Sonny West In Hospital - Update

Sonny West, co-author of the August 1977 gossip book "Elvis What Happened?!" and persona non grata at most Elvis events, took a fall off his daughter's porch. The circumstances are not clear, but apparently the man broke 3 ribs and also has some cuts, abrasions and bruises. He is in the hospital. He'll survive. 

Update from Sandy Pichon (June 26):

When we arrived we were distressed to see him. His color was gray, he had many cuts and abrasions and bruises and his hands, feet and legs were very swollen. His spleen was lacerated and his heart was not functioning normally. He is on oxygen and was in a lot of pain. The dr ordered a CT scan and afterward came in to speak with us. Sonny had blood clots in his lungs (pulmonary emboli) and in his legs. It was urgent that a Vena Cava Filter be put in place to prevent more clots from entering his lungs or his heart. We prayed with him, consent forms were signed and he was taken down. The procedure was performed immediately and his color began to improve. We were able to talk with him more until he asked for more pain meds. He is not out of the woods yet. The dr is unable to put him on blood thinner due to the spleen as a spleen bleed could be fatal, as could the clots. There is a possibility the spleen will have to be removed if it doesn't heal properly. The dr said that the fall actually saved his life as they believe the clots were there before the fall and had he not been brought to the hospital he would have died. Sonny asked me to thank you for your prayers and that you continue to lift him up until he is completely healed. He is anxious to get back to work on his movie Fame and Fortune. He is too sick to receive visitors or take phone calls (please) at this time, but if you would like to send a card to Sonny, you can send it to me at P O Box 161052, Memphis TN 38186. I plan to go back to Nashville soon as I promised Judy I would certainly be there for them when they need me. This is a very difficult time and I ask that you all please continue your prayers. I will update you as his condition progresses.

Source: ElvisMatters / Updated: Jun 26, 2011 
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Dahmia (profilecontact) wrote on Jul 4, 2011report abuse
Just happened on a facebook entry when this happened and alot of us have been praying for Sonny - mahalo - Dahmia from Ohio
J Tom (profilecontact) wrote on Jul 3, 2011report abuse
Jumped off FB to do a bit of research on just how my friend came to be hospitalized. Boy oh boy there's a lot of BALDER%DASH being blogged about ! There's probably only a few hundred (if that) of us that can answer ANY PART of "Elvis What Happened" . . .com'on guys you'd just had to have been there to comment or to understand any of it. E, Red and Sonny loved one another. Anyone that was really there saw that . . .the rest of y'all be still and if you must say anything make it a prayer
STRICTLY*ELVIS (profilecontact) wrote on Jul 2, 2011report abuse
I love Elvis with all my heart but his health, personal life and career were in decline way before "Elvis What Happened" was published. Some people say the book was the final nail in the coffin, but Elvis had over-dosed many times before that fateful day of August 16th, 1977. I'm sure Red, Sonny and Dave all had their individual reasons to be willing to participate with Steve Dunleavy in such tabloid trash as "Elvis What happened". I do not believe Dave Hebler was ever close to Elvis and his motivation was most likely money. However Red and Sonny had a life-long relationship with Elvis and I have no doubt they cared for him. Surely they were hurt and possibly angry that the relationship ended abruptly the way it did at Elvis' Father's instigation. They're motivation probably started out as revenge and then dollar signs surely played a part as Steve Dunleavy played on their emotions. But I can tell you that I met Sonny West in August of 2007. I had the pleasure of speaking with him one on one for over two hours while he traveled back in time recalling his memories of his time spent with Elvis as he laughed, pondered and cried. I cannot help but feel sorry for Elvis, Red and Sonny about how things turned out in the end. It was a sad end to a glorious time.
benny scott (profilecontact) wrote on Jun 28, 2011report abuse
They were fired because of "cutting down on expences" . That's what the "official" reason was. The real reason why they were fired has been written by "snowplow floater" on june 26. Pls re-read it ! And the so called " trying to help him to stop or reduce his "prescription drugs addiction" , well, I don't believe it . It seems that a lot of defenders of the West cousins seem to forget or are not aware that the whole Maffia-entourage took pills as well, uppers, downers, amphetamines etc.. . Elvis and the boys lived at night and slept during the day for most of the time, or didn't sleep at all sometimes. How can one continue this without paying a (heavy) toll in the end ? I'm not saying they took as much pills and drugs as their "boss" , but they were not choirboys either. So playing the innocent role is violating the truth.
I read the book almost immediately after its publication ( I have relatives living in Florida, St.Augustine and the sent it to me) There are of course parts of the content that are correct, but what an amount of fiction, lies, exaggeration and fantasy one has to read too ! Reading this book, being a man in his early thirties as I was then, had a lot more impact on us, the older generation ,than on the much younger ones who, in some cases, were not even born when Elvis past away, or were still in their real childhood when the book was published. But in spite of all of this, no one, and I'm writing this for the third time now, no one should wish he should not recover. He is, indeed , an human being like all of us. Always El.
TCB1974 (profilecontact) wrote on Jun 28, 2011report abuse
Elvis is my idol. Greatest singer of all times, greatest performer of all times, wonderful human being... However, at the end of his life the drugs took over and caused mood swings, even on stage. These guys had great luxury while being with Elvis indeed but no big money of their own. It is fully understandable that they wrote the book, because they had families to support and Elvis dismissed them, they did not leave him. I can mourn over Elvis' sad ending but cannot blame Sonny for anything. Elvis is responsible for his own life and every account supports the view that he refused to be helped and got mad at Red and Sonny when they tried to stop the incoming flow of drugs. Hope Sonny recovers and is happy. He is human, just like Elvis, you and me.
benny scott (profilecontact) wrote on Jun 28, 2011report abuse
Like I wrote already on June 26, I wish Sonny a complete recovery purely from a humanly point of view. Of all the reactions I read so far paulreno's is, IMHO, the most accurate and summarizes in 8 sentences what it was (is) all about.
Always El.
paulreno (profilecontact) wrote on Jun 28, 2011report abuse
When Elvis died, Sonny wasn't his friend. Therefore, he isn't Elvis's friend today. They were paid countless times from Elvis with the lavish gifts they got. Maybe their salary wasn't fantastic, but their standard of living was incredible. Let's not forget the taped conversation with Elvis (without his knowledge) which also appeared in the book. Of course, today the bodyguards are nice to fans, they still earn a living from Elvis! They make TV appearances even to this day, because they knew Elvis. Red West admitted they did the book for money. They were aware of how Elvis would have felt by writing a book about him. They also knew it wouldn't change his addiction - it would publicly humiliate him. The book contributed towards a depressed Elvis in his last few months. I won't be losing any sleep over Sonny West. I am an Elvis fan, first and foremost and don't give a stuff about the people who were so quick to stab him in his back - even after all Elvis had done for them throughout the years.
JeffSchrembs (profilecontact) wrote on Jun 28, 2011report abuse
I hope that Sonny West recovers and I wish him, and his entire family, nothing but good health and happiness now...and always. Take care and may God bless you all. Jeff Schrembs

PS: THANK YOU for your contribution to Elvis, his life and legacy, and for having great members
Ton Bruins (profilecontact) wrote on Jun 27, 2011report abuse
His illness has nothing to do with his "Elvis" past. I wish him all the best. He is just an human being like all of us. Get well.
al shookup (profilecontact) wrote on Jun 27, 2011report abuse
A lot of sense written here, particularly from 'monster'. Too much negativity and naiivity from others. Elvis was his own worst enemy and his lack of self control contributed greatly to his demise, not the book. It must have been almost impossible to work for him yet retain some form of self dignity. His mood swings are well known and at a drop of a hat you could be out on your ear if a wrong word was said. These guys had families to care for and needed the income from whatever source so it is understandable that they profitted from the book sales.
FLASHBOY (profilecontact) wrote on Jun 27, 2011report abuse
I wish him to recover but i still think that the book they wrote was to hurt Elvis more than to help him they get fired and they get mad this is the reason this book was released. Vengence
LonElvis (profilecontact) wrote on Jun 27, 2011report abuse
Monster makes a good point - " Had the book been published in late 1974 we the fans would have been much more outraged but Elvis may have been in a position to respond positively to the book instead of spiralling ever more quickly into his depression and prescription abuse."

If Sonny, Red, and Dave wanted to help Elvis why did it take their firing to prompt them into helping him? If they wanted to get his attention - why didn't they stage a walk-out and leave prior to being fired? To me hitting Elvis with the book in 1977 (and they had to know his fragile state) had to have contributed to his death in some form or fashion -- if only by the increased stress. Hitting Elvis with this book in 1977 was unfair - a true low blow. They knew Elvis couldn't fight back in 1977. He had a fighting chance in 1974 but didn't have a chance in 1977 to handle this book and to fight back. They knew it and kicked the man while he was down. I always feel bad knowing that Elvis went to the grave with that book hanging over his head. He deserved better. I hope he knew that the fans truly loved him regardless of the book or any imperfections.
EForever (profilecontact) wrote on Jun 27, 2011report abuse
tommyboo - I competely agree with you!! Elvis must have been crushed when his 'life-long' friends betrayed his trust and confidence to highlight is every weakness in their effort to cause him public humilation and ridicule and of course, they were also after the 'almighty dollars' they made from their expose.
tommyboo (profilecontact) wrote on Jun 27, 2011report abuse
I would never wish anything bad to anyone, even to Sonny, who in my opinion, double crossed Elvis in the worst possible way - by sensationally exposing closely guarded private and inside information on Elvis. In my 'book', this is simply not done. Elvis had fired and rehired many of his entourage several times during fits of anger. The last firing most likely would have ended up in rehiring as well if they had not quickly decided to write their book.

Although I do sympathise with Sonny and Red (helbler doesn't mean anything to me) at the short notice pay and pathetic pay off, I am even more sympathetic to Elvis. Whether you believe it or not, Elvis by that time was having a hard time in life. I am sure you can imagine the unbearable frustrations of just being Elvis Presley, the man.

Without defending Elvis, I can think of many other ways of getting back at my boss or friend without destroying them - unless of course I needed to quickly make a lot of money - in which case I would write a scathing book on the world's most popular and well known celebrity. The book was the final nail in the coffin - literally.
PCorbin61 (profilecontact) wrote on Jun 26, 2011report abuse
Good, bad, or otherwise...Sonny is a living link to the glory days of our King. I wish him warm get well wishes and will pray for his full recovery. I'm sure Elvis is T.C.B for his disciple.
Alant15 (profilecontact) wrote on Jun 26, 2011report abuse
Great to see so many positive reactions here. When I first read the email with the headings for the website I though, "Here we go! Sonny's in for some right slagging off here" but not so. I read the book when it first came out too and I didn't like what they said. I am much older now and understand. Not only their reasons for writing it but also the way it was sensationalised by Dunleavy. I like Red and Sonny and wish them both well.
Michael Comley (profilecontact) wrote on Jun 26, 2011report abuse
Speedy recovery Sonny my friend
Jerome (profilecontact) wrote on Jun 26, 2011report abuse
The news first of all start off with: "Sonny West, co-author of the August 1977 gossip book "Elvis What Happened?!" But wasn't he first of all a friend and bodyguard? No one knows exactly what happened between all of them..
I am Buffalo-Horn! (profilecontact) wrote on Jun 26, 2011report abuse
Amen to that, Snowplough. Well put.
snowplow floater (profilecontact) wrote on Jun 26, 2011report abuse
Well after working for Elvis for all those years, maybe they got paid a small salary but free cars, all the women they could handle, trips to Hollywood, pills, booze and gold jewelery, mixing with celebrities and not even having to buy a match to light their cuban cigars, obviously they felt they were a law unto themselves so can and did savagely beat fans of Elvis, resulting in lawsuits, not against them but Elvis. So as out of control as Elvis is allegedly to have become, these guys were violent thugs who remained loyal to Col. Tom Parker, when their wings were finally clipped by Vernon, they cashed in their chips by writing a scandalous book, finally driving Elvis into total despair and ultimately contributing to his premature demise. If Sonny has a cross to bear then maybe the weight of it caused him to stumble and fall. No loyalty to a man who financially provided for them and their families, so no sympathy from me.
marty (profilecontact) wrote on Jun 26, 2011report abuse
I wish speedy recovery to Sonny as I would almost every other person in the world. Very few (if any) people deserve to suffer. Apart from that, we cannot know what went through his mind when he and the other two decided to write this book about Elvis, so we can give him the benefit of the doubt. My personal opinion though is that the main motive was money. If nothing else he wasn't just a friend to Elvis, he was on his payrol as well, wasn't he? He lost him salary and wanted to find another source of income. Many others would do just the same as this is the nature of humans (unfortunately)...
As to why Elvis died, he (slowly) did it to himself and there was no one around him that could or would help him...
Monster (profilecontact) wrote on Jun 26, 2011report abuse
Get well soon Sonny. I don't doubt there was pettiness and jealousies and greed at play in the Memphis Mafia group from time to time. But I also feel guys like Sonny who were around for most of the ride did Elvis more good than harm all told. This may pee a few people off but part of me almost wishes they'd written their book two years earlier when Elvis perhaps still had enough control of himself to respond to the book by cleaning up his act and showing the world that he was anything but a wasted drug addict. By late 1976 Elvis didn't have much of a career left to hurt (dwindling record sales, uninspired, often poorly performed live shows, no movies) so the book wasn't going to make much difference there. The only damage it was going to do was tarnish Elvis's whiter than white image and let's be honest he was doing a hell of a job on that on his own. His health and his personal life where perhaps already too far down the plughole to be fixed without professional intervention instead of the slap in the face the bodyguard book represented. In the end Sonny and Red's book only caused Elvis pain and whilst money and bitterness were a large part of why it was written I do belive they also wanted to wake Elvis up to what he was doing to himself and were naively led into a much more sleazy tabloid expose by Steve Dunleavy than they might have otherwise preferred. Had the book been published in late 1974 we the fans would have been much more outraged but Elvis may have been in a position to respond positively tot he book instead of spiralling ever more quickly into his depression and prescription abuse.
TCB1974 (profilecontact) wrote on Jun 26, 2011report abuse
If Elvis died because of drug abuse not being triggered by disease as Dr Nichopoulos claims, then it is Elvis and him alone that is responsible for his death. I do not see a cross for Sonny West to bear, as Elvis was disloyal to him, paying a low salary and firing him after >20 years due to 'cost cutting'. Whether it was to help Elvis, anger or need for money, that pushed him to realizing 'Elvis what happened?', they all are understandable reasons. If Elvis had not been out of control, then he would just clean himself up in the full year that he had towards publication of the book.
Steve V (profilecontact) wrote on Jun 26, 2011report abuse
Thank you dgirl & others. Natha, thats exactly what I meant, sooner or later in his 40's, not in his lifetime. I know ALL of us die sooner or later! Sorry Benny we don't see eye to eye here, but all respect as always! By the way, I have met Sonny also. He was very friendly & cordial.
Andy_2 (profilecontact) wrote on Jun 26, 2011report abuse
Elvis was in a mess long before this book came out so his death in my opinion is in no way connected to the book. He needed help and they rightly or wrongly thought the book might help. I wish him well.
Harvey Alexander (profilecontact) wrote on Jun 26, 2011report abuse
Isn't it funny (no, pathetic) how whenever anybody criticizes Elvis in any way, shape or form on this forum, nine times out of ten someone will come back with the 'These Men With Broken Hearts' quote - "Help your brother along the way...", "You've never seen things through my eyes..." and all of that stuff. Yet when we hear about someone like Sonny West having an accident, some decide to instantly attack and say how pleased they are. Why doesn't the 'see things through his eyes' stuff apply to him? Or, I forgot, it's because he's not 100% perfect and untouchable like Elvis is. There are a lot of hypocrites in this world.
dgirl (profilecontact) wrote on Jun 26, 2011report abuse
Sonny was one of the nicest, if not the nicest member of the entourage I have met. So in that regard, I wish him a speedy recovery. Yes he did say he wrote the book out of bitterness and to wake Elvis up. Both I feel are ture statements. No one knows all that wnet on behind the scenes, they probably just skimmed the surface in that book. And I believe all they wrote to be true. Red West doesnt strike me as a BS kind of guys Yes, the book hurt Elvis. But did it hurt him more out of disloyalty or that his image had been shattered? Absolute rubbish that it contributed to his death. Drugs & lifestyle (diet, etc) did that. Elvis almost left us several times prior had someone not been there to prevent it. That's a fact! So yeah, sooner or later meaning in the 70's Steve V, is a correct statement!
Brian Quinn (profilecontact) wrote on Jun 26, 2011report abuse
Love them or despise them I honestly feel Elvis would have been dead many years prior to 1977 without them. I wonder how many times they saved his life.
JLpResLey (profilecontact) wrote on Jun 26, 2011report abuse
Well, I wish Sonny a speedy recovery as well. And as far as the book is concerned, I have always defended Red, Sonny and Dave, and I will keep doing so. When the book is discussed, it´s only discussed from Elvis´ point of view. I really think that the book was devestating to Elvis, no question about that. But it wasn´t the book that killed Elvis, it was how he handled the situation. Later on, the whole situation has been portrayed in a way which make you believe that those guys still was working for him. Elvis complained about them not being loyal to him, while he certainly wasn´t loyal at all towards them.
Elvis died because of himself. Not because of a doctor or a book. I´m convinced about that. These guys saved his life a number of times and was ready to be hit by bullets to protect him, and still they are accused for his death. It´s crazy
Natha (profilecontact) wrote on Jun 26, 2011report abuse
Indeed Benny Scott, we should harbor good thoughts for all living being. For the rest I agree with LonElvis and Peter. He could know that such public statements would hurt he should not have done it. It did not serve any other purpose. And also he cashed in later on too as Peter stated. This is not because of friendship!

And SteveV: 'Elvis would have died sooner or later'. This makes no sense. We all die sooner or later. Yes, he did not kill Elvis, but neither did he anything to prevent it as he suggested. He might have been one of those proverbial drops. By the way, I would not state that because of this he is a bad person. There are only good and bad activities, no good or bad persons. He also had his good activites. So no personal judgment here.
circleG (profilecontact) wrote on Jun 26, 2011report abuse
well said SteveV. I feel the same. I met sonny and stayed in touch for a while and he was nothing but kind and gracious with his time and memories. get well soon Sonny.
benny scott (profilecontact) wrote on Jun 26, 2011report abuse
I have no problem with Sonny recovering. Nobody should wish someone shouldn't stay alive, after all, he's a human being and no criminal, but........sorry Steve ! this time I have to disagree completely . LonElvis and Peter : 200% amen to that. Just my opinion, that's all.Always El.
Peter @ ElvisMatters (profilecontact) wrote on Jun 26, 2011report abuse
LonElvis, Truer words were never spoken. You just hit the nail on the head.

So they wanted to challenge Elvis with a Tell All Book? Give me a break. Look at the press conference of the Three Courageous Men when they presented the book (2 weeks before Elvis passed away). First question: 'why did you write the book'? Sonny West's immediate & apparently honest reply: 'Out of bitterness'.

Elvis was buried on August 18th. The West Cousings signed a contract on August 18th to reprint the book in 3 million copies. The only thing they insisted that needed to change was the title: 'Elvis What Happened?!' became 'The Bodyguard's Book'. Unsurprisingly, not one penny was given to charity. I rest my case.
LonElvis (profilecontact) wrote on Jun 26, 2011report abuse
While I certainly don't wish Sonny, Dave, or Red any harm, and I wish Sonny a speedy recovery, we cannot gloss over the extremely negative impact the What Happened book had on Elvis towards the end of his life. Regardless of their intent (and I do believe that Dunleavy didn't write the book they may have intended and that he made it more tabloid trash), the fact is they brought a tremendous amount of pain and suffering upon an already fragile Elvis. That book and it's intentions (at least partially) were extremely negative and hurtful to Elvis. I don't buy for a minute that their intentions were to offer Elvis a challenge. They were hurt and they wanted revenge. Ultimately they have to live with the fact that Elvis went to his grave with a lot of anxiety and hurt feelings over that book. Sonny has to live with that. That's his cross to bear. But, again, we can't gloss over it. It's not like they just said a few bad things in the press - they wrote a book to publically shame and humilate Elvis and to hurt his career. With friends like that who needs enemies?
Steve V (profilecontact) wrote on Jun 25, 2011report abuse
I wish him well. At the time of the book, I , like many others hated the Wests. But as you learn more over the years about their situation and also mature as a person you realize how that kind of life must have been hard to deal with, & Elvis in particular. Could you & I have handled it better? Shows the immaturity and still hating Elvis fans when they say things like GregMvGee posted. Grow up dude. The guy is a person and served Elvis well for many years until it was out of control. Remember even Linda the angel left. So he helped write a book. Big deal. Elvis would have died anyway sooner or later.
Brian Quinn (profilecontact) wrote on Jun 25, 2011report abuse
I wish Sonny a speedy recovery.
loftmanuk (profilecontact) wrote on Jun 25, 2011report abuse
Was he pushed?
Tony C (profilecontact) wrote on Jun 25, 2011report abuse
I've no problem with him, I don't consider him the Judas many do. Live and let live, I wish him a speedy recovery.
I am Buffalo-Horn! (profilecontact) wrote on Jun 25, 2011report abuse
Well, that's livened up a lot of our weekends!!
GregMcGee (profilecontact) wrote on Jun 25, 2011report abuse
So sorry to hear that last part, not the first.

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