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The Memphis Mafia
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Personal Assistant
    (circa 1954-August 16, 1977)
    Born in Memphis, Tennessee
    Bodyguards/assistants/relatives/hangers-on/yes-men for Elvis Presley
    Core members included Elvis' cousins Junior and Gene Smith, Elvis' step-brothers Ricky, Billy and David Stanley, Red West, Sonny West, Marty Lacker, Charlie Hodge, Jerry Schilling and Joe Esposito
    The Memphis Mafia members and Priscilla Presley differ on whether or not Elvis liked the 'Mafia' nickname.
    Priscilla and Elvis' father Vernon considered the Memphis Mafia an unhealthy influence on Elvis.
    Almost all the members abused amphetamines to keep up with Elvis.
    Some of them got busted using false prescriptions to pick up Elvis' drugs.
    They would play dangerous games shooting firecrackers at each other.
    One Elvis biographer wrote, '[M]ost of his friends were simply ignorant hillbillies out to get everything they could from him.'
    Elvis felt betrayed when ex-Memphis Mafia members Red and Sonny West wrote the tell-all 'Elvis: What Happened?' (1977)
    Elvis had been friends with some members since high school.
    Several members got beat up working as Elvis' bodyguards.
    Elvis would have mood swings in which he would chew them out and belittle them for no apparent reason.
    The jobs did not pay that well, with salaries averaging $250 a week in the 60s, $425 in the 70s.
    The jobs did come with great perks thanks to Elvis' fondness for giving away jewelry, cars and occasionally houses.
    Before Sonny and Red wrote 'Elvis: What Happened,' Elvis had fired them without severance pay, so a lack of loyalty seems to have been a two-way street.

Credit: C. Fishel

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