Elvis’s bodyguard Dick Grob remembers the day the King came to his wedding in 1973
This was the day Elvis Presley came to my wedding, on 11 December 1973. I’d met him six years earlier when I was working for the Palm Springs Police Department and he’d just married Priscilla. He rented a house for his honeymoon and his manager, Colonel Parker, arranged for a police car to sit outside for security.
I took the assignment as overtime and I remember thinking, I must be crazy, because it was 100F that day, there was no shade and no air-conditioning in my patrol car.
Elvis came out and introduced himself. He handed me a glass of lemonade and asked if he could sit in the car. I wasn’t a fan of his music, but I quickly found out he was very interested in and knowledgeable about police work.
After an hour of listening to radio reports of barking dogs and break-ins, I thought, this guy is crazy, because he’s sweating too and he could be in an air-conditioned house with his beautiful new wife.
He told me to come up to the house if I wanted any more lemonade later, and when I went to the kitchen door he ran over and locked it. He said, ‘Any friend of mine comes in the front door.’ So I went around to the front and he took me in and introduced me to his wife, his father and his entourage.
Elvis never forgot where he came from. Years later, he said, ‘Dick, I wish I’d had a wedding as normal as yours’
Elvis was a gun nut and whenever he came back to Palm Springs he would ask me to take him out to the police shooting range. He tried every gun we had in the armoury. I was the chief marksman and when he saw what a good shot I was, he said, ‘I think I need a new bodyguard.’
We became friends and one day he gave me a gold necklace inscribed with TCB (for Taking Care of Business). He said all his guys had one and now I was a member of the Memphis Mafia.
I became his head of security, liaising with the police in the cities where he toured, and his bodyguard for the rest of his life. The biggest problem was women trying to touch him, because he’d often get scratched. He also had death threats from jealous husbands, and frivolous lawsuits.
When he came to my wedding, all the other guests were policemen and I think he liked the fact that no one bothered him for photos or autographs.
When the preacher asked if there were any objections, Elvis started waving a cane in the air, but I’d warned the preacher beforehand to ignore him if he did something like that. In fact, as we were leaving, he came over and said, ‘Don’t you want a picture with me?’
Outside, he took my bride and me aside and shone a torch on a Mercury Marquis convertible and said, ‘That’s your wedding present.’
The things I most remember about Elvis are his generosity and the fact he never forgot where he came from. Several years later, he said, ‘Dick, I wish I’d had a wedding as normal as yours.’
Dick Grob will launch his book, Elvis: Safe and Sound, at the Elvis Festival, Great Yarmouth, September; strictlyelvis.net