Elvis Presley: How Muhammad Ali inspired The King’s Las Vegas show preparation REVEALED
The King of Rock and Roll made his music comeback after a string of Hollywood movies with his 1968 TV special. Elvis Presley went back on tour while also performing in a Las Vegas residency at The International Hotel. The King performed 636 consecutive shows there from July 1969 to December 1976, but did you know he was inspired by Muhammad Ali in his pre-show preparations?
The news comes from Memphis Mafia member Jerry Schilling who made the reveal when telling a story of a big falling out he had with Elvis.
The 77-year-old made the reveal at Elvis’ 85th birthday celebrations at Graceland this month.
Schilling explained: “When I went to work for Elvis was during the movie times.
“And I thought, ‘wow!’, because I knew Elvis back in the fifties was rock and roll and really exciting.”
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Schilling continued: “And when I got with him it was [during the time of] the boring movies he was doing.
“And I thought, ‘God, I really missed it!’. And then he came back and did the ’68 Comeback special and I said, ‘Ah, that’s cool.’”
After Elvis started his Las Vegas residency, Schilling and The King fell out.
He said: “I quit working for him one time. Y’know we were really friends.”
Schilling said: “Can we say this on stage? Elvis and I had an argument, so I just quit.
“And I went to work for a little unknown artist in Washington DC and I really missed Elvis.
“I called Joe Esposito [Elvis’ road manager] and I was with this little unknown artist. His name was Billy Joel.
“So, I go over and I hadn’t seen Elvis since our big argument.”
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And it was here when Schilling made the reveal about Elvis’ inspiration from the Heavy Weight Champ.
He said: “And he always gets to show right before the show because when he puts on his jumpsuit at the hotel, he said it’s like Muhammad Ali when he takes his hands and the adrenaline burns up.
“I get there, I’m waiting…he gets off the bus. We say nothing and hug each other and I went back to work for him.
During another interview at Elvis week, Schilling spoke of The King’s backstage nerves.
He said: “You can tell by the tension backstage that Elvis felt… we picked up on it.”
While Priscilla Presley continued: “He was nervous. You never approached him before a show.
“He was in his dressing room by himself, because he had to psych himself out.” He always said, ‘you get a different crowd’, you never know, you get people drinking – this is Vegas.
“He said: ‘Every show’s different. You start seeing somebody yawning or looking at their watch, you’d better do a better job’.”
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