AN ELVIS STORY
ELVIS NEVER LOST HIS WILL TO LIVEAs Told By...GEORGE KLEIN - Elvis never lost his will to live; he loved life. He enjoyed the tours. But he was putting on weight and he knew that he didn't look his best; plus the fact that you can't be good every night - there's no possible way. He was only human. Elvis, when he'd be feeling sick, he'd have to go out and perform in front of fifteen thousand people. Only when he was deathly sick or just flat on his back would he cancel. He went on the stage many times sick as a dog, with a bad cold or the flu or a sore throat. He hated to disappoint his fans. He loved those fans.LARRY STRICKLAND - To me he was just a real simple kind of guy. I mean, he was always Elvis; he didn't act like "Elvis". He was very down to earth. He had a very normal side to him. There was a part in the show where he liked to sing low on a couple of songs. He would drop down an octave, and it was my job to match tones with him and sing along with him, fill it out down there. Basically, if nobody looked at me, they would think that Elvis was singing those low notes. We got to where we could do it right together. He would never have had to let the audience know that it wasn't really him; but every night after our song, Elvis would walk over and point to me to let people know that it wasn't really him singing that low. He could have just gone right on and people would never have known. I think he truly, honestly loved the music and really loved anybody that had any musical talent. BEN WEISMAN - Elvis invited me to come to one of those parties, you know, the last evening of the season [in Las Vegas]. I went upstairs and I kind of sat there real quiet. I'm not much of a party guy. Around maybe six o'clock in the morning he waved to me to come over. He said, "Ben, why are you so quiet?". I said, "I haven't got much to say". He said, "How many songs did I record of yours?" I said, "Fifty-seven". He said, "Fifty-seven!" He grabbed me, stood me up in front of the crowd, and said, "I want you all to meet Ben Weisman who wrote more songs for me than any other writer: fifty-seven. I want to hear it for this man". There was a big applause, then he took me over to the piano. He said, "Ben, I want you to hear this song. It's called 'Softly as I Leave You'. It's about a man who's going to die". That was in 1976, a year or so before he died. Something wasn't exactly right. I think he knew it.
DISSOLUTION OF OUR RELATIONSHIPLINDA THOMPSON - There were a number of things that led to the dissolution of our relationship. The primary one was just watching Elvis slowly self-destruct. It got to be too painful for me. I tried so many things - so many ways to get him to take better care of himself - to stop using so much prescription medication. Nothing seemed to work.DR. GEORGE NICHOPOULOS - Linda was pretty much on every tour with Elvis. Occasionally he'd make up some story (when he'd met someone else on a tour) to get Linda out shopping or something and bring this other person in. Linda and I were both striving for the same things; we wanted to see Elvis happy. We wanted to see him involved, out of his depressed states. We were trying to keep him away from certain situations. Linda was very helpful as far as letting me know what was going on. We had a good relationship. I discussed with her telling the cooks what food to give him and how much, but the cooks wanted to mother him, so they would just load him down. Breakfast was a pound of bacon with maybe eight or nine or ten biscuits, some eggs, and some cereal. He would not eat all that, but it was there if he wanted it. It was much easier to control his diet and food intake on the road than it was at Graceland.CHERYLE JOHNSON - For awhile people were willing to say, "Well, you know he's not feeling well. He's tired. The schedule is too much for him". The audiences really blames it on his physical problems, overwork, the Colonel.
ELVIS WAS FEELING HORRIBLEAs Told By...LARRY GELLER - Near the end of March 1977 we were in Baton Rouge. Elvis was feeling horrible. I was in my bedroom, and at seven in the morning my phone rang. Elvis wanted me to come to his room. I went in and he was sitting propped up in bed. He kept shaking his head: "Lawrence, man, I'm sick. I don't feel good. There's something wrong. I can't sleep and I've got to be onstage tonight". That afternoon he still felt rotten, and he cancelled the tour. When he did that, I knew I had to give him some information he did not want to hear. No one was speaking the truth to him. Everyone was just placating him - being obsequious. In Elvis' mind, a book [Elvis, What Happened?] was coming out, but he wouldn't admit it was really coming out. But I knew for sure it was. When I think about it, I just cry. I cringe within myself. We went into the bathroom. Two grown men are standing there crying - tears rolling down our faces. I said, "Elvis, I love you. I'm only telling you the truth because you need to know it". He said to me, "What is my little girl going to think when she grows up? What is she going to think of her daddy?" I said: "Wait a minute, Elvis, what the hell are you saying, man?. What do you mean, what is she going to think of her daddy? You're going to be there with her. She'll be by your side. She'll know the truth". He said: "And my fans will be my fans. They are not going to believe lies. All I'm concerned about is my daughter and my daddy. The book is going to hurt them. That's the only thing I give a shit about. The fans are not going to believe it". Elvis went into the hospital the next day, but he did not let the doctors do any extensive testing. He should have. He knew the end was near. There's no doubt about it.
ELVIS WANTED ANOTHER CHILDAs Told By...DR GEORGE NICHOPOULOS - Elvis had expressed to me on many occasions that he would like to have another child. He had gotten over his financial stresses and some other problems he'd been having, but he was still having girlfriend problems. Probably the biggest stress was Ginger. He was very wrapped up in her 'cause apparently something about her eyes or facial expressions reminded him of his mother. He wanted her to be around more. He'd want her to go on the tours, and sometimes she did, sometimes she didn't. Her behavior just kept him in emotional turmoil. I don't think he'd ever been faced with a female companion that he didn't have the upper-hand with; it really got to him.LARRY GELLER - In either March or April of '77 we were in Elvis' bedroom
- him and I - on the floor. There were two large trunks filled with his favorite books, over a hundred of them, and we were looking at a book or two. We were talking, and Elvis stood up and said, "Come with me a minute". As we were approaching the living room, he stopped in the doorway and stood toe to toe with me. He put is arm on my shoulder. He said, "Lawrence, the fans, they know 'Elvis' but they don't know me. They have no idea of the truth. If you don't tell the story, my story, to the world, they'll never know it. They'll never know the truth. I want to know right now, are you with me? Are you going to do something?" Well, in my mind I figured we were going to write a book together, to offset that bodyguard book.
THE ELECTRICITY WAS ALWAYS THERE
As Told By...BOBBY OGDIN - Even on his final tour, Elvis Presley's shows created the strongest audience electricity of anybody I've ever worked with. When Elvis walked onstage it was like an explosion of response and screaming and flash bulbs and everything. It was probably just caused by the limited access to him. People stored up all that desire and excitement.JANELLE McCOMB - Elvis made every member of an audience a part of all he acquired. When he stepped on that stage, that little secretary became the office manager, and that little intern became chief of staff. He gave hope and inspiration to all those kids who dared to dream some impossible dream. In Elvis they saw a kid born in a two-room house in Tupelo, Mississippi, who rose to fame and stardom, and it gave them hope.BOBBY OGDIN - During the time I worked for Elvis, we never did a sound check, never did a rehearsal either, as I recall. We had scheduled rehearsals in Memphis during that last year - scheduled 'em before four different tours. Everybody flew in from all directions, and we'd go down and set everything up at Graceland in the racquetball court. We'd get it all ready, check out all the microphones, and wait about an hour or two. Then Elvis would decide he didn't want to rehearse and call it off. We'd all go back to the hotel or go out to eat. We'd do that for about three nights in a row, and then we'd just take off on tour, no rehearsal, no sound checks. One time Elvis scheduled a rehearsal on the road. There was some song he wanted to work up. The entire band came in that afternoon, set up and waited, but Elvis didn't show up. There was an Elvis impersonator there that Felton knew, so he just called the guy down on the stage and got him to run through a few songs - songs we never did on the regular shows. It was just kind of spinning wheels. Then we all went back to the hotel. The show was pretty well set as it was.
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