Interview: Lamar Fike talks to EIN!!!
Introduction: Lamar Fike is a name all Elvis fans instantly recognise. Known for his forthright (honest) views on issues to do with Elvis, Lamar is a unique individual with a highly personal take on Elvis and life. Always entertaining and thought provoking, readers will find his latest interview with EIN honest, humorous and insightful.
EIN thanks Lamar's pr agent, David Salidor, for his assistance in facilitating our interviews with both Lamar and his co-writer, Mark Bego. David tells EIN:
"I'll tell you a funny story - My Dad worked for Decca Records, and I met Lamar at the original NY-Copacabana when I was 6!!! Lamar was working for Brenda Lee .... who was on Decca." (April 2008)
See Reader's Feedback at end of interview
January 21 2011 , a Sad Sad Day. EIN has been officially notified that one of Elvis' very best friends Lamar passed away very peacefully last night, Friday, January 21.
Lamar Fike first met Elvis in 1954 and began working for him in 1957. Lamar stayed a close friend of Elvis throughout the years, often providing the humour that helped Elvis and the gang get through the tough days. Lamar Fike also worked for Hill and Range music publishers and brought several major songs to Elvis' sessions including 'Kentucky Rain' and 'Indescribably Blue'.
Lamar travelled with Elvis after he went back on tour, working as the lighting director. He was with Elvis until he died.
Lamar was well-known for his sense of humour and his outspoken honesty.
Rest In Peace Lamar. We will truly miss you.
The Lamar Fike Interview 2008:
EIN: Lamar, since the last time we talked you have had a major health scare. How is your health now?
LF: Thank you for asking. I'm pleased to say I am in total remission, so far. I started with it in April 2005 but I'm feeling good. I'm getting older but there's nothing wrong with that.
EIN: We know fans will be very happy to hear that you're in remission.
|Fike: An Uncommon Journey
EIN: Lamar, this year is an exciting one for you. Your memoir, Fike: An Uncommon Journey on Elvis Presley Boulevard is due to be published and there is talk of a film adaptation of it. What is the latest news on publication of the book?
LF: There are seven publishers interested in my book and we're talking to them all. The good thing is that I didn't go through a publisher in writing the book.
I did it through my own company, Drawbridge Productions LLC. This has meant I have been able to do it without any influence from a publisher.
That is unique in itself as it means when I hand my book to a publisher it is done, locked and loaded.
My agent and I are carefully considering all offers before we make our decision.
EIN: Without giving too much away, how will Fike: An Uncommon Journey differentiate itself from other books about Elvis?
LF: Let me say that I am not rehashing any of the stuff I've written about before. Everyone knows what Elvis was and is. My book will be a more personal reflection. It is about my life, of which Elvis was a big part, but I'm fortunate to also have experienced many other great things, including working with other celebrities including Johnny Cash and Brenda Lee.
For instance, I will discuss in detail many of the things that happened in 1957, back during the halcyon days of MGM, the big stars I was around, the things we did and the humor of the whole thing. It was a time of a group of young kids just going crazy. It was a lot of fun and my book will include a lot of that fun.
It will be my recollections of a really great time. There will be a good mix of both pathos and humor. I think people will find it a very good read. I am excited about it.
At present the single page print is about 585 pages. By the time we cut double pages etc we'll probably get it down to 380 to 400 pages. My collaborator, Mark Bego (shown opposite with Lamar), is such a terrific writer. I couldn't have hoped for a better, more experienced author in putting the book together.
EIN: Mark certainly has a great writing pedigree on entertainment celebrities. When EIN spoke with him recently he made the point that your perspective on the Elvis story is a totally unique one. You have already said you won't rehash things. What can fans expect by way of new information or perspective?
LF: I don't see any need to rehash stories. It's already been done so many times. I don't think fans really know what went on in 1957 to 1959 in Germany. They think they do but it really was a different time, a different world back then.
There was a lot of uncertainly at the time on Elvis’ part. We had a lot of fun times but there was also a lot hanging over his head, a lot of uncertainty. He didn't know if he would still have it when he got back. He didn't know if the fans would still want him.
The European chapter in my book is phenomenal. Before others joined him I lived with Elvis in the house in Germany. It was only him and me. Red was only there for eight months and I was there for eighteen. We would talk late at night and I learnt a lot about what was on Elvis’ mind. I talk about this in my book. There are some very, very interesting things! It was just him and I and, you know, a lot of good stuff went on. I think people will see another side to Elvis when they read my book. You know he was as frail as anybody and I present the “human” side to him.
The things we did in 1957 were just unbelievable. People will discover this and see how Elvis was with everything that was happening to him.
You know we wandered around a lot and met people like Robert Taylor, Errol Flynn and Yul Brynner. The list is ad infinitum.
There was so much fun and I think my book will be one of the most interesting that has ever been put out on Elvis. And my perspective is always askew of everyone else's anyway so it will be different.
EIN: A lot of fan's appreciate your unique take on Elvis and enjoy how you express things; the flavor you give the story.
LF: I have a funny way of looking at things. And importantly I really enjoyed our friendship. It was a funny friendship but a strong one.
I was also very close to Gladys Presley and I have a chapter in the book about her. You know Gladys was like a second mother to me. Really, I adored her. She was a doting, good mother. People have never really talked about just how good she really was and I talk about this in the chapter. When we lost Gladys it just killed me. I died a thousand deaths. She really was special.
|Fike: An Uncommon Journey - film adaptation
EIN: And a film adaptation of Fike: An Uncommon Journey?
LF: The book is really written to be a movie. Mark and I have written a great script with help from Elvis’ youngest step-brother, David Stanley. It's a unique script too. It's a luxury…I don' t think there's any other term for it.
EIN: Has there been any interest from production companies?
LF: In fact I've received quite a bit of interest. My attorney in Los Angeles is John Mason. He is one of the top ten entertainment attorney's. With John's involvement we have really got it working. And it's fun!
It's like anything else. You do a project, put it out there and see who bites. And we're doing it by the numbers. You know, if we get the right deal that's what we'll do. I'm also fortunate that my business partner is
Taylor G. Atha. And he is such a great partner. We've been able to structure things so we can do what WE want to do.
Elvis and Lamar
EIN: Lamar, we know many fans are eagerly looking forward to not only Fike: An Uncommon Journey the book, but also relishing the thought of a movie based on it. Is there anything else about Fike: An Uncommon Journey you would like to say?
LF: Let me sum it up. I think it's a real honest appraisal. It's about the values we had in 1957 and how things developed. I think the book paints Elvis in a light that no-one has ever seen before. As a guy, Elvis was a real personable, human being. He had the same sort of fears as anyone else and as I said we had a lot of fun. My book provides a side of Elvis people haven't really seen before. There's not going to be any of that crap like Goldman put out. I had nothing to do with that but I'm still blamed for it today.
But you know I didn't write my book for the fans. I wrote it for myself. There were things I wanted to say and impart. And with Mark Bego, I think we've successfully done that.
And I certainly will be happy if people say “Hey, how about this”. I hope the fans like it but you never know. You can never know what they will like. But overall the fans have been good to me and I really hope they will enjoy my book.
It's been 30 years since Elvis died but the things I write about are just as vivid to me as they were at the time and I enjoyed every second of it. And it will be my last fond memory when I check-out.
|The Albert Goldman biography - Lamar's involvement
EIN: The infamous Albert Goldman biography on Elvis. We know you've talked about your involvement in his book before but as you say even today you still are blamed for it. For those fans who don't know the full story could you set the story straight?
LF: I'll tell you something. He wanted to do the book and my involvement was set up through an individual in New York. Albert was a hard writer and I had nothing to do with how he used the information I provided to him. The way he wrote it was terrible but I had no editorial control over the book. When I read the galley proofs I took them out the back yard and buried them!
But you know what, I quit that. I mean how long can you go around in sack clothes and ashes? If some fans don't like me for the Goldman book, well so be it. The difference between me and the fans is, I was there, they weren't.
EIN: Those fans who have been critical of you have done so without proper knowledge of your involvement.
LF: Yes, that's right. And you know it's really their problem. And Goldman had a lot to offer and he gave a lot. But he could have given so much more. But that's another story in itself.
Elvis and the Memphis Mafia
EIN: Lamar, when we last spoke in 2005 there had just been the re-issue of your book with Billy, Marty and author Alanna Nash, Elvis and the Memphis Mafia. How was it received?
LF: I believe it did very well and there was a lot of positive comments about it. There have been good sales numbers on it and I think Arum Press, the publisher, is very happy about how it's gone.
You know that book really just us three sitting down and reminiscing. It is very interesting as we often remember different things or have a different take on things that happened.
EIN: Apart from that book you have been involved in the documentaries, All The King's Men and The Elvis Mob.
LF: Those are true emotions in both the book and the documentaries.
EIN: Have you exhausted these sort of projects?
LF: I don't think you can ever exhaust these things. When you get together as a group, things just bubble up, emotions, stories and the like. There's still room for more. It's an inexhaustible situation. And one of the reasons it is inexhaustible is because it is such a fascinating subject. I enjoy talking about it…Elvis, the business, the people I've met. It's a great camaraderie that you have in this business. And because it's such a hard business, if you make it, you've really done something. And it's interesting!
Elvis as a socio-cultural icon...and EPE today
EIN: One of the interesting things about Elvis is the way he has transcended music. He has gone from being a music star to a socio-cultural icon. A day doesn't go by when you don't see an Elvis impersonator, Elvis’ name or some tacky and occasionally not so tacky piece of licensed Elvis memorabilia. What is your view on this.
LF: You know what, I blame this on the Estate. They have turned Elvis into a cartoon. I think it's not right, but you know there's a bottom line to make money.
EIN: So you don't like the way the Elvis estate is being run today?
LF: I don't know anyone at Graceland. I tell you what though, everyone there claims to be an expert on Elvis. Having said that, Robert Sillerman is obviously a very savvy businessman and he should be able to do great things with Graceland. He inherited a lot of things and what he does with the legacy from here on remains to be seen.
EIN: Priscilla's role in opening up Graceland to the public though?
LF: I wouldn't give her all the credit. She had some good advisers around her. Elvis didn't even want her to use his family name, you know.
EIN: He told you that?
LF: Yes. It was his request at the time, he wasn't too happy with her. But you know things change. I think he did become friends with her again. This often happens, and I ought to know, I've had three of them!!!
EIN: Sillerman (shown opposite) has invested a lot of money, around US$100m, so he will be looking at ways to maximize his returns.
LF: When you have that much money involved you start paying very close attention to things, and opportunities. I think though that he's the best thing that has happened to the Estate.
If they clean up that whole area around Graceland and give it an Orlando, Florida Disneyland feel or something similar, it will help not only the Estate but also the city of Memphis and the state of Tennessee. I think that from that standpoint it can be nothing but a plus.
Far fetched claims...........and Elvis as a song writer!
EIN: The Elvis is alive stories keep on chugging along.
LF: You know what, and I've said it before. If there was any truth to the rumors and Elvis showed up at Graceland, you know, I guarantee I would NOT have to introduce myself to him!
EIN: There have been hundreds of books written about Elvis since his death. Some by people who knew him, some by people who didn't know him or claimed to have known him in secret. One person in particular is private investigator, Billy Miller, who is currently working on his book about doing investigations for, and his friendship with, Elvis. What can you tell us about Billy Miller?
LF: Billy Miller is a fraud. Nobody knows him or anything about him. He is a total, absolute, blatant fraud. Is that clear enough?
EIN: It certainly is.
EIN: What about songwriter, Paul Terry King. He claims to have written two songs with Elvis.
LF: Elvis wrote one song in his life and he wrote it with Johnny Horton. That's the only song he ever wrote. He never wrote a song with this Paul Terry King guy. For lack of any other term this is a case of bullshit.
EIN: What was the song Elvis wrote with Johnny Horton?
LF: I really don't remember it's name. What I can tell you is that they were in a car going somewhere and they put something together. Elvis told me about it. But really Elvis wasn't a songwriter.
While I've heard his story I don't know who this King guy is, but trust me Elvis never wrote a song with him.
EIN: That's what most people thought. But King is persistent, he just won't go away.
LF: You know it's a bit like tuberculosis. You get a cough…you think it's coming back. King must be like a seven year itch that comes back every week!
EIN: What do you think it is about Elvis that fascinates people so much that they latch on to him and make up stories?
LF: It's like you said, he is a cultural icon. Everyone wants to be involved with a winner like that. You know a few of us were but the rest weren't. But you know, in a way that's a compliment that some people need to make up stories about being somehow involved with Elvis. In a lot of ways it's a sickness too. The line seems to be awfully miniscule.
EIN: Lamar, what do you find most amazing about the continuing fascination with the Elvis legacy?
LF: Just that…just that! It's absolutely unbelievable! The great thing about it is….you know I compare Elvis to an Aborigine cave drawing. These go on for centuries and centuries and Elvis will be the same. Each generation will pass him on to the next generation and so it will go on. If timing was ever perfect it was Elvis. There is no other way to explain it.
EIN: During the 1980s there was a series of books published which put Elvis down. More recently books seem to be better balanced in their view on Elvis. Why do you think writers were so down on Elvis in the 1980s?
LF: I think it is like everything else. Every idol has feet of clay. It is a reality that the media looks for the bad side, rather than the good side, in celebrities. The same has happened for other great people such as Abraham Lincoln. People look for things that aren't there. If they aren't there they try to find them.
However, over time memories diminish and thoughts become stronger about the good things. And I think this is what's now happening with Elvis. I mean, for how long can you go on beating a dead horse for crying out loud? I'm not trying to put Elvis in the category of a dead horse, just using the cliché to make the point.
EIN: In Australia, we call the putting down of well known people, the “tall poppy” syndrome. Do you think there has been a certain amount of intellectual snobbery in America about the American south and southern culture?
LF: Oh without a doubt. You know it's like these exaggerated speech patterns and things in American movies. It's just what it is. Everybody has their ideas and you know, it's like putting in a plug and the light comes on, if you unplug it the light goes off. It ’ s one of those situations which is really simple. But at least they're talking about Elvis.
Lamar Fike.......in 2008
Elvis, Lamar and other celebrities
EIN: You mentioned earlier some of the celebrities you have met. You also met John Wayne. What are your recollections about him?
LF: I first met John Wayne when he was making a film called Hatari. A cameraman who also worked on Elvis ’ pictures, Loyal Griggs, introduced me to him. He was bigger than life.
The first time I met him I said, “Mr. Wayne, I must tell you something”.
He said, “ Don't call me Mr. Wayne, call me Duke, or Mr. Duke."
I didn't know what to do. I said “ I thought you single handedly won World War II.“ And I really did because he was bigger than life, you know.
And I grew up wanting to be in the business and you see these people and you talk to them.
EIN: Is it true Elvis was considered for the role of John Wayne's offside in True Grit? LF: You know I think he may have been approached but I don't really know. I know Glen Campbell ended up doing it. Glen was a good guy.
EIN: There are stories about Elvis’ friendship with other singers such as Glen Campbell and Tom Jones. Just how friendly was he with these two?
LF: Elvis’ relationship with Glen was a professional level. Glen used to play guitar on many of Elvis’ sessions. He was one of the top session guitar players in LA.
Elvis liked Tom and Tom would come by. We first met him at Paramount Studios in 1965 while we were filming Paradise, Hawaiian Style. Tom is a good person, he really is. He's a little opinionated, but who the hell's not. And I think Tom's done well with his life, he's invested his money wisely and I think his son has done a good job of managing him. He's a great kid. And Tom's still alive, Elvis isn't.
EIN: You also met Elizabeth Taylor.
LF: When I first saw Elizabeth Taylor she was talking with her then husband, Mike Todd, outside the Victor Building at the MGM gates. I ran up to her, I probably ran 100 yards and I can tell you I haven't run that since.
I had met Mike Todd before at the Colonel's office. And as I walked up to her Mike Todd said “Go on introduce yourself".
And you know what I went “My name is..” and I went totally blank. She was so strikingly good looking that I just didn't know what to say or do. My God it was shocking.
She was absolutely stunning!
Rare Mexican magazine cover from 1961.......Elvis and Elizabeth Taylor
EIN: Robert Mitchum had a reputation as a genuine tough guy. How did you find him?
LF: Robert Mitchum was a real person. He was as real as rain. A good person, he had a great outlook on life. He was just hilarious. He would tell you what he thought.
EIN: The Robert Mitchum film, Thunder Road.
LF: Yes, Robert wanted Elvis to co-star in it as his son. He came up to the suite and I opened the door and he said “ I want to talk to Elvis”, and I said “Well come on in” . Elvis loved the idea but unfortunately he was under contract to Hal Wallis and couldn't do it. As it turned out Mitchum used his real life son, Jimmy, in the part, and it worked out really well.
EIN: How many other roles did Elvis lose because of contracts?
LF: I don't really think he lost many. Of course there was the offer from Barbra Streisand and Jon Peters for A Star Is Born. But that would never have happened. Those two egos together…my God!
EIN: Please tell us about the day you slammed the door on legendary actor, Glenn Ford.
LF: (Laughs) I was in shock. I opened the door and I was in total shock. My instinct was that it couldn't be who I thought it was and I slammed the door.
Elvis said, “Why did you slam the door?”, and I replied, “ Well it's Glenn Ford.”
And Elvis said, “ Well, let him in.”
So I let him in and he said to me,“ Why did you slam the door?”
And I said, “To be honest, you just shocked me.”
After that we got to be good friends. I saw him every day for a while and I'd talk to him. I enjoyed his company, he was a good person. He was the same off camera as he was on camera. He was one of those great people. Yul Brynner was the same.
EIN: Slamming the door in someone's face…seems to EIN like a great way to break the ice!
LF: It shocked me, it really did. I didn't know what to do. There he was….Glenn Ford. I thought his head was at least 6 feet wide and 8 feet tall. I was in awe. You know, you see these stars in theaters all your life and suddenly they are there in the flesh. It's amazing.
EIN: Another great story involves Elvis’ brief relationship with Natalie Wood. We believe you called her “Mad Nat”. Please tell us about her.
LF: Natalie was her name and she was real funny. She was a really good lady, a good person. We just shortened her name to “Mad Nat”. She had been raised in the business and had been a child star.
EIN: How serious was Elvis’ relationship with Natalie?
LF: Well, as serious as you could get at that time. I think a fling is what you'd call it. It certainly got along real well and had fun. I don't know of anyone who didn't like her. She was a dynamite girl. She was a very petite, very small girl.
EIN: A bit like Priscilla?
LF: Well, I think that's an unfair comparison. I don't think it's fair to Natalie. I'll leave it that way.
EIN: What about the window ledge incident involving "Mad Nat"?
LF: (Laughs) Oh she got out there. We were quite a few stories up in a hotel. But she wasn't going to jump, she did it to get Elvis’ attention. She was just being “Mad Nat”. It is a funny story.
EIN: Elvis’ close relationship with Ann-Margret is well known. But there were some issues on the set of Viva Las Vegas due to director, George Sidney. Please tell us what happened.
LF: Simply, George Sidney was infatuated with Ann-Margret. I was back and forth, I wasn't there all the time as I was running Elvis’ publishing companies in Nashville. Anyway he had this infatuation and in the Colonel's opinion he was giving her too much film…at the expense of Elvis. But they got it straightened out real quick. Ann, or Rusty, as we used to call her, was a good lady. We all loved her. I don't think there is anybody better in the world than her. She is just phenomenal. She is just a good, good, genuine person. You know, the salt of the earth. She was one of the better women that Elvis was ever around in his life. She'll always be a real friend and a fond remembrance in my memory.
EIN: Is it true Elvis didn't like being around other stars or celebrities?
LF: Believe it or not he was uncomfortable around other stars. He liked being around his group.
EIN: What about Lamar Fike? Did you (do you) like being around stars?
LF: Oh yeah, I loved it! They were fine to observe and watch. To see where they came from and what was on their minds. I always loved the business. It's a tough business but a good business. A bit like shoveling coal in Newcastle!
EIN: When we talked to you in 2005 you said that if Elvis had lived he probably wouldn't have become a preacher. Was that based on your opinion or judgment of his character, or did he specifically say something about it to you?
LF: No Elvis wouldn't have become a preacher. It just wasn't in his nature. He would have gone doing what he had been, like Sinatra did. He would have done it to a ripe old age, the odd tour and new recordings. He mightn't have had the #1 records like he did, but his personality meant he would have gone on singing and entertaining people. You got a name and following like Elvis ’, you work for ever, for crying out loud! Elvis a preacher….no way!
EIN: Wasn't Elvis too impatient to undergo vigorous religious training?
LF: If Elvis could have parted the Red Sea at 5.30 that day he would have been ready. But if not, he wouldn’t have waited. Everything had to be instantaneous to Elvis. Patience was not one of his longest suits.
EIN: How religious was Elvis in reality?
LF: I think he was religious as he wanted to be. I think he enjoyed doing what he did. I think it was a situation where he enjoyed being Elvis and he believed in God. He believed in Heaven and he believed in Hell. I think he had a good, basic religious belief. It didn't make him any better than anyone else but it was something with him at all times.
EIN: Do you think the extent of Elvis’ religious belief has been overstated?
LF: Yeah, I think it has but don't they do that with everything else, be it in Elvis’ life or the lives of other celebrities. You know, in death you sometimes become bigger than you were, and this has happened with Elvis. Many things are then magnified beyond their reality. But the basics are always the same. You are born, you do your gig and you pass away. I think the in-between's are what you leave behind and what people believe.
In Elvis’ case it's been a good deal for him. I think he's really transcended a lot of stuff and that's good.
I've always said timing was a great thing in Elvis’ life. If you look back at it he may even have died at the right time.
EIN: How often did Elvis attend the Lake Shrine in LA?
LF: He did that with Larry Geller.
EIN: Was it a long term interest or just a passing interest?
LF: I think it was a passing interest. It's not what Larry thinks it was, but that's his gig.
EIN: Did Larry have a positive or negative influence on Elvis?
LF: I don't think of him. Is that good enough?
EIN: That's fine.
EIN: What is your view on the growing interest in Elvis as a religious or cult icon?
LF: Well I don't know if anybody has been healed yet.
EIN: We could probably find a number of would make that claim.
LF: I don't know anything about those kinds of histrionics. I find things get a little overboard at times, don't they.
Elvis, the recording artist
EIN: Elvis’ recordings changed throughout his career. If you compare his recordings in the 1950s, 60s and 70s, there was an evolution in some respects. How in touch was Elvis with popular music by the mid 1970s?
LF: It's always very, very difficult for an artist to say abreast of changing interests, to stay on top of the curve. However, Elvis did the best he could. He had a great ear for music and thanks to people like Marty Lacker and Chips Moman he kept in touch pretty well.
In the music business it always comes down to what the artist wants to do. That's where it was with Elvis. He did what he wanted to do, the best he could, and sometimes he did better than he could.
Elvis had a great ear and a great voice. That combination always works!
EIN: The idea of Elvis doing what he wanted to do. In the context of how popular country music became in America in the early to mid 1970s, does that mean he tried to keep up with changes in music or it was simply a case of him doing what he liked?
LF: Elvis always loved country music, he really did. I mean one of the first songs he ever did was Blue Moon of Kentucky, the Bill Monroe song. He did it up-tempo rock ‘n’ roll, but it was still a country song.
EIN: Putting it another way, if Elvis hadn't liked country music, would he gave gone down that track in the mid 1970s?
LF: Oh no, I don't think he would have. Elvis was firstly and always a pop singer and I think he would have stayed in that direction. That's what he would have wanted to do. He may have experimented with country, stepped on it a bit. You know, sort of rounding himself out. And there's nothing wrong with that.
EIN: To EIN musucal versatility is one of the core reasons for Elvis’ great success. His ability to not only test other music genres but his ability to master other genres: rockabilly, rock ‘n’ roll, country, blues, ballads, pop, Latino, semi-operatic.
LF: You name it, Elvis could do it. Although I'm not sure he would have been any good with hip-hop.
EIN: Elvis as a jazz singer?
LF: I don't know. He didn't have a feel for it. You have to have a feel for it or it's not going to work. Elvis didn't have the chops that Sinatra and Torme had for jazz but he had in spades for so many other music genres. Genres Sinatra and Torme couldn't have mastered.
Elvis had a good booming voice when he wanted to.
You know, if you're a gunslinger, you don't shoot with a bow and arrows!
EIN: Lamar, a very broad question. In your opinion did Elvis always get his musical options right, did he sometimes record songs he shouldn't?
LF: Oh no, he always recorded what he wanted, and what he was good at.
EIN: You were responsible for Elvis recording hits like Kentucky Rain. What songs are you most proud of that you brought to Elvis’ attention and he subsequently recorded?
LF: Certainly Kentucky Rain is one. And another is Indescribably Blue which he recorded in the mid 1960s. It was written by Darrell Glenn.
EIN: It is a beautifully haunting recording and much overlooked in Elvis’ vast catalog or recordings.
LF: Yes it is. But I found a lot of stuff for Elvis and it was a part of my job I really enjoyed. I took my job seriously.
Concluding questions.......Lamar on life, career, Fosters, Nicole Kidman and his feline buddy
EIN: Outside of your professional relationship with Elvis, what do you see as your biggest achievements in life?
LF: Still being alive; I think weathering the storm; making a good living in the business; enjoying what I did and still do; becoming some sort of authority on the business itself, and Elvis. I think all those things are my major achievements.
EIN: What part of the entertainment business is your favorite?
LF: The entertainment business is my favorite. No particular part of it. I just love the business. As I said before it's tough, but it's a real good business. There's nothing better, it's the best business in the world. You know it's like the old song, “There's no business like show business”.
EIN: Lamar, apart from your memoir and its possible film adaptation, what else have you planned? LF: With Elvis being such an important and vivid part of American history and its fabric I think there is scope for a number of different projects based around Fike: An Uncommon Journey, of the which the book and film are only two. I think it has the potential to develop into a number of different multimedia formats.
EIN: As you contemplate releasing and promoting Fike: An Uncommon Journey, what else is on your mind?
LF: Having a good meal, opening a good bottle of wine, having good friends, and loving my cat.
EIN: What breed of cat do you have?
LF: A Maine Coon. The one that I had forever, AC, died last July. I had him for 17 years, now I have a blond Maine Coon who weighs about 20 pounds. He's about 10 months old and he's a moose, but he's wonderful. Full grown, he'll be 30 pounds or so, a big boy. His name is Duke.
EIN: Lamar, Thank you so much for an insightful, entertaining and We wish you all the best for the future, great success with Fike: An Uncommon Journey in all its incarnations, and look forward to talking with you again in the near future.
LF: It has been lovely talking to you. I know you are in Australia. I've never met the Australian people but I would love to get down your way. From what I'm told I'd have a lot of fun. And we could all throw down some Fosters' together! I also look forward to sampling your great food, the greatest food in the world. I just love it.
EIN: Lamar, we'd love to see you “down under”. People here are very laid back, there's plenty to see, it's a great environment, and we know there are a thousands of fans who would love the opportunity of meeting you.
LF: If you come up with people like Nicole Kidman I can promise you I'll be there!
Comment on this interview
Visit the Lamar Fike website
Read EIN's 2005 interview with Lamar
Read EIN's interview with Lamar's co-writer, Mark Bego
Read the media release about Lamar's memoir:
LAMAR FIKE’S DRAWBRIDGE ANNOUNCES ‘ONE OF THE BOYS’
New York – Dallas-based LAMAR FIKE, the key member of Elvis Presley’s famed Memphis Mafia, who formally started up his own Drawbridge Productions in February, is now putting the finishing touches on the accompanying screenplay to his forthcoming book FIKE: AN UNCOMMON JOURNEY ON ELVIS PRESLEY BOULEVARD, written with best-selling celebrity-author Mark Bego, titled “ONE OF THE BOYS; ‘57 TO 60’.” The screenplay was written by Fike, Bego, and filmmaker D. Edward Stanley.
Drawbridge Productions was formalized to bring under one umbrella Fike’s many productions as well as to contain all his ‘intellectual properties’ pertaining to his Presley-related projects in the works. Says Fike, “There are several ongoing projects and I now to have them all under the Drawbridge umbrella, makes prefect sense.” Fike formed the company with his business partner Taylor G. Atha.
Having now finished the screenplay, Fike says that his LA-based agent has already begun shopping it with immediate positive results coming in. “We want the right type of deal for it … with someone who can effectively get the job done. I look at the finished product, now having been able to take a step or two back, as something that deserves to be on told on film. There’s never been an accurate rending of the Elvis-story, and truth be told, it’s long overdue. So, when we get to the point of putting the film in production, we want it done the right way.”
Fike continues, “It’s funny … we wrote the book first, but the screenplay almost wrote itself. We realized during the creation, that again, it is a great story … and, it’s one that’s never been told before and deserves to be.”
Fike is also provisionally on board as a talent judge for a new television show to be produced later this year in the U.S. … enabling him to not only seriously put himself out there again in the public eye, but to appear as a credible force in the business. “I’ve logged quite a bit of time in this entertainment business, working for talented people like Elvis, Brenda Lee, Johnny Cash, and, record company executive Jimmy Bowen, but I’ve been a bit under the radar. I’m ready to step up to the plate!”
Marshall Terrill: As always, Lamar Fike’s interviews are funny, insightful and truthful. I shall be first in line to buy his new book when it comes out.
Bonnie (England): Say thanks to Lamar from me. I think he's cool!
Marty Lacker: To Mike Jones, Mike you have a right to your opinion even if it's wrong. My question to you is when are you going to grow up and get some smarts.
You take to task Lamar and those of us who were close to Elvis for at least 20 years each, whereas you not only didn't know Elvis, you don't know us.
It might be intelligent for you to understand someone's intent when they write what they do about an icon like Elvis, who was an important part of history. There's something that people like you forget, it was our life too and if you were fair you'd admit that we write as much about ourselves as we do him. We love him like a brother and our intention has never been to hurt him. You have no idea what he talked to us about and we to him and what he wanted done after he was gone. Look at anything that has been written about a historical figure such as Elvis and you will find that a complete, truthful and realistic story was told about them.
As for the raiding of his bedroom to look at videos of he and Priscilla you have your story wrong but it seems you don't have a problem with writing that.
It was I who said in our book that one time Joe Esposito and I watched a video Elvis made while he was in Palm Springs of a girl that Elvis dated every once in awhile. Elvis didn't have a problem with it, why should you!
Lamar's book is mainly about Lamar's life of which Elvis was a big part of but it also includes stories about Lamar's years in music publishing in Nashville and the many other stars he has met in his life. It's an interesting and funny book. Lamar has a way with stories that many people enjoy.
In terms of Lamar's or anyone else's book, you also have another right, don't buy it, don't read it, if you have a problem with him or us.
It really matters not what people write about Elvis, it doesn't change the greatness of his music and talent. Enjoy the music!
Tom Jenkins: Great interview with Lamar. One of the best reads this year.
Victor K: I was hoping for something new from Lamar but instaed it was more of the same old stuff. Disappointing to say the least.
Fred Smythe: Thanks for an entertaining interview. Lamar is one of the true gentlemen of the MM and someone who we can rely on to tell it as it was!!!
Betty Taylor: Please tell Lamar thanks for sharing his wonderful memories with us.
Bruce Jobbings: What can one say. You appropriately describe Lamar as inimitable. His is a reverent, honest and funny account of what the rest of us can only dream about and wonder...years with Elvis at the height of his fame and later during his decline. I've read Lamar's interview three times.
Verna (Tennessee): Lamar Fike is a good man. I wish him well.
Deb Foster: Viva Lamar!!! You are one of a kind.
Cindy Blackman: I hope to one day meet Lamar. He seems like a really nice and caring man. I hope his health continues to improve and that he can release many more things about Elvis.
Mike Jones: Lamar - anyone who is a true friend knows what should be made public and what shouldn't. This is not a matter of whitewashing; its a matter trust. Raiding his bedroom to look at videos of him and Priscila ...and telling the world about it?
Cyril: Top interview.
Paul Terry King: I enjoyed the Fike interview it was like catching up on some ones life from thirty yrs ago. but i really dont see how he could make a judgement of me a complete stranger as a borderline Elvis mental case! I ve met a lot of actors and recording stars myself in memphis and holywood like Jimmy Hendrix , Dion Warwick Neil Diamond Eddie Albert Jud Hirsch too name a few but I didnt claim I wrote a song with any of them now did I? I always had suspicions that Elvis lost or gave his tape copy of us jamming to Lamar Fike and he must have also told him what i said about Red and Seperate Ways that night elvis visited me in California. I hope that 7 inch reel tape recorded on a Wollensak recorder in 1973 is what George Klein or Guy Hands have in their possesion causing all this uproar and denial from these guys or is it something else?
Cris: Just wanted to take time out and tell you that I truly enjoyed reading the Lamar Fike interview just recently posted on EIN a few days back. I have always admired his honesty and how he brings "Elvis Stories" to life, by telling them only his way!!! Please send him my best and hope he becomes healthier with each passing day. From a huge fan.
Serendipity Falls: Couldn't put it down. Lamar is the real deal.
Peter C: I enjoy reading Lamar Fike's account of his years with Elvis very much. Lamar has a refreshing and humorous insight which few others have. His interview was a joy to read.
Frank Thornton (UK): I met Lamar Fike many years ago. He was a genuinely funy and engaging person. Thanks so much for his interview.
Jeanne Pellicani: I ABSOLUTELY LOVE Lamar Fike, and I THOROUGHLY enjoyed this interview with him! Thank you so much for printing it for us fans. I can't wait for his new book to be published. I hope he comes to New York in the USA sometime for a book signing, so I can meet him in person. I've always felt he had the most honest take on Elvis and was always very truthful. Please send my very best wishes to Lamar and thank him for doing this interview.
Bronwyn Flynn (UK): I've always admired the way Lamar Fike speaks his mind on Elvis! He has a refreshing way of telling the story.
BillyRay: I enjoyed this interview with Lamar Fike. He doesnt pull his words and tells us fans as it was from his side of the story.
Frances Billings: Thanks for an entertaining interview with MM member Lamar Fike. He is a character and has a candour not usual for MM members. Keep up the good work and give us more interviews like this one.
Peter T: The one, the only, Lamar Fike. What a standout guy and a man with the balls to really tell it like it was. I'm sick and tired of the whitewashed stories which are recycled by other people around Elvis. Lamar is frank and funny and I feel he gives us a closer picture of Elvis than others will ever do.
KingElvis: thanks, love reading interviews with people that were around Elvis.
Kris P: Thanks. Fike is always good value.
James Martin: Sensational interview! Lamar Fike is a real character.