Tom Jones was entertaining downstairs at the Ilikai Hotel when we flew out to the Islands for a break from making movies one year. We went to his show, slipping into our seats after the lights had gone down. But they told Tom that Elvis had come in. Tom had the house lights brought up and he introduced Elvis to the house. It took him a while to get control back. Tom invited us all up to his suite after the show. “I’m checking out of the hotel and moving over to a house on Kailua Bay,” Elvis told Tom. “I want you to come over.” We moved the next day. Joe and Joanie stayed on at the hotel a couple more days and then they came on over. They brought Tom with them.
Tom and Elvis swam far out in the bay and came back in, talking all about music and the stage. Everybody was in and out of the sea. At the end of the day we were as salty as canned anchovies. When Elvis got back up to the house he went out back, climbed up on a swimming pool slide and sailed down it into the fresh water to get the salt off. The rest of us formed a line on the ladder and followed him in.
That night, Elvis sent me down to the little town of Kailua. “I saw some guitars in a little drugstore window when we came through,” he said. “Pick up a couple for us.” Joe had brought along some of Tom’s favorite champagne, Dom Perignon. We whanged cheap guitars and drank expensive champagne far into the night. And we sang. Oh, how we sang. The only thing that slowed us down was having to stop to retune those cheap guitars.
Lamar and Tom got into a drinking contest. Lamar lost. He came out of the bathroom finally muttering, “My God, I’m stone blind.” His wife Nora, led him off somewhere. It was around dawn when Joe and Joanie left to take Tom back to the Ilikai Hotel.
Elvis loved to come back to Kailua Bay. The people of the village left him alone to enjoy himself. He could walk along the beach and nobody would jump up from behind a bush and rush at him. Nice waves rolled in at Kailua beach. Not those big overpowering rollers that can come in at Sunset Beach. Elvis would walk out into the bay at Kailua for a hundred yards and the sea would only come up to his chest.
Joe was always carrying his movie camera. As soon as he would see Elvis coming out of the house and heading down to the beach in his little red bathing suit he would whip up his camera. Elvis would usually hold up his hand and turn away from the camera. He didn’t like pictures taken of his bare chest. So it was only rarely that you would see him walking down to the beach without a tee-shirt on. Or a beach robe.
When we stayed over on the Honolulu side, Elvis liked to put on his scuba gear and swim far out to the reef to watch the fish that lived in the deep blue. Our house over there was the same one that Jackie Kennedy occupied when she flew over.
A lot of people change but actually I haven’t. I’ve never even felt a change. The only thing I’ve felt is happiness, that things have gotten better for me. That God has blessed me. — Elvis Presley, 1956.
“It’s rare when an artist’s talent can touch an entire generation of people. It’s even rarer when that same influence affects several generations. Elvis made an imprint on the world of pop music unequaled by any other single performer.”-Dick Clark
“When I first heard Elvis’ voice, I just knew that I wasn’t going to work for anybody, and nobody was going to be my boss. He is the deity supreme of rock and roll religion as it exists in today’s form. Hearing him for the first time was like busting out of jail. I thank God for Elvis Presley.”-Bob Dylan
“Without Elvis, none of us could have made it.”-Buddy Holly
“That Elvis, man, he is all there is. There ain’t no more. Everything starts and ends with him. He wrote the book." -Bruce Springsteen
“It was Elvis who really got me hooked on beat music. When I heard"Heartbreak Hotel"I thought, this is it.”-Paul McCartney
“Ask anyone. If it hadn’t been for Elvis, I don’t know where popular music would be. He was the one that started it all off, and he was definitely the start of it for me.”-Elton John
“We’ve lost the most popular man that ever walked on this planet since Christ himself was here.”-Carl Perkins