Life on the Road with Elvis in Las Vegas
Our first month in Las Vegas with Elvis came off beautifully. There were no incidents to speak of outside an occasional woman bounding up on the stage and running to Elvis. They were always tackled by the “Memphis Mafia” our staff, before they made it to him. He always took it in good stride and found it amusing. We spent many nights in the penthouse after the second show, listening to gospel music and singing around the piano. Elvis would demonstrate his black belt karate prowess to us in full karate garb and we were very impressed with his skill. He had studied with a master named Ed Parker who would show up occasionally in the penthouse to do a demonstration with Elvis on what he had learned. We would be there in the penthouse sometimes until 5 or 6 am or until Elvis got weary or sleepy. It was reported he had to take sleeping pills to go to sleep at that time. He would sleep all day and wake up around 4 or 5 pm, or about sundown, eat a meal and get ready for the shows.
When we left the penthouse early in the morning, we would make our way to our rooms. We didn’t stay in the Hilton like the TCB band and the Sweet Inspirations. We were about three blocks away at a humble little motel called the Bali Hai. It was modestly furnished with a bedroom, living room, kitchenette, and small bathroom. It was situated just behind the Desert Inn so it was just off the strip.
I liked it because it had a pool and a tennis court in the middle. My daily schedule consisted of getting up around 11 am, eating breakfast in the room, then playing tennis for two hours in the hot Vegas sun, and then either eating an early dinner out somewhere or cooking in my room. Doesn’t that sound exciting? It may not have been that impressive by today’s standards, but I was in the best shape of my life. Plenty of sun, exercise, and food enough for a 128-pound muscleman.