Legends: Larry. / Larry
Elvis’ spiritual side is an often overlooked part of
his life and psyche. Larry Geller was a good friend to Elvis who
spent years by his side and was there at the very end. Larry has
some fascinating and insightful stories to tell and Piers Beagley
was lucky enough spend a couple of hours talking to him in his LA
It’s great to meet you Larry and I have so many
questions that I don’t know where to start. Nowadays you like to be
described as ‘Elvis’ Spiritual Mentor’, whereas before you were
often described as his Spiritual Advisor.
That’s something publishers do, I’ve never billed
myself that way. I was Elvis’ personal hair stylist, good friend,
confidant and we were like spiritual brothers together. I mean the
very first night we met really altered both of our lives.
When did you meet Elvis for the first time?
The first time I really met Elvis was as a little kid
at a concert at an L.A. Pan Pacific Auditorium concert. However 8
years later I was cutting the hair of Johnny Rivers when my phone
rings and it is a person who worked for Elvis by the name of Alan
Fortas. Alan says, “Elvis would love you to come to the house and
cut his hair would you like to come up?” So I say “Great”. At the
time I was working a lot of luminaries in Hollywood like Peter
Sellers, Sam Cooke, Steve McQueen & others. But when I heard that I
was going to do Elvis’ hair I got a little bit nervous!
How did Elvis end up getting your number in the first
place, wasn’t Sal Orfice his hairdresser at the time?
You’re right. Sal was doing Elvis’ hair at the time
but he just didn’t like the travelling & being subservient to Elvis
and so it was his wife, Marilyn, who suggested that I could take
over. At that point I was doing very well, with my job. I was only
24 yet it was no big deal if we went over to Frank Sinatra’s house
for instance! But the thought of meeting Elvis, that was
‘over-the-top’ for me. He was The Man, he was The King, he was a
So I drove up to Bel-Air and the Perugia Way house
and you could tell which one it was because there were tons of
people outside! As I drove through the gates, girls were screaming
“Tell Elvis I’m here & Tell Elvis I Love him” and I’m thinking “Wow,
this is something else”!
I went into the house and Elvis walks up to me and
says, “Hi, I’m Elvis Presley” and I put my hand out and say,
‘Hi, I’m Larry Geller”. Elvis was about 5ft 11½ tall and I’m 6ft 2
and I have this déjà-vu of 8 years earlier when I was the kid
looking up at this same man when I saw him in the car park. I shook
his hand and he says, “Let’s go into the bathroom, you can do my
hair and we can talk”.
We walk into his bathroom and I expected to see all
the Hollywood trappings of salon chairs and everything else but
there’s nothing! Elvis says “C’mon man, we’ll do it right here”
and just puts his head in the basin!
I start to shampoo his hair and as I’m rinsing the
suds off his hair he rears his head up and starts shaking. Water is
flying & splattering everywhere, over me, over him. He looks at me
with that Elvis smile, that grin, and he says. “Hey man, what the
hell! At least it’s clean!” When he said that I thought what a
down to earth guy Elvis was. I just knew right away that he was
real, he wasn’t fake.
So how did Elvis find out about your interests? Did
he ask you?
Well, it took about 45 minutes to finish his hair and
the whole time Elvis didn’t say a word, but his eyes would follow
every move I made. I was working with people like Warren Beatty &
Paul Newman and the most handsome guys of the movies but I can tell
you no one looked like Elvis Presley. Elvis eclipsed them all! He
had the face, the voice, the career, the fans, the fame, the money
and he had the hair! His hair was unbelievable to work on.
Once I’d finished and sprayed it I asked him, “So,
what do you think Elvis?”
Elvis looks and says, “Yeah,
yeah great but I want to ask you a question Larry. What are you
really in to? What are you really all about?”
I thought to myself, 'Wow, this guy didn’t say a word
and now he’s getting really personal'.
So I tell him the truth about my interests and this
was way before The Beatles explosion and the Maharishi stuff became
popular. So I told him how I worked as a hairdresser as a living but
that more importantly was my search for the truth, for the purpose
of life, for God.
I said, “I know you’re Elvis
Presley and the biggest star in the world and what I’m saying
probably sounds very corny to you.” But
Elvis replies, “No, wait a minute. Larry
you have no idea how I need to hear what you have to say. Please
keep on talking.”
So I tell him about my mediation, yoga, my spiritual
books, being vegetarian and everything. Right away he wanted to know
about the soul, Do we have a soul?, Where do we come from?, Do we
survive this life?... all these things just emerged into this
And during all this you are still in Elvis’ bathroom?
Well. before I know it, it is an hour later and Elvis
is talking to me and I look in the mirror and he has tears rolling
down his cheeks. He’s talking about his Mother and how poor they
were and how she slaved her life away. How they didn’t have running
water in the house, but a well out the back. He talked about his
still-born brother Jesse and about growing up in the church. We got
into some major, major stuff and we had been talking about 3 hours.
All of a sudden there was a knock at the door and
this is so ironic that I’ll never forget it. One of the guys said,
“Hey boss, you all right in there?” Elvis replies, “Sure
man, of course I’m all right. What the hell do you think is going to
happen to me in my own bathroom?” Of course that was where it
all ended, so how ironic is that?
At that time weren’t you also offered a full time job
with Peter Sellers?
You are right. Two weeks earlier Peter Sellers had
asked me to go back to England with him and work him on his new
film. It was a change of country and although I did like Peter, it
was a long way to go. So I said I would have to think about it. But
when Elvis said to me, “Go back to your shop. Tell them you quit
and come and work for me full-time. What do you think?” I didn’t
have to wait a nano-second, I just said, “Yes.” It was a
situation that ‘clicked’ and I knew that it was right.
Did you feel the same about any other celebrity who
you worked for?
You know I’d been cutting celebrities’ hair everyday
but the only other one I had connected with spiritually was Sam
Cooke. Sam was a very down-to-earth guy, very sensitive. He had lost
his son. His son had died and he was going through a lot. And he was
a major star. He was setting music on fire; he was probably the
biggest black artist of that time. I actually gave him some books on
So after saying ‘Yes’ to Elvis, did you start working
for him on Roustabout immediately?
Elvis told me to be at Paramount Studios the next day
at 8 o’clock. So the next day I went down to Paramount and did his
hair. It was so incredible because at the end of the day we all
walked out to where the cars were parked and Elvis was sitting in
his Rolls Royce he just bought. He said to me, “Hey Larry I just
got this Rolls do you want to borrow it tonight? Come over to the
house & pick it up and take your wife out & go for a ride!” Just
like that! But, you know, I felt a little funny so I said, “No,
that’s ok Elvis”. I just couldn’t believe his generosity, but
that was Elvis!
He just loved to give, didn’t he?
If you met Elvis tonight he would have given you a
watch or bracelet or something. That’s the way he was, just a most
extraordinary, giving person. He genuinely loved making people happy
Have you read the new Alanna Nash book about The
Colonel? Did you suspect this stuff all along?
You must read the new book, it will open your eyes.
It is very truthful. I knew about The Colonel and the type of
character he was and how bombastic he was. He was a real con man who
used power to get what he wanted. He had iced water running through
his veins. It’s a great book but a lot of it is no revelation to me.
I gave the author Alana Nash all the information I knew. She’s a
In the last couple of years I remember Elvis saying,
“I want to go to Europe & tour and see the
world. I’ve got fans in Europe, in Germany, in Japan. The Beatles
come here, the Stones come here. What about me?”
He even said to me that he thought there was
something fishy going on, but he couldn’t put his finger on it.
Elvis said that whenever he asked what was happening, the Colonel
would say that he was working on it.
But now we know! (Note: on Alanna
Nash’s book, The Colonel, after intense research, Colonel
Parker was connected to a murder that took place in his homeland, in
This justifies several of the measures he took – and
some that he didn’t – throughout Elvis’s career).
But did you get on well with The Colonel in the
beginning because you were one of the few people inducted into Col
Parker’s crazy 'Snowman’s league'?
We got on together very well to begin with. But I
knew that everything was to his agenda. He would come on the set
occasionally but his contact with Elvis was minimal. He came to the
set, talked with Elvis for maybe 3 or 4 minutes and that would be
it. He did his thing and he knew how to manipulate people. He
arrives and you’d see the body language of all the guys. They would
come to attention it would be, “Yes Sir Colonel! Yes Sir.”
He’d say, “Is there a chair for the Colonel, and bring one for
Larry.” It made me very uncomfortable but he would separate me
from the others and he’d be 'working it'. I felt very uncomfortable
around him and then a couple of years later it all came down.
You were there for some extraordinarily important
dates. For instance the mid-sixties when Elvis must have needed
something apart from his bad movies. And you brought to him some
You know every night Elvis and I would spend a couple
of hours together alone talking and this went on for years. Even
Priscilla in her book points out how we would run off. She was
jealous as neither she, nor the guys, knew what we’d talk about.
How is your relationship when you see Priscilla now?
I have run into her a few times and it’s very
‘surface’ and we hug and we do the “Hi, How are you?” but
we’re not buddies you know! I found out recently that she’s doing
some wonderful charity work which is great so, ‘God Bless her’.
One thing I never understood was how Elvis worked in
his meditation and going to the Self Realisation Fellowship within
his movie schedule. Did he go there when there were breaks between
the films or did he come home every night and say, “Larry, this
movie is a pile of shit. Let’s go meditate!”
(Laughing) We’d be out here in Hollywood for pre
production for a week or two before shooting started. So we’d go out
to visit Daya Mata at 10 o’clock at night. Perhaps we’d go on a
Sunday or during the week to the Self-Realisation Park out at the
beach. It would be no problem and no one would ever hassle him. They
respected the place and the spiritual environment. That’s where his
design of the Graceland Meditation Garden came from. Elvis and I
designed the whole thing, along with Marty Lacker. By the way, in
the final years he meditated every night and before each show I gave
him a little spiritual healing.
Another important event was Aug 27th 1965 when The
Beatles came over. What can you tell me about that night?
The Colonel had set up the meeting between Elvis and
The Beatles. Beforehand Elvis & I were in the bathroom and I was
doing his hair. Elvis was very quiet & drumming his fingers on the
ledge. He looked at me and said, “Man, I
know what those guys are going through. I’ve been there, I’ve done
it. They’re playing to big audiences and I’m doing these bad teenage
movies - I’m so embarrassed”.
Elvis looked so phenomenal that night. He used to
wear these bolero shirts and had them in every colour, expect brown.
He hated brown! He was wearing a blue shirt that night. We all went
to the den and all of a sudden we heard screaming, like thunder, as
if a bomb went off. The front door opened and outside there were
thousands of fans everywhere. The word had got out. What we heard
was the front door open as The Beatles walked in! The Beatles came
in with Brian Epstein, their manager. They walked up to Elvis and
were introduced, and Elvis sits down on the chair. The Beatles all
sit down on the floor right in front of Elvis, in a semi-circle, and
they look up and they are just gaping & staring at him. There’s this
dead silence in the room until Elvis says, “Well, what-the-hell,
if you guys aren’t going to talk to me I’m going to my bedroom.”
And then everyone started to laugh and that broke the ice. I
remember them looking at Elvis’ TV and saying, “Wow look, colour
Television!” because they’d never seen colour TV before. After
that Ringo & Billy Smith & Marty & Richard all went off & played
pool in the pool room.
What about the famous jam-session?
Paul McCartney and John & myself, & possibly Jerry
Schilling were sitting around all talking when Paul asked Elvis if
he could try one of Elvis’ guitars. Elvis says, “Sure man, go
right ahead.” So Paul picks up one and starts strumming followed
by John and then Elvis too. So the three of them start jamming for
about 20 minutes and I think, 'This is unbelievable! I’m in the
centre of the universe right now. The Beatles and Elvis!' The real
trip was that Colonel Parker was such a control freak that he
wouldn’t even allow one picture to be taken of Elvis & The Beatles
together! How ridiculous is that?!
Now at a certain point I wondered where George had
got. So I walked outside where it was pitch black but the minute I
went out there I knew he was there because I could smell some
reefer! There’s George sitting by a tree smoking a joint. I sat
around and chatted to him for a while. We had a great talk because I
knew that George was into Hindu stuff and later became very close to
Sri Daya Mata as well. We had a real spiritual connection. I was so
sad when he died last year.
Have you seen those very poor amateur photos of that
Yes, I know them. Elvis appeared and said, “Hey
you guys! I want to show you something.” First we went outside
and looked at his new Rolls Royce. It was mayhem with the crowds
screaming both “I Love You Elvis” & “I Love You Beatles.” I remember
some teenage girls had climbed high into the trees and used their
flash cameras. I think that is where the 2 bad photos of the night
come from. Next Elvis took them inside to see his new present from
Col parker which was a new sauna-bath off Elvis’ bedroom. Paul
looked in to check out the mirror and said to Elvis, “Who’s that
in there?” Elvis didn’t know and when we all looked in we found
this teenage girl who was hiding under this little wooden bench. She
had somehow got by the security. When she saw us she screamed and
jumped on Elvis and we had to pry her off!
After The Beatles left and Elvis had said goodbye he
& I walked back towards his bedroom and he said, “I really like
those guys, they are really good guys. But what’s going on with
their teeth?!” Of course, because of the post war shortages in
England there was a lack of good food and their teeth were bad.
Anyway Elvis said, “I don’t get it. They
have the money why don’t they get their teeth fixed?”
Just as we headed for bed Elvis said, “Just
remember Larry, there are four of them there is only one of me”!
Did you get to see The Beatles again?
Well, of all the Beatles Elvis definitely liked John
Lennon the most. For a few days afterwards John phoned up several
times wanting us to all go over and party with them. However the
guys all went for the next 3 or 4 nights but Elvis wouldn’t go. The
other guys had a great time but I ended up staying with Elvis to
keep him company.
There obviously must have been bad tension at times
between you and the other members of the Memphis Mafia because of
your different background. It also seems that you are often missing
from recent documentaries about Elvis, possibly because Joe Esposito
is in control? How did you deal with the resentment?
You got it, that’s the way it is! Well the point is,
I was there because that was what I did for a living but more
importantly I was there because of Elvis, ‘cos I liked him. Here’s a
guy who was so open & so receptive and he was interested in what I
had so it was a perfect combination. We were both very into
numerology and he was an ‘8’ ‘cos he was born Jan 8th and that was a
number which represented being misunderstood and Elvis felt that he
was very misunderstood. Misunderstood in his career and with people
about who he was. I was born August 8th so I had that same thing
going and we would talk about it. Elvis was totally aware of all the
jealousy & resentments within the group but he felt that we were
there for a larger purpose. That’s what our friendship was based on
but it was very difficult. To the outside world I was part of the
Memphis Mafia but within the group there were little cliques that
hated each other – and they still exist to this day. I had Elvis’
ear and they didn’t like that. They just didn’t know what I we were
talking about over the years. In terms of Elvis’ vision for his
future, the people around Elvis didn’t know about it except Charlie
Hodge. Charlie was aware of it ‘cos he was privy to some very, very
important discussions that took place during the last couple of
years of Elvis’ life. After a concert the guys would go off to the
bar and to pick up chicks and I would go and hang out with Elvis.
That was why I was there and I wanted to be there.
Charlie seemed to be one of Elvis’ closest friends.
Charlie was a very nice & honest guy and Billy was
always there. I always had a sense of mission so I felt that I could
really stick with Elvis through the rougher periods. Though to this
day, even with those who had resentments and who I didn’t get along
with, I don’t care because we have a bond because we shared
something that’s so unique and so profound I can look over all that
stuff. What I wouldn’t do to sit with him for ten minutes right now!
There was a long period when you had no contact with
Elvis, from 1967 – 1972, after the incident during the filming of
Clambake. I remember you saying that when you saw him for the
first time again in August 1972 you thought he was deep in trouble
was my friend Johnny Rivers who suggested we should go and see Elvis
in Las Vegas. But when Elvis came on I could see the change and saw
it in his eyes. It so happened that I said to someone at our table,
“He’s got five years the way
he’s going.” I didn’t really mean it of course but it
was just that I could tell that something was wrong. You can tell by
someone’s body language and I could sense that he was using bad
substances and that he probably didn’t have the right elements
around him. It was an energy thing.
Legends: Larry with Elvis, in
Hawaii, during the March 1977 vacation.
Although The Colonel definitely made some amazing
business moves in the early days, it seems that by the mid-Seventies
he was flogging his work-horse to death. This must have been
terrible to see?
- Oh God, some nights I don’t know how he got through it. On one of
Elvis’ last tours we were in Louisville, Kentucky, and Elvis was
physically ill and was going through so much emotionally. This one
night in particular he was nauseous & feverish and he felt terrible.
He couldn’t sleep and he was tossing & turning. I was so tired
myself I said, “Hey Elvis, I
have got to get some sleep and I’ll see you when you wake up.”
We were at the Hilton Hotel and the next day when I got back to
Elvis’ suite I walk in and surprisingly Colonel Parker is there. The
first time I ever saw him come to Elvis’ room. I say,
“Hi Colonel.” He says,
“Where is he?” I
explain that he’s with Dr Nick and I say,
“Let me tell Elvis you’re here.” The Col brushes past
me saying, “No. I’m going
right in” and he opens the door.
pains me to even tell you this but what I saw was Dr Nick kneeling
at Elvis’ bed. Elvis is comatose and groaning and Dr Nick is dunking
Elvis’ head into a bucket of iced-water to revive him. It was a
pathetic sight. The door closes and my first thought was, ‘This is
probably good since finally Col Parker is going to find out what the
hell is going on. The Old Man is going to see Elvis in this terrible
shape, semi-conscious, and stop this awful tour’. A minute later the
door opens, Col Parker walks up to me, and I stand up. We stand toe
to toe and he looks me in the eyes. He says,
“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.” Then he walks out.
heart sank. I knew the truth and I wanted to scream. Oh my god, that
shallow Motherf****r. I then heard Elvis shout,
“Lawrence are you there? Why the
hell did you let that bastard in here?” I explained that
he had walked right past me and then Elvis ranted for an hour about
Col Parker. He just used every word in the book and said,
“That big, fat, *** …. I’m going
to get rid of his fat ass. Daddy wants to get rid of him; he’s hated
him for years. I can’t stand him. He’s lost touch with show business
years ago. He’s just using me and I want Tom Hullett to be my
manager. After the tour in September that is it!” He
talked about who he was going to fire and how he was going to change
things for the good.
What about the rumour that Joe worked for the Colonel
seemed to know and resent that. I feel uncomfortable going over
specifics as it wouldn’t be kind but there is much more about that
the new Colonel book.
However I can mention a kind of relevant story that is in my book
If I Can Dream. One day we were in Chicago and I went into one
of the guy’s rooms and said, “I’m so frightened as something is wrong. If you look
at Elvis you can see that he is so sick, more than sick and we need
to do something as I’m scared something is going to happen.”
said, “Wait a minute. Larry,
you’re being negative. In 20 years from now Elvis is going to be
healthier than he is today. Everyone knows that singers get
rejuvenated. But I tell you Larry, that something is going to happen
to you. And you know why? Cos’ you’re being so damned negative!”
I realised that I was speaking a foreign language to
someone, with pills in their system, who just couldn’t see the
reality and who was in total denial. Later I went & told two of the
others but similarly they said that I was just being paranoid. Not
knowing what to do I actually went and told Elvis. And I told him
the truth and that I was worried. I told him in front of Joe
Esposito & Dr Nick.
You must have also been there when the rumours of the
Elvis What Happened book started circulating.
Elvis heard about the EWH book deal, and that the 3 guys were
going to spill-their-guts, it blew his mind. He felt that he was
being stabbed. He said, “If
those guys needed money I’d give them whatever they want. I just
don’t want them around me any more. I had $10 million lawsuits
because of those guys.” Two or 3 months went by and no
one heard any more about the book. Elvis thought that maybe The Col
had managed to have it stopped. He said to me that he didn’t think
it was coming out after all. However one day, on tour, a fan who had
worked at the publishers in New York gave me a manuscript copy. So I
went back to my room and I thought, 'Oh Shit, they are going to do
of it was exaggeration and half-truths. I then felt that I needed to
wait for the right moment to tell Elvis ‘cos now I felt the pressure
was on me. A couple of weeks later on tour I was staying in Elvis’
room and he was complaining how his throat hurt, how his bones hurt.
He felt like there was something wrong and this was where he
mentioned possible cancer. I said that he needed to sleep bad and
recharge his batteries since he had to be on stage again that night.
I let him be and went to my room.
hour & ½ later my phone rings,
“Lawrence, get back over here
please. I can’t sleep, get Dr Nick in here.” Dr Nick
arrives and gives Elvis a bunch of pills. I return to my room and
leave him to sleep. That afternoon at 4pm I go back to Elvis to wake
him up and I knock on the door gently. Elvis says
“Come on in, Lawrence”
and he is sitting up in bed. He’s shaking his head and saying,
“I can’t make it, man.”
At this point Joe walks in. Elvis says,
“Listen guys, I’m
sick. I gotta cancel the tour. I’m going to call Daddy & you guys
come back in 5 minutes.”
realised that if Elvis cancelled at that moment then it would only
help fan the flames of the book that I knew was coming out.
So was that the point when you realised that you had
to tell Elvis about the book?
Exactly. With Dr. Nick and Joe there I told Elvis in his bedroom
that day. I said, “Elvis, I’ve
got to tell you something. No one around you tells you the truth,
but you know that book? It is coming out, I’ve seen the proofs.”
Elvis turned white. I said,
“If you are sick
and cancel this tour that is one thing. But the guys are out to
crucify you and you have got to know what is going on. They are
going to say things that you are not going to like but you’ve got to
know the score”.
was standing up but then he sits down on his bed, in his huge suite,
and he says, “Call the Colonel
He gets in bed, sits in bed and folds his arms. Charlie
Hodge walks in at this point, all jolly and ready to go. Elvis says,
“Shut the hell up Charlie.” Now Joe and the rest of us are
all sitting on Elvis’ bed when Tom Hullett walks in and asks what’s
says, “I can’t make it. I’m
sick man. I hate to do it, I hate to cancel the tour but I can’t
Hullett says the same thing as me.
“If you have to do it that’s fine
but it will hit the wires. So we have to get you into hospital for
the insurance and then get you home.” Elvis motions for
me to come in the bathroom with him and he holds his arms up and
looks at me. He says, “Look at
me Larry, look at me man. I’m shaking, I’m sick” and
he’s crying. I start to cry and say,
“I know you’re sick
but I had to tell you. I’m sorry. This is the moment I had to tell
you. Your life is on the line.”
the next couple of hours we were packing up and getting ready to
leave. I didn’t do his hair like I usually did and he was very quiet
with me and wouldn’t talk. We fly back to Memphis where I expected
that we would go straight to the hospital but we go to Graceland
instead. There Elvis eats a big pie and ends up staying in his room
until 6am and then he goes to the hospital. I felt that I couldn’t
go back to LA until I had talked to him so I went to the hospital
where the guys tell me that he doesn’t want to see me. I remember
Lamar coming out of Elvis’ room and saying to me,
“You told him the
truth didn’t you! Man, let me shake your hand. You’re the only one
around here who has any balls!”
still needed to see Elvis so I waited days in an ante room next to
his room. I just couldn’t leave. One morning I came back and then I
heard Elvis say, “Lawrence,
are you out there?” I went into his room and Elvis says,
you’ve got to forgive me, brother. It was my ego. You’re here
because you tell me the truth. That’s why you’re here. You got to
understand what I’m going through.”
In your book you mention that even in his condition
Elvis was still making future plans. That at least sounded positive.
did have future plans both for a book and as an actor. The very next
tour was 2 weeks later. We were in Detroit and it was April 25th
because we were talking about his Mother, that was her birthday.
stands up, we’re looking at each other and he puts his hand on my
shoulder. With his other hand he points outside and says,
“The fans know ‘Elvis’ all right”. Then he poked his chest
real hard and says, “But man,
they don’t know me. They have no idea.” He says,
“Lawrence, are you with me?”
him what he means and he says,
“Look, Larry, if you don’t tell
the world the truth they will never know my real story. You are the
one that knows me and I wouldn’t ask anyone else. You’re
responsible, you got me on this path. You know what I read, know
what I go through. You know what I’m trying to do, how I want to
help this world. We’re supposed to do something together, Larry.
Maybe we’ll write a book. We could call it ‘Through My Eyes’ and
we’ll make meaningful movies”. All this sounded so good
and I agreed and said,
“Of course, Elvis. I’m with you and we can do it.”
the sixties Elvis would rant & rave about his movies many, many
times and how he wanted out. He would say,
“Look, I’m not into this just for
the money, I’ve always wanted to be an actor”. His real
regret was that he never won an Academy Award. I had already been
working with him on the docudrama in 1974 about the Martial Arts. So
we talked about kicking around movie ideas that Elvis liked and
getting some of the best script writers in Hollywood to work on a
film tailor-made for him. That was the plan and we even talked about
taking a year off in Hawaii for preproduction but, of course, it
But to do that he would have had to escape from The
Colonel, which of course, he tried to do in 1973 but failed.
That’s right! Elvis gave in that time but by 1977 he knew things had
to change. He wanted The Colonel out and a new change. He talked of
getting married again and having more children. He wanted that. It
was a struggle.
In March 77 you did go on that last vacation to
Hawaii. Obviously Elvis at the time was really floating between
vitamins & health regimes that you were suggesting and Dr Nick and
all his chemicals.
have no respect for Dr Nick. Before a tour would start I would have
packets of vitamins and minerals all wrapped up for the tour to help
keep me healthy. Plus I was a vegetarian. One day I was in Elvis’
bedroom when he woke up and Dr. Nick was there. I took a packet of
vitamins out and put it on the table and said,
“Elvis you should take some of
these man, they are so good for you.” I also gave a
little spiel to him about their benefits. Dr Nick says,
“Hey, get that crap out of here.
That shit doesn’t work.” Here was a medical Doctor
saying this! Of course he is not anymore. Thank God for some
In fact wasn’t 1967 when you first left Elvis the
same moment that Dr Nick arrived?
and Elvis started his regime of pills at that time.
One of the quotes I like best is when Elvis
introduced you to Kathy Westmoreland and said,
“Kathy this is the heaviest Motherf***** I have ever
met. You’ll never meet anybody heavier than this”.
Now that’s a great introduction!
When he said that I thought,
“Oh my God! What would she think!” Elvis sort of thought
something romantic might happen between Kathy and me but I didn’t
want to go there. The guys knew that Elvis respected me. It makes me
feel very self-conscious all this… but it is what it is.
Some people say the mystical and spiritual side of
Elvis wasn’t important but in the sixties it must have been a real
key because here was Elvis making goddamn awful, lightweight movies
and he must have been searching for something.
came from his spiritual base, that’s who he was. The most important
thing in his life was his career, his daughter and his spiritual
soul. Thirty minutes before Elvis’ funeral Vernon revealed something
to me that said it all. We were at Graceland and in the maid’s room
I saw Vernon sitting in his suit and looking so forlorn. He motioned
me to come in and he said,
“Larry, I’ve got to get something off my chest. When you first came
around here I was suspicious of you. It was ‘you and Elvis’ all the
time and you bringing him all those weird books. I even went to
Elvis and told him what I thought but he said, ‘Don’t you worry,
Larry’s a great guy.’ It took me a long time, many years, to
realise Larry that you & Elvis were just spiritual guys.”
The house was full of people and Elvis was lying there in his
casket and when Vernon said that, it just hit me like a ton of
I think so many of us feel so emotional about these
last years. It’s just so sad. If only it had been different.
he did have a plan for the future. Even in that last year when he
was really sick, and he was taking a lot of pills, Elvis was acutely
aware of it. No one knew more of what he was going through than he
did. He knew he had a problem & he knew he had to stop. We were
going to go to Hawaii and he was going to get rid of most of the
people who worked for him and keep a skeletal crew. He was going to
get rid of Col parker.
said, “Man, I want to get off
these pills and I want to get a good diet and I want to exercise. I
want to come back next year & I want to make movies again. Not those
teenybopper movies but real dramatic roles and I can show the fans
who I really am.” He was serious at the time.
tragedy of Elvis’ life is that here’s the guy that had it all. He
was, is, and always will be The King. But he knew he was toxic and
that his diet was outrageously bad and that he had to clean up his
system. He knew that there were people around who were not his
friends but were just there for the pay check. Elvis was smart, &
smarter than anyone around him, and he was making plans. The tragedy
was that he procrastinated.
Surely the last few years for Elvis were a roller
coaster ride in his head with moments of clarity and then he would
be down in depression?
Life and death were on each of his shoulders and sadly death won.
I think I need to change our mood with a
very lightweight question. As you spent so long by his side, and
attended so many concerts, what is the Elvis song that means the
most to you?
song that blows me away is Unchained Melody because Elvis put that
in his shows the last couple of months of his life. It was Elvis and
the piano and a blue light on him. When I hear that it blows me
away. That New Year’s Eve concert 76 when he sings both
Riches and Unchained Melody – he was phenomenal that night. One
of his best ever concerts and he looked great. In fact Jimmy Carter
called him that night when we were back at the hotel. I picked up
the phone and told Elvis that it was someone pretending to be The
President of the United States. But it really was him and Elvis was
expecting his call!
What’s Larry Geller doing now?
working on a new book that I originally discussed with Elvis. I was
going to do a Health & Hair care book and at the time Elvis said
that I could use his name on the book. He was very happy to be
associated with health and thought that it would be good for his
image. He even discussed being in a commercial for me! Elvis had
talked about it with Vernon, but Elvis died before any contracts
were signed and then I felt I couldn’t go through with it.
I’m doing it now and I have revamped it. I will talk all about my
early years with Elvis and all the celebrities. The book is called,
GellerCare: Healthy Hair, Healthy Life and is all about life
and rejuvenation, nutrition and spiritual growth and everything you
need to know about hair. It should be coming out early next year and
there’ll be photos from every movie that I made with Elvis.
A tricky final question for you. You talked a lot
with Elvis about reincarnation and karma. Do you dream of him, and
do you think you will ever meet Elvis again?
That’s a good question. I have so many dreams of him it’s uncanny. I
wake up and it’s like...,"Wow, that was cool.’’ The other is a big
question though… What happens when we leave this life? My answer is:
Yes. I hope to see Elvis again. God bless him.
Thanks so much for sparing so much of your time,
Larry. It’s been fantastic talking to you.
well and I hope that we can catch up again one day.