Elvis Fans Worldwide lost a treasure recently when Lamar Fike passed away. Our thoughts, prayers, and everlasting respect goes out to Lamar’s family with the hopes that God will soon replace the sorrow/mourning with happy memories of Lamar – his humor – his honesty – his friendship – and his place in the hearts of Elvis Presley Fans Worldwide.
To those members of the Memphis Mafia, and to their family members, I believe that it is NOT enough just to know their individual names or their “hollywood nicknames” (i.e. the Memphis Mafia, Elvis’ entourage, etc.). Each of these men earned Elvis’ respect, his love, his friendship, and his time. They witnessed Elvis’ triumphs, his hopes, his dreams, his frustrations, his loves, his ups and downs, and his life onstage…and off.
I have spent the better part of my life collecting, reading, obtaining, studying, listening, watching, seeing, etc. “anything/everything” pertaining to Elvis over these (approximately) six decades.
As much as I can recite and catalog, even after surpassing 100,000 photographs along with thousands of Elvis’ records/dvds/books/autographs/videos/handwriting/RCA documents/Boxcar documents/Colonel Parker documents/etc. , my knowledge of Elvis pales in comparison to those in the Memphis Mafia.
During this age of the Internet there are literally millions of Elvis’ related articles, photographs, videos, online books, etc. Fortunately, for me personally and for Elvis Fans Worldwide, Marty Lacker has been a tireless advocate on behalf of Elvis and Marty has taken his time to correct many inaccuracies about Elvis. Accordingly, Marty and his entire family deserve our respect, appreciation, thanks, and Marty is truly deserving of us supporting whatever endeavors he pursues and/or is a part of. Worth noting is that Marty tells it like it was, concerning Elvis “warts and all”, and yet the majority of what can be found online concerning Marty Lacker and the Memphis Mafia are a few photographs taken with Elvis either at his wedding or in the mid 1970′s with Elvis and Dr. Nick. For all of the decades these men were with Elvis they remain, individually and collectively, an untapped gold mine of facts and memories about Elvis.
In the ‘Elvis Presley Fan World” far too many “fans” parrot the disclosures/assertions in the book “Elvis What Happened” and summarize that the Memphis Mafia betrayed Elvis. Well, I have written about that very subject dating back to 1977 and YES I am of the opinion that it was wrong for Red West and Sonny West to go public and allow that book to be published. BUT, I fully understand that in the middle of a heated firing (which was much more than just a job for working and being friends with Elvis for three decades and then to be fired by Vernon and given 2 weeks pay) AND being legitimately concerned about Elvis’ health that maybe just maybe they came to the conclusion that by issuing this book that they could (a) monetarily provide for their family and (b) “shock” Elvis into getting immediate medical care outside of Dr. Nick. No one truly knows the intentions of others but one thing is definite and that is that even after these 30+ years since Elvis’ passing Red West and Sonny West have suffered, shed tears, and truly missed being with Elvis AND they, like all of us, bear the burden of their regrets. How many of us would not change decisions we made in our past if given the chance?
I will never try to “minimize” the impact that this book had on Elvis but at the same time I believe that it is an injustice to (a) lump all of these men into the authoring of “Elvis What Happened” when, in fact, many were not involved and (b) put the book “Elvis What Happened” over all of the days/weeks/months/years/decades that these men (individually and collectively) spent with Elvis.
Each and every year people who were either related to Elvis, worked with Elvis, were friends of Elvis, were associated with Elvis, or were a part of the Elvis Concert machine have passed away. The reality of life is that each day is truly a blessing and tomorrow is not…guaranteed.
Marty Lacker, Billy Smith, Red West, Sonny West, Jerry Schilling, and Joe Esposito are honorable men who are walking/talking/breathing priceless sources concerning the life of the greatest entertainer who ever lived…Elvis Presley. I am thankful to each of these men, and to the family, for the hardships they have endured and for them taking the time to share some of their stories with Elvis Fans Worldwide all these years. One of the few complaints I have ever had, with EPE, is that the members of the Memphis Mafia are not afforded some “official presence” within the organization whereby they can be ”front and center” and whereby they monetarily benefit from various projects relating to Elvis.
When I think about Elvis, and his life and accomplishments, I not only continue to be amazed at all that he accomplished but I admire him for so much that he did…offstage and to those in need. One of the life lessons I adhere to involves an old saying that goes like this “do not judge a man by what he does in public…but what he does in private”. Both publicly and privately Elvis kept these men close to him over a period of decades. For that reason alone Elvis Presley Fans Worldwide should seek out these men, support their endeavors, acknowledge their roles in Elvis’ life, and even hold them accountable for what they said and what they did and most of all simply put it into context.
THANK YOU Marty Lacker. THANK YOU Billy Smith. THANK YOU Red West. THANK YOU Sonny West. THANK YOU Jerry Schilling. THANK YOU Joe Esposito. For all the memories you have shared with us and equally as important the memories that you have kept to yourself. May God bless you all, and your family members, in all of your endeavors.
In closing, I ENCOURAGE Elvis Presley Fans Worldwide to reach out to each of these men whether it is online or by US Postal Service or any other method and convey your thanks while there is still time. After all the burden of regrets does not diminish with time and forgiveness is essential and in this case warranted to those who it is applicable to. May 2011 be the year when Elvis Fans Worldwide voice their appreciation for those who knew Elvis better than anyone else and they are forever known as…the Memphis Mafia.