Jerry Schilling - Elvis's friend
Friday, 2 May 2008
Jerry Schilling was a life long friend of Elvis, lived in Graceland with him, starred in many of his movies, managed Lisa Marie Presley as well as the Beach Boys for 10 years. Jerry is also launching his book 'Me and A Guy Named Elvis' and will make an appearance at the Elvis Tribute Concert this weekend at the Red Cow, Dublin, in aid of Cinemagic Charity.
He is with us today to talk about his friendship and life experiences with Elvis.
Jerry will talk about why he decided to write his first book on Elvis at this stage in his life. Then he will go through the different chapters in his and Elvis's relationship from his book.
Jerry first met Elvis on July 11th. 1954 at Guthrie Park in North Memphis just days after Elvis recorded "That's All Right Mama". Jerry was only twelve years old, while Elvis was nineteen. Elvis and his friends invited him to play a game of football. The following year on Feb.6th. 1955, Jerry attended his first Elvis concert.
The first Elvis song Jerry heard was "That's All Right Mama" Jerry's favorite Elvis song now is "If I can Dream"
Jerry never travelled with Elvis during his tours or movie commitments during the fifties. He hung around the Graceland gates waiting for him to return. He was obviously trying to build up your friendship at this stage and of course he was still very young.
Moving on to September 1964 and Elvis put an exciting proposition to Jerry, he asked him to work for him. Jerry went to Hollywood with Elvis to film his latest movie "Tickle Me". It was also at this time when Jerry eventually became one of the boys when he moved into Graceland in the Autumn of '64.
Jerry has appeared in many of Elvis movies, but his very first scene came in the movie "Frankie and Johnny" in May 1965. He was also in the movie Charro 1968, Jerry was Elvis's stunt man.
Jerry says in his book that Elvis could get very silly, crazy and unpredictable. He could be cocky, yet very sensitive.
Story 1: There's a real funny story to tell when Jerry, his girlfriend, a few friends and Elvis were on vacation in Hawaii back in May 1969. Jerry ate out in a restaurant and on returning from a visit to the toilet, Elvis noticed a group of people waiting to be seated. He pretended to be the waiter and approached the group.
Story 2: On the movie set for "Double Trouble" in the summer of '66,Jerry experience some unexpected generosity on behalf of Elvis when he gave Jerry's car to his female co-star - Annette Day.
Story 3: Elvis and Jerry were out drinking in a hotel one night having a great time, the righteous brothers were playing and they were getting very drunk playing blackjack. In the early hours of the morning Elvis said I think we better go. They hopped into a taxi and told the taxi driver 'to the Hilton please' and the taxi driver said 'you're at the Hilton'
Throughout their friendship, Elvis was very generous to Jerry, and actually bought him a house. The first motorcycle Jerry bought himself was by installments. When Elvis saw the bike, he liked it so much; he bought one for everyone in the entourage.
In 1967, Elvis and Jerry had a brief falling out, it was also in this year that Jerry got married to his first wife Sandy. Of course they didn't stay apart for too long and were friends again for one of the happiest experiences for Elvis which was the occasion of the birth of Lisa Marie on February 1st. 1968 and Jerry actually drove Pricilla to the hospital for the birth!
A milestone in Elvis career came in July 1969 with his decision to return to live performances. The venue was the International Hotel, Las Vegas. Jerry didn't attend the opening night, because he was at a Beatles show! But he did see the second performance.
One of the most publicized events that associates you with Elvis, is that extraordinary time he took Jerry to visit President Nixon in December 1970.
Elvis began a hectic tour schedule in the early seventies. The audiences came from all over and all seats were sold out.
However, in January 1974, Jerry left Elvis after a heated moment during a ski holiday. They became friends after that, and then in 1976 Jerry finely decided to leave Elvis.
In 1977 Jerry was working as an assistant tour manager with the Beach Boys and was planning a tour to commence on August 17th 1977, Jerry received a call from Patti Perry on August 16th about Elvis's death. Elvis died at the age of 42 on August 16th 1977.
Jerry attended the funeral at Graceland and as he was alone with Elvis in his living room paying his final respects, He was reminded of a time that he stood in almost the same spot and watched Elvis playing piano.
The book is an authentic, honest, and moving insight in Elvis and Rock and Roll, and a great easy read as Priscilla read it in one night!