Like royalty of ancient times, the King of Rock and Roll need a court:
trusted and loyal companions who could be counted on to not only provide essential
services but simple friendship as well. The men who made up the Memphis Mafia were all
those things and more. The circle surrounded Presley with a buffer, a wall of protection
from the realities of celebrity and pressures of fame. They served Presley for reasons
that went far beyond a job. Bodyguards, road companions, valets, bookkeepers, pranksters,
and playmates. They were on constant call and carried guns and studied the martial arts
just in case. They were paid $250 a week in the '60s which reached $425 by the late '70s.
Colonel Parker hated them and Vernon Presley felt they cost too much and got in the way.
They were hired and fired and fired and hired, but somehow they were always around It was
hard on their families, but were perks like the lifestyle, travel, and limelight. Presley
gave them money, jewelry, cars, clothes, and a sense of belonging to something big. For
twenty five years most were loyal. The Memphis Mafia consisted of Charlie Hodge, Billy
Smith, Bitsy Mott, Allan Fortas, Cliff Geaves, David, Ricky, and Billy Stanley, Gene
Smith, George Klein, Jerry Schilling, Sonny and Red West, Jimmy Kingsley, Joe Esposito,
Lamar Fike, Larry Geller, Louis Harris, Marty Lacker, Marvin Gambill, Ray Sitton, Richard
Davis, Al Strada, Pat Perry, Ed Parker, Dick Grob, and Dave Hebler
Richard Davis - Presley's personal valet, he was an active member of the Memphis Mafia for almost eight years. He left in 1969 and was replaced by Presley's stepbrother Rick Stanley. Davis remained a close friend until the end.
Joe Esposito - A high ranking member, he met Presley while they were stationed in West Germany and their friendship lasted until the end. Over the years he served as tour manager, bodyguard, and part-time bookkeeper. Considered family, he and Marty Lacker were bestman for Presley when he married Priscillia and Joe's wife Joan was matron of honor. Esposito appeared in several of Presley's films, including Clambake, Stay Away, Joe and This Is Elvis. Today he lives and conducts business in Los Angeles.
Lamar Fike - Fike met Presley in 1955 at the Sun studios while talking to Sam Phillips. By 1957 he was a member of the Memphis Mafia taking care of travel and supervising the technical aspects of putting on the road shows. A pallbearer at Presley's funeral, Fike went on to have a career in music publishing. Today he is a personal manager, producer and talent scout, living in Nashville, Tennessee with his wife Mary.
Alan Fortas- An all-star Memphis football player, Fortas was a bodyguard and assistant from 1958 to 1969. Fortas also made sure that travel between the concerts went smoothly.
Larry Geller - Geller left his job at a Beverly Hills hair salon and became Presley's personal hair stylist after giving him a particularly good haircut in April, 1964. Geller's fascination with religion and the occult intrigued Presley. Colonel Parker was threatened by Geller's influence and tried to get rid of him. However, Geller's aura and influence remained for the rest of Presley's life as Presley dabbled in the occult and read about the supernatural aspects of religion, developing a special fascination for contacting his twin brother Jesse, who died at birth.
Charlie Hodge - guitarist and singer was with Presley from the beginning and was with him at the end, riding in the ambulance that took Presley to the Baptist Hospital in Memphis after the drug overdose. For seventeen years Hodge lived at Graceland and took care of personal affairs for Presley.
Dick Grob - a graduate of the Air Force Academy and a fighter pilot, Grob joined the Memphis Mafia in 1969 and became head of security at Graceland and on the road. Grob met Presley when he served as a member of the Palm Springs police Department.
Marty Lacker - a friend of Presley's from high school, Lacker joined the Memphis Mafia around 1960 until 1967. He was personal secretary and bookkeeper among other things. He was best man at Presley's wedding shortly before he was fired in 1967.
Ed Parker - Parker met Presley when the Hawaiian-born karate instructor was recommended to him during a trip to California.
Jerry Schilling - In 1964 Schilling became a full-time member of the Memphis Mafia. He was a personal aide to Presley until 1976. He later went into personal management handling Billy Joel, the Beach Boys, The Sweet Inspirations among others.
Billy Smith - Smith was a Presley cousin and took care of Presley's costumes on the road and was his valet at home.
Gene Smith - Like his brother Billy, Smith lived at Graceland and was responsible for Presley's wardrobe. He and several others left over a payroll dispute in 1969 with Vernon Presley.
David Stanley - Became Presley's stepbrother when Vernon Presley married his mother Dee Stanley in 1960. In June 1962, against his mother's wishes, Stanley became Presley's personal aide and later a personal bodyguard.
Richard Stanley - Another stepbrother, Richard Stanley was an aide and personal bodyguard.
Billy Stanley - The oldest of Presley's stepbrothers, Stanley was a personal aide.
Sam Thompson - Thompson was a bodyguard for Presley on and off in the mid-60s. A Shelby County deputy sheriff for four years, he went on to serve as a judge in the Memphis juvenile court.
Sonny West - Introduced to Presley by his cousin Red, West was a bodyguard, but was also responsible for the care and maintenance of Presley's automobiles, motorcycles, snowmobiles, golf carts, and vans. West was co-author of Elvis: What Happened?, a book that brought Presley's drug problems out in the open. Claiming the purpose of the book was to get Presley to seek help, not destroy him, within two weeks of its publishing Presley was dead.
Red West - A high school friend, West knew Presley longer than anyone else in the Memphis Mafia, with the possible exception of Presley cousin Gene Smith. As Presley's bodyguard West accompanied Presley to Hollywood and began a film, television and commercial career of his own, appearing almost all of Presley's films and in many other films and TV series as an actor and stuntman. He, his cousin Sonny and David Hebler were fired by Vernon Presley in 1976 when they decided to collaborate on Elvis: What Happened?,a book that was to bring Presley's drug problem to light.