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Update Sonny West

July 5: "Today is Sonny's 73rd birthday. He is still in ICU. Before I left I gave him a gift and Jennie Carpenter had brought him something Sunday which I gave him yesterday. Judy was not at the hospital for the 3:00 visit on Sunday so I was allowed to let Jennie go in with me for 10 minutes. He was very happy to see her. Saturday we "snuck" Danny McCorkle in saying he was a brother - which he is like a brother to Sonny. I think they got wise to us because one of the nurses said what a big family Sonny had LOL...we are doing anything we can to make him smile and yet not tax his strength because he is very weak. I did take all the cards people had sent and he was very touched. When I read him the email from Linda Lou saying they had a prayer chain going he got tears in his eyes and said "God bless her"...I told him how many people loved him and were praying for him and for Judy and he was very touched.

Sonny has so many things going on and prayers are needed constantly. A large amount of fluid is still draining from his lungs and also from his chest. Sonny has congestive heart failure, and all the other issues, which I previously have spoken about, including the blood clots and staph infection, are still with him. The staph infection on his left wrist where it originated due to an IV rupturing and not being promptly removed is better. However he still has the staph in his lungs and in the blood clots. He is having a problem moving his legs due to the diabetes, the swelling and poor circulation. I am very concerned about his left foot as it is purple. The drs are aware of it and that is being addressed... They had thought to clamp off the drainage tube to see if his lungs would expand and the fluid would stop, but that wasn't possible because they keep filling up with fluid. They are x-rayng everyday to monitor this.

Yesterday he was very tired and didn't feel well at all. He is not eating because he can't swallow regular food- it chokes him. This is due to the irritation from the breathing tube. However the medication causes food to have a metallic taste so he isn't even eating the jello and broth. I told him if he doesn't eat they will put a tube or iv in because he needs the nourishment to build up his strength. Judy was going to talk to the dr about that. The nurses are aware. I haven't spoken to Judy this morning but I did speak to the nurse. He is making improvements PRAISE GOD, but still a long way to go.

As you all know, I have been a close friend of Sonny and his family for 37 years. I am also his personal assistant. If you want to send a card or donations, they can be sent to me at P O Box 161052, Memphis TN 38186.

Thank you all for your prayers

Love, Sandi"

July 6: "Sandi: Wonderful News: Sonny is much improved. His breathing has improved, he is in good spisrits, they are starting physical therapy. PRAYER IS SO POWERFUL!!!"
 

Source: Elvis Unlimited / Updated: Jul 6, 2011
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Reactions

Peter @ ElvisMatters (profilecontact) wrote on Jul 15, 2011report abuse
Here's an interesting column by CMT/CMT.com Editorial Director Chet Flippo. It's a necessary read before you think of sending Sonny West the money he requests from fans because he 'no longer can pay his bills': In case you have missed it, there is a very messy and convoluted media scandal underway in the United Kingdom involving Australian media mogul Rupert Murdoch. What it essentially boils down to is this: Murdoch's News of the World tabloid -- which has been the best-selling tabloid paper in the English-speaking world -- has hired detectives over the years to hack into the cell phones of thousands of politicians, celebrities and other prominent people.

That practice turned deadly toxic with the newspaper turning to hacking into the cell phones of ordinary citizens, including a missing 13-year-old girl (who was murdered), the families of London train bombings terrorism victims and families of slain soldiers in Iraq.

The scandal has forced Murdoch to shut down the News of the World. It has also dragged British prime minister David Cameron, his government and the London police into the morass. It developed that the News of the World was bribing members of the police. The scandal could bring down the government. There is widespread speculation in the UK that this could break up Murdoch's empire there, which includes the London Times, the Sunday Times, the Sun and a 39 percent interest in pay TV conglomerate BSkyB, which Murdoch had been attempting to buy outright until this hacking scandal finally forced him to back away. His holdings in the U.S. include the New York Post, the Fox Network, Fox News on cable TV and the Wall Street Journal. You will recall that Murdoch is also the man who paid $580 million for MySpace in 2005. He sold MySpace a few weeks ago in June for $30 million.

I first became aware of Murdoch and his creeping media tentacles in the early 1970s when I lived in Austin and regularly read the newspapers from Texas' leading and more influential -- or most interesting -- newspapers. They included the San Antonio News and the San Antonio Express, which were suddenly acquired by the Australian press impresario Rupert Murdoch in 1973 as his launching pad into American journalism.

He later combined both newspapers as the San Antonio Express-News, but early on, he instructed the News staff to turn the paper into a "screamer." And the paper soon did so. With a vengeance. The staff began introducing Murdoch's patented tabloid formula of sensationalism, sex, celebrities, crime and corruption. The facts be damned.

The first visible signs that an Oz takeover was underway in San Antonio was in a series of alarmist Killer Bee headline stories in the News. As in "Killer Bees En Route to Texas." More followed: "Armies of Insects Marching on S.A.," "Aliens Fought Over Urine in Desert Battle," "Uncle Tortures Tot With Hot Fork" and "Vampire Killer Stalks City."

The News also continued Murdoch's hostility to rock 'n' roll. When word came that the Rolling Stones' San Antonio concert in 1975 would feature a giant inflatable phallus onstage, the News editorialized on the subject and heavily pressured San Antonio's city government and police department to bust the Stones for obscenity if they showed the large structure onstage. After the city flooded the venue with police, police dogs and vice squad agents aplenty, the Stones relented and did not show the biggus dickus onstage -- the only time that that happened on their 1975 Tour of the Americas.

That kind of institutionalized anti-rock company policy may well have been what led to the book that may have helped to kill Elvis Presley.

The 1977 book Elvis: What Happened? was a very messy tell-all expose, based entirely on interviews with three of Elvis' formerly trusted aides and bodyguards who had recently been fired by Elvis' father Vernon as part of a cost-cutting operation. The bodyguards, the brothers Red and Sonny West and Dave Hebler, felt betrayed after being summarily dismissed after years of what they regarded as devotion to the King. They seemed to seek revenge. And they got it in Elvis: What Happened?

"We lost money," Murdoch told Esquire magazine in 2008 in talking about the New York Post's finances. "Until one of our reporters wrote the 'true story' of Elvis Presley. We said we would serialize it, and it came out the month Presley died, completely by coincidence."

The installments had actually been planned to run later, but Elvis' sudden death prompted Murdoch to pounce. The New York Post began printing installments from the book the day that Elvis died. The first headline read, "New Book Tells of His Decline in Drug Nightmare."

Objectively speaking, the book was a true Murdoch hatchet job. It laid out all of Elvis' dirty laundry that you didn't want -- or need -- to know. And it was all hearsay from the three bodyguards. No other sources are cited in the book at all. There are no voices to answer for Elvis. The book's copyright is by Murdoch's News Corporation. It became a best-seller, and the profits went to Murdoch's News Corporation, not to the author. It was written by Steve Dunleavy, a hard-drinking, controversial Australian reporter greatly favored by Murdoch.

I did some lengthy interviews with Dunleavy (who has since died) for a story in Rolling Stone about the life and practices of a sensationalist tabloid journalist. Dunleavy proved to be the perfect example of a Rupert Murdoch mad-dog journalist, for whom anything goes to get a story. He told me that when he was once competing with his father -- also an Australian reporter -- on a crime story, Steve slashed his father's tires to prevent him from getting to the crime scene.

When I met with Steve, he was then working for Murdoch's grimy New York Post, as well as writing a column for Murdoch's Star supermarket tabloid, and all of our interviews seemed to somehow end up taking place in Manhattan bars. I learned a lot of tabloid journalism tips from Steve. For example: "You know, Chet, when we write about an actress's 'charms,' that's shorthand for 'tits.'" He was serious.

Dunleavy told me the assignment to do the Elvis book came from the very top. When I pressed him about his financial arrangements about the book, Dunleavy would only say, "Mr. Murdoch took care of me very well for the book."

Steve would not say if he or the Post had paid for interviews with the three bodyguards for the project. Given the Murdoch empire's lengthy history of buying interviews and paying out bribes, I suspect that was very likely the case. There were no cell phones back then, so they couldn't have been hacked. But Dunleavy didn't really need phone hacking. He got his dirt straight from Elvis' former guys.

For the first time, the book revealed the full extent of Elvis' complete and total dependence on a long list of prescription drugs. And it was not a pretty story. It was a virtual pharmacopia of drugs and other sundry and tawdry personal details about Elvis.

Close Elvis associates have said the book had a devastating effect on Presley. He read portions of an advance copy of it, became alternately depressed and enraged and was agitated to the point of talking about luring Red and Sonny to Graceland and then killing them. The book was published in early August of 1977. Elvis died on the floor of his bathroom in Graceland two weeks later, on Aug. 16, 1977.
TCB1974 (profilecontact) wrote on Jul 11, 2011report abuse
Elvis was amazing rich, also later in the 70s with still an enormous potential and talent. A world tour across the big stadiums in the world would have raised tens of millions, massive media attention and increasing sales again across the globe. The real issues in his later years were drug dependency and lack of strength to replace Colonel Tom Parker, and the latter issue may be due to the first one. Elvis was trapped and that is a tragedy, but not due to the book.
efan4ever (profilecontact) wrote on Jul 11, 2011report abuse
I agree with Steve V and everyone else that is sticking up for Sonny. I too wish him a speedy recovery. I was fortunate enough to meet him. He was very nice. He still cares for his friend to this day. And spoke highly of Elvis when we talked.
paulreno (profilecontact) wrote on Jul 10, 2011report abuse
I too watched "All The Kings Men," and cried with them when they were emotional - I was chopping onions at the time.
Elvisguitarman (profilecontact) wrote on Jul 9, 2011report abuse
I have met Sonny several times: ALWAYS fan friendly and tells the truth [whether fans like the truth or not]. I really believe Sonny was a dear friend who truly cared for Elvis. Just watch the tapes "All The King's Men" and you will witness the emotion both Sonny & Red STILL have for Elvis. I wish him the best and a speedy recovery. TCB 24/7
dgirl (profilecontact) wrote on Jul 9, 2011report abuse
Book or no book, betrayal, loyalty whatever, no one and I mean no one really knows what went down behind the gates except the people that were there. What was wrong however, was Elvis not firing these guys himself. He had to have his father do it with a few weeks notice. Thats not loyalty either my friends. I bet that hurt them more than the actual firing. I think Sonny even mentioned that once. Elvis didnt man up in his life many times like he should have. The Col is another example.
benny scott (profilecontact) wrote on Jul 9, 2011report abuse
snowplow floater : that's clear, honest and senceful language ! Always El.
snowplow floater (profilecontact) wrote on Jul 9, 2011report abuse
The facts were, Elvis was practically broke in 1977, his current releases were competing with Rca's extensive repackaging campaign, songs like Suspicion were top ten hits in Great Britain. Sonny and the boys were signing contracts for millions of dollars to dish the dirt. Elvis was on the road, helping Col. Tom pay off his gambling debts, paying a gigantic band, singers and orchestra and then being sued for the assaults on members of the public by his so called 'Mafia' buddies. I thought the whole point of calling yourself 'Mafia' was you were sworn to loyalty and silence. Does the thought cross anybody's mind that Elvis had a family to support too, his daughter, ex wife, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. He hit the nail on the head when he sang, "Joe, Richard and Chawlie, gonna starve to death and Sonny will be in the pen". That's right these guys could have got jobs like everyone else, to support their families, but instead betrayed a man who supported their every materialistic need. Unforgivable in my book. I hope he recovers and all that, but what a lowlife tactic and still playing stupid people for suckers by looking for more money towards hospital bills. Wake up Sonny, Elvis has left the building and you and your ilk made sure of that.
benny scott (profilecontact) wrote on Jul 9, 2011report abuse
Hi TonyC, I just read your posting . Of course they were fired before the book was written . Question is : why did they write it ? Was their real intention trying to help Elvis, or was it written because they were angry for being fired ? When you read the book no one can deny there are a lot of "stories" with the intention to throw mud and soil his reputation. And last but not least : what was the REAL reason for firing them ? I have serious doubts about the "trying to help him"- statement. But just like TCB : respecting everyone's opinion. Always El.
Harvey Alexander (profilecontact) wrote on Jul 9, 2011report abuse
Can Dr. Nick not help?...
TCB1974 (profilecontact) wrote on Jul 8, 2011report abuse
Besides wishing Sonny well, I very much respect all the opinions expressed here. The book was not something to be praised upon but that it happened is understandable. The point not raised yet is that these guys were lifetime friends and in the setup became financially dependent on Elvis, making such choices at a very young age. Elvis was blessed in many ways and should have felt responsibility for dependent family and friends. I think he did and in that sense the firing in July 1976 and how this was done, really puzzles me. It raises the question what really happened at that time and what crossed Elvis' mind? Probably, we will never know.
TCB1974 (profilecontact) wrote on Jul 8, 2011report abuse
Get better soon, Sonny. Glad to hear it is going better.
Tony C (profilecontact) wrote on Jul 8, 2011report abuse
From the above report, it sounds like Sonny is in a pretty bad way. Hopefully he will make steady progress, I'm sure he is being taken care of.

As for the past, I would be inclined to agree with Steve V, I think these guys were more good than bad. As for all of the Judas, traitor, etc, comments, their firing did come before the writing of the book not the other way around. Who betrayed who?
benny scott (profilecontact) wrote on Jul 8, 2011report abuse
Peter : correctly stated, so that says it all !!! Always El.
Peter @ ElvisMatters (profilecontact) wrote on Jul 8, 2011report abuse
Who could possibly care for a betrayer and Judas like Sonny West? He was the guy who made "What Happened?!" happen, although Red had voiced his concern about the book and wanted to pull out. Sonny was the bad apple who put the wheels in motion. The poison in this book caused more harm to Elvis than anything else. Elvis died, knowing that the "book" would destroy his image and that his "friends" whom he had given money, cars, all the glitter and glamour they could handle and yet they bit the hand that fed them, and they stabbed him in the back. The day Elvis was laid to rest, Sonny West signed a deal for a reprint of "The Bodyguard Book". Later he - repeatedly - said that he would do it all over again, if he was given the chance. The book, the backstabbing, the million $ deals - he would do it all over again, although he does it "for Elvis". Later he teamed up with Pete Vallee (Big Elvis, a 450 Pound Vegas Impersonator) and now he asks fans to send him money so he can make a buck here too.

Needless to say that I won't be sending him a penny. Sonny is very disliked in the Elvis Entourage (no surprises there). Some don't even want to go on the same picture with him. Ask Joe E and so many others what they think of Sonny West, and they won't beat around the bush. Sorry, but I don't feel the slightest bit of sympathy for a man who lived off Elvis all those years and who is still glooming with pride of what he did, and will continue to badmouth Elvis as long as he lives. He calls it "caring for Elvis", but Judas kissed Jesus too.
benny scott (profilecontact) wrote on Jul 8, 2011report abuse
but I always keep in mind most of the members of the MM were no choirboys (and so wasn't Our Man). Always El.
benny scott (profilecontact) wrote on Jul 8, 2011report abuse
Because we have the right to have a personal opinion about a subject and have the right to express that opinion in a polite way. If one should only be allowed to write about the good things that would be doing unjustice to the truth. Giving a ,I admit, extreme example : I never met Marc Chapman who killed John Lennon , so is it "not done" to consider him as a criminal ? Let this be clear : absolutely no comparison with Sonny , I wrote it before : he is no criminal at all of course. Just stating by this example you don't have to know or have met someone to have an opinion about his acts and behaviour in the past. So whatever happened : I wish him a complete recovery, but I a
djm (profilecontact) wrote on Jul 8, 2011report abuse
plenty of guff gets written about elvis on here from people who have never met him or have any connection to him. If you dont want to read about sonny why bother to log in and make any comment?
FLASHBOY (profilecontact) wrote on Jul 8, 2011report abuse
If Elvis was here today i am sure that he'd forgive him about the book So i wish him to completely recover as soon as possible.
Elvisforevertheking (profilecontact) wrote on Jul 7, 2011report abuse
I wish Sonny the best recovery. I know a lot of people don’t like a few of the “Memphis Mafia” guys. I just hate the fact that slowly, all of the people that have been associated with Elvis are dying off. It’s just a sad reminder of how long it’s been since Elvis left us.
benny scott (profilecontact) wrote on Jul 7, 2011report abuse
I couldn't agree more with Judy and Buffalo. I wish him a complete recovery like I wrote already before, but that's it ! Steve, respecting the way you see it, but my personal view is different. I rather see the (more) watchful eye of Linda than Sonny's and Red's. I'm not a "hater" of the Wests, but I can't bring up any sympathy for these guys. Always El.
Steve V (profilecontact) wrote on Jul 7, 2011report abuse
To the haters of Sonny & Red for writing 'that book' Look at this way. Yeah the book was bad for Elvis (more for his image than anything else). But they also probably kept him alive a few more years that he would have been without them around. So you may not have had the precious Jungle Room sessions if not for the watchful eye of Sonny & Red (and Linda). That's how I see it.
Judy_Fairytale (profilecontact) wrote on Jul 7, 2011report abuse
I don't really understand all the outpouring of "love" for Sonny West. As a fellow human being I wish him well and hope he recovers from his various problems, but as an Elvis fan, I don't want to see all the guff I have been reading on various websites, mainly from people that have never met the man and have no connection to him.

Lets not forget about the book "Elvis, What Happened", written by Sonny, Red West and Dave Hebler. We all know Elvis was in decline with his health and career in 1977, but there was no need for any of them ESPECIALLY Red and Sonny who had known him for many, many years since their schooldays, to treat him so appalingly. He went to his grave knowing his former friends had stabbed him in the back.

As with "I am Buffalo-Horn!", I do not see why you had to dedicate 27 lines to this subject.
I am Buffalo-Horn! (profilecontact) wrote on Jul 7, 2011report abuse
Do you really have to waste 27 lines on this? Stick to Elvis please..
Alant15 (profilecontact) wrote on Jul 7, 2011report abuse
Glad to see he is getting better.
PCorbin61 (profilecontact) wrote on Jul 7, 2011report abuse
Sonny, I pray for you each day and you are just about constantly in my thoughts. I'm confident you will make a full recovery. TCB, Peter
bray1977 (profilecontact) wrote on Jul 6, 2011report abuse
Get well sonn Sonny. You can make it.
djm (profilecontact) wrote on Jul 6, 2011report abuse
Get well soon Sonny. All the best.

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