an accomplice, because he would share this special world with him. Until now, Elvis had a relationship with the actress Ann Margret with whom he enjoyed great moments and the time he had the relationship with Priscilla, at her house. This was a somewhat complex moment for him, because things were getting complicated. In 1964, everyone saw Elvis in love with Ann Margret but no one had told him about their real relationship, which was still going on since they met. To Larry Geller he would confess his love for Ann Margret and explain the reason for his decision to leave the relationship. This happened during the filming of the movie Girl Happy, Ann went to visit him at the studios. Elvis would explain her decision to leave her...the two of them were too much alike, her personality, her career was too important and Elvis wanted a woman and a family. His word had him bound and surely Priscilla could represent all of this. Although the reality would be that he was literally forced by her father, his father and the Colonel, who forced him to take a situation and marry her. With Larry he would always talk honestly about his feelings, his thoughts and learn from his spirituality. They would share many things from then on. Larry's understanding and empathy towards Elvis would open his heart as a friend forever. Although it is true that Larry was very different from his usual friends and this generated some mistrust and antipathy in general at first. But Larry would be a special friend to Elvis Presley who confided in him his innermost thoughts, his doubts, his longings. For Elvis Presley it was a somewhat complicated moment in his life where he wondered the why of his life... and Larry would help him find answers to his unreason for existing. Larry Geller wrote two very interesting books that tell what happened and of his friendship with Elvis Presley: "If I can dream" and "Leaves of Elvis´s Garden". 


"Following the Path of the King..."

Elvis' private worlds

Billy Smith


At the beginning of his career, Elvis relied on his cousins ​​to accompany and protect him. Carrol Junior Smith was Elvis's cousin who accompanied him in the 50s, also during the trip to New York, during the Steve Allen show and was part of his clan, but in 1961 he died of a heart attack due to excess of alcohol. Gene Smith, his brother, was a companion for years substituting the steering wheel on the first tours for Elvis to sleep. He eventually became his driver. In 1962 they got angry, but for a time he was away, but later he would be responsible for the wardrobe in Hollywood.
Billy Smith would be the youngest of Elvis's cousins. He would also be a member of the Memphis Mafia and would also become responsible for the wardrobe that Elvis also used. One more of the Mafia, the group of workers and friends who were part of Elvis's life. A changing group, but Billy would remain faithful to Elvis all his life. He became a good friend and, to Elvis, someone like his little brother. The Smith family was a humble, poor family and Billy remembers a story as a child, in which Elvis picked him up from a garbage can.
Billy leaned out to pick fruit and fell on it when Elvis walked past and pulled him out. Billy was 8 years younger than Elvis and grew up with him in Tupelo. Billy's family also went with the Presleys when they moved to Memphis. When Billy was old enough, he started working with the 'Memphis Mafia' crew. Billy and his wife Jo lived behind the main house in Graceland, except for a few years when Billy worked on the railroad. They were a true family with the Presleys. He would be the closest to him in recent years, in the last days, even the last hours of Elvis. Of course the trust in him was total and when Elvis died, Billy lost his job and returned to the railroad until 1982 when he worked as a worker and later as a Tourism supervisor at Graceland. With a modest salary. An absurdity, that Elvis would never have allowed, that his cousin received less money since then, because nobody like him was more qualified for everything related to Graceland. He says that they never let Lisa Marie get close to him or his family after Elvis passed away. And over time it would be difficult for him since they were considered a poor family.Since he was a child he always remembered him singing for the family.He tells of the great affection that Elvis always showed him since he was little until the end of his days. He always counted on him as a family member and close friend that he became. He says that Elvis had a hard time keeping a secret, because he shared everything, although if you insisted he would finally keep it forever. Billy Smith wrote the anecdotes and memories he wanted to share with Marty Lacker and Lamar Fike. Together they wrote the book 'Elvis & The Memphis Mafia'. It is clear that his family remained humble. The work of the members of the Mafia never made anyone rich. Normally they had to look for another job to earn more or finally it was difficult to support a family. But Billy Smith was always loyal to Elvis...

Elvis with his cousin Gene Smith. Backstage at the University of Dayton. Fieldhouse. May 27, 1956.


The genius of laughter

GENE SMITH 


Gene Smith was one of Elvis's first companions, he was his cousin and in addition to growing up with him, they had a close friendship. He was a very funny guy, always witty at all times, he went with Elvis everywhere, just like his brother Junior. In the early days Elvis wanted to have someone to talk to because he felt that his world was getting bigger, but it isolated him more and more and he turned to people he had always known and whom he could trust with him. He was the closest at all times during the early days. In 1962, Elvis and Gene had a misunderstanding over some jewelry, so Elvis fired him and their paths parted. Although Gene visited Elvis's house from time to time, since he was from the family, it was never the same, because Elvis had lost confidence in him.


Sometimes life changes its meaning, moments pass without knowing and the course of our destiny also changes as if it were directed by an invisible compass that dominates our north and magnetizes our path...It is very possible that the moments we live through Sometimes they can go unnoticed, they can be almost invisible in this infinite existence and that a single movement, a single step that we take can affect the path of others... But it is true that every act has a consequence and that life is sometimes a chain of coincidences and causalities, which makes us indescribably tiny in the face of its consequences... And without knowing sometimes we are great, we are generous and we can give our best simply with a word, with a single gesture... life can once again to be magical and special, because the human being learns from his mistakes and knows how to retrace his path and find the best of himself... Because dreaming is sometimes possible and if you dream it is very likely that what you are looking for will be can make real... You only have to dream..."Following the King's Path...


"From Tupelo to Memphis

Curiosities about the personality of Elvis Presley
"Scatter"

Elvis was a great animal lover. Throughout his life he would always have pets around, evidently his mother's influence in this was important since she also liked their company. He liked dogs and horses more than anything, he wanted to share them with his loved ones. He gave Gladys, his mother, a small dog named Sweet Pea in 1956. In 1962 he bought a poodle named Honey for Priscilla and curiously she did not like cats but she gave her daughter Lisa Marie a cat named Puff. Scatter was a monkey, a very special chimpanzee. Elvis bought it in 1961 from Captain Bill Killebrew, thanks to his friend Alan Fortas. Bill was the host of the program "Spinning Images" where he would interview and draw children, interspersed with movies and cartoons and was also the artist of the cartoons. "Scatter's World" was a slot in the show. Bill acquired a cute little chimpanzee named Scatter who began appearing on the show, quickly becoming the star attraction. But Scatter was more popular and recognized by kids, he even had his own Scatter Club. All this on his Saturday morning show on WMC-TV in Memphis. The monkey became very popular, more than Bill Killebrew. Alan Fortas, his friend, got it when he found out they wanted to get rid of him. They had more monkeys for the show and decided to get rid of him, without much logic. Scatter became so particular that he went out with Elvis and his friends everywhere. He had a slightly variable character and depending on his mood he let himself be hugged like a baby or he became surly. He was a very intelligent monkey as his previous owner trained him for all sorts of tricks and tricks, stunts and even simulating driving his car... It was clear that Elvis loved his new friend and enjoyed his company at all times. .He lived in Graceland for several years and of course he learned bad habits there...Many times being the center of attention.Scatter dressed as if he were a human, he was very funny at first and fun for everyone but with time his pranks would be more annoying . He also drank alcohol and persecuted girls with his sexual habits and lifted their skirts... he bit... he threw all kinds of things at visitors, he was a troublemaker... Alan Fortas dressed him in a chauffeur's cap and when he drove Elvis's Rolls Royce, sitting it like Bill did on his lap, hiding when another car went by, so that the other couldn't see anything but a monkey at the wheel of the car. One day he ran away from Elvis and snuck into the office of Samuel Goldwyn, the producer who smashed everything he touched... He had to be escorted by security and taken to Graceland. On another occasion he bit Vernon Presley's wife, Dee, on the finger. Elvis called Bill to ask if the monkey had been vaccinated against rabies. And Bill replied... "Yes, he is vaccinated, is Mrs. Presley vaccinated too?" Scatter's story would go much further... Finally he had to send him to Graceland where they had a cage for him. For which he never returned to enjoy his previous life. There are two versions of the end of this chimpanzee, it is said that Scatter died over time due to liver problems related to alcohol and another version that says that one of the maids poisoned him because it had bitten him... But Elvis's love for animals never ceased to be a form of his being.

Alan Fortas

One of the members of the Memphis Mafia and a personal friend of Elvis. Alan would meet Elvis Presley in 1958 and for a long time worked for him until 1969, serving as a bodyguard and general assistant. He was a man with a very good humor, smiling and got along very well with Elvis. He ran the Circle G ranch until it was sold. Despite leaving the group in 1969, he would remain friends with Elvis until the end of his days. Elvis was very given to giving nicknames to all the Mafia boys and Alan Fortas would be nicknamed "hog ears" because of the size of his ears. Alan He was really a nice and very loyal man, they say he was one of the best regarded members of the Memphis Mafia. Fortas was a vice president of Carty & Co. Inc., an investment company where he had worked since 1979. On "Elvis" The Comeback Special we can see him sitting with his back to the Sitdown Show. He was called upon by Steve Binder to give Elvis encouragement and confidence at this time. 

"Following the Path of the King..."



Elvis' private world
JOE ESPOSITO


Diamond Joe
Joe Esposito met Elvis while doing military service. Joe was from Chicago and an accountant by profession, he was a very intelligent man with a great capacity to perform many functions, he was very versatile. Joe Esposito and Elvis were assigned to Ray Barracks, it was a United States Army installation in Friedberg, Germany, they met in October 1958. As colleagues they shared many tasks and regular moments and would go out on occasion. He was very surprised that Joe suggested that he keep receipts for expenses, meals, etc. He told her that he could deduct them from income tax. No one had explained this to him, no one had ever given him financial advice, and this made him think of him as a counselor. Elvis perceived him as a very intelligent and sincere person, so he asked him to work for him, as a finance clerk. From then on, Joe would start working for Elvis and become a member of his usual group, his entourage. , which at that time was still a very small group. Over time he nicknamed him "Diamond Joe", Elvis always gave his friends nicknames and Joe was called that, because of the penchant he later developed for jewelry. In 1960 when they returned to the US, Joe was happy to work for Elvis, He would also become a foreman, a road manager, making sure that the rest of the group did not cross the line. Elvis's father, Vernon was the one who had taken care of the finances of the Elvis house until then and trusted Joe to help him and control the receipts etc.Joe Esposito also worked as an extra in the Elvis movies, at least in eight, he is also recognized as a technical advisor in several more. In the early sixties, Joe lived in the garage apartment at Graceland when he was in Memphis. In August 1964, there was a misunderstanding between the two, after Elvis discovered that Joe was communicating with the colonel behind his back. He considered him a sneak, because Joe informed the Colonel of everything he did then, it was a somewhat difficult time, because Elvis took refuge in spirituality, reading books, changing habits and this worried everyone a lot, so the Colonel He demanded to know everything that was going on. Elvis logically took it as a violation of his privacy, a lack of trust and loyalty from him, so he fired Joe. Later he would explain to him why Elvis forgave him, regaining his position again. But despite everything, they became such friends that Elvis would have him again in his group as co-foreman, with little Marty Lacker. time after. Even at his wedding with Priscilla, on May 1, 1967, Joe and Marty would be the godparents of the same. Like Elvis, Joe's character was also a prankster and it was very common for one to end the other's joke... there was a lot of complicity between them. He would be Road manager on his return to the stage, from 1969 and on concert tours. On many occasions he shared very intimate moments with Elvis and Priscilla, his wife, because his wife Joanie was also a friend of Priscilla and They would go out many times. Elvis always trusted him, despite information getting out of hand at times. The only excuse Joe would make was concern for him. He would remain his friend and servant until Elvis's passing."

Following the Path of the King..."

The humor of the devil
Elvis and his friends from the Mafia

Despite all the risks and threats, both Elvis and his bodyguards took it with humor, sometimes diabolical, always talking about the hotel raids, the water pistols and the games they played when they stayed during the tours. Elvis and his friends, the members of the Mafia, were like a kind of clan, a brotherhood, they always had their moments of laughter, jokes and games. At concert times and in hotels, it was logical that when traveling with the same group of people and if they also get along well, sometimes jokes would be made, which made the concert stage more enjoyable. Despite the threats they tried to take life with a lot of humor. But sometimes these pranks went overboard like the Mafia boys prank with Elvis for JD Sumner and the Stamps. Red West would tell about this sometimes slightly wild humor. When the Stamps joined, with DJ Sumner, the vocal group that backed Elvis, they still didn't know them well and didn't know what they were capable of. In 1972, when they received threats, everyone was very nervous about this, but to break the monotony and have a little fun, Elvis, Sonny and Red decided to play what seemed like "a little joke". This consisted of telling J.D. Sumner and his group that there was a madman in the hotel, who appears to be carrying a gun and intending to kill Elvis. Since they needed help with this, they asked three of the security guards to join their comedy. So they would stage a fake shootout with a suspected killer. Sonny pretended to be the aggressor, so that he would not be recognized, and everyone loaded their weapons with blank bullets and the guards emptied their pistols. JD and the Stamps were sternly warned to be very careful because the madman was by the hotel and they didn't know where. Everyone obviously got very nervous and stayed in the Suite with Elvis near the bar with two of the security guards. Sonny, who had left the Suite, would come back in disguise through the back door, while everyone was talking about the madman. Sonny sticks his arm out with a gun, around a corner and yells, "Son of a bitch!"...starts shooting...Then Red runs into the hallway and shoots too and then he would yell, "Oh!" staggering back to the Suite and falling to the floor dead. The guards enter to shoot, he also shoots them and they fall dead, it seems like a massacre... Everyone who was there panicked, but with the racket each one took on their own defense role. Donny Sumner would pick up broken glasses to defend himself and J.D threw himself at Elvis to protect him. Ed Enoch, another member of the Stamps, threw himself behind a piano and yelled, "Give me a gun, give me a gun!" Bill Baize, the most religious member of the group, prayed under a table. The killer "Sonny" would approach the bar, silence is heard, no one shoots... J.D looks over the level of the bar and Sonny fires again. He shot as if he was aiming for the head and J.D yelled "damn!". Donny Sumner behind the bar picks up a large can of tomato juice and throws it around yelling, "You're a dead son of a bitch." Donny was in shock, collapsing on the floor nearly passed out. It all happened so fast because then, Ed Enoch had grabbed one of the "dead" security guard's guns and was pulling the trigger, which produced nothing but dull clicks. Elvis who was aware of the joke had been laughing convulsively the entire time. JD Sumner had felt it while on top of him, but thought it was a scary laugh. Everything was there, but Donny was slow to recover. Evidently when they realized it was all fake, they all agreed that J.D and his crew had been brave under fire. Then they burst out laughing at the memory, but evidently the joke had been a very heavy test of humor, which for any normal person would be an annoyance. But that's what it was about, they were a very close group and they had a great time. They were the jokes of the devil. 

"Following the Path of the King..."


Los amigos de la primera época
Cliff Gleaves  1956

Cliff Gleaves fue uno de los primeros amigos en formar parte de lo que eran sus acompañantes, guardaespaldas en los primeros tiempos. Era músico y DJ de Radio en Jackson y en  1956 conocería a Elvis Presley, en la época en la que ya había furor en sus conciertos, por lo que Elvis necesitaba protección. Normalmente le acompañaban sus primos Gene y Junior Smith y anteriormente Red West, pero Red se había alistado a la marina y de momento no podía contar con él.
Cuando Elvis conoció a Cliff, le invitó a acompañarle al rodaje de la película "Love me Tender", se llevaba muy bien con él por lo que , en noviembre de 1956, Elvis le pidió a Gleaves que sustituyera a Red West, que estaba en la Marina. Necesitaba tener su ayuda, a partir de entonces viviría en la casa de Auduvon Drive, con su familia.
Cliff tuvo la suerte de presenciar el día 4 de diciembre de 1956, la famosa e improvisada sesión que se realizó en la Sun Records, cuando Elvis, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis y Johnny Cash se pusieron a cantar.
Le acompañó durante este tiempo e incluso llegó a vivir en Graceland cuando Elvis lo compró. Se convirtió en amigo de Elvis, pero Cliff tenía aspiraciones y oportunamente le llegó una propuesta para avanzar en su propia carrera. En Septiembre de 1957 se lanzó su primer disco "Love Is My Business" que no llegó a las listas. En 1958 hizo grabaciones para Sun Records. Aunque es cierto que acompañó a Elvis cuando fue a Alemania para realizar el servicio militar.
Cuando regresaron a EEUU, Cliff seguiría haciendo intentos con su carrera y grabó nuevamente en 1960, pero sin éxito.
Cliff quería hacer otro tipo de vida y siguió por su cuenta en la Radio, donde se hizo carrera.
Aunque sus caminos se separaron entonces, Cliff seguiría en conexión con Elvis, hasta 1972.
"Siguiendo el Camino de el Rey..."

Dave Hebler
Patience and Experience

At this time new members had appeared around Elvis, such as his half-brothers the Stantely and others who had disappeared or were about to disappear. The reasons could obviously be economic or loyalty, it was clear that Elvis only admitted who was a faithful person with him and above all discretion regarding his private life and everything he did. It was a very closed and special circle and the one that did not fit in disappeared, although it is true that some particular case would be for economic reasons like that of Richard Davis, three years before. In any case, the environment was no longer the same as it was years ago, although the friendship was very strong with them, circumstances would begin to change from 1973. 
Dave Hebler would become part of the Memphis Mafia circle in the fall of 1072, was was one of the few Yankees who had joined them. Born in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, in 1937, he was of medium build, not very tall and with a calm demeanor, they said he spoke slowly and was intelligent. Despite being part of Elvis's bodyguards, he did not like weapons, this made him different from the group, which he was as fond of as Elvis himself. His reason was logical because when he was a child, a stray BB bullet, fired by another child, deprived him of the sight of his right eye. 
When he worked for Elvis Presley, he only carried a Smith and Wesson 38 revolver, although he did it out of obligation, because he was not enthusiastic about the idea. Despite his mild manner and dislike of guns, he was one of the deadliest men protecting Elvis. 
When he met him, he was a fifth degree black belt karate master. although in time he would get a seventh grade. He didn't like street fighting and he didn't drink much, but in three seconds he could land a thirteen-punch combination on a man's body that could first paralyze and even kill him. In the fall of 1972, Dave had undergone a change. quite big in his life, his marriage had foundered and he had also left his usual outfit, so his two young daughters were far from his normal life. He dedicated himself fully to Karate in which he had been involved for many years and would be an instructor and at the same time an apprentice to Ed Parker, a friend of Elvis. Elvis met him in a class in which Dave helped him and got him out of trouble, later he sympathized with him, in such a way that he would propose to be one of his bodyguards from that moment on. 
Dave said that Elvis gave him the impression of being very shy, but with a definite magic that he would later see on stage. Where he had control and a different way of being, captivating the public. When he came off the stage he said that he was back to being the ordinary and funny Elvis. But on stage he knew how to do things and his way of singing was something unsurpassed, Dave recognized him as a magnificent artist. He was a man who seemed cautious and reserved, but always aware of what could happen around Elvis to protect him at all times. From 1972 it would be one more of the Memphis Mafia, until July 1976 in which he was thrown out, with Red and Sonny West. 

"Following the Path of the King..."


































"Music for Elvis was his life blood. He lived to sing and sang to live. I think from birth he was destined to be "Elvis Presley". I'll tell you something about Elvis, he was the most natural talent I've ever heard or seen. Everything he did was natural and innate. He was not a music student; in fact, he did poorly in the subject at school. And he never took a lesson. However, the "feel" of him, his tone, his creative edge, his expressiveness, and the power of him were all spot on and from a very young age. Even at twenty, he possessed the seasoned vocal prowess of someone more than twice his age. 
It's almost supernatural how he sang. His entire career seemed guided by the stars. A lot of people feel like it was a gift from God and I have to agree."

 Joe Esposito



                                                                                 


Growing page...

                                                                                                                                                                              Sorry for bothering you!