When Elvis Presley rose to fame in 1956, he began recruiting close friends and family members to form his inner circle. An entourage of guys he could trust not only as his bodyguard but also as his personal confidants. They became known as the Memphis mob and one of the most prominent members of it was Charlie Hodge, whom El Rey met during his military service at Fort Hood in Texas in 1958.
A musician himself, Hodge was the stage manager when Elvis returned to live performance after his 1968 Comeback Special. The King even put him in charge of finding songs for him to record. He had such influence in this area along with his partner Red West, a member of the Memphis mob, that music companies would dub them The Imperial Council.
Hodge also ended up training Elvis in near falsetto in the early 1960s and recorded a duet with him called I Will Be Home Again. However, right at the end of his 17 years living at Graceland with The King, there would be an incident in which the star, who only had months to live, lost his temper and hit his friend.
The revelation was made by Elvis’s cousin Billy Smith, the last surviving original member of the Memphis mob, and his wife Jo.
Speaking on his Elvis Fans Matter YouTube channel, they were asked if it was true that the King slapped Hodge, who died in 2006 at age 71.
Jo confessed: “Yes, that’s true, he did it once. But it was a whole situation that led to it. Everyone knows that Charlie liked to drink. Elvis loved Charlie and Charlie loved Elvis and we all loved Charlie too. But he had been drinking a bit and it was a bit annoying. We were out at Graceland and Elvis was giving away a car to someone he had brought up front.”
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Billy shared: “The next day he bought Charlie a Cadillac Seville because he realized he had given everyone [a car] but he still hadn’t given Charlie a car. Sometimes Elvis, because there were so many people, he would forget.”
Jo said: “Elvis was like that with everyone. People like to hear about his generosity. You can’t imagine the things he did. He didn’t have to have a reason. It didn’t have to be your birthday. It didn’t have to be anything. We had to be careful about saying if we liked something… because if you did, he would understand and you’d be like, ‘Oh my God.'”
She then shared how the King was incredibly generous to her once.
Jo said: “I just couldn’t believe this. My dog that I had had for 14 years passed away and Elvis knew he was upset about it and he gave me $5000.” She said the regularly armed star would joke “his favorite line of hers” of hers, which would be “No, don’t argue with me because I’m going to take this gun and shoot you!”
She added: “That was his way. She understood that people did not have the capacity and means that he had. He tried to figure out everything he could for everyone around him and strangers and everything else.”
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