Interview: Memphis Mafia's Jerry Schilling Shares His Memories of the Life and Death of Elvis Presley
It's hard to believe, but on January 8, 2011, Elvis Presley would have turned 76. For those of us who grew up listening to him, who love celebrating his life, the fact that more people visit his home in Memphis, Graceland, on the date of his death, August 16th, than on the day of his birth seems ironical.
January 8, 2011, brought to a close a year of celebration for Elvis Presley fans. The Graceland Mansion birthday festivities this year were given special attention as Edison Pena, one of 32 miners who had spent 69 days trapped below ground after a mine collapse in Chile, was given the seat of Guest of Honor as well as the cake-cutting duties. The non-English speaking Pena, an avid Elvis fan, had kept the morale of those trapped with him up by singing Elvis Presley songs.
In August Warner Bro studios issued the fabulous Elvis 75th Anniversary DVD Collection which features re-mastered versions of 17 of Elvis's most popular movies and premiered the digitally re-mastered Golden Globe award-winning Elvis on Tour.
I had the honor of being invited to attend the premiere of Elvis on Tour and also to interview Elvis's longtime friend Jerry Schilling, who had met Elvis at the age of 12 and who had, over the course of their long friendship, become a member of Elvis's Memphis Mafia. Jerry Schilling went on to manage California's best loved surf band, The Beach Boys, amongst many others.
Video Interview: Jerry Schilling - Elvis Presley Lifelong Friend and Memphis Mafia Member.
Jerry Schilling has worked in film and, when Elvis decided to make Elvis on Tour, he became an important member of the team. He spent a year afterward working closely with Elvis on the film's post-production editing. He was one of few whom Elvis trusted completely and very often found himself the bridge between Elvis and others working on the film. Later, when Elvis decided to start his own production company, he hired Jerry Schilling as his Executive Producer.
When Elvis Presley died in 1977, Priscilla called Jerry Schilling to tell him that Elvis's father had sent his plane, the Lisa Marie, to bring Jerry home to Graceland. He was a pallbearer at the funeral. Through the years Jerry Schilling has maintained his bond with the Presley family, later helping Lisa Marie as she started her own music career.
Jerry Schilling is the author of the book, Me and a Guy Named Elvis: My Lifelong Friendship with Elvis Presley.