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As we think this subject is of interest to  many of you and because we have access to the transcription of this phone conversation in the excellent book Elvis: Word for Word, by Jerry Osborne - we thought it was a good idea of posting it here and share it with you (a Portuguese version also available). Read and make your own conclusions. As for ourselves, on the polemic that the Elvis bodyguards who wrote Elvis: What Happened? always seem to generate, we are going to say just this: for all of those who say Elvis was half insane, even senile, who didn't know what to think or say in this time of his life and career, this conversation contradicts all that. But we can also see how Elvis could be easily manipulated, mainly because he didn't want to get upset with certain matters, always  having to deal them in the end and having to pay, in any way, that kind of attitude - of not wanting to face the situations and solve them if necessary. Some additional explanations also follow to better place you in the context of the conversation, that might be useful.

Event: Phone conversation between Elvis in Memphis, Tennessee, and Red West in Los Angeles, California.

Fonte: Audio tape (exact date unknown).

Red West: This is Red West. You’re about to hear a telephone conversation between Elvis Presley and myself that I recorded sometime in October 1976, while I was in Los Angeles writing the book Elvis: What Happened?, along with my cousin Sonny West and Dave Hebler. It was no secret that we were writing the book, and knowing Elvis as I did, I knew he would try to contact us. I also knew we would be called liars, Judases, traitors, and any other expletives by fans and even some people around him who we had been close to up until this time. I knew that he would reveal in this conversation enough information that would substantiate what we said in the book. It was even more than I had expected… and more than I wanted to hear. By this I mean I heard a sad and lonely man, a man I’d grown up with, and watched rise from near-poverty to become the greatest entertainer this would will ever see. A boy in a man’s body who could not handle the celebrity that he had now become. I had a sinking feeling that I would never see my best friend again… and I didn’t.

Legend: Red West with Elvis, in Biloxi, summer of 1956.

Note by the author of the book from where this transcription was taken, Jerry Osborne:

(Audiotape does not begin at the start of their conversation, so we are not certain of the preceding talk. One account and purported transcription appears in the book Elvis: What Happened?; however, since the remainder of that transcription varies significantly from the actual conversation, we do not trust that account of the beginning of their talk. A comparison of the actual conversation, as transcribed here, with the version in the book, reveals many edits, omissions, and worse yet, additions of things Elvis does not say. To illustrate how a few altered words can completely change a meaning, on page 326 of Elvis: What Happened?, the third paragraph ends with Red West saying: “You have problems.” In the actual conversation, West says: “It’s like you say, you had problems.” One is accusatory, the other sympathetic. Throughout the book’s transcription are examples of omitting portions of the conversation that either cast Elvis in a more favorable light or demonstrated agreement or understanding on West’s part. You can see why we choose to present only that text which is verifiable.


Also, since much of the conversation focuses on the failed Presley Center Courts project, some background on that may be helpful. Providing that summary is Marti Martin, a Presley Center Courts associate:


“Presley Center Courts, formed in April 1976 and headquartered in Memphis, Tennessee, was the first commercial venture for which Elvis authorized the use of his name and served as chairman of the board. Presley Center Courts of Memphis was the first of a chain of racquetball court facilities (planned) to be built across the country. Elvis borrowed $1.3 million from the National Bank of Commerce, putting up Graceland as collateral to finance this venture. Dr. George Nichopoulos, Joe Esposito and Michael McMahon were Elvis’ business partners. Before the end of the year 1976, Elvis left the company. Elvis was asked to invest more money and Dr. Nichopoulos and Joe Esposito later sued Elvis for $150,000.


“Michael McMahon, vice president and general manager of Presley Center Courts, employed my services to design promotional merchandise to be sold in the racquetball proshops”.)


RW: Where were we?

EP: My damn voice is so low, I make J.D. Sumner sound like a tenor.


RW (laughs): Ah…

EP: It sounds like I got stuffed with a Martin (guitar).


RW (laughs): Yeah.

EP: But my damn fingers are blistered. I’ll tell ya.


RW: Yeah, that’s the way mine used to get when I’d sit up and try to write songs. My three… first finger just too big… I mean, just have big blisters on the ends of’em. But aw shit, I wish I could get my mind cleared… just wakin’ up, but talk about…oh yeah.

EP: I’m not operating on but one cylinder either.


RW (laughs): Well, like I said, I’ve got a… that show’s doin’ pretty good (Black Sheep Squadron) and I got a regular, runnin’ part (as Sgt. Andy Micklin) in it… it starts in the next three or four weeks, I think. And I think I’m just gonna hang with that.

EP: Well, you know that thing that happened was a combination of a whole lot of things building up. It wasn’t necessarily personal or even the goddamn lawsuits, you know. It was like a fuse burning, because of a lot of things that piled up on me.


RW: Yeah, well.

EP: And maybe I did lose sight of… especially you, your family and everything.

Legend: Elvis, at Red West's marriage to Pat (1st July 1961).


RW: Yeah, it was cold, El.

EP: ‘Cause I love Pat (West, Red’s wife) and your family and everything.


RW: Well, I have a lot of time to think ‘bout, I mean, I could sit here and people would say all that old shit, but it did cross my mind. And all I ever done is try to, maybe sometimes overprotect you. And that’s the God’s truth.

EP: Yeah.


RW: And, ah…

EP: Oh, I know that.


RW: Man, here I was and. But that… hell just like you say, you had problems.

EP: Well, you know what it is. It’s (like the) old guy said in Cool Hand Luke, a failure to communicate.


RW: Yeah. Well that’s the God’s truth. We sure didn’t communicate in the last year or so.

EP: That’s it… just like I said, it was just a series of things. If I could lay them out to you one by one, I could show you the reasons shy the separatism. Lack of communication.


RW: Right.

EP: My daddy was sick. You know he was nearly dead. My family is strung all over the face of the United States and, ah. It’s just the goddamn lawyers and lawsuits, they’re making a mountain out of the molehill.


RW: Yeah. Yeah, I know that was some rough times goin’ through that. Just some, you know. One lawsuit came along and then everybody else saw a chance to jump on it. Yet it mushroomed and then boy everybody and his cousin was after our ass, you know.

EP: Yeah, that’s what I mean. One gets away with it or thinks they do and what they try to do is establish a pattern of insanity and violence.


RW: Yeah.

EP: Like in bed… me shootin’ that lamp.


RW: What was that?

EP: Hilton Hotel… a 2.2 target pistol.


RW: Oh yeah, well, we were known as the Wild Bunch (laughs).

EP: Yeah, that’s for sure.


RW: But, ah.

EP: But, you know the good old days are still a fact.

Legend: Playbing football, on 27th December 1956, in Memphis.

RW: Yeah, they’re definitely a fact and always will be, I mean, what’s done was done. We had a lot o’ good times, man, there for a while… and it got… like you said, everything got real serious. And a lot of problems came up. I don’t know, we just lost sight of a lot of things, a lot o’ the good things and, I don’t know, just… the fun left.

EP: The fun ceased to exist, that’s the thing.


RW: Yeah.

EP: I couldn’t pinpoint it, just couldn’t quite figure it out… boil it down.


RW: But, ah.

EP: Goddamn racquetball courts.


RW: Yeah, I passed by there the other day… for a while while ya’ll were gone. It was still Presley’s Center Court, and then just before I came…

EP: They’re gonna take that down.


RW: Huh?

EP: They’re gonna take that down.

Legend: In Germany, at Goethestrasse, 1959.

RW: They already have. Yeah, I was gonna say, just before I came out here, I didn’t see that sign anymore.

EP: Oh well, last I heard it was still up. But I got conned by evidence buyin’ it there, then they got these builders and they got themselves bound to a contract.


RW: Uh-huh.

EP: Two (racquetball) courts there for a half a million dollars each.


RW: That’s too expensive.

EP: What the fuck, man. Poor old Joe (Esposito) had his mother to hock her house… get a loan on her house to get the money.


RW: I can tell you about goin’ in business with sharpees. They don’t care… if you hock your mother’s ass.

EP: That’s what he had to do.


RW: Did Joe get out of it?

EP: Huh?


RW: Is Joe out of it, or is…?

EP: Well he’s in the process of tryin’ to get out of it.


RW: Yeah.

EP: You know the builders that were contracted to build the damn thing are the ones that hold up the ballgame because I pulled out of it.


RW: Yes.

EP: I had to ‘cause it was souring. It was a con job, squeaky deal, you know.

RW: Well, I didn’t know if it was or not. I just had a feeling it was.
It started out kinda innocent. I was told one thing.

RW: Yeah.

EP: Like I wouldn’t have to put up a dime. Wouldn’t be no money or nothin’


RW: Yeah.

EP: Well, that was the contract that I signed. Right, talked to Daddy about it just after he came out of the hospital. And said we talked over a period of time. You know, if it’ll help Joe and Nick…


RW: Yeah.

EP: … they could use my name so…


RW: Well I…

EP: Because I couldn’t benefit nothing from it.


RW: Right. It was just somethin’ to help to help them out. I don’t think Nick knew the guy that well.

EP: I don’t think he did either.


RW: No he just got sucked in. He saw the chance to make some money, and Joe did too. But this other guy’s the one I was a little leery of.

EP: Oh, that son-of-a-bitch, he ain’t no good.


RW: Ah.

EP: I talked to my attorneys yesterday about the racquetball thing. You know Mr. Davis died?


RW: Yeah, I know. I saw that in the paper just before I left.

EP: And the guy that’s takin’ his place… what started happening would be they would start hitting me for ten thousand, twenty thousand.


RW: Start hittin’ you up for it?

EP: Yeah.


RW: Aw, yeah. Yeah, well… there’s a pattern.

EP: So I thought, well, you guys putting up that kind of money here? Ah, yeah.


RW: Yeah (laughs), I remember he was on one of the tours with us.

EP: On the tour, pretending being interested in the numerology books. It all falls into place. But was smart enough to do that. Then, it amounted they needed eighty thousand dollars. I said okay, for what? For a secretary.


RW: (Laughs) Goddamn! Boy, damn secretaries… they got a union or something?

EP: That’s exactly what I said. Wonderin’ a-how a secretary is gonna cost eighty thousand dollars.


RW: Shit. No, it was time to get the hell outta that shit.

EP: I tried to hang on in there with them.


RW: Yeah.

EP: I didn’t wanna crush their enthusiasm… their dreams or whatever they got.


RW: Just crush their secretary (laughs).

EP: Yeah, your eighty-thousand-dollar secretary.


RW: God almighty. What’d the president of the board make?

EP: Well, they had all these cards and shit printed up chairman of the board. It, hell started off Presley Center Courts and they changed that to Elvis Presley Center Courts without ever even asking me one thing about it.


RW: Uh-huh damn.

EP: They had all these cards and shit made up… president and vice-president. Still, didn’t even come to me to ask me.


RW: Aw hell, once they got your name on there… what’s this Mike (McMahon), the guy that got your name on there, he. I heard it, he went to Nashville and everywhere just sayin’ I represent Mr. Elvis Presley in this racquetball venture. Just on your name alone, he just got what the hell he wanted. I don’t know what I’m tryin’ to say… we gotta get back to my problem. Man, I’ve never done that. I just… ol’ Red… tryin’ to do a job, man.

EP: No, I wasn’t using an example. I was just telling you.


RW: I know it. I just… we’re talkin’ about somethin’… don’t know about is that racquetball court. I just know about my problems.

EP: What stared out just a friendship and favor and everything just turned it into a million-three-hundred-thousand-dollar project.

RW: Yeah.

EP: And you realize how long it would take to realize a profit? (laughs)


RW: Yeah.

EP: After puttin’ that money into it.


RW: Yeah, I’m afraid so. It’d take a while.

EP: You’d be so old until they’d change the racquet and hand you a fuckin’ banjo.


RW (Laughs).

EP (Laughs): Where do you hit it… I’m tryin’ to play it.


RW (Laughs): Plaster fallin’ off the walls. Awww shit. Yeah, poor old Nick (Dr. George Nichopoulos), man he… everybody’s tryin’ to make a buck but that Nick’s Chips he went into, man that was a flop. He had everything figured but the damn truck that hauled the whole (thing) off. That fell through.

EP (Laughs): I didn’t even know… I was in the hospital.


RW (Laughs).

EP: Goddamn, I had mixed emotions. I hit the floor, first thing, just rolled there. Nick’s Chips my ass. The first thing I could conjure up in my mind was a gambler decidin’ to eat or raise. And Nick the Greek, you know, as the gambler. That’s how crazy my mind is. Nick’s Chips, shit, he obviously just don’t know.


RW: Yeah.

EP: And these fuckin’ contractors up there are just cold-hearted businessmen.


RW: Aw sure. Look. You start messin’ with ‘em… a guy like that, I mean… dollars talk and that’s it.

EP: Yeah, but the way it was goin’, they led the calf to slaughter.


RW: Yeah, well, you got out of it… you’re out of it then, right?

EP: I’m in the process of getting out.


RW: I don’t blame you, ‘cause it’s a…

EP: Well…


RW: You start goin’ in business with a bunch o’ people… if you do it yourself, then you know what’s happening, but if you got two or three other guys…

EP: My signature… they all must of just went stark ravin’ mad.

Legend: Red, offering his back as "table" for Elvis to sign authographs.

RW: Sure it did. I know that Mike did.

EP: The lawyer read to me the contract where it said that if anything happened I would stand good for the whole thing.


RW: Yeah, well see there. They didn’t tell you…

EP: Now you know dam good I don’t even care that much about racquetball.


RW: Yeah. Right.

EP: I would stand good for it. For the whole thing. So that was news to me.


RW: Yeah.

EP: I just found out yesterday that this guy Mike had set him up a management fee was fifty thousand dollars a year extra. Ah, Joe didn’t know anything about it. Nick didn’t know a dam thing about it. But yet the lawyers had it right there.


RW: That’s what I figured; this Mike conned Nick and everybody else into it. They ain’t gettin’ well on it you know.

EP: Yeah.


RW: That’s a shame, man, Nick’s always, man… I thought he was smart and I thought Joe was smart, but…

EP: Not when it comes to business.


RW: I think we’re on a party line or somethin’.

EP: And my whole thing, see, I could never possibly realize any kind of a profit out of it. I did it just as friendship thing.


RW: Yeah.

EP: You know I didn’t pay anything. It was no harm. Helping this idea go. A couple of racquetball clubs, one here and one in Nashville, named after me.


RW: Yeah.

EP: I didn’t see anything wrong with that.


RW: No, not…

EP: You see, the paper that I signed had nothing of that mentioned.


RW: Yeah.

EP: So, the lawyer figures that this shit was put in there after I signed it. You know what I mean?


RW: Yeah.

EP: Because, you know damn good and well I wouldn’t sign as much as I’d stand to lose for a couple of fuckin’ racquet… half-a-million-dollar racquetball courts.


RW: Yeah.

EP: That is part of what surprised me too. Half a million dollars for a racquetball (court)? Why, hell, I can get Earl in with a hammer, Albert right here


RW (Laughs): Aw, shit (laughs).

EP: … to put up one. As long as we keep the woodpeckers off of it.


RW (Laughs): Build it for $39.98.

EP (Laughs).


RW: Well they must have gone in for the saunas… the whole health club bid, or somethin’. You’d have to, it don’t cost that much to build no damn two racquetball courts.

EP: No, I think it was gonna be ten courts in each half.


RW: Oh.

EP: I mean, yeah, ten places to play like out at Memphis State.


RW: Well that’s…

EP: But still, you take that and you take a men’s and women’s showers, it can’t add up to no half million dollars.


RW: That’s a lot o’ money.

EP: Why shit. I got one built here in… in the backyard… you know where here.


RW: Yeah.

EP: That sombitch was only eighty thousand. You know how plush it is.


RW: You’re damn right.

EP: These people just, like you said, they saw my signature and went stark ravin’ mad.


RW: Yes sir. Everybody was taken in after they got your signature. Plus… when was this damn guy’s salary supposed to start, already? Mike and the secretary and all that shit.

EP: Yeah.


RW: Um-mmm. And you supposed to pay for that, uh?

EP: Yeah.


RW: Yeah.Bullshit.

EP: Ah.

Legend: Elvis, followed by Joe Esposito and Red West.

RW: Bullshit. You should get the hell out.

EP: Merchandise things: little cards, little pamphlets, little advertisements, this ‘n’ that. And all without my knowledge, without consultin’… without askin’ me about it, you know.


RW: Well.

EP: So it just built up into a fuckin’ monster, (that’s) all there is to it.


RW: You’re damn right it did. Tryin’ to take advantage of ya. And I don’t blame you… tryin’ to get the hell out of it. But then I guess all that pressure and everything – lawsuits and everything – led up to our demise, whatever. But it was a shock to all of us. Old Dave (Hebler) was out here. He was flat-ass broke. Well, we’re all broke. ‘Course I had some property and stuff. I had… I sold every(thing)… I sold my house. I hated to do that, but when you gotta do somethin’, you gotta do it.

EP: You sold your house?


RW: Oh, yeah, I sold my house, both cars and everything. And Hebler, he’s flat-ass broke, and Sonny (West) was just in… down to the… well, you know, it was just a bad… bad time by all, I’ll tell ya.

EP: Hell, I guess there was never any real good time.


RW: No.

EP: It was bad for me too.


RW: Yeah.

EP: I hadn’t  been out of the hospital long enough to start rolling.


RW: Yeah. But, ah.

EP: My daddy… I almost lost him. He’s my daddy, regardless of anything else.


RW: Oh yeah. Listen, I can understand. But yeah, we just…hell, we were in shock there for awhile. What… what did we do, you know? But, then we thought about it, all the pressure and everything, and said well, I guess he’s got his point too. Ya just… it’s just… I wish, you know… we’ve always been able to talk. A lot of… most of the time. There’s been some times we couldn’t, but if I’d just heard from you, it would (have) been… it would have been easier to take.

EP: Well in doing business and things of that nature, I don’t… I don’t do that.


RW: Oh, you mean about firing us and everything?

EP: Yeah.


RW: Well.

EP: I had to go to Palm Springs, analyze and weigh (the) goddamn racquetball courts.


RW: Yeah.

EP: I’m still seeing little fuzzy balls.


RW (Laughs): Yeah.

EP: But, ah, Charlie (Hodge) was telling… Charlie talked to you and you thought I was on the line.


RW: Uh-huh. Well I thought… I heard, you know, I heard…

EP: I was over at my daddy’s house going through these figures.


RW: Yeah.

EP: You know… if I wanted to hear somethin’, I wouldn’t do that. I’d go another way.


RW: Boy, you know how paranoid everybody gets after somethin’ like that.

EP: Aw sure.

RW: I just… I don’t know why…

EP: Oh, sure, like looking over your shoulder and not knowing who the hell it is.


RW: Yeah.

EP: Regardless of what.


RW: Yeah. But anyways, you know, it’s all done and… that’s it I guess now, you know, ‘cause, ah.

EP: How’s Pat and the kids and things?


RW: They all fine. Just hangin’ on ‘til I get somethin’ goin’.

EP: Well.


RW: But just been kind of rough.

EP: Yeah, I was very disillusioned with Hebler. He faked me off something terrible. You know, I thought he was… misunderstood.


RW (Laughs): Well, what… what did he do?

EP: Huh?


RW: What did he do… on that?

EP: Well, he just… he’d say little things to me… who he hated.


RW (Laughs): Who he hated?

EP: Yeah.


RW: Damn.

EP: You know, this went on over a period of two years.


RW: Yeah.

EP: It just… and Ed Parker told me when I hired him… he said keep him at arm’s length. And I still didn’t catch on… dumb ass me.


RW: Yeah. Well I… I really don’t know what you’re talking about, ah.

EP: Well, it’s hard to explain. I don’t think that he liked anybody in this group, except maybe Dean (Nichopoulos).


RW: Yeah. Well I…

EP: I think that I’d become a dollar sign to him, Red, I think that… in the process he lost sight of Elvis… first. That can easily happen.


RW: Oh, I guess… yeah, I guess so. Ah.

EP: And, you know… well, it happened, man. I’d become an object, not a person.


RW: Yeah.

EP: But you know, I’m not that sign, I mean that (Elvis Presley Boulevard) road sign down there. I’m not that image that’s built up, I’m myself.


RW: Yeah. Well that’s the way I always, like, you know, tried to think of it.

EP: And you’re so wrong on one thing now, and listen, don’t get paranoid on me, because I’m just a-talking to you as a friend now, we’re on a private line and (there) isn’t a fuckin’ soul left.


RW: Right.

EP: I am not fucked-up by no means. On the contrary, I’ve never been (in) any better condition in my life.


RW: Well, what I was talkin’ about then… you had been pretty fucked-up… what I was talking about.

EP: Well, you know; I went through a divorce. You know, you were there.


RW: Yeah. What I’m saying.

EP: That wedding thing, you know… that wedding thing (not including Red in his and Priscilla’s wedding ceremony), I had nothing to do with it. That was railroaded through. I didn’t even know who was there, we’s all in a little old room ‘bout sixze of a bathroom with a (Nevada) Supreme Court Justice (David Zenoff). It was in there, over and done with so quick so I didn’t realize I was married at all.


RW: Oh yeah, you’re talkin’ about your wedding. Yeah.

EP: Yeah.

Legend: Red, accompanying Elvis at the event that elected him one of the Ten Most Outstanding Young Men of America.

RW: Right. Well, you know, like you don’t think about these things at the time it… it… once again that… ah, it’s the old… like I been with you and all o’ sudden I was held back and told when I was supposed to come in.

EP: I could see it back then, you know. I could see it back then. But see, that wasn’t my thing.


RW: Right.

EP: It wasn’t my doing.


RW: You know I figured that was the Colonel and…

EP: It was a ramrod-type thing. I had nothing to do with it. All of a sudden I was gettin’ married.


RW: Yeah.

EP: And you know.


RW: Ahh.

EP: When you go through that, you keep your mind on one thing.


RW: Yeah.

EP (Laughs).


RW: Yeah right. Well, I can understand that. That was a long time ago. It… that was just a point I was brigin’ up with Charlie and, but let’s get back to the last couple, three years. Let’s face it, man, you haven’t enjoyed yourself. You just been… you do your work, you go work and then, ah…

EP: I enjoy my work.


RW: Yeah, I know that. That’s the only time we really see you… I… I really see anymore. The rest of the time we just… it was just I don’t know.

EP: We had a pretty good time in Vail.


RW: Oh yeah, we had a ball in vail. That was a… man, that was a one time out of the last few years that we really got back to it… back to the… whatever…knowin’ how to enjoy ourselves. And I mean everybody just had a ball.

EP: I know I did.


RW: I know I did too. So that… that was somethin’ we’d all been waitin’ to do just to get out away from it all.

EP: Yeah… what… no, that’s okay because they just want me to have a house up there.


RW: Yeah.

EP: And… and everything, so these real estate guys get a hold of that.


RW: Right. No, I don’t blame ya. Hey, you can always go up there and rent something.

EP: Yeah, exactly.


RW: But, ah… ahhh, I don’t know what… I don’t wanna get real serious, you know, it’s been so long since I talked to ya, I’m gonna get real serious on the conversation but…

EP: That’s up…

Legend: Dave Hebler, Red West, Elvis and Jerry Schilling (from the back) - 1975.

RW: We were all... we were worried about you. I always been worried about you, 'bout, you know, taking quite a few things. I thought that would, you know...
You worried about me so much that you turned around and tried to hurt me. But see, I know what that is.

RW: Well, that's after you hurt me. You'd already hurt me. You hurt my... me and my family, very bad, you know, left us out in the cold, so let's don't talk about me tryin' to hurt you.
Well, things went on that you didn't know about.

RW: Yeah, well all I know is I was out in the cold, and couldn't understand why.
All I know there was friction was created in the group. The vibes so bad, people were cared to move and everything.

RW: Yeah, well that's true too.
So who knows what the hell they were hearing and being told. I just know it was... it just got be very, very tense situation whereas it should have been fun and a relaxed kinda thing.

RW: Yeah.
Somethin' went wrong.

RW: Yeah.
And that on top of the racquetball thing, everythin' else and all the personal shit. It was a fact that we did have to cut down on expenses.

RW: You did. Well.
I had the feelin'...

RW: Whatever you had to do... I told your daddy, you know, I'm... you gotta do what you gotta do. If you gotta cut down on expenses by firing me you know, it's a little weird to me. Seemed like you could... could have cut somewhere else. I thought I was important to the organization, and I0m glad I found out now that I wasn't. Then I... I still got a little life left and I'm goin'... I'm goin' to enjoy that. And I can... and I'm still young enought I can find somethin' else, you know.
Oh yeah.

RW: But that was just... cuttin' down on expenses... I just couldn't understand that. All the other... a lot of other guys... man I thought I... that I was more important to the organization than they were, but I guess I wasn't. But I'm glad I found that out. So?
Well, it's just an unfortunate situation. It's just now startin' to get back on its feet. My daddy lost (weight)... down to a hundred sixty-five pounds.

RW: You mean now?
I heard he's up to one (hundred) seventy-eight. That just shocked, scared me to death. Because you know how I feel, you know how you felt about your daddy.

RW: Yeah, that's right.
Well, suspicion was cast on this group. I couldn't figure out the source of it. Suspicion. Just like in that song that we did, "we can't go on together with Suspicious Minds".

RW: Yeah.
EP: So maybe I did act abruptly - first one to admit it - without thinking.

RW: Yeah. Well, it...
You know Sonny was never around, right?

RW: Yeah.
You know we talked about that.

RW: Yeah.
I ain't got nothing against Sonny. Hebler tried to bully his way, you know, throught everything...

RW: Uh-uh.
… with scare... scare tactics...

RW: Yeah.
... with some of these young guys.

RW: Well.
They could ask questions like names and that, and they never did... could get a straight answer, they were just... they were turned down at every corner.

RW: Yeah.
That's all I needed to find out. You know, I think back, I know when I was twenty-one years old, shit, my mind was just scattered to the four winds.

RW: Yeah. I know.
Without some kind of guidance, some things that just weren't bein' done. You know, just little things just weren't bein' done. You know how they train people in the service - regimentation - doin' the same thing every day, and we knew, by God, there you did... in the service... anybody ask if they really served legitimately... that, by God, at seven o'clock we had to do this, at the we had to do that, you know.

RW: Yeah.
And they do that by repetition.

RW: Sure.
That's how they train.

RW: Yeah.
And all that energy of their youth, without proper guidance (whistles) is wasted.

RW: Yeah.
So the only reason... I just felt that I should talk to you and let you see my side of it.

RW: Yeah. Well I appreciate that, you know. That's... that's what I wish we had done at the very first, you know. Maybe I could have understood it a little... little bit better. But it's, you know, what's done is done. And have to go on from there. I mean, I just, believe me when I tell ya, I wish you all the luck, I hope you go right, you kmnow, just stay right where, right on top, forty more... forty more years, man. Really do. I mean that with all my heart.
Well I'm working on it.

RW: But I would like to see you get help there, E. And you  haven't been healthy in quite a while.
Oh yes I am.

RW: No you're not.
Yes I am.

RW: Well okay, you say that, but...
I just had an absolute physical, head to toe, in the last three weeks.

Legend: Elvis, Joe Esposito, Sonny West and Red West - 1975.

RW: Okay. Well I’m glad to hear you’re healthy. And ah…

EP: Hold on a second. It was required by Lloyd’s of London insurance office.


RW: Well, then that’s… then I don’t have to worry about it then.

EP: Yeah. That thing I had, that lower intestinal blockage, corrected itself.


RW: Thank God. Good.

EP: I just went on a weird liquid diet.


RW: Yeah.

EP: That big intestine down there has to have bulk.


RW: Yeah. Yeah, that’s what we discussed.

EP: I went on a diet, twenty days of liquid, and I heard that was another mistake (laughs). Turns out that that large intestine had nothing to work with, so as a result it stopped working. And I keep hearing this shit about (being) fat and midled-aged.


RW: No, no. Well I knew… we… I knew that… what… I knew you weren’t… well, lets (laughs). You ate a lot, but you weren’t… you weren’t fat like people that are fat.

EP: Yeah, well, I burn it up… I burn it up.


RW: You could tell there was something else wrong. And that’s what I mean, you wasn’t healthy. That’s how you… somethin’ was wrong inside. That’s what I been tyrin’… when I tried to talk to you about it, you’d get mad, just lke you kinda… awhile ago. No, you wouldn’t listen to it. That’s what I’m talkin’ about, man. You were… something was wrong inside of ya. We didn’t know what it… we were worried about it, we didn’t’ know what it was. We knew it wasn’t fat through. It was somethin’ else. And you just…

EP: Well that, I thought that I told y’all… I thought I told ya it was that lower intestine. Remember how I supposed to undergo surgery…


RW: Yeah.

EP:… and talke part of it out.


RW: Yeah. Right. Yeah, I was there. I remember when they were gonna do it. I was just sayin’ I…

EP: That was psyching me out because I didn’t know what it was.


RW: Well, I’m glad it’s all straightened out. I really am.

EP: It’s been straightened out a long time. It just was just a failure to communicate, wasn’t it?


RW: Yeah. Well.

EP: What we have is failure to communicate.


RW (Laughs): Yeah. I…

EP: You know that song Roy Hamilton did, “Understanding Solves All Problmes.” (It may have slipped Elvis’ mind, that this exact line, “understanding solves all problems”, is in his own recording One Sided Love Affair).


RW: Yeah. That’s right.

EP: That was a difficult song.


RW: We didn’t have much understanding there for a long time.

EP: Well I don’t know whether it was you and I as much as the thing coming from somebody else. You know, negative vibes.


RW: Right. Well that could very well be too. I’m… I’m not really into the psychic thing.

EP: Well I’m not either, but I do know that we are constantly sending and receiving.

RW: Yeah.

EP: All the time.


RW: Right.

EP: Positive and negative.


RW: Yeah, we’ve talked… we discussed that. Minds, if you can put a picture through air I guess you can put a thought wave through the air too. So…

EP: So that’s why I was feeling the negative things, and I couldn’t exactly pinpoint that.


RW: Yeah.

EP: So I just reached a boiling point, hoped that you’d understand it. It was just a temporary thing.


RW: Uh-huh.Well.

EP: That was what it was, I didn’t feel I could communicate with anybody.


RW: Yeah.

EP: I felt terribly alone. You know like that number eight?


RW: Yeah.

EP: The thing that says they are intensely lonely at heart. For this reason they feel they’re lonely but in reality they have warm hearts toward the oppressed.


RW: Yeah.

EP: But they hide their feelings in life and do just what they please.


RW: Right.

EP: Well, I’m a number eight person and so are you.


RW: Yeah, that’s true. And it’s been lonely (laughs). It’s been lonely, man, I tell ya. It’s been downright scary.

EP: Well, I can see it.


RW: But that’s somethin’ just… ah, I just… I’m old enough, I just chalk it up to life, man. That’s another my… another step down that road, you know. And I just a… have to learn to cope with it, and go on try to do somethin’. But what can I say, I don’t want, you know, feel sorry for myself. I’m a grown man, I can… I can do somethin’ else… there’s other things. But like you say, there was a failure to communicate there at the last, ‘cause maybe I wasn’t around the room enough when you wanted to talk to somebody, or whatever.

EP: Well, yeah, maybe all that. Maybe that’s how I been. Maybe I was absent and was listening too fast.


RW: Uh.

EP: But it just kinda bugged, you said after the show (I was)…. fat, or whatever, to Charlie.


RW: I can’t hear you, E, I’m sorry.

EP: You fucked up.


RW: Yeah, well…

EP: Because I’m not. I’ve got a daughter and a life.


RW: Yeah.

EP: You know.


RW: Yeah.

EP: What profiteth a man if he gains the world and loses his own soul?


RW: Yeah.

EP: I love to sing.


RW: Yeah.

EP: That’s been my thing, since two years old.


RW: Yeah. I know.

EP: You know, we were sittin’ here playing the guitars and everything, singing old songs: Love is a Many-Splendored Thing. And, you know, me and Charlie talked about that harmony part, missing that harmony part (laughs).


RW: Yeah. Well, what can I say, I miss singing it (laughs), you know. That’s the way the ball bounces.

EP (Laughs): Well, look, you take care of yourself and your family, and if you need me for anything, I’d be more than happy to help out.


RW: I appreciate that. I appreciate it.

EP: I mean it. Don’t need that goddamn article for publication, none of that shit that I’ve heard. I’ve just heard bits and pieces. I don’t know what… I was on tour and everything. I’ve just heard bits. ‘Course I have never really sat down with anybody and had it laid down to me. I don’t even know. I just know that you as a person, and Pat, and if there’s anything I can do, any way of getting a job or anything else, let me know. I’m still here, son.


RW: Well, I appreciate that and I’ll tell Pat what you said that’ll make her feel better. She was hurt, you know, she couldn’t understand it, my kids, my kids, really, especially… I didn’t realize.

EP: You see, all of us were hurt.


RW: Huh?

EP: All of us were hurt.


RW: Yeah.

EP: In different ways. It’s like that song Desiderata. “Listen to the dull and the ignorant for they too have their story.”


RW: Yeah.

EP: And then Hank Williams wrote: “You never walked in that man’s shoes and saw things through his eyes.”


RW: Right. That’s true.

EP: So, you know, after analyzing the blamed thing, I can see it. I can see it clearly. That’s why I saying, anything I can do at all.


RW: Yeah.

EP: I’ll be more than happy.


RW: Okay, I real… I appreciate it. And ah…

EP: You take care of yourself.


RW: Okay. And if… let me say one more thing before you hang up. If everybody’s worried about the book, tell’em not to, man, because…

EP: Oh they aren’t…


RW: I mean… I mean includin’ yourself… ah, we’re writin’ the good stuff, Elvis… people…

EP: Worried about the book… I don’t… I don’t think so.


RW: Okay.

EP: Not… not on my part.


RW: Okay, good. ‘Cause I was out. I was broke. I was made an offer to write the book. I said, I’ll write the book if I can (include) all that, from day one, the good… the good days.

EP: Yeah.


RW: He said alright, whatever. So…

EP: You do whatever you have to do.


RW: Okey-doke.

EP: I just want to let you and Pat to know I’m still here.


RW: Okay. I appreciate that. And you take care of yourself.

EP: Okay. You too.


RW: Okay, bye-bye.

Note: We also recommend the reading of the interview Red West gave on 3rd November 1999.

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