Elvis Presley: The Artist Once Pranked His Backup Singers in This Extreme Way

by Matthew Wilson

Elvis Presley was known for both his incredible voice and his dance moves. But off stage, the singer was also a bit of a prankster as well. The King of Rock n’ Roll once decided to prank his backup vocalists in an extreme way.

And he recruited his bodyguards to pull off the joke. In a 2017 interview with Memphis Magazine, Presley’s high school best friend and bodyguard Red West detailed the extreme prank they once pulled. It involved blank bullets and a fake shooting after a concert in Las Vegas.

“Whenever it got tense, we’d figure out some way to lighten things up. And with Elvis, that meant spreading around some mischief,” West wrote. “One time in Las Vegas, Elvis and I worked out a plan that would have some fun with the Stamps Quartet, the group that sang backup for Elvis.”

Usually, Presley and the Stamps would hang out after their concerts in Presley’s suit. But the singer decided to have a bit of fun with them one afternoon. He staged a fake gun threat on the group with a little help of his personal bodyguards.

“I pulled the singers aside and said, ‘Boys, we’ve got another threat. You stay behind me as we go up to the suite, and follow my lead,'” West wrote. “Earlier that day, I’d gotten some blank bullets for me, Sonny, and two security guards who were all in on it.”

Elvis Presley and His Prank

The bodyguards usher both Presley and the Stamps up to the 30th floor of the building where the suite was. Everyone was in on the joke except for the backup vocalists. Meanwhile, one of Presley’s associates had snuck into the suite and pretended to be an intruder. He then jumped out, screamed at the group, and opened fire with the blank bullets.

“J.D. Sumner, the patriarch of the Stamps, pushed Elvis to the floor and got on top of him,” West wrote. “J.D.’s nephew Donnie Sumner tried to jump over the bar and succeeded in knocking over bottles and banging up his knee. Ed Enoch slid over to the other side of the bar and shouted, ‘Gimme a gun!’ And the tenor, who was very religious, found a place to pray.”

The security guards pretended to be shot and fell to the ground. The musicians were all terrified, thinking that the threat was real. But Presley soon let everyone in on the joke. Initially, they were upset but they also found the joke to be funny if extreme.

“Afterwards, when they got over the upset and were laughing about it, J.D. said, ‘You know, I pushed Elvis down and could feel him shaking,'” West wrote. “‘I thought he was scared, but he was just laughing!’ And nobody laughed harder than Elvis.”