Most celebrities are surrounded by many people – family, friends, staff, etc. When you’re as big of a celebrity as Elvis Presley was, you’re definitely going to have an entourage.
Not all of the people surrounding The King during his career were reputable, according to a member of Elvis Presley’s band. That member is Hal Blaine, who played drums for the singer.
According to an article on CheatSheet.com, while he was happy to be working with one of the world’s most famous singers, Blaine reportedly said he was upset by some of the things he witnessed while in Elvis Presley’s orbit. The article calls what Blaine allegedly witnessed “disturbing behaviors” and said he believed the singer was practicing “demagoguery.”
“Once in a while, he’d say something like, ‘I’m a little bit thirsty,'” Blaine said, according to the article. “And God, 15 guys would run at him with Coke bottles in those days to see who could knock down the other guy. Elvis was studying karate, jiu-jitsu, whatever it is, and whenever a star does something like that, all the other people started doing the same thing. Everybody started studying jiu-jitsu and judo.
“It was hysterical to see Elvis come into the room, and one guy would leap out at him like, ‘Aarr,’ like he’s going to kill him, and Elvis would go into his stance of a karate master. It was really disturbing. The demagoguery was unbelievable. It was like the 15 guys in the studio were bowing to him.”
During his tenure with Elvis Presley, Blaine performed on the legendary “’68 Comeback Special.”
In addition to working with The King, according to the article, Blaine also played for some other legendary performers. These included Barbara Streisand, Roy Orbison, The Byrds, The Beach Boys, and The Ronettes.
Despite Issues Drummer ‘Enjoyed’ Working for Elvis Presley
While he didn’t approve of some of the behavior he said he witnessed while working for Elvis Presley, Blaine reportedly also said he “enjoyed” parts of the job. He also developed friendships with some of the individuals who thought behaved inappropriately, the article reported.
“Elvis, to me, was a wonderful client and they were paying me well,” Blaine reportedly said. “I enjoyed his music and I met all his guys. We all had yachts down at the marina.”
‘Memphis Mafia’ Stayed Close to Elvis
During his career, Elvis Presley had a name for the closest members of his inner circle. That name was the “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.