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Author: Subject: When Eric Met Elvis

Maximum Peach





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  posted on 12/23/2010 at 07:43 AM
http://www.gibson.com/en-us/Lifestyle/Features/clapton-week-1221/#


"Who the Hell’s limousine is that?”

On a late July evening in 1974, that was Elvis Presley’s reaction to the sight of a long, black limo parked in front of the General Cinema in Memphis--one of Elvis’s favorite spots for personal midnight movie screenings. The limo happened to belong to another superstar rocker who had made a special pilgrimage to meet Elvis. It was up to Jerry Schilling, one of Elvis’s Memphis Mafia entourage, to remind the King that he had consented to such a visit.

“I think it’s probably Eric’s, E,” said Schilling.

“Who’s Eric?” Presley asked.

“Eric Clapton. You said he could come by to say hello, remember?”

“Well, fine. We just don’t need a damned limousine parked in front of the theater.”

Elvis didn’t normally have anything against limousines, and usually didn’t mind being the center of attention when out in public, but the movie theater was one place where he preferred to keep things low-key and extremely private. Guests had to be invited or cleared by Elvis himself, and were expected to follow a fairly rigid protocol inside the theater. You didn’t sit anywhere in the 12th row center area--that was for Elvis and those he chose to sit near him. And, once a movie started, you shut up--Elvis was a film buff who really did want to see everything he screened over there.

On that particular night, Elvis looked more like a rancher than a rock star. After a spring of heavy touring, Elvis was back in Memphis for a while, and was taking the time to enjoy some down home pleasures. That day, he had driven south to some Mississippi horse farms with Schilling and Myrna Smith, a member of Elvis’s vocal backing group the Sweet Inspirations and Schilling’s longtime girlfriend. The three came back straight to the theater without a stop at Graceland, and Elvis, at the wheel of his favorite pickup truck, was in leather boots, cowboy hat, and his somewhat upscale version of Western wear.

“I remember being really worried that the sight of the limousine might darken Elvis’s mood and ruin the meeting with Eric,” says Schilling. “Elvis wasn’t seeing a lot of people up at Graceland at that time, and it was kind of a big deal when he agreed to be introduced to somebody new. We wanted everything to go just right.”

The chance for a great summit meeting seemed to diminish when Elvis walked into the theater and saw that Clapton and his companion, Pattie Harrison (George’s ex) were sitting about 12th row center--right in Elvis’s seats.

“That was like rubbing salt in an open cut,” laughs Schilling. “I didn’t know what was going to happen.”

Schilling had been instrumental in setting up the meeting. Clapton was on tour, and enjoying a new resurgence in popularity with the chart-topping success of his cover of Bob Marley’s “I Shot the Sheriff.” He had a concert scheduled at Memphis’s Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, but had a rare night off and wanted to do anything he could to meet Elvis. Weeks before Clapton’s arrival in town, Schilling had been contacted by Richard Cole, a tour manager who’d become a near legendary figure for the wild adventures he’d been at the center of while on the road with Led Zeppelin. Cole had made Schilling a VIP guest at some Zeppelin shows, and was hoping Schilling could return the favor by arranging for an Elvis and Clapton face-to-face.

Elvis had been open, if not particularly enthusiastic about the meeting. But now, between the showy limo and the seating faux pas, Schilling wondered if things were about to get ugly.

“Eric got up and came over to us and I made the introductions,” recalls Schilling. “And right away he was just such the perfect British gentleman, making it really clear how much respect he had for Elvis. Hearing that, Elvis became a relaxed and charming host, and the two fell into a really nice, friendly conversation. We’d all gotten used to thinking of Elvis as a great talent, but I remember being struck that day again at how much he meant to other great musicians.”

The idea had been for the two stars just to have a moment to meet, but they got along well enough that Elvis asked if Eric and Pattie would like to stay and watch that night’s movie. The couple gladly accepted the invitation (there’s no record of what got screened that particular night, but Schilling remembers that Godfather II was a particular favorite of Presley’s that summer). As everybody took their seats, Elvis asked Schilling to come with him to the bathroom.

“When we were alone in there,” says Schilling, “He turned to me and said, ‘You know Jerry, that Eric is all right.”

The next day, Schilling and Myrna Smith rode to the Liberty Bowl concert with Clapton and Harrison, in the same limo that had made Schilling a nervous man the night before. Schilling and Smith were VIP guests at the concert (at which the opening band was Lynyrd Skynyrd) and then said their goodbyes to Clapton, Harrison and Cole after the show.

Clapton and Elvis never crossed paths again, but Schilling saw the guitarist many years later at a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony.

“I went up to him and started to reintroduce myself,” Schilling recalls. “He stopped me and said, ‘I know you, Jerry. You introduced me to Elvis.’ I asked him if he’d like me to introduce him to Scotty Moore, who was being inducted that year. His eyes lit up and he said, ‘Where is he?’ So I got to make that introduction too.”

 

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Zen Peach



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  posted on 12/23/2010 at 08:01 AM
grate story, thanks
 
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Zen Peach



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  posted on 12/23/2010 at 08:44 AM
Nice...

 

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Extreme Peach



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  posted on 12/23/2010 at 09:15 AM
Cool.

 

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Extreme Peach



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  posted on 12/23/2010 at 10:09 AM
VERY Cool!

 

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  posted on 12/23/2010 at 10:18 AM
That's a really cool story

 

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Peach Master



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  posted on 12/23/2010 at 12:04 PM
Awesome tale.

 

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World Class Peach



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  posted on 12/23/2010 at 01:42 PM
it's good to be a perfect english gentleman......

 

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  posted on 12/23/2010 at 03:11 PM
Got chicken-skinned ready that

 

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  posted on 12/23/2010 at 08:01 PM
Thanks fot the post!!
 

Maximum Peach



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  posted on 12/23/2010 at 08:41 PM
Don't know if meeting Elvis would have excited me that much, but Scotty Moore!
Cool story.

 

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Well 30 years of heart and soul,lord we took it further than rock and roll.
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Then I guess time took it's toll,cut me deep,cut me cold.
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  posted on 12/23/2010 at 08:57 PM
Thats good stuff.
 

Zen Peach



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  posted on 12/23/2010 at 10:34 PM
I was at the show the next day at the Liberty Bowl...it was my 1st Clapton show....& it was excellent...

 

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