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Thread: Elvis What Happened?

  1. #1
    Too Much Monkey Business Jumpsuit Junkie's Avatar
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    Elvis What Happened?

    I have been on a reading spree lately and have just re-read 'Elvis What Happened'

    As the years have passed by this book seems to have lost it's impact, the stories within have become part of every other serious book about Elvis and even the highly acclaimed Peter Guralnick used many of the same stories. I still see Red as a person who was hitting back at Elvis because of the way he was dismissed by Vernon. Sonny is a quieter voice, as for Hebler, this guy is a complete SOB who has no empathy for Elvis 'what so ever' and uses this opportunity to stick the knife in.

    Reading this book now is still powerful and given the timing of it's release is spooky to read because of the present tense in which Elvis is spoken about. Reading the taped conversation at the end of the book makes me feel really sad, because, not only has Red taped the conversation without Elvis' knowledge, but he has divulged its contents for public consumption. In the past I have stood up for Red because a friendship works both ways and if Elvis couldn't be man enough to sack Red face to face, then Red had a valid reason to feel aggrieved.

    I still feel a little sympathy for Red, however he really stooped low with the taped conversation, as for the book it was part hatchet job by Dunleavy, part home truths from embittered employees who took an opportunity to kick their boss for letting them go.

    I don't believe Red is a bad person, I don't believe that Sonny is a bad person. Circumstances had changed over the years and so had Elvis, when you read the stories by Red & Sonny there is obvious affection and a longing to go back to the earlier days before Elvis had gotten in deep with the prescribed drugs and the effects they had on him personally and physically. Dave Hebler came to know Elvis in a period when Elvis was already affected by the meds, Hebler seems unable to connect to Elvis other than through superficial means and thus is more judgemental in his recollections.

    All in all none of these guys come over well in 'Elvis What Happened', least of all Elvis. Thank goodness we have Guralnic and his biographies, because even though he doesn't gloss over the truth, he puts the truth in perspective good, bad or indifferent. 'Elvis What Happened' is a book without complete perspective and written to hit back.

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    TCB Mafia debtdbruno's Avatar
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    Re: Elvis What Happened?

    I suppose his 2 vol books are impartial, and objective as he didn't live with Elvis as they did. This makes them a better read that's informative...........maybe without the bitterness to sway the 'story' one way or the other.
    I enjoyed his books and Red/Sonny's, but as we have said many times before, you read these personal account books with an open mind, and use common sense. There's often many years in most books (not in this case) to dull the memory of what happened, who said what etc.....
    "NO-ONE, BUT NO-ONE,IS HIS EQUAL, OR EVER WILL BE. HE WAS, AND IS SUPREME".Mick Jagger

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    TCB Mafia kathy parkinson's Avatar
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    Re: Elvis What Happened?

    The only part of the book that really p----d me of was the conversation being taped in the first place,and then then being available for the public to read/hear. Very below the belt, to this very day.

  4. #4
    International Level Tigerman1975's Avatar
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    Re: Elvis What Happened?

    I thought OGrady played both sides of the fence. In this case, he was offering to pay off these three on Elvis' behalf, but on the other hand Vernon Presley through Ed Hookstratten was employing him to weed out the people that didnt need to be in Elvis's life(employees,doctors,etc.).
    I'm the king of the jungle, they call me Tiger Man. If you cross my path, you take your own life in your hands.

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    TCB Mafia KPM's Avatar
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    Re: Elvis What Happened?

    I must admit I hated this book in 1977-I bought it on Monday August 15th and read it until dawn on the 16th-talk about timing!
    I will also admit that as time has passed I do have sympathy for Red and Sonny-I see that Dunleavys heavy sensational hand was the driving force behind what became Elvis What Happened.
    I agree they wanted to strike back at Elvis, they felt they were wronged and they hit back with the disclaimer that they wanted it to be a wake up call to Elvis.
    But lets not forget there were lawsuits Elvis and Vernon had to contend with over the heavy handed treatment that the bodyguards had used, there were money problems for Elvis in general...........if he had lived I'm sure they would have been rehired or offered their jobs back later on.
    They had worked so long protecting Elvis that they may have just become over zealous and perhaps their judgement in handling situations was a bit short...a rest from the grind could not have hurt them....but it sure could have been handled differently.
    Elvis hated to do this type thing, and Vernon was good at it.
    I see the whole situation as a dysfuntional family-that were together way too much and it finally took its toll.
    Work in Progress!

  6. #6
    International Level Tigerman1975's Avatar
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    Re: Elvis What Happened?

    I have been in contact with both of the Wests seperately(one time each) over the past decade. I think they both got a bad rap.
    I'm the king of the jungle, they call me Tiger Man. If you cross my path, you take your own life in your hands.

  7. #7
    TCB Mafia kathy parkinson's Avatar
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    Re: Elvis What Happened?

    Did Red West ever give a reason why he taped,and then released a private phone call with his best friend?

  8. #8
    PINK Cadillac Lisarose's Avatar
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    Re: Elvis What Happened?

    http://www.elvis.com.au/presley/inte...red_west.shtml

    He does't say why he taped the phone call, but he's still very candid about circumstances.

    I don't pretend to be an Elvis know-it-all, I've read all the same books as anyone else. IMO, Red was just deeply hurt, and maybe just a little scared of the direction things were going. Red had been kicked in the teeth on more than one occasion by Elvis - not being invited to the wedding, not being IN the wedding, being put in a position of dealing with the Stanley brothers - misadventures. Which really, the Stanley boys were not Elvis' responisblity, they belonged to Dee & Vernon. There was a lot to deal with that Elvis left in their hands, but - that when they dealt with it - backfired in their face. all in the book.
    I only just read the book for the first time last year, so alot of the events were old news, and not as shocking as I can only imagine it would have been in 1977, but there were still a lot of "information" that I didn't know about.
    I personally hated that Dunleavy was chosen as the writer, I didn't care that he made the guys out to be D A hicks. Some instances I could picture them in my mind, sitting around a campfire with their shotguns at their bare feet, spitting out chicken bones. ANd it was usually written in the form on "he was such an A**H***, but you know we loved him, he was a great guy, but he was a snake"*. (**not direct quotes!) I didn't quite know what to make of Hebler, he was there, but not really one of t he boys, but Elvis trusted him, but no one really liked him - see where I'm going?


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  9. #9
    PINK Cadillac Lisarose's Avatar
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    Re: Elvis What Happened?

    And JJ, I still haven't been able to finish reading Careless Love.. I admire you!


    Just pretend, I'm holding you, and whispering things soft and low.
    And think of me, how it's gonna be and just pretend I didn't go

  10. #10
    TCB Mafia KPM's Avatar
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    Re: Elvis What Happened?

    Lets remember-no one held a gun to their heads and said-You have to stay working for Elvis.
    Each could have gone off and cut ties with him totally...."as employees"...and yet stayed in contact as friends.
    If they were good friends with Elvis, it would have endured the break. He may have even gained more respect for them if they had done so.
    I have always contended, Elvis would have been better served to have hired other people rather than friends...if he needed good bodyguards he could have called a worldwide security agency and got the best, same with transportation, same with any other job that he decided upon some friend to take over-they all admit they learned on the job as time went by. Friends as employees almost never works-eventually the friends feel taken advantage of as more is expected of them as employees, and visa versa the boss feels his friends only want a paycheck.....everything on every level ends up "suspect for motivation"
    Elvis was insecure-he felt he wanted people he could trust, his friends loved being on the inside world of one of the greatest superstars to ever live.
    Dysfuntional atmosphere for all.
    I mean they all have their complaints about Elvis the human being-but they all wanted to be close, wanted to be inside.
    Just to me a sad situation for friends to be in-the fun is eventually gone, the circle gets closer but instead of that being a good thing-it just increases the friction of personalities and dual roles everyone had.
    Work in Progress!

  11. #11
    International Level Tigerman1975's Avatar
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    Re: Elvis What Happened?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lisarose View Post
    http://www.elvis.com.au/presley/inte...red_west.shtml

    He does't say why he taped the phone call, but he's still very candid about circumstances.

    I don't pretend to be an Elvis know-it-all, I've read all the same books as anyone else. IMO, Red was just deeply hurt, and maybe just a little scared of the direction things were going. Red had been kicked in the teeth on more than one occasion by Elvis - not being invited to the wedding, not being IN the wedding, being put in a position of dealing with the Stanley brothers - misadventures. Which really, the Stanley boys were not Elvis' responisblity, they belonged to Dee & Vernon. There was a lot to deal with that Elvis left in their hands, but - that when they dealt with it - backfired in their face. all in the book.
    I only just read the book for the first time last year, so alot of the events were old news, and not as shocking as I can only imagine it would have been in 1977, but there were still a lot of "information" that I didn't know about.
    I personally hated that Dunleavy was chosen as the writer, I didn't care that he made the guys out to be D A hicks. Some instances I could picture them in my mind, sitting around a campfire with their shotguns at their bare feet, spitting out chicken bones. ANd it was usually written in the form on "he was such an A**H***, but you know we loved him, he was a great guy, but he was a snake"*. (**not direct quotes!) I didn't quite know what to make of Hebler, he was there, but not really one of t he boys, but Elvis trusted him, but no one really liked him - see where I'm going?

    I agree with you. They were just depicted as middle aged rednecks and I resented that. There is nothing wrong with being from the South and Elvis in fact prided himself on that fact. Hebler has always confused me a little,especially where he fit into things. Even today he promotes his Kenpo Karate organization as "TCB Karate".
    I'm the king of the jungle, they call me Tiger Man. If you cross my path, you take your own life in your hands.

  12. #12
    Too Much Monkey Business Jumpsuit Junkie's Avatar
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    Re: Elvis What Happened?

    Dave Hebler is a snake who trades on Elvis' name, when you read 'EWH' although none of the guys come out of it smelling of roses, Hebler openly mocks Elvis whereas Red & Sonny use their words more wisely (if that can be said!)

    I agree Ken, nobody held a gun to these guys heads, but I bet they felt obligated to stay because of the time they had spent together. Jerry always had his own interests and I suppose that's what kept him level headed.

    In Careless Love its suggested that Elvis liked the fact that the guys needed him (financially and emotionally) and they were paid a low wage. if these guys only had low pay and no formal training or qualifications, I suppose these guys were a little afraid to leave the fold for fear of failure?

  13. #13

    Re: Elvis What Happened?

    I have never been a fan of tell-all books u8nless they are meant to pay tribute to someone not to tear them down AFTER they have passed. What Happened was a low attempt to tear down Elvis who wasn't well enough or financially secure to file a lawsuit to stop the printing of the book. They took a cheap shot at him for writing that book. The MM have been brainwashing the Elvis Presley fanbase for decades now with their "victimized stories" and it's sad how they have taken advantage of the weak minded. If you want a great book that describes the real essential Elvis Presley then get Last Train To Memphis. How ironic that it's this very book that the new Elvis movie will be strongly based on.

  14. #14
    Too Much Monkey Business Jumpsuit Junkie's Avatar
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    Re: Elvis What Happened?

    Quote Originally Posted by vivaelvis View Post
    I have never been a fan of tell-all books u8nless they are meant to pay tribute to someone not to tear them down AFTER they have passed. What Happened was a low attempt to tear down Elvis who wasn't well enough or financially secure to file a lawsuit to stop the printing of the book. They took a cheap shot at him for writing that book. The MM have been brainwashing the Elvis Presley fanbase for decades now with their "victimized stories" and it's sad how they have taken advantage of the weak minded. If you want a great book that describes the real essential Elvis Presley then get Last Train To Memphis. How ironic that it's this very book that the new Elvis movie will be strongly based on.
    There are indeed two sides to every story and the fact you quote 'Last Train To Memphis highlights the inequality books receive, Last Train borrows stories from The West's yet the uproar is minimal. The fact there are millions of fans to stand up for Elvis probably makes these guys feel vitimised. I'm not saying what these guys did was right, but looking from their perspective, THEY feel their years of loyalty counted for nothing and they hit back.

    However worried Elvis was about his financial status pails into insignificance compared to Sonny & Red. Yes they sold their souls for 6 pieces of silver, I bet they have paid the price twenty fold ever since, because many of the fans will never forgive them... Some days I can't forgive them.

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    International Level rickb's Avatar
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    Re: Elvis What Happened?

    Taping the conversation maybe for his own protection is sort-of understandable. Publishing its contents was inexcusable.

  16. #16
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    Re: Elvis What Happened?

    Anyone ever read this interview with Red ?

    http://www.elvicities.com/~elvis100/interview031199.htm

    "I agree with you myself but I was broke. No, I wrote it for money. Is that what you want to hear? I wrote it for money and to try to help him. Youíre gonna dwell on this goddam thing? Iím sorry you feel that way but I loved the man very much. You donít know what I went through trying to keep him away from this. Yes, you got your opinion about me writing the book. OK, Iíve told you my side of it and you canít accept that, then Iím sorry, but yeah I wrote the book to try to save him and I wrote it to make money. "

  17. #17
    Backstage Pass Elvis Girl's Avatar
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    Re: Elvis What Happened?

    i remember reading this book and i didn't like it i burned it well i did lol in my fire place lol


    " I Just LOVE MY ELVIS !"

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    Cadillac King J.P's Avatar
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    Re: Elvis What Happened?

    Quote Originally Posted by Elvis Girl View Post
    i remember reading this book and i didn't like it i burned it well i did lol in my fire place lol
    lol so you really did that that was funny i've read it to... well more like viewed it thru and i must admit that burning it crossed my mind to but i didn't cos one book down wouldn't change much plus there are many facts there no matter how much it's hated. it's a book that takes time to understand just like a complicated relationship. and just like a few others here i also feel sympathy for Red and Sonny and i've never thought that one book could make them bad persons that was just their way to tell how they felt. well that's how i think about it
    "you don't know it until it hits you"

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    TCB Mafia KPM's Avatar
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    Re: Elvis What Happened?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jumpsuit Junkie View Post
    Dave Hebler is a snake who trades on Elvis' name, when you read 'EWH' although none of the guys come out of it smelling of roses, Hebler openly mocks Elvis whereas Red & Sonny use their words more wisely (if that can be said!)

    I agree Ken, nobody held a gun to these guys heads, but I bet they felt obligated to stay because of the time they had spent together. Jerry always had his own interests and I suppose that's what kept him level headed.

    In Careless Love its suggested that Elvis liked the fact that the guys needed him (financially and emotionally) and they were paid a low wage. if these guys only had low pay and no formal training or qualifications, I suppose these guys were a little afraid to leave the fold for fear of failure?
    Yes Elvis and the guys fed in ways off each other, still friends but with compartments and walls that began to become bigger as years went by.
    Elvis loved but IMO did not respect them as much, and visa versa..........its sad to me-all the great times in the years that dwindled as time went by.
    Work in Progress!

  20. #20
    TCB Mafia kathy parkinson's Avatar
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    Re: Elvis What Happened?

    Quote Originally Posted by rickb View Post
    Taping the conversation maybe for his own protection is sort-of understandable. Publishing its contents was inexcusable.
    Thank you Rick, agree with you on the last bit.

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