Elvis Express Radio, Remembering John Wilkinson
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I knew that one day I would have to write this but still it is none the less heartbreaking for me to sit down and write on my website that John Wilkinson, one of
the true legends of the Elvis world, a genuine gentleman and a dear and much loved friend has lost his long term battle against Cancer and has sadly died at
the age of just 67.

Those of us who are lucky enough to have known the private and personal side of Johnny will all be united in our grief and will all say the same thing, and that
is John really was one of the nicest people we have ever had the honour of knowing and to have been able to have called our friend.
At the age of 13, John formed his own band at school called "The Coachmen". The band performed the songs of all those who had and were influencing
John such as the Wilbur Brothers, Flatt and Scruggs (Scruggs inspiring him to play banjo), Johnny Cash and of course Elvis Presley. It was during this time
John realised he could make some money doing what he loved to do when he earned himself $25 playing his music.

Forming his own band at school, 'The Coachmen' he started performing professionally at 13 years of age, earning himself $25. His influences in music as well
as Elvis Presley, were He enjoyed Gospel music too because of the harmonies, influences similar to Elvis'.

Fast forward to 1964, John had moved to California to attended university and it would be during this period that he would have his second meeting with Elvis.
John had built up an excellent reputation and had established himself as a session musician. He was also playing in all the bars around Santa Monica and
Hollywood and was even doing some local TV shows. John had played several gigs at the famous
'Whiskey A Go Go Bar' in L.A.

One Saturday afternoon, while sitting at home, the manager of the Whiskey A Go Go calls up John and informs him that Jethro Tull was supposed to be
performing as the opening act for "Jefferson Airplane" that night, but Tull had been taken ill and was unable to perform and so the manager wanted to know if
John and his then group could open the show instead? It was a yes and so John Wilkinson and his band opened for Jefferson Airplane at the Whiskey A Go

While performing that night, john noticed that just to the right hand side of stage front, there was a bunch of tables which were roped off, it was really dark but
there were candles on the tables and while he was able to see people were sitting there, John could not make out any faces. Anyhow, after the show John
went back downstairs and changed into my street clothes and while doing this a huge form filled his dressing room door and I according to John, his first
thought was, "Oh! God, I am in deep doo doo here.’ I thought I had pissed somebody off real bad here, you know, some irate husband, I don’t know?"

Upon asking if he could help, the huge form just said, “There’s a man that wants to see you right now!” That man turned out to be Elvis, John remembered the
conversation went like this
Elvis: “Johnny, how you doing? I haven’t seen you since you were about 3?”
John: "Actually Elvis, I was 9"
Elvis: "You told me that I couldn’t play guitar worth a damn didn’t ya!”
John: “Yes sir I did”
Elvis: “Well you were right!”
John: “I know Elvis, you knew E; A and that other cord.” (which we guitar players know is a B7).

The conversation went on until eventually, Elvis asked John what he was doing for that night? Which was nothing, Elvis then invited John to come to the house
with them as they were going to have a barbeque and just sit around and have a jam session. John accepted the offer and so John rode with Elvis to his home
and as John again recalled; "There was a whole bunch of pickers around and it was a Gospel night and a bunch of Country things that he’d learned and we
sat around laughing and giggling, singing and all that, and at the end….Well it didn’t really end to tell you the truth Lee, it only really ended a day and a half
later and I finally got home." On leaving the house in the wee hours of the next morning, Elvis told John that one day he was going to quit movies and return to
performing live. "I really hope that you do Elvis," was John's reply......And so Elvis Presley and John Wilkinson went their own way once again.
In 2004, Elvis Express Radio was the first Elvis organisation to ever bring John over to the UK
and we did so in order to raise money for the
Chestnut Tree House, a hospice for Children
with terminal illness.

John donated his fee to the cause and we produced the worlds first documentary about John's
life and his career called,
"John Wilkinson - My Life With Elvis" (See Right).
The DVD featured John being interviewed by myself and contained a few outtakes that
occurred including a comical moment where I bat a wasp into John's face. There is also a
touching moment on the DVD where John is learning all about the hospice and he gets very

John spent a week with us, shared time with my family, had a traditional Sunday roast, spent
time with my father who was suffering from Cancer, and being a life long Elvis fan, brought him
so much happiness. My Dad died the following year but always told how he loved meeting with
John and how kind and special he was.
What follows is a tribute to my friend, John Wilkinson.
John Richard Wilkinson was born in Washington DC on July 3rd 1945. But at the age of just 11 months his Mother & Father moved to Springfield Missouri,
where he grew up. John's father was a Professor of Psychology and his mother was, in the words of John, "A wonderful home maker".

Music played a big part in the Wilkinson home and a day would not go by without it. When John first heard Elvis as a young boy, like millions of other kids, it
1968, was a year that would bring together Elvis Presley and John Wilkinson forever. Elvis was 33 and was about to re-emerge as a contemporary musician
through his NBC TV Special and John Wilkinson was 23 years old and had been signed up by RCA Records (same label as Elvis) and his first single release
"July, You're A Woman" / "City Sidewalks" which sold well and was quickly followed up by his second single release "(You've Got) Nothing To Be
Ashamed Of" / "Make It Rain"
was totally different to what he was used to hearing in Springfield. People were used to country music and John's parents'
reaction to hearing Elvis was one thing...but seeing him was another thing altogether! They were conservative people and not
excited with the image of their son's new idol, however this did not deter him from buying Elvis' records and his parents would
eventually accept their son's taste in this Rock N Roll singer (pictured right: John at 11 in 1956 doing his Elvis moves).

In 1956, Elvis came to John's hometown, appearing at the Shrine Mosque and he wanted to get to meet the singer. John had
seen Elvis on local TV on the Louisiana Hayride and noticed something. "I noticed he wasn’t doing anything with it except just
banging on it and I thought, you know, one day I want to meet this guy and tell him that he can’t play guitar worth a damn."
Said John in his interview with me.

Upon finding out when the sound checks were taking place, John went in search of the dressing room and eventually found
him. After knocking he entered the room and extended his hand to Elvis introducing himself. Elvis, invited him to sit down and
asked him what he was doing there. John replied, 'Elvis, you can't play guitar worth a damn'. Elvis laughed and challenged
John to play guitar for him. Against the wall was an old Gibson J45.

He played and sang for Elvis and he was impressed with this kid. However, the conversation was soon interrupted when two
burly guys entered the room and wanted to know what John was doing there. Elvis told them that John was his friend and he
had just given him a guitar lesson. Before leaving Elvis told John that one day they would meet again.
Busy in 68: The "New Kick" (John 2nd from left), and then it's "The Good Time Singers" (John 2nd from right)
“The young man on the rhythm guitar - he makes records for RCA Victor - his name is John Wilkinson. Also one of my closest friends.”
Elvis Presley, Las Vegas, August 21, l970.
Pictured right is a rare promotional copy of John's debut RCA single, "July, You're A Woman" that was
given to me by John himself along with the scarf Elvis gave him and a few other items.

Unfortunately, John's career as a recording artist was not to be and his 3rd RCA single release was
his last and that was
"The Last Resort / The Great Truck Race".

However, back to 1968 and Elvis heard John's first single
"July, You're A Woman" (pictured) and it
was hearing this that reminded him of their previous meetings and one night Elvis got hold of John's
phone number and called.

All John's friends knew that he listened to Elvis music and was a fan, and so when Elvis called him up
at home and out of the blue, he thought it was one of them playing a trick on him and hung up!

The phone rang again and the voice on the other end told him not to hang up,it really was Elvis.   
Elvis reminded him of the conversation he had with him about returning to live performances and that
he had a bunch of the best musicians ready for his band.

John told Elvis he was not a Rock ‘N’ Roll player, he was a Folk picker, ballads and stuff, but Elvis said
“No, I like what you do and I want you to be my rhythm guitar player if you would do it?”
In John's own words, he didn't have, "anything going right now, yeah I’ll do that.” And so Elvis told John to come over to the house to talk about it. Red and
Sonny West were sent to pick John up and take him to Elvis' home. At the house, the mics and sound systems where set up and they began to play. Elvis was
delighted with the sound and sent everyone home, except John.

Elvis had got the band he wanted... Lead Guitar:
James Burton - Bass Guitar: Jerry Scheff - Drums: Ronnie Tutt and Piano: Larry Muhoberac...However, there
was still a position for a rhythm guitarist and Elvis wanted John to fill it. Once everyone had left, Elvis sat down with John and made him an offer to become part
his live team.

John told me, Elvis stuck out his hand and said
“I’ll pay you $XXXXXX amount of dollars and you play guitar for me the best you can.” John replied, “You got a
deal bud”
. He accepted the offer and the deal was sealed with a hand shake. And that was that, John Wilkinson was now part of music history and he will
always be known as Elvis Presley's loyal Rhythm Guitarist.

John was one of Elvis' most loyal employee's and with the exception of Lead Guitar Player, James Burton, John never missed a show and never walked away
from Elvis. He was however the ONLY member of the TCB band NEVER to threaten to walk away from his boss and friend.
While Elvis was John's main priority and commitment, John did lend himself to other projects between Elvis tours. In 1971 John
couldn’t resist the call of contemporary folk music and he went back into the studio to record with another artist, long time friend
Cyrus Faryar who was not only well-known in the folk music world but in the Los Angeles musician community at large

John sang backing vocals on several songs at the sessions in Los Angeles, California which resulted in the
“Cyrus” Album which
was originally released on the Elektra label (EKS-74105), the album was re-released on CD in 1996 on the Collectors Choice label.

Another music job was with
"The Kingston Trio" who were one of John’s all time musical heroes, remember, John's first love was
Folk Music.
“I loved all kinds of folk groups”, John said in another interview. “Especially the Trio and a group called the Weavers".
And then in a quick succession, came many other folk groups like "Peter, Paul and Mary, the Lime Lighters, Gordon Lightfoot, way too many to name. But
really the Kingston Trio was responsible for me getting in so much trouble playing a guitar…”
When John was invited to join "The Kingston Trio" as a stand in, when ever one of the group was
taken ill or something like that. It really was another dream that had come true for John. There he
was, the Rhythm Guitarist for Elvis Presley and now he was asked to join "The Trio" as well. John was
more than ready to join the trio, but only on the condition it was between Elvis' tours as his number
one commitment was to Elvis.

It's funny how things work out, but in between tours or when Elvis would take some time off because of
his health, it just so happened it was during those times that one of the members of
the Kingston Trio
would also take some time off, and so the leader of the group would give John a call and ask him if he
was available for some tour or gig and John would jump at the offer. While John performed on stage,
many times with the trio, sadly he never got to record with them in the studio.”

If there is one song that is associated with any member of the TCB band, then John Wilkinson's theme
song is “Early Morning Rain”. Over the years, it became John’s signature song and Elvis would always get John to play it during his introductions of the
band and even on a couple of rare occasions, get John to sing the song on stage as well. John knew the song well as it was written by one of his friends,
Gordon Lightfoot. Elvis recorded the song on March 15th 1971 and it was first released on the "Elvis Now" album in February 1972. The album was a Top
20 hit in the U.K. reaching #12, but in the U.S. it failed to chart.
Elvis never performed "Early Morning Rain" live in concert until August 29th
1974 at the Hilton Hotel in Las Vegas. So it was a strange choice then that Elvis
chose to re-record the song after this historic worldwide satellite performance in
Hawaii on January 14th 1973.

Here is how John remembers the first time he played
"Early Morning Rain" for
Elvis in concert.
“He walked over and introduced me, and then he wanted me to
play something...“Play it, John"
, Elvis said, to which John thought, “Play what?”
And so the thing that came to my mind was "Early Morning Rain"

And from then on, during most of his concerts from 74 to 77, Elvis would introduce
John by saying, “...from Springfield Missouri, John Wilkinson, play something John”
and then John would play those oh so familiar opening cords.
John used to tell me how much Elvis loved the song, but for the longest of times, John was just about the only band member not to be asked to do a solo when
Elvis introduced the band on stage. John assured me that he really did not think anything of it, in fact he told me
"Lee, I was just thrilled to be on that stage
with him, doing a solo really did not bother me."

But then one night after a show, Red West came to find John and told him that Elvis wanted him to know how much he appreciated his rhythm guitar playing
and that he really does not intentionally leave him out of the solo performances on stage. John assured Red that it's not a problem and that there were millions
of people who would kill to be in the position he was in, and told him to tell Elvis he was fine with things the way they were.

And so Red went away and told Elvis what John had said. The next night, John received word that Elvis wanted to see him in his suite. John entered the Kings
domain and Elvis walked over to him, shook his hand and said
“John, I just want to apologise to you personally, I know you can play and I want you to know
that during the next show, I’m gonna ask you to play me something OK?"
John smilled acknowledging him and thanked him, but was thinking, "Yeah, right!",
But he did what he promised and then Elvis' live performances of
"Early Morning Rain" were born.
Elvis used to call John, "the Mystery Man", he once said to him, “John, you’re a real mystery to
me, you’re a weirdo too.”
John then asked Elvis what he meant by him being a weirdo?

Elvis told him,
“You don’t hang around in the lobby patrolling for girls, you don’t come up to the
parties very often.”
John's reply to Elvis was, "I am not here to use you Elvis, I enjoy making
music with you but I won’t use you.”
It was this kind of thing that made John one of Elvis' most
loyal employee's and loyal friends he ever had.

Never did John sell Elvis out by sensationalising life on the road with Elvis Presley. I remember
asking him, between the two of us,
"Did you ever think about creating something a little to try
to get the media interested in the book which would result in more book sales?"
I was so happy
when he replied,
"Never Lee, no way would I or could I do that to my boss and my friend. I
would rather have the respect of Elvis' fans than the money for lies and sensationalism."
that was John, he was always loyal and supportive to those he cared about and those who
cared about him.

On August 16th 1977, John was on a plane and on route to Portland, Maine with the rest of
the band for the start of the next tour. About  Halfway through the flight, the pilot announced
they would be landing early. It was during this unscheduled stop that  the dramatic news was
told to all on board......Elvis was dead! John remembered,
“Well, hell, we were all crying and I
remember saying, How dare he die, Elvis Presley can’t die, he may retire but he don’t die? So
we all got on the plane and got out the Scotch or whatever and drank our way back to Vegas
and let those people off and the rest of us went back to L.A. It was by far, it’s the most horrible day of my life. I lost a friend. It broke my heart.”

After the shock of Elvis’s death, John formed a new band called “Justice”. He was of course famous as being Elvis Presley's Rhythm Guitarist and the band
would perform many songs, including several Elvis numbers which always pleased the crowd. And so for the next eight years or so, John would continue to
perform in bars and clubs and also do the odd session work. In the publicity photo to the left, John is wearing a
shirt that Elvis gave to him that he would often wear on stage as his personal tribute to his friend. But more and
more John started to feel different about the music business. John told me,
"Lee, I had never really gotten over
Elvis' sudden passing and I would still get upset. At the same time I knew that I was a little burnt out.”
And so John
decided to stop doing what he had been doing for the past 20 odd years and changed direction completely.

John found himself working for a big American company called "Radio Shack" and would spend four years
working for them and by the time he left the job he was the manager of 4 of their stores. John left and started
work for an Aircraft Company who were contracted to the U.S. Government to produce classified materials. As
John said "I applied for the job and had to be screened. They discovered that I wasn't a communist and so I
started work and wound up staying there for almost 8 years."

John had worked his way up to middle management at the firm and was more than happy to continue working at
his job until it was time for retirement.

In early 1989, John was invited to take part in the first (and what turned out to be the last) ever reunion of
complete TCB band for a 5 day show in Switzerland. John got a call from James Burton, who told him that
everyone was going to be there, even Kathy Westmoreland and J.D. Sumner & The Stamps. John was sent a
tape of the guy who was hiring everyone and he was not too pleased.

"Lee, I got the tape and put it on. Now I would suggest the boy did not quit his day job." John continued, "I was
disappointed and called James about it. I was ready to turn the job down but James said this would be a
wonderful chance to get us all together again and it would be great fun?"
And so John agreed to do the shows.

And so John was reunited on stage with
James, Ronnie, Glenn, Charlie, Kathy, The Sweets and The Stamps
and went on to perform 5 shows in 3 venues in Switzerland. While it was nice to be back doing what he had loved for so long, it was not as much fun anymore
without Elvis and John just did not enjoy having someone else standing centre stage where Elvis should have been.

John returned home from Switzerland on April 13th 1989, and feeling totally warn out he slept right through the 14th finally waking around 9am on the 15th to
find his life would never be the same again. John had suffered a massive stroke, doctors found a clot the size of a golf ball in his head which had restricted the
flow of blood to his brain and had it burst, John would have died there and then. John was rushed into surgery and if he wasn't going through enough, in the
middle of his operation, there was an earthquake. John's wife, Terry, was told by doctors that John had a less than 2% chance of coming through the surgery.
But he did make it through and after 97 days in hospital John was able to return home. John had an uphill struggle and had to re-learn everything from walking
to dressing himself. But he did just that, however, he would never regain full motor-function to his left side and the hardest thing that hit him was the dawning
realisation that after 39 years of playing guitar and banjo. After coming to terms with this he decided to go back into music as a singer.

One of the first big shows John did after his stroke was in 1992 along with a selection of his former musical friends in Germany. John came out on stage and
started to sing some Elvis numbers like "Party" and his signature song "Early Morning Rain" which saw the fans launch into applause.

Remember, John had been an RCA recording artist and Folk singer before he joined Elvis and his TCB Band. John gave such a great performance that a
newspaper at the time wrote "John Wilkinson was the star of the show".

John continued to be invited to various Elvis events around America and then in 1999 he returned to Europe once again as the headliner for two triumphant
shows in Belgium.

Then in 2003, I interviewed John for my then bi-monthly fanzine,
"The Elvis Express" and from that our friendship was born and we became the first Elvis
group to bring John Wilkinson over to the UK to meet the fans and to make a documentary about his life called,
"John Wilkinson: My Life With Elvis", which
was released as a DVD and raised money for the Chestnut Tree House, a hospice for Children with terminal illness.

John also took part in 2 in-depth interviews for
Elvis Express Radio and fully endorsed and supported my site and shows. Then in 2007, John was
diagnosed with colon-cancer and had to undergo emergency surgery during which, doctors removed his colon and a large tumour. And then to be as sure as
possible  that all the cancer cells had been removed, John started chemotherapy.

John fought back with the full support of Elvis fans around the world as thousands sent messages of good will and love to John, which he was so happy about.
The following year John sent the amazing news that he had the Cancer on the run and he was all but in the clear.

Everything started to go well and John went back to attending Elvis events and fans from across America and Europe waited in-line to meet with him for a
photo and an autograph from one of the true gentlemen of the Elvis Circle.

Then, in
February 2010 I received this email from John:
"Hi Lee my friend, I am sorry to say my cancer has returned it seems. I'm going to have to have chemo again and radiation! I'm very worried and scared! I'd
really love to hear your voice on the phone, but I’m really not up to taking phone calls right now my friend. I fear that i may not pull through from this new onset
of cancer. But maybe I’ll get lucky again and survive know that I will lose my rock 'n' roll hair! That by itself pisses me off! Hope all is well with you Lana and the
girls, love to you all my dear friend, Johnny"

Once again Johnny was facing another battle for his life and once again he had the love and wishes of all those who knew him as a loved one, a friend and all
those who knew him simply as Elvis' Rhythm Guitarist and all that love meant so much to John, it really did. The next few months were a fight and were hard
but once more John fought his way to recovery until one day in
October 2010 I received this email from my friend...

"Hi Lee, it really does wonders for me when i hear from my very dear friends from so far away! And especially from you my brother! I am slowly but ever so
surely getting stronger and feeling better. I've been getting good reports back from the blood panels and ct scans. At this point in time my chemo doctor and
radiation doctor feel very confident that the cancer is dead and gone; however, they told me that I shouldn't feel that i am completely out of the woods yet.
There are still at least two more pet scans and blood panels to do in the next month or so. In the meantime I will just  keep on a-keepin' on and keep feeling so
lucky that I have so many wonderful Elvis fans around the world that are praying for me to recover completely.

You have had a very long and trying time with your own set of health problems. And in spite of it all you still keep EER going for the fans! Through your efforts
the concept of, no fan left behind keeps alive the memories, movies, music, love, and the magic that was Elvis! Lee, please convey my most sincere and
heartfelt thanks to all the fans for their continued love and support for me and Elvis. Elvis fans are the best kind of fans that any man could possibly have. My
love for them is never-ending. All the best to you and Lana and the girls, Johnny.."
Of course there were many other communication between John & I between
2010 and now, we would talk about various things and he was always so very happy when I would pass on messages or dedications from our listeners. He had
great days and not so great.In 2011 John was able to return to Graceland for the first time in many years, but he had a tough road ahead, but he fought all the
way through 2011 and 2012.
My friend John Wilkinson.
John REALLY LOVED the fans of Elvis Aaron Presley and always lived by the rule that Elvis once told him... "John, always remember, if you take care of the
fans, the fans will take care of you. No matter what, always treat the fans right."
John never forgot that and we really did love and respect him.

I will always remember the times we spent together over a bottle of Vodka and Sprite, the stories he shared with me as we watched
'Thats The Way It Is' and
'Elvis On Tour'. The wonderful gifts he gave to me and my wife Lana, the time we sang songs in an all night get together at our home, the comical email's and
the great telephone calls.

I am so honoured to have known John Wilkinson and even more honoured to be able to call him one of my dearest friends. Thank you Johnny for being you, I
am going to miss you so much buddy.....love to ya always my friend!
July 3rd 1945  -   January 11th 2013
Listen To EER'S Tribute To John

Go See Johns Photo Gallery
A Friends Gift...John presented me with this neckerchief/scarf which belonged to Elvis Presley and was given to him by Elvis in the 1970's and a signed letter from John testifying
to it's authenticity. Also shown is John's TCB I.D badge from his time as Elvis' Rhythm Guitarist. A signed photo "For Lee and Lana my two new and wonderful friends TCB 2004
John Wilkinson". I also have a beautiful guitar that was given to me signed by John.
Special Wallpaper In Tribute To John Wilkinson
Click on image below to enlarge
Upon his return from Memphis, John wrote to me about his health, Memphis and mentioned Cricket
Coulter who was making fictitious claims about Elvis and John himself. At this time with all that was
going on, John did not need to have some crazy story teller making up more crap about her imaginary
relationship with Elvis and my friend John Wilkinson....here is part of what he wrote:
"Hi Lee, Johnny here. Thank you for your message my friend. I’m feeling much better now than I was
last week after being in hospital for three days! Both terry and I came back home from Memphis with
colds and we are pretty much over those; thankfully. Btw, the best part of the time that we had while in
Memphis was the fact that I didn’t see cricket!! Why does someone like that feel the need to spread
such B.S"

Even with the worry about some crazy woman making false claims about him, John was so pleased he
was able to get to Memphis, saying:
"I was so thrilled to see some old friends again. The fans welcomed me with standing ovations, hugs, kisses, and kind words! Elvis fans are the best people in
the world! How have you been feeling old friend? I hope that you and Lana and the girls are well and happy. Love to you all and all of the EER listeners!

It was wonderful to know he had such a great time, of course, our communications continued until recently when he was spending more and more time in
Hospital and we were kept informed on how Johnny was doing thanks to his loving wife, Terry.
July 03rd 1945  -  January 11th 2013
One of the most surreal moments was when John spent one of the evenings at our home and there I was, sitting in my chair watching my life hero on the movie,
"Elvis: That's The Way It Is - Special Edition" with Elvis Presley's Rhythm Guitarist....not the sort of thing that happens every day!

As we said our goodbye's as John was homeward bound, we said we would of course stay in touch and he told me that Lana and I are more than welcome to
come stay in his home anytime. John told me we had to visit him because he had a special something that he wanted to give me?

Sadly, I never got to take up his offer and my friend is now gone forever, but he will never be forgotten. During his stay, John gave me a gift, a neck scarf
which was given to him by Elvis in the 70's. It was a truly wonderful gift that I treasure along with the other things and the amazing memories I have of my
friendship with John.
Dec 18, 2012, Terry contacted both Peter Verbrugen [Elvis Matters] and myself, (we have both been close friends to Johnny) with some devastating news.

As a result of John having trouble getting his breath, he was taken to Mercy Hospital and after Cat and Pet scans
"they found that the CANCER had returned,
This time to his lungs and liver. They cannot do Chemo because his body would not survive it"
, Terry then revealed to us that Doctors have given our dear
friend Johnny just 1 to 2 months to live. John was allowed to go home where he was kept out of pain and in the house he grew up in.....

Out of respect, loyalty and love, Peter and I promised to keep this news between us so that John and his family could have the time and peace that they
needed during the limited time that followed. I think I can speak for Peter that the news devastated and I so wanted to be there to give my wonderful friend a
hug and to be there for him and Terry.

On December 26th 2012, I was able to call Johnny, and apart from carrying my fathers coffin, this has been the hardest thing I have ever done. John and I
spoke and we laughed together and John wanted me to record a message from him to the fans of Elvis and the listeners of E.E.R

Back in 2004 and during his 7 days with us here in Brighton, England...our friendship was set and Johnny told me and Lana to come on over to the States for
a visit and said to me, he had something he wanted me to have of his as a sign of our friendship. But about a year later I became disabled and as fate had it
we were never able to get to visit him or accept his promised gift.....

My friend John Richard Wilkinson sadly lost his long battle against Cancer on Friday January 11th 2013
Happy Days = 2004 John giving me (Lee) a brother hug & gave me a guitar & signed it for me on August 16, 1977
It was our last night with John who told me that when I can visit him, he has a gift that he wanted to give me as a sign of our friendship.
Devastatingly I never made it over to John, and about a year later I became disabled and as fate would had it we were never able to get to visit him or accept his gift.
John  and I were both awarded 'The Elvis Matters Lifetime Award For Outstanding Achievement In The Elvis World'
This award is voted for by the fans of Elvis worldwide and I am so proud that I won this award the year following my friend Johnny
Johnny with Lana (August 16, 2004), for her birthday, Johnny gave
her a beautiful set of ear-rings & necklace.