said Robert to Jimmy when they got back to the hotel room they were sharing in Vegas in 1973. It took forty-one years for Jimmy to say "so did you!" as they sat together in the Merchant City Italian restaurant before the Glasgow Branch dance in November 2014.
1975 – Get Well El
Two years after they shared the room, Jimmy was back in '75 to see Elvis in Vegas and Robert was playing the records at the Rockin’ Elvis Fan Club Glasgow Branch dance. Most people know the story of the 1975 Fan Club trip - that Elvis had to cancel his shows and as a result, the fans didn't get to see him. The Fan Club magazine at the time reported something like "a handful of fans who had flown ahead were lucky enough to have seen him and reported........”. Jimmy tells the story of how this happened and how he was one of the few European Fans to see Elvis in the Summer Festival of '75.
"They came to me and my roommate, Sandy from Kilmarnock, and said "the plane is full tomorrow-would you be willing to go to Vegas tonight?” “The plane landed just before midnight and, having been two years before, I knew that although Elvis’ midnight show had started, that he would not be on stage until 12.40AM. I convinced Sandy and we jumped a taxi, arriving at the Hilton and picking up tickets at the returns desk, we were seated in time for the start of Elvis’ performance. He asked for a stool during the show and he was clearly ill but his voice was good and it was an enjoyable show. The next day, I wasn’t surprised as the rest of the fans arrived and the tears started as they were told that Elvis had cancelled his engagement.”
Jimmy returned to see Elvis in 1977 with the Fan Club to see Elvis' final two shows in Cincinnati and Indianapolis - this time with his brother. He appears twice in the CBS Special in the Fan Club coach arrival in Sharonville and his polystyrene ‘Elvis in Concert’ hat has the Colonel’s signature inside it. Jimmy saw the old man leaving after the Indy show, stopped his car and got him to come out and meet him and his brother – getting their hats autographed. Memories and experiences like this would be enough for a lifetime but Jimmy had done much more.
I got in touch with Jimmy via a circuitous route. My friend Shirley Henderson and I had got back in touch after 32 years and she mentioned that she still had the passenger list from the 1977 trip which we had both been on. When she came up to the Edinburgh Elvis dance, she drew my attention to two names, not only from Scotland but from Fife where I now Iive. The town that was given on the manifest was not too big (nowhere in Fife is) and Jimmy's name, McNally, is not too common. It took a couple of months of missing each other but after a long call, I was on my way to meet Jimmy, as excited as l always am to meet new fans. Coming back, l called two of my closest Elvis friends and both said I was sounding excited.
I convinced Jimmy to attend the Glasgow Branch dance and I had said I would arrange for him and Robert Maxwell to meet up again for the first time since 'Vegas' 73. Both were keen to do so.
Robert had brought some stuff from the trip but both had brought their memories and they exchanged stories like it was yesterday. Sandra, Jimmy’s long lost love, now reunited, listened with me as the reunited Elvis fans exchanged accounts of the night two Scottish guys met Elvis.
“I introduced myself as the Rockin Elvis Fan Club President to Colonel Parker, I gave him my business card and he asked “is this you?”. I confirmed my credentials and he said “come back tomorrow at about this time””
“So what night was that?”
“It was the night before I met Elvis”
“That must have been the same night that I met the Colonel – I saw him playing the bandit and stood to the side for a while –I finally said to him “excuse me, are you Colonel Parker?” and I still mind his answer now “I am that”. I introduced myself as Jimmy McNally from Scotland and told him Elvis had given me and my family so much pleasure over the years and it would be a great honour to meet him”. “Come back here tomorrow night at the same time but I’m not promising anything mind”.”
“Well the next night, you must have got to the Colonel before I came back”
“Aye, I went to his office – everybody knew where his office was in the Hilton and the door was a wee bit open so I chapped it, he looked up and motioned for me to come in “I remember you, if you could just wait a few minutes” I waited outside and out came another guy who said to me “follow me now, just a few feet behind me but follow me in.” As I walked past all the security guards, following the guy from the Colonel’s staff, I saw all these signs saying “no cameras” and I had a camera in my pocket. Not wanting to miss the chance of meeting Elvis, I said “would you mind holding my camera?” to the guy and he said “Oh don’t worry, you’ll be OK.” Feeling confident, I asked him if he would take a picture of me if I got to meet Elvis. “No problem””
“So you were in by yourself waiting for Elvis backstage?”
“Aye well I was 15-20 minutes ahead of you and when you all came in, Todd gave me such a look as if “what are you doing here Jimmy?” – I was all on my own.”
“Tom Diskin was there when I got there and he remembered me too, I arrived at the same time as Todd Slaughter and his wife Vicki, Iain Bailye and a Swedish guy. We all came in together”
“Backstage, first the musicians and the backing singers came in, of course I didn’t know who they were but I do now and they were all polite to me, I just stood there waiting and then I saw Elvis coming towards me with a couple of guys – Red and Charlie I think. He walked up to me and I reached forward, shook his hand and told him I had come from Scotland , that I had been a fan from the start and told him how much pleasure he had given over the years. He was just so nice, he thanked me and I can’t even remember what he said but then Todd and you and the others came in”
“Yes, we came in with this Swedish guy who Todd had brought in, the Swedish guy had Sun ‘78s he wanted Elvis to autograph and Todd had brought the trophy from the NME. We all shook hands with Elvis and he seemed genuinely happy to see us. Todd presented the trophy, there were some pictures taken of the small group and that was it. I was very surprised to see you already there”
“That’s why, if you look at the pictures, you can see I’m up against the w