Friends Remember Elvis Presley - Part 2
Larry King: Marty Lacker is in Memphis who first met. Where did you meet? Junior high school?
Marty Lacker: No. Last year of high school, Larry.
Larry King: What was he like in high school?
Marty Lacker: Odd. He was sort of loner.
I had -- the thing we had in common, because we weren't that close, I had just moved from New York. And Elvis dressed in very flashy clothes, which was different than the kids back then. Most of the guys back then wore crew cuts and Levis and t-shirts. And Elvis wore flashy clothes, wore his collar up, his hair was a lot longer than the rest of the people. And basically, I dressed the same way, coming from New York. And the kids used to kid us about who was going to out-dress who the next day.
Larry King: Was he singing then?
Marty Lacker: He sang in a couple of talent shows in Memphis. But I mean, at the school. But it really wasn't known back then except for people who were close to him.
Larry King: Patty, how did you meet him?
Patty Perry: Actually, I met Elvis in Los Angeles. I was 17 years old driving down the street on Santa Monica Boulevard in an old clunker Buick. And we saw this black Rolls Royce. I was with a girlfriend, we were going to a fraternity party.
I said, let's go see who is an that Rolls Royce. I said, it's Elvis Presley. I said pretend we don't know who he is. I pulled up next to him. And he rolled down the window. And I said, gee, you look familiar, do I know you from somewhere? And he knew that we knew who he was.
So he said, pull over.
And from that one minute in time changed your whole life. We just bonded. He asked me up to the house. And he couldn't get rid of me.
Larry King: Were you like an unofficial Mafia member?
Patty Perry: Well, I was like a little sister. These guys brought me up. Marty and Lamar and Gerry.
Larry King: You did his hair, right?
Larry King: You did?
Patty Perry: Yeah. He looked gorgeous. They couldn't get rid of me.
Elvis was not happy with his hairstyle after he saw the dress rehearsal tape of Aloha Special and wanted it changed for the broadcast show. I did his hair for that! I wasn't there for the rehearsal and Elvis was very unhappy about that first haircut. It looked like hell! Elvis wanted his hair cut properly and it was Marty Lacker, who was in LA, called me and we flew in together. I cut his hair for the final show and Marty Pasetta, the producer, said to me that Elvis had never looked so great. While I cut his hair Elvis said, 'Patti, I've got really thin, I feel really good'.
Elvis was very happy and really stoked about doing the show. I think that was his prime, he looked gorgeous. We were all staying on the 30th floor of the Hilton and had a ball together. The sad thing was that we all went to the beach but Elvis would be stuck in his room. We all also went to see the Arizona Memorial that he had put a lot of money into but again he couldn't go
Larry King: What was he like to work with?
Lamar Fike: At times, very difficult, but most of the time, he was a lot of fun. You know, you're around somebody like him 24 hours a day, and you have to watch what you're doing because you become a little too familiar and you say things you shouldn't and sometimes you get in arguments. And it was a constant amount of pressure. It never really stopped. It kept you on your toes.
It was a case of -- I did most of the lights in Vegas. And I'd -- when we went on the road, I'd do some of it. But, you know, we were there mainly to kind of keep everything together. At times we didn't but it was still fun trying.
Larry King: Jerry Schilling, you were a close family friend. How did the Memphis Mafia name come about?
Jerry Schilling: Well, it came about, Larry, I think years ago, we used to go to Vegas and wear Mohair suits and carry guns. And the press kind of affectionately started calling us the Memphis Mafia , saying 'the Memphis Mafia is back in town'. And we kind of liked it. We were young guys.
Larry King: How many people were involved in the Memphis Mafia?
Jerry Schilling: Normally six to seven at one time. Probably over the years, there's been about 12, 13 guys.
Larry King: Did you hang out together?
Jerry Schilling: Oh, we lived together, Larry.
Larry King: Were there hangers on? Did he support you guys?
Jerry Schilling: Well, you know, it kind of looks that way from the outside. But on inside it was very important -- first of all, he didn't go out and hire people because they were an accountant or a tour manager, he hired people that he trusted and then you worked into the position.
Larry King: Oh, so you learned on the fly?
Jerry Schilling: Absolutely.
Larry King: So, trust was more important to him?
Jerry Schilling: It was the most important.
Patty Perry: Larry, we were a family. Elvis was a prisoner of his own fame. We were the ones that always hung out with him. I mean, he couldn't go anywhere, there were like 20 girls outside the gate 24/7. But we were his family. And we had so much fun together. And these guys were his best friends.
Larry King: Did you like him a lot?
Patty Perry: I loved him. He was an incredible man. You know he had guys that worked with him who were Italian, he had Jewish guys, he had Christian guys. And always worry a Jewish star and a cross so he didn't want to get shot out of heaven on a technicality. I mean, he was a funny man.
We were his friends. You know, we were it. And all he asked back was our friendship and loyalty.
Larry King: David Stanley, you were his stepbrother. So, he was how old when you met him?
David Stanley: I was just 5 years old. I moved into the Graceland Mansion in 1960 after my mother, who was divorced, married Elvis' widowed father. So, when I met Elvis Presley, I didn't know what a hound dog was, I didn't know what king was. And it was funny, when I met Elvis, I met most of these guys. I mean, Marty Lacker and Lamar Fike, I mean, you know, this is like a little hoe-down down south with the family. And, you know, I walked in, and I was the little 4-year-old snotty kid who just couldn't comprehend what was going on.
But I did understand one thing, I came from a boarding home and moved into Graceland. And I thought, this is going to be a great ride. And it really was. It was a great ride. It was a lot of good friends and a bonding. We stood up for each other, we took up for each other. And it's so cool to see my buddies and all of us get together and talk about Elvis and celebrate Elvis' birthday.
Larry King: Was he a good big stepbrother?
David Stanley: Oh, yeah. Are you kidding? I mean, I got a lot of attention being driven to school in a pink Cadillac everyday. I mean, when Elvis is your big brother, he was more like a father figure. He was 20 years older than I was. He taught me everything. He taught me music. He taught me how to be cool. If there's any cool there, it came from Elvis. He taught me about girls. He taught me about spiritual matters. And all the other individuals involved. It just wasn't Elvis.
You know, we're like those veterans, like World War II or Korean Veterans or Vietnam Veterans, we all experienced this unique thing. And like I said, it's so cool to get together and communicate on the level that we can about somebody we knew and loved so well.
Larry King: Marty, you must be the same age, right?
Marty Lacker: I was two years younger than him. We both were born in January. And I have got to say this about hangers on. We've been called every name in the book, but we've been called those names by people who have no understanding what that relationship was about.
Larry King: What was it?
Marty Lacker: It was a close brotherhood. Elvis didn't have one best friend, he had about 9 of them. And those were basically the guys from the early years.
And we grew up together. We were like brothers. The people who make statements like that, I mean, we just smile and laugh, because they have no idea what it was all about.
Larry King: Were you the last one to sort of join, Patty?
Patty Perry: No. Actually, I was there before David and Rickie. They were babies when they came to the house. I met Elvis when I was 17. He was 25 years old. He just got out of the Army.
Larry King: He took you in, too?
Patty Perry: They couldn't get rid of me.
Marty Lacker: We tried.
Patty Perry: They tried.
Larry King: Were you the only girl?
Patty Perry: Well, I was the only female. I mean, he trusted me. We were good friends, there was no romance there.
Larry King: Did you want a romance?
Patty Perry: No, no, no, no.
Marty Lacker: We all took shots.
Patty Perry: No. They were my brothers. They brought me up, they raised me, you know, they took care of me. They wouldn't let anybody near me, Larry, unfortunately.
Larry King: Was he difficult, Lamar? Could he be difficult?
Lamar Fike: Yes. That's probably the nicest thing you could think of. When he got hard nosed, you knew he was there. He could make it hard on you. It's just like I said, it's hard to really separate the lines. You're friends and you're an employee and you're all the above. My thing was we just fought all the time. And I always lost. I got fired about 500 times. But it's all part of it.
Larry King: He was extraordinarily correct, Jerry, generous?
Jerry Schilling: Very generous. The home I live in today, he bought me in '74.
Larry King: Just...
Jerry Schilling: You know, I think, Larry, this is how sensitive he was. He didn't talk about it. But I think he knew that I lost my mother when I was a year old. We grew up in the same neighborhood, poor part of Memphis. And in 1974, he said, you know, you never had a home, I want to be the one to give it to you. And nobody knew about it. The guys knew about it, but you know, it wasn't for publicity. And I still live there and I'll always live there.
Larry King: Wow. Patty.
Patty Perry: People, you know, they talk about birthdays, and what Elvis -- how he celebrated his birthday and Christmas. Elvis didn't celebrate just regular holidays. Elvis would give you gifts off-the-cuff. You know, if he went to the jewelry store, everybody got something. If he got a car, everybody got one. If he got motorcycles, everybody got one. What made him happy was to see the look on your face when he gave you that gift, it wasn't the gift itself.
Jerry Schilling: There's another thing to this that's really important, is that he also gave you time. You know, you hear about the gifts, you hear about the monetary. But you could have a problem...
Larry King: He would spend time with you.
Jerry Schilling: He'd say, do you want to talk about it? He'd come in your room. I mean, he was really a friend.
Larry King: Who helped him with his problems?
Jerry Schilling: That's the problem.
Larry King: All right, David, was he generous to you?
David Stanley: He was very generous to me. And I think listening to Jerry talk about the house that he lives in today, you know, my father was swept out of my life when I was a kid. My mother and father divorced in '59. When I moved into Graceland with my two older brothers, I came in with Elvis' new stepmother, Dee, which was my mother, and Elvis was a little reluctant towards my mother, because he had just lost his mother. But he looked over at me and he picked me up and he gave me a hug and he welcomed me into his family. And he took me in and he shared his life with me. He knew that my dad had been swept out of my life, and he did that replacement thing. And Jerry is so right about that. He was so silent about that. He went the extra mile to make you feel special. You know, there is a few people in the world that can pat you on the back and you're good for another 10,000 miles. One of them is a friend of mine, an associate named Bernie Dorman out of ADI in Los Angeles that I work with. The other, bar none, was Elvis Presley. When he patted you on the back, you were good for another 10,000 miles, and I'm sure all the guys on the panel will attest to the same thing.
Larry King: Marty, was he generous with you?
Marty Lacker: Oh, definitely. But I'll tell you something that, because Elvis was a complex and contradictory type of person. I mean, he had many sides to him. Elvis could not really bring himself to say I'm sorry to anybody. If he got mad at them or did something that he knew he shouldn't have done, and he'd get over it in 30 minutes. But...
But he'd give you a car instead.
Marty Lacker: Instead of saying I'm sorry, instead of saying I'm sorry, he'd buy you something.
Marty Lacker: And it just -- the only time I ever heard him say I'm sorry, is he said it to me because of an argument, the one and only argument we ever had. And it shocked me when he did it, because he just didn't do that. He'd go buy you something.
Larry King: Lamar, despite all the arguments, was he generous to you?
Lamar Fike: To say the least. I went through a lot of cars. I had a motorcycle and ran it under a bus. And you know, things like that. And we -- you know, it was like -- it was like a big playground that really got serious at times, but you know what? Somebody asked me the other day, 'would you do it over again', I said, 'when do we start?'
Larry King: Is it true he would keep movie theaters open all night and take all you guys to see movies?
Jerry Schilling: Three movies a night. We'd go at 12:00 o'clock after the theater closed. We would talk out loud. It was interesting, Larry, because I think about it now, and how you sat in the movie theater with Elvis, that was the relationship at the time. Is that right, guys? It was never spoken, but it just kind of worked out that way.
Patty Perry: He had a row and then everybody else sat behind.
Jerry Schilling: Elvis studied those movies. I used to wonder, why are we watching this for three times, you know, and then he would see some little eclectic thing that he picked up from that movie in his next movie.Marty Lacker: One of the things about him, is he'd hardly ever watch one of his movies.
Lamar Fike: We never watched them.
Marty Lacker: Well, he did a couple of times, but only about two or three that I knew of over 20 years. He just -- he didn't like to see himself on the screen.
Larry King: Quick Elvis Presley story. I never met Elvis, but met Colonel Parker. Elvis Presley worked in Miami Beach once, at the Miami Beach Convention Center. He flew into Miami International Airport, a helicopter brought him over to Miami Beach at the helipad. A limo picked him up at the helipad and drove him 10 blocks to the convention center, where he performed. He got back in the limo to go back to the helicopter. When he got back to the helicopter, he said to the limo driver, 'do you own this limo or do you work for the company?' And he said, 'I work for the company'. And he said, 'you now own it'. The limo driver's tip was the limo.
Elvis arrived at the station with his parents, Anita, and his male friends, George Klein, Cliff Cleaves and Lamar Fike
Making no secret of their affection for each other, Elvis and Anita Wood look into each others eyes like any other lovers bidding farewell
'Ooooh', murmured the 25 or so teenagers standing by when their idol, Elvis, kissed his 'number one' girl, Anita Wood, before boarding the train. (August 27, 1957)
Larry King: Joining us now is Anita Wood. She's in Jackson, Mississippi. She dated Elvis for several years from 1957 to 1962. In fact, it was Lamar Fike, one of our other guests, who arranged that, is that right, Anita, for you to meet him?
Anita Wood: Yes. Lamar called me, he did, for Elvis.
Larry King: And what did he say?
Anita Wood: Well, I was working with Wink Martindale on a teenage show there in Memphis. And when the show was over, Lamar called and said, Elvis would like to meet you tonight. Well, I had a date, and so I wouldn't break it. And Lamar went ballistic. I will never forget that, Lamar. You won't go with Elvis Presley? Break your date. But I couldn't do that. So I didn't go. And I didn't think I would ever hear from him again, but I did.
Larry King: What was the first date like?
Anita Wood: Well, it was a little unusual. There was Lamar and George Klein and Allan Fortes and Cliff Gleaves and the lady I lived with at the time made Elvis come to the door and pick me up. We were a Southern family. You know, so he came to the door to pick me up. We went out in the limousine. And Elvis was driving.
And we drove around Memphis a lot, we stopped by a hamburger place, and sent Lamar in for I don't know how many dozens of hamburgers, Lamar, lots of them, and they ate every one of them.
And then we went to Graceland. He had just bought Graceland, and he wanted to show me Graceland, and we went out there.
Larry King: Did he try to lure you the first night?
Lamar Fike: Lure!
Larry King: Did he make a move?
Anita Wood: He tried. He wanted me to go upstairs and see his bedroom and his big magnificent bed, which I did. And we walked in the bedroom. And it was a huge bed, I mean, the biggest bed I've ever seen, bar none, even now. A huge bed. And then he tried to make a little move on me. And I said, no, really, I have to go home now. So he took me home. And that was the first date we had. He was a gentleman about it. He took me home.
Larry King: What was it like to be in love with? I imagine you were in love with him?
Anita Wood: I was. He was my first love. I met him when I was 19 years old, and I came from a very conservative family and I'd never gone steady or anything. So of course when I met Elvis, I did fall in love with him, and he did with me. We had a wonderful time, great fun together. I loved the guys. And it was just a great, like a family. You know, and I remember when David and Ricky and his brother, Billy, came there. I was there, and I remember all about that. You all were just so little back then.
Larry King: Now, Patty, were you bugged that he had a girlfriend?
Patty Perry: No, not at all. Those guys were my brothers, you know, we didn't have any kind of a relationship.
Larry King: So you got along with Anita?
Patty Perry: Yeah. In fact, you know, any girl that ever came to the house, Elvis would have to explain, Patty's part of the family. Patty is part of the family. They never had a problem with me.
Marty Lacker: Larry, I got to tell you that Elvis' mother wanted Elvis to marry Anita.
Anita Wood: Oh! - That was nice.
Larry King: Why didn't it happen, Anita?
Larry King: Why didn't it happen?
Anita Wood: Well...
Lamar Fike: The Atlantic Ocean.
Anita Wood: He went...
Lamar Fike: It's called the Atlantic Ocean.
Anita Wood: Right.
Larry King: Oh, he went to Germany.
Anita Wood: He went to Germany, and while he was there, of course he met Priscilla, who was a pretty young girl at 14. But when he came back, we still continued to date. And of course, you know, Elvis could make you believe anything in the world, so he had me believing that she was just a friend and her daddy was in the Army with him, and there was nothing to it whatsoever.
Larry King: I'm amazed at something. Lamar, you handle this first, then we'll go around.
Lamar Fike: What's that?
Larry King: Elvis cheated on every woman he was with. And they all loved him and they all understood. So, Lamar, you explain that to me.
Lamar Fike: Larry, it's called the lure!
Larry King: It didn't bother people.
Lamar Fike: Look, can I tell you something? There was a lot to go around. You know, he wanted to keep everybody happy. But it was the lure, Larry.
Larry King: It was the lure. He obviously did.
Larry King: And now joining us in Los Angeles, Kathy Westmoreland. Kathy dated and fell in love with Elvis, wrote a book about their relationship called 'Elvis and Kathy'. Why did you break up?
Kathy Westmoreland: I didn't have too much of a say in it. I dated him for about six months on a regular basis. Then it became obvious to me that there were other women. It just -- you know how that is.
Larry King: What was he like as a date?
Kathy Westmoreland: He was fabulous. Oh, it was fun. He was very thoughtful. Almost motherly.
Larry King: He didn't sleep, right?
Kathy Westmoreland: No. He suffered from insomnia. He was very much -- I think a lot of geniuses are like that, just can't turn it off, is what he would say.
Larry King: Miss him?
Kathy Westmoreland: I miss him terribly.
Larry King: Let's go around and discuss eccentricities. What, Jerry, was different about -- what was weird about Elvis? All great men have eccentricities.
Jerry Shilling: I met Elvis when I was 12 years old, he was 19. It was before he even had a hit record in Memphis. There was five older guys -- this is how unpopular he was -- trying to get off a football game. So they let the kid in grade school, they let me play. I remember walking to the huddle. I was really into James Dean and Brando, I walked into the huddle. He looked so -- he was them and everything else. It was just the look. It was like he was a rebel but he had a lovable smile. He was like a lovable rebel.
Larry King: What, Patty, to you was eccentricity?
Patty Perry: Everything about Elvis was an eccentricity.
Larry King: Give me an example.
Patty Perry: He was a baby boy, he talked baby talk, loved his mommy.
Patty Perry: To women. The women saw a different perspective of Elvis than the guys.
Larry King: Like goo goo goo?
Patty Perry: He was nocturnal. We were like vampires, stay up all night and sleep all day.
Larry King: Marty, what was weird for want of a better term.
Marty Lacker: I'll tell you something that was weird about him. If he watched a football game on TV, he wore a helmet.
He dressed for every occasion.
Marty Lacker: If he watched guys on TV riding motorcycles, he would have his motorcycle helmet on. You'd walk in and it looked funny. I mean, you walk in, Larry, he's sitting with a football helmet on. You say, good lord, Elvis, what are you doing? 'I'm watching the game'.
Larry King: Lamar, would he have been a good guest on this show?
Lamar Fike: He'd have been hilarious. If he had had the group around, that's when it really got funny. He needed that sort of support. When he had it, it was every man for himself.
Larry King: What, Lamar to you, was eccentric?
Lamar Fike: I think the most eccentric thing about Elvis is the way he treated people. He treated everybody equal. There was no up or down with him. It was essentially, you know, like, I think like God loves a buzzard as much as an eagle and it was the same case with Elvis, he treated everybody like that. I'm almost positive that was it. If it's an eccentricity, I don't know.
That was a great lesson for us. If Elvis Presley can treat a guy that sweeps the streets the same way he treated a corporate CEO and was nice to him, so could we.
Larry King: David Stanley, what to you do was different?
David Stanley: I think the interesting thing about Elvis, being around him all the years I was, and I think all the guys can relate to this was watching Elvis be Elvis.
Larry King: What do you mean?
David Stanley: When people talk about him and how big he is, he was such a magnet, people were just drawn to him. He had a hard time being that. I mean, he was being Elvis Presley. I think in the end that's what caught up with him. How do you become a person that everybody loves? How do you become a person everybody adores and follows and wants to be around and wants that pat on the back. Watching him being Elvis, cool Elvis, up Elvis, down Elvis, sad Elvis, the great entertainer he was, watching him do that and towards the end, watching him go through that. Many times he would sit down by himself and say why me? Why I do have these phenomenal gifts? He always wanted to share it but he always had that problem of why has this been bestowed on me. I think Marty brought up a great point. Elvis loved to love people but it was difficult for Elvis letting people love him or us love him. He would just go inside himself and try to figure out who we was.
Lamar Fike: Let me tell you a real funny story, Larry. This is a fact. Among the group, we would have parties. After a while, when Elvis would come, all the attention would go to him so we wouldn't invite him. Really! One night he came in and said, let me ask you a question, why don't you invite me to these parties? I said, are you crazy, nobody's got a chance with you there. He really got upset about it. He said, 'well I'll just fire all of you'. I said, 'then from now on you can come to every party'.
With all that being said, Elvis loved being Elvis Presley. When Elvis went out, he wanted to be recognized. He wanted people there. Stars today, it's a little different. Elvis worked very hard to...
Larry King: He also was extremely liberal 'In The Ghetto', amazingly progressive black-white songs.
Lamar Fike: That's one of the most important things that history has -- some people in history, Elvis was the most unprejudiced human being I ever knew.
Larry King: I heard. Color-blind, right?
Lamar Fike: Totally.
Larry King: What was strange to you, Anita, about him?
Anita Wood: Patty mentioned a little bit, the baby talk. My nickname was 'little' because I was real small at the time and he called me 'little'. I had real small feet. He loved my feet. I don't know what it was but he liked small feet.
Larry King: Hold it. Patty.
Patty Perry: There were like two Elvis Presleys. When Elvis was at home he was Elvis Presley. But when on stage, that was a different Elvis Presley. That's what he loved to do. Talking about he liked people to notice him. We'd drive down Sunset Boulevard at rush hour and he'd drive the car just to see the look on people's face when they would see him driving.
Larry King: He'd drive?
Patty Perry: Yes. He'd drive, yes.
In the limo if he wasn't driving he would stand up in the moon view and wave at everybody and talk to people.
Larry King: Did all of you know about the drug problem?
Sure. How can you avoid it?
Larry King: Did anyone try to help him?
Over the years, of course. You know, it's real hard to help somebody who wants to be the helped.
Larry King: Did you see it coming?
Yes and no. When you live it on a day-to-day basis, it's harder to see. Also, it wasn't -- it was prescription, it was given by doctors. Elvis wasn't a street drug guy.
There were no Betty Ford clinics in those days. No one realized how dangerous prescription drugs were.
Comment : "It's time society realised people who have a drug problem are not necessarily bad people, they're hurting people".
"Most of our behavior is people just trying to meet their needs, because unmet needs produce emotional pain in our lives."
"It's both scary and alarming what we'll resort to in order to escape our pain, even to the point of compromising our own convictions."
"People need our love and understanding, not our condemnation. Doctors talk about addictive personalities - there's no such thing, It's how much emotional pain there is in a person's life."
"The more pain there is, the more vulnerable and prone they are to get hooked on something that relieves their pain. It's time we realised that drugs are not the problem but a symptom of far deeper issues, both in people's lives and in our society." - Gary Ablett(2007) - Former Geelong AFL Football player.
Gary Ablett was one of the greatest players ever to play Australian Football. In 2007, his sons, Gary Jr. and Nathan played inGeelong's winning Grand Final team.
Comment : "Elvis Presley was probably innately the most introverted person that ever came into Sun Studio" Sam Phillips.
Elvis Australia comment: With all that Elvis had to cope with; starting from being a very 'introverted' person who had a lifelong problem with insomnia, thrust into international fame almost overnight, losing his mother who he was so close too -- it is little wonder that he had great difficulties in some aspects of his personal life and found help in prescription drugs. There is no shame in this. As said above 'There were no Betty Ford clinics in those days' and it was a time when everyone trusted what the Doctor could give them. At the end of the day, everyone that has met Elvis, including woman that knew he was not faithful to them, (Most incredible) have made it known that despite his faults, Elvis was a very considerate, caring and loving person, irrespective of race, religion or color. Elvis' biggest fault would have been that he did not love himself enough to be able to look after himself.
Larry King: Why did he let himself go so much, though, the weight?
It's not a case of letting yourself go. What happens is you're so engulfed in all this style, you know, you do it and it becomes all of a sudden, you are there, you're heavy, you know. You're miserable and not happy.
Lamar Fike: Think that goes back to what I was saying a minute ago, Larry. Watching Elvis be Elvis. Many times in Elvis' life, he felt he didn't deserve the money and fortune and fame he got. Sometimes as a result of that he went into that self-destructive spirit. The prescribed medication is what it was absolutely. But that medication eventually caught up with him.
David Stanley: It scared us all to death.
Larry King: Marty, did you ever say to him, Elvis, you're gaining a lot of weight, you're losing control.
Marty Lacker: Let me be honest with you. I was almost as bad as he was, as far as the pills.
Marty Lacker: And the fact of the matter is, is that you know, you mentioned the weight. The weight really came just in the last year. And that had more to do...
Marty Lacker: ... with his body, illnesses, than anything else. Of course the pills contributed to it.
Larry King: Hold on, guys. I got seven guests.
Jerry Schilling: But, Larry, I think you have to go to the cause, not just the effect. And Elvis Presley was a real genius. He was the most underrated producer in music history. He really wanted to do films.
Larry King: Did he work on the production of his own records?
Jerry Schilling: Sam Phillips originally produced them, and he was a great...
I sat in a walk-in closet with Joe Esposito, Elvis Presley, Barbra Streisand and John Peters for three hours when she told him about that film, and he wanted to do that film.
Larry King: 'Star Is Born'?
Jerry Schilling: 'Star Is Born'. He accepted to do that film.
Larry King: No kidding?
Jerry Schilling: Oh, absolutely. And they take -- they take those things away.
Larry King: What happened? Why didn't he do it?
Jerry Schilling: Well, you know, if it doesn't coming through, management, there's...
Larry King: What killed him doing 'A Star Is Born'?
Lamar Fike: Colonel Parker killed that deal.
View an interview with Colonel Parker with his answer to this question. Elvis Australia believes the Colonel on this one.
Elvis Australia Comment : Paul Simpson interviewed Jerry Schilling, present when the offer was made, and he had no doubt that Elvis was desperate to land the part. 'Barbra came up to his dressing room with Jon Peters after one of his concerts to discuss the part. They talked the offer through over some food. After they left, I could tell he wanted to do it ... I made a few points, particularly about the problems if her boyfriend and hairdresser Jon Peters produced the movie, and he got very angry at me'.
Joe Esposito : A lot of things were brought up, Jon Peters was not a director, he was a hairdresser. And then there were rumors about Barbra Streisand on the set - about her being very, very tough. She was/is a very demanding person and she wanted everything done her way, so it was bound to be a conflict between her and Elvis. There was also the money reason. Elvis wouldn't get the amount of money he was used to getting from movies. There's was lot of little things back and forth that didn't come together correctly. We will never know how would have been, if he would done it, but certain things in life you don't know why they happen to you. A lot of times there is a reason for it.
Elvis Australia Comment : After the initial excitement, Elvis' wanted out - the reality of Jerry and Joe's comments (as above) about Jon Peters probably set in. The fact that Elvis 'got angry' at Jerry says that Jerry made a good point and that Elvis knew it, but it hurt as he had expectations of being in a 'good' movie. Then later he has decided against the movie. Also possibly Elvis (or the Colonel) may have realised he would not want to play a drug addict - that he would have had to do in this movie. Look at the furor over Elvis' 'dying' in 'Love Me Tender' as an example of how the fans would react to Elvis playing such a role.
Joe Espositio has stated, and we have confirmed this with Red West, that Elvis told the Colonel to get him 'out' as he did not want to be involved. Ernst Jorgensen, in Elvis Day By Day, said that Colonel Parker asked for $1m in salary, $100,000 in expenses and 50 per cent of the profits, demands which killed the deal.
Unfortunately we cannot know for sure. At the end of this article there is a link where you can let us know what you think.
Larry King: This is like old home week, Marty Lacker knows my father-in-law, Carl Anchorman, worked with him on producing records. Kathy Westmoreland knows my mother-in-law, Gerri, worked with her, right?
Kathy Westmoreland: Wonderful person.
Larry King: You have thoughts about Elvis' passing?
Kathy Westmoreland: Yes, I do, well, because of what he told me and what doctors who saw him while I was with him told me...
Larry King: Which is?
Kathy Westmoreland: Which is -- when I first met him, he told me that he knew exactly how much time he had, that he thought he was going to die at the age of 42, close to the age of his mother, her -- it was in her family, her father, grandfather, her whole family is not -- they were born with a heart that was twice the size on one side as it was on the other, and he also told me that he had bone cancer.
Marty Lacker: He didn't have bone cancer.
Kathy Westmoreland: And he...
Larry King: He didn't?
Marty Lacker: No, he didn't have bone cancer. Let me tell you where that came from. After Elvis died, there was a lot of stuff being leaked out of Graceland. And Elvis' father asked Billy Smith to tell a couple of the guys that Elvis had cancer to see if it came out. And that's what happened. And I believe that's where Kathy...
Larry King: But she said Elvis told her he had it.
Kathy Westmoreland: He told me when I first met him.
Marty Lacker: Elvis had a good imagination, Kathy.
Lamar Fike: Kathy, once again, it's called the lure.
Larry King: You're overdoing it now, Lamar.
Lamar Fike: No, no, I'm not.
Larry King: Elvis was a big fan of Bobby Darin?
Jerry Schilling: Elvis was a huge fan of Bobby's. In fact, when Bobby changed his style there, Larry, as you remember...
Larry King: Became a folk singer.
Jerry Schilling: Elvis met with Bobby, and said, Bobby, that's not you, man. Man, I want to hear 'Mack the Knife' when I see you. I want to see you on stage. And Bobby went back. I don't know if it was right after that, but it was amazing.
Larry King: Do you think Colonel Tom Parker had Elvis' father buffaloed, and if so, who do you think Elvis' father would have rather had manage his son?
Jerry Schilling: Well, I don't think there's anybody that can manage Elvis, when you really look at it, outside the colonel. The colonel did a great job, you know. And you know, maybe there was a few creative things, but he really -- these guys loved each other, actually. And Elvis had respect. I mean, Elvis would have eaten anybody else up. He had...
Larry King: Was the colonel honest?
Jerry Schilling: I think so.
Larry King: Did you like him, Marty?
Marty Lacker: No. No, I...
Larry King: Anita, did you like -- did you know him?
Anita Wood: I did not like him, no.
Larry King: So far, we're two to one.
Anita Wood: He was the one that stopped me from going to Germany.
Kathy Westmoreland: The colonel had -- that was his thing. He loved...
Larry King: He had a hold on him?
Kathy Westmoreland: Yes, he loved to try to buffalo people. That was the way he operated. But underneath it, he was a really sweet...
Larry King: David, did you like him?
David Stanley: I liked Colonel Parker, and I think he did a phenomenal job. But I have to quote my brother, Ricky, who unfortunately missed out tonight. The great quote is this: 'If Colonel Parker made Elvis Presley, then why didn't he make another one?'
Larry King: Lamar, did you like him?
Lamar Fike: Off and on. You know, off and on. I can't -- I am being totally honest, sometimes I did, sometimes I didn't.
Marty Lacker: I think we all felt that way.
Larry King: Patty, did you like him?
Patty Perry: Well, you know, actually, the colonel didn't really hang out with us personally a lot in Los Angeles. I met him a few times. But as far as I'm concerned, Elvis trusted him and that was his manager and I have nothing to...
Larry King: The colonel didn't hang around with the group, did he?
Patty Perry: He didn't hang out at the house, no, not personally.
Larry King: Jerry how often do you visit Graceland? Is it hard for you to go back and relive the memories, or do you enjoy visiting Memphis?
Jerry Schilling: I enjoy visiting Memphis. Graceland is bittersweet. My best memories in life is living at Graceland. And I loved the way it is. But you know, it's an emotional thing to go back there. And I loved Memphis, it's my hometown. I came out here with Elvis many years ago. But I think they have kept Graceland just as it was when we lived there.
Larry King: You like it, Patty?
Patty Perry: I loved Graceland when I went there the first time. It was peaceful, it was beautiful. But now to me it's like Disneyland, you know what I mean?
Larry King: Did Elvis have a home out here?
Patty Perry: He had many.
Jerry Schilling: Well, he leased homes out here, Larry, and over the years he did buy one in Palm Springs.
Patty Perry: And he had one, he also had one in Monterey that he had bought also.
Larry King: 'Jailhouse Rock' was re released in England in connection with Elvis' 70th birthday. It was No. 1 song in England and his 19th No. 1 song in Great Britain. And Kathy was telling me he thought he wouldn't be remembered.
Kathy Westmoreland: That's right. He said no one -- how are people going to remember me. No one is going to remember me. I have never done anything lasting, never done a classic film.
Larry King: Boy, was he wrong.
Larry King: have been prevented?
Marty Lacker: Yes.
Larry King: Who said yes?
Marty Lacker: It could have been, but that would have been up to Elvis.
David Stanley: At the end of the day, a lot of things have been said about Elvis' death and what happened and those responsible. But Marty's right, Elvis was ultimately responsible for himself. We could only take care of him as much as we could. And on that tragic day on August 16, when I walked in that bathroom and saw him gone, nobody hurt as much as I did or the people on this panel. But the fact is, we couldn't stop him.
But the only way it could have been prevented, Marty, it's so right on, Elvis could have made the choice and unfortunately, he made the wrong one.
Larry King: Let's find out what you do.
Anita, what are you doing now?
Anita Wood: I am director of our kindergarten daycare at our church and I also teach in Pittsburgh, Mississippi. Larry!
Larry King: Go ahead.
Anita Wood: Larry, I want to tell you my name -- my name is Anita Brewer now. I'm married to fabulous football player, an ex-football player.
Larry King: Anita Brewer.
Anita Wood: Right.
Larry King: Where did he play?
Anita Wood: When or where? He played for the New Orleans Saints and Cleveland Browns, Ole Miss first. Elvis' favorite team, the Cleveland Browns.
Larry King: That was Elvis' favorite team, was the Browns?
All right. Let me go around here, Patty?
Patty Perry: I'm semi-retired, but I work in Beverly Hills. I cut hair for mostly men at the Salon on Cannon Drive.
Larry King: OK. You've given us all a great hour, and I thank you very much.
Special addition : Paul McCartney
Larry King: You met with Elvis.
Paul McCartney: Yeah, we met with him in Los Angeles. It was great. I loved it. The thing is, it was so long ago...
Larry King: I hear not much was said initially.
Paul McCartney: Well, my memories were that it was really quite straight forward, that we loved him. We were a little in awe of him.
Larry King: Really?
Paul McCartney: Well, he was the man, you know. We had grown up with him. We were just kids. We were just that little bit younger. But I remember him having the first remote control for a TV we had ever seen.
Larry King: Really? That's a great story.
Paul McCartney: He was just going -- it's changing. It seems like ancient history now, but it was very modern then.
Johnny Cash :
Johnny Cash: He was very charismatic from day one that I ever saw him. There wasn't a person backstage when Elvis was on stage that wasn't standing right there as close as they could get to behind the curtain to watch him.
Larry King: Gleason knew him early, always told me he was a very regular guy.
Johnny Cash: Yes. Oh, he is. Very kind guy. You know, after all, he was 19 years old and he really loved his mother. And he was clean. People would see him on TV and say he was on dope, you know, but he was not. He never did drugs back then.
Ann-Margaret: He was a big part of my life. I knew him for 14 years. We saw each other for about a year. And it was a very strong relationship, very intense. And seeing when Elvis passed on how many negative things had been written about him, it gets me furious. It bothered me a great deal because I wanted always the best for him.
Photos courtesy of Elvis Presley Music.
A final note:
Elvis Presley - Musical Prodigy
Musical prodigies are most often associated with classical music, but by definition, such prodigies are natural talents and not restricted to one musical genre. Musical prodigies usually have several of the following characteristics: exceptional talent and/or interest in music at an early age; the ability to identify the specific pitch of sounds, i.e., perfect pitch, also known as a natural ear for music, or a good ear; ability to play by ear and/or to improvise; long-term memory for elements of music-melody, harmony, rhythm, time, and/or lyrics; and creative performance abilities (emotional and/or dynamic delivery, improvisation). 'The one element that truly defines a musical prodigy is the ability to create a performance dynamic with the audience that is captivating and, at times, overwhelming.'
As discussed above, Elvis Presley's musical talent clearly encompassed all of these characteristics and more.
Friends Remember Elvis Presley 1 - Linda Thompson, Joe Esposito, Jerry Schilling, Priscilla Presley & George Klein remember Elvis Presley with Larry King.
Elvis Presley and Muhammad Ali
Elvis Presley and Muhammad Ali : Two Sides of the Same Coin
Elvis Presley and Sammy Davis Jr
Jackie Wilson and Elvis Presley
Lionel Rose and Elvis Presley
How Did Elvis Get Turned into a Racist? - By Peter Guralnick
Elvis' musical style, as a musician and impact as a vocalist and stage performer
Ernest Withers : Eye on Elvis : Camera Captured Pictures Of Early Elvis
Tupelo's Own Elvis Presley DVD + 16 page booklet.
Never before have we seen an Elvis Presley concert from the 1950's with sound. Until Now! The DVD Contains recently discovered unreleased film of Elvis performing 6 songs, including Heartbreak Hotel and Don't Be Cruel, live in Tupelo Mississippi 1956. Included we see a live performance of the elusive Long Tall Sally seen here for the first time ever.
This is an excellent release no fan should be without it.
The 'parade' footage is good to see as it puts you in the right context with color and b&w footage. The interviews of Elvis' Parents are well worth hearing too. The afternoon show footage is wonderful and electrifying : Here is Elvis in his prime rocking and rolling in front of 11.000 people. Highly recommended.