Billy Smith (Memphis Mafia)

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Billy Smith
Born (1943-04-06) April 6, 1943 (age 78)[1]
Occupation Railroad worker
Known for Being a member of the Memphis Mafia
Spouse(s) Jo Smith
Relatives Gene Smith, Patsy Presley, Elvis Presley, Lisa Marie Presley

Billy Smith was an administrative aid to Elvis Presley, as well as Elvis' first cousin and part of the Memphis Mafia. He was the only member of the Memphis Mafia to last from beginning to end of the group.

Biography

Billy Smith was born to Travis and Lorraine Smith on April 6, 1943. Travis was the brother of Gladys Presley, Elvis's mother, making Billy and Elvis first cousins. Travis was reportedly Gladys' favorite brother.[2] When Smith was five in November of 1948, his family moved along with the Presley family from Tupelo, Mississippi to Memphis, Tennessee. Both families were very poor at that time, to the point that the fathers searching for work added cardboard to the soles of their shoes when they wore through.[3]

After Elvis became famous, Smith's father Travis worked for him as Chief Guard, and the family moved into Graceland. When Smith became old enough he worked for Elvis as well as a member of the Memphis Mafia, eventually living at Graceland separately from his family. Along with his wife Jo, he and their two sons lived in a trailer in the back yard.[4]

In high school, Smith was a wide receiver on the football team.[5]

With Elvis

Smith was one of Elvis' closest friends and confidantes, and the two would talk for hours up in Elvis' bedroom at Graceland, even acting out Monty Python scenes. Smith is frequently cited as one of Elvis' longest and most devoted friends and family members.[6][7]

At one point, Elvis wanted to speak to President Jimmy Carter about getting George Klein out of some legal trouble. After some administrative organization, when Carter called Graceland, he asked for Billy Smith as a code that it would be the president calling for Elvis and the two subsequently had a discussion.[8]

In the last year of Elvis' life, he became more reclusive and withdrawn, along with abusing medications. Smith spent most of that year with Elvis, even when Elvis had begun pushing others away.[9] When Elvis died, Smith was a pallbearer at Elvis' funeral, along with Joe Esposito, Charlie Hodge, Lamar Fike and George C. Nichopoulos.[10] Besides Ginger Alden, Smith and his wife Jo had been the last people to see Elvis alive.[1]

Later life

Template:Portal After Elvis died, Smith and his wife Jo moved to Mississippi to be closer to her family. They were not allowed to take the trailer that Elvis had purchased for them that they had lived in on the Graceland property.[11] Smith went on to work at the Illinois Central-Gulf Railroad as a maintenance man.[12]

When Graceland reopened to the public in June of 1982, Smith and his family moved back to Memphis and he took a job at Graceland as tour guide.[1]

Smith has given numerous interviews for a range of media that have covered Elvis. As one of Elvis' closest confidants and a blood relative, Smith has been described as a "wonderful asset... to the Elvis Presley fans worldwide."[13]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "Happy Birthday Billy Smith!". http://www.elvispresleyfansofnashville.com/elvis-presley-news/happy-birthday-billy-smith. Retrieved 25 September 2014. 
  2. "Gina Asks Marty". http://www.elvis-express.com/elvisradio_askmarty13.html. Retrieved 23 September 2014. 
  3. Micklos, Jr., John (2010). Elvis Presley: "I Want to Entertain People". Enslow Publishers, Inc.. p. 27. ISBN 9780766033825. 
  4. "Billy Smith, Elvis' cousin and Memphis Mafia member talks candidly to EIN". http://www.elvisinfonet.com/interview_billysmith_part1.html. Retrieved 21 September 2014. 
  5. Schilling, Jerry (2006). Me and a Guy Named Elvis: My Lifelong Friendship with Elvis Presley. Penguin. ISBN 9781101216811. 
  6. Mason, Bobbie Ann (2007). Elvis Presley. Penguin. p. 164. ISBN 9780143038894. http://books.google.com/books?id=NqCQo9nqVHYC&pg=PA164&dq=elvis+cousin+and+billy+smith&hl=en&sa=X&ei=Rz8gVJiIIMzcoAT3lYCwDg&ved=0CBwQ6AEwADgU#v=onepage&q=elvis%20cousin%20and%20billy%20smith&f=false. Retrieved 22 September 2014. 
  7. Hombach, Jean-Pierre. Elvis Presley: The King of Rock 'n' Roll. epubli. p. 17. http://books.google.com/books?id=1XqDHXOhR8cC&pg=PA17&dq=elvis+cousin+and+billy+smith&hl=en&sa=X&ei=Rz8gVJiIIMzcoAT3lYCwDg&ved=0CDQQ6AEwBDgU#v=onepage&q=elvis%20cousin%20and%20billy%20smith&f=false. Retrieved 22 September 2014. 
  8. Klein, George (2011). Elvis: My Best Man: Radio Days, Rock 'n' Roll Nights, and My Lifelong Friendship with Elvis Presley. Crown Publishing Group. pp. 277-278. ISBN 9780307452757. 
  9. "SONNY WEST INTERVIEW". Elvis Presley News. http://www.elvispresleynews.com/SonnyWest.html. Retrieved 23 September 2014. 
  10. Vinita (2005). Profiles in Popular Music. Sura Books. ISBN 9788174786388. 
  11. "LAMAR FIKE DIES AGED 75 (Member of Elvis Presley's entourage, the Memphis Mafia)". http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-chat/2664542/posts. Retrieved 23 September 2014. 
  12. Kessler, Judy (21 Aug 1978). "One Year Later". People. http://www.people.com/people/archive/article/0,,20071521,00.html. Retrieved 20 September 2014. 
  13. "ELVIS Blog by Jeff Schrembs:". http://www.elviscollector.info/Pages/ElvisBlogJeffSchrembs.aspx. Retrieved 23 September 2014.