Aug. 16 marks 46 years since Elvis Presley died. His legacy lives on — not only for followers, however for many who bought to know the person behind the music.
Greater than 60 years after befriending the long-lasting southern crooner whereas enlisted within the U.S. Military, writer Johnny Lang put pen to paper and documented a number of of the fond reminiscences he had with Presley in his e book, “My Military Days with Elvis: Friendship, Soccer, & Follies.”
Lang completely instructed Fox Information Digital he was motivated to jot down the e book after watching Austin Butler’s “excellent” efficiency within the award-winning movie, “Elvis.”
Strolling out of the theater together with his kids and grandchildren, Lang’s son requested, “What do you assume, Dad? Do you assume you are prepared to jot down a e book?”
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“After seeing this, man, it impressed me,” Lang responded.
His wild reminiscences with Elvis lasted a lifetime. From spending hours in coaching to numerous weekends collectively enjoying soccer and almost turning into blood brothers, Lang cherished the shut bond he shaped with the “Jailhouse Rock” singer.
Elvis was drafted into the Military in 1958 whereas Lang volunteered for the service, which was typical on the time. The one distinction was that Presley already had 1000’s of followers throughout the nation because the “Heartbreak Lodge” artist with a Las Vegas residency underneath his belt.
Lang had seen Elvis on the firing vary in Fort Hood, Texas, however his first alternative to talk with the musician was on a prepare headed to New Jersey earlier than they had been as a result of hop on the united statesRandolph to Germany.
WATCH: Writer Johnny Lang remembers particular second with Elvis Presley
Charlie Hodge, Presley’s longtime finest pal, launched Lang to the singer whereas en route.
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“I by no means met a star in my complete life,” Lang recalled. “There’s Elvis, sitting down there like that, and I stroll as much as him, standing up and my coronary heart’s going like this. And I simply stare at him.
“And he is taking a look at me. Lastly, he says, ‘Sit down, chief.’ So I sit down, and I am so nervous. I mentioned, ‘Hey, will you autograph my grandmother’s image? My sister’s image? My mom’s image?’ He says, ‘No downside.’ Anyway, I used to be there for about quarter-hour and in awe, in awe. And the very last thing he says to me, ‘I am going to see you on the boat, Johnny. Perhaps we are able to spend a while collectively.’ I say, ‘I will be searching for you.'”
Presley was allowed to reside off base whereas stationed in Germany, and Lang was an everyday customer.
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“I spent all my weekends at his home.” Lang mentioned. “I would stand up about midday, after which at about one o’clock, I would be on the home, and there could be about three or 4 hundred individuals there as a result of all of them need an autograph,” Lang mentioned. “I simply knock on the door. … I spent nearly a 12 months and a half with him each weekend.
“We would play soccer with three or 4 hundred individuals watching us play ball.”
One in every of Lang’s favourite tales together with his pal was from a time Elvis had a head chilly, and the pair shared a quiet, but poignant second collectively.
“We had been fight coaching in a spot referred to as Grafenwöhr,” Lang recalled. Presley had a “tank outfit” whereas Lang was in a “scout outfit,” however they in some way reconnected.
“I discover the barracks. Elvis is all by himself. So, I stroll in and say, ‘Hey, babe, what is going on on?’ He says, ‘I do not really feel good. All the fellows are at coaching. They left me right here behind.’ So, he is laying on a military mattress, and I am sitting there, simply him and me. Greatest man on the earth. However we’re speaking,” Lang remembered.
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“I sat on the sting of the mattress, and I mentioned, ‘Hey El, will you inform me one thing?’ I mentioned, ‘Why are you, with all the celebrity you may have and all the cash you may have, why are you and I pals?’ He mentioned, ‘I’m going to let you know one thing Johnny Lang. You’d nonetheless like me if I used to be a janitor, and thank God I’m not.’ And I say, ‘You’ve got bought that proper.’ I bought up, and in my thoughts, I am considering, ‘Unbelievable, simply him and I, the entire world would like to see it.’”
Lang remembered serving to Presley repair his blanket as a result of he wasn’t feeling his finest and mentioned, “You are taking care. I do know you’re not feeling good. I will not preserve you up, however God bless you. I am going to see you when that chance arrives once more.”
“He mentioned, ‘No downside, Johnny. Thanks for coming by.’ And that is my favourite story of all. I imply. Entertainer of the century!”
Elvis saved Johnny on his toes, too.
WATCH: Elvis Presley had ‘the best snicker’ and an enormous coronary heart
“You by no means know what he’ll do,” Lang mentioned. “He says to me, he says, ‘Hey, Johnny, why don’t you and I change into blood brothers?’”
Presley requested Lang to get a knife, however he performed a little bit joke on the singer in return.
“So, I’m going within the kitchen. I get a butter knife. Are available in the lounge. And I say, ‘OK, babe, I bought you. And he says, ‘You do it first, and I’ll comply with you,’ I mentioned, ‘OK.’ So, I take the knife, and I am going, ‘Man this ain’t reducing! It’s a butter knife!’ And Elvis, he’s taking a look at me and says, ‘I’ll let you know what Johnny, neglect it!’ Best alternative on the earth for me to be a buddy with the entertainer of the century!”
Whereas they had been collectively on the border of Czechoslovakia (now the Czech Republic and Slovakia) throughout the Chilly Conflict, they did not see fight. Lang and Presley went their separate methods after the Military. Whereas Presley continued together with his music profession, Lang bought married and raised 5 youngsters together with his spouse. He did recall the “unhappy day” after they mentioned their goodbyes.
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“I do not forget that like yesterday,” he mentioned. “I am standing up, and Elvis is coming downstairs, and there’s about seven or eight guys saying goodbye to him.”
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“He comes as much as me, shakes my hand, he says, ‘Johnny, it was actual good figuring out ya and assembly ya.’ And I bought tears coming down, and I am crying. I mentioned, ‘El, I can not thanks sufficient for my two years within the service with you, as a result of with out you, it would not have been the service the best way [it] had.’ And he mentioned, ‘Ah, assume nothing of it, Johnny. If you happen to get an opportunity, come on down and see me in Vegas,”‘ Lang mentioned. “I used to be hurting ‘trigger I cherished the man.”
The world might know Elvis for his music and charming seems, however Lang insisted there was extra behind the mirror.
“I do not assume the common particular person is aware of. … All of them understand how a lot coronary heart he had, the entire world is aware of that, however how humorous he was,” Lang mentioned. “The best snicker I ever heard in my life was Elvis Presley, and humorous as hell. And, after all, a coronary heart as massive as this constructing, however the majority of the world is aware of how a lot coronary heart he had. However I do not assume they understand how humorous he was. And I used to make that boy snicker.”
Even when the “Unchained Melody” musician would make jokes, they had been all the time lighthearted.
Earlier than a sport of soccer someday, Elvis “seems over me and says, ‘Hey, Johnny. You assume I am going to ever be bald?’ I say, ‘No, you’ll by no means be bald.’ I say, ‘I’ll be bald sometime, however pay attention, I’ll let you know what, you’re going to be uglier.’ He says, ‘Let’s go play ball.’”
WATCH: Writer Johnny Lang remembers first assembly Elvis Presley within the Military
Elvis is without doubt one of the best-selling music artists of all time throughout plenty of genres and nonetheless holds data for his albums and singles. Presley died in 1977 at his Graceland property in Memphis. He was 42.
Lang remembered his pal for having “nothing however coronary heart. Humorousness.… Provide the shirt off his again.”
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“The closest man I’ve ever seen to Elvis Presley, entertainment-wise… is Michael Jackson,” he mentioned. “The person’s [in a class] all by himself.
“You need to be excellent to get in a single Corridor of Fame. He did three — rock ‘n’ roll, gospel and nation. That tells me fairly nicely what Elvis Presley was all about.”