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Marty Lacker is one of the original members of the famous Memphis Mafia, the close circle of friends and employees that lived with the King and shared with him his highs and lows. Marty worked as "foreman" for Elvis from 1960 until 1976 and was also his best man at his wedding with Priscilla. Marty also became an important figure in the Memphis music scene. In this exclusive interview for Elvis Collectors Brasil, Marty talked about some delicate subjects and helped us to dissipate a bit more of the fog that surrounds the legend.





Elvis Collectors Brasil:You first met Elvis at high the last year of  High School . So you’re there when he started to get things going on his career. What do you remember of those early years, especially how did he handed his growing success?

Marty Lacker: He was excited about what was happening to him and the opportunities it gave him to make life more comfortable for his parents especially his mother.




ECB: When Elvis released his first record, you went to the army. When you got out, you went to see Elvis at his new home, Graceland, and was offered a job. What was that job? What were your functions in the group? 

ML:When I returned from the army in 1957 he had just moved into Graceland and I began hanging around with him and the guys who were there.  The following year he went into the army and I became a Program Director in radio broadcasting. 

When he returned in 1960 I resumed hanging out with him and the guys and he soon asked me to come to work for him.  I became sort of an assistant Chief Personal Aide or as we called it, "The Foreman."  At the time Joe Esposito, who Elvis had met the previous year in Germany, was the Foreman.  When Joe and Elvis had a disagreement and Joe left I became the Foreman. 

The Foreman made sure that the guys did what was needed to make Elvis' life easier so he could do his job. He also was the go-between sometimes between Elvis and Colonel Parker and also the movie studios.  However, I was smart enough to know, unlike Joe, that I was no more special or closer to Elvis than any of the other original members of The Memphis Mafia.I was and still am, just secure in knowing that I was a close friend, like a brother, to Elvis as they were.





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The Memphis Mafia. Marty Lacker is at the far right




ECB: What was like to live close to such a famous person? What Elvis thought about all that was happing in his life at that moment? 

ML:Elvis was grateful for his good fortune but never took it for granted.  It was fun and interesting for the most part being there but like every other human being he and we, had our faults and human frailties and problems. 




ECB: After his music career finally took off and he became a worldwide success, the army came on and took him out of the picture for two years. This decision by his manager is perceived as illogical by many critics and has been subject of speculation for many years. What do you think about this decision, and did Elvis commented anything about his fears that his popularity would maybe vanish with this absence from the spotlight?

ML:Elvis really didn't like having to go into the army even though he was always patriotic.  It should be easy to figure out why he felt that way, here he was enjoying life as a superstar and all of a sudden they were taking it away from him for awhile.  He was afraid that while he was away people would forget him and put someone in his place.  He very well could not complain publicly because that would make him look bad so he went along with the Colonel's plan.  Fortunately one of the few good things the Colonel did was release records while Elvis was away to keep him strongly in the public's mind.  The fact that he served his country turned out to be a plus with his fans. He was extremely glad when it was over and he came home.




ECB: After his discharge from the army, the expectations for his return were enormous. RCA issued a fantastic album marking his return and the future promised a lot. However, he was soon summoned to Hollywood and began shooting G.I. Blues. A series of movies began and after some serious roles like Wild In The Country and Flaming Star, he was soon trapped in formulaic movies of decreasing quality.

What do you remember of his opinions and sentiments about this period of his career? Do you think was his responsibility to demand more quality scripts and songs from his manager?

ML:Elvis got tired of the movies because they became nothing more than musical travelogues.  He got tired of singing in the films and really wanted to become a good dramatic actor.  However, the colonel was only interested in the money and because the movies were making money and Elvis was paid well, Parker kept him in the same types of movies.  Yes, it was Elvis' responsibility to say, "No More", which he finally did in 1968.  When Parker made the deal for the Comeback Special he managed to agree to do one more movie and that's why Elvis had to do the last one.  The deal Parker made was no movie, no special and Elvis wanted to do the special.




ECB: Dont you think it was ironic that this very last movie would be the kind of serious role he always wanted? What did he thought about Change Of Habit? Although its not “oscar material” it gave him a chance to play a more serious  and deeper character. 

ML:He was OK with it but the script was weak and by that time he just wanted to get it over with and get back to performing on stage.




ECB: During this period of his life he seemed to have no control about his career anymore, just blindingly thrusting his manager. Why do you think Elvis seemed to be so loyal to the colonel when clearly, he was not taking the best decisions?

ML:Because Parker had instilled a control factor and a fear of losing his career if he didn't follow what Parker wanted from the beginning.




ECB: During the shooting of these pictures, the only thing that seemed to motivate Elvis were his leading co-stars. His romantic involvements sure must lead to lot of problems with Priscilla. How Elvis escaped Priscilla’s confrontations about those affairs, especially with Ann Margret?

ML:He did have a confrontation with Priscilla about Ann but Elvis threatened to send her back to her parents so she shut up about it.  He told her it was just publicity for Viva Las Vegas but it wasn't.  Elvis and Ann cared greatly for each other.  Most of us would have rather he had been with her instead of Priscilla.




ECB: Do you think Elvis regretted that he brought Priscilla to live in his home, and that he somewhat assumed a commitment with her?

ML:He eventually did regret it but he did care for her as he did for every girl he was with for a good while.

He married her because he was forced to by her father.  That came directly from Elvis the day he asked me to become his Best Man at his wedding.


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Elvis weds Priscilla: Marty Lacker as the best man at the far right.



ECB: It was also around this time of his life, that he got hold of a new toy, a Sony Video Recorder, which I believe, was one of the first of its kind. It is rumored that he made many erotic movies with it, including some of  Priscilla´s with another woman. After he died, these reels were supposedly returned to Priscilla By Billy Smith. Is there any truth to it?

ML:I obtained the video recorder for him directly from Sony in California while we were doing "Tickle Me."  Yes he did make those videos and what you ask above is all true.




ECB: During this time of great stress, were his career was sliding, the movies and respective songs were getting worse and worse and the profits of the pictures were not as good as it once was, he got involved a lot in spiritual studies. Please, tell us about this period of his life, what lead him to it  and was it any good to him?

ML:He began that spiritual stuff because of the influence of Larry Geller his California hairstylist.  Larry was/is involved in all that California cult stuff and he began talking to Elvis and bringing him books on the subject much to the consternation of some of us in the MM.  It was messing Elvis' mind up and he knew we didn't like it.  He soon got tired of it and he began to understand what Larry was up to.  Larry is a good guy but he shouldn't have tried to steer Elvis in that direction.  That is my opinion and the opinion of most of the original guys who grew up with Elvis. 




ECB: Do you think that Elvis had his heart broken with the divorce from Priscilla, or do you think it was more a case of “shattered ego”?

ML:Shattered ego not a broken heart as many fans think, especially because she left him for someone else.




ECB: After this low point of his career, Elvis turned things around and became a popular force again in the music field with his comeback special and later, his Memphis Session. He came back to live performances after a great hiatus and everything was great again. His appearances were all sold out and he became the king of Vegas. But as the seventies wore on, he seemed to get increasingly bored with the routine of shows. Did he ever expressed his discontentment with this? Did he felt a lack of challenge at this point of his career?

ML:Yes, he wanted to tour outside the US.  He got tired of going to the same cities almost every tour and the fault of that laid strictly with the Colonel.  He also said he'd be playing Vegas forever to pay off the colonel's gambling debts.




ECB: This boredom lead to an abusage of pills that seemed to get out of control after his second Vegas engagement in September 1974. On the closing show, he vociferated his indignation with the tabloids that spread rumors that he was strung out on heroin.

Do you recall this particular night and if he discussed anything with you guys about how enraged he was with this rumors. Most of all, Was there any truth about it, regarding what the tabloids alleged?

ML:Elvis never did heroin. He did the pills and once tried cocaine but that was it.  He was mad about the rumors but mainly because he was being found out as far as the pills were concerned.  I don't recall him knowing anything about them talking about heroin. If he had known that he really would have blown his top because it wasn't true.


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Elvis Doing A Karate Demonstration On The Stage. August/September 1974





ECB: Something very wrong happened with him on the following tour of September/October 1974. One show in Maryland is regarded as his worst show ever. He seemed to be out of control, incoherent, slurring his speeches and his voice was cracking in many songs. What happened to him those few weeks between a good Vegas season and the start of the tour that put him in such a poor state of health and mind? Did this happened because of an abuse of uppers?

ML:He took more than uppers at that time.  He took sleeping and pain pills.  That stuff will make you slur your words because they hadn't worn off by then. I speak from personal experience because I took them too. 




ECB: It was around this time of the year that Elvis got a really nasty wound on his hand, that he covered with bandages. He said in some concerts that a female fan has scratched his hand with her nails and some girl scratched it again the next night, causing an infection. Was this the truth or he was hiding something?

ML:It was the truth.



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Elvis On Stage October 1974. Note the bandages on his hands.



ECB: Many fans blame Dr. Nick for his pill adiction. In your opinion, DR. Nick: Hero,  Villain or Neither?

ML: Dr. Nick got caught up in a lifestyle that he shouldn't have, he should have just remained with his medical practice.  He's basically a good guy.




ECB: After this sad period, he was admitted at Baptist Hospital to undergo a “detox” process. He came back to the road much better and with a renewed interest for music that resulted in a good album, Today. However what seemed to be a good year ( 1975) ended in a negative way when the Colonel killed his plans to start on a Star Is Born. Why the Colonel put a stop to it and how this affected Elvis?

ML:Once again Parker's control factor came into play.  He didn't like the idea that Barbra Streisand bypassed him and went straight to Elvis with the deal.  He also was afraid that Streisand, who is smart, would tell Elvis things about the business end of entertainment and that Elvis might have started to question Parker's handling of him.  Elvis wanted to do that movie but once again he gave in to Parker.




ECB: Talking about the Colonel, which seems to be the cause of many of his problems,

What are your perceptions about him as a person and as a manager? Do you think Elvis should get rid of him, after, say, the Aloha special?

ML:The Colonel was good for Elvis in the very early years but he got worse because he wouldn't or couldn't change with the times.  In my opinion he treated Elvis like one of his carnival shows.

Parker was a carny con man and they are firm believers in getting the money and run.  If Elvis' career had really gone down hill where he wouldn't have made as much money, Parker would have dumped him.  Fortunately Elvis had a great effect on tens of millions of people throughout the world by then because of his magnetism and charisma that the fans didn't leave him no matter what he did.




ECB: He fired Parker in September 1973, after closing night. Do you remember this particular discussion and why Elvis stepped back on his decision?

ML:Elvis got mad and he said some bad things about the Hilton executives including Baron Hilton on stage one night in Vegas and Parker came back and started yelling at Elvis.  Elvis was in no mood for Parker's voice and he told him if he didn't like it he'd fire him.  They went back and forth with , "You're Fired" and "No, I Quit."  Elvis told Parker to get out.

The next day Parker presented Vernon Presley with a bill saying that Elvis owed him $2 million dollars for previous expenses etc.. That scared Vernon because he always was afraid of Elvis going broke.  He told Elvis he needed to make up with the colonel and unfortunately, once again, Elvis gave in. The truth be told, Parker probably owed Elvis that and much more.




ECB: With the Colonel wanting to have such a tight grip on Elvis career and life, didn’t he confronted Elvis about his drug abuse?

ML:No, with the exception of one time in Vegas when Elvis was bad off and they were trying to get him coherent about 15 minutes before showtime.  Parker got mad when he came in the room and told them, he didn't care what they had to do just get him straight enough to do his show because he wasn't going to tell the hotel to cancel that show or tell the audience the show had been cancelled.  Just shows you that he was only interested in the money and not Elvis' welfare.  After Elvis died he said he didn't know about it but that was a lie.


ECB: The Last time you saw Elvis, was in July 1976. What did you talked to him, and what impression did he left on you at that moment?

ML:He was in a bad mood and didn't talk much to anyone, just did the show in Memphis and went home. When I got back to Graceland after the show he had already gone to bed and the other guys had gone home.



ECB: The last conversation you had with Elvis was in July 1977, do you remember any particular interesting subject that came out on this conversation?

ML:I was in California living there by then and he was back in Memphis and we just asked each other how we were doing.  I had already heard from some of the guys that he basically was staying away from everyone except Billy Smith.  He was messed up by then and just didn't want to fool with anyone. Billy told me that basically the only time he saw the other guys is when he went on tour.



ECB: With all things that had being wrote about his last 2 years, we get the impression that Elvis was complete wasted, a sleeping walking zombie that was just waiting his demise.

However, you did am interview for EIN and said that “most times he was fine”. Also, in some recent years we had access to some pictures of him, taken by fans that showed him driving his car, riding his bike in Memphis and generally enjoying some good time. Do you think that the media and some biographers tend to exaggerate his condition, even thou he had serious problems with drugs and his health, at his final years?

ML:Yes, somewhat but he was not in as good a shape as he had been in previous years.  Many of the pictures you see from that last year he is with Billy on his three wheeler or in a car.




ECB: After his death, there were many rumors about bone cancer. Of course it’s not true, but how do you think that this rumors started? Why people close to him, like Kathy Westmoreland keeps insisting on the veracity of such history?

ML:After Elvis died Vernon Presley was of the mind that someone at Graceland was leaking stories about personal things going on there with the estate.  He asked Billy to tell Charlie and Dick Grob that Elvis had cancer to see if it came out.  Sure as hell it got out.  It was Vernon's way of testing them.  I imagine that Charlie told Larry Geller and he told it too.  Kathy was close friends with the three of them and I guess they told her although she claims Elvis and his doctors told her.  We don't believe that and if his doctors told her that would be in violation to medical law for revealing a patients information.  Elvis did not have cancer. 




ECB: Elvis must have met such an amazing number of woman during the course of his career. Doesn’t seem surprising that he never had a child out of his marriage?

ML:No, he was careful and fortunately none of them became pregnant on purpose.  He absolutely had no children other than Lisa Marie.  I can assure you that if he had they would have made it known when they gave birth.





ECB: On a recent interview for Larry King, you said: “And it just -- the only time I ever heard him say I'm sorry, is he said it to me because of an argument, the one and only argument we ever had. And it shocked me when he did it, because he just didn't do that. He'd go buy you something.” Do you recall what kind of argument was that, that prompted Elvis to do something that seemed so hard to him?

ML:Yes, it was based on a lie told to him by his father about my sister and brother in law who designed and built The Meditation Garden at Graceland and also Elvis' bedroom.  Vernon didn't like it because he had no control over it and in addition he was anti-semitic and we are Jewish.  Elvis started calling my family names but he soon learned he did a bad thing and that's why he said it. After he called them names I told him and his father what they could do to each other and then I went home and stayed away for four days.  When I came back, He said he was  sorry and then 10 minutes later asked me to be the Best Man at his wedding.  I forgave him.



ECB: What do you think was the best part of being a friend of Elvis?

ML:Just being his friend and being like a brother to him and some of the original guys.



ECB: What is your most treasured memory of him?

ML:His smile.



ECB: How do you think we should remember him?

ML:As a good person who changed the culture of the world back in the 50's and just continue to enjoy his music.




We like to thank Mr. Lacker for this interview and the time he kindly spent answering our questions.
















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