EIN: What do you most appreciate about being part of the Memphis Mafia?
ML: The brotherhood most of the original members have and the love we have for each other.
EIN: How would you characterize the group?
Marty: Diverse but we all grew up with each other and have developed some of the same likes and dislikes.
EIN: Obviously, in a group like the Memphis Mafia there will be some temporary and some ongoing tensions between people. Was Elvis aware of these tensions and how did he handle them? How did you guys handle them?
ML: If any of us had a beef with another we settled it quickly because as I said we loved each other. I speak only of the original guys not the guys that came later. They were different in our eyes and Elvis'. He stated so.
EIN: You were co-best man with Joe Esposito at Elvis and Priscilla's wedding. How would you describe your relationship with Joe?
ML: I always basically liked Joe, I just didn't like the way he treated others or spoke down to them. He thought he was something special in the group but he wasn't. He was no more special than any of the other originals. We haven't spoken in many years because of that attitude.
EIN: You have said that even before Larry Geller arrived in the group Elvis was exploring & questioning his purpose in life. Was Larry good for Elvis and what did you think of Elvis' personal & spiritual quest?
ML: I thought it was bad for him. It's one thing to question why you have been given a special place in the world but you can screw your head up by being too intense about it.
EIN: Do you keep in contact with any other of the guys nowadays?
ML: Five of us, Billy, Red, Lamar and Sonny and I are still close. We were also that way with Alan Fortas and Richard Davis before they passed away.
EIN: Was Red & Sonny doing the 'Elvis What Happened' book a big mistake?
ML: No, not in my opinion. I didn't think so then and I feel the same now.
EIN: Dave Hebbler has been caught out authorising dodgy Elvis memorabilia. For the short time he was with you he seemed overly angry especially with his involvement in the 'What Happened book. What are you recollections or opinions of him?
ML: Dave and I always got along great. I have no idea about memorabilia or him being angry.
EIN: What did you think of the "Elvis By The Presleys" DVD? It seemed strange that only Jerry Schilling was involved. Surely Billy Smith as 'real family' should have been in it?
ML: It should have been Elvis by The Beaulieus.
EIN: Were you upset not to be involved with the new DVD? Did Jerry tell you about the production and were you offered the chance to add some input?
ML: Not at all. The five of us have nothing to do with Priscilla or Lisa. We didn't expect to be asked and if we had been we would have declined.
EIN: Did you go along with Elvis on all the film shoots before 1967? Which one do you remember enjoying the most and why?
ML: Yes, I was there from Kid Galahad on until Speedway . I did visit later on during the filming of Live A Little, Love A Little. Most were enjoyable except seeing Elvis in some of the terrible movies bothered some of us.
EIN: Were you there when Elvis concussed himself falling over during pre-production of Clambake, that must have been pretty scary?
ML: Yes, Billy Smith and I took turns staying by his bedside in his bedroom and I was there when the doctor came up and examined him.
EIN: What can you recall of the meeting when The Colonel told you that Elvis was to burn his spiritual books and Joe was going to become foreman? It sounds like a very tense situation?
ML: It didn't surprise me because Parker siezed the opportunity to gain more control of Elvis since it was just at the end of his falling and hurting himself. That is also when Parker demanded 50% of Elvis' earnings. He caught Elvis in a vulnerable moment. It was easy to see that Parker wanted to solidify his control by making Joe the Foreman. Because Elvis was in the condition he was in at the time he gave in and didn't fight Parker on any of it. As far as I was concerned Joe could have Parker and the horse he rode in on. My loyalty was to Elvis and that's who I was concerned with. Elvis and the guys.
EIN: The re-issue of your book with Alanna Nash is long overdue. Were you aware that copies of the original release, "Elvis Aaron Presley: Revelations of the Memphis Mafia" (EAPRMM) , is rated one of the all-time best Elvis books by both Elvis Book Research and the upcoming bibliographic resource, "Elvis In Print: The Definitive Reference & Price Guide"?
ML: No, I wasn't aware of that but I have received many emails from fans telling me it's the best Elvis book they've ever read. When it was first released years ago Graceland went on a negative campaign using some of their Graceland Groupies Fan clubs in badmouthing the book and they convinced some people not to buy it. But as the years went by we were constantly asked by many of them where they could then get a copy of it, we still get that, that's why it has been republished under the new title "Elvis And The Memphis Mafia."
EIN: Gladys Presley - what do you most remember about Gladys?
ML: I didn't know Mrs. Presley very well but the few times I saw her she was nice.
EIN: Minnie Mae Presley - did you have much to do with "Dodger"?
ML: Funny and tough. She was a wonderful lady.
EIN: Both Aunt Delta and Aunt Clettes both drunkenly tried to take a shot at you at sometime! What was that all about?
ML: Delta threatened to shoot me on the Lisa Marie plane one night at the Memphis Airport . Elvis got so mad he threw her off the plane and then later threatened to kick her out of Graceland. Clettes pulled a big butcher knife on me in the basement den of Graceland . They were both drunk and part of it was they didn't like Jews but that was not the only reason.
EIN: In "Elvis Aaron Presley: Revelations of the Memphis Mafia", you made some strong comments about Priscilla's handling of EPE. Can you share your views with us.
ML: People do not realize that there was a Board Of Advisors from the bank along with Priscilla that was making the decisions about running Graceland . People also forget that she was not the only executor of the estate the other two were the bank and Joe Hanks, the accountant. Scatter could have opened Graceland and made money.
EIN: And from an earlier period, Priscilla's flirtation with Mylon Lefevre. What was there to this?
ML: Just what Jo Smith and my wife told me. Priscilla went after him while Elvis and us was in Hollywood making movies before they were married.
EIN: How do you think Elvis would feel about Lisa's musical career?
ML: I think he might like the fact.
EIN: Lisa's latest video clip, Idiot, features her in a same sex kiss (with herself). How do you think Elvis would have reacted to that?
ML: That might not have happened if he was alive just as her not marrying Michael Jackson or being a member of Scientology.
EIN: How does Marty Lacker react to that?
ML: I am not a Lisa Marie fan as an artist or person.
EIN: In EAPRMM you comment on the great understanding they had about each other. Please tell us more.
ML: They both were somewhat similar and understood and loved each other.
EIN: You also say that you got on well with Ann-Margret, I remember your story about having you head on the sleeve of her coat. Did you have a good friendship with her too?
ML: Yes, Ann is a great down to earth person and we got along great and had a lot of laughs. Unlike Priscilla she was not threatened by the guys being there.
EIN: What about Alan Fortas' infatuation with her? That must have been awkward?
ML: No, it was funny and they both along with us laughed about it and kidded Alan.
EIN: When did you last see her?
ML: Long, long time ago but I did speak to her on the phone not too long ago.
EIN: Ginger Alden - Would Elvis have married her if he hadn't died?
ML: I doubt it.
EIN: Can we believe her story that Elvis asked to marry her & that they ere officially engaged?
ML: According to Billy and Lamar, there was no way he would marry her. She was a trophy for him. The age difference was too great.
EIN: Was there really a strong bond between them, or was it just infatuation on both sides?
ML: As I said, a Trophy for Elvis. What it was for her I don't know but I doubt it was love.
EIN: In 1977 Elvis was reportedly promising Ginger everything but still seeing other women. Given his deteriorating physical and emotional state what was it he was seeking from these other women?
ML: Companionship and validation.
EIN: Linda Thompson - what was Linda like?
ML: Linda was a lot of fun. She cared for Elvis in many ways and she was basically good for him.
EIN: Sheila Ryan - do you have any particular memories of Sheila?
ML: Sheila was someone you could take or leave. No big memories of her.
EIN: Stella Patchouli - her very interesting autobiography, "Tears of a Shadow", was published in 2002. Do you recall much about Stella?
EIN: Lynda Bird - The time Elvis met President Johnson's daughter, Lynda Bird. There was an amusing sideline regarding the Secret Service protecting her. Can you tell us about it?
ML: We were filming Girl Happy at the swimming pool on the back lot of the studio. We were told that George Hamilton, who was dating her at the time, was bringing Lynda Bird to the set to meet Elvis. When they arrived they were flanked by a number of secret service men and we thought it would be funny to flank Elvis in the same way and we all walked towards each other, they in the sunglasses and us in ours and we didn't crack a smile. it's one of those things that you had to be there to see the humor.
EIN: In his book "Elvis' DNA Proves He Is Alive", Bill Beeny claims (page 62) that in an article in People magazine (September 1996), you and Billy Smith finally "...admitted...that Elvis faked his death by using a donor body". What is your response to Mr Beeny's claim?
ML: Bill Beeny is a nutcase and I told him that to his face years ago. The story Billy and I wrote was FICTION and it was presented to the London newspaper it appeared in as FICTION. Fools like Beeny like to use that for their own ludicrous agenda. He's really not worth the effort talking about.
EIN: What is your view on the idea that Elvis did not die on August 16, 1977 ?
ML: Elvis died on August 16, 1977 . It was witnessed and documented and an autopsy was performed on his body by reputable doctors in Memphis . The lead Dr., Dr. Muirhead is beyond reproach and enjoys a great reputation in the medical field. The people who foster the idiocy that Elvis faked his death are idiots or con men.
EIN: The last time you saw Elvis was in July 1976. Was this the moment that it all started to fall apart for him?
ML: It had started months before that.
EIN: Would that have been early 1976 around the time Linda Thompson left or and was there anything more specific that caused Elvis to lose control?
ML: Linda actually left in late '76 but she and Elvis were drifting apart shortly before then. I think he was just bored and tired of the same old things and just wanted more privacy. That's why he kept Billy close to him to the exclusion of just about everyone else.
EIN: Do you remember the Graceland February 1976 recording sessions as being positive or negative, since Elvis’ mood & performance seems to vary a lot?
ML : I wasn't there for that. Was that in '76 or '77? Parker tried to keep me away from sessions because I was bringing Elvis songs that they didn't have the publishing rights on.
EIN: Were you upset that Billy Smith gave you the news that Elvis needed time-apart and that you were no longer part of the full-time gang? Obviously the others were very bitter & twisted.
ML: No my first reaction to Billy was to say, "I'm glad, he should have done that a long time ago." He was also demanding on us wanting us to be there so much, including me after I left his payroll. He relied on me as if I was still on the payroll. It would have been nice to spend more time with my family. However, that was really my fault not Elvis'. I made the choice.
EIN: It seems in the end that Billy Smith was Elvis' only true friend & confidant. Did Elvis trust anyone else?
ML: Billy was the closest person to Elvis in the last year of his life but then again, Elvis always felt close to Billy. He was more like a younger brother than a cousin. According to Billy, Elvis still cared for us but he just wanted more privacy.
EIN: When did you last speak to Elvis and what were your parting words?
ML: July 1977 on the phone. My last words were "adios!"
EIN: Marty, a final question. With hindsight, if you had your time over as part of the Memphis Mafia. is there anything you would do differently?
ML: Spend a little more time with my family other than that I would change nothing.
Marty, on behalf of all our readers, thank you very much for taking time to share your memories and views with us. We wish you all the best for the future.
"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"