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Taking Care of 'Elvis: What Happened?'
on 9 September 2007
This book comes out at a time when the market is saturated with Elvis Product due to the 30th Anniversary of his death. I suppose EPE already played one of their 'Ace' cards in having former 'Memphis Mafia' friend and colleague, Jerry Schilling release his book into the Elvis World somewhat before Sonny West released "Still Taking Care of Business"...maybe they thought that Sonny's story was going to turn out as another 'bitter-tasting' story of a revenge-of-sorts.
Nevertheless, Mr Sonny West does Elvis a little more proud than he did first time around with his collaboration in the controversial 1977 best-seller "Elvis - What Happened?" (co-written with his equally bitter cousin Red West and buddy Dave Hebler along with 'Sensationalistic Drama Queen' reporter, Steve Dunleavy). The story goes that Sonny, Red and Dave were fired from the Elvis entourage back in the summer of 1976 due to a cut-back in expenses as told to them by Elvis' Daddy, Vernon. Elvis was out of town when each were hit with this news. So, obviously, it was a mighty shocker for Sonny (employed by Elvis for 16 years), Red (employed by Elvis for at least 21 years) and Dave (employed by Elvis for only 3 years) to be given this short notice and 1 week's pay, and Elvis was nowhere to be had. The end result of this situation was always going to be "Elvis - What Happened?" naturally because the guys were teed-off with how IT happened, plus they needed to pay the rent money. However, rent money aside, let us not forget the fact that the guy's did love EP as a brother so maybe the other motive of 'writing the book to make Elvis aware of what he was doing to himself...and the people around him...' still holds as a possible sincere afterthought - after the thought of getting that damn rent paid, maybe...
However, Sonny West does genuinely come across as a straight-talking type of guy who also liked to play and work hard for Elvis. Thirty years on you could say that this effort from Sonny - his attempt at redressing the balance with his first attempt all those years ago - is probably the closest that we'll ever get to the truth about the more bizarre and so-called shocking times that were dramatically sensationalized in "Elvis - What Happened?" You will laugh and cry throughout and feel a great amount of sadness towards the end of the book as Elvis embarks on the downward spiral that led to his untimely passing.
I think you can see Sonny's perspective a little more clearly in this book and you do get to read familiar stories that aren't marred by tales of sensationalism. There are plenty of stories in the book thay you won't be familiar with too. If you want to discover the very human-side of 'The King of Rock 'n' Roll' and what he was really like to work for and live with throughout the various ups and downs of his 23-year period of Superstardom, then "Still Taking Care of Business" would be a good place to start.
It's a welcome addition...or a welcome apology, as the case maybe...to your Elvis book collection that doesn't necessarily leave a bitter taste this second time around.