Introduction by Marty Lacker:
Shortly after leaving the army I went to Graceland to see him which was just after he moved there, I never left. He later asked me to go to work for him and then I was named his right hand man for a number of years.
In late 1967 I quit to start a record company in Memphis where I discovered Rita Coolidge and produced her first hit record. I later ran Chips Moman's American Studios and then became one of the leaders of the Memphis Music Industry when it was the third largest in the world.
At the same time, I was with Elvis almost every night when he was home at Graceland . I went on some tours with him,to the Aloha Show and also many engagements in Vegas. I did that until the late 1976.
EIN: What is Marty Lacker doing in 2005?
ML: I am basically retired now but I still do some entertainment consultancy from time to time.
EIN: Are you currently involved in any Elvis related projects?
ML: Our book "ELVIS and The Memphis Mafia" has just been released in the UK and Australia and will be released in the US this spring. I am also involved in two other projects that I cannot reveal at this time. But I know they will be a good surprise for the fans.
EIN: You knew Elvis in High School yet you didn't go to work for him until later. When did you start working for him and what in particular persuaded Elvis to ask you to join?
ML: Although I was hanging around with him and the guys starting in 1957, I didn't go to work for him until 1961. During that time I was also in radio as a program director and D.J. Elvis always took his time before he asked someone to work for him. You had to earn his trust.
EIN: You then had a pivotal role in the Memphis Mafia. Tell us about it.
ML: Well he became comfortable with me and knew he could trust me and in some cases I was straighforward with him in the things I saw and said to him. After a couple of years, he and Esposito had a falling out on the way back to Memphis from Hollywood. Joe then quit working for Elvis and Elvis asked me to take Joe's place as what we called the Foreman. His right hand man. I remained in that position until a couple of months before I quit.
A well documented issue is the pressure that was on marriages and personal relationships for members of the Memphis Mafia due to the lifestyle you led and the temptations on offer. How did these pressures affect you and your marriage?
It was rough at times but not all the time because Elvis expected us to be there when he wanted you there which was 7 days a week at all hours of the day or night. My wife and I remained married for 31 years and have three great children who are fine adults now.
We parted in 1990 but are still close friends.
EIN: Being part of the Memphis Mafia you have met some very famous and interesting people. Who are your favorites?
ML: I have mentioned this before to others, celebrities don't impress me, they never have. Nice people impress me. Some but not all of them are Ann Margret, Sydney Poitier, Dionne Warwick, BB King, Bill Medley, Dusty Springfield, Sammy Davis Jr., Neil Diamond, Paul McCartney and John Lennon.
EIN: Who owns the rights too the fascinating video series, "All The King's Men"? Are there any plans to release it on DVD?
ML: There is a person here in the Memphis area who now owns them but we will be participating in their new release and new volumes. There is much footage that hasn't been used yet. They will be released on DVD in the near future.
EIN: There were some very touching & emotional moments in the programme. What was it like gathering together to reminisce in depth?
ML: It was great but the five of us have always stayed close, we talk almost once per week. It was nice to reminisce.
EIN: Was it strange at the time for two teenagers in Memphis to be so interested in black gospel music?
ML: To a point. It's even stranger that my two friends and I were Jewish. It didn't matter what you were if that music didn't move you then you had to be dead.
EIN: Historians often point out Dean Martin & other white crooners as being a major musical influence on Elvis. In those early days was Elvis really crooning pop ballads or did you feel his influences were more the black R&B of Beale Street?
ML: It was definitely more R&B and it's a myth about the so-called heavy influence Dean Martin had on Elvis. He liked Dean and liked some of his singing but he was not his influence.
EIN: Did you ever go exploring Beale Street & the black clubs with Elvis?
ML: No I didn't. When he was doing that I was in the army in Germany.
EIN: You had you own career in radio with WHHM, as a radio station director in Knoxville and also with WHBQ. Do you regret giving up that side of your career in the sixties?
ML: I enjoyed it and was quite successful in it but Elvis asking me to work for him was hard to turn down.
EIN: Were you involved with Elvis in choosing songs from the pile of demos?
ML: Yes I was. I also brought Elvis a few songs especially in the 70's.
EIN: Do you think the 'Hill & Range' deal & the Aberachs should take responsibility for Elvis terrible sixties period or should Elvis have made a stand?
ML: Elvis should have made a stand which he basically did after I talked to him during the Memphis sessions but Hill & Range and Parker deserve much of the blame for the crap he recorded in the mid 60's.
EIN: Did he ever complain to you about the appalling quality of the movie songs?
ML: Yes he did but unfortunately he chose not to do anything about it.
EIN: Why didn't you got to Germany with the other guys, was it because of your career? Looking back, do you wish you had?
ML: No I don't regret it because I had been stationed there for 18 months and left the year before he went into the army. I also was busy in radio at the time.
EIN: Who was Elvis Aaron Presley?
EIN: Marty, why Elvis? What was it that has made him such an enduring icon?
ML: Elvis had whatever it is they call charisma but more than that he came upon the scene when the world was ready for a culture change, especially young kids. He changed the culture of the world and people just hooked on to him.
On top of that he was nice to the people he met as most of them were nice to him and people appreciated the fact that he was not big headed.
EIN: Elvis was an individual full of contradictions and layers of complexity. It appeared that he suffered from ongoing internal tensions, some of which probably contributed to his early death. What is your view?
ML: That is true. He was a living contradiction, there were two sides to Elvis. The fans only saw one of them. He was a human being like the rest of us. Had problems, good fortune, faults and great attributes. Some fans tend to forget that or don't want to hear it but that is unfair to Elvis and his memory.
EIN: Nowadays people are often diagnosed with Bipolar depressive disorder. Some symptoms are difficulty sleeping, impulsive, quick tempered, overly emotional, sometimes morose, easily distracted, poor concentration at times. These symptoms do sound like people's description of Elvis. Do you think he was actually bipolar?
ML: I'm not a doctor but he suffered all that at times but don't we all.
EIN: If Elvis was bipolar, to make matters worse those symptoms are also the major side-effects of amphetamines. Do you think Elvis even noticed these symptoms and when did you really see them getting worse?
ML: Amphetimines were actually used in the 60's in the 70's it was something different. Elvis thought he had control of them but I think deep down inside he knew he was kidding himself.
EIN: In EAPRMM you comment that you discussed the change in Elvis' personality when he reached his late 30s. What was happening?
ML: We all discussed it amongst ourselves because his intake was increasing and we saw it slowly effecting him. Don't misunderstand though, most times he was fine.
EIN: Much has been made of the advent of the Sony video recorder in the mid 1960s and Elvis' avid use of it. What can you tell us about those infamous home videos involving a number of female participants?
ML: Let's just say that he put the machine to good use from the 60's on. I obtained one of the first reel to reel viseo recorders for Elvis in California while we were doing Tickle me.
EIN: Surely these are more sensationalist than anything? When you think of Paris Hilton, Pamela Lee Anderson and everyone else who has played with video cameras should we even care what Elvis did at the time?
ML: Not really.
EIN: Elvis was the type of personality who went through fads or phases. In the 70s he became the "supercop". What do you most recall of that time?
ML: He always wanted to be a cop or superspy and he would buy law enforcement equipment and then go out and get real badges from various police departments in the country.
EIN: In her book, "The Colonel", Alanna Nash revealed that in the 1970s Saudi billionaires offered the Colonel initially $5m, and then increasing the offer to $10m, for Elvis to stage a concert in front of the pyramids in Egypt. The thought of such a concert is mind boggling. Were you aware of this...was Elvis aware of this, and if yes, what was his reaction?
ML: Yes, I was aware of it. Elvis had shown me a brochure that they sent him of the Pyramids where the show was to take place. He wanted to do it but Parker killed it.
EIN: The fact that Elvis didn't tour overseas seems the ultimate Disappointment. Surely this was a challenge that might have appeared to him? Others within the Memphis Mafia don't blame The Colonel but say that Elvis couldn't go because of the trouble carrying the needed 'drug supplies'. This seems a ridiculous statement because since when did 'The Star' ever carry supplies? Dr Nick could have gone along and all would have been fine. So does the blame lay wholly with The Colonel, what do you think?
ML: It was Colonel Parker. We didn't know he was an illegal alien until Elvis died. That excuse was made up by Parker and Esposito backed him. Elvis wanted to play overseas, I think he might still be alive if he did. Parker has never been one of my favorite people.
EIN: After all those non-political songs 'In The Ghetto' sure sounds like a definite statement from Elvis?
ML: It was a good message song but he almost didn't do it because of Parker not liking message songs but Chips Moman and I convinced him to do it.
EIN: Elvis' decline. In the last few years of his life there were several efforts to detox Elvis. Can you tell us about them and how successful they were.
ML: He was put into Memphis Baptist Hospital a number of times. He did well in the hospital but it didn't take him long after he left there to start taking the pills again.
EIN: There is Larry Geller's story about The Colonel seeing Elvis semiconscious in his Hotel room before a concert yet saying "Now you listen to me. The only thing that is important is that that man is on stage tonight! Do you hear me? Nothing else matters." Shouldn't the Colonel have done something a little more positive?
ML: He should have but Parker was only interested in one thing--$$$$$$$$
EIN: What do you believe it would have taken "creatively" for Elvis' life to have been prolonged?
ML: Touring overseas and different places in this country and not touring so often every year.
EIN: 'Saving Elvis from himself was an impossible task' seems the ultimate cop-out from most people that knew Elvis - How do you respond to this statement and did anyone (as Red West suggested he did) make a real stand?
ML: It's easy for people who didn't spend any time with Elvis and us every day to say things of that nature but they really don't know what they're talking about. They say stuff like that because they think it makes them sound good. They didn't really know how strong headed Elvis was. Legally speaking, none of us could commit him. Sure we could have overpowered him, taken him to a hospital, there were no rehab centers back then, then when he woke up he could put his clothes on and walk out and they couldn't hold him.
The two people who legally could have committed him were his father and Priscilla when she was married to him but neither would even talk about it.
EIN: Can friends & acquaintances really say that they didn't notice how bad & sick Elvis was getting or were they just fooling themselves?
ML: I only know of one person who knew Elvis that is still fooling himself and he's a joke. Everyone else, I believe, has talked about Elvis' pill problem.
EIN: Tell us about Vernon. How did you get on with him?
ML: We got on alright. He didn't really like any of us being there, he thought Elvis was spending too much money paying us which in itself is a joke.
EIN: Having Vernon, who never even finished school, as Elvis' finance manager seems ludicrous. Do you think that had Elvis had better investments and advice he wouldn't have had to keep working so hard & might have had more time for his music & himself?
ML: That was an unfortunate part of Elvis' financial life but he did it to make his father feel useful and his father wouldn't listen to any of us about investing.
EIN: Did you read Alanna Nash's book on "The Colonel"? What did you think?
ML: Alanna is a good writer and she did some great research. It is a good book.
EIN: Was the Colonel the best manager for Elvis after the mid 1960s?
ML: No. He was good in the early years but he wouldn't change with the times. He treated Elvis like a carnival show.
EIN: Did The Colonel need Elvis to keep working just to feed his gambling habit?
ML: Elvis and some of us thought so.
EIN: It seems that The Colonel knew that Elvis was playing with drugs too much. When do you think The Colonel realised something was wrong & shouldn't he have done something about it when he could?
ML: He knew in the 60's and more so in the 70's and yes he should have.
EIN: Were you there for the Las Vegas night in September 1973 when Elvis told The Colonel he was sacked & what do remember of it?
ML: No, I wasn't there.
EIN: Have you heard the FTD release of that Closing Night show?
ML: No, I haven't heard it.
EIN: Byron Raphael: What are your views on Byron Raphael's recent claims (published in the November 2005 issue of Playboy)?
ML: Byron Raphael has a great imagination. He worked for the Colonel not Elvis and in plain english, his claims are bullshit.
EIN: Derek "Del" Johnson: Johnson was once editor of Britain's influential music paper, the New Musical Express. He claims to have been very friendly with Elvis and that Elvis once told him he had accidentally killed a man before he became famous. Did you ever met Derek Johnson and what is your view on his startling claim?
ML: Never heard of him and that too is bullshit. Elvis killed nobody and if he did he sure wouldn't tell it to a stranger especially someone in the media. I can't tell you how many people that have come out of the woodwork since Elvis has died with some sort of claim about them and him. They forget that the guys are still here to set the record straight.
EIN: What are your views on Dr Nick's role in Elvis' decline and dependency on prescription medications?
ML: Dr. Nick truly cared about Elvis but he got caught up in a lifestyle that he shouldn't have and it made him do things he shouldn't. He's a good man and people have been too harsh on him.
EIN: What about the other Doctors like Dr Ghanem & Dr Flash? Were they all bad news?
ML: In my opinion, yes.
EIN: In 1975 your & your wife Patsy split up, you say because of your "crazy life-style" also somewhat fuelled by Dr Nick? Did this make you resentful? Have you ever tackled him personally about this?
ML: We didn't split then, we split in 1990 and she was just frustrated with the whole pill thing as I was almost as bad as Elvis with them. She was more upset at me then with Nick.
EIN: Is it true that Elvis gave you a $10,000 holiday to Hawaii to try & patch things up with Patsy? That sounds very generous of him, as $10,000 would have been a fortune in those days.
ML: Yes, he did. He did the same for Richard Davis and his then girlfriend.
EIN: Robert Goulet: there is a real myth about the Robert Goulet on TV incident. Can you set the record straight.
ML: Elvis harbored some bad feelings about Goulet from back in the late 50's when he was in the army. Elvis' girlfriend Anita Wood was a singer and she did shows with Goulet and Buddy Hackett. Anita would often write Elvis in Germany and one time Goulet added a post script to one of them telling Elvis in a sly way that he was personally taking care of Anita. Elvis didn't like that and he never forgot so when he saw Goulet on TV, he shot the TV out.
"Bright lights city moved their soul....
They strode into town
With a swagger and ready fist,
Protecting the people's King
Good ole boys, one and all,
Flashy badges and an orgy of excess,
Their life was for living
Hard, fast and fun,
Fighters and lovers
With a "downhome" cheeky grin,
If you were looking for TROUBLE
You'd come to the right place...
As they'd "scatter" you all over the place"
(from "The Ballad of the Memphis Mafia", anonymous, 2003)
"Elvis Presley is the supreme socio-cultural icon in the history of pop culture"
(Dr. Gary Enders)
" Elvis is the 'glue' which holds our society together....which subconciously gives our world meaning"
"Eventually everybody has to die, except Elvis"
(humorist Dave Barry)
"He is the "Big Bang", and the universe he detonated is still expanding, the pieces are still flying"
(Greil Marcus, "Dead Elvis")
"I think Elvis Presley will never be solved"
"He was the most popular man that ever walked on this planet since Christ himself was here"
"When I first heard Elvis' voice I just knew I wasn't going to work for anybody...hearing him for the first time was like busting out of jail"
"When we were kids growing up in Liverpool, all we ever wanted was to be Elvis Presley"
(Sir Paul McCartney)
"You can't say enough good things about Elvis. He was one of a kind"