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Lamar Fike Passed Away

January 22, 2011 | People

Lamar Fike passed away. Lamar is probably best known to most fans as the 'big' guy of the former Memphis Mafia. He worked for the King from 1957 to 1977 and even traveled to Germany with him in 1958. Lamar had a history of health problems. Last October he was taken to the hospital with breathing difficulties. 

I am Buffalo-Horn! wrote on January 22, 2011
It is never good to speak ill of the dead. Pity Fike overlooked this basic rule of human decency regarding Elvis... the majority of the "Facts" in Albert Goldman's repulsive "Elvis" book came from Fike. And from then on a constant stream of undermining & twisted facts were published & paraded by this man. If Red West was the Judas of the Mafia (being much closer to Elvis before he betrayed him) what shall we then call Fike?
tornado wrote on January 22, 2011
I don't know it this it is a figure of speech, but I wouldn't say Red West was a "Judas" to Elvis. On the contrary, he was one of the most honest of his entourage and almost the only one who confronted Elvis on his drug addiction. He got fired for that. Who betrayed the other there? The infamous Book "Revelation..." was the ultimate wake up call to Elvis. As for Lamar, maybe you're right, I wouldn't know, but certainly, I wouldn't compare him to Red West.
Jamie wrote on January 22, 2011
Hello, I don't know how much Lamar was responsible for negative reportage about The King. If I played Devil's advocate, I think I'd say a few things in his defence. Firstly, in Alannah Nash's "Elvis and the Memphis Mafia" book he comes across as being well-humoured and honest. Secondly, perhaps Goldman took some truthful anecdotes from Lamar and made mischief in the way he wrote them up in his book; ok perhaps Lamar shouldn't have given him an interview but Goldman may have kept his agenda hidden.Thirdly, has anybody noticed the long list of people (eg, the Colonel, Priscilla, Red West, Ginger Alden, etc etc etc, ad infinitum) who have been accused of betrayal and financial rapacity? Maybe there's such a residue of ill-feeling, sus[picion and unhappiness following Elvis's death because his behaviour was hugely damaging to the people around him and the relationships between them. Lamar's gone now so, please, respect for the dead, ladies and gentlemen.
ttwiise wrote on January 22, 2011
I have a lot of time for Sonny, Red and Lamar. These guys spoke their mind and weren't sugar sweet like Joe, Charlie and Jerry. Lamar will be missed.
GEORGE (GK) wrote on January 22, 2011
Its very sad. More and More of the "Elvis World" is leaving Us.
Hans Otto wrote on January 22, 2011
I fully agree with both "ttwiise" and "Jamie". Well put, gents.
Michael Comley wrote on January 22, 2011
Another sad loss for the Elvis world, God Bless you Lamar
Gordon wrote on January 22, 2011
I met this lovely man in Memphis 2003, he was a true gentleman and spoke highly of Elvis. He always spoke highly of Elvis and told the colonel a few home truths. We cant always believe all we read in books and newspapers. Rest in peace Lamar and look after Elvis for us.
Swen wrote on January 22, 2011
Rest in Peace, Fats. But personally I´ll never forgive you for the horrible Goldman book. There just is NO excuse for doing something like that. Betrayal of a best friend. For MONEY! You just don´t do that.
everett001 wrote on January 22, 2011
Never did meet him; but came very close to him when leaving the fourteen Elvis concerts I attended. I understand Elvis liked and trusted him very much. I learned a long time ago not to beleive everything you read or hear. It's hard to beleive Elvis would have employed him for that length of time, if he didn't trust and love him as a friend. Just my feelings.
2kisses&3scarfs wrote on January 22, 2011
I'm so sorry to hear this. I always liked Lamar and enjoyed hearing his stories about Elvis. He was very honest. Another one is gone. . . REST IN PEACE, LAMAR.
Tony C wrote on January 22, 2011
I always enjoyed seeing Lamar Fike speaking about Elvis, he was a straight talking, no BS type of person. His memories showed Elvis in a good and bad light making him the human being that he was. I would rather have that than the sugar coated stories from some people. RIP, Lamar. Let us not forgot that the Albert Goldman book was written by Albert Goldman. He was a person responsible for twisting and distorting every story told to him to show Elvis in the worst possible light. The West's and Dave Hebler suffered in a similar way at the hands of Steve Dunleavy when the book "Elvis What Happened?" was published.
tornado wrote on January 23, 2011
Nobody is totally pure in all this drama. Not even Elvis. Maybe there was a revenge feeling from the book "Elvis What Happened". But it broke a taboo: Elvis had big personnal problems... " Something was rotten in the kingdom of Denmark". I wonder what would have happened had Elvis lived instead. Also the timing when the book came out added to the confusion too. Nobody (except maybe the Memphis Mafia ) expected Elvis to die so soon. Ironically, he died of just what the book what talking about : a colossal abuse of long over prescribed pills. As for Lamar. What remains for us fan is what we should focus on: the music the Memphis Flash left to enjoy forever.
Mystery Rider wrote on January 23, 2011
In the immortal words of Alice from the old Honeymooners TV show, Blimp Takes Off
tornado wrote on January 23, 2011
I agree with you snowplow floater. I was always upset by the fact that Steve Binder was blocked to meet Elvis in Vegas. Whom those guys were serving here? Colonel Parker or Elvis? Did even Elvis knew Steve wanted to meet him? On the other hand, he could have invited Steve as a VIP for one of his Vegas show. Something's not clear here. And there are a couple troubling situations where some, in the Elvis's entourage, were the ears and the eyes of Colonel Parker. Who knows maybe some of them were paid for that. As we can see the departure of one of these guys always brings back controversial and dark chapters in the Elvis's biography. As for Kentucky Rain, let's give Lamar the credit for it. But I still think the scheme dear Colonel built around the "rights" for the songs made it difficult to bring more good songs like Kentucky Rain to Elvis. In the 70's, more and more singers had their own material too and weren't willing to share the rights with a singer, even as great as Elvis. Dolly Parton's story about her song IWill Always Love You is a very good example.
Jamie wrote on January 23, 2011
Hello, isn't the conspiracy theory about Elvis being isolated, exploited and betrayed doing hima disservice? It reduces him to a voiceless child when it seems to me he was a highly influential, successful adult at the top of his profession. I really think it's disrespectful and a bit twee to cast him as a naive, pitiable little boy incapable of making choices. The literature suggests Elvis was an unfaithful husband, once punched Charlie Hodge, and had a liaison with a girlfriend of Jerry Schilling (sources: "Elvis and Me"; "Elvis and the Memphis Mafia"; the Guralnick biographies). His friends and family were reliant on him because they had joint roles as employees. He jeopardised the security and happiness of them all by lapsing into drug abuse. Exactly who is the victim of treachery in all this? Had the responsible adult Elvis Presley been angry that Hollywood didn't work out for him, he could have reviewed his arrangements with Tom Parker and made a career decision to concentrate primarily on singing and not on movies. If he'd wanted to meet up with Steve Binder, he could have phoned him at NBC and arranged for him to collect complimentary tickets at the International. If Elvis had hated Las Vegas performance so much he could have cut his overheads by passing on buying his own private aeroplane and giving Vegas a miss. If he'd wanted tom avoid an expensive divorce he might have refrained engaging in what Priscilla diplomatically describes as a "Batchelor's lifestyle". We are talking about a flawed human being cast into an uncharted superstar lifestyle with poor guidance and a penchant for unnecessary medication. Understandably, the poverty of his youth affected his career choices. The outcome was a disaster because the most lucrative work (movies, Las Vegas engagements) didn't stretch Elvis and in some cases made him look ridiculous. He may have been unknowing in 1955 but he was experienced enough to know the rules by 1965. He continued to sing scores of mediocre songs for the sole reason that the publishing deals were attractive. Let's accord Elvis Presley the respect he deserves as a substantial, intelligent adult - and stop blaming good people for little more than being unwittingly caught up in the chaos and panic that erupted when it became clear that Elvis's drug dependency was a runaway train and that a catatrophe was unavoidable for all of them.
MickeyN wrote on January 23, 2011
Sorry Jamie but I haven't heard such a load of "glass half empty" rubbish since the heady days of Goldman. True, Elvis was not naive, but he was one of the first real multimedia superstars and therefore had little in the way of precedent (no Betty Ford clinics, modern agents, lifecoaches etc) to guide him. He stuck with a bunch of tried and trusted friends, most of whom he looked after in huge examples of generosity - by your standards THEY were not naive, they could have left him and his money IF they wanted. Most of the harm he ever did, he did to himself. You must realise surely that Elvis lived through an era when legal drugs were considered the answer to everything, it was a full ten years after Elvis' death that the full dangers of a chemical/synthetic existence became apparent. And if you believe that "Elvis What Happened?" was intended to aid Elvis rather than a tawdry attempt to gain revenge with royalties added - who's naive? All of those you mention have made money out Elvis and continue to do so. I know Elvis was not a perfect human being, but he was unquestionably a great person, with great talent who had a great impact on the lives of millions. And before you call me to account for calling Elvis a "great person" - tell me who in your view is.
Tony C wrote on January 24, 2011
Regarding the issue of people not being given access to Elvis at times, it is possible that Elvis knew of this and was part of the game. I will give you a little example of a similar experience I have had. I have been friends with an English singer from the sixties who still performs. I go along to most of his concerts and act as a sort of unpaid personal assistant. I deal with all sorts of issues, from problems that arise during the concerts, merchanding and keeping his fans away from him. He will meet fans after the show to sign autographs but he does not want to stand there chatting to them for hours on end. When he has had enough, he will give me a certain look which is a sign for me to make up an excuse as to why we have to leave. He will then say that he is sorry that he cannot spend more time with them! The same goes for backstage meetings, he likes to sit backstage quietly alone to prepare himself for the show. I will not let anybody get backstage other than a close showbiz friend of his or a member of his family. This is the way he wants it, but the fans have no idea of this, they think it is all my doing. This way, he can remain the nice guy while I am the nasty one! It is probably like that with most public figures.
MikeE wrote on January 24, 2011
Who would have guessed that Lamar would outlive Elvis by so long.....Goldman book a hatchet job yes but very readable especially the first two chapters and the one on the Vegas revival. Goldman certainly had a way with words, so much so that even factual inaccuracies read like artistic licence.....Charlie sugar sweet maybe, but he earned his money on stage.....
dgirl wrote on January 24, 2011
mikee - exactly. just goes to show you how badly Elvis took care of himself , how many drugs he ingested, and basically gave up on life. For an out of shape guy like Lamar to outlive him by 34 years is astounding.
Tony C wrote on January 24, 2011
You are both right, I always thought that Lamar defied medical science. It is amazing that he lived as long as he did.
MickeyN wrote on January 24, 2011
Hang on a second. What's with all these silly health comparisons? Elvis played over a thousand concerts in the last 7 years of his life, while Lamar did what exactly?
Steve V wrote on January 25, 2011
Mickey I don't see the point you make. Even back at the 50's Lamar was heavy. Elvis was in tip-top shape and stayed that way up till the 70's Lamar was never in good shape. Playing concerts for seven years from 35-42 should not kill you. Yes he played too many but what about Bruce & McCartney? They go on tour and play 2-3 hours a night and they are well into their 60's. So does Elton and he is always touring. To die at 42 had nothing to do with playing concerts over the last 7 years. Did it contribute? Probably so, but it was the lifestyle of Elvis that killed him at such a young age. That is why Linda left. She saw it coming. Lamar was on the road with Elvis also. Granted he didnt do the shows but he made the tours while in terrible physical condition. It didn't seem to affect him. So for a guy that was probably out of shape all his life to out live a guy 33-4 years who was in great shape most of his life is pretty incredible. I agree with what Tony and dgirl were trying to say here.
MickeyN wrote on January 25, 2011
I do not - cannot - deny that Elvis lifestyle was not conducive to a long life. However, I believe that the stuff which is being trotted out on this site grossly underestimates the amount of hard work Elvis did. Many commentators now accept that Elvis was worked himself to death in those last seven years - concerts, tours, even recording sessions and that he had other health problems (some of which precipitated the prescription drug use). Springsteen, Mccartney, Elton, Jagger may well tour and perform into their 80s, but their schedules have NEVER been as punishing as Elvis's was (a thousand concerts in seven years as opposed to a grand tour every four years?). And as I said before Elvis never had the rehab facilities that the current crop rely on. The point I make is that the criticism of Elvis as a self destructive junkie is as hackneyed and exaggerated as most Elvis Impersonators.
Viva wrote on January 25, 2011
It's always sad when we lose another person so close to the heart of the story of Elvis; but ever since I read "Elvis and the Memphis Mafia" I cannot help but be resentful of anyone connected with it. Ultimately they were all as bad as one another, none of them being of any real benefit to Elvis. They should have had the balls to say what they said in their many books to Elvis's face. But hey, that's easy to say when you're on the outside looking in I guess.
JLpResLey wrote on January 25, 2011
Yes, it is incredible that Lamar lived as long as he did. I liked him, and it´s sad that he is gone. But I think it´s silly to compare his age of death with Elvis´. It is not a competition. They did not live the same life, they did not share the same family history for example. Is it possible to say that Lamar took better care of himself because of these facts, that he outlived Elvis for so long? I´m not sure. A lot of the guys in the Memphis Mafia abused drugs. I know that Marty once said that he was almost as bad as Elvis. The Stanley brothers is another example. It is one thing to take drugs, it is another thing how your body react to it. After Elvis died, there were a number of doctors that said that they had experienced much more drugs in different bodies, where people had survived. It was the lifestyle that killed Elvis. Yes, perhaps Elvis didn´t do enough concerts to kill him. I think that the problem was that little amount of rest between the tours. There were just too many tours. If he could have done two big tours a year, that would just have been perfect. I think that would have contributed to his health, and the shows would surely be more exciting.
GregMcGee wrote on January 25, 2011
Good riddence--anyone who collaborated on Albert Goldman's famous piece of trash will certainly not be missed.
truthseeker1 wrote on January 27, 2011
You people that are bad mouthing all these guys that were close to Elvis really need to be ashamed of yourselves. You have no clue what when on between Elvis and any of those guys, what their feelings were or what Elvis' were. If ya'll are such big Elvis fans than you should know that Elvis would not appreciate you sitting behind your computers like cowards, bad mouthing his friends that have passed away especially. Elvis had noone around him he didn't want around so he obviously wanted Lamar around along with the rest of them....you are the people that take Lisa and Priscilla's word on everything, you have all forgotten that he divorced her and that Lisa was only nine when her father died, all she really knows about his business is what she has been told. You want to bad mouth these people for what they have said in their books, why don't you look in your mirrors, these people you are writing about, when you have no clue what you are talking about have families too.
Jamie wrote on January 29, 2011
Hello truthseeker1, some people have a need to take Elvis Presley the supreme singer and entertainer and morph him into Elvis Presley the supreme being. The reasons for that are probably quite innocent and quaint but it inevitably leads to a distorted impression of who Elvis was. Being around a drug addict for years is Hell. End of. These guys were put through an awful ordeal and were pushed beyond their coping many times over. You'll never stop people fudging that fact because you'll never stop the need to hero worship that some people displace onto Elvis Presley. I don't contend that Elvis's entourage are angelic. But the most authentic 5 seconds of interview I have ever seen with one of the Presley camp is in "This is Elvis". Dave Hebler is at the "Elvis: What Happened?" press conference. He looks utterly forlorn. When he asks poignantly, "How do you save a man from himself?", he sounds almost broken. It's worth a million times more than Priscilla - in "Elvis By the Presleys" - having a chortle with her sister over a coffee as they reflect humourously on Elvis's infidelities.
Viva wrote on January 30, 2011
So on the one hand you accuse other posts of talking as if Elvis was an angel, but you act the same way towards the memphis mafia! They were not the poor, helpless best friends of Elvis you portray them to be; for the best part they were sycophantic, jealous, arrogant, rude and were in constant competition with each other to be Elvis's favourite. It's a game Elvis tended to participate in and they were all very willing players. You say "You have no clue what went on between Elvis and any of those guys", well you are wrong. We DO know what went on because they have all documented their version of events several times over. As for the comment "Elvis had no one around him he didn't want around", well towards the end of his life it is clear that Elvis was getting rid of most of the crew and it appears he was realising who his friends actually were. While it can be argued that the Wests and Dave Hebler had decent motives (Although if they really did care about Elvis why did they wait until they were fired before coming to Elvis's rescue?) the rest of the entourage have no such motive as Elvis was long gone before they started putting pen to paper. As I've said on an earlier post, it is very sad when someone from the Elvis story passes away but that does not change the fact that they have made careers out of highlighting and exaggerating Elvis's faults, while playing down their own. Just because they end each chapter in their books by saying how they "had problems too" and how much they loved him, and him them; this does not undo the damage caused by the previous twenty pages describing in graphic detail what a complete tosser Elvis was. That's why you will read negative things about the majority of the entourage, and based on what has been written about Elvis by these people, that criticism is entirely justified.
Jamie wrote on January 30, 2011
Hello Viva, I don't think we do know for sure some of the key detail about what happened within the Presley camp because contradiction in fact and nuance is rife. For instance, you write that Elvis was shedding those people he'd stopped regarding as friends. And, Viva, you may be right. But I've read that he let people go because cutting back on their salaries had become a matter of essential financial austerity. And alternatively, I've read that there was concern about lawsuits connected with heavy-handedness by Elvis's protectors so their services were dispensed with. It may be a combination of the three and there may other factors. Also, it's contentious to say Elvis's entourage only tried to rescue him (ie, by writing "Elvis: What Happened?" after they'd been fired. There are reports of them trying to interdict Elvis's drug supply, and Sonny West describes such an incident in an interview in "This Is Elvis". Again, you may be right. But it's very, very hard to get at a balanced view not least because we weren't there and are left trying to arrive at informed conclusions based on inconsistent information. From my point of view, the debate about Elvis, on the one hand, and the Memphis Mafia, on the other, has become wrongly polarised. Who was the villain? Who got betrayed? Who did the betraying first? It's all nonsense. I think it might be good to listen to "Walk a Mile in My Shoes", and imagine what it was like for the Memphis Mafia - people who relied on Elvis for employment and a social structure - watching him throw his life away together with everything that gave structure and purpose to their lives.