On Tuesday, this appeared on Graceland.com/news:
“The staff of Elvis Presley’s Graceland wishes to send its deepest condolences to the family and friends of Marty Lacker, who passed away yesterday.
“A member of Elvis’ inner circle, known in the fan world as the Memphis Mafia, Marty’s friendship with Elvis stood the test of time. Among his contributions to Elvis’ legacy, he served as one of the best men at his wedding to Priscilla Presley and connected Elvis with famed American Sound producer Chips Moman.”
I’m sorry, but Marty Lacker was a special trusted friend to Elvis, and he deserves more than a four-line biography.
To be fair, Graceland.com did include a photograph of Elvis, Priscilla, and Marty at the wedding. The shot above shows Priscilla and Marty at the reception. The first photo in this post is a color shot of the occasion. For some reason, most of the ones circulating around are black-and-white.
They also could have shared a photo of Marty along with Chips Moman at the famous American Sound Studios recording session, like this one:
The Memphis Commercial Appeal put it this way:
Two of the other songs were hits and should have been mentioned: “Kentucky Rain” and “Don’t Cry Daddy.” Elvis recorded a staggering total of 35 songs in the two sessions at American Sound.
Here’s a picture of Elvis and Marty Lacker on the set of Paradise, Hawaiian Style. Have you ever seen this one before?
Elvis fans deserve to know more details about Marty’s life and death. Here’s a good explanation from website EIN:
“Marty’s passing so easily demonstrates the fragility of life. His death being caused by a simple home accident (he fell over while doing laundry) which caused him to be hospitalized with internal bruising and eventual kidney failure. Marty was such a character that he even apologized for being in hospital and not replying to all his friends emails!
“Marty Lacker was born in Brooklyn, NY but grew up in the South Bronx until he moved to Memphis in 1952. In 1953 he transferred to Humes High School where he became aware of Elvis because they both dressed alike which was unlike most of the kids back then. Carrying his NY influences Marty would also wear bright, loud color clothes with collars up and had semi longer hair than the regular crew-cuts of the time. It was later after Marty’s time in the army, early 1957 that he started going over to Graceland.
“While Elvis was in the army Marty became Production Director for Memphis WHHM Radio, and it was only in 1961 that Elvis persuaded him to join Elvis’ core team full-time.
Unlike many others in the ‘Memphis Mafia’, Marty Lacker managed a separate career (working for radio stations as well as starting his own label Pepper Records in late 1967 before becoming VP and General Manager of Chips Moman’s American Studios in 1969) as well as staying a best friend to Elvis.”
As research for this memorial to Marty Lacker, I searched for him in the ElvisBlog archives. I found the ring above in a 2012 article about the Ultimate Elvis Auction held by Heritage Auctioneers. The website printed this recollection from Marty:
“One night in the 70’s, I was upstairs at Graceland with Elvis, and he was going through his jewelry case. He turned around came over to me and said ‘let me see your hand’. I had no idea what he meant so I put my left hand out and he slid this ring on my finger. I thought it was a good looking ring. I looked at it and started to take it off to give back to him and he said, ‘keep it, it is now yours.’ That was a typical move for Elvis… I have worn it on my left hand every day for the last 40 years.”
The ring sold for $5,250, including the auctioneer’s premium.
Another gift from Elvis to Marty showed up at the Heritage Entertainment & Music Memorabilia Signature Auction in 2013: For some reason, the number of clothing items Elvis gave to other Memphis Mafia members like Charlie Hodge, Red West, and Richard Davis was substantially more than what Marty Lacker got. Maybe he wasn’t so interested in fashion.
This photo verified the shirt had been worn by Elvis before he gave it to Marty. It may be a shot you haven’t seen before. The shirt sold for $3,000.
Believe it or not, Elvis and Priscilla’s marriage certificate actually showed up at the first Auction at Graceland in August 2014. You will note the signatures of Elvis’ two co-best men, Joe Esposito and Marty Lacker. The pre-auction estimate was $40-60,000, but it didn’t even bring the minimum of $15,000. Seems like somebody would have considered it worth that much.
Remember when Elvis was named one of the Ten Outstanding Young Men of 1970 by the Jaycees? Elvis’ entourage at the ceremony included not only Marty but his parents.
This is Elvis’ inscription and autograph on the Lacker’s program.
Marty Lacker is credited with revealing what happened when Elvis shot up a TV. This is the story published some years ago on www.elvisinfonet.com
“Elvis harbored some bad feelings about Goulet from back in the late 50s when he was in the Army. Elvis’ girlfriend Anita Wood was a singer and she did shows with Goulet and Buddy Hackett. Anita would often write Elvis in Germany, and one time Goulet added a postscript to one of them telling Elvis in a sly way that he was personally taking care of Anita. Elvis didn’t like that and he never forgot, so when he saw Goulet on TV, he shot the TV out.”
In closing, I would like to share these sentiments from my friend Jeff Schrembs at ElvisCollector.info:
“Along with being a trusted friend, Marty worked with Elvis in several positions including bookkeeper, secretary, and “sounding board”. However, no “title” can fully/adequately define the relationship between Elvis and Marty that endured for three decades.”
Good bye, Marty Lacker. We’ll miss you. Say hi to Elvis for us.
(Editor’s note: Recently ElvisBlog received a message from Marty Lacker’s daughter. Here it is: Phil….sincere thanks for your tribute to my father and highlighting his very endearing roll in Elvis’ life and the deep and abiding friendship that my father and Elvis mutually had for each other. Many people, especially those most closely associated with the estate, like to negate or ignore Marty’s place in the Inner Circle and the many honors both pre and post Elvis’ passing that my father was responsible for creating and/or facilitating…but that doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things because his family, his best friends Billy and Jo Smith and he and Elvis know the truth and that will never change…and for that I am comforted. Again, heartfelt appreciation for your kind memorial to my father, Marty Lacker—may he and his buddies passed be having a wonderful reunion now. 🙂)
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