Red West, the actor, songwriter, confidante, bodyguard and long-time friend of Elvis Presley has sadly passed away at the age of 81. He died on Tuesday night at Baptist Hospital in Memphis after suffering an aortic aneurysm.
As well as his own successful acting career, Red West is known as one of the longest and best friends of The King, Elvis Presley. The two met at Humes High School in Tennessee as youngsters. Speaking in 2008, West said of their friendship.
Elvis was always different. We had crew cuts and wore T-Shirts and blue jeans; Elvis had the long ducktail, the long sideburns and he wore the loud clothes and naturally was a target for all the bullies.
One day luckily I walked into the boy’s’ bathroom at Humes High School and three guys were going to cut his hair just, you know, to make themselves look big or make them feel big or whatever, and I intervened and stopped it. And I guess that stuck because a couple of years later after Elvis had his first record he came over and asked me if I would like to go with him.
As West’s acting career took off, so did Elvis’ music and acting career, and the two stuck together, appearing in almost 20 movies together – including the likes of Viva Las Vegas, Blue Hawaii, Flaming Star and Live a Little, Love a Little. Their already strong friendship became even more solid during these years, and West even co-wrote some of Elvis’s songs, including ‘That’s Someone You Never Forget’ and ‘You’ll Be Gone.’
Over the course of their careers, Red West soon became a lifelong confidant and bodyguard to Elvis, but he was fired alongside Elvis’s other bodyguards in 1966 after they all expressed concern over his increasing problem with drugs. In 1967, West co-wrote the book, Elvis: What Happened? explaining the downfall of the star from addiction.
In his more recent years, West has continued his own acting career and starred in TV shows like Rectivy and Nashville. He is survived by his wife and two sons. RIP.