Saturday, December 22, 2007

Memories of Elvis and Chuck

In the book Me And A Guy Named Elvis that I wrote about a couple of days ago there's one passage where Jerry Schilling describes one of his fondest Vegas memories. This is a night when Elvis is bringing Sammy Davis Jr. back to his suit after a show.

As Elvis, Priscilla, Jerry, Sammy and his wife are making their way through the lobby they hear "some unmistakable guitar riffs" and stroll into a nearly empty lounge where Chuck Berry is performing. Chuck is happy to see them and starts addressing them between songs.

This episode reminded me of a very similar story a colleague at my work told me a few months back that you can read here. In this story, my colleague, who worked in Las Vegas during the 70's, is watching Chuck Berry perform a lounge show at the Las Vegas Hilton in 1974, when Elvis, Sammy Davis Jr. and a couple of girls walk in to see the show.

Was my colleague and Jerry Schilling describing the same thing? To find an answer, I showed the book to my colleague to ask him what he thought. The day after he told me that he wasn't sure about the year anymore, it could have been 1972, and not 1974. One thing he was certain of though, was that the lounge was packed with people and not nearly empty.

But even if it was in 1972, it doesn't fit with Schillings story of Priscilla being there. She could hardly have been in the company of Elvis in 1972 (during his first Las Vegas engagement that year Priscilla told him she was leaving) and much less so in 1974.

So either this is really two different occasions, or Jerry Schillings memory is failing him; maybe Priscilla wasn't there and maybe the place wasn't nearly empty as he describes it. Jerry, if you are reading this, please let me know what you think!

One final thing: To try to solve my little dilemma, I searched the Internet to find out when Chuck Berry was performing in Las Vegas during the 70's, but found zilch. Not very surprisingly, there is a lot less information about Chuck Berry than there is about a certain Elvis Presley.

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