AN ELVIS STORY
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I'M JUST TIRED OF BEING ELVIS PRESLEY

As Told By...FELTON JARVIS - I remember Elvis telling me, "I'm just so tired of being Elvis Presley".

LAMAR FIKE - He had to keep working. Elvis had a payroll that was phenomenal, and he had to keep a lot of people employed. By all rights, he should have never worked the year before he died. Everybody kept telling the Colonel: "Hey, back off. The guy's sick. The guy's really in bad shape". But Elvis had to pay his bills, and I suppose the Colonel had to pay his. I was on the payroll like everybody else. Today it wouldn't happen. Who goes to Vegas and works four weeks and does two and three shows a night? I mean this is unbelievable. The hotel put in a special, larger concert room that holds four thousand people because Elvis only wanted to work one show a night. I think Fred Allen put it great when he said, "It's called a treadmill to oblivion".

LOWELL HAYS - Toward the end, Vernon had the staff trained so that when I came on the premises they would call him and let him know I was there. Vernon would come up there and stay with me the whole time, trying to keep me away from Elvis. Elvis was having financial problems, you know. He had really made some bad business moves, and he was also in trouble with those airplanes. He didn't pay me for a long time. I never really worried about being paid. It wasn't nothing for him to be behind one hundred-fifty thousand dollars for months at a time. That was kind of hard on me, but I banked at the same bank he did, and they knew; so the bank would loan me money when I needed it.


GEORGE KLEIN - It had gotten to where he didn't want any people up at Graceland. He went into seclusion. It had gotten to the point that he couldn't even come downstairs in his pajamas or with his hair messed up in his own home. So the last six months that Elvis was with us, he said, "Look, guys, I don't have anything against you, but I'm not feeling all that well; so why don't you call and check before you come up to Graceland, to see if everything's cool".

DR. GEORGE NICHOPOULOS - There were times I think Elvis really enjoyed being a recluse. There were other times he had no choice. He couldn't go out even if he wanted to because the crowds at the gate would follow wherever he went. He did a lot of meditating. He also enjoyed reading, watching tv, and not having somebody hovering over him all the time, like it was on the road.



ELVIS WAS MISCHIEVOUS

As Told By...BOBBY OGDIN (musician) - When he was onstage, Elvis was always on somebody, teasing and playing. He got me with a big cup of water one night - one of those big cups of water he kept up there. Every now and then he'd look around at somebody onstage, and he'd look just like a mischievous little kid; then all of a sudden, he'd throw water all over you. He did it to me. He did it to the girls. He would fake it sometimes with an empty cup. He loved clowning, something to break the monotony a little bit. At some point in the show, Elvis always leaned forward and pulled a scarf from around his neck and threw it to some lady up front in the audience. Charlie Hodge would immediately wrap another scarf around his neck. Elvis would be on the front edge of the stage and it would just freak out the women. They'd be hysterical with excitement. But before he did that, Elvis would always take off his rings, those big, really expensive diamond rings, and hand them to Charlie Hodge for safekeeping.



One night he got mixed up and handed Charlie a scarf and threw his big diamond ring into the audience. He did it totally backwards! I have no idea what that ring was worth, but I'm sure it was worth a small fortune. Elvis was real cool about it when it happened, though. He didn't say a thing or let on that he'd goofed.

SHAUN NIELSEN - Elvis got sick onstage in Baltimore. He had to leave the stage, and we all had to fill in. When he came back, some people in the audience booed him, but they were certainly outnumbered by the ones who were just happy he was back.



THE LAST SESSION AND SONG

As Told By...CHIP YOUNG - I played on just about all of Elvis' records from 1966 on. Once he knew you, really knew you, he was real friendly. He'd walk into a session and hug my neck. The last session that I did, down at his house [Graceland, October 29-31, 1976] was kind of a fiasco. The production truck was set up outside and wires were run into the house. We did cut "Way Down" and "He'll Have To Go". But you know, it just wasn't technically good and I don't think Elvis was in the right frame of mind, either. Fact is, I never understood why he wanted to record at home. He did two albums there. All the mikes were set up in that little den area in the back part of the house, the jungle room. All we did was move furniture around and set everything up there. The drums were right out in the open room. Unfortunately, their sound was bleeding into the other mikes. Elvis was standing in the middle of it all, so all the instruments were bleeding into his voice mike, too. They put up clear plastic material, but it just wasn't enough to keep the sounds separated. Elvis never paid attention to technical things like that. He was just not technical minded. When we all finished the sessions, he went upstairs and gave each of us one of his personal shirts - the kind with a big collar and blousey sleeves. He hugged my neck and said, "Next time we record, I'll come to your studio in Murfreesboro and do it." But he never recorded again. So other than his concert recordings, the last song he completed was done at that session at Graceland - November 1, 1976; the song was "He'll Have To Go."

LARRY STRICKLAND - When we'd have time off from Elvis, we'd book out as The Stamps Quartet. So we had a date booked over in North Carolina, but we were going to miss that date because his recording session [at Graceland] in Memphis was running overtime. Well, Elvis wouldn't hear of us missing a date. He loaned us his Lear jet and had us flown from Memphis to North Carolina to make our little ol' booking. It probably cost ten times more money to fly that Lear over there and back than we made by performing. We came back to Memphis and finished up the album, but we didn't have a way home to Nashville. We were going to have to fly home, which we couldn't afford. "Y'all just take my limo", Elvis said. "I'm getting a new one anyway". Just like that, he gave us the limousine.



ELVIS and LINDA: THE BREAKUP

As Told By...

JO ALDEN (Ginger Alden's mother) - Elvis had bought Linda {Thompson} a house. That was his way of providing for her. Linda was hanging in there as long as she possibly could. She tells it that she just couldn't take it anymore; but even Sam Thompson said it was over. I think Elvis just couldn't bring himself to say it.

LAMAR FIKE - I think Elvis came closer to being in love with Linda than anybody. He cared for Linda a lot.

LOWELL HAYS - When Elvis and Linda Thompson broke up [in November 1976], I think that's when he really went downhill. He was miserable after that. He had been miserable after he broke up with Priscilla. A lot of those songs he did, they were for her, you know. He never got over her. And then, I think he really loved Linda, but he just couldn't bring himself to marry her. When he broke up with her it was downhill from then on.

LINDA THOMPSON - It was incredibly difficult for me to make the decision to leave, but I thought, "God forbid, if anything serious should happen to him. I have adored Elvis so deeply that it would be completely devastating for me to watch him die." So I had to sort of wean myself away from being that close, that bonded to him. It took eight months. When I left, I knew it was going to be rough for him. I had cared for him like he was a newborn baby; he was that needy. I thought, "Nobody else is going to do that. Nobody's going to know him that well; nobody's going to take care of him." But I had to go. For my own sanity I had to go. It was time.



DO WHAT YOU'VE GOT TO DO

As Told By... EDDIE FADAL - Elvis felt guilty whenever he disappointed his fans. He really loved them, and if you worked for him and you insulted his fans, that's one thing that could get you fired.

MYRNA SMITH - Elvis was easily angered due to the drugs he was taking. All the guys got fired at some point or another, but they were usually re-hired - just like Red and Sonny probably would have been. It wasn't that they were permanently gone. He would have called 'em back. They were his friends. I saw him angry a couple of times. When he heard about the book Red and Sonny and the other guy was writing he was angry, but he was really more hurt. He didn't want Lisa to read that stuff. They say their intent was to ultimately help him, but he said he felt betrayed.

LARRY GELLER - We found out about the book [Elvis, What Happened?] in the fall of 1976. It blew Elvis away. Man, I can't tell you the pain it created. This was a sensational (and controversial) major blast of an icon. Months later Elvis dismissed it. He thought maybe it was not going to actually come out - maybe this was just denial. But I knew it was coming out; we all knew.

BILL E. BURK - Red has said that shortly after the firing he and Elvis had a telephone conversation, and Elvis expressed disappointment that the book was coming out. Elvis knew what was going to be in it, but he never did say, "Don't print it". He just expressed his disappointment. Near the end of the phone call Elvis told Red, "Do what you've got to do."

LINDA THOMPSON - One day I said to myself, "I could be around here forever, and I could grow old, or I could die an untimely death from exhaustion just trying to take care of this person. Ultimately it's up to him. He's the one that's going to have to take care of himself. I can't do it for him". So I finally decided, "I don't want to live this kind of life for the rest of my life".

GEORGE KLEIN - I don't think Elvis really knew how sick he was. I don't think anybody knew. We knew he wasn't in the greatest of health, but we had no earthly idea that he was as sick as he was.


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