John Wilkinson has Passed Away aged 67

By: Elvis Australia
January 11, 2013

It is with sadness we report that TCB Band member, John Wilkinson has passed away in his home aged 67, on Friday, January 11, 2013, surrounded by family and friends, after a long battle with cancer. At the age of 10, he famously snuck into Elvis Presley's dressing room before a show at the Shrine Mosque in Springfield, telling Elvis, 'you can't play guitar worth a damn'. Elvis was amused and impressed with this kid and predicted they would meet again. They did. John was born on July 3, 1945 to parents Dr. Richard and Virginia Wilkinson. He grew up in Springfield, Missouri, where he attended Greenwood Laboratory School. John was drawn to music very early. After playing in a high school band with his classmates called, 'The Coachmen', John went on to make a name for himself as a folk and country singer and guitar player. He traveled around the country playing with such groups as 'The Kingston Trio', 'The Goodtime Singers', 'Greenwood County Singers', and 'The New Christy Minstrels'. John and Elvis met again in 1968, when the King of Rock 'n' Roll invited John to join his band. John played over 1,200 shows as Elvis' rhythm guitar player, right up until Elvis' death in 1977. After that he played less music, and made a living in retail and airline services management. He married his wife, Terry, in 1983. Unfortunately a serious stroke in 1989 left him unable to play the guitar. Nevertheless, for several years after that, he traveled the U.S. and Europe, appearing with the old TCB band and others, singing and paying tribute to Elvis. He was proud of the fact that he never turned down a request for an autograph. Despite his amazing musicianship, the incredible places he got to visit, and his entertaining stories of meeting famous people, the most remarkable thing about John was not his extraordinary experiences, it was his kindness. It didn't matter if he was meeting adoring fans, joking with Chuck Berry about keeping his B-string in tune, or if he was talking to a neighbor about her dog, people were people to him. Folks were folks. John would look you square in the eye and accept you, just as you were. There was nothing phony about him. He will be deeply missed. John was preceded in death by his parents. He is survived by his wife, Terry. The family would like to thank Mercy Hospital, Elfindale Manor, Barnes Hospital, and all the nurses and doctors who have been such great help the last four years. Cremation and a private graveside service will be conducted by Gorman-Scharpf. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the American Cancer Society, or the charity of donor's choice.

John Wilkinson appeared with Elvis in the concert documentaries That's The Way It Is (1970) and Elvis On Tour (1972). He also appeared in the Aloha From Hawaii television event - which celebrates its 40th anniversary on Monday. However, Wilkinson is most prominently featured in the television special Elvis In Concert (1977) while playing the guitar solo on 'Early Morning Rain'. In addition to his live work with Elvis, Wilkinson played for him in 1972 and 1975 sessions at RCA's Hollywood Studio as well as in 1976 sessions at Graceland.

Interviews with or about Elvis Presley Interview with John Wilkinson [2002 Interview by Scot Jenkins]

Friends of John and Terry Wilkinson have put together a touching video of our dear friend. From a very VERY young Johnny Wilkinson to pictures of John in 2010, and lots of Elvis shots too, plus pictures of some of the many music groups that John played in, including The Kingston Trio and the Rainy Day Friends. John saw the video too, and was very moved by it. Click the play arrow below to view this great clip.


Reactions to John Wilkinson's death keep coming in.

Fans from all over the world are shocked and saddened over this heart breaking news.

Larry Geller: 'Like everyone else in the Elvis world, I was deeply saddened to learn of John Wilkenson's passing. He contributed greatly to Elvis' life. A master musician, a warrier and a true friend to everyone who knew him. Elvis needed you, man, so you had to go'.

Kathy Westmoreland: 'Johnny, You were the very first person in my 'new family' that came up to me the first night and offered to assist me in any way. And you were there when I had questions.You made sure I met your friends, ('good people' as you put it) fans, and ensured I felt at home. It was just good to know I had someone to call on then.You were a 'legend' in our industry long before I met you that night. I remember you being mentioned and interviewed often with 'Charlie Tuna' on the radio, playing acoustic guitar and singing beautifully with the Kingston Trio, the New Christy Minstrels. So talented, so professional, and most of all...a down-to-earth,good human being ...and friend. I am so thankful for being blessed with the gift of knowing you'.

Priscilla Presley and Lisa Marie Presley: 'We offered our deepest sympathy to his family. John and the beautiful music he made with Elvis will live forever in our hearts'.

Facebook : Elvis Australia View full screen video + Post your own Tribute

Touching goodbye to John Wilkinson [January 19, 2013]

Just a few people, all personally invited by John and Terry Wilkinson, attended the private Farewell Ceremony at the Springfield Cemetery today. The service was very emotional with songs handpicked by John, prayers, talks on Elvis and John, memories of John - and humour. John has always had a great sense of humour and he had helped put this Farewell Ceremony together in the weeks before he passed away.

Joe Petruccio honors John Wilkinson

John Wilkinson
John Wilkinson.

Interviews with or about Elvis Presley Interview with John Wilkinson [2002 Interview by Scot Jenkins]

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