|Elvis Presley's anger over
his wife's affair grew so intense that in 1973 he issued
orders to have Priscilla's boyfriend killed. That's the
shocking scene described by Red West, who was Elvis's
friend and bodyguard for over 20 years.
of abusing powerful prescription drugs had fed the destructive
side of Elvis' personality and hastened the end of his
marriage. Now the star was consumed with jealousy over
his wife's new romance with handsome karate intructor
Mike Stone. Even worse, Elvis was the one who insisted
Priscilla take lessons from the powerful young martial
arts expert in the first place.
God-fearing and sensitive as a youth, by 1973 Elvis
was capable of anything, including ordering a mob-style
It was no surprise Elvis turned to Red West for the
death warrant the obsessed singer wanted placed on his
rival. Red was Presley's most loyal and trusted friend
for over 20 years. As Memphis teenagers, Red prevented
the budding superstar from being thrashed by high school
bullies who wanted to cut his long hair. Rugged and
quick-fisted, Red quickly went from small town football
hero to senior member of the Memphis Mafia, the squad
of musicians, musclemen and business cronies who served
The King's every whim.
Now Elvis was asking Red to betray everything he believed
in to serve the drug-fueled rage that was consuming
the troubled singer's soul.
Red received the order at Presley's headquarters. He
was called up to the deluxe 30th floor Imperial Suite
penthouse topping the Las Vegas Hilton. Even though
he was on tour with his mistress, beauty queen Linda
Thompson, Elvis could not bear the thought of Priscilla
with another man. Red tried to calm his boss, but Elvis
was a man possessed.
"Mike Stone must die. He must die," Elvis
recalls his trademark voice was monotone but fierce.
His eyes were glazed and dark as he chanted the order.
Elvis fixed him in his gaze. Red believed Elvis was
trying to hypnotize him.
"You will do it for me. You must. He has no right
to live. Red, find someone, somebody to wipe him out,"
Then, after an injection from his personal physician,
the King sank into a narcotic slumber.
Red understood Elvis wasn't kidding. In Vegas a call
to the right underworld connections could fix a hit
for the fee of $10,000. That was small change to the
highest paid performer in the world.
Red's sense of decency and fair play battled with his
absolute loyalty to his boss and hero. He sought the
advice of a trusted friend,
actor Robert Conrad, star of the TV show "Wild,
Wild West." Conrad wisely counseled Red to stall
Elvis until the singer came to his senses. Even so,
Elvis continued his demands for the death of Priscilla's
lover. And day after day Red continued to make excuses
and buy time.
Finally, Red huddled with Elvis in private a few minutes
before the star took the stage in concert.
"I found the right guy," bluffed Red, "but
I didn't do anything about it yet. E, are you sure you
want me to call this guy back?"
The question hung in the air. Elvis was silent.
"Aw, hell," said Elvis finally. "Just
let's leave it for now. Maybe it's a bit heavy. Let's
just leave it off for now."
Mike Stone was spared.
Red had seen the dark side of America's idol. But now
the fury had passed, leaving behind the God-fearing
Southern boy Red swore his loyalty to years ago.
Elvis never mentioned the subject again.