ELVIS INTERVIEWS BY JOE KREIN

 

MYRNA SMITH INTERVIEW

THE FOLLOWING IS A TAPED TELEPHONE INTERVIEW WITH MYRNA SMITH FROM THE "SWEET INSPIRATIONS". WHAT A WONDERFUL LADY SHE WAS TO TALK TOO. I AM GLAD TO SAY SHE HAS NOW BECOME A FRIEND. SHE TRULY LOVED ELVIS AND DOES ANY THING IN HER POWER TO KEEP HIS MEMORY ALIVE.
JOE KREIN: CAN YOU TELL ME A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF. WHERE WERE YOU BORN AND RAISED?
MYRNA SMITH : I WAS BORN AND RAISED IN SOUTH NEW JERSEY. I'M NOT TO FAR FROM YOU. A LOT OF MY FAMILY STILL LIVES THERE. I MOVED TO CALIFORNIA IN 1973. I BOUGHT A HOME. THAT'S BECAUSE JERRY SHILLING LIVED HERE. WE WERE DATING AT THE TIME. I LATER MARRIED HIM. MY MOTHER AND MY SON LIVED WITH ME. I MOVED OUT HERE AND ELVIS HAD JUST GIVEN ME A  CADILLAC. I FLEW TO MEMPHIS WITH JERRY TO PICK UP THE CAR. ELVIS HAD ALSO GIVEN HIM A CAR. SO WE ALL DROVE HERE FROM MEMPHIS TO CALIFORNIA. I WASN'T SO USED TO SUCH A BIG CAR.  (LAUGHING)
WELL WE ALL KNOW HOW MUCH ELVIS LIKED CADILLAC'S
WHEN DID YOU START IN THE MUSIC BUSINESS?
I HAVE ALWAYS BEEN IN THE MUSIC BUSINESS. SINCE I WAS FIVE YEARS OLD. MY FATHER HAD A RADIO SHOW IN NEW JERSEY. IT WAS A GOSPEL SHOW. I SING ON THAT SHOW. THAT WAS SO MUCH FUN!
DID YOU LATER BECOME INVOLVED IN GROUPS? I MEAN DID YOU START RIGHT OFF WITH THE "SWEETS?
YES I DID. I ALSO TAUGHT HIGH SCHOOL ENGLISH FOR THREE YEARS. BUT I WAS SINGING WHILE I WAS TEACHING. I WAS WORKING IN SESSIONS. THE FIRST ONE I DID WAS WITH DION WARRICK, AND BURK BACCURACK. HE CALLED ME , HE SAID YOU HAVE TO DO THIS SESSION! BECAUSE HE HAD CALLED ME PREVIOUSLY TO DO ONE. BUT I DIDN'T DO IT. I WAS AFRAID. BUT FINALLY CONVINCED ME. SO I DID BACK UP FOR ALL HER RECORDINGS. YOU SEE DION AND I WENT TO THE SAME CHURCH. SO DID SISSY HOUSTON. WHITNEY'S MOM. HER MOM WAS OUR CHOIR DIRECTOR.
GOODNESS WHAT TALENT IN ONE CHOIR!
SO I DID SESSIONS UNTIL I JOINED THE SWEET INSPIRATIONS. WEXLER SAID TO US THAT WE SHOULD START A GIRL GROUP OF OUR OWN. SO I HAD TO QUIT TEACHING SCHOOL. SO I COULD DO THIS SINGING THING! WE WERE TRAVELING SO MUCH. I FOUND THAT I COULD NOT DO BOTH.
(LAUGHING)
BUT SINGING HAS ALWAYS BEEN THE LOVE OF MY LIFE.
IT WAS FUNNY BECAUSE ONE DAY , MY MANAGER GOT A LETTER FROM A FAN. HE WANTED TO KNOW IF THE MYRNA SMITH IN THE SWEETS WAS HIS EX TEACHER. HE TOLD HIM I WAS. NOT A LOT OF PEOPLE KNOW THAT.
SO WHEN DID THE SWEET INSPIRATIONS GET THE ELVIS GIG?
IN 1969. RIGHT FROM THE BEGINNING.
WHAT DID YOU THINK OF GETTING TO PERFORM WITH ELVIS PRESLEY?
WELL TO TELL YOU THE TRUTH WE WEREN'T TO IMPRESSED.
REALLY? YOU KNOW THAT'S FUNNY. YOUR NOT THE FIRST ENTERTAINER THAT WORKED WITH ELVIS . THAT HAD SAID THE SAME THING. SO YOU WEREN'T A ELVIS FAN?
NO I WASN'T A FAN UNTIL I MET HIM. BUT THEN I BECAME ONE INSTANTLY.
SO YOU BECAME A FAN OF THE MAN!
YES FAN OF THE MAN!  (LAUGHING) YES HE WAS A WONDERFUL MAN.
CAN YOU TELL ME ABOUT WHEN YOU FIRST MET ELVIS?
WE WERE SITTING ON THE STAGE AT THE INTERNATIONAL HOTEL. THAT'S WHAT IT WAS CALLED IN 1969. IT LATER BECAME THE HILTON AS YOU KNOW. SO WE WERE WAITING FOR HIM TO CAME , SO WE COULD REHEARSE. SO WE COULD HEAR SOME RUCKUS COMING DOWN THE HALL. IT WAS ELVIS WITH SOME OF HIS GUYS. HE WALKED RIGHT OVER TO US, LEANED IN AND GAVE US ALL A KISS ON THE LIPS.
OH BOY!
OH YES . IT WAS WONDERFUL (GIGGLING)
HE WAS REALLY SWEET. VERY SWEET VERY NORMAL.
WAS HE A NICE MAN? I MEAN I KNOW A LOT OF PEOPLE WOULD SAY SURE HE WAS. BUT I MEN WAS HE A GOOD MAN?
I KNOW WHAT YOU MEAN , AND ABSOLUTELY! HE AND I BECAME REAL GOOD FRIENDS. I WAS DATING JERRY . SO WE FLEW WITH HIM ON HIS PLANE. BECAUSE HE WANTED JERRY TO BE CLOSE BY. SO I DIDN'T FLY WITH MY GROUP. I GOT TO FLY WITH ELVIS. RIGHT AFTER THE SHOW WE WOULD GO TO THE NEXT CITY. SO ELVIS COULD GET A GOOD NIGHT SLEEP.  BUT THE REST OF THE BAND WOULD NOT LEAVE UNTIL THE NEXT MORNING.
BEING ON TOUR MUST HAVE BEEN HARD ON ALL OF YOU.
IT WAS BUT , YOU DON'T REALIZE HOW TIRED YOU ARE UNTIL YOU GET HOME.
YOU MEAN WHEN THE TOUR IS OVER AND YOUR AT HOME?
YES YOUR ALL DONE AND YOUR AT HOME. IT HITS YOU. IT TAKES YOU TWO OR THREE DAYS TO GET BACK TO YOUR NORMAL. UNTIL THEN YOU JUST SACK OUT.
BUT IF YOU KEEP GOING. YOU COULD PROBABLY GO FOR EVER. YOU GET IN TO A REGIMENT WHEN YOUR ON TOUR. BUT WHEN YOU STOP. AARGH! (LAUGHING)
YOU DID A LOT OF SHOWS.
I THINK ABOUT 1400?
SO WHAT DID YOU LIKE BETTER? LAS VEGAS OR LAKE TAHOE?
OH I LOVED VEGAS. YOU SEE IN VEGAS BACK THEN YOU WOULD DRESS UP WHEN YOU WENT OUT OR IF YOU WERE IN THE CASINOS. LAKE TAHOE WAS MUCH MORE LAID BACK. YOU COULD GO INTO THE CASINOS WITH JEANS ON. I WOULD TAKE VEGAS OVER TAHOE ANY DAY.
I HAVE BEEN TOLD BY SOME OF YOUR FRIENDS THAT THERE WERE THREATS MADE ON ELVIS'S LIFE. DO YOU REMEMBER THAT?
YES I DO REMEMBER THE NIGHT THAT THEY HAD AN AMBULANCE BACK STAGE. THEY HAD ALL THE HOUSE LIGHTS ON. THEY ARE NORMALLY OFF FOR THE SHOW.
THRU THE WHOLE SHOW?
YES  . ELVIS HAD TOLD THE GUYS. IF ANY BODY DOES ANYTHING. TO TAKE THEM OUT. IF THEY GET ME. YOU TAKE CARE OF THEM! SO SOME GUY YELLS OUT SOMETHING OR MADE WHAT LOOKED LIKE A AGGRESSIVE MOVE. EVERYONE JUMPED. ELVIS GOT SPOOKED. IT TURNS OUT THAT THE GUY WAS REQUESTING A SONG. (LAUGHING)
BUT EVERYTHING TURNED OUT FINE.
DO YOU HAVE ANY  OTHER GOOD STORIES ABOUT BEING ON TOUR?
ONE NIGHT THERE WAS A FIRE ALARM. THE FIRE DEPARTMENT CAME AND EMPTIED OUT THE WHOLE HOTEL. I WAS TIRED SO I FIGURED I WOULD JUST IGNORE IT. SO THEY CAME KNOCKING AT MY DOOR. THEY WERE SCREAMING YOU GOT TO GET OUT OF HERE.  I WAS STAYING WITH JERRY. WE WERE ON THE SAME FLOOR AS ELVIS. BUT JERRY WAS STILL DOWNSTAIRS WITH ELVIS. WE HAD JUST FINISHED THE NIGHT SHOW. SO I ONLY HAD ON JERRY'S PAJAMA TOP. THAT'S ALL I HAD WITH ME AT THE TIME. SO I DIDN'T WANT TO GO OUTSIDE LIKE THAT. SO I MADE IT DOWNSTAIRS TO ELVIS DRESSING ROOM .  ELVIS WAS STILL THERE WITH THE GUYS . SO WE STAYED THERE UNTIL MORNING. ELVIS WANTED TO FOOL AROUND SO HE GOT UP TO THE CEILING WITH SOME PAINT. HE PAINTED ONE OF THE FIGURES THERE. HE ALWAYS SAID THAT IT WAS JERRY AND ME.
(LAUGHING)
OH I REMEMBER THAT STORY. THAT WAS AT THE INTERNATIONAL?
WERE THE INTERNATIONAL PEOPLE ANGRY ABOUT THAT?
I DON'T THINK SO . BUT WHAT COULD THEY DO IF THEY WERE.
THAT WAS LIKE THAT FOR QUITE A WHILE.
YES IT WAS. I WOULD LOOK UP THERE AND SEE THAT. WE WOULD ALL LAUGH. WE HAD THE RUN OF THE HOTEL.
WAS IT HARD ON ELVIS WITH ALL THE GUYS AROUND HIM ALL THE TIME. I MEAN . I AM SURE SOMETIMES HE WOULD WANT SOME LONE TIME.
HE DID SOME TIMES GET A CHANCE TO BE BUY HIMSELF. HE WOULD HANG IN HIS BEDROOM. BUT MOST OF THE TIME HE WAS IN THERE WITH HIS GIRLFRIEND. BUT MOST OF THE TIME HE WANTED PEOPLE NEAR. HE WOULD INVITE YOU INTO HIS BEDROOM.
OR HE WOULD INVITE YOU INTO HIS OFFICE. THE BATHROOM
YES SAM THOMPSON SAID TO ME HOW MANY TIMES ELVIS WOULD PULL HIM INTO THE BATHROOM TO TALK!
I REMEMBER ONE NIGHT HE HAD INVITED SOME PEOPLE TO HIS ROOM . THERE WAS THIS PORN STAR. SHE HAD JUST DONE THIS BIG MOVIE.
DO YOU MEAN MARILYN CHAMBERS?
YES THAT'S HER. WELL SHE WAS THERE AND WE WERE PARTYING. THIS GIRL WANTED ELVIS SO BAD. SHE HAD THIS SKIN TIGHT BLACK DRESS ON WITH NOTHING UNDER IT.
 ELVIS TOOK ME INTO THE BATHROOM AND TOLD ME I WAS TO BE HIS GIRLFRIEND THAT NIGHT. BECAUSE HE DIDN'T WANT TO BE ANYWHERE NEAR HER. SO I HAD TO SIT RIGHT BY HIM ALL NIGHT. HE WAS AFRAID OF THIS GIRL.
(LAUGHING)
DO YOU KNOW THE TRUE STORY ABOUT THE FIGHT IN TAHOE. WHEN SOMEONE TRIED TO GET INTO ELVIS'S DRESSING ROOM? YOU HEAR SO MANY DIFFERENT VERSIONS ABOUT IT?
OH YES I WAS ON THE SAME FLOOR THAT NIGHT BECAUSE I WAS WITH JERRY. ELVIS ALWAYS WANTED HIM NEAR. THIS GUY WAS MESSING WITH THE LIGHTS AND TRIED TO GET IN. RED WEST TOOK HIM OUT FAST. IT WAS QUICK AND OVER WITH FAST. BUT OVER THE YEARS PEOPLE ADD TO IT AND MAKE  IT MORE THEN IT WAS.
WELL ELVIS NEW KARATE HE COULD HAVE HANDLED IT.
ELVIS WAS GOOD . BUT NOT AS GOOD AS THE OTHER GUYS LIKE RED AND SONNY.
IT MUST HAVE BEEN HARD TO WATCH ELVIS GO DOWN HILL.
WELL YOU KNOW IT DIDN'T BOTHER ME UNTIL HE PASSED AWAY. I DID NT SEE HOW SICK HE WAS. I NEW HE HAD PROBLEMS. I MEAN I HAD VISITED HIM IN MEMPHIS AT THE HOSPITAL. BUT HE WAS ALWAYS ABLE TO GET IT TOGETHER. TO LIFT HIM SELF UP. BUT I HAD NO IDEA HE WAS GOING TO DIE.
HOW DID YOU FIND OUT THAT ELVIS HAD PASSED AWAY?
WE WERE JUST GETTING READY TO GO ON TOUR. I DON'T REMEMBER WHERE IT WAS. WE WERE IN THE AIR. WE WERE TOLD TO LAND. I FIGURED WE WERE WAITING FOR SOME ONE. WE WERE ASKED TO GET OFF THE PLANE. I HAD FALLEN ASLEEP. SO I DID NOT WANT TO GET OFF. SO THIS GETS BACK ON AGAIN. MARTY SAID. PLEASE MYRNA. CAN YOU GET OFF THE PLANE. BECAUSE WHAT I HAVE TO SAY. I CAN ONLY SAY ONE TIME.  SO I GOT OFF THE PLANE. HE LOOKED AT US AND TOLD THAT ELVIS HAD DIED. I JUST WENT CRAZY , RUNNING AROUND. THEY HAD TO GIVE ME VALIUM TO CALM DOWN. I SO SO UPSET. I DONE REMEMBER GETTING HOME.
BUT AS SOON AS I GOT MY WITS ABOUT ME I CALLED MEMPHIS TO GET A RESERVATION. BUT THERE WERE NO HOTEL ROOMS. THE PLANE TICKET I GOT WAS ON STANDBY. EVERYONE ONE WAS GOING TO MEMPHIS. I JUST WANTED TO GET THERE. I DIDN'T CARE IF I HAD A PLACE TO SLEEP. I JUST NEEDED TO BE THERE.
JERRY AND I HAD AN ARGUMENT BEFORE THAT. SO WE HAD BROKEN UP . BEFORE I LEFT HE CALLED AND ASKED ME IF I WAS COMING? I TOLD HIM YES BUT I DID NOT HAVE A PLACE TO STAY. HE TOLD ME NOT TO WORRY ABOUT IT. JUST GET THERE. I WILL GET YOU A PLACE TO STAY. WE ALSO MADE UP.
IT MUST HAVE BEEN VERY HARD ON YOU. I MEAN THE WHOLE WORLD MOURNED?
DID YOU GO TO THE FUNERAL?
YES I WAS AT GRACELAND. YOU KNOW FANS WERE COMING FROM EVERYWHERE. VERNON HAD ALLOWED FANS TO COME AND SAY GOODBYE. IT WAS SO HOT. PEOPLE WERE PASSING OUT. PLUS A COUPLE OF TIMES THEY HAD TO STOP THE VIEWING TO FIX ELVIS'S HAIR. THE DYE THEY USED TO FIX HIS WHITE HAIR WAS DRIPPING OFF.
DID YOU GET ALONG WITH VERNON?
OH YES . I LIKED VERNON. BUT YOU KNOW ELVIS WAS VERY BRIGHT , BUT VERNON WASN'T. BUT HE ALWAYS TREATED ME NICE. I HAD GONE TO DINNER WITH HIM AND DEE SEVERAL TIMES WITH JERRY. BUT WE WERE ALL ONE BIG HAPPY FAMILY.
PATTY SAID THE SAME THING.
HOW DID YOU GET ALONG WITH THE COLONEL?
IN THE BEGINNING WE DID NOT GET A LONG. BUT LATER ON WE WOULD GO OUT TO DINER WITH HIM EVERY SUNDAY. FOR A LONG TIME AFTER ELVIS DIED.
I LOVED YOU ON THE RADIO PROGRAM "THE COLONEL"
OH THANK YOU.
BUT YOU KNOW FANS ARE NOT GOING TO EVER GIVE THE COLONEL A BREAK. THERE ALWAYS GOING TO DISLIKE HIM.
YOU KNOW ELVIS NEW EVERYTHING THE COLONEL DID. EVERY DECISION. ELVIS WAS APART OF. THE COLONEL TRULY CARED FOR ELVIS. HE LOVED ELVIS. HE ONLY WANTED THE BEST FOR ELVIS. YOU SEE JOE WE ALL KNOW THE TRUTH WE WERE THERE.
THAT WAS THE COLONELS JOB. TO TAKE ALL THE GARBAGE.
SO WHAT ARE YOU UP TO NOW?
I WILL BE GOING ON "ELVIS THE CONCERT"
IS THAT HARD TO DO , OR TO SING WITH IMPERSONATORS.
SOMETIMES VERY HARD. ESPECIALLY WHEN THERE BAD. BUT THERE ONLY TRYING TO SHOW THERE LOVE FOR ELVIS
 BUT THE FIRST TIME I DID "ELVIS THE CONCERT" I BROKE DOWN AND CRIED. IT WAS HARD. EVERYONE ASKED "WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH YOU?
 I MISS HIM. I LOVED HIM.
WELL THANK YOU MYRNA. FOR DOING THIS FOR ME. I WILL BE CALLING YOU SOON.