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Elvis' Passion For Practical Jokes Unraveled

July 04, 2006 | Book
From the PR campaign that started for Jerry Schilling's new book on Elvis entitled "Me And A Guy Named Elvis".

Elvis Presley may be famous for his pelvic thrusts and never ending sideburns but a new book is all set to reveal that he had a passion for practical jokes too.

According to the New York Post, in Me and a Guy Named Elvis, which hits stores next month, author Jerry Schilling, a key member of Presley's Memphis Mafia, recalls one night when John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin stopped by with a few friends to meet Elvis and found him decked out in pajamas.

Elvis "stood, eyed John, and said, 'Let's swap pants,' while simultaneously, in expert [Monty] Python fashion, letting his pajama bottoms drop beneath his robe.

John burst out laughing. Nobody accepted Elvis' offer." Elvis loved to tweak performers who did his act. One night in Las Vegas, he passed a lounge where a burly singer was "overdoing the Elvis vibrato just a bit," the author says.

'Without breaking stride, Elvis . . . stormed into the lounge, walked right up onstage, hoisted his cane like he was going clobber the guy and said, 'If you're going to do it, do it right.'

He gave the crowd a great big wink, hopped off-stage, and zoomed right out of there. But the big singer didn't see the wink - he'd been so startled that he'd fallen off the stage."

One habit of Elvis' that was not a joke was his insistence that his own music never be played inside Graceland. Schilling remembers one day when somebody put on All Shook Up during a party.

"Who's the wise guy that put that goddamn music on? Get that crap off!" Presley roared. "There was no doubt he was really angry," Schilling writes. "He was proud of his work, but it was just that - his work. He lived with his music outside of the house - he didn't need to hear it while he was trying to relax in his own basement."

Why I Wrote Me And A Guy Named Elvis

Elvis still matters. His music lives on, and, almost 30 years after his death, his life and achievements continue to have deep emotional impact on all of us. The fact that my friend's artistic legacy remains so strong makes me proud, but I did not write my book simply to celebrate that legacy. Frankly, you don't need me to tell you that Elvis was a great performer, that Heartbreak Hotel can still give you chills, or that If I Can Dream can still make you cry. But, I think that over the years, as Elvis's music and image have become more and more iconic, the very important human side of his story has been lost. That's what I wanted to capture in my book, because the Elvis I knew was not a legend – he was a man. A man of great talents, but also a man who struggled mightily to find a balance in his life between his creative passions and the real-world challenges he constantly faced. Elvis worked incredibly hard to achieve what he did, and if my book accomplishes anything, I want it to remind people what a revolutionary force he was in kicking down barriers – between different kinds of music and between people of different races – and in opening up a whole new world of possibilities for us with the gift of rock and roll. Beyond the music, I want to let people know what a deep person Elvis was, what an intelligent seeker of knowledge he was, and, most personally, what a real friend he was.

I've come to feel that my friend gave me his blessing for this book long ago when he was on a drive across the desert with karate instructor Ed Parker. Elvis told Ed he was considering writing his autobiography, to be titled Through My Eyes. He told Ed that he did not want many people around him involved in this project, but he mentioned only one by name that he did want to be a part of it: me. He was ready to trust me with his story back then, and I kept that very much in mind as I wrote my book.

In the fall of 1964, when I first went to work for Elvis after a decade of friendship with him, I was a few practice teaching credits shy of becoming a history teacher. Now after half a century of living through all kinds of experiences with this man and his family and friends, I've come full circle – I'm now ready to share some history. It just so happens that my subject of expertise is Elvis Presley, one of the most important figures of the 20th century and certainly the most remarkable man I've ever known. If I can get you to feel – really feel – a bit of what our times together were like, and give you a fresh appreciation of Elvis's life and work, then I will have accomplished in Me And A Guy Named Elvis what I set out to do.

I'd also like to take this opportunity to thank all the fans around the world who have always been so kind to me.

Jerry Schilling

The Book Description

An intimate memoir of a friendship with the greatest artist in rock and roll history, taking you from late-night parties at Graceland to the bright lights of Hollywood sets and glittering stages of Vegas

On a lazy Sunday in 1954, twelve-year-old Jerry Schilling wandered into a Memphis touch football game, only to discover that his team was quarterbacked by a nineteen-year-old Elvis Presley, the local teenager whose first record, "That’s All Right," had just debuted on Memphis radio. The two became fast friends, even as Elvis turned into the world’s biggest star. In 1964, Elvis invited Jerry to work for him as part of his "Memphis Mafia," and Jerry soon found himself living with Elvis full-time in a Bel Air mansion and, later, in his own room at Graceland. Over the next thirteen years Jerry would work for Elvis in various capacities—from bodyguard to photo double to co-executive producer on a karate film. But more than anything else he was Elvis’s close friend and confidant: Elvis trusted Jerry with protecting his life when he received death threats, he asked Jerry to drive him and Priscilla to the hospital the day Lisa Marie was born and to accompany him during the famous "lost weekend" when he traveled to meet President Nixon at the White House.

Me and a Guy Named Elvis looks at Presley from a friend’s perspective, offering readers the man rather than the icon—including insights into the creative frustrations that lead to Elvis’s abuse of prescription medicine and his tragic death. Jerry offers never-before-told stories about life inside Elvis’s inner circle and an emotional recounting of the great times, hard times, and unique times he and Elvis shared. These vivid memories will be priceless to Elvis’s millions of fans, and the compelling story will fascinate an even wider audience.

From the Back Cover

Advance Praise for Me and a Guy Named Elvis

"This book kept me up late into the night as I turned the pages, reliving every situation and every story as if I were there all over again, until I finished. Jerry Schilling’s words brought tears to my eyes, making me smile and nod as it filled my head with things I had forgotten but thankfully he remembered. Jerry tells his story with the freshness and purity of a man who truly loved his friend. Me and a Guy Named Elvis is not only authentic, honest, and truly moving—it is a marvel."
—Priscilla Presley

"Jerry had the keys to the kingdom, the keys to the King’s houses, to the King’s cars, to the heart of what made Elvis a King in the first place. Here he unlocks every door and his own heart to boot. In this book, Jerry Schilling brings grace to Graceland."

"Jerry Schilling has captured the beauty of my father’s spirit in a way that has never been done before. I will admit that I was nervous to read another book on this subject, especially by a friend (there are not many who remain in my life from this time period, as Jerry does), but this book is by far my favorite. It is a captivating, well-written, and un-crucifying account of many historic moments that shows the real birth and evolution of Rock and Roll and how it

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PTCJones wrote on July 04, 2006
I like Jerry Schilling, he seems to be one of the few members in Elvis' circle which hasn't resorted to sensationalism and I'm sure he has some great other stories. My only worry though is that he's pretty close to people who run the estate and I wonder if there is any outside influence in what is put in the book.
Elvisy wrote on July 05, 2006
I'm sure Jerry Schilling is a wonderful guy and he has written a wonderful book on Elvis which I havent read but will defnitely do so. But what I'd like to get my hands on, would be some book that Charlie Hodge has written or did he? And also a dvd of the late JD Summner on Elvis. He wanted the world to know stuff we did'nt and also it was released just before he died. according to him he did not like the crap that was already written by so many of the Memphis Mafia. These two people were extremely close to Elvis. Never forget Pricilla was quite close to Jerry too. So... Just a thought you know. Its a real mystery to me that Charlie and (his hair dresser I forget his name) where NOT in the dvd Told By The Presleys. I do know that Jerry must have a lot of great stuff to say about THE KING but what I would also love to know is.... what it was behind the scenes when Priscilla left Elvis and he was a tortured man for sometime. That Jerry can NEVER write about I'm sure.
Elvisy wrote on July 05, 2006
Jerry would'nt be around Pricilla if he dared to spill the beans!He happens to be the only guy around her and more than willing to let sleeping dogs lie!
Teacher wrote on July 05, 2006
Tangerine, Charlie Hodge did write a book. It was entitled, "Me 'n Elvis." The paperback edition was released in 1988.
elvislady wrote on July 05, 2006
i bought elvis n me and it is a really nice book here is a little saying charlie wrote at the begining of the book. Elvis liked to introduce everyone who worked with himon stage. I always stood right next to him but i was always the very last one Elvis introduced. he would turn to me and say,Charlie plays acoustic guitar, sings harmony with me , gets me a glass of water and hands me scarfs--he is my friend.