THE MEMPHIS MAFIA
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Elvis Personal Friends
At last but not least, Elvis
also had his own exclusive group of friends who lived
with and worked for him.
They were called "The
Memphis Mafia", a group of approximately 13 men, and one
female, who served as Elvis' closest friends and
confidants. They followed him wherever he went. From his
wedding to his concerts to his funeral, The Memphis
Mafia were always at The King's side.
Esposito, or "Diamond Joe", was Elvis' number one aide and best
Joe met Elvis in the Army while both were stationed
together in West Germany. He served as Elvis' bodyguard immediately
after their service ended in 1960. Joe served as best man at Elvis
and Priscilla's wedding on May 1, 1967. He was also Elvis' road
manager until the King's passing in 1977. During the next two
decades, Joe made special appearances at many Elvis conventions and
events. He met with fans, shared his memories and even judged
Tribute competitions. The millennium found Joe to write a book and
make a DVD, in which he shares rare Elvis footage and stories from
his private collection. In April 2005, Joe became the offical casino
host for the Steve Wynn's new Las Vegas Resort, The Wynn Resort.
When schedule permits, Joe continues to attend Elvis events as a
is another familiar face within the Memphis Mafia. Sonny was
co-Chief of Security for Elvis Presley from 1960 to 1977. Sonny was
introduced to Elvis in 1958 by his cousin Red West at a party Elvis
held at the Memphis skating rink, Rainbow Rollerdome. Elvis served
as best man, and Priscilla as maid of honor, at Sonny and Judy
Morgan's wedding on December 28, 1971 in Memphis, TN. He played
small roles in a number of Elvis films, including "Flaming Star" and
"Stay Away, Joe." In the mid-70s, Sonny co-wrote the infamous book
"Elvis What Happened?" After Elvis died, Sonny became head of
security for the band Alabama and Salem Country Gold '82. He
followed with a career as a booking agent in California. Today,
Sonny and wife Judy live in
Tennessee and make special
appearances at Elvis events.
Charlie Hodge as the cheerful man who gave Elvis his water and
scarves onstage during the 1970s. He met EP back in 1958 when both
fellows were stationed at Fort Hood. They got to know each other
very well on the USS Randall, as they sailed to West Germany. Upon
discharge, Charlie worked for Elvis as a personal assistant. In
addition, he appeared in several of Elvis movies, the 1967 film
Clambake. When Priscilla went in to labor, it was Charlie who drove
her and Elvis to Baptist Memorial Hospital. Charlie can be heard
singing in the background on recordings of “I Will Be Home Again”
and “Could I Fall in Love.” He was affectionately nicknamed
“Slewfoot” and Waterhead” by Presley. Charlie was one of the
witnesses to Elvis' will. Charlie wrote an autography in 1985 and
performed with Eddie Miles at the Memories Theatre in Pigeon Forge,
Tennessee in 1992. He had a triple by-pass surgery on February 4,
2000 following a heart attack. Charlie recovered but remained
fragile in health, yet continued to attend Elvis events with his
fellow Memphis Mafia and be a guest judge at Elvis competitions.
Sadly, he passed away on March 3, 2006 at the age of 71 from cancer.
George Klein was a student at Humes High School in Memphis
Tennessee. It was there that he met Elvis Presley. In an recent
interview, George recalled: "He was a good but not a great friend.
He said I was nice to him." After high school, Klein went into radio
broadcasting at WHBQ and Elvis started his music career. As a
result, their careers converged and they built a fantastic and loyal
friendship that lasted till the day Elvis died in 1977. Although The
King is gone, George continues his legacy by keeping EP's music
alive on the airwaves. He continues to work in radio-- hosting the
syndicated George Klein's Original Elvis Hour, a program of Elvis
tunes and anecdotes. His main job is executive host at Horseshoe
Casino, where he's been for more than a decade. George tends to the
high rollers and handles presentations for the casino. In addition,
George leads a busy schedule with Elvis-related events. He's a V.I.P
to Elvis Presley Enterprises and Priscilla Presley, always
contributing his time and memories for celebrations and special
occasions. He is also active in numerous charities such as the
annual George Klein Christmas Charity Show and Auction.
Schilling was Elvis' bodyguard from 1964 to 1976. He first met Elvis
when Elvis was 19 years old. The two men became good friends after a
game of touch football in 1964. Jerry started dating Myrna Smith, a
member of the Sweet Inspirations (Elvis' female backup singers), in
1973. Jerry was also the manager of the Sweet Inspirations and the
Beach Boys and formed an entertainment firm. Jerry and Myrna
continued dating. The couple were married from 1982-87 and remained
his Rat Pack, Elvis had his Memphis Mafia. Sinatra's group had it's
only female member: actress Angie Dickenson. Presley's mafia also
had one female member. The lucky gal was hairstylist Patti Parry.
Patti Parry spent 17 years being a little sister to Elvis & sometimes noted
as being the only female member of the 'Memphis Mafia'.
Patti Parry was, in fact, one of a small number of girls who hung out with
Elvis and the guys for many years in L.A. from the time they were young in the early 60s.
Patti was also Elvis' and Priscilla's hairdresser but, unlike some, has never bragged about her association with him.
It was therefore a pleasure for EIN to get a chance to talk to Patti in her Beverly Hills home about a few of her experiences.
October 27, 2011 - Patti Parry, Elvis’ “Little sister”
has Died: EIN has confirmed the terrible news that
Elvis’ good friend Patti Parry passed away this morning
in hospital. We have heard that her brother took her to
a hospital last night, and that she passed this morning.
Patti Parry was a good friend to EIN and was always a
joy to be with, full of fun and life and wonderful
stories of times spent with Elvis.
Patti Parry was one of a small number of girls who hung
out with Elvis and the guys for many years in L.A.
from the time they were young in the early 60s.
When EIN interviewed Patti Parry in 2003 she recalled
that when she knew him .. “Elvis didn't have a Mum, he
didn't have a sister so I was a girl who was around who
could nurture him. He needed that nurturing. I was the
only girl there and if he needed it I would give him a
lot of help and a shoulder to cry on. I was his Little
Sister, I was a very lucky girl. (laughing) They were
EIN passes on our deepest sympathies to her family and
EIN interviewed Patti Parry in 2003
Gene West is cousin to Del "Sonny" West. He first met Elvis Presley
in high school and they became close friends. West became Elvis's
personal driver from 1956 to 1958. During the 1970s West, his cousin
Del 'Sonny' West and Dave Hebler were part of Elvis's bodyguards,
until they were fired by Vernon Presley in 1976.
Lacker knew Elvis since they were seniors in high school. He became
a member of Elvis' close inner circle as well as co-best man at his
wedding. Marty also served as the King's bookkeeper and secretary.
other personal hair stylist besides Patti, was good friend and
confidant Larry Gellar. During the 1960s, Larry and Elvis shared an
incredible interest for all things spiritual. They had plenty
discussions about life and religion. And were fascinated with books
on the subjects and were constantly seeking to find answers. Larry
helped design the Meditation Garden at Graceland so Elvis could have
a spiritual environment.
knew Elvis since the early days. Such a devoted friend of EP, he
tried to join the military just to follow him. Lamar immediately
became a member of the Memphis entourage and ultimately Elvis' tour