Elvis Express Radio News
October 20,  2017   -   Newcastle Herald (Aus)  /  Elvis Express Radio
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ONE of Elvis Presley’s closest associates believes the King of Rock’n’Roll’s untimely death was caused by his frustration in not having creative control of his career.

Presley died 40 years ago having never performed outside of North America, despite receiving numerous multi-million dollar offers to tour the UK, Japan and Australia.

Veteran music industry professional Jerry Schilling was a member of the famed Memphis Mafia, a group of men who lived and worked with Presley during his storied career. Schilling’
s 23-year personal relationship with Presley was so profound that the rock legend even bought his friend a house in Los Angeles in 1974.

It was from that same house that Schilling spoke to Weekender last week.

“That was the thing, if Elvis had been able, if the business people would have let him explore and do the creative things he wanted to do he would still be with us today,” the 75-year-
old Schilling says with emotion in his voice.

“They didn’t want him to be too smart. They didn’t want him to experiment too much and I lost my friend at an early age due to creative disappointment, which caused other

Presley died aged 42 on August 16, 1977 from a heart attack.

It is widely rumoured that in the last three years of Presley’s life he had wanted to tour overseas, but his manager Colonel Tom Parker refused any offers. Many speculate it was
because Parker was secretly a Dutch citizen and was concerned with being deported if he applied for a passport.

“You can’t take the genius and keep giving him the same thing,” Schilling says. “Like how many days can you play Vegas in a year?

“He wanted to go to Australia. He wanted to go to Japan. He wanted to go to England.”

That’s why four decades after Presley’s death Schilling was eager to be the master of ceremonies of The Wonder of You: Elvis Presley with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra tour
to Australia last May and June.

The shows were so popular an encore tour will return next year, including a Newcastle performance.

The concert features Presley singing on a massive screen, while the 40-piece Royal Philharmonic Orchestra perform a collection of his iconic material live. The show also includes
stories and home videos to give Elvis fans a glimpse into the man behind the swiveling hips, sequin suits and sideburns.

Schilling first met Presley as a 12-year-old in 1954 when he was invited to play in a social gridiron game because they were short on numbers. Football games soon became a
regular occurrence.

“I got to know him before he was ‘Elvis Presley’ and that made the real bond between us,” he says. “He took off real fast and I thought my football days with Elvis would be over now
as everybody wanted to play football with him and be his friend.

“But he remembered that I thought he was cool before he was popular and he always took care of me.”

As an adult Schilling worked for Presley in film editing and management and even accompanied him on that famous 1970 trip to the White House to meet then US president Richard

Later Schilling became the manager for The Beach Boys, Jerry Lee Lewis, Billy Joel and Lisa Marie Presley.

When Schilling remembers his friend it’s not the charismatic singer on stage, it’s the personal moments at Graceland.

“He was just generous with his time as a friend,” he says. “You didn’t want to bother Elvis with some trouble, but he’d say ‘Hey man, you wanna talk about it?’

“He’d sit there and you’d talk for an hour and you felt 100 per cent better.

“My favourite times with Elvis are maybe when we’d come back home from the movies or an amusement park and it would be 3am we’d be sitting in Graceland at the kitchen table
just talking.”

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