Do you know what Elvis Presley’s close friends and employees called each other? Well, it turns out that they had quite a collection of quirky and endearing nicknames. In his book, “Elvis: From Memphis to Hollywood,” Elvis insider Alan Fortas shed light on this amusing tradition within Elvis’s inner circle, also known as the “Memphis Mafia.” Let’s take a closer look at some of these interesting monikers and the stories behind them.
Marty Lacker: The Moon
One of Elvis’s oldest friends, Marty Lacker, had the nickname “Moon.” Marty recalls how this nickname originated during a cross-country bus trip. Joe Esposito, another member of the Memphis Mafia, started singing Andy Williams’s song, “Moon River,” but playfully altered the lyrics to “Mooo-oon Lacker.” Elvis joined in the joke, calling Marty “Moon Lacker” due to his round face and receding hairline. From that point on, the nickname stuck.
Lamar Fike: Birdy
Lamar Fike, a founding member of the Memphis Mafia, earned the nickname “Birdy” from Elvis himself. Lamar believes it was because of his large eyes, resembling those of an owl. Alongside “Birdy,” Lamar also received other affectionate nicknames from Elvis, such as “Mr. Bull,” “Lardass,” “The Wrestler,” “Buddha,” and “The Great Speckled Bird.”
Richard Davis: Broom
Richard Davis served as a valet for Elvis’s movie wardrobe for several years. Elvis affectionately called him “Broom” because of his skinny physique. Richard was known for his willingness to join in on any adventure, regardless of how rough it got.
Larry Geller: The Swami
Larry Geller became Elvis’s personal hair stylist in 1964, and their friendship grew around their shared interest in religion and spirituality. Elvis referred to Larry as “Guru,” but it was Marty Lacker who nicknamed him “The Swami” due to his profound influence on Elvis’s spiritual explorations.
Jerry Schilling: Milk
Jerry Schilling started working for Elvis full-time in 1964 and became his personal aide until 1976. Initially known as “Mr. Bodybuilder,” Jerry eventually became “Milk” within the Memphis Mafia. Additionally, Elvis had a pet name for him – “Cougar.”
Alan Fortas: Hog Ears
Alan Fortas, one of Elvis’s closest confidants, received the moniker “Hog Ears.” Elvis gave him this name due to his larger-than-average ears, as well as to give him a football player’s nickname. However, the guys also jokingly called Alan “The Hacker” because he coughed a lot from smoking.
Billy Smith: Marble Eyes
Elvis’s cousin Billy Smith was a constant presence in his life. Elvis endearingly referred to him as “Marble Eyes” due to his large eyes. Jo Smith, Billy’s wife, recalled that Elvis would often call and ask, “Is Marble Eyes up?” as soon as he woke up.
Sonny West: The Great Explainer
Sonny West was responsible for the care and maintenance of Elvis’s vehicles and worked as one of his bodyguards. Known for his talkative nature, Sonny earned the nickname “The Great Explainer” because he could stretch a five-minute story into an hour-long saga.
Cliff Gleaves: Charlie Copper-Cod
Cliff Gleaves, an early member of the Memphis Mafia, developed a reputation as a con man. When Elvis got angry with him, he called him a “one-codded bastard,” and thus, the nickname “Charlie Copper-Cod” was born.
Elvis Presley: Crazy
While Elvis had nicknames for everyone in his inner circle, he was touchy about receiving one himself. However, behind his back, the guys playfully referred to him as “Crazy” during the 1970s, especially due to his eccentric behavior associated with his fascination with guns.
These are just a few examples of the entertaining nicknames that were part of the camaraderie within Elvis Presley’s inner circle. They were born out of affection, humor, and shared experiences. Each nickname reflected a unique aspect of the person it was bestowed upon, making the Memphis Mafia even more intriguing and colorful.
To explore more fascinating stories about Elvis Presley and his world, visit All about Elvis – your go-to resource for everything related to the King of Rock and Roll!