Thursday, May 24, 2007

Asbury Park Press says "West knows Best"

Friday, May 18, 2007


Outside of his family, the people who probably knew Elvis Presley the best were the members of his entourage -- the guys known as the Memphis Mafia.

Sonny West was part of Presley's crew for 16 years, and he reflects on his days with the icon in his recently released book, Elvis: Still Taking Care of Business (Triumph Books).

There is plenty about Presley's appetite for women, food and prescription drugs, but the best parts are the stories involving other notable names.

West recalls that Presley was set to release a version of Chuck Berry's "Memphis" in May 1964. But Johnny Rivers, who listened to Presley's rendition over and over while visiting the King's Los Angeles-area house, beat Presley to the punch, issuing his version first.

That ruffled the King's feathers, remembers West, and Presley made it clear he didn't want Rivers coming around anymore. And a few weeks later, when Rivers did stop by, two members of the Memphis Mafia "called him a thief and every other name in the book," writes West, before ordering him to leave.

The legendary meeting between Presley and The Beatles in August 1965 gets its own chapter. And there are some funny bits in West's recollection of him and Presley meeting President Nixon and ordering a robe for Presley pal Muhammad Ali.

West says he's about to do an audio version of the book, and also on the horizon is a DVD of West's one-man show of Presley stories.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I've read before about how Johnny Rivers was suppose to have stolen Memphis from Elvis, but the two versions of the song are very different. Rivers version packs quite a punch and is even better than Chuck Berry's version and Presley's version is flat and lackluster.

If anything, Rivers version sounds more like Lonnie Mack's 1963 instrumental version of Memphis than Presley's. It was obvious that Elvis was concentrating more on his lines for Harum Scarum than his singing when he sang Memphis.