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Three Surprising Stories About The King of Rock and Roll

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb
The Truth Network Radio
December 28, 2023 3:02 am

Three Surprising Stories About The King of Rock and Roll

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb

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December 28, 2023 3:02 am

On this episode of Our American Stories, Greg McDonald got his start in show business as a teenager after meeting Elvis Presley and his manager, Colonel Tom Parker, shortly after Parker began managing Elvis in the ‘50s. Here’s Greg with a Colonel and Elvis Christmas story.

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And we continue with our American stories. Greg McDonald's got his start in show business as a teenager after meeting Elvis Presley and his manager, Colonel Tom Parker, while changing their air conditioning filters in Parker's Palm Springs, California, home. Greg went on to manage Ricky Nelson for 17 years and worked under Colonel Parker and Elvis shortly after Parker began managing Presley in the 1950s.

Here's Greg with three Elvis Presley story. When I was a teenager, Colonel had an office at MGM Studios. It was called the Elvis Exploitation Office. That's what it said on the on the door. In those days, an exploitation officer was a real thing.

Now it sounds terrible, but it really wasn't. So the exploitation officer at a studio was a big deal. They wouldn't give a manager a free office, but they would give a star free office, one of the actors. So they called that Elvis's office at MGM.

They were there for years. So the colonel had formed a club. He and Elvis formed a club called the Snowman's League. Well, the Snowman's League, the first member was Elvis and the colonel and Priscilla and just about everybody in the Memphis Mafia.

All of us. I was in it. It was just a fictitious club.

Very funny. It's a club of guys with great senses of humor. Really didn't mean anything. So it became very, very prestigious in Hollywood to have a snow card for Colonel Parker to give you a snow card. That meant you were in Elvis's private club. And it really became something.

Oh, it became a joke. But it was also very serious. All the people at the William Morris agency, the big guys all belong to the Snowman's League and they'd have luncheons. And it was just fun and great.

Colonel had a great sense of humor, great sense of humor. So the issue with the Snowman's League is you could never ask for a card. You had to be offered a card. You couldn't ask for it. And it cost nothing to get in the Snowman's League, but it cost ten thousand dollars to get out.

It was a joke. But it was it was all the big agents in Hollywood and producers. Pretty soon they all started wanting to be in the Snowman's League, but the colonel had to invite them. So, again, I'm just a teenager at MGM and I'm out in a hallway answering the phone. And in through the door comes Kirk Kekorian. Well, Kirk Kekorian owned MGM and Kirk Kekorian owned the International Hotel in Las Vegas. He built it where at the time Elvis was working. So he was not only our employer.

He had made movies with Elvis and he owned MGM Studios. So he comes up to me and I'm a teenage kid and he said he's a billionaire. And he says, do you think that you could go in there, young man, and ask Colonel Parker if I could have a snow card?

This is a billionaire asking a kid if he could have a snow car. And I said, well, sure. You know, so I walked in the office and the colonel had heard it over the partition because he said he likes him off to tell me to tell him. So I come back out and he said, he said the colonel didn't say anything.

He didn't make an offer. Kekorian came in three times before he had us make up a snow card with his name on it. And he he owned the building, he owned all of MGM, but he wanted that snow car. Out here in the desert are some of our mailboxes are mounted on little blocks out the front of the house down.

You know, you could certainly reach and grab them. I'm going to run, make a run to the hardware store. They kept stealing Elvis's mailbox, so he decided he was going to replace it himself.

Which, of course, he had no tools and no skills either. So we went to Allen Ladd Hardware downtown in Pump Springs. And a friend of mine that ran the ran the store for Allen Hardware and is ultimately his wife. We'd wake him up at two and three o'clock in the morning to open the store so Elvis could pick a mailbox.

We did it three times. People kept stealing his mailbox. It was hilarious. And Elvis is trying to mount the mailbox was hilarious.

He had no mechanical skills whatsoever. And I ended up putting on later. But it was we were out there. We'd be out there all night trying to install that mailbox. The Memphis mafia guys used to call me at my home. Elvis and the Colonel installed a red phone in my bedroom by my bed and the phone would ring. And one of the guys would say, Elvis wants you to come up. He wants to see.

Well, he really didn't. But they wanted me to come up. So I finally figured out that they were trying to get me to come up and stay at the Chino Canyon house. So they could go be with their wives and girlfriends and I could stay there with Elvis because somebody had to be at the house with Elvis. So I go up there and Elvis is off in the bedroom. And one by one, the guys all leave. And I'm sitting in the living room alone and Elvis finally comes out and we spend the whole evening together sitting in the living room watching silly shows. And he decides he wants to go down to Jermaine's Liquor, which is down on the corner. And he wanted some cigarillos and some soda. And he just got a black Stutz Bearcat and he says, come on, let's go. You want to drive the new car?

I said, sure. It was really cool. It was really a fancy Pontiac.

It was good looking. So we get in the car and go down to Jermaine's and it's spring break in Palm Springs and there's hundreds of kids around the store and in the store. So Elvis and I walk in the store and he thinks he's incognito. He's got these big glasses and this big belt and this jumpsuit.

It's a running suit, not his show jumpsuit. So he thinks he's incognito. So we go in. He goes back to the store and breaks to fix his stuff up and we go up to the checkout counter and all these people are around the checkout. And I notice everybody is looking at Elvis, of course, but they're watching his pants.

Well, what's happening is there's a big lump going down his leg. And as it hits the bottom of his pants, it's a barrel of a gun that clinks out onto the floor. Now everybody looking at Elvis is backing up and the girls behind the desk see the gun and they're scared to death. So he looks at me, says, you should probably pick that up. Oh, man, I just got out of the army.

I didn't want anything to do with guns. So I reached down and I picked this giant gun up by the barrel. I'm holding it by the barrel and the girls at the counter are scared to death. They think we're robbing them.

And I go, we're not robbing you. This is Elvis. I'm trying to tell the girls this is Elvis. You're really young girls.

I'm not sure they knew who he was. And I notice in the down the row in the back of the store, there's a girl on a phone. She's calling the cops. Well, I want to pay them. They won't take my money. And I'm holding this big pistol by the barrel. And Elvis is now backing out of the store, out the front door of the cars parked right in front of the doors. So he gets in the passenger side and I'm still got to pay the bill.

They won't take my money. And I bring that gun outside to him. I hand it to him. And he's laughing in tears, laughing, takes it so funny. And we drive off down onto Palm Canyon Drive and we just know the cops are going to stop us any minute because we're so obvious.

But we didn't. And I said, if we get arrested, the colonel, if you get arrested, the colonel is going to kill me. So going out with him was he never carried any money, never carried any money. And he always had several guns. So it was an evening with Elvis. And a terrific job on the editing, production and storytelling by our own Greg Hengler and a special thanks to Greg McConnell. He's the author of Elvis and the Colonel, an insider's look at the most legendary partnership in show business.

That story about the Snowmen's League was just so good. And Kurt Krekorian is like basically the first big, super rich guy, practical billionaire who was also world famous. He owned MGM and the International Hotel. And that's where Elvis did his never ending residency, was at the International Hotel. And there's Colonel Tom Parker yanking old Krekorian's chain. Wouldn't let him in the snowman's club, turned him down not once, but twice. That's a sense of humor right there, folks.

It also had some depth to it. Hey, look, you may be the boss, but I represent the king. I'm with the king. And we're going to let you know that we don't work for you. We work together.

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Whisper: medium.en / 2023-12-28 04:28:33 / 2023-12-28 04:33:52 / 5

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