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March 11,  2017  -  Daily Telegraph AU  /  Elvis Express Radio
AHEAD of the Sydney leg of the The Elvis Presley Australian and New Zealand, The Wonder Of You tour, a key member of Presley’s inner circle is lifting the lid on the of the rebel
whose blatant sexual appeal and taste for contemporary black music was a lightning bolt for change.

Jerry Schilling, the youngest member of Presley’s support group known as the Memphis Mafia, was only 12 when he met Presley, 19, on a football field but even then this lanky
teen, with greased hair, blue jeans and white T-shirt, oozed a cool attitude the likes of which Schilling had never seen.

“We forget that Elvis started out rebel, a danger, not the iconic Elvis that is perceived by most, he was more like a James Dean character,” Schilling says.

“I was drawn to that because in the 50s as teenagers we were very much into rebellion and Elvis personified all of that, He was a rebel but a loveable rebel.”

It was a sunny Sunday in 1954 when Schilling was invited to join a touch football game at a local oval in a poor neighbourhood in North Memphis — it was a game that would change
his life forever and the start of a 23-year friendship with Presley.

“We started playing every Sunday and within three weeks everyone in Memphis, where we grew up, knew who Elvis was because his first record (That’s All Right) took off,” Schilling,
74, says.

Schilling says for the next decade, while he was in grade school, high school and college, he saw Presley whenever he was in Memphis.
“We continued to play football for years, we would go to all-night movie screenings or the amusement park,” he says.

“After ‘57 when he bought Graceland there would be parties that would go late into the night.”  For a decade Schilling watched with envy as Presley and his crew packed up and
went on their latest Hollywood adventure, leaving him behind to finish his studies and attend odd-jobs.

“I was in my last semester at college, I was going to be a history teacher and football coach but I got this offer I couldn’t refuse,” Schilling says of the first time Presley offered him a
“I had to quit school, quit two jobs, tell my father and that night we were on a bus that Elvis was driving from Memphis to California,” Schilling says. “It was a great trip and the
start of a really long friendship and a 10-year professional association.”

He quit working for Elvis twice, to pursue film and TV work and then to work in the music industry. He managed the Beach Boys, Jerry Lee Lewis and Presley’s daughter, Lisa Marie
as well as Billy Joel who he brought out to Australia in 1976.

But Elvis kept him close with enticing job opportunities, including heading up the Elvis Presley Films production company.

Schilling, now a veteran music and film mogul who has been linked to Bono, John Lennon and a host of other celebrities, is committed to keeping the Presley legacy alive with
projects, including a new HBO series that focuses on Presley as a music producer, something Schilling says the world never knew.

He is working with Priscilla Presley on both the new HBO series, that will air later this year, as well as the new The Wonder Of You arena spectacular that will be at the ICC Sydney
theatre on June 2 and 3.

The Wonder Of You, is delivering an Elvis experience like no other with state-of-the-art screens, featuring the man who changed the course of popular music, and a 40-piece

The arena tour comes of the back of the worldwide success of two Presley albums,
If I Can Dream, and The Wonder of You.

Priscilla, who was an executive producer for both albums and closely involved in the creation of the live concert tour, says Elvis loved the big sound and fullness of an orchestra.
“If he had his way, you would have seen a full orchestra on stage with him at every live show,” she says.  “I feel certain this is the kind of live show and these are the kind of albums
Elvis would have been doing if he were with us today. He would have loved this. It really is a dream come true.”