"Elvis Presley is the greatest cultural force in the 20th century."

(Leonard Bernstein)


"If you're an Elvis fan, no explanation is necessary; If you're not an Elvis fan, no explanation is possible."

(George Klein)


"For a dead man, Elvis Presley is awfully noisy."

(Professor Gilbert B. Rodman)


"History has him as this good old country boy, Elvis is about as country as Bono!"

(Jerry Schilling)


"Absolute id crashed into absolute superego...as the uptightset man in America shook hands with just about the loosest."

(Mark Feeney on the 'Elvis meets Nixon' meeting)


"Elvis is everywhere"

(Mojo Nixon & Skid Roper)


"...especially in the South, they talk about Elvis and Jesus in the same breath"

(Michael Ventura, LA Weekly)


"The image is one thing and the human being is another...it's very hard to live up to an image"


(Elvis Presley, Madison Square Garden press conference, 1972)


"Elvis was a major hero of mine. I was actually stupid enough to believe that having the same birthday as him actually meant something"

(David Bowie)


"No-one, but no-one, is his equal, or ever will be. He was, and is supreme"

(Mick Jagger)


"I wasn't just a fan, I was his brother...there'll never be another like that soul brother"

(Soul legend, James Brown)


"Before Elvis there was nothing!"

(John Lennon)


"There were rock 'n' roll records before Heartbreak Hotel, but this was the one that didn't just open the door…it literally blasted the door off its rusted, rotten, anachronistic hinges…. producing....no propelling, an unstoppable, fundamental and primordial shift in not only musical, but social, political and cultural history"

(JNP, BBC website)


"Elvis, the musician, is largely a relic belonging to the baby boomer generation...Elvis, the icon, is arguably one of the most potent symbols of popular culture"

( Dr. John Walker)


"It [rock & roll] was always about Elvis; not just because he was Elvis, but because he was the big star"

(Bono from U2)


"If they had let me on white radio stations back then, there never would have been an Elvis"

(Little Richard)


"Elvis loved opera, and he especially liked Mario Lanza. He would watch The Student Prince which was set in Heidelberg, over and over again. He loved the power of the big voices. And he loved big orchestras. He liked real dramatic things"

(Marty Lacker in 'Elvis and the Memphis Mafia')


"If life was fair, Elvis would be alive and all the impersonators would be dead"

(Johnny Carson)
















































































































































































































































































Marty Lacker talks to EIN...Part 2


In the second part of our candid interview with Memphis Mafia member, Marty Lacker, Marty talks about the Memphis Mafia, the women in Elvis' life, Lisa Presley and the idea that Elvis faked his death. As usual, Marty is very open about his views and pulls no punches.

A big thanks to Marty for providing many of the photos used for the interview.


The Memphis Mafia

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: Joe Esposito is sometimes singled out as also being the only one on The Colonel's pay-roll and spying on all your activities? Is this true? Did you resent it at the time?

ML: Elvis and some of us thought so and he was Parker's favorite.  Resent it?  Not at all, I just felt sad that he allowed himself to be that way.

EIN: How did your working relationship with The Colonel differ from Esposito's when you were foreman? Did The Colonel try and coax inside information out of you about Elvis & what he was up to?

ML: One of the first things Parker told me when I became foreman is that I should call him every day and let him know what was going on just as Esposito did.  I ignored his request as Elvis didn't want him to know what he was doing.  One time Parker complained to Elvis in front of me that I wasn't calling him.  Elvis looked at me with a glint in his eye and for parker's benefit said,"Marty you need to call the colonel."  I said OK.  Then Parker left and Elvis told me, "If you call him, I'll kill you."  We both laughed.

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: You tell the story of Elvis wanting to ship Priscilla back to Germany saying "Get this f**kin bitch a plane ticket. I'm packing up her damn shit now." That story didn't make it to 'Elvis By The Presleys" Can you tell us more & why Elvis said that?  

ML: She confronted him about Ann Margret upstairs at Graceland and his defense was always an offense.  Once she heard him tell me that on the phone she shut up and they kissed and made up.

EIN: What are some of your funniest recollections of being in the Memphis Mafia?

ML: That kind of question has always been hard for me to answer except that we all played jokes on each other including Elvis.

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."

The Women in Elvis' Life

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.

Elvis and Priscilla's wedding: Marty is on the far right

Priscilla Presley:

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.

Lisa Presley:

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?

ML: Who?

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.

Final questions

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.

Click to buy "Elvis and the Memphis Mafia"

(the eagerly anticipated re-issue of "Elvis Aaron Presley: Revelations of the Memphis Mafia"

Click to read Part 1 of Marty's candid interview with EIN

Click to comment on this interview

Click to view the "Memphis Mafia" website

"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...

Be prepared...

As they'd "scatter" you all over the place"


(from "The Ballad of the Memphis Mafia", anonymous, 2003)





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"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"

(Nick Tosches)


"He was the most popular man that ever walked on this planet since Christ himself was here"

(Carl Perkins)


"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"

(Bob Dylan)


"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"

(Johnny Cash)