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Story #52

As Told By..... CHERYL JOHNSON - In August, Elvis was again appearing at the Hilton in Vegas, and he cancelled two more shows. They said it was because he had the flu, but a lot of fans were beginning to seriously worry about him.

ED PARKER - Once, at the Hilton, Elvis asked the guys to be quiet at the table; they didn't. He pulled his gun and shot it five or six times into the air. He put some holes in the ceiling; he got their attention!. It was his form of release. Some people try to make it mean something else, but it really didn't. Another time Elvis asked the guys to turn the tv off because Robert Goulet was on it. They didn't do it, so he came over and shot the tv out. Some people said he was vicious - a madman; he was not. That was just his strange form of entertainment.

FRED FREDRICK - Elvis shot his Ferrari. It did something - ran off the road or stalled or whatever, so he just shot it. He said he "killed it". Somebody went down to get the car and towed it back up to the house. Elvis said, "Take that damn thing right back where I left it. It died!". It still won't run. It's still shot.

Story #53

As Told By..... PAUL DOUGHER - We stayed close friends, but later on it got to be such a hassle to try to see him, I gave up. Used to, you could just call and get right through. I could almost always get him on the phone or go out to the gate. They would let him know I was there and he'd say "Let him come up". But later, with so many people trying to do that, I guess he wanted more seclusion. When I would call up there, Charlie Hodge would get on the phone, or Joe Esposito. They would say, "He's busy with something." They probably wouldn't even let him know I was on the phone. I finally gave up and would only see him when he came to see me. He would come by and I would say, "I tried to get hold of you". Just tell them who you are," he'd say. "That doesn't always help," I explained.

EDDIE FADAL - The Memphis Mafia isolated him. They were afraid someone else would encroach on their territory, so they tried to keep everybody else out. It was a tough ring around Elvis, and I don't think Elvis realized that. There were a lot of people who called who had business being with Elvis. Some of the people were important recording artists and recording people that Elvis wanted to see, but they couldn't get through that group.

GEORGE KLEIN - Elvis knew that some of us, like Red West and I, weren't there for the money or to cash in on his fame - we'd been there before he became famous. Sure we rode with him to the top, but we weren't Johnny-come-lately's. We were friends with him when he was a nobody, and he never forgot that.

Story #54

As Told By..... MYRNA SMITH - Jerry was probably more aware of the changes in Elvis than I was. I knew he wasn't himself some nights when he came onstage; he wasn't quite awake yet. He slept all day and didn't get up 'til late afternoon. That's when he ate breakfast. Then he got ready for his show. And sometimes when he came down, he would still seem half asleep. Even when he first walked onstage, he'd be half asleep. But he'd just be doing his show, you know, because he knew it so well. During the course of his show, whatever he'd had kicked in, and he woke up. I've seen those times when he was having a hard time, but I'd be pulling for him so hard! He looked to us for a lot of inspiration. If you watched his shows you'd sometimes see him looking over at us, pleading with those eyes. We'd be pulling for him. We'd make more racket, trying to get him going, you know. He'd pull it through somehow. I've seen him sometimes when it was scary; when he was glassy-eyed and not really awake. It was frightening to me 'cause I thought, "He is gonna fall."

RONNIE TUTT - I saw big changes in Elvis toward the end. There were nights I sensed he was so tired or so down I felt like I had to physically hit the drums much, much harder than I had before. There were times I would say to him in my mind, "Let's get up. Let's get going!" just like he would mentally "say" things to me at times. Sometimes he'd get my signal and he'd understand, but there were some nights when he just seemed so out of it, so down. Also there'd be certain nights when the people were either too courteous, or too in awe, or too conservative, or whatever you want to say, but the audience wasn't responding like normal, or like what he was used to. He'd get frustrated and turn around and say, "Let's get the hell out of here!" I mean, he'd do his show - he always respected the public in that sense - but he certainly wasn't going to stay on and do extra encores or work quite as hard.

TONY BROWN - The band included the rhythm section, about twenty backup singers, and about twelve horn players. It was a big entourage. We'd sit around back there in the dressing room and talk about the situation: "Why can't somebody get through to Elvis?" "We should get Elvis on a health kick." "I wish we could help him." We'd say, "Ronnie Tutt, you know him really well. Why don't you go talk to him ?" But we all knew it was hopeless because Elvis was surrounded by that little circle of people, you now, all those so-called friends and all those bodyguards. If you dared to ask, "Can I have five minutes alone with Elvis ?" the answer would be, "Absolutely not!" They probably figured you were gonna ask him for a Cadillac or something. If you did get five minutes with him, most likely they'd be opening the door, constantly checking to see what was going on. It was totally unrealistic to attempt to get thirty minutes alone with him so you could say, "Elvis, man, you could go on a program and clean yourself up, lose some weight. Man, you'd feel much better." Those kind of conversations could never have taken place because when we got around Elvis, he controlled the conversation with idle chitchat.

Story #55

As Told By..... LARRY NIX - The second time Elvis came to Stax {December 10-15, 1973} it was a lot more upbeat. Elvis had his daughter and the girlfriend {Linda Thompson}. They brought a girl just to answer the phone. We had to keep a line open so Colonel Parker could call, I guess. One of the things that struck me was when Elvis turned to one of his guys and said, "Hey! Hey, man, tonight's Monday night, right?" And the guys says, "Yeah," and boom! The guy leaves. It wasn't fifteen minutes later, this guy comes in with a big ol' TV - all the tags on it. He had run down and bought a tv and stuck it up there in the studio to watch Monday night football. When they left, they left the tv - just got it to watch Monday night football one time.

Another thing that surprised me was if a writer would bring a song in on tape, I would have to transfer it to a disc. Elvis wanted to review all the songs on record. That may have been because it was easier to play parts of a record than to rewind a tape, I don't know. They'd bring the song in, I'd make the acetate {disc}, and then I'd go in the studio while they were cutting it. Elvis would listen, and he'd go do it. The song would be done identical to the demo. That dumbfounded me. There was no imagination, no "Create a little bit here," you know! Felton Jarvis was the producer, but all the production was already done on the demos. They just copied them.

Elvis' daughter would be in there with him when he would perform. Most times about ten or eleven o'clock she'd fall asleep, and he'd pick her up and carry her. You could tell that, man, she was everything. I mean, nothing else mattered. He definitely took care of that girl.

Story #56

As Told By..... DAVID BRIGGS - Elvis loved and worshipped Lisa Marie. That pretty well sums it up. He was crazy about her. He wanted everybody to really be nice around her. He really didn't want her to know some of the things that went on in his life. He was as protective as any dad. From what I saw, she was the most important thing in his life.

LINDA THOMPSON - Elvis was an enormously loving parent. I was with Lisa from the time she was four years old until she was nine years old. Every summer Elvis and I would have Lisa. Every Christmas she would come and spend time with us. We spent a lot of time with her. Elvis gave her, I think, the one thing that is vital for a parent to give to a child, and that is unequivocal love. She knew, unequivocally, that her daddy absolutely adored her. Elvis was not always right. He was not always as strict as he should have been. He was not always as lenient as he should have been. But he was always, always as loving as he should have been. He let Lisa Marie know every waking moment how much he loved her. He had no hesitation, no qualms about saying, "Your daddy loves you so much," and he would get tears in his eyes telling her. You know, Lisa was just this little kid; she soaked it up. She knew that her daddy adored her. He would laugh with her. He was very physically demonstrative in his affection, which is also very important. He was really a loving, wonderfully doting parent.

Story #57

As Told By..... GEORGE KLEIN - Barbara Streisand came backstage with Jon Peters to see Elvis {at the Hilton}. They wanted him to do a lead part in their remake of A Star Is Born. He liked the idea and Joe Esposito liked it and Jerry Schilling liked it. I was just sort of on the fringes of the group at that time; I wasn't there every day with him, but I put in my two-cents worth. I said, "Yeah, great idea." Then he turns the deal over to Colonel Parker and it gets bogged down in money. Colonel Parker told Streisand, "We will do it - million up front and fifty percent of the picture."

SHAUN NIELSEN - The Colonel made the demands for Elvis doing A Star Is Born so high, I think Streisand just couldn't afford to give him the part. I never understood why Elvis didn't just say, "Colonel, these are the things I want to do. Now if you want to go along, fine. If you don't, you just go your own way. I'm gonna do this." But I think the Colonel had been there for so many years, Elvis was afraid to go it alone.

EDDIE FADAL - Elvis wanted to do some heavy stuff. He wanted to do a picture like Marlon Brando did. He would recite some of Brando's lines from The Wild One. He could remember dialogue incredibly. Just hearing it a few times he could repeat it almost verbatim. That long speech at the opening of the movie Patton, he could recite that whole speech. He loved it.