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|DADDY'S ARMY BUDDY WAS THE KING OF ROCK N ROLL
January 08th, 2018 - The Jackson Sun / Elvis Express Radio
Frankie Lax had no idea what he was involved with when his father’s buddy from his days in the Army would come to Jackson, or when they’d go visit his house on what was then
Hwy 51 in Memphis.
“I was raised to think men who grew their hair long and were in to rock ’n’ roll were hippies that weren’t worth being around, but I thought this guy got a pass because he served with
my dad in the Army, then went wild after that,” said Lax, the son of the late Frank Lax, a former Madison County Constable and founder of Maxx Guard Security. “But as a boy who
was 8, 9, 10 years old, I was mesmerized by the big limousine he pulled up in, the phone in it, the TV in it and all the buttons.
“I didn’t know my daddy’s buddy was as big a deal as he was. He was just Elvis Presley to us.”
It would be nothing for the elder Frank to take his son Frankie, who now serves as Constable and is owner of Maxx Guard, to Memphis and run a few errands and then say, “Let’s
run over and see Elvis.”
“We’d go over and do that, and visit for a little while, and then come home,” Frankie Lax said.
The elder Lax passed away in 2005, but it was a year before that Frankie thinks he found out the real bond between his father and the King of Rock ’n’ Roll, who died in 1977 at the
age of 42 at his home in Memphis, Graceland.
“I was sitting here in this office one day and got up the guts to ask Daddy why he never drank alcohol,” Frankie Lax said. “He said it had never touched his lips, and I asked him why.
“He said when he was 14, his mother was on her deathbed, and the last thing she asked him to do was to promise to never drink alcohol. And he said he kept his final promise to his
Then Frank Lax said it had been nearly 50 years since he told that story.
“The last person he said he told that to was Elvis Presley,” Frankie Lax said. “Elvis loved his mama, and he made the same promise to her that my daddy made to his mama.
“And I think they really bonded over that because they’d go out with their buddies while they were serving, and everybody would be drinking except them.”
In the above pictures you can see Frankie Lax's father, Frank, standing behind Elvis during their induction into the U.S. Army and then in the 3rd photo we can see Frankie holding
the belt gifted to his father by Elvis Presley. "My father said, 'Elvis, I like your belt. Let me have one,'" Lax recalled. "And Elvis said, 'You can't have my belt, but I'll have you one
made.'" Lax's office is filled with memorabilia commemorating his father's friendship with the King of Rock 'n' Roll.
Frank Lax and Elvis Presley were both drafted in March of 1958 and served overseas in Germany. Frank Lax first met Elvis when they boarded the bus for boot camp at Fort
“They hit it off and became buddies because I think Elvis appreciated that Daddy thought of him as a buddy in service and not this big-time singer that he was,” Frankie Lax said.
“Daddy was a fan of Elvis and liked his music, but he didn’t try to take advantage of him and try to borrow money at every turn like some of the other guys did.”
Frank Lax took every opportunity to defend Elvis, particularly after he died.
“There were some stories that went around about Elvis after his death, and Daddy wanted to set the record straight on a lot of things,” Frankie Lax said. “Elvis never drank. The pills
he took were prescription, and Elvis was a good guy.
“That was the main things he always said. And he was a great guy to have around in the Army, always doing extra work and things like that.”
Buying a truck
It was during a trip to Jackson where Elvis showed what kind of person he was.
The Lax family lived on Lester’s Chapel Road in South Jackson. Elvis picked up Frank and Frankie and were riding around and wound up on the other end of the road that hadn’t
been paved yet. A full-size truck was pulled over on the side of the road with engine trouble.
Frank Lax knew the man who owned the truck and checked on him when Elvis told the limousine driver to stop.
“Daddy came back and said the engine was blown. That truck was done,” Frankie Lax said. “Elvis never got out of the limousine, but he said to tell the guy to put his truck in neutral
and we’d push him – in the limousine – the rest of the way to his house – maybe 300 or 400 yards.
“It was damaging his car to do it, but neither Elvis or the driver cared. Then after we got him home, Elvis wrote the man a check and told my dad to give it to him to buy a new truck.”
Frankie Lax said his father never told the man who was in the limousine, but he found out when he looked at the check and responded in silence with mouth and eyes wide open.
The day Elvis died
While Frankie Lax didn’t realize who his father’s friend was when they hung out, he began to realize the cultural effect Elvis had as an artist when he died.
“Everybody remembers where they were when they heard Elvis died,” Frankie Lax said.
Frankie was a paper boy for The Sun in 1977 and had just finished his route in Bemis before stopping at Morgan’s Service Station for a grape Nehi.
“They announced it on the radio while I was in there, and I went home, and Mama told me Daddy said to get cleaned up because we were going to Memphis,” Frankie Lax said.
Frank Lax got home and cleaned up, and they went to Graceland.
“We got there, and this was maybe three or four hours after news had gotten out that he’d died, and I couldn’t believe the crowd that had gathered outside his gates,” Frankie Lax
said. “Elvis’ uncle was his security guy who let people in, and he knew Daddy and waved us in.
“There were so many people in the house, and Daddy told me to sit down in that first room on that long couch you see when you take the tour. And I sat there, got up and wandered
around some, talked with his daughter Lisa Marie. I didn’t know then what I was a part of. I was just a 13-year-old kid sitting in the home of a man who’d died that afternoon.”
Two days later Frankie Lax returned with his father to Graceland for Elvis’ funeral. He said he didn’t need to be educated to be in awe of the people that day.
“There were all these celebrities there,” Frankie Lax said. “And to be a 13-year-old boy in the 1970s who grew up watching westerns, it was a big thing for me when I saw John
Wayne at the funeral.”
A celebrity in his own right
Frank Lax enjoyed being a celebrity because of his connection to Elvis.
“Some of Elvis’ friends, like George Kline, would line up these events and had photos printed up in mass copies, and there was a famous one of Elvis and Daddy the day they
enlisted,” Frankie Lax said. “They had that one printed up and had Daddy sign a bunch of them and tell stories at these events.
“These fans that were into Elvis would just eat it up and would love listening to him tell about what Elvis was like in the Army.”
Frankie Lax said they’d kid his father about being a big celebrity.
“He wasn’t comfortable with it, but it goes back to wanting to tell what a good person he was,” Frankie Lax said. “He and Daddy were buddies in the Army and remained friends until
Elvis died, and Daddy wanted to keep being Elvis’ friend in a way after he died. That was the way to do it.”
|Holding the belt gifted to his father by Elvis Presley. Frankie's late
father, Frank Lax, first bonded with Elvis when the pair were drafted in
the Army together in 1958. "My father said, 'Elvis, I like your belt. Let me
have one,'" Lax recalled. "And Elvis said, 'You can't have my belt, but I'll
have you one made.'"
Editor Adds: OK, we know for certain that Frank Lax definitely served with Elvis in the U.S. Army from 1958 up until 1960, as for how close the two became is less certain?
In fact, the belt that Frankie Lax is holding in the above photo is an Elvis style belt which use to be sold at the 'Souvenirs of Elvis' gift shop on the opposite side of the road from
There are a few other issues which Lee and Joe will be discussing on the next edition of the Elvis Express Radio Internet Show. Feel free to have your say and why make a request
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