When Elvis Presley shot to fame in 1956, he started hiring close friends and family members to make up his inner circle. An entourage of guys he could rely on not just as his bodyguards but also as personal confidants. They became known as the Memphis Mafia and one of the most prominent members was Charlie Hodge, who The King met during his army service at Fort Hood in Texas back in 1958.
A musician himself, Hodge was the stage manager when Elvis returned to live performances after his 1968 Comeback Special. The King even put him in charge of scouting out songs for him to record. He had such influence in this area along with fellow Memphis Mafia member Red West, that music companies would nickname them The Imperial Council.
Hodge also ended up coaching Elvis in near-falsetto during the early 1960s and recorded a duet with him called I Will Be Home Again. Yet right at the end of his 17 years of living at Graceland with The King, there would be an incident where the star – who had just months to live – lost his temper and struck his friend.
The reveal was made by Elvis’ cousin Billy Smith, the last surviving original Memphis Mafia member, and his wife Jo.
Speaking on their YouTube channel Elvis Fans Matter, they were asked if it was true that The King slapped Hodge, who died in 2006 aged 71.
Jo confessed: “Yep that’s true, he did once. But it was a whole situation that led up to it. Everybody knows that Charlie liked to drink. Elvis loved Charlie and Charlie loved Elvis and we all loved Charlie too. But he had been drinking a bit and he was kind of annoying. We were outside at Graceland and Elvis was giving a car away to somebody that he had brought around front.”
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Billy shared: “The next day he bought Charlie a Cadillac Seville because he had realised that he’d given everybody [a car] but he hadn’t given Charlie a car yet. Sometimes Elvis, because there were so many people, he would forget.”
Jo said: “Elvis was just that way with everybody. People like to hear about his generosity. You just can’t imagine the things that he did. He didn’t have to have a reason. It didn’t have to be your birthday. It didn’t have to be anything. We had to be careful about saying if we liked anything… because if you did, he would get it and you felt kinda like, ‘Oh my god.’”
She then shared how The King was unbelievably generous to her one time.
Jo said: “I just couldn’t believe this. My dog that I had had for like 14 years passed away and Elvis knew I was upset about it and he gave me $5000.” She said how the regularly armed star would joke with “his favourite line”, which would be “No don’t argue with me because I’ll take this gun and shoot you!”
She added: “That was just his way. He understood that people did not have the ability and the means that he had. He tried to solve as much as he could for everybody that was around him and strangers and everything else.”