Billy Smith continued
Billy Smith and his wife Jo were closer to Elvis than anyone. In fact, for the last two years of Elvis’ life Billy and Jo were with Elvis 18 hours a day, every day. They were with Elvis playing racquetball shortly before he died. You would think Graceland would have bent over backwards to get Billy on their payroll but no, he had to beg for a job as a tour guide and started on minimum wage. When they realised how valuable Billy could be to Graceland he was promoted and was head of the tour guides.
Billy was very unhappy with the way Graceland was being run so he voiced his genuine complaints. A control freak like Jack Soden just cannot take criticism so he fired Billy without any warning. Billy, of course, was upset and immediately phoned Priscilla. Lisa answered the phone and Billy explained what had happened and asked Lisa to get her mother to phone back. Billy never got that return call and never got his job back. Priscilla does not like Elvis’ family on the Smith or the Presley side. She kept close contact with Patsy Presley but Patsy was also fearful of Priscilla. The family members who worked at Graceland were always being threatened with being fired if they opened their mouths about the management.
When Billy was fired by Graceland, I offered him a job to run the Elvisly Yours warehouse in Memphis. We did a mass mailing of our catalogue to fans and fan clubs and Billy would take orders from the independent stores at Graceland. This was during a period when we could still sell our Elvis souvenirs in America. When I was sued by EPE in 1985 I initially won the case and it wasn’t until 1987 that on Appeal I was banned from selling Elvis souvenirs in the States. After about a year or so in the mid-1980s Billy said he could not continue working for me but his son Danny would like to take over his job.
These were interesting days in my lawsuit with EPE when my accountant in Memphis, Bill Vance disappeared and his son (Rob) had all my files but went to work for the EPE Accountants “Bean and Ison” without informing me. I went with Danny Smith to pick up the files in their office only to find I was in the lion’s den. There was an Elvis gold record on the wall presented to Joseph Hanks, the vice president and Trustee for EPE. I asked what the hell was going on to find EPE had access to all my private accounts through Rob Vance. Joseph Hanks sold his accounts practise including EPE to Bean and Ison when $8 million was transferred to EPE by Probate Judge Evans. I just did not have time to investigate whether this act of withholding my files was criminal. They had a disclaimer they wanted me to sign before they released my accounts files. My lawyer advised me to sign.
Danny, some days later, almost got in a fistfight on Beale Street with Bernard Lansky who never paid me for merchandise he had at his store on consignment. Lansky still owes me in excess of $1,000.00 for all these years.
Whenever I was in Memphis my different staff over the many years worked hard and were helpful. But, as soon as I left, they did not make the effort and so it was with Danny. “When the cat’s away….” I came into Memphis to find the heating turned up full blast in my warehouse and printed matter curled at the edges. I had to let Danny go after neglecting the business and running up huge utility bills that were never explained. Surprisingly Billy came along to the meeting. I was happy just to get my keys back and say goodbye.
For about three years we had an apartment in Memphis as I was there 4-5 times a year for business and the lawsuit with EPE. One of my staff members in later years had the cheek to live in our apartment, without telling us, running up huge utility bills and even receiving collect phone calls on our telephone. Our phones were also bugged at the apartment. Somehow, instead of recording our calls we had the conversation of two people on a stakeout recorded on my answer machine tape for several hours. I still have the tape.
Elvisly Yours 25th Statue Anniversary
In 1977 when Elvis died I wanted to honour his memory with a life size statue that I hoped would grace a major museum in London. I was a teacher at the time but quit teaching in June 1978 and started Elvisly Yours. I soon realised fans would not donate money for a statue fund but they would buy Elvis memorabilia and profits from the sale of Elvis souvenirs could finance the life size bronze statue. It took three years to get Elvisly Yours started to raise enough money to finance the statue and work began in March 1981 to sculpture the statue. I chose Jon Douglas, who I still consider one of the greatest sculptors in British history, to produce the statue. Jon was 76 when he stated the statue and his greatest previous work was sculpting the moon for the film “2001” a special coincidence because Elvis’ theme tune was the music from “2001” that started his shows in the 1970s.
Jon first had to build a framework, a skeleton for the statue on which he put clay then sculpted the clay. One night I had a call from Jon telling me to come quick (I lived 2 miles from his studio) as he had problems. When I got to his studios in Cricklewood, NW London the model of Elvis was collapsing. Jon tried to move the stance of the legs and Elvis collapsed in our arms as the weight of the clay became too much and snapped the legs. Jon had to start again and 3 months was wasted.
He eventually was near completion and made a mould for the cold cast bronze statue. Sadly, Jon became paralysed in his hands two days before completion and he had to direct his two sons and my staff how to join the 8 parts of the statue together the night before the unveiling on September 27th 1981. To join the arms to the body he needed two round cylinders. All he could find to hand was two cans of Campbell soups and these are inside the statue. The statue was completed just two hours before it was due to be unveiled in front of 2,000 fans by Charlie Hodge at the Baronial Suite in the City of London on September 27th 1981. Even then, the truck carrying the statue and my staff to the unveiling ceremony was in a road accident. People were hurt but the only damage to the statue was the microphone was bent back, rather rudely. You may know that Elvis always had problems with microphones.
Our Elvisly Yours Statue was offered to the London Museums, County Hall and the Royal Festival Hall for free but no one wanted our Elvis so we eventually found a home for it in Elvisly Yours in London’s East End in 1982. Then it moved in 1998 to the Trocadero in Piccadilly Circus and now it can be seen each day at Elvisly Yours, 233 Baker St, London NW1. An exact life size copy of the statue was offered for FREE to Graceland in 1982 but Soden said he didn’t want any statue of Elvis at Graceland, all he wanted was money.
The statue has been on television probably hundreds of times over the past 25 years. It has appeared on a Rolling Stones video, on Top of the Pops in a Del Amitri video, on Blue Peter, toured the country for Conventions and was the star of the 30th Anniversary celebration of Elvis landing in Germany to start his army service.
THe statue now raises money for charity and we ask Elvis fans to donate at least £1 to have their photo taken with the statue.
We have raised £thousands for the “Lynda Jackson MacMillan Centre” and other charities because of the Elvisly Yours Statue. HAPPY 25TH BIRTHDAY…
10,000 emails a year
Every year Elvisly Yours gets 10,000 plus emails about Elvis, that is not including 1,500 spam emails a week. Every day I get a weird and wonderful selection of emails from fans, the media, students, ETAs, relatives trying to sell their dearly departed’s Elvis collection and I try to answer all. I get emails from Elvis’ family and friends and they are nearly always complimentary about Elvisly Yours and appreciate what we do to honour and promote the memory of Elvis. Family and friends of Elvis are still being intimidated by EPE and often write to me asking for advice since I have 21 years of litigation experience against EPE in the US and UK. You may get a reply from me at 4am. If I can’t get back to sleep after waking up in the night I go on my computer and catch up with all my email correspondence.
I find some fans are quite lazy and do not use the search engines on the Internet. Many answers I do not have to hand but usually a quick check on “Google” will find the answer and I wonder why they couldn’t do the same. I was once asked about “Elvis songs in Latin” by a News Agency reporter. When I asked him why he didn’t use the Internet he said, “Sid, you’re quicker than the Internet”.
Many questions are about value of memorabilia. I am no expert on values of memorabilia and we don’t even sell records and CDs. The best website to ask for such valuations is www.jerryosborne.com.
For words to Elvis’ songs go to the “Elvex pages on website: www.xs4all.nl/~arpt/elvex
For all Elvis News check out: www.elvisinfonet.com
But, for the very best Elvis memorabilia in the world, at the best prices just click on www.elvisly-yours.com.
Please note the only way Elvisly Yours survives is by selling our memorabilia, books and magazines. So, if you want to keep receiving our Cyber Newsletters and enjoying our very popular Elvis website please order our products from our ‘Elvis Shop’ online or visit Elvisly Yours at 233 Baker Street, London NW1.
With Christmas coming up now is the time to start buying Elvis memorabilia before stocks run short and it gets too late for Christmas buying online.