Elvis’ entourage was a crazy mix of family, friends, bodyguards, karate instructors, doctors, chefs, animals and yes men. They wore rings marked TCB which stood for “Taking Care of Business”. But TCB could be tough and Elvis was nicknamed ‘Crazy’ for a reason. Top members of his entourage living and working at Graceland were:
#1 ‘Colonel’ Tom Parker (Manager)
Prior to becoming Elvis’ manager, claim to fame was a show called ‘Colonel Parkers Dancing Chickens’. Elvis said: “I don’t think I’d have ever been very big if it wasn’t for him. He’s a very smart man”. Parker even marketed “I Hate Elvis” badges to make money from those who disliked him! Striking deals with him were so painful, that one victim commented “I’d rather try and close a deal with the Devil.” Not even put off by Elvis’ death, when asked what he would do now, Parker said, “Why, I’ll just go right on managing him!”
#2 Master Kang Rhee (Karate Instructor)
Elvis was a black belt in karate. He studied with Master Rhee from 1970-1974 in Memphis. He had to select an animal title to train under and chose ‘Mr. Tiger’. These years were said to be happy ones for Elvis, but karate later caused him pain when his wife Priscilla allegedly cheated on him with her own Karate instructor.
#3 ‘Scatter’ (Pet Chimpanzee)
Elvis adopted Scatter from a Memphis children’s entertainer. He liked to perform and to look up girls skirts. Elvis would wait until the Graceland den was filled with girls then yell, ‘Okay boys let him out’. The Memphis Mafia used to take Scatter out in Elvis’ Rolls Royce to try and teach him to drive. Elvis also had a pet turkey, dogs, donkeys and a golden palomino named Rising Sun.
#4 ‘Dr. Feelgood’ (Prescription Drug Supplier)
Dr. George C Nichopoulos was employed from 1970 until the day Elvis died in 1977. He was then indicted on 14 counts of over-prescribing. In 1977 alone he gave Elvis 10,000 doses of amphetamines, barbiturates, narcotics, tranquilizers, sleeping pills, laxatives, and hormones. He claimed many were actually placebos to wean Elvis off drugs. He was acquitted, but in 1995 had his license permanently revoked for over-prescribing.
#5 Minnie-May Presley (His Grandmother)
Minnie Mae Presley also lived with him and the Mafia at Graceland. A former member of the Memphis Mafia described her as “a tough old bird. Tall, skinny, and peppery.” Elvis’ nickname for her was ‘Dodger’ as he had once nearly hit her with a ball.
#6 Mary Jenkins Langston (Cook)
For 14 years, Mary ran a 24 hour kitchen for the King serving up fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches, burnt bacon, lemon meringue pie, double cheeseburgers and any other whim. In 1996, she said: “he said the only thing in life he got enjoyment out of was eating – and he liked his food real rich.”
#7 Larry Geller (Hairdresser & Spiritual Advisor)
First employed as his hairdresser, Geller became a kind of spiritual guru to Elvis, lending him books on different religions, numerology and the occult in his search for deeper meaning in his life. He was not liked by Elvis’ family who said that they made Elvis burn the books Geller had lent him to try and return to ‘normality’.
#8 ‘Diamond Joe’ Esposito (Tour Manager)
Head of the Memphis Mafia, Esposito was Elvis’ best man – after meeting him in the army in Germany he worked for him for seventeen years.
#9 Red and Sonny West (Bodyguards)
Fired for standing up to Elvis about his drug abuse, they wrote a tell-all book, “Elvis, What Happened?” It was released two weeks prior to his death. It told the story from the inside and, as a result, sold three million copies.
#10 Lansky Brothers (Clothing)
Elvis shopped at Lansky Brothers his whole life. Starting with his first tux-a pink-and-black one which he wore to his prom he sported their extreme fashion looks for the rest of his life. Bernard Lansky became known as “Clothier to The King.”
#11 Richard Nixon and The FBI
Elvis longed to be made an FBI Agent – he wrote a letter to President Nixon and in 1970 met him at the White House. Nixon did not become part of Elvis’ entourage but did give him a ‘Special Agent’ badge. Before they parted ways Nixon allegedly said: “You dress kind of strange, don’t you?” to which Elvis replied, “Well, Mr. President, you got your show, and I got mine”.