Memphis Mafia Organizational Chart

Marty Lacker's chart of Elvis' Memphis Mafia Individual Responsibilities

This image is too small for reading, so don’t try. In this post we will dissect and expand it to show the individual responsibilities of Elvis’ Memphis Mafia circa January 1965. As you know, the men making up this unique group varied as some left (or left and came back) or were added as the years went by. But in late 1964 and early 1965, the guys who took care of Elvis’ every need were:

Marty Lacker
Red West
Billy Smith
Richard Davis
Joe Esposito
Jerry Shilling
Mike Keeton

And there was a specific order of responsibilities as shown in the following organizational chart distilled from the above image.

Elvis' Memphis Mafia Flow Chart


So, it appears Red West and Billy Smith had special relationships with Elvis and reported directly to him. But Richard Davis, Joe Esposito, Jerry Schilling, and Mike Keaton all reported to Marty Lacker.

Marty Lacker and Elvis Presley

Marty Lacker as co-best man at Elvis’ wedding

I never knew Marty was such an important member of the Memphis Mafia.

And, like most of you, I had never heard of Mike Keaton.


So what is this document that shows the power ranking among Elvis’ guys? It was part of a ten-page lot offered at the recent Auction at Graceland.

1965 Elvis Presley Memphis Mafia Duties and Responsibilities Chart

It had a pre-auction estimate of $5-10,000, but bidding failed to reach the minimum of $2,500. In the early 1980s, Lacker transferred ownership of these papers to Mike L. Moon for display in the Elvis Museum. I suspect we will see them up for auction again.


Marty Lacker's Elvis Responsibilities

This blow-up refers to Marty as Foreman, a term I had not come across before regarding the Memphis Mafia. The boxes beside his name, spell out his duties in both Memphis and Los Angeles. With Elvis making three movies a year, he and the guys traveled back and forth between the two cities.

In Memphis, Marty’s responsibilities were:

All personal financial business, including, especially, money.
Elvis’ personal mail
Business with the Col’s office.
Responsible to Elvis for entire operation
Upkeep of bus

Item # 4 is the biggie. We have read that Marty Lacker was Elvis’ personal bookkeeper and secretary, but who knew he was responsible for the whole operation?

The list for Marty Lacker’s responsibilities in Los Angeles is essentially the same. However, one of the other pages in this package expanded on Marty’ functions at both locations. I like this one – Purchase records for Elvis. This makes sense, because Marty had business interests in the recording industry and lots of contacts. So, maybe he had better taste than the other guys in what music would appeal to Elvis.

In L.A, Marty also had to work with the studio heads for Elvis. I guess he was some kind of buffer between Col. Parker. The last two other L.A. assignments make no sense to me – weekly food menu and grocery shopping. It seems strange for the guy running the whole operation to do the food shopping.


Red West's Elvis Responsibilities

At the top left of the chart is Red West, Elvis’ friend since high school, and he had a sweet deal – Assistant to Elvis and Available to assist others as needed. So I guess he just got to hang out and be Elvis’ buddy both in Memphis and L.A. Of course, Red served as bodyguard, so I wonder why that wasn’t mentioned.


Billy Smith's Elvis Responsibilities

At the top right of the chart is Elvis’ cousin, Billy Smith. The religious symbols drawn below his name and elsewhere must have been some kind of doodling by Marty Lacker, because this document was in his possession at all times. Billy Smith’s responsibilities in Memphis were rather light – Elvis’ shoes, Elvis’ razor, and be available daily if needed by Elvis. However, there is a separate sheet with a more detailed list (and a bunch of drawings of Elvis). It was also the only one to be typed

Billy Smith - expanded list of Elvis responsibilities

Billy had to keep Elvis’ shoes polished and repaired, and Elvis’ razor had to be cleaned and kept charged. A new duty was added: Elvis’ clothes – work with Richard, keep cleaned and hung upstairs in dressing room.

I like the longer explanation of be available if needed by Elvis. Here Marty gets a lot more specific about Billy’s duties: Be at Graceland by at least 2:30 P.M. each day, unless notified otherwise. (If for any reason you cannot make it by that time on any day, please tell Marty the night before).

Unlike Red West who had the same job of being Elvis’ buddy in both locations, Billy Smith had some real responsibilities added when they were in Los Angeles.

Upkeep and care of portable dressing room on set each day.
Elvis’ clothes. (Receive dirty clothes from Richard. Keep a list of them, then send to cleaners. Upon return from cleaners, remove and save tickets, then give clothes to Richard to be hung in closets. Give all tickets to Marty at end of each month to be checked against bill).
Assist Elvis with each change of wardrobe at studio
Keep Elvis’ black kit stocked with needed items and carry it for him when necessary
And Elvis’ shoes and razor as already explained.


Richard Davis' Elvis Responsibilities

Now we get to the two men listed as assistants to Marty. All fans know that Richard Davis was Elvis’ wardrobe guy and shopped for his clothes, but he had some other jobs, too. In Memphis, he took care of the vehicles (wash, gas, repairs), and he oversaw the stocking of needed items for Elvis in the kitchen and the rest of the house. He was also expected to be at Graceland by 1:30 every day.

There are two other Memphis responsibilities on his expanded list that I find interesting. Richard had to buy six copies of TV Guide and distribute them to Elvis’ room, the kitchen, Marty’s room, the downstairs den, and two other places with unfamiliar names. The conference room – I guess that was the dining room because Elvis ate all his meals in the kitchen. The Graceland room – I guess that would be the living room.

Richard was also expected to take care of business for Elvis, along with Joe Esposito, in the Marty’s absence. Thus the title of Assistant to Marty we see in the graph.

In Los Angeles, Richard got to oversee the running of the house on Bellagio Road. This included menu preparation and grocery shopping. I wonder why Marty would do that in Memphis and Richard would do it in L.A. Handling fan mail shifted from Marty to Richard, who also handled business calls at the house when Marty was absent.

As in Memphis, Richard Davis was responsible for the cars, bought the TV Guides, and was responsible for stocking the kitchen and bar. But my favorite of his duties is this: Keep water, gum, cigars(ettes), Blistex on set for Elvis when Jerry not available. Among Richard’s wardrobe responsibilities was: Select clothes to take to studio each morning. Return at night to Jerry.


Joe Esposito's Elvis Responsibilities

Joe Esposito, the other Assistant to Marty, had few daily responsibilities while Elvis was in Memphis. On an as needed basis, he would drive car for Elvis, handle miscellaneous business for Elvis, and make and confirm appointments such as doctor, dentist, house repairs, and prescriptions. He also had fill-in duties: Assume household responsibilities in Richard’s absence, and take care of business along with Richard in Marty’s absence.

When Elvis was making movies In Los Angeles, Joe had several important functions. He maintained Elvis’ script, marking daily scenes and keeping it available on set. He assisted Marty conducting business with the studio. In Marty’s absence, he handled business with Col. Parker. He assisted Elvis with wardrobe in Billy’s absence

Marty Lacker deserves credit for thinking ahead and making certain all his and the others guys’ functions had back-ups.


Jerry Schilling's Elvis Responsibilities

Jerry Schilling had it almost as easy as Red West when Elvis was in Memphis. He was responsible for upkeep of the Cadillac limo. There’s no telling why Richard was charged with all the other cars. Jerry also kept the cigar boxes stocked in the den, car, and Elvis’ room, plus he notified Richard of needed cigar box items. He assisted with Elvis’ clothes. Here’s the one I really like: Be available if needed whenever Elvis comes down from his room.

Marty definitely made sure people were around when Elvis woke up and started his day.

The sheet with Jerry Schilling’s expanded duties included two regarding Elvis’ private screening of movies. He had to check with the theater, and bring Elvis and Priscilla large cups of water at the movie.

When Elvis was in L,A., Jerry got some new jobs in addition to the cigar duty, assisting Billy with the clothes, and being around at night for Elvis’ companionship. Now he took care of the studio golf cart, purchased the afternoon paper at the studio, and kept glasses of ice water, cigarettes, etc on set for Elvis. And here’s the big one: Assisted Mike with ice for set dressing room each morning. How can ice detail take more than one man?

Jerry’s expanded responsibility list had this: Check with assistant director after each take, scene, or delay, as to how much time before next shot and what it will be.


Mike Keaton's Elvis Responsibilities

Finally, we come to this fellow Mike Keeton, who has been unknown to us up until now. He was a friend of Jerry Schilling and Elvis hired him in late September 1964. There are several familiar Memphis Mafia names who were not on the organizational chart, even though their tenure started before 1965 and ended after it. So, Charlie Hodge, Sonny West, Lamar Fike, and Alan Fortas must have been away from the scene for a while perusing singing careers, acting, or something else.

Thus, Elvis needed some new blood, and Jerry recruited Mike Keeton. When Elvis interviewed Mike, he learned the new guy was a member of the Assembly of God church, which the Presleys had attended when Elvis was a kid. Then Elvis found out that Mike’s wife was named Gladys. That clinched it for Elvis, and he hired him on the spot.

To be honest, many of the responsibilities listed for Mike in both locations duplicate many of those listed for other guys. The only different jobs listed for Memphis are picking up and returning movies, and maintaining the 16m mm film projector. In Los Angeles, he purchased two copies of the trades papers each morning at the studio, and he brought the daily call sheets to the Colonel’s office.


Graceland Kitchen

Graceland Kitchen

The last sheet in the auction package did not apply to anyone. It was a general list of 31 items to be “kept in kitchen and house for Elvis — at all times — every day.” I believe you will be able to read it, so I’ll skip typing it.

Elvis' Graceland 1965 - Items to be kept in kitchen and house at all times


So, maybe Marty Lacker’s Memphis Mafia Organizational Chart and related pages didn’t sell for $2,500, but they did give us a free look at how Elvis’ every need was provided by a group of seven men.


Next week we’ll look at some of the items at the Auction at Graceland that did sell.



© 2017 Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister All Rights Reserved



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

21 responses to “Memphis Mafia Organizational Chart

  1. Elvisline Januschke

    Hey , Dankeschön für deinen Beitrag . Sieht richtig gut aus . Sauber und präzise beschrieben .
    ☝️ Ich mag deine Page .

  2. Pingback: Some Elvis Pictures I’ve Never Seen Before – Part 4 | ElvisBlog

  3. So….if the correct spelling of Mike Keeton’s name was with two “ee”‘s then Allana Nash spelled it incorrectly when using the “Keaton” spelling in the 1995 book, “Elvis Aaron Presley: Revelations From The Memphis Mafia”!!! BTW, the guy standing above Joe Esposiito (RIP) and scrunching his face up is Atlanta Braves radio play-by-play man, Don Sutton.

    • Hi Tony: I already replied to you by private email confirming that Keeton is the correct spelling. I included a portion of a letter from Mike Keeton’s wife that settled the issue.

      Another reader advised me the names of both unidentified men in the photo, as well as the location where it was snapped. I went back and changed the tag under the picture.

      Thanks, Phil

  4. Tanya Keeton-Williams

    Well there’s no mention of “Mike Keeton”, because he never really talked about being with Elvis. He never tried to CASH IN on being his friend and working for him. Mike was hired in 1964 before Jerry. Mike moved away to raise a family in 1969. But did go back and forth for a while. With the passing of Mike Keeton 12/23/17 a lot those stories and memories are gone. Our family will keep all the stories and memorabilia for ourselves. Our family is interested in purchasing the chart.

    • Hi Tanya: Thank you for sharing this information about Mike Keeton. The spelling of his name has been corrected in the article. I corresponded with Gladys Keeton by email. I gave her some information about purchasing the chart. I hope to hear back from her soon.

      Phil Arnold, Original ElvisBlogmeister

  5. Gladys Kilman Keeton

    It is Mike KEETON! spelling is incorrect.
    Mike Keeton was part of the mafia in the fall of 1964 when I met him at Graceland.
    I moved to Memphis to teach at Memphis State University, met Mike, our dates were at Graceland or the Memphian movie theater.
    We were married in April 1965 in Vegas. I flew to LA, we drove to Vegas in Elvis vehicle and married.
    You don’t hear about Mike much because it was a REAL friend and was not around to get what he could out of Elvis. I saw what people did to get Elvis to buy things for them.
    Mike was hired before Jerry Schilling.
    I have more to say but you will have to contact me.
    Gladys Kilman Keeton

    • Hi Gladys: I have already replied to you via email. As I promised, the spelling of your husband’s name, Mike Keeton, has been corrected in the article. I hope I hear back from you on the other topics in the email.

      Phil Arnold, Original ElvisBlogmeister

  6. Diana from Long Island, New York

    Hi, Phil! This is the second time I am reading this article, so I guess I am a very detail-oriented fan. So interesting to read and imagine Elvis surrounded by all the items mentioned & having all the mundane stuff of daily life taken care of for him. As well it should be, he earned it!

    P.S. Arthur Hooton once spoke to the audience at a long ago Memphis State Univ. memorial: he was so real, shy, touching, and down to earth. Out of his comfort zone, clearly, to speak to a big crowd, but he did it for Elvis. That is my dusty memory.

    • Hi Diana: I’m glad you liked the ElvisBlog article. My focus is usually on Elvis as a pop culture icon, but every once in a while I post a detail oriented article like this.

      Phil Arnold, Original ElvisBlogmeister

  7. I found this fascinating, where do you get this stuff from, it’s great.

    • Hi Kris: Thanks for the compliment. The Memphis Mafia Organizational Chart was an item for sale at the August 12, 2017 Auction at Graceland. It had a minimum bid of $2,500, but nobody would pay that much. It also looked kind of weird and confusing, until you spent some time breaking it down and figuring out everything.

      Phil Arnold, Original ElvisBlogmeister

  8. How this influenced in Elvis Presley’s life? I dont get it .. Maybe someone can clear me . Best Regards

    • Hi Mihai: I see your point. The reverse is probably true. Elvis influenced the life of these seven guys.

      Phil Arnold, Original ElvisBlogmeister

  9. Hi Phil, I really look forward to seeing your email in my inbox. You keep surprising me with the information you send out. I love it. I promote you site wherever I can because even more people should know what you provide. Thanks for your efforts

    • Hi Selma: Thank you for the kind words. It’s always a pleasure to read that someone enjoys and appreciates your efforts.

      Phil Arnold, Original ElvisBlogmeister

  10. Clementine Moriarty

    Absolutely enjoyed the post. a good one TYVM Phil. I especially enjoyed the very last list of the foods to have available for Elvis at all times. Meat Loaf, Sauerkraut and ingredients for Brownies stand out as ‘Comfort Foods’ for Elvis……….Ditto Elvis….you are not alone in that dept. TYVM for the Music and the Magic too! TCB

  11. Margaretha Rydberg Rydberg

    Most interesting Phil. Thanks for sharing

    • Hi Margarentha: Thanks for the kind words. When I started I wondered if the Organizational Chart would be boring, but you and other have shown that it was not.

      Phil Arnold, Original ElvisBlogmeister

  12. Hello Phil. Good article about the Memphis Mafia. Elvis’ entourage has always been of interest to me, especially as to the way that they would interact with each other. Mike Keaton falls into that obscure category of Memphis Mafia members such as Arthur Hooton, Jimmy Kingsley, Ray Sitton and James Caughley (a/k/a Hamburger James). There are probably a few more that I can’t think of at the moment. That job function that you could not make out is “upkeep of bus”. Elvis had that custom bus that he traveled in after he stopped using that Dodge camper / RV. Take care and keep those wonderful articles coming.

    • Hi Gerard: Thanks for the compliment. I have never heard of any of those other guys you mentioned. I’ll change the unknown word to bus.

      Phil Arnold

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