Elvis Presley: Who Were the Original Members of the King’s ‘Memphis Mafia?’

by Keeli Parkey

Elvis Presley’s fame is almost unfathomable. At the peak of his career, there was nowhere “The King” could go without being swarmed by fans.

Throughout his career, Presley kept around him a close group of relatives, friends, and associates who watched over his interests. There was even a name given to these close confidantes – “Memphis Mafia.” These individuals were with “The King” when he began his career in 1954. They were still supporting him when he died in 1977 at the age of 42.

Part of the “Memphis Mafia” were individuals who worked as bodyguards for Elvis. Others helped with the logistics and scheduling of his tours. Many of the members of this select group were paid with fringe benefits – cars, gifts, bonuses, and even houses.

This group of close confidants of Elvis Presley were dubbed the “Memphis Mafia” by the media around 1960. The description was the result of the way members of the group dressed – black suits and dark sunglasses.

Meet the ‘Memphis Mafia’

Members of the “Memphis Mafia” came and went, but there were some individuals who stayed with Elvis Presley for many years. Its first members were relatives of the singer. Junior Smith and Gene Smith Presley’s first cousins.

Other early members of the “Memphis Mafia” were Red West, a high school friend of the singer. Cliff Gleaves, a singer himself, was another early member.

Judy Spreckels was reportedly a member of the group. And, she was most likely the only woman. She is known for being a publisher, writer, and a trial historian.

As Elvis Presley gain popularity, the number of individuals in the “Memphis Mafia” increased. Other members included Delbert B. “Sonny” West, Billy Smith, Charlie Hodge, Lamar Fike, Joe Esposito, Alan Fortas, Richard David, Marty Lacker, Jimmy Kingsley, “Chief” Ray Sitton, Jerry Schilling, Mike Keeton, Dave Hebler, and Sam Thompson, among others.

“Sonny West” was a cousin of Red West and served as one of “The King’s” bodyguards. Charlie Hodge was a vocal coach, musician, and singer. He also lived at Graceland. Furthermore, Joe Esposito worked as Elvis Presley’s road manager. He was also the singer’s friend. Following Elvis Presley’s death, Esposito wrote and published several books about the singer.

Jerry Schilling had a successful career in the music business. He was a manager for the Beach Boys for more than a decade. He also managed Lisa Marie, Elvis Presley’s daughter, as well as Jerry Lee Lewis.

Elvis Presley Loved Banana & Peanut Butter Sandwiches – Make Your Own

When you think about Elvis Presley, many things come to mind. For many, one thing that comes to mind is his love of banana and peanut butter sandwiches.

This tasty combo was requested by Presley when Mary Jenkins, the chef at this Graceland home, asked him what he wanted for breakfast. “The King” reportedly asked for a fried peanut butter and banana sandwich. She had never heard of it.

Jenkins reportedly tried to make the sandwich, but Elvis wasn’t happy with it. So, his father offered to assist her. Together, they toasted the bread. Then, added banana and peanut butter to a slice. Butter was added to the pan and the toast was put on top. Jenkins repeatedly flipped the sandwich until it was completely heated. The result? A sandwich fit for a king, well “The King.”