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.