Red West, a founder of Elvis’s “Memphis Mafia” died Tuesday night from an aortic aneurysm. He was 81-years-old.
West was a personal confidante of Elvis, and a bodyguard. He also had roles in numerous Elvis movies, and even co-wrote some of his songs.
Elvis and West go way back, having met in high school, and West was a crucial part of The King’s career.
Red West, longtime and sometimes critical friend and bodyguard of Elvis Presley, died Tuesday night. He was 80. https://t.co/M7upP4IytU
— Commercial Appeal (@memphisnews) July 19, 2017
Born in Bolivar, Tenn., the athletic Robert Gene “Red” West befriended Elvis at Humes High School, where the 6-foot-2 redhead protected the smaller pre-fame Elvis from bullies on at least a couple of occasions, according to Presley lore. He worked for Elvis for some 20 years, occasionally taking small roles in such films as Flaming Star and writing or co-writing such memorable Elvis songs as the 1972 hit Separate Ways, the holiday favorite If Every Day Was Like Christmas and the 1975 masterpiece of infidelity, If You Talk in Your Sleep, recorded at Stax.
West became a controversial figure after he published a biography of Elvis just weeks before his passing, revealing the singer’s sordid history of drug abuse. West, along with co-authors and fellow Memphis Mafia members Sonny West and David Hebler, claimed that they were trying to get Elvis to give up his destructive lifestyle.
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Regardless of the history, Elvis fans shared their dismay and condolences over Twitter:
— Jane G (@66_Jane_99) July 19, 2017
— Amy Speropoulos (@Local24Amy) July 19, 2017
— Elvis Travel Service (@ElvisTravel) July 19, 2017
Rest in peace, Red West.
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