Best wishes for Sonny West

In case you have not heard, Elvis’ longtime friend and bodyguard Sonny West is in the hospital after suffering serious injuries from a fall last week. My thoughts and prayers go out to him for a speedy recovery.

After being fired by the Presley camp in 1976, Sonny was part of a trio of former bodyguards, including his cousin Red West and Dave Hebler, that co-authored the 1977 book Elvis, What Happened?

Published just two weeks before the singer’s death, the book is notable as the first to expose Elvis’ prescription drug addiction and abuse. Gossip columnist Steve Dunleavy wrote the tell-all, giving it a sensationalized and negative tone. After Elvis passed away, Elvis, What Happened? became a bestseller.

While mourning the loss of Elvis, many fans were understandably hurt by this book. At the time, none wanted to believe what most of us know today – with thirty-four years of perspective – to be its underlying truths.

In 2007, Sonny published another book about Elvis, but with an entirely different tone.  In Elvis: Still Taking Care of Business, Sonny fondly remembers his friend.

“I am forced to concede that [Elvis, What Happened?] was largely a failure,” he says in the introduction. “It didn’t save Elvis, and neither did it convey to readers how much I loved the man. By focusing so much on Elvis’ addiction and oddball behavior, I was remiss in not telling readers how much he meant to me.”

Thirty-four years is a long time, but, given the cold stories and comments on various Elvis sites about Sonny’s hospitalization, some fans unfortunately continue to hold a grudge against him.

We will never know, of course, what might have been, but I personally believe that Elvis and the Wests eventually would have reconciled had he lived.

Again, my best wishes go out to Sonny.

6 thoughts on “Best wishes for Sonny West

  1. Oh my, I hope he gets better soon. In spite of everything, Sonny still talks often of Elvis and isn’t one to push the negativity. At least he’s honest about what happened.

    Get well soon Sonny

    Fred Wolfe

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  2. Sonny was always one of my fave MM guys and one who I always beleived truly cared about Elvis the man.

    Good thought good thought goodthoughts for his recovery.

    His Taking Care of Business book was an excellent addition to my Elvis library – it’s the first time I saw the pictures of Elvis and Beatles together

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  3. What exactly did Sonny do after he was fired in 1976? You write he was part of a bodyguard trio after that? How long did he do that and what kind of jobs did he have afterwards? I mean, 35 years are a long time, people usually move on.

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    • I don’t have a lot of information on Sonny West’s post-Elvis activities.

      From The Elvis Encyclopedia by Adam Victor: “More recently, he […] has raised Arabian horses, produced a movie, worked in talent booking, and been a DJ.”

      Still Taking Care of Business indicates he is semi-retired.

      Regarding “35 years are a long time, people usually move on,” that is an excellent point. People should move on from holding grudges against Sonny West.

      As for moving on from Elvis after 35 years, people – including me – are still interested in Elvis. I suspect that will still be the case 35 years from now as well.

      I’m glad people like Sonny and others are still willing to talk about their old friend.

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  4. One thing he has been doing is talking about Elvis on conventions and the like. When I visited Memphis in 2005 during Elvis week he’d teamed up with an impersonator, the impersonator singing Elvis songs and Sonny West talking about his time with Elvis and signing autographs afterwards. I don’t remember what the show was called, but it was pretty expensive… That said, I wish Sonny a speedy recovery!

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  5. Sonny (Jackson He-Crow) is a dude. Saw an old interview with him in the late ’70’s defending “What Happened” – full-on hair, dark eyeshades and beard, lookin’ cool. Always thought the West’s had EP’s best interests at heart. And after all, their book was NOT full of fabrications. Best wishes to Sonny and family.

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