I’m the first stop on the blog tour! Although I haven’t had a chance to finish this book yet, what I’ve read is hilarious! Andrew Rausch used a non-traditional format for the book which looks strange at first, but really works. I always love it when people push the limits of the novel structure and do something innovative. Plus, Elvis is an agent! Here’s an excerpt:
Crime Fighter (1968)
BO WHITAKER: Elvis and I grew up together, and as far back as I can remember, Elvis wanted to be some sort of super spy. When the James Bond books first came out in the 1950s, I remember them having a real big impact on Elvis; particularly Casino Royale. He used to say, “That James Bond cat, that’s who I wanna be, man.” Then when that first movie [Dr. No] came out in the early sixties, Elvis really started saying these things.
And he didn’t just want to play James Bond in a movie, he wanted to be James Bond, man. But he did try for a while to get in those movies before setting his sights on actually becoming a real-life government agent.
ALBERT R. “CUBBY” BROCCOLI: A mutual friend of ours—I believe it was the director Norman Taurog, but it may have been Hal Wallis—introduced us when Elvis was performing in England. He said, “You produce those James Bond movies?” I said yes, and Elvis said, “The way I see it, the movies got it all wrong. That Sean Connery, he’s no good as James Bond. He’s not good enough.” I asked him who he had in mind, and he said, “Well, me, of course.” Then he asked me if I had seen any of his movies, and I confessed that I had not. He said, “You should watch Fun in Acapulco or Harum Scarum, because those are my best performances.” I told him I would watch those films, just to appease him.
Later, when Sean left the series and we were looking for a new Bond, I remembered Elvis and considered him briefly. At least until I saw his films, and then we cast George Lazenby instead.
BO WHITAKER: When Sean Connery left those movies and they cast that damned George Lazenby fella, it almost killed Elvis. It almost killed him, man. He was just beside himself. I remember him screaming, “Fuck Cubby Broccoli!”
This is a letter Elvis sent to Albert Broccoli, dated August 13, 1968:
Dear Cubby ass-hole shit Head,
I can’t Believe you cast this guy in You’re new James Bond movie. I don’t Know what you are Thinking. I am one of the Best actors working today and I told you I wanted To Be the next James Bond. You screwed up. Nobody messes With Elvis Presley man. I Could have made You’re movies real popular here in The United States where I am a Huge celebrity. So what it’s you’re loss, Buddy.
RED WEST: Elvis was real mean when he got ticked. When he found out that other guy had been cast as James Bond, he punched a mirror and cut his fist. But that didn’t stop him. He took a golf club and beat the hell out of his expensive high-fi stereo and then he moved on to the new TV set he had just bought for Priscilla. When I asked him what was wrong, he just said, “Those cocksuckers got some asshole to play James Bond, man.” He was just really, really mad about the whole thing. It didn’t set well with him at all.
PRISCILLA PRESLEY: Yeah, Elvis definitely destroyed the TV set he had gotten me for my birthday. He came into the room in a rage and just broke that TV all to hell. I remember I was real angry because As the World Turns was on and I was watching that. It was a real good episode, too.
BO WHITAKER: I don’t think Elvis ever got over that shit. I remember him telling me, “If I can’t play James Bond in a movie, then maybe I could be a real-life spy.” I thought he was out of his damned fool mind, but I said, “Yeah, Elvis, maybe you can. That sounds like a great idea.” He would just say shit sometimes that made you kind of scratch your head and go, what the hell? I figured this was just one of those times. Truthfully, I just thought he was doped up on the painkillers, man. I had no idea he was serious.
JERRY SCHILLING: I’ll be damned if he didn’t take that spy stuff as serious as a damned heart-attack. He started buying guns. Lots and lots of guns. I asked him if he was planning on attacking Bolivia, and he just said, “You never can be too careful, man.”
PRISCILLA PRESLEY: I didn’t like all those guns in the house. I would say, “Elvis, you got more guns in here than the entire Mexican army put together.” He’d just grin and say, “Well, I got more money than the Mexican army, too. I can afford ‘em.”
BO WHITAKER: Priscilla didn’t like those guns in the house one bit, not with her trying to raise a baby there. She used to get real mad and cuss him and they’d get in an argument over those guns. And I think you know what eventually happened… Priscilla left, and the guns stayed.
RED WEST: I remember one day Elvis bought something like thirty-two rifles and six or seven pistols. I looked at all those guns and I asked him what he needed them for. He said, “I need ‘em for my work.” I said, “What kind of work?” And he just said, “You and me are on a need-to-know basis. I’ll fill you in when I think you need to know.” I loved Elvis, but sometimes he could be really weird…really out there. He really believed he was a spy, even before he met with President Nixon. One day we were all sitting around and joking and one of the guys—I forget which one—said, “Elvis really thinks he’s some kind of a spy or something.” And right at that moment Elvis walked into the room and said, “Listen, you S.O.B., if you ever say anything like that I’ll blow your goddamn head off.” And he meant it. Everyone just stopped laughing and kind of looked around, wondering what the hell was happening.
In Alanna Nash’s book Elvis Aaron Presley: Revelations from the Memphis Mafia, entourage member Marty Lacker recalled:
The night of Sonny’s wedding, I picked up Elvis and Sonny, and we holed up in the preacher’s office, waiting for everybody to come into the sanctuary. Elvis was standing there, and he was dressed in all black, except for a white tie and those amber glasses. He had on a suit made of crushed velvet, with bell bottom pants. His hair curled up in the back, it was so long. And he had gold on everywhere—his sheriff’s badge belt with diamonds, this second belt with gold eagles and chains, and some kind of chain around his neck. And he had his guns on, and he carried this fifteen-inch long, Kel-Lite police flashlight, black metal.
The preacher came in and said, “Sonny, it’s time to go.” And then he said, “Mr. Presley, if you’ll come with us, also.” So Elvis started walking out of the office to go into the sanctuary.
When he did, I took hold of the flashlight. I was going to take it out of his hand so he wouldn’t walk out there with it in front of everybody. Well, he pulled the damned flashlight back. He wouldn’t let me take it. I said, “Elvis, this is a wedding. You don’t need this flashlight.” He said, “If I’m not taking my damn flashlight, I’m not going.” I started to laugh, and Sonny was looking at him like “God, man, are you nuts?”
I said, “Elvis, you can’t take this flashlight up on the altar with you. It’s not right, and it won’t look good. It’s going to mess up the wedding.” I was laughing, hoping to joke him out of it.
He thought a minute, and he said, “Goddamn, I hate to give this up.” And I just took it out of his hand. So he went up there without it, but he still had his guns on. He had two gold guns in his shoulder holster, a pearl-handled pistol in the waist of his pants, and another one in the back of his pants. And the derringer in his boot. I’ll bet he was the only best man in the history of Memphis to go to the altar with five guns on him, just to stand up for the groom.
BO WHITAKER: Elvis set up a firing range out behind Graceland, and he would have all us guys out there to shoot with him. He was a pretty damned good shot, even then. He used to say, “I can shoot the pecker off a coon at a hundred yards.” That was his little saying and we used to hear it all the time.
LAMAR FIKE: We was all out behind the house shootin’ at soda cans. I was never a very good shot, and Elvis used to kind of make fun of me. He’d say, “What are you gonna do when the damned Russians come knockin’ on your door?” One time I said, “Well, Elvis, if I answer the door and there’s Russians right there, I guess I’ll just shoot ‘em on account of them being a lot closer than those goddamned cans out there.” He just looked at me kinda irritated, but he didn’t say too much else about it. He used to take that shit really seriously. He actually thought maybe the damned Commies were gonna show up on his doorstep one day, and by god he was gonna be prepared.
BO WHITAKER: One thing was for sure—if we have ever got attacked by soda cans, Elvis was gonna be ready for ‘em.
JERRY SCHILLING: One day we were shooting at some pictures of the Beatles that Elvis hung up out behind the house, and Elvis leans over, serious as can be, and says, “You know, Jerry, one day I’m gonna be a secret agent.” And that made me laugh. Elvis was always sayin’ funny shit like that, so I just figured this was one of his jokes. But he didn’t laugh at all. He was serious.
LAMAR FIKE: I remember those photos of the Beatles. Elvis used to shoot ‘em in the face with his .22. I don’t know why, but he seemed to really hate the Beatles. Maybe he was jealous, I don’t know. He used to say, “That S.O.B. John Lennon is the one that said the Beatles was bigger than Mr. Jesus.” That used to really irk him. He used to offer us four or five hundred dollars for the first person to shoot the Lennon photo through the eye. He really, really hated Lennon. He didn’t care for any of them, but Lennon was the one he liked the least.
JERRY SCHILLING: One day Elvis walked out to where those pictures of the Beatles were hanging and he pissed all over them. He said, “Look, guys, it’s raining in England, man!”
BO WHITAKER: People forget that Elvis was a black belt in Karate. Even back then, back in ’61, maybe ’62, he was training to be a spy. Of course we didn’t know it then. We just thought he wanted to kick some ass. He used to say, “If those Commie bastards show up here, I’ll give ‘em a kick to the balls and a chop to the face.”
What people don’t know is that Elvis was always real concerned with Communists. He felt there was a plan to take over America, and he felt like a lot of entertainers were in on it. Especially the Beatles. He’d say, “Look at those little foreign sons of bitches, man, with their sloppy hair and messed up clothes. I’ll bet you a Cadillac and a bucket of chicken”—he liked saying that, that he would bet someone a Cadillac and a bucket of chicken—“that those little bastards are Commies.”
RED WEST: He thought there were Commies everywhere, so he only trusted his friends and family. He was just sure that most of the people in Hollywood were Commies, so he started carrying guns on him at all times.
BO WHITAKER: Elvis was sure that Tiny Tim was a Communist. He wasn’t too sure about Dinah Shore, either. And he really thought Rip Taylor was up to no good. He used to say, “Something ain’t right about that boy. I’ll bet he’s a Communist.” But then he said that about Liberace and Rock Hudson, too. And Jim Nabors.
PRISCILLA PRESLEY: He believed there were Communists all around us. I remember one time we were eating at this nice restaurant in Palm Beach and the waiter brought Elvis the wrong thing. The waiter was real sorry and said he would run back to the kitchen and get Elvis meatballs. Elvis just leaned over to me and said, “I’m pretty sure that guy’s a Communist. That’s why he brought me the wrong food. It’s all part of their conspiracy.” I tried to tell him that the waiter not bringing him meatballs would in no way further the Communist cause, but he was just dead certain it was part of some big conspiracy. He said, “The Commies hate meatballs.” I asked him why and he said, “Who knows what goes on inside the mind of a Commie?”
A lot of people would say it was all the drugs Elvis was on, but I was there. I know; Elvis was absolutely obsessed with Communists, and he thought they were everywhere. He used to say, “It’s just like Invasion of the Body Snatchers. They’re hidin’ all around us, man.”
BO WHITAKER: He put anti-Communist messages in a lot of his songs. He didn’t write most of them, but he’d ask Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, or even Dolores Fuller, to add those messages in there. Listen to “Hound Dog.” What he’s really talking about there is Communism. That’s why he says you ain’t no friend of mine, because he was talking about a Commie. That whole damn song was about Communism.
JERRY SCHILLING: One night we were all at the Memphian watching a movie, just me and Elvis and the guys. I think the movie was Mary Poppins. Elvis started freaking out. He was broken out in a cold sweat. He grabbed his pistol and said, “Everyone in here’s a fucking Commie. I’m gonna shoot every last one of these S.O.B.s.” We had to fight with him to get the gun away. He was seriously gonna shoot everyone in the theater.
BO WHITAKER: I’m pretty sure it was Elvis seeing Dick Van Dyke up there on the screen that set him off. He really hated Dick Van Dyke, because one time Dick Van Dyke cut in front of him in the cafeteria at Warners. Elvis said he took the last piece of meatloaf. “I’ll be damned if I didn’t want some of that meatloaf,” he said. That’s when he decided Dick Van Dyke had to be a Communist.
So, I think that’s why Elvis went crazy in that movie theater. It was either that or all the drugs Elvis was on at the time.
RED WEST: He definitely wanted to be some sort of lawman. He collected badges from different police departments and branches of the government. He used to ride along with the Memphis police officers in their squad cars. You know, they took citizens out on ride-alongs so they could see what they did, but Elvis took those ride-alongs real seriously. He used to pack three or four guns with him whenever he’d go. He was on some real Dirty Harry shit.
LT. DICKEY CROMWELL: Sure, we used to do ride-alongs all the time. Usually it was members of the city council, people like that. But then Elvis started going on ride-alongs. To be real honest, we were all excited as hell about that. I mean, who wasn’t an Elvis fan, and getting an autograph from him was a great way to get in good with your girlfriend. Everyone liked it, as I recall, except for my partner, Pat Peterson. He didn’t care for Elvis one bit. He used to say that his wife had a thing for Elvis, and she would pretend he was Elvis whenever they made love. He said he didn’t mind so much because at least he was getting sex, but then seeing Elvis there in the squad car used to piss him off real good.
SGT. PAT PETERSON: My wife never had a thing for Elvis. Dickey just made that up. He’s full of shit.
LT. DICKEY CROMWELL: So one night we’re out on patrol, Pat and me, and we got Elvis with us in the backseat. I’m pretty sure he was high on something, but we didn’t say anything because, you know, he was Elvis. Well, we pulled over a car for speeding. Right off the bat Elvis was unhappy. He was saying, “Look at that sports car. I’ll bet they’s Communists in there.”
SGT. PAT PETERSON: So we chase this car for something like two miles before they finally pull over, and Elvis is steamed. When we finally pull them over, Dickey and me get out of the car with our guns drawn. I told Elvis to stay in the car, but he didn’t listen. He got out and ran up to the car before we could even get to it. The guy in the car opens his door and starts to get out, and Elvis grabs him and throws him to the ground. He pulls out a .45 and sticks it in the guy’s mouth. He says, “Make a move, sucker, and you’re dead.”
LT. DICKEY CROMWELL: I believe his words were, “I’ll fill you so full of lead you’ll be able to use your pecker for a pencil.” Pat probably doesn’t remember it all that well because he’s an alcoholic. The man gets up at six o’clock and he drinks his breakfast, if you know what I mean. That’s why he got kicked off the force.
SGT. PAT PATTERSON: Dickey’s a goddamn liar. I never got kicked off the force, I quit. And as for me being a drunk, I hardly even drink. Sure, I have a Natty Light every now and again, but who doesn’t?
I think Dickey’s just sore because I didn’t come to his wedding. But Christ, that was forty years ago! Who gives a shit, you know? Dickey always was a no-good prick.
LT. DICKEY CROMWELL: So Pat and me look at each other like, what the hell? Why does Elvis have a gun? So we go to pull Elvis off, and he gets real mad and starts yelling at us and calling us names. He called me the no-good son of a motherfucker.
SGT. PAT PETERSON: And he said we were Commie bastards. Those were his words, “you damned Commie bastards.” Meanwhile this guy we pulled over is just lying there on the ground staring at us, wondering what the hell was going on.
And it turns out the guy was deaf, which is why he didn’t hear our sirens. So Elvis almost shot the guy for not pulling over, and it was all on account of his being deaf! And he was like, “Sorry, man. I shouldn’t have done that.” Taking Elvis on ride-alongs got to be a real strange event. All the cops talked about him doing crazy shit like that, but no one ever did anything about it on account of him being Elvis.
LT. DEWAYNE JENKINS: One time Elvis went out on patrol with me and my partner, Otis, God bless his soul. Looking back on it, I’m pretty sure Elvis was high on something. And we’re out riding around, and he says, “Can I drive the squad car? I always wanted to drive a damned squad car.” I said, “We would, but we could get in real big trouble.” But Elvis says, “I’ll give you both a hundred bucks each if you let me drive the squad car for a mile or two and turn on them sirens.” Well, a hundred bucks was a lot of money in 1969, so we said, “Yeah, what the hell?” So we took him out on the highway and let him drive the squad car.
Well, he starts following this little Volkswagon bug and he says, “I think we got us a criminal right there.” And he pulls out a pistol and starts firing out the window at the car. First we said, “You can’t shoot at civilians, Elvis.” Then Dewayne says, “You know you ain’t supposed to bring that damned gun with you anymore, anyway.” Elvis keeps shooting, and he looks at Dewayne and says, “Now how the hell am I supposed to do any police work without a damn gun?”
We tried to get him to stop shooting, and the car was swerving all over the road. He almost hit the cars driving in the other lane three or four times. Finally the Volkswagon went off the road and hit a tree. When we caught up to it, the driver—it was an old woman—was dead. Elvis just says, “You guys don’t have to thank me.”
Lucky for all of us, Elvis never managed to hit the car with a single bullet, so we were able to just pretend we found her there dead. Then Dewayne got to thinking and he pulled out a bottle of hootch and poured it all over the woman to make it look like she’d been drinking. And Elvis said, “Dewayne, you’re pretty smart, man, you know that?”
In his book, The End of Elvis, author R.D. Riley writes:
After going on a number of ride-alongs, Elvis started to believe he was actually a police officer himself. One day he turned to his manager, Col. Tom Parker, and said, “I’ll be damned if I’m not the best police officer in the whole damn city of Memphis.” Parker just looked at him and shook his head. By this time he was used to Presley saying these strange things, but this one still caught him off-guard.
BO WHITAKER: I think those ride-alongs made him really start to feel like he could be some sort of law-enforcement officer. He’d been talking about this shit for a long time, but now I think he really believed he could do it in a way he hadn’t before. I think those ride-alongs are what really gave him the balls to eventually go talk to the president.
PRISCILLA PRESLEY: I used to tell him he couldn’t be a cop or a secret agent or anything like that. He’d say, “Why?” And I’d tell him because he was famous. I mean, people mobbed us everywhere we went. Everyone knew who he was. It would have been impossible for him to go into a regular line of work, let alone be a secret agent.
Whenever I’d say that to him, he’d have one of his fits and start destroying things. One time he tipped over the refrigerator. Another time he shot the TV screen. One time he punched Red. He’d say, “Priscilla, you’re just trying to hold me down. You just wanna destroy my dreams.” Then he’d call me a damn Communist.