He was Elvis Presley’s longtime confidant and personal body guard until a fallout ended the friendship in the 70’s. Red West, who many say played an influential role in the King of Rock and Roll’s success, died at Baptist Hospital in Memphis from a reported heart attack Tuesday night.
Jerry Schilling grew up right here in Memphis and now calls California home. Schilling, like West, was one of the original members of the so-called Memphis Mafia. It was tight circle of friends devoted to Elvis’ success and keeping threats at bay.
Schilling says Red West was a tough guy known to get physical, but friends say away from the spotlight, he had softer side few got to see.
“Red was always the first one to step up and protect Elvis and if that meant getting into a fight he would do that,” says Schilling. “But the interesting thing about Red was that he was as sensitive as he was tough, and he wrote 11 songs for Elvis including ‘If Every Day Could Be Just Like Christmas.’”
Elvis and Red West’s friendship started at Humes High School on the football field. They were so close that when Elvis got his first car, West was listed on the insurance policy.
Red West was 80-years-old. See his filmography on IMDB here.
Next month, the world will be remembering the 40th anniversary of Elvis’ death on August 16, 1977.