Elvis Presley stars in King Creole trailer in 1958
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Elvis Presley shot to fame in 1956 and moved his family into Graceland a year later. One member of his Memphis Mafia inner circle was his cousin Billy Smith, who was just a boy at the time. And now over 60 years later, he’s shared his memories of first seeing Elvis record in the studio back in 1958.
Appearing on the Memphis Mafia Kid YouTube channel with his son Danny, Billy said: “When I first went to hear Elvis record was in 1958.
“He was home on leave and had to do a session because he had to have so many songs in the can before he was overseas and all.”
From 1958-60, The King did his army service in West Germany, while his manager Colonel Tom Parker rolled out some pre-recorded singles to keep the star in the public eye while he was away.
Elvis Presley’s cousin shared: “And I remember I was in the Studio B with him and all I could do was stand there and watch him.”
Billy continued: “He’d have a break…I’d go get him water…but I finally got to thinking, ‘He don’t like this much’.
“He didn’t say anything, but I just thought, ‘He’s probably not real crazy about me gawking.’
“So I finally got the hint enough for myself that I went on and watched him from a distance.”
Yet even from further away, Elvis’ cousin was amazed at the talent he was witnessing.
Billy added: “But even [at a distance] I had my mouth halfway open just watching him. I just couldn’t believe what I was seeing.”
Elvis’ cousin said how he loved the likes of other contemporary singers like Dean Martin and Buddy Holly, but The King was unique.
He said: “But when Elvis was on stage, somehow he had a way of bringing you into his world.
“I think everybody shared that same feeling or same moment and he had a way of drawing you into it.”
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Billy said: “It was just something different. To put my finger on it, I can’t. But I feel like so many of Elvis’ fans know exactly what I’m talking about.
“It’s just that one little difference that made Elvis extra special.
“When Elvis picked a song to record, he usually looked at it and thought, ‘What can I do with it?’, especially during the movie days.
“I think he put his heart and soul into every song he recorded, good or bad.”
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