Goodbye Lamar Fike

It has now been over a week since the passing of one of Elvis’ oldest friends.  Lamar Fike died from complications of lymphoma on January 21.  Sorry it took so long to post a fitting tribute to him. 

Lamar Fike was an intriguing member of Elvis’ Memphis Mafia, and he is notable for several reasons.  At 270 pounds, he was certainly the heaviest member of Elvis’ entourage.

There is some confusion about how Elvis and Lamar had their first contact.  According to one report, Lamar first met Elvis by just hanging around the front of his house at 1034 Audubon Drive in Memphis until he was finally invited in.  Elvis lived there from May 1956 to March 1957.  However, it is likely that Elvis and Lamar first met in 1954 at Sun Studios.  Nineteen-year-old Fike was learning how to be a disc-jockey under the tutelage of George Klein, a classmate of Elvis’ and one of his friends.  Klein and Sam Phillips introduced Lamar to Elvis
  
With the exception of Klein and Red West, another of Elvis’ friends from high school, Lamar Fike knew Elvis the longest. Klein never lived at Graceland or worked for Elvis, but he remained a lifetime friend.  West was a year behind Elvis in high school, stayed friends with him after that, and become part of the earliest Memphis Mafia in 1960, as did Lamar Fike.

Jamming at Graceland, August 1957.  Fike on left.  Back of Anita Hill’s head at bottom.

 

In 1958, during the filming of Jailhouse Rock, Elvis was hospitalized for swallowing a cap for his tooth.  When Lamar learned about it, he got in touch with Elvis, who immediately told him to fly out to Hollywood and join him.

 

Lamar Fike and Elvis at RCA studio in Los Angeles during soundtrack recording.

After the movie wrapped, Elvis brought Lamar to Graceland, and he was the first friend to be given a room in Graceland.  So, Elvis had his pal around full time.

When Elvis was drafted, Lamar tried to enlist so he could be with Elvis, but he was turned down because of his weight.  However, Elvis took care of that problem.

Elvis was transferred to an Army post in Germany later in 1958, and he asked Lamar  to come over on the plane with Elvis' father and grandmother Minnie Mae.   Fike stayed and became part of Elvis’ extended family.  While in Germany, Lamar endured many jokes about his big size and served as the court jester for Elvis and other friends.   Elvis could kid him without Lamar ever getting upset.  He was happy to be close to his idol, and Elvis genuinely liked to have him around.  The German press called him the “Wrestler,” but Elvis liked to call him “Buddha.”

                   

Elvis and Lamar Fike while on furlough in Paris, June 1959

 

After Elvis was discharged in 1960, Lamar returned with him to Graceland.  A group of Elvis buddies – Red West, Joe Esposito, Charlie Hodge, and Lamar Fike – morphed into what became known as the Memphis Mafia.  Other members came and went over the years.
  

Col. Parker, Elvis, Lamar Fike, Joe Esposito, and Charlie Hodge, June 1968.

Lamar’s responsibilities for the next year or so, while Elvis’ was off making movies, are not well documented.  It’s seemed like he just stayed at Graceland, keeping an eye on the place until Elvis returned during breaks from movie filming.   His job responsibility seems to have been simply to be Elvis’ buddy.

In 1962, Lamar left Graceland to become road manager for singer Brenda Lee.  The following year, he moved to Nashville to run the Hill and Range Publishing office.  This housed Elvis' publishing companies, so the connection with Elvis continued.

 

Lamar Fike at International Hotel, Las Vegas, 1969

 

Photos from 1969-70 period.

                  

Lamar Fike was definitely a big guy.

In the 70s, when Elvis was once again performing live, Lamar came back into the fold and was given the job as Elvis’ lighting director at the concerts.  He got to travel to Las Vegas and every other place Elvis performed.  On tour with the King.  Great job.  Occasionally, he also took care of transportation in Las Vegas and Memphis.

 

Elvis, Jerry Schilling, Lamar Fike, Joe Esposito

 

Lamar Fike Gives Elvis a Ride on Stage

Lamar eventually married, and moved out of Graceland, but continued in Elvis’ entourage until 1977.

 

Lamar Fike is on Far Left

The photo above is a promo still from the 2005 CBS miniseries Elvis, starring Jonathan Rhys-Meyers as Elvis.  The actor on the far left is portraying Lamar Fike.  The other guys, left to right, are Joe Esposito, Jerry Schilling, Red West, and Charlie Hodge.  Elvis had his Memphis Mafia boys dressing sharp when they were with him.

 

So, now we say goodbye to Lamar Fike.    ElvisWorld seems smaller as we lose another of his buddies.  But, I’ll bet Elvis was really happy to see Lamar show up in Heaven.

 

©  2010    Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister    All Rights Reserved    www.ElvisBlog.net

Elvis, Elvis Presley, and Graceland are registered trademarks of Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc.

26 responses to “Goodbye Lamar Fike

  1. Lamar Fike told it like it is .
    He introduced Priscila.
    He help Elvis find girls.
    He admits use drugs with elvis.
    He admit the whole gang partied.
    he admits Elvis help gang get girls.

  2. Lamar was a part of history and will be missed by all

  3. I really do love listening to
    Lamars story’s about elvis, I find him fascinating. I bet he was such a laugh to he around. Rest in peace Lamar and I hope you are having a laugh with elvis once again.

  4. I absolutely love listens big to lamars story’s about Elvis; he truly is a fascinating man and has such charisma. May he rest in peace. Xx

  5. Gwendolyn Szabo

    RIP Lamar God Be With You… Give Elvis My Love’ I remember the day he passed. I was 16, got home from school I fell a sleep watching TV laying On The floor… The 5:00pm New Came on It said word for Word. Elvis is Dead ( I hate that Word ) I jump up. Oh No. Tears Running Down My Face. AGAIN RIP ELVIS and LAMAR. HOPING UR HAVING A GRAND TIME UP THERE. LOTS OF LOVE GWEN

  6. We’ll I’m a firm believer in integrity ,I believe Elvis was also .Elvis could see this quality in Lamar.This is just one reason Elvis found a friend in him ,plus growing up together .So why not share in the success especially with someone you can trust.If you know anything at all about Elvis ,he loved to share .so I believe this friendship was a two way partnership of caring.true friends till the end . Rest in Peace Lamar.

  7. I liked Lamar. It is very obvious that he was close to Elvis. Lamar was such a dynamic character. He had a way of turning a phrase and speaking in metaphor that painted a crystal clear picture of the story he was telling or person he was describing. Lamar was also one of the only original MM members who wasn’t afraid to confront Elvis when he felt slighted or when he felt that Elvis was in the wrong about something. I admire his tenacity there, because no one (but NO ONE) talked back to Elvis Presley. There were numerous times he confronted Elvis about his prescription abuse and its effects on him as well as his performances. It takes a true friend to talk to someone about the difficult things that everyone else glosses over to remain comfortable and at peace. Elvis had a dedicated friend in Lamar. May they both rest in peace.

    • Hi Amanda: Lamar Fike has generated differing comments by ElvisBlog readers, but I’m inclined to agree with yours.

      Thanks for reading ElvisBlog. Hope you enjoy it.

      Phil Arnold, Original ElvisBlogmeister

  8. I’ve seen many interviews where he told stories that should not be told. Not a very true friend.

    • wayne threlfall

      God bless you lamar ive got to know more about you on videos i amso happy your honesty on how you hated the colonel

  9. To let you all know Nora Fike passed away in her sleep friday October 9 at 75.

  10. Lamar was not a good friend to Elvis at all. I have seen him and cousin Billy and Lacker talking about Elvis on TV shows that would turn your stomach if you loved Elvis at all. No, Elvis would NOT have happily greeted Lamar. If he knew about the book Revelations of the Memphis Mafia, he would have been sad and felt so betrayed by someone he was so very, very good to for so long. Elvis housed, fed and clothed him and all the others till he died. Bonuses for every concert and there more than you could imagine in the 70’s. Fed Albert Goldman trash for his trash book on Elvis. Lamar was a true scum to his friend.

    • Hi Kelly: You certainly have presented a different picture of Lamar and Elvis. It seems like Lamar was a good, loyal friend to Elvis for a long time, but he turned mean when he saw he gravy train drying up and after it was gone for good.

      Phil Arnold, Original ElvisBlogmeister

    • What would you know
      Not a true Elvis fan

  11. Sherry Woodroffe

    I think Lamar sounds like he was maybe the truest form of a friend Elvis ever had. Too bad more were not like him.

  12. I love Lamar.His stories about Elvis always genuine and loving. He wasn’t afraid to stick upfor Elvis either.May they rest in peace.
    God Bless Susie

  13. Lamar was definitely Authentic on his devotion to Elvis. Lamar once stated that besides his Father Elvis was the closest thing he had. He thought the World of Elvis and only wanted what was best for him from the first moment they met until Elvis took his last breath. Lamar was one of a kind. R.I.P Lamar Fike. I take comfort in knowing that Elvis and Lamar are having a cup of Coffee up in Heaven every morning.

  14. I have a different opinion about Lamar Fike. For one, I think he enjoyed making remarks about Elvis, which were not always kind. I understand that he always had his hand out for anything that he could get from Elvis. He complained that he took a lot of verbal abuse from Elvis. Why didn’t Lamar leave? It’s simple: Elvis was supporting him. I saw him once on TV trying to sell his bracelet given to him from his “dear friend.” I certainly would not have parted with anything that Elvis had given me.

  15. R.I.P Lamar you are with good Co.

  16. Yeah I think Lamar was a good man

  17. You know i think like many that Lamar was 100% a true friend of Elvis` you can tell by the storys he tells never a bad word has ever been spoken by lamar about Elvis, i know he really loved Elvis and would have done anything to be with him what a great guy as for some of the others they where out for what they could get red and sonny are two out for what they could get but Lamar he truly loved Elvis and his mum and now i believe Lamar is now with Elvis and his mum Lamar you are one true friend god rest your soul and bless you i hope you are once more with your best friend Elvis

  18. By the way, it’s worth mentioning that Lamar was one of the pallbearers at Elvis’ funeral. He was faithful to his friend, all the way until the end. My family has always respected that friendship.

  19. I just found this…found memories of Uncle Lamar, who was a family friend in Nashville beginning in the late 60s and well beyond. In the 60’s he was married to Nora, who worked for my Dad back then, and as a child I remember our family going out to Madison to their place and playing Monopoly all night! I never met Elvis, but my parents did, and they always remarked what a sweet and courteous gentleman he was.
    Lamar was a gentleman too, who gave lovely (and always discreet) stories of his times with Elvis, and he was a real treasure. He defines to this day what it means to me, to have a heart of true gold. I miss him so.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *