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In this long interview with EIN, Sonny talks about:

  • His then new book, Elvis: Still Taking Care of Business
  • Where fans could meet him during Elvis Week 2007
  • The Sonny West story
  • Why he, Red and Dave Hebler wrote Elvis: What Happened?
  • Priscilla and Ann-Margret
  • Recounts experiences of life around Elvis
  • Did Elvis have a self-destructive personality?
  • The film offer by Barbra Streisand
  • His last contact with Elvis
  • Elvis and those racism rumors
  • Elvis and politics
  • Elvis and bipolar disorder
  • The Memphis Mafia
  • Sums up those in Elvis' inner circle
  • The real reason why the Colonel worked Elvis so hard
  • Elvis' death
  • Elvis post 16 August 1977 - the conspiracy theories and claims by Dee Presley



Elvis: Still Taking Care of Business

Sonny, great to talk with you! Are you looking forward to this year’s huge Elvis Week?
Yes I am. That is always a special time for me as it is when fans worldwide honor him and pay their respect to him. It is a time for me to reflect on what he meant to me.


You will be in Memphis promoting your new book, Elvis: Still Taking Care of Business. Where can fans find you during Elvis Week?

I will be in Memphis August 11 th through the morning of August 14th. I will make the first appearance at Bill Burk’s Elvis World luncheon on August 12th from 1:30 to 3:30 pm. Later that day, I should be at the Days Inn at 3839 Elvis Presley Blvd. in the Lobby from 6 pm to 8 pm for a book signing, then at the Crossings (Tent area across from Graceland) sometime around 9 pm to say “hi” to my dear friends, Danny McCorkle and Christopher Drummond, and the fans.


It has been a long time since 16 August 1977. Did that make it easier to write your new book?

As a matter of fact, it did. For several years after I lost him, I didn’t think about another book. I had a rough time getting over that terrible tragedy. But eventually I began to think that I had to write another book, to contribute to his legacy along with the others that had written about their life with him. I certainly knew that Elvis: What Happened could and would not be my contribution to that end. I have stated that had Red and I been working for Elvis until the end, EWH would never have been written. It was written precisely to prevent what happened. No way would we have written that book after his death. The book that I have out now would have been the one that I would have written, but I am not sure when that would have been.


Also, I would like to point out that a recent excerpt from “another book” by Joe Esposito, stating new revelations of his being honest and “straight up” about everything. (really?) It also states at one time or another we were all fired and had we just waited, everything would have been alright and we would have been brought back into the fold. First of all, this book was not a “revenge or get even” attempt at Elvis over our firing which seems to be the thoughts of some of the other guys in the group.


The same ones which have spoken out against us for doing the book were denying at the time Elvis' prescription drug habit was true. Today they have all written books, done interviews, stating now what we stated while Elvis was alive. We know what our motivation was when we wrote our book about his addiction problem. The question is what is theirs for writing it today? The reason given by one of them is he has come to the decision of finally wanting to be “straight up” and honest.


And in reference to Joe’s statement of his thoughts at the time regarding Elvis’ reaction to the book as being “a mountain he may not be able to climb.” That was not the mountain. Elvis was already on that “mountain that he may never climb” and it was much bigger than the one Joe was inferring. I am referring to Elvis conquering his addictive nature as his mountain to climb. Our book was meant to be a catalyst to begin climbing that mountain, and Elvis could have if he had just recognized the fact that he needed to.


There have been so many books about Elvis released. How does Elvis: Still Taking Care of Business differentiate itself from others?

I feel that I have tried to give a more personal insight to Elvis that the fans want to know, and feel I was successful in doing so. Of course, that will be up to the readers to decide. So far that has been the case for the ones that have commented about the book to me and on postings in the Elvis world. It is my memories of my life with him, the ups and downs that occur between friends in a span of over 16 years. Of course, one of the “friends” being Elvis Presley does indeed play a big part of why people want to read books written by those close to him.


What else would you like to tell our readers about Elvis: Still Taking Care of Business?

It is written with a deep love and respect for someone I spent most of my young adult life, protecting and giving everything I had to make his life better and safe as I could.


Your new book has been on sale now for a few months. How are sales going?

They seem to be going very well. I haven’t heard any numbers from the publisher or anything like that, just that many people have told me of the bookstores running out of copies and ordering more. Sales figures usually aren't released until six months after its initial release.


You recently appeared with an Elvis Tribute Artist, Pete “Big Elvis” Vallee, to promote the book. A number of fans were surprised at this. What was your thinking at the time?

You know, I am surprised that question and the reaction of people out there to even come into play. I heard of some fans on chat rooms or postings about that event. The judgmental fans out there that came up with questioning my thoughts of appearing with a young man that has a weight issue, and has been working very hard over the last few years to correct it, is something that really irritates me. He has succeeded in doing so by losing over 300 pounds. Who do they think they are? I am not questioning their rights to think about issues, I am questioning, that after doing so, they come up with thoughts that should have been eliminated by a reasonable process.


Pete Vallee is a fine young man, very respectful of Elvis’ memory and his act is a tribute to him. He has a very good baritone voice that is strong, and he uses it to it’s finest in singing Elvis’ music. Some of the fans (most of them) are the same ones that have been “bashing” me, Red and Dave for 30 years. Fine, that is your prerogative. But to exercise that right regarding a person like Pete who has not done anything to offend anyone is WRONG! I tell you this, folks. Elvis would have none of it if he were here today. Period.


About Sonny West


Before we talk about Elvis, we’d like to find out more about Sonny West the person. Who is Sonny West?

Sonny West is Sonny West. Like many others my age, who grew up in the depression era, the ‘50s era, we feel fortunate to still be alive and in this world. I was born in Memphis and raised to be respectful of my elders and to be considerate of others. I grew up in a very rough neighborhood, with the “toughest gang” in Memphis, a government housing project called Lamar Terrace. I have always disliked “bullies” and protect others from them when the opportunity presented itself. I was raised in a large family of six children and I was the first born son, but the fourth child. When I left high school, I went into the Air Force, got out and came back to Memphis. I got a job with Ralston-Purina Company then changed jobs and went to work at Ace Appliance Company, repairing appliances, which is where I worked until I went to work for Elvis in April of 1960.

Apart from promoting your new book, what is Sonny West up to today?

I am Executive Producer on a proposed reality series for television that is in the developmental stage right now for a pilot. Hopefully it will be on the air next year. Our target date to begin taping is sometime late this fall or early next year. I believe it will be highly entertaining family show and one that people around the country, as well as around the world will enjoy watching.


I also do shows with different promoters around the world, telling of my life and times with Elvis, and working with Elvis Tribute Artists. I personally believe they really help project the image of Elvis and help introduce new fans to him. There are many that do a nice tribute to him, and as long as they realize who they are, and who Elvis is, I don’t have a problem with them. But once they are off of that stage, don’t try to talk or act like him. I won’t stay around and listen to it.


Legend: Elvis and Priscilla, at the wedding ceremony of Sonny West to Judy, on 28/12/1970.


How has life changed for you and Judy since Elvis’ death?

We are good. We have continued to travel and see parts of the world that probably would not have been possible if not for my life with Elvis. I recognize that, and am very grateful to him for that.


What have you been doing since 1977?

Judy and I bred and showed Arabian Horses, had a business making Western costume jewelry, did a movie together, titled The Disc Jockey. We had our second child in 1981, a daughter who is the light of our lives. A year later I became Director of Security for an RJ Reynolds Tobacco Co. tour with the popular country group Alabama, and single acts, Mickey Gilley, Johnny Lee and Juice Newtown in 1982-83. I learned the talent booking business and did that for awhile in Nashville, which is when I moved my family to the Nashville area in August of 1984.


My wife and I owned a construction cleaning service for a few years. It was hard work, but the money was good. Health issues on my part forced us to retire from that industry. I was also a disc jockey at an AM radio station, WMRO in Gallatin, Tennessee for three years. I was the host of The Doo Wop Show, playing songs from the '50s, '60s and a few from the '70s. It was a lot of fun. It was an oldies but goodies format.


Legends: Sonny with Judy, in May 2005 (when everything was okay) and Sonny with Judy, in October 2016 (when he was already fighting against a lung cancer and Judy with a breast cancer).


What does Sonny West do in his spare time?

What spare time?! (LOL) Elvis still, in his own way, keeps me pretty busy with personal appearances and my shows. I spend time with my family, play a little golf, and I mean a little. I get to spend some time doing nothing, which really feels good at times.


Besides Elvis, who are your favorite singers?

I absolutely have a favorite in Celine Dion. I have stated in my book that I believe she would be one of Elvis’ also, if not his very favorite. The first time I heard, The Power Of Love, I was driving my daughter, Alana, to school, and I turned the volume up. When the song ended I told her that song was going to be a big hit, along with the lady that sang it. She still remembers that to this day. Of course, there are others I really like, Shania Twain, Tom Jones, Elton John, Roy Orbison, Frankie Valli, Jackie Wilson and Connie Francis. Actually, there are really too many to list all of them.


And your favorite actors?

Gene Hackman, Clint Eastwood, Dustin Hoffman, Jon Voight, Russell Crowe, James Woods, Kurt Russell, Denzel Washington, Mel Gibson, Sidney Poitier, Robert DeNiro, Al Pacino, Marlon Brando, Christopher Walken and many others. Then there's the immortal James Dean that was my favorite in the '50s.


A Sonny West (supposedly from Lubbock, Texas) recorded a couple of 45 rpms for Altantic in 1958 including Rave On . Some information books have suggested that this might be you. What do you know about this other Sonny West?

He is a songwriter/singer that I know little about other than we have the same name. There have been more than a few people that have asked me if I was the same guy, to which I sing a line or two, and then they know that I am not. Just kidding! No, but really, I don’t know anything about him.


Have you traveled much outside of the US?

I have traveled to England, Germany, and Australia. I look forward to returning to England and Germany this summer. Also, I hope to travel to Denmark and Switzerland this fall in October, and possibly other countries in the future.


What are some of your favorite places?

My wife, Judy, who travels with me, and myself enjoy all of the places we have traveled to, and look forward to new places. They are all favorites of ours. Hawaii is definitely one of our most favorite places in the world.


Your marriage to Judy has lasted for nearly four decades. What is your secret?

Judy is the secret. She has had to deal with a lot during our years together, and she has handled it with flying colors. She is the glue.


Have you considered patenting it?

LOL She is the patent. I am sure there are others out there that have the same patent pending.


Elvis: What Happened?

Elvis: Still Taking Care of Business is of course your second book about your time with Elvis. In 1977 fans were overwhelmingly critical of Elvis: What Happened? In 2007 many now see the book in a different, more accepting, way. How do you look back on its publication?

I am still upset that what we were trying to do was misinterpreted as a “get even” with Elvis for firing us, or “we did it for the money”. Neither could be further from the truth. Simply put, we knew Elvis - the people who criticized us did not. Elvis lived up to every challenge put to him and over came them. We thought he would do it again. While working for him, we had access to him to confront him regarding what he was doing to himself. Once we were fired, we had no access. The book was to try to show him, in no uncertain terms, what he was doing to himself and to those around him who loved him. Regarding the things told in the book about what he did in the '60’s was also said for the same reasons. When he was taking diet and pain pills that played with his emotions, including his volatile anger, he did or said things that he normally wouldn’t do.


Elvis became someone else under the influence of certain medications, including cortisone, which is a steroid and can make you irritable and somewhat aggressive in your behavior at times. But none of these were written about with compassion or understanding or concern. The writer, Steve Dunleavy, was assigned to write the book by World News Corp., whom we had signed the contract with for the book. He wrote for The Star weekly publication, which was owned by World News Corp. at the time. He felt none of the emotions I previously mentioned when writing, so they didn’t appear in the words as he wrote them. More than once, we had to take breaks as we were brought to tears at the sometimes painful thoughts of our remembrances.


Legends: The book that caused so much controversy; and a photo of Dave Hebler, Red and Sonny West, in 1977.


Arguably the biggest element in derision of Elvis What Happened? was its highly sensational, tabloid style. Steve Dunleavy obviously molded the style of the book. If you had the time over would you have gone with a different co-author?

I explained this in the previous question. And if we had had a choice, we would have absolutely gone with another writer.


I think that I have picked the best co-author in Marshall Terrill for my second book. If we had had a choice back then and he was available at the time, which he wasn’t (as he was only 13 at the time) would have been my choice, and I think that Red and Dave would have agreed.


Sonny, you say in Elvis: Still Taking Care of Business that Elvis: What Happened? was largely a failure. What do you mean by this?

That the intention of the book didn’t happen. Elvis did not meet the challenge. If he had, we would have been made to look like liars. But, in order to do that, Elvis would have had to stop what he was doing, get off of the drugs, and show the fans that he was not under the influence of prescription medication. He did that in Las Vegas one time when a bellhop said the Elvis was “strung out on drugs.”


That statement got Elvis very mad. He straightened up very fast and put on some great shows with the energy that his fans were used to seeing from him. He also threatened the guy while on stage, what he would do to him if he found which bellhop said it. That statement is actually on a CD that is out there in the Elvis world, and many of the fans have heard it.


Dave Hebler only worked for Elvis for a couple of years 1973 -1976. Did he have the right to participate in Elvis What Happened? when he only had bad things to say and no reference to the early years of the good times with Elvis?

You know, Dave has been maligned, I feel, by people because he was around for such a short time. But you need to think about that short time, and when it happened to be. It happened to be when things were starting to slip a little bit. Dave cared very much for Elvis, and not being around for a long time doesn’t mean as much as a lot of people think. You did not have to be around Elvis long at all for you to be touched by him in such a way that it changed your life forever.


Just look at the fans that never met him, or even saw him in person and look how their lives have been so profoundly touched and changed by him. You may not have heard the years that Red and I had with Elvis in Dave’s words, but not being there in the early years didn’t mean that he didn’t have some wonderful memories of some good times when he was there. Dave expressed, maybe in an analytical way, but certainly in a caring way, some issues that concerned him about some of Elvis’ behavior. All of us had different personalities, and Dave, for those of us who know him pretty well, has a very analytical mind. I consider him a dear friend and one that I would like to have covering my back. As far as having the “right to participate in EWH”, it had nothing to do with “the right.” It had to do with the fact that he was there and was concerned about Elvis' declining health. He participated in trying to help Elvis. Period.


Life Around Elvis


You were with Elvis from 1960 to 1976. This is a substantial part of your life. How did you handle news of his death?

It was a substantial part of my life, and one that I truly enjoyed living. I didn’t handle the news of Elvis’ death well at all. I was devastated and just fell apart. Other than my cousin Red and his wife Pat, I didn’t talk with anyone that day except my wife. I couldn’t. I cried most of that day and into the night. I wandered from room to room in our home, asking why, thinking only about the good times that we had shared over the years. The hope that he was going to get straight was lost. It wasn’t going to happen and I just felt so empty. I didn’t sleep that night, and then the next morning, watching the show, Good Morning America, with Dunleavy and Geraldo Rivera on the show, going after each other with personal attacks, and then both giving their comments about Elvis enraged me. Neither knew the man.


Dunleavy only knew the things we told him and Geraldo stated that he had met the man on several occasions and that “he was as straight as anyone in this room.” He then stated that he was sure “there was a flirtation with drugs, as it is the nature of the business (entertainment) but, to call him a junkie, is just a lie” I believe is an accurate quote. As it turned out, Geraldo admitted in his book, Exposing Myself, he met Elvis only once, and that was a 10-minute backstage interview at Madison Square Garden. That hardly qualifies him as an Elvis expert, don't you think?

We never called Elvis a junkie and I put in a call to our attorney to see if he could get a press conference held in his office later that day, which he did. That is the one that Dave and I participated in, as Red was working on a TV series. That is when Dave came up with a statement that lays it on the line when asked by a reporter about doing more to protect Elvis from taking drugs. Dave replied, “How do you protect someone from himself?” One final thought on this subject. A couple of years later, Geraldo used all of the resources and power of a top-rated investigative television series, 20/20, and exposed Elvis’ prescription drug problem on one of their weekly segments. As far as I know, he still has never acknowledged that we were telling the truth, and/or apologized for calling us liars.


Legends: Sonny with Elvis, during the filming of It Happened at the World's Fair and with Juliet Prowse and Pat Boone, during the filming of G.I. Blues.


Did you always travel with the gang to Elvis' films sets? How many films did you appear in? 

I worked one way or another on most of Elvis’ films. Either with him, as an extra, in a fight scene or as an actor. I don’t remember how many films exactly. We had a lot of fun during those years. They were my favorite years with him.


Did you ever spend time alone with Elvis and get to know him on a close one-to-one basis? Did he ever confide his fears or loneliness to you?

We had some times alone, as probably most of the guys did at one time or another. A lot of our conversations occurred when it was just the two of us in the car driving around. Sometimes at home when there wasn’t anyone else around, which didn’t happen too often. I have to tell you, he never spoke of his loneliness as something that was on his mind. I will say though, that he could appear to be the loneliest person in the middle of a large crowd. At times, there was a feeling that he gave off that appeared to be very vulnerable. It was at these times that I felt most protective of him.


When I started to work for him, I was 21 years old and, though having been In the Air Force, I was still a little wet behind the ears. I looked at him as a “worldly” big brother, showing me what life was all about. But near the end of our time together, I felt like I was the big brother, looking out for my little brother. The biggest concern, other than the death threat in Vegas, was losing his voice, and not being able to sing anymore. That was a very big concern of his in Las Vegas, where the condition referred to as “Vegas throat” was because of the arid desert air would cause problems for singers.


One night when he totally lost his voice while on stage at the Hilton in Las Vegas, there was pure panic on his face. He was very scared, as we all were, as we didn’t know what was wrong, or if it could be a permanent condition, or what. After that incident, he did whatever it took to keep his throat moist.


There was one time, regarding time alone with him, that sticks out in my mind and means so much to me. It was a brief moment with him in the kitchen of his home on Chino Canyon, in Palm Springs. My room was next to the kitchen, and when I heard some noise in there, I got up to find Elvis browsing around in there looking for something to eat. I offered to fix him something, whatever he wanted, or go get something for him. He stopped for a second, turned and looked at me, then said, “Sonny…I love you man.”


That simple statement from him touched me so deeply. I said, “Thanks boss, I love you, too.” He replied, “I know that.” Then he turned and continued to search for something, and said, “It’s one of those times when you have a taste for something, but you don’t know what…you know what I mean?” I told him I did, and continued, “Well, if you decide on something that you want fixed, let me know, okay?” He said he would, we exchanged good-nights and I went back to my room. A few minutes later, it was quiet in the kitchen. I forgot to ask him the next day, did he find anything to eat or not. He may not have decided on anything.


Legends: Priscilla with Elvis (1963) and Sonny with Elvis and Priscilla, in Las Vegas (1969).


How did things change for you when Priscilla arrived at Graceland?

Well, not much at first, other than watching our language in case she was in earshot. Also the content of our conversations changed somewhat when she was around. But eventually, things began to change, and in some ways, rightfully so. She wanted more time alone with him, but it was hard to get Elvis to do that. He liked having us guys around most of the time, and there were times that it was an issue between them. She kind of blamed us for that, but it wasn’t our doing. I think she realizes that today in retrospect. Not long after they were married, about a year or so, they moved into a smaller home on Hillcrest Drive in Beverly Hills. There was less room for the guys to stay there, thoughts of giving her a little more private time with him I suppose.


Legends: Ann-Margret, in a promo shot and Elvis with Ann-Margret, on the set of Viva Las Vegas.


What did you think of Elvis' relationship with Ann-Margret? Were they the perfect match or both too strong personalties? Did you have a friendship with her?

I have to tell you, I loved Ann-Margret. I thought her and Elvis were great together and had a great chemistry, on-screen and off-screen. They were very compatible.


She was referred to as a “female Elvis” and it was true. Her sense of humor and personality were so obviously in tune with his. They got along great together, with no personality conflicts at all.


All of the guys loved Ann-Margret and she liked for us and enjoyed our company. She understood that Elvis wanted us to be around, and when he didn’t he let us know and we were gone.


You and Judy were permanent residents at the Monovale house in LA.  What are recollections of your time there?

After the murders of actress Sharon Tate and Jay Sebring (whom Elvis knew), which were later found out to be committed by the Manson Family, Elvis told Priscilla to look for a larger home because he wanted me to move back into the house. She found the home on Monovale Drive and Judy and I moved in with them. Then our son, Bryan, was born a couple of years later lived there until he was almost a year old and then we moved into a home that was only about fifteen minutes away. By then, Charles Manson was in prison and so were his drugged out disciples who murdered for him, and things had settled down a little.


What are your greatest memories of your time with Elvis?

There were so many, it is really hard to pick out a few. There were certain ones like meeting President Nixon, Muhammad Ali, just hanging out with Elvis and celebrity friends of his on the movie sets, in Vegas, Tahoe, and while on tour.


Do you have any regrets about your time with Elvis?

Not being able to reach him when it counted most near the end. Otherwise, it was great just being around him.


By the mid-'70s Elvis’ psychological and emotional state was erratic. Why do you believe he lost his way on a personal level?

I believe Elvis was getting progressively more apathetic towards life off the stage beginning in 1975-76. He loved performing, but doing other things that he once enjoyed so much seemed to fade away. His interests in activities just wasn’t there. In that last year or so, he only spent time with his cousin, Billy and his wife, Jo, and of course Ginger, or another woman when she wasn’t there. My last really good time with him was in January of 1976 when we went to Vail, Colorado for 10 days or so and celebrated his 41 st birthday.


At the time Barbra Streisand offered Elvis the co-starring role in A Star Is Born , was he really in the right state of mind to handle the role?

Not at the time she met with him, but he could have gotten in to the right state of mind if he had made the commitment to do so. It would have been very challenging for him, but he could have done it. He was very convincing when he told us that he was going to do the movie, and shook our hands on it to show his sincerity. But two or three days later when he started making little snide remarks about dealing with Barbra Streisand on the movie, and a remark about Jon Peters, her partner, some of us knew he was not going to do the movie. Red and I looked at each other and just shook our heads as we listened to him. He told Colonel Parker he had changed his mind and to get him out of it. The Colonel did just that, then took all the heat was on him, which stopped Elvis from doing the movie. It was just another time that the Colonel was blamed for something he supposedly did to harm Elvis’ career.


Sonny, did Elvis have a self-destructive personality?

No. He did some challenging things in his life, but nothing to me that indicated a self-destructive disorder. He knew when to back down from a situation that could get him into a place that he didn’t really want to go. I really believe the only problem Elvis had was an addictive nature. You could see that sometimes in other parts of his life. If he had not had that addiction he would have been just fine. He just couldn’t beat it. My brother Billy was a very strong individual, and I mean strong. He was president of a motorcycle club in Memphis for many years and ran that club with an iron fist. But he had an addiction to gambling, and he couldn’t beat it, and it cost him his life.


What was the scariest experience you ever had around Elvis?

When he had a death threat in Las Vegas. It was an extortion attempt, but at the time it was a very real threat, and the FBI was called in on the case. They did a profile on the person, and considered him to be a disturbed individual that would very likely follow through on his threat. They said he would want to get caught for his claim to fame. Well, wouldn’t you know, that while I was in a strategic place on the stage, there would be somebody that fit the profile in my area of responsibility in the audience. He was dressed in a dark suit with sunglasses on and was constantly looking around, paying little attention to Elvis on stage.


He did not applaud one time when others in the audience did. I thought, that’s got to be the guy. I was very intense the whole show, watching him closely. I can not tell you how scared I was, thinking the whole time, if it is him, will I be able to get to him before he can get a shot off at Elvis? The end of the show finally came and as he stood up with the rest of the audience, he reached for his coat pocket, and I was a split second from diving on him from the stage, when he pulled a handkerchief from his pocket and wiped his brow. Man, that was intense.


We found out that he was just a “high-roller gambler” whose wife had made him sit with her at the show instead of letting him be where he really wanted to be, which was in the casino. He was obviously not an Elvis fan like his wife. Also, that feeling of what to do, even if you are carrying a gun yourself, when a gun is already in someone’s hand and pointing at Elvis. I began practicing a fast draw until I felt that I was fast enough to be successful in drawing it fast enough to possibly save his life in the event it should ever happen.


And the most satisfying experience?

Again, a very hard thing to claim as there were many. One that does stick out was when he gave an electric wheelchair to an elderly black lady that lived in the same general area where he grew up in North Memphis. There was an article in the newspaper, which Marty Lacker read and brought it to Elvis’ attention. Elvis read it and simply said to find out where she lives. He and several of us guys and Priscilla, took it to her home and Elvis’ presented it to her. There were tears all around. I have to tell you, the way he was with her, so respectful and warm, it was a wonderful time to see what Elvis was really all about as a caring and decent person.


We know of Red's final phone conversation with Elvis. What was your last contact with him?

My last contact with him was on my birthday, July 5, 1976. It was in the foyer of Graceland after we had just done a show at the Mid-South Coliseum to end the tour we had been on for the last 12 days or so. I said goodnight to him and for him to get some rest and I would see him in a few days. As he began going up the stairs to his bedroom he said he was and then said “Happy Birthday” to me. I thanked him and told him Judy had baked a cake for me and did he want some? He answered, “Oh yeah. Linda’s going to bring some up. Goodnight.” I never saw him or spoke to him again.


I called his home in Palm Springs, I believe it was the next day after Vernon had notified me of my dismissal but he wasn’t up yet, according to one of the guys I talked to that answered the phone. The next day when I called back and the number had been changed. A few days later, Dave Hebler found out that Elvis had left Palm Springs and gone to Las Vegas to stay at Dr. Ghanem’s home.


The doctor answered the phone and I asked if Elvis was awake yet. He said yes he was, and that he had just finished eating. I asked him to ask Elvis if I could talk with him for a moment, which he did,(I suppose). Dr. Ghanem came back and said Elvis didn’t want to talk to me. I suggested Elvis might be thinking that I was going to ask for my job back, so I asked the doctor if he would explain that wasn’t the case at all, I just wanted to know the real reason that I was fired. I even told the doctor he could ask him and tell me Elvis’ answer, that Elvis didn’t need to talk with me if he didn’t want to. Ghanem got back on the phone and told me, Elvis didn’t want to talk about it. I told Dr. Ghanem, “Well, please tell him I won’t be calling back.” I have to tell you, I was hurting.


Elvis and racism was a recurring (and important for the wrong reasons) theme throughout Elvis’ career. In fact it continues to persist even in 2007. What is your view on the controversy?

I don’t know where that stuff came from. He was accused of prejudice towards black people, Jews and Mexicans. None of this was true.


It hurt him when it got back to him that these things were being said, and none of us could figure out how it got started and by whom.


It plagued Elvis throughout his life, and it couldn’t have been farther from the truth. I feel that there are conspiracies by individuals and associations that generate statements such as this and somehow it makes its way to the media.


Elvis was a private person regarding his politics. Why do you think this was, particularly as by the late 1960s many movie and rock stars were very public about their political views?

Elvis was very private about his political views, but was passionate about them in private with those of us and friends that he could trust. He just felt that people in positions like he and so many others in the entertainment field were in should not influence people with their opinions and influence them to do something just because of who they were. He would not like what is going on with the hateful, vicious verbal attacks on our President today by those that disagree with his policies.


Taking this issue a step further, there were signs of a ‘political Elvis’ expressing himself in 1968-69 with his two hit singles, If I Can Dream and In The Ghetto. Was not progressing the lyrical theme in these songs a lost opportunity for Elvis to connect with a ‘new and politically aware’ record buying market?

I don’t believe Elvis ever looked at it that way. I wasn’t there when he made the special in 1968 so I can’t comment on the song, If I Can Dream, but I was there when he recorded In The Ghetto, which he thought long and hard about recording. He loved the song, but he tried to avoid most controversial issues, in talking, singing, in just about anyway of expressing what some may think was his personal feeling on the matter. Both of the songs are great pieces of music and I am certainly glad he recorded both of them.


There have been some suggestions that Elvis may have had the bipolar depressive disorder. Known symptoms are difficulty sleeping, impulsive, quick tempered, overly emotional, sometimes morose, easily distracted, poor concentration at times. Do these symptoms describe Elvis? Do you think he was actually bipolar?

You know, this is an interesting question because even though I am more familiar with the subject now than then. It is true, most, if not all of those symptoms you listed above in your question were present in Elvis. But many if not all of those symptoms are also known to be associated with medications that have effects on people. But I really don’t want to go any further on this subject as I am not well enough informed to make comments one way or the other.


The Memphis Mafia



The Memphis Mafia has its own iconic status. By many accounts it was a rollicking, fun time. Is this an accurate account?

It was a fun time. We got the name in 1962 while spending a lot of time in Las Vegas wearing black mohair suits and dark sunglasses. I am not quite sure who got it into the press, but someone supposedly remarked one time when we pulled up in a limo in front of one of the hotel/casinos in Las Vegas and when we exited the car to enter, someone asked if that was the Mafia, and another person answered, “Yeah, theMemphis Mafia .” I'm pretty sure it was James Bacon, an entertainment columnist with the afternoon paper, the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner, who put it in his column and the name stuck. I would say it is an accurate account to say the name represented a lot of fun times.


People often describe the Memphis Mafia as "hangers-on" or even "sycophants" who should have been more honest to Elvis telling him the truth for his own good. You have yourself stated that, "We would always nod our heads and agree with him." Was it really that hard to challenge Elvis? Deep down do you feel that you could have done more?

First of all, I would like to go on record as saying that we were not “hangers-on.” Do any of you that are salaried employees with assigned duties and responsibilities consider yourselves “hangers-on” to your boss? Of course you don’t. Do you consider your friends that don’t work for you but spend time with you visiting or going out or whatever, “hangers-on”? The answer to that is no. We were not groupies. Is it because we worked for Elvis Presley, the superstar of superstars, that we should not get any respect as people that do their jobs and have fun doing it because their boss wants it that way? Come on, the same people who say that about us, 9 out of 10 of them would trade places with us in a New York minute. And friends, that IS FAST! Seriously, I don’t think it is fair to judge us as something so different from anyone else who has a salaried job. It just so happened that we had a great boss who liked to have a lot of fun on the job, and he wanted us to be there every step of the way.


As for telling Elvis the truth and being honest with him, there were some of us that did that. In 1961 I stood up to him just a year after I went to work for him. He made threats to me, I told him that wasn’t going to happen. I compared him to a Gestapo officer because he seemed to have developed an arrogant and mean spiritedness of sorts. I told him that he had changed, that I didn’t like him anymore and didn’t want to be around him anymore. I ended the conversation by telling him I quit and was leaving. It got me a punch to the jaw, which hurt my feelings much more than physical pain. I turned and I left.


Please, I would like to know in what context and what the subject was when I might have said that, “We would always nod our heads and agree with him”. I was talking about when I might have said that statement. So, whomever asked that question, I would like to know from them when, where and what subject matter I was discussing when I said it. I'd be glad to clarify that statement if you can produce that quote.


Do you still remain in contact with all the old Elvis gang such as Larry Geller, Marty Lacker, Joe Esposito? What is your relationships with them nowadays?

I remain very much so in touch with Marty Lacker, Lamar Fike, Billy Smith, Dave Hebler, and, of course, my cousin, Red West. I have not spoken to or seen Larry Geller since 1972 when he came to one of Elvis’ shows in Las Vegas with Johnny Rivers. He left that night and did not come back around until after I was gone in July of 1976. As for Joe Esposito, I did not speak to or see him until May of 2003, in Palm Springs at an event there that we both were invited to participate in. Well, things worked out okay, and I thought it best to just move on and leave it behind me.

Then, in 2006, Charlie Hodge, who also was at the show in Palm Springs, suddenly passed away. His widow, Jennifer, asked me to speak at his funeral, to which I agreed to do. Then she asked me if I would call some of the others and ask them if they would like to say something. They could have written it down and I would read it for them at the service. I contacted a lot of them, including Joe, who said no, that someone else was going to speak for him, Priscilla and some others. I do know that he arranged that after I had written him an email, and when I didn’t get an answer, because of the time frame, I called him. At that time, he told me no, he had made other arrangements for someone else to do it. I know that he made those arrangements after he received my e-mail. That's Joe for you.


Also, I would like to point out that a recent excerpt from “another book” by Joe Esposito, (the same Joe that once said “They’ve all been told” when asked by a fan to tell a story that hadn’t been told) stating new revelations of his being honest and “straight up” about everything.


We did that 30 years ago, while Elvis was alive, when he could have challenged us, or at least refuted what we said with words or deeds, but Joe has decided now is the time to be honest, when he can not. Nice timing for your “revelation of honesty and straight up”, Joe.


He goes on to say that the book EWH was written for “revenge and to get even with Elvis” for our being fired. He knows that it was not, but maybe it leaves him with the image of being one of the good guys that stayed loyal to Elvis. One thing that might be interesting in his new “straight up” and honest revelations, if he really is, will be the story he tells regarding the truth behind the racquetball fiasco that Elvis got out of because of feeling he was being used and conned by some in the venture. In Elvis’ own words to Red in their last conversation with each other, Elvis was fed up with the whole issue of the racquetball deal and stated he was not going through with it. From what I understand and heard it ended up costing Elvis a lot of money.


What were the highlights of being a member of the Memphis Mafia?

Just the feeling of being one of the guys traveling and working with a great boss . It was a great ride!


And the low lights?

There were none for me.

Close to Elvis


Sonny, how would you sum up the following people in a few words:

Minnie Mae Presley: Some one I dearly loved and spent a lot of time with, just talking about her life and times. Her least favorite topic which I would kid her about sometimes was her ex-husband. I met him once on tour when we played Louisville and when I told her that, she really lit in to him. He was quite the ladies man, and that had been the problem between them. She was very wise about life and it was great to talk to her, on just about any subject. Her favorite subject was talking about how fine a young boy Elvis was when he was growing up and how proud of him she was of the young man he had grown up to be. They were very close.


Priscilla Presley: Someone that seems to be determined to keeping the name Presley as a last name. Elvis told us there was a clause in the divorce decree that the lawyers had put in, stating she was not to use the name Presley for a career. And she didn’t until after his death, and then she took the name back and began a career in acting. Many TV hosts and columnists refer to her as Elvis’ widow instead of ex-wife when they speak of her.


Lisa Marie Presley: I am sure, she won’t like hearing this if someone tells her about this, but I feel her dad would be sad about some of the decisions she has made in her life and extremely angry at others. She has berated some of us as having taken his dignity away and hurting his memory, but obviously does not take responsibility for some of her own actions. (I am not talking of her four marriages). She was 9 years old when Elvis died. She did not know his thoughts as an adult on the subjects I am speaking of in her life, or maybe she wouldn’t have done them.


I do know that she wouldn’t have done any of them if her dad was alive. I don’t like the idea of speaking of her in a negative way, but it is very difficult knowing what she has said about me in all forms of the media, TV, radio and print and not say anything. There are so many things that I could point out about certain things she says, but I refrain for obvious reasons. She is Elvis’ daughter, and out of respect to his memory, I remain silent.


Legend: Colonel Parker with Elvis.


Colonel Tom Parker: The most maligned person in the Elvis Presley World. He cared about Elvis, he used a brusque manner at times when a situation seem to warrant it. He wasn’t right all the time, no one is, but he was most of the time. He deserves a much better hand than he has been dealt. In my book, I correct a lot of misconceptions about Colonel, most of which were made by people that simply did not know the truth of the matter, even some members of the inner circle of Elvis’, or others that seem to have an axe to grind.


Red West: My cousin, a tough guy with a big heart and my life with Elvis was because of his introduction. He had a very special relationship with Elvis from the beginning. I am very proud of what he has done in his life with his songwriting and acting. He has a lot of talent in both fields.


Marty Lacker: Marty is one of those people that is honest and very capable of getting things done, and did so for many years for Elvis. He was foreman when Joe was gone and shared those duties with Joe when he came back until Marty left to spend more time with his family. He was Co-Best Man at Elvis wedding. A crusty guy that will tell you like it is, sometimes to a fault. But you accept him and love him, or you don’t. I love him.


Lamar Fike: A funny guy with a quick wit and loves being the center of attention in a fun way. He will get you wound up in a minute. He is a well-read and informed person on a lot of issues in this world, and can speak with you in a knowledgeable way on almost any subject matter. He is fun to be around.


Billy Smith: Elvis’ cousin that he raised like a little brother. In the last year or so of Elvis’ life, Billy spent most of the time with Elvis along with Billy’s wife, Jo, and usually Ginger Alden. Billy shared many thoughts with Elvis and spent much of that time in conversations with him. They ran the gamut on how Elvis felt about a lot of subjects, including Red, Dave and myself, and Billy has shared many of them with me. I feel Billy and his cousin Gene Smith (earlier) were closer to Elvis than any of his other male cousins with Harold Lloyd next in line behind them. He was very close with his cousin Patsy, who was his only double first cousin.


Legend: Elvis with Joe Esposito.


Joe Esposito: When I fist met Joe in 1960 I liked him and we became roommates at Graceland, sharing the opposite front bedroom next to Elvis’. Actually, I liked him for all the years we worked together with Elvis. Not long after he arrived in Memphis, we all went to Ellis Auditorium to see the show, Holiday On Ice and I kind of hung close to Joe, telling him this was where a lot of rock and roll shows played, and who some of the acts were.


Over the years there were spats and disagreements between some of the guys, including me, but I am speaking of the ones that I wasn’t involved in. I had my opinion of who was wrong or right when and why they happened, but for the most part they didn’t really affect me, so I stayed out of them. What formed a division between Joe and me was what he said after I was fired in 1976 and the new statements he is making now.


Joe needs to slow down and see where he is coming from and where he is going with this revisionist history before he continues and gets into some serious issues with most of the rest of the guys. We resolved our issues in the old days without going public with them. I think we need to do that now and in the future, but then again, a lot of exchanges have taken place over the many years, so it probably won’t happen. I am also guilty of doing this in retaliation to what is being said about me by others.


Dick Grob: Dick started with us when Elvis started touring again. He was fine until Red, Dave and I were fired. At which time he bragged about how Elvis wanted a better grade of security and had fired us so as to make him chief of security. I know I have stated that Elvis never told me why I was fired, Vernon said it was a cut-back on expenses, others have said because of too many lawsuits, (I had one only) but I can tell you it was not because Elvis wanted a better grade of security and wanted Grob to be it.


Has anyone really thought about it, why did Elvis fire us, if not for what I have stated over and over again. I still have an issue over his saying that. If he had disagreed with the book and our doing it and stated that without the other statements, I could have accepted that, as I did with others that made that statement. Even Joe has been quoted of saying Elvis had great security with Red and myself and we took really great care of him.


Legend: Elvis with Joe Esposito and Jerry Schilling.


Jerry Schilling: I have to say that I like Jerry a lot and we never really had any issues between us for all the years we have known each other. But in the last year with the release of his book, and the claims he supposedly (since I haven’t read it) made concerning me. I won’t list them as I haven’t talked with Jerry yet to see if they are his thoughts or not.


So, until then, I will withhold any comments on those claims. I do address one of his claims that I called him in 1976 after I was fired to get him involved with Elvis: What Happened? in my new book, so that I could set the record straight. By the way, Jerry's claim is absolutely false. Please note that I have not read any of the books written about Elvis by anyone. In some of them, I did read the statements regarding me on pages that were listed in the index.


Charlie Hodge: A small guy with a big voice. He idolized Elvis and his life was totally connected to Elvis. Our lives revolved around Elvis, but Charlie existed for Elvis. He just did not like to think of life without Elvis. He was broken for sometime until he met his wife Jennifer, who loved him very much and took great care of him. She is a super lady.


Legend: Elvis with George Klein on the day of his wedding to Barbara Little, on December 5th, 1970.


George Klein: Someone I really liked, enjoyed being around. His greeting me as, “Buddy!” (my nickname when I was a boy) always brought a smile to my face. We had not spoken or even seen each other because of EWH, until a sad circumstance brought us to the same location, the funeral of a very dear friend of ours, Richard Davis. We were both speakers at the service and I was sitting there quietly before the service was to begin, thinking thoughts of Richard and what I was going to say about him. George appeared suddenly beside me, leaned down and hugged my neck and said and quietly said, “I love you Sonny West”. I replied “I love you too George,” he straightened up smiling and went back to his chair. I thought that was nice and by his actions it meant the strained relationship was over between us. I came to find out, it wasn’t. He has said and done a couple of things since which shows me it isn’t, so I don’t trust him anymore.


Linda Thompson: Linda Thompson was good for Elvis, taking care of him like she did. She loved him very much, and tried to help him as to his prescription drug problem, but ran into a stonewall also. She was responsible for getting him out of a dangerous situation more than once.


I felt sorry for her when Priscilla wouldn’t let her ride on the plane with her to Memphis when Vernon sent the plane to get Priscilla after Elvis’ death to come to Memphis.


Ginger Alden: Never met her. Can’t say anything about her factual, just opinions on what I have heard and read about her.


Joe Esposito is often referred to as Colonel Parker's spy. He seems to have been earning money from both Elvis and The Colonel while feeding back the gossip about Elvis (and your private lives) and the goings-on back to The Colonel. Did you feel at the time that you had a spy in your midst?  

No. We didn’t know, and I don’t think it was much about us at all that he was reporting to the Colonel. It was about Elvis, because when it comes down to it, Elvis is who the Colonel wanted to keep up with, not us guys.


Larry Geller has told us the story of The Colonel seeing Elvis semi-conscious in his hotel room before a concert yet saying ,"Now you listen to me. The only thing that is important is that that man is on stage tonight! Do you hear me? Nothing else matters." Did you have any similar stories? Can The Colonel have really been that uncaring? 

First of all for the record, let me state that I don’t put much stock in anything that Geller says as I already have heard too many falsehoods that have been attributed to him. Like Joe Esposito, he likes to try and revise history. He wasn’t around for almost 13 years as he claims. It was more like three and a half years, total, which includes the last year when we were gone. Sal Orifice was the person that got him the job with Elvis because Sal was leaving to open his own salon. It was not Alan Fortas, which Geller has claimed. So with that said, I don't put much stock in his statement about The Colonel, because there was no love lost between the two men.


Were you there in September 1973 when Elvis fired The Colonel? Did Elvis confide in you his plans for the future or his desire to tour overseas?

Yes I was there. The incident that triggered that situation was the firing of a waiter that brought up Elvis’ meals to the suite between shows. He told Elvis about his being fired and it made Elvis mad. I can’t remember the reason the guy gave for his being fired, but it sure caused a big problem between Elvis and the Colonel. Elvis went on stage that night and during the show he talked very badly about Barron Hilton and others in the hotel, blaming them for the firing.


The Colonel wasn’t at the show, but someone informed him of the things Elvis had said and he showed up at Elvis’ suite shortly after we got up there. He was visibly very upset and went into Elvis’ bedroom to talk with him. We could hear the raised voices of both of them coming from the room. We couldn’t make out all the words, but it didn’t last long before Colonel walked out the door loudly proclaiming he would call a news conference in the morning to announce the end of their business association. Elvis yelled out that was fine and he would call his own news conference tonight to tell them. (This was around 2 a.m. in the morning) Colonel then said he would figure out how much was owed to him and get the bill to Elvis and Mr. Presley the next day. Then he was out the door and gone.


I don’t remember Elvis coming out of the room that night after that situation was over, but I do remember the discussion all of us guys had as to what had just happened, and the possible repercussions that might follow. Names of different people that become Elvis’ manager were being tossed around by some while others just listened.

I won’t name anyone, but one of the guys thought it might really be over between Elvis and the Colonel. I told him I didn’t think and I felt it would burn itself out and it would be business as usual. But I must confess, it did last longer than I thought it would. It was a couple of weeks or so later that Elvis had me put a call into the Colonel at his office at MGM Studios. Elvis got on the phone, I left the room to get some sleep, something I hadn’t had much of for two weeks. Elvis informed me later when I got up that everything was okay.



A lot of fans also blame Colonel Parker for working Elvis to death. Have you read Alanna Nash's very detailed book, Elvis and the Colonel , and what are your thoughts about it?

I have not read the book and refused her invitation to be interviewed for it, and no, I have not read it. Again, the fans can only surmise on their own, or read someone’s book or statements about something like that and believe it.

The truth is, Colonel worked Elvis a lot because, and they aren’t going to want to hear this, the more time Elvis had between tours, the more messed up he would get between tours. Sometimes to the point no one was sure he was going to be able to go on tour. We started out doing longer tours and having longer periods off, but like I said, that didn’t work so good. The shorter time off worked a little better, but not much. It was the only way to keep Elvis from having too much time off to get messed up.


Did The Colonel need Elvis to keep working just to feed his gambling habit?

No. Colonel had plenty of money and his losses have been greatly exaggerated by many. He lost a lot ofmoney, but not more than he could afford to lose. Colonel was aware at all times as to how much he was winning or losing. Believe me, I was there a lot of the time.


By the end Colonel Parker took more than 1/2 of Elvis' income which meant Elvis had to keep on touring. As most managers take around 10 -15 percent how on earth could this have been justified?

First of all, myself, and most everyone else did not know all of the Colonel’s and Elvis’ contract arrangements as there were many. One was a percentage on his record sales and movies, one was on the items of concessions that were sold, which was through a company the Colonel had formed, and he and Elvis were equal partners splitting the profits 50/50.


But personal managers over here in the USA usually get 25 percent, agents get 10 to 15 percent. You have to remember, most managers had more than one client and they were getting a percentage of all of them. Colonel turned down many artists that wanted him to manage them, saying he only had time for Elvis, who got 100 percent of his time in management and promotion.


The Death of Elvis Presley



Sonny, looking back over the past 30 or so years, if Elvis hadn’t died in 1977 how different would your life be today?

You know, that is a very interesting question. I am not sure if I know the answer. In fact, I know I don’t know the answer, but I can only speculate. I would like to think that we got through to him and he beat his problem, and by doing so, we were back with him for as long as he needed us. Hopefully, he would have gotten back into doing some movies, but this time around, doing ones that he chose to do rather than having to live up to a contract. I know I have said this enough that people are probably getting tired of hearing it, but I loved working for Elvis and I loved the movie business, and doing both at the same time would make everything just about perfect.


And, if Elvis hadn’t died in 1977 how different would the world’s view of his legend be today?

Another interesting thought. You know, if Elvis was alive today, I am not sure if he would be as big of a legend as he is. I think a legend becomes much bigger, if he is taken from us in his prime. He would still be the legend of all legends though, as I don’t believe any entertainer will ever be as big.


There are a number of important questions around our last two questions. Firstly, why did Elvis Presley die?

I don’t know why he died. I certainly don’t think he should have. I know inside there were still some things that he wanted to do. Like tour around the world, go places that he had only read about, or heard about. The different cultures and ways of life that were so different from ours was something he often talked about.


Secondly, did he have to die?

That is a definite resounding NO! Why should someone so talented, with so much still to offer the world in music and movies have to die so early in his life with so much left to give. If that old saying, “only the good die young” is true. Elvis is that personified.


Thirdly, before he died do you think Elvis had any inkling of his cultural importance in the world?

Elvis knew there was something special about him being who and what he was. He just didn’t know what or why. But I am sure he, just as the rest of us, never expected it to be this overwhelming, and for this long with no end in sight. It is truly something very special.


Fans love to hate Dr. Nick often blaming him for Elvis' death. What are your feelings towards Dr Nick and are the fans feelings justified?

I know what it is for some fans to hate you firsthand, believe me. I don’t think the hate is justified for me, and I don’t think it is justified for Dr. Nick. Dr. Nick is not a bad man, or even a bad doctor. He is in fact a caring man and a caring doctor. Maybe too much so as a doctor. It was proven that Dr. Nick had over prescribed for patients that were not rich or famous, so that shows that it wasn’t just for monetary reasons. He was a soft touch for his patients. And we are right when we say he shouldn’t have been, that he had responsibilities as a doctor and should have not given in to the pleas of his patients.


As persuasive as Elvis could be when he wanted something bad enough, Dr. Nick should have said no. But then, there were a lot of people that should have said no to Elvis from early on, but found it just as difficult to do as Dr. Nick did. I wish Elvis could have, would have said NO to the cravings inside that were out to destroy him. That is where the battle was that needed to be won. Those same cravings are in a lot of people around this world, for different things, and always will be. They just have to be fought and defeated every day, one day at a time, and constantly be on guard against them. I am not defending nor condemning Dr. Nick, I am just saying what I feel in my heart.


What about the other Doctors like Dr Ghanem & Dr Flash? Were they all bad news? 

Dr. Flash and Dr. Ghanem were bad news. They gave Elvis what ever he wanted, when he wanted it. Both were in Las Vegas. Dr. Ghanem had some of us fooled for awhile, but he turned out to be like the other doctors that were bought.


Elvis Post August 16, 1977


Sonny, many argue that the media focuses too much on the overweight, junk food Elvis, at the expense of the great music he has left for generations to enjoy. What is your view on this issue?

I think the stories concerning what Elvis ate, or that he was overweight was something to sell their magazines. The name Elvis in the headlines was all it took for the “rag-sheets” to sell. I used to get irritated when reviewers wrote about his weight gain, rather that review the show, the music and the voice of Elvis. There were some that did review the music and how hard he worked to please the audience, and it was a welcome change.


If Elvis had lived he would be 72 years old. What are your thoughts about the fans who cannot believe that he died in August 1977 and still think he is alive? 

You know, there are some fans out there that really do think that Elvis is alive, literally. I meet up with some from time to time, and I just say a few things to them that makes most of them think a little more about what they believe. I ask them, if Elvis really was alive and in hiding, do you really think he would have remained so and allow Lisa Marie to marry Michael Jackson?


Legends: Lisa Marie with Michael Jackson and Nicolas Cage.


I ask that not as a racist question, but as a matter of fact that Elvis would not have allowed, or at least been very persuasive, to stop that wedding. He would not have allowed her to date someone in the entertainment field, especially an “pop idol” like he was. Nor would he have let her marry Nicolas Cage, again for the same reason as Michael. No one in the entertainment business, as an actor, singer, etc., would have been granted the privilege of dating Lisa, much less marry her. Elvis could relate too much to them.


I know a lot of people will say that Elvis would have been in the same position as other parents were when it came time for their children to do what they told them. Let me tell you something. You don’t know Elvis and his strengths if you think his daughter would have done what she wanted regardless of what her father thought. No way. Period.


Do you ever read any of the conspiracy theories and do they make you laugh or cry? 

I don’t know how many there are out there, and I know I haven’t read them all, but the ones I have read are closer to the ridiculous than a possibility. So I would say my answer to most of them is, I may not laugh, but it brings a smile to my face.


Lucy de Barbin's daughter Desirée and all the other suggested children of Elvis. What are your thoughts - and isn't it perhaps surprising that a man who spent so much time spending nights with lots of girlfriends doesn't actually have any secret hidden off-spring? 

I would say that it is very surprising and I am in total agreement with that thought. But it is a fact, as far as I know, those that say they are children of his, usually have been told that by their mothers as soon as they could understand the words. I think it is a shame that a mother would do that to their child, knowing that it is false. And the ones that say they have certified documents of DNA confirming their claims just isn’t true.


Dee Stanley was in the tabloids telling rumors of Elvis being gay, having an incestual relationship with his mother and other such stuff. Was there any truth in her stories and why would she do this? How did you get on with her when you lived at Graceland?

Dee is a somewhat disturbed individual. She has said some very weird things over the years, but she crossed the line when she said that Vernon had told her that his wife, Gladys, and their son had an incestuous relationship. She was trying to get a book deal by coming up with something outrageous. I remember watching that show where Dee, along with a man from the National Enquirer, and JD Sumner, too.


The man, I think was Calder with the Enquirer was seated between Dee and JD. When JD lit into her verbally, very strongly and was on the edge of his seat, Calder leaned back in his chair so as not to be in the way if anything was going to happen. I really think he thought that JD might possibly slap her or something like that. But I must say, JD got out what he wanted to say, and it was right on.


I remember when she, Marty Lacker and myself were on a show in Los Angeles, called AM Los Angeles with Regis Philbin and co-host Cindy Garvey. We were all on there to talk about our books. The show was taped in Las Vegas though, where it was on location for a week. She asked Marty and I to not say anything mean or cruel to her, of which neither of us had any intent in doing. But this was years before she made the statement about Elvis and his mom.

: EIN.

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