Friday, January 28, 2011

MARK BEGO REMEMBERS LEGEND LAMAR FIKE

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THE DEATH OF A LEGEND

Story By: Mark Bego
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Lamar Fike And Mark Bego



Lamar Fike was not a household name per se, but for the last 50 years he has been known as the "bigger than life" founding member of Elvis Presley's famed entourage, The Memphis Mafia. Back in the days of duck tail haircuts, gold lame suits, and the song "Hound Dog" topping the charts, Lamar was the "right hand man" to "The King of Rock & Roll."


Lamar lived at Graceland with Elvis, alongside Gladys and Vernon Presley, back in the days when that family was pop culture's original reality show. There were Cadillacs in the driveway, motorcycles to race, and even Natalie Wood paying a famous Memphis visit, and Lamar was there.


When Elvis Presley was drafted and went off to serve in the Army in Germany, Lamar went along. When Elvis returned to the States, and performed on TV with Frank Sinatra, Lamar was there. And, when the '70s rolled around, and Elvis was obsessed with becoming a drug enforcement officer, Lamar was there too.


In the time since Elvis died in 1977, Lamar became the prime contributor to the "New York Times" best-selling book on "The King," Albert Goldman's blockbuster "Elvis." Whenever there was an Elvis anniversary date, Lamar would be on the radio, or interviewed on "Larry King."


In the last years of his life, Lamar Fike lived in Dallas, Texas. It was there that I first met him, and began work on Lamar's incredibly detailed memoir, "An Uncommon Journey." I listened for weeks, to tales about meeting Marilyn Monroe, attending parties at Nat King Cole's house, and witnessing a famous interlude between Elvis and Rock Hudson. I also had the privilege of working on a screenplay about Lamar's life, "'57 to '60: One of the Boys." Although "An Uncommon Journey" still remains unpublished, I will always fondly recall listening to Lamar relive his glory days as part of the Elvis Presley inner circle.


Lamar died on January 21, 2011, after a long illness. At the age of 75, he knew that he lived a full and eventful life. He had the opportunity to be treated as one of the closest friends to rock & roll's original King, and everything that Lamar did, he did with dramatic style. Lamar Fike, you will be missed.

Photo By: Derek Storm

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