Interview with Anita Wood
Source: Elvis Australia
January 21, 2017
Elvis Articles, Elvis Interviews, By David Adams
Q: When did you first meet Elvis?
A: Well, I met Elvis in 1957. I was on Top 10 Dance Party on WHPQ radio television in Memphis at the time. It was a popular dance show that they had every Saturday afternoon. The teenagers would come and dance and Wink Martindale and I would introduce the songs. Elvis watched that show a lot and one Saturday after the show, he had Lamar Fike call me on the phone and he wanted a date to see me that night. Well, I already had a date with Jimmy Omar and I wouldn't break the date and Lamar went ballistic. I mean he just could not believe -- 'You won't break a date to go with Elvis Presley. Are you crazy?' I mean, you know, he just really went wild. And I said, 'Well, I don't believe Elvis would like that if I did that to him if I had a date with him and broke it for someone else. So, I'm sorry I can't do that because I already have plans'.
So anyway, he got really angry and hung up the phone. And I thought, well, I'll never hear from him again. And to be honest with you, I really wasn't an Elvis fan at that time. But it so happens a couple of weeks later he called again. And the next time, I did not have a date. So I was able to go.
Once Upon A Time: Elvis and Anita Book.
Q: How was that first meeting like with Elvis? Did he introduce himself to you?
A: Well, Lamar Fike -- one of the guys that worked at the TV station was George Klein and another guy by the name of, I can't remember his name. But a couple of cameramen there knew him and of course, I knew them working there. Cliff Gleaves was with his entourage and Cliff was from my hometown of Jackson, Tennessee. He was a little older than I was but I knew his brother and I knew Cliff or I knew of him.
And I was living with a lady by the name of Ms. Patty at the time. And she was like a surrogate mother.
She was a little hen -- mother hen over me.
I was in Memphis working and I had just come from college, just away from home. And back in those days, people were very protective of their daughters and I had a very structured strict upbringing. So when I came to Memphis, Ms. Patty took me under her wing and I lived with her while I was working on television.
So on this night, Lamar said we'll be over to see you about eightish, eight I guess he said. So, I got dressed and ready and when they drove up in the Cadillac. They had a big long black Cadillac and George Klein came to the door. And George says, 'I'm here to pick up Anita'. And Ms. Patty says, 'No. I'm sorry. If he wants to see her, he'll have to come to the door and pick her up'. So he went back to the car and Elvis got out of the car and came to the door and met Ms. Patty. George introduced him to me and we had a little conversation there in the living room. Ms. Patty said, 'Now, you have her back at a reasonable hour'. She was very protective. So after she met us, she allowed me to go with him. And we went out into the car and I remember there was Cliff Gleaves in the back seat and George and this other young man. I can't remember his name right now. He was really a good friend of Alan Fortas's. And maybe Alan was in the car at that time and then Elvis was driving. So I got in the car and sat on my side of the seat because in those days that's what you did. And so then Elvis started around like we did many, many dates that we had just drive around Memphis.
We stopped by Crystal hamburgers. I didn't realize how much he liked Crystals. But anyway, Lamar went in and bought about three dozen Crystal hamburgers and they came back to the car and all the guys ate every one of them. I don't even like Crystal hamburgers but that was okay. I can't imagine that many hamburgers and they just woofed them down. Then we continued driving around some more.
And then Elvis said, 'Would you like to come out and see Graceland?' He just purchased Graceland at the time. And I said, 'Sure. You know, I'd love to'. Because I felt really at ease because of the guys in the back seat that I knew. Not knowing Elvis, but I'll tell you this, he made a good impression on me because he was so good looking. He had a red velvet -- and this was in the summer or spring. He had a red velvet long sleeve puppy shirt on and I think he had worn it in a movie. He had just made Loving You when I met him and he had this shirt on, these black trousers and I think he had like a motorcycle cap on and he was very handsome. I mean, I have to say that Elvis was the most handsome man I'd ever seen before or after. I'd never seen anybody as handsome as he. He was just very good looking, you know. And then as I got to meet him and know him, he had a very good personality: funny, pulling pranks and laughing. But anyway, so he was a very good-looking man at this point and he had my attention somewhat.
Above, Elvis Presley and Anita Wood embrace as she steps from an American Airline's flight at Memphis Municipal Airport the night of Sept. 13, 1957. Miss Wood, hostess for a Memphis TV show, 'Top 10 Dance Party', was returning from a week in Hollywood preparing for her first movie role in 'Girl in the Woods'. Elvis had given the 19-year-old a friendship ring the previous week in Hollywood. Photos Courtesy: Elvis Presley Photos
So we went to Graceland and he proceeded to show me around Graceland and I think he gave me a Teddy bear that night that he had in his dining room, pink and black Teddy bear. And he gave that to me and he showed me all the rooms and introduced me to his mother and dad and to his grandmother. They were all there. And we visited and listened to some music, played the piano awhile. And he said, 'Come up. I want to show you my office and what's upstairs'. I said, 'Okay'. So we went upstairs and of course, he took me to his bedroom and it was a dark, navy blue dark drapes and the huge -- the biggest bed I'd ever seen in my life. I mean it was really a big bed and mirrors all around everywhere. It was just very dark. And so he said, 'This is my bedroom'. And his bathroom I remember had baby blue carpet, carpet all over the floor and light blue mirrors everywhere. And then the closets he showed me on both sides and they were just filled with his clothes. He never wore the same thing twice. You know, he'd just take them off and dump them. I don't think he ever wore the same thing twice. But anyway, all these clothes on both sides and he just showed me his room. I thought that was very nice. And his office was right there next to it. And then we were talking and then he began to sit me down on the pit and he kissed me and, you know, in those days, people didn't kiss on their first date, not ever. So, you know, that was just I didn't want to like that. Because I don't care who he was, you know, and then he began to try to get a little fresh with me. And I said, 'Oh, no. That won't work. You know you're gonna have to take me home'. So he said, 'Okay'. And he took me downstairs and took me home.
He was a gentleman about it.
He was very nice. But he did try to get fresh the first date, but he didn't get to first base. It didn't work.
Q: Tell us about some of your dates.
A: Well, okay. It's been a long time and it's hard to remember what we did next. But during the time I did date him which is about five years before and after the army. In Memphis, we'd go to the Memphian theater. He would rent it late at night and we would go in and watch two or sometimes three movies at night. And he would invite people at the gate to go with us. A lot of fans would be there. We would go to his house many times. And we would watch TV, listen to music. He would invite the people up from down at the gate which were a bunch of fans, and crazy girls, you know, and here I was his date and these girls would just, man they were falling all over him. Wanted to sit in his lap and everything. I really did not like that because I was his date. I had a hard time with that and they would go in and shoot pool and watch TV in that the TV room downstairs and for a long time all night long and, you know.
He called me Little because I was very small at the time, tiny. 'Little girl, go fix me a sandwich, peanut butter, and jelly sandwich'. Now, you know, back when I fixed a sandwich for him, we mixed up the peanut butter the banana together and we didn't put it in butter and put it in a skillet. We just put it on white bread. But now I saw the other day, this man was fixing a peanut butter and jelly sandwich that Elvis liked and they sliced the bananas in thick slices and put it in this butter and cooked it so he may have started liking that later. But when I was dating him, he liked just a plain old-fashioned mashed bananas and I would go fix him sandwiches. Pepsi -- he was a big Pepsi freak. He had this fountain downstairs. We would do that. That was a lot of fun. Sometimes we would go to Channel restaurant and they would let us in the back way. And we would all go get to eat everything we wanted, you know, and Elvis is kind of finicky eater. And there were certain things he liked prepared certain ways and he would go and eat there.
Sometimes we would go to the skating rink and he would rent it all night long and he would buy knee pads and elbow pads for all the guys and some of the girls not very many participated but some did. And they would get out there and have wars with one another and pop the wheel up, you know, as fast as they go. Little biddy people like Billy Smith, they just got clobbered but it was so fun and they just loved it. And we would just skate all night long and he would also invite the friends at the gate. He always invited his fans to go with us. Sometimes we would go to the fairgrounds and he would rent it after hours. And he would just invite everybody to come that was at his home and they're always people at the gate when he was in town. So they would all go to the fairgrounds with us: friends, some family, and just fans. And he would stay all night long and ride everything as many times as we wanted to, just have a wonderful time, all night long. Here I'm getting so tired sleeping. Elvis would be all ready to go. But we were so tired and sleepy.
Sometimes we would get on the motorcycle just Elvis and I and ride through Memphis. That was some of my best times with him. Sometimes he still had the truck when he worked for Crown Electric and it was a black panel truck. And just he and I would get in that truck and nobody would recognize him in that truck. You know, it wasn't like a limousine Cadillac. It was an old, old black panel truck. And we would get in there and he would take me down to Lauderdale Courts and where he used to live when he was poor and talk about that a lot and show me where he came from. We went to Tupelo several times and he showed me, you know, where he lived down there. This was all before the army now. These were things we did here. And then when he went to New Orleans for King Creole. He would always invite me down there for a spell and to California.
When he went into the army it was a little different.
Q: There are some photos that we have of you and Elvis on a rollercoaster or something. Could you tell us about the pictures where it looks like he's petrified?
A: We're just acting. We're just being funny. Like on the Scrambler, we were going like that. 'Act scared, Little. Act scared Little'. You know, just something funny to do and the Rocket that was another scary one we used to ride, the Scrambler and everything else. The rollercoaster just time after time after time. It was fun.
Q: Did Elvis like living in Hollywood for a while or what were some of his impressions of Hollywood?
A: Well, at first, I really don't think he liked it. I don't know what happened later when he stayed out there more. He always wanted to come home. He was always anxious to come back to Memphis. I think he met a lot of people out there. I know the first time I went out there, he was staying at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, I believe. And I remember Ricky Nelson came up one night and some other people. I do remember him. And we stayed in that hotel that time before he ever rented a house or bought a house or whatever he did in California. Later on, he did rent a house and I came back and he was in a big house and everything. But even in California, we did a lot of driving around, you know, when we were out there. It was wild he thought as I thought that things that went on out there were things that went on in hell. I mean really, it was just the wildest place we ever saw. We talked about that a lot at the beginning. He wanted his family and friends around him. He felt as stranger, you know, he just loved Memphis better.
He liked being in Graceland back then.
Q: Were you on any of the movie sets with Elvis?
A: Oh, yeah. Uh-huh. Lots of them.
Q: Do you have any specific memories of Elvis playing pranks or practical jokes?
A: They used to do that a lot. Oh, they got me good so many times.
I don't want to tell you about some of them. They were just embarrassing. I was so gullible, but anyway. Yeah. I just remember going to so many you can name them. The one he made with Tuesday Weld.
I remember he told me little things about her and, what was of the name of that one?
Q: Wild in the Country.
A: Wild in the Country and Flaming Star and that was interesting and then the one he made one with Joan Blackman, Blue Hawaii, maybe Kid Galahad. King Creole was one of the first ones I went to. A lot of the times I didn't go to the set so much as be there to be with him when he came home. He was so secretive back in those days and he always said because it was of Colonel Tom Parker, you know. He didn't want us to take any pictures and if I was ever with him and there was a picture made, I would look down or try to look away, you know, for from the camera and not appear to be too happy because he didn't want everybody to know our real relationship for each other. Our real, you know, that we really cared for one another. He wanted it to be more like we're just girlfriend and boyfriend and we're just dating. And then he'd always come to me and say, 'But, Little, you know that's not really true. You're just the only one for me. You know, these are just publicity stunts. It doesn't mean anything. You're the only one I care anything about'. And he had a way that he could convince you that that's true. I'm telling you. But anyway, I was out there a lot of times. I'm sure there was some more. I just can't think of -- I remember one with this tall girl and they were doing the dance like thing.
Q: Did Elvis ever tell you about the roles he would like to do like more dramatic roles.
A: Yeah. Yeah. He really disliked the little silly things that he did. Now, he loved King Creole. He liked that one. He thought he did well and I thought he did too in that one. He was a more dramatic role and he liked the actress he was playing with. Some of the others he did not like. Wild in the Country I think he liked that pretty well. You know, he would like to have done more dramatic roles and I think he really turned into a very good actor. You know, he had a little southern accent that was a little difficult to overcome, but he was just handsome and so darling and so talented that he did anything well, you know.
I think the fans like him during the musicals and things, but he really preferred the dramatic parts and would have liked to have done more of those.
Q: Tell me what Elvis' thought of King Creole.
A: Okay. Elvis' favorite movie that I ever knew about when I was dating him was King Creole and he liked it because the story line was good. And he liked it because the actors were serious actors that he was playing with or working with. And he would like to do more pictures like that, more dramatic pictures.
Q: Do you remember Cliff Gleaves driving you and Elvis around?
Q: Can you tell some of those stories?
A: Cliff Gleaves, look, I cannot remember a lot of specific things unless he was here to remind me and then I could. But I just know that he could make Elvis laugh so hard. And they used to laugh at such silly things like his cousin Gene. I mean we would be driving along in California one time in a white Cadillac with gold specks in it and everything. And Elvis and Gene would sit there and talk this weird language, talk to each other so crazy, crazy, crazy. And just die laughing, fall out, laugh and stop the car, get out of the car and laugh, you know. I mean they were so funny. And he Cliff was right there with him.
Alan Fortas was another one that could make him laugh so hard. And he loved to laugh and he had a great personality. He was a tremendous guy and funny and I remember him quite well.
Q: Tell us about Elvis' sense of humor.
A: He had a good one. He loved to pull tricks. And I'm not going to tell you what he did on me, one that was so horrible. I was so embarrassed when I found out what I said because I didn't even know what the word meant and he knew that and he had me say something in front of a mixed crowd that was in the -- taking me home one night in the Cadillac and after I said it, they had to stop the car again. Because the people in the back seat just fell on the floor laughing and he had a Pepsi in his hand that just went up in the air all over the seat and they just died laughing and I was what did I say, I mean you know. And look it's not that I was dumb, but I was just very naive. I was very overly protected as a young child and a young girl. My family didn't talk ugly words, you know. I did hear a few ugly words and eventually, I understood it and knew exactly what they meant, but I didn't at that time. But yeah, he had a really funny sense of humor. Funny, funny, funny.
Q: Didn't you get a seven-year contract with Paramount pictures?
Q: Can you mention that?
A: Well, I won a Hollywood star hunt contest, you know. And I was supposed to go make a movie in California and I did go to California when Elvis was out there I believe when I went out there. And so Elvis came home first and the picture was getting ready to go into production. So Elvis came home and he called me on the phone, 'Little, I miss you. I want you to come home'. Well, I just said okay. So I just gave up the picture and everything and I came home and he met me at the airport. That's when they took a lot of those pictures if you remember. I just gave it all up. It didn't really mean a lot to me. You know, my parents had always wanted me to be an entertainer because God had given me a voice and I did sing and I liked to act. I enjoy that type of thing. But really and truly I just wanted to get married and have children and be a normal person. Well, with Elvis you could never be normal. I found out that right away pretty soon. And it was the furthest thing from being normal with him, but I didn't really care about those things.
So when he wanted me to come home, I came home. I just gave it all up.
Q: What are your memories of Elvis being drafted and going down there with him?
A: Well, before we get to that, let me see. I remember them getting the notice and I remember his mother's reaction. She was devastated, scared, sad. Mrs. Presley and Elvis were very close and I mean they talked baby talk to each other and loved each other and was very charming. I just loved it because he treated me the same way. He called me baby and talked to me baby talk just like he did to his mother and I just ate that up. You know, who wouldn't. I mean, he treated you just like you were a doll. But they had a real close relationship and I remember when they got this notice, Elvis was concerned about his career, you know, and what might happen. Leaving home, go that far away, was afraid he'd have to go overseas and he didn't like to fly. I don't know when he started liking to fly but he hated to fly. I hated to fly, you know, we'd ride the train all the time we had to go places. He was dreading that at that time. And like I said his mother, it just devastated her. She did not see another happy day from the day they received that notice.
And I remember when Elvis went to Fort Hood and when he left and we all went to the bus station down there to see him off and his mother was so sad and I would say it was a very sad time. And we all saw him off and then Mrs. Presley and Mr. Presley and I went back to Graceland after he left. Well, it wasn't long until Elvis had purchased a trailer out there in Texas and he put his mother and his dad and his grandmother in this trailer. And then at this time, I was in New York working on the Andy Williams Summer Show. And I was under contract with these people, ABPT Paramount Theatres. But anyway, so I was in New York at this time and he called me. And every weekend I had to fly to Fort Worth and we picked up Lamar, drove to Fort Hood and visited them in the trailer, while they had the trailer. There I was every weekend with them. His mother was not very happy. And it was a little uncomfortable, crowded in a trailer. She was used to different things by this time. And she was a little uncomfortable and she was not in the best of health. And it was in the hot summertime and in the middle of a field way back in the woods somewhere because that's where you had to be if you wanted any privacy at all. And that was a difficult time for them in that trailer, but that's where his mom and dad the whole time until his mother got sick then she had to come back to Memphis. It was not good for any of us at that time.
Q: Why was Elvis found with the Fadals?
A: We would get together. He and the Lamar guy was always there. In fact the law guys always there, all the time. Very few times were Elvis and I totally alone. There was always someone with us.
Q: Can you mention Mr. Fadal's name some more in there?
A: It's okay. Many weekends when Elvis would have time away from Fort Hood, from the camp or the base, whatever you call it there, we would drive over to Eddie Fadal's house and visit Mr. Fadal in Waco, Texas. I can't remember exactly, but we would drive there and his daddy would go with us. This was after his mom had passed away. I don't remember her being with us. It was Mr. Presley and Lamar and some other people, I'm sure. I just can't remember who. Someone was always there, I do remember that and we would go and visit Eddie and they were so nice and they just loved Elvis.
They just had a room there that they dedicated to him. And he could go and just do anything he wanted to do.
I remember one time we went there and they had a birthday cake, I think it might've been my birthday, it was in May and they sang a song and I got them to dance with me. You know he didn't like tap dance. But, he was dancing with me and singing that song Happy Birthday Baby, Happy Happy Birthday Baby for a long time. We used to sing there and Eddie he had a little girl. I remember his little daughter and we would gather around the piano and all of us used to sing. And they would always fix good food for us to eat and things that Elvis liked.
It was just a place to get away, away from the army.
And Elvis was at that time; he was more like a normal guy. He didn't have any dye in his hair, he didn't wear the lifts in his shoes, and he had a beautiful tan. He was just like the guy next door. I remember Bill and Ali Norwood. Bill is the Sergeant there and Ali was from Germany and they lived where the sergeants lived there on the base. And I stayed with them a lot when I went to visit him first. And we would come over and then we would go in the backyard and sit in the yard and look up at the sky. Talk about all the things we were planning on doing, like getting married, all that kind of stuff in the future. And then it was foreign to him not knowing what was gonna happen when he had to go overseas and he already knew that by now. And he was dreading that. Before his mom passed away, it was the greatest time that I ever spent with him.
He was a soldier boy and I was his girlfriend from back home and we were in love and we were together with friends. We just had a wonderful time. Dating, people didn't really bother him then and we just had a normal relationship during those days.
Later, after his mom passed away, he went to this house in Killeen, Texas and I remember his grandmother was there and his dad. Elvis would do everything to keep himself busy and he invited these people -- I remember fan club presidents coming from Chicago and other places. They would come and stay in that house. I could not believe it, they were all over the place. Every time I went down on the weekend, it was a different place. Different people there. Strangers, I'd never seen these people. Elvis didn't act like himself then. He would play on the piano and look around, 'Little are you there?' He would always look for me to make sure I was there, but all these strange people were around, ya know. Elvis was a big eater and I'm a big eater. I always have been a big eater. We like to eat. That was always a part of our day too - our night, night with Elvis. He slept in the daytime. You had to rearrange your whole schedule.
Q: Please tell us about Elvis and his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Presley and how it was for them when they were all at Graceland together.
A: It was a fun time. I can remember some Christmas' that we were there altogether. And we were all happy. It was a happy good time. She would look at him, and I remember to talk to him and she would grit her teeth, and talk this baby talk, and he would do it back to her. They were gritting their teeth at each other. And it was just so much fun and Mr. Presley was loving, but not as much so as she was. I mean I know he loved Elvis and, but he didn't show it the way she did. Of course, being a mother. And now that I'm a mother, I can understand it even more. But, because she lost Elvis' twin, she was just extremely close to him. And she would talk to me about, she wanted us to get married and she wanted us to have a little boy and to name it Elvis Jr. And she said, 'I can just see him running up and down the driveway in his little bare feet, this little blonde-headed boy'. Ya know. We talked about things like a lot.
She's trying to plan his future, not having any idea of the things that were going down.
We used to always sit down, he would always fix things like some kinda of greens. And they would get some grease and get it really hot on the stove and pour it over the greens. I've never heard of that before and I don't know what it is still to this day. But, it was good. Some kind of dark greens. Collard greens? Or something kind of greens. That was home cooking, it was really good and we would go visit and aunts and we would eat with them and they were the same type of people, ya know. And with Patsy, his double cousin, ya know. It was a good close family. We had a lot of family gatherings at Graceland. They would all come there. And we would go to their house too. I remember the day we went and found Junior dead and that was really sad. Junior Smith was his cousin and he died at night in his sleep and we went over there and we were the first there. A terrible sight, but that was just the first tragedy that happened in that family.
Q: What was Elvis' parents' reaction to his success, how did Mr. and Mrs. Presley handle it?
A: Mrs. Presley was worried, concerned, she didn't like him to go on his trips. She was afraid that someone might hurt him. That he might get hurt traveling there and back. Very protective mother. Very protective of him because she had lost the twin, you could understand that. That's all she had left and she wouldn't have any more children. So she was extremely close and protective of him. She was not really happy about him being gone. 'Son always take care, be careful, take care, call me as soon as you get there'. This type of mother and this is her message to him always. They talked on the phone often at first, you know, when I first met him and the times he would leave and go to Hollywood. And she did go out there for Loving You that was right before I met him, but I don't remember her going out there since then.
She really got in bad health and spent a lot of time at home.
Q: What do you think was the reason for her declining health?
A: Well, I would say because of Elvis and getting into the Army, having him join the Army and that might have something to do with it. I know that broke her heart because she did not want him to go into the Army. She did not want him to go overseas. I mean this was foreign to her and she could not imagine him going that far away from her and being separated from him. That why after the first six weeks when they couldn't go; when I could go down there and spend so much time with them the first six weeks of boot camp that's what they call it, I think. And when she came down there, how elated she was in the trailer, even in the trailer. And the quaint surroundings that we had down there, she was so happy to be there when she was with him, taking care of her son again, ya know. They were just a close family. He always included grandma too. She was always there too. It was just hard. She worried a lot about him. I mean worry can make anybody sick. She did, she worried constantly about him. Always concerned that someone was gonna hurt him, ya know. So it may have had something to do with her health. I don't know, she might have been having problems from the beginning, I don't know.
A liver problem, they say that's what is was in the end.
Q: How about her concern with the girls chasing after Elvis and so forth?
A: Well she didn't much like that either. She did not much like the girls chasing him when he'd come over the house. I don't remember a lot of the girls from the gate coming up there that often. Cause they were living there and they did not want them up there. His Mother would talk to me about she hoped that we would end up together, 'You're just the girl for him. You would take care of him, you know. I know that you will and he'll always remember his roots and where he came from' and this type of thing. She was not pleased with a lot of activity and I remember when they lived on Audubon before they bought Graceland, I remember her telling me about Natalie Wood coming to visit and she didn't much like that. She didn't like some the habits that she had and she told me all about it. I'm thinking that she had to approve of the person that Elvis really ended up with. It meant a lot to him that his mother approved of someone a lot.
Q: When the girls were rushing the stage, was she concerned about that?
A: Oh yeah, always afraid he would get hurt, you know. I mean there were a lot of girls, and boys, and women, and they would rush him. Sure, I would be and she was worried and concerned about that. He can get hurt. He may have gotten hurt some of the time. I think they jerked his shorts off and things like this, grabbing for him. So, oh yeah, she was a constant worrier. She just was. She was from a family that was not used to anything like this and it was all new and foreign to her and she did not like it.
Q: Tell us about when Elvis would go down to Goldsmith's after hours?
A: Well a time or two, he would just say 'Okay we're going, let's downtown to Levy's or Goldsmith's'. There was another one. I can't remember the name of it right now. He would just load up the car. We would all get into the car. And Patsy and myself, maybe Louis and Jean, some of the guys. He would say 'Okay ladies go get anything you want'. Well you know me, I didn't get very much. I've always been taught you don't take advantage of people. And so Eddie would tell me to get something I would maybe pick out this dress. I like this dress or these shoes. 'Get it, get what you want', you know. I would not get very much. Now Elvis gave me a lot of things and that's fine. And I accepted them and I gave them all away eventually, except the ring my daughter still has on that's the only thing I kept. But, as far as him saying go. And that's what he did and, of course, the guys would all go and just buy everything they wanted. But, I would just maybe get a few things. He'd yell out to me, 'Get em, get em, get some more, get some more'.
Yeah, he was very generous to a fault I think.
Q: Tell us about the guitar Elvis gave you?
A: Okay, well the guitar. One Christmas he was in Germany at the time and Mr. Diskin, who worked for Colonel Tom Parker, brought it to my home in Jackson, Tennessee and it was a guitar and it had gold letters written in it. And he had gold letters written on it, 'Too Little from EP'. Of course, I couldn't play guitar and didn't want to play guitar. A big guitar. It was in a very nice case and that was a Christmas gift from him that year. It was very nice. I kept it for while and then, later on, I gave it to an old neighbor of mine, Larry Worthy. I don't know if you know him or not. He said he put it in a Museum. I don't know what he did with the guitar, but he was a big fan and a little guy so I gave it to him.
Q: Was there certain getaways that you could remember?
A: Well now look, I done told you a lot. We spent a lot of time at Graceland. On the grounds at Graceland, they would have roman candle fights in the backyard that were just scary as everything, at each other. I mean they had no fear. Oh man and we sat and watched this. Fighting with each other, at each other with these roman candles. Right at each other. That's one thing they did. We would just get on the go-cart and ride around Graceland a lot. A swimming pool, we used to go swimming, they had a pool there.
Elvis was not a big swimmer and did not really like, when I knew him, to get in the water that much. But, he would on occasion go out there if I asked him, 'Let's go swimming'. You know, it was hot. I remember one time, we were out there, Lamar was out there and he had me stand up here and say 'Lamar, look at her. Just look at her. That hip is just a little bit bigger than the other hip', he said. 'Now you see that. But other than that, just look at it on her. She's just perfect, turn around Little'.
We'd go riding in the truck; we'd go riding on the motorcycle down to Lauderdale Courts. To the Rainbow Skating Rink, I believe was the name of it back then. To the Memphian Theatre, to the Fairgrounds, like it is now. And sometimes we'd go to friend's houses. He had some friends in Arkansas that ran the theaters; we'd go see them some. We would go to see Jean and Louise occasionally. They were close to him. Mainly, he'd just like to drive, ya know, just drive around Memphis. He'll say 'Let's go drivin'. We used to talk and listen to music, go back to Graceland, go to the music, then go to the piano room. We had a big white piano there then, and he would sit down for hours. Unchained Melody and all these beautiful old songs. He would play and we would sing together. Our favorite song to sing together was, I Can't Help It If I'm Still In Love With You. We'd just sit and sing and play for hours, in fact when he was in Germany he sent me this letter and the song had changed. Our song now was, Please Love Me Forever by Tommy Edwards.
And Soldier Boy was on the back of it and he told me he was going to make a record of it and he really did. He made a record of Soldier Boy later. Then he made me go out and buy the record. This is our song now by Tommy Edwards. But he was real musical you know, and had a great talent. He taught me to play the piano the way he does, which is just cording by ear. And that was fun.
Movies, he was a movie buff. I remember when I first met him; we went to this theater uptown. Maybe the Malco Theatre. Upstairs in the daytime, this is unbelievable, in the daytime, upstairs in the balcony. He and I and probably Lamar, he was always there and some other guys maybe and watch these western movies, I was so bored. But I sat there and watched movie after movie in the afternoon up in the balcony. The old Malco Theatre. And we would just cruise down Main Street. Oh boy. Sometimes we go to the radio station. Dewey Phillips was a DJ and he had a radio station. It was real popular. He'd hear his name, he'd drive by there, ya know, sometimes. Ya know, we didn't go out to places, as some people do on dates. Because he wasn't able to do that. He would get mobbed everywhere he went, except for the truck and the motorcycle. With his motorcycle cap on, ya know sometimes we'd stop someplace; somebody would recognize him and we'd have to take off in a hurry. But it was better in Memphis. They respected him more.
Interview with Anita Wood Part II : Anita talks about the death of Elvis' mother, Priscilla, Elvis' return from Germany, letters from Priscilla and breaking up with Elvis, the name similar to Lisa Marie they would have given their child if they had a girl and if a boy he was to be Elvis Presley Jr, the death of Elvis and much more.
View photos of Anita Wood and Elvis Presley
Photos Courtesy: Elvis Presley Photos
Interview with Larry Muhoberac
Interview with John Wilkinson
Interview with Michael Jarrett, songwriter, I'm Leavin'
Interview with James Burton
Interview with James Burton Sydney Australia 2006
James Burton: First Call For The Royalty Of Rockabilly
Interview with Ronnie Tutt
Interview with Ronnie Tutt #2
Interview with Jerry Scheff
Interview with Glen D. Hardin
Interview with Tony Brown
Interview with Charlie Hodge
Interview with Sherrill Nielsen
Interview with Terry Blackwood and Jim Murray
Interview with Scotty Moore
Interview with D.J. Fontana
Interview with Ernst Jorgensen
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.