Elvis Threatened to Break a Bottle on His Friend’s Head for an Invented Slight
Elvis Presley rarely went anywhere without his entourage, a group of friends and employees who catered to his needs. Elvis was generous to his entourage, but he also had a temper. Everyone in his life also knew he was incredibly insecure. Elvis once witnessed two members of his entourage talking and assumed they were speaking poorly about him. When they wouldn’t admit to it, he threatened violence.
Elvis threatened his friend when he thought he was talking about him
One night, Elvis and his entourage had women over, and Elvis flirted with two different people.
“We had all been drinking a bit, so had Elvis,” his friend and bodyguard Sonny West said, per the book Careless Love: The Unmaking of Elvis Presley by Peter Guralnick. “Tuesday [Weld] and Elvis are on the couch and I’m talking to this girl. Elvis leans over and kisses her and says, ‘You’re really cute.’ Well I knew that was the end of me trying to score with this chick, because whatever Elvis wants in the way of women, he gets.”
Elvis later approached another woman and kissed her as well. As this was happening, West and Gene Smith discussed which of the women they found more attractive. Elvis assumed they were talking about him and walked over in a rage. He picked up a Coke bottle.
“Tell me or I’ll break your goddamn head open with this bottle,” he said.
West didn’t believe Elvis would really hit him and, in his frustration, told him he was quitting. Elvis responded by saying that West couldn’t quit because he was firing him. Then, he punched West in the face.
“Then he drew back and punched me in the face,” West said. “I didn’t move. I didn’t even feel the blow, but I could feel the tears of emotion coming out of my eyes, and I said, quietly, ‘I didn’t think you could do that to me.'”
Elvis’ friends knew he was highly insecure
Elvis was an internationally beloved musician, but he was still highly insecure. He lashed out at Priscilla Presley when she offered anything but a glowing review of his work. His backup singers knew they could never do anything to embarrass him in the slightest.
“We had our arguments, but he couldn’t stay mad for long, and if you went to him in private, you could get him to do just about anything,” singer Myrna Smith said. “Just don’t embarrass him — because he was so insecure, I think that was just [his nature].”
Elvis Presley was also generous with the people in his life
While Elvis could be a fearsome force when people embarrassed him, he was typically pretty generous to his friends.
“By today’s standards the boys’ salaries were not high — the average paycheck was $250 a week — but if the boys ever felt the pinch by the end of the month, they would go to Elvis,” Priscilla wrote of Elvis’ entourage in her book Elvis and Me. “They’d ask him if he could help them out with a down payment on a house or the first and last months’ payments on an apartment. Elvis always came through for them, lending them the one thousand or five thousand or ten thousand dollars they asked for. He was rarely if ever paid back.”
He also gave money to virtual strangers if they asked. On one plane ride, Elvis gave every cent in his wallet to a soldier next to him.