UNKNOWN STORIES BEHIND THE LEGEND
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STORY #38



In the film Girl Happy, Elvis played Rusty Wells, leader of his own band. His band members were Andy, Wilbur, and Doc, played by Gary Crosby, Joby Baker, and Jimmy Hawkins. Rusty Wells and his Combo played at either the 77 Club or the Sandbar Club in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. In the scene where the band plays "Startin' Tonight", Elvis accidently hit Jimmy Hawkins in the mouth with his guitar. One of Jimmy's teeth was knocked loose and he was immediately sent to the dentist. Elvis felt terrible for the accident and apologized to Hawkins several times. From then on, the director made sure that the band members were spread out enough to keep everyone safe.



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STORY #39


As Told By..... SHAUN NIELSEN - The first time I took the whole group (the group that was to become "Voice") to see Elvis, he flew us to Las Vegas. Tom Jones was having trouble with his backup singers, and we were gonna be like a "gift" from Elvis to Tom. We were put up in a nice hotel at Elvis' expense, and then he brought us up to his room to sing for Tom that night. This had to cost him a lot of money. We got up to sing, and I remember that right in front of us were Tom Jones, Bobbie Gentry, and Elvis Presley! I was intimidated, to say the least. Anyway, Tom told Elvis that he had just signed a contract with The Blossoms, and if he got rid of them he'd probably be sued, so he didn't feel like he could use us. Afterwards, Elvis called us back up to his suite, and we sat there on the floor in the bedroom for a long time, just chatting. He said, "Well, I know you're probably disappointed, so I've drawn up this little contract." It was on a sheet of toilet tissue! The opening line said, "For the sum of one hundred thousand dollars..."we would travel and sing and work with him and write songs for his music publishing companies. He said, "Would you boys be interested in that?" As soon as we revived ourselves, we said, "Sure! We'd love to do that". That was in 1973. That same hundred thousand dollars would be equal to two hundred fifty to three hundred thousand dollars today. After he signed the "contract" with us, Elvis went to the phone and called hs dad. He said, "Daddy, I just want you to know I've finally got my own group". Those were his words. We were basically just to travel and sing with him when he felt like it. Sometimes he'd send a plane for us in Nashville, just to take us to Memphis to go to the movies! Then sometimes after the movies we'd go back to Graceland and sing all night. That basically was our job. We also opened his show at the Las Vegas Hilton for two or three years.



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STORY #40


Elvis nearly suffered fatal injuries on the set of Loving You in January of 1957. He had just finished shooting a scene and had stepped back up onto the set when some instinct told him to move. Three seconds later the entire light structure crashed to the ground. Elvis would have been crushed had he not moved. The studio wanted no more accidents with their young, multi-million dollar actor. A stage-hand was ordered to stand within earshot of Elvis to ensure that nothing happened to him. The director and producer had the crew check and stabilize all of their equipment. An entire day was lost in taking these precautions, but it was better to lose a day than to lose the King of Rock 'n' Roll.



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STORY #41


In March 1967, Elvis was working on the movie "Clambake". While he was having his make-up done by make-up man Dan Greenway, one of the crew members tossed a lit firecracker into the trailer. An all-out firecracker war was soon under way. Elvis lit a firecracker to toss under a crew members chair. He misjudged, however, and the cracker landed on top. As the crew member sat down, the firecracker blew a hole in his pants. Elvis laughed so hard that he did not hear one of his bodyguards behind him until a larger cracker popped right under his own rear end. He quickly ran to his dressing room and retrieved his own stash of fireworks. The firecracker fights continued for several days. The set looked and sounded like a war movie. Even director Arthur Nadel got involved in the action; he eventually appeared on the set sporting a German war helmet for protection. Rear ends were singed and fingers were burned, but by the time some action was finally caught on film, everyone was in a great mood and it showed.



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STORY #42


On June 16, 1966, Elvis started work on his new movie, "Double Trouble", with Annette Day. Day was only 18 years old when she was hired; she was nervous about being in her first movie as well as meeting and playing with the famous Presley. Always in a playful mood, Elvis decided to play a prank on Day. He got a rubber vulture from the prop room and attached it to his arm. He then went to Day and asked her if she'd like to see his new pet. He shoved the vulture in her face, making her scream. She nearly tumbled backwards trying to get away from the bird. It took Day over ten minutes to compose herself, Elvis kept apologizing - in between fits of laughter. When she finally forgave him, Elvis told her he'd never seen anyone's eyes bulge so much. He soon had the young actress laughing as well.



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STORY #43


As Told By..... DR. GEORGE NICHOPOULOS - Unfortunately, Elvis felt that in order for something to be more effective, it had to be given by a shot. That's the reason that we gave him decongestants by injection at times. Elvis had a phobia about going onstage and his voice cracking, or not being able to project as well as he could. Even though he may have felt all right before going onstage, he felt that somehow a shot would protect him from something bad happening. I don't know if he'd been embarrassed at some time or another onstage, or what may have happened, but it was difficult trying to get away from giving him shots all the time.


BECKY HARTLEY - I do know Elvis would get "desert throat" out in Vegas. Before he would sing he would have to have shots and things. Mr. Presley had me write a letter to one doctor because he was wondering why vitamin B-12 shots cost what they did, and exactly what all did they do? The doctor wrote back and said he couldn't, naturally, divulge that information. Vernon was concerned about it.


DR. GEORGE NICHOPOULOS - Every time Elvis got a shot, {the bodyguards} would think that it was some sort of narcotic or something, and that wasn't true. He was getting some allergy shots and B-12 shots (he was one of those people who thought that a B-12 shot helped him). He would feel better after one; whether it actually helped him or not, I don't know.



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STORY #44


In the mid-1970's, Elvis heard from a friend about a boy who was almost blind. The boy needed a very delicate operation to regain his sight and his family did not have enough money to pay for the surgery. Elvis contacted the boy's hospital, set up a date for the operation, and hired the best eye surgeon in Memphis to perform the risky procedure. Elvis did not want to call the boy's family himself; instead, he had the hospital inform the family that "someone" had arranged and paid for the operation. The youngster and his family were ecstatic about the unexpected news. The operation was a total success and the boy's sight was fully restored. All of the hospital and doctor bill were paid in full before the boy ever came in for the surgery, and no word was ever spoken by the staff in regards to who the mysterious benefactor was. The family never knew who funded the boy's miracle. Elvis was extremely happy that his riches could help so many people.



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STORY #45


As Told By..... SHAUN NIELSEN - Elvis came to the National Quartet Convention in Nashville several different times. They'd bring him around to the backstage door and he'd wait there until everybody was onstage, to make as little commotion as possible. They would just kind of sneak him in. We would always ask him if he wanted to be introduced, and sometimes he'd walk out and wave and go backstage. It was always quite an event when he was there.


JAMES BLACKWOOD - Elvis would always attend the convention if he could. I remember looking up one time and there he was backstage. The auditorium was packed - like four or five thousand people there. When Elvis came out onstage, it looked like a million light bulbs went off. Elvis had a great feel for gospel music. The Grammys that he won were all for his gospel albums, and they were best-sellers. It's been said that Elvis copied his style originally from Jake Hess, who sang with the Imperials and the Statesmen Quartet. Like myself, he'd been raised in the Pentecostal church.


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