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By Linda Zabriskie Johnson

There are characters that go unnoticed by people, who are there but are more discreet than the rest and who, curiously, are also part of the group that accompanied Elvis for years, such as Gigi Campbell or Richard Davis.

Richard Davis, since 1961 would form part of the group of friends and member of Elvis’s personal entourage. Born in Memphis, he was a faithful friend of Elvis, bodyguard, even a substitute of cinema in some of his films. He met Elvis Presley in 1960 when he worked as a manager in the Memphian theater where Elvis went with Anita Wood to see a movie and asked if he could go up to a box so he wouldn’t be noticed.

In 1961 Sonny West took him to Graceland and from then on Elvis told him to go whenever he wanted, becoming a regular friend at the house and later from 1962 he already proposed to work for him. Since then he worked for him for years . Although he was present around Elvis from the beginning of his services, he is more recognizable in the time since the Concerts because he normally always appears next to him.

Interestingly enough, he was laid off in the late 1970s to cut costs. But he would remain close to Elvis as a friend and would occasionally return to his service. Richard Davis took care of Elvis’s wardrobe in collaboration with Billy, he also bought his clothes, but he also had other jobs. In Memphis, he took care of the vehicles (washing, gas, repairs) and oversaw the storage of Elvis’s necessities in the kitchen and the rest of the house.

He was also expected to be at Graceland 1:30 every day. And at the time of Concerts as an escort also with Sonny and Red West. They say of him that his humor was acid and joking and told the anecdote in which he slammed a water balloon on Elvis. Richard said that working for Elvis was fun and happy back in the days of the movies, when it was all jokes and laughter. He said that he treated them like his family and if someone wasn’t like that, he would turn them down. He said that Elvis always made it fun. When he slept, they slept, when there was a party they celebrated, when someone was sick Elvis asked him: What’s wrong? His love for Elvis was unquestionable despite the most difficult times for everyone. It is also incredible the multiple tasks that each of they had to do for Elvis. And the sad thing is that they have been so criticized over time. A single salary, many functions and after hours… Richard would never write a book talking about Elvis Presley… he did give interviews to talk about him. He was always a loyal friend.

Interview with Richard Davis:

Richard Davis is the closest person to Elvis Presley who didn’t write a book about his Memphis Mafia time.
Davis went to work for Elvis in the early 60s and was there when Elvis met the Beatles in 1965, during the taping of the ’68 Comeback Special, and the Vegas/Tour years.
Davis never wrote a book “because there’s never been a book written about Elvis yet that’s totally truthful. I don’t agree with books (of the Memphis Mafia), because a lot is fabrication. They’re only written to make money at Elvis’s expense, and he’s not here to defend himself.”

Q : Richard, please tell us when was the first time you met Elvis?
A : That would have to be back in about 1960 I would think. I was assistant manager of the Memphian Theater, and one night I was at work and Elvis rode up on his Harley-Davidson hog motorcycle and had Anita Wood on the back of it. And of course, the movie had already started, and the lights were out, and he came to the door and came on inside the lobby and he wanted to go up into the balcony. The Memphian Theater had a balcony, but it was closed off to the public. So, he wanted to know if he could go up in the balcony. I said, ‘Well, sure you can go up in the balcony if you want to. You can go anywhere you want to’ So he went up with Anita and stayed up there all night long. That’s the first time I ever met him but he wouldn’t have remembered me from then.

Q : Can you tell us about your friend Elvis?
A : Elvis treated all of guys that worked for him, that was employed by him as family. He didn’t treat us as employees. We were like a family. We all got along great together. Well, you had to, or you couldn’t stay in this group, because Elvis would not have anybody working for him that couldn’t get along with everybody else and fit in into the inner circle. We did everything together. When Elvis slept, we slept. When Elvis partied, we partied. When Elvis worked, we worked. We did everything together. And the humor and the relationship and the love between all of us when we were together, you could feel the vibes in the group, you could feel it. I mean so strongly that sometimes maybe if one of us wasn’t feeling well or one of us had a problem, hell, Elvis sometimes could tell it. He’d sense it. ‘Hey, whatsa matter? Oh, no, oh, yeah, I know something’s wrong. Whatsa matter?’ You know. He’d make you open up to him. But it was a great relationship.
It was a good working relationship. It was not just like a job. It was fun. Elvis made it fun. And that’s why our years together were so good. And he said many times, matter of fact, that, when we were making movies, ‘When these movies cease to be fun is when I quit making ’em. And so, they were fun’. He made sure that everybody had a good time. And that was our relationship together.

photo info:

17 June 1964, Richard Davis and Elvis Presley on the set of Viva Las Vegas.
Richard Davis, left with Elvis on location in Seattle, Washington in 1962.
On the set of Stay Away Joe with a part of the Memphis Mafia-Richard Davis, Charlie Hodge, Elvis, Joe Esposito and Billy Smith.
Elvis with Richard Davis on the set of ‘Stay Away, Joe.’
Elvis (Richard Davis in the foreground and Red West on the left) photographed at the Columbia Inn Motel, Kalama, Washington, Tuesday, September 4, 1962.
With Elvis on the set of ‘ It Happened At The World Fair.’
August 6, 1970, Richard Davis and Elvis Presley at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada. They were attending a Nancy Sinatra show.
Elvis’ audience walk ,11 Aug 1970 with Richard Davis behind him.
Elvis with Richard Davis and Joe Esposito exiting the stage after his performance in ‘Elvis- That’s The Way It Is’ in 1970.
Richard Davis and Elvis having fun on the bus in the mid-60’s.

Article provided by Linda Zabriskie Johnson

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