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Smith s what it s like to be a black girl

Where did you meet Elvis? Well, we were starting rehearsals July of 1969 and we were all on the stage at what was then called the International and Elvis hadn't arrived yet, nor his entourage.

Willow Smith

And we're sitting there waiting for him to come in and all of a sudden he walks onto the stage, walks right over to us and plants a kiss on each one of us. That's how we met him. He had a tan, and he looked absolutely gorgeous. He walked over to us and introduced himself - like we didn't know who he was: Cissy literally fell off her stool. From then on, whenever he'd see us, it was always a kiss'.

  • He was used to that;
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  • She made sure of that;
  • Don't hold on because when you hold on you kill love.

He had so much energy. His voice was a lot more remarkable than it ever came off on record. He was just a much better singer than could ever be captured. Some great singers' voices are just too big. Elvis' was like that'. How were those rehearsals? Well, he gave us pretty much a lot of freedom. Because what had happened was, his people had sent us probably a million albums. And we tried to have a rehearsal, but it didn't work because we weren't too familiar at the time with Elvis material and it was just we were bombarded with too much.

Interview with Myrna Smith

So we waited until we got to Las Vegas to learn the songs. And as we rehearsed it we realized, 'Oh I know this'. But our backgrounds weren't the same sometimes as was on the record. But, he gave us the freedom to do that. Tell us about your first night in Vegas at the International. I remember Elvis being very, very nervous.

And I remember thinking, Gee I hope he has a good crowd. Because I knew he hadn't performed live on stage like that for a number of years, I think 10 years. So I was just hoping that, I had butterflies for him and was I surprised. Tell us about the relationship between Elvis and his audience?

He was very playful with the audience and I think he really cared about his fans. He wanted to give them a good show. But he sometimes got upset because I know the show was loud. And sometimes you'd see people their fingers in their ears and he'd get upset about that, saying, 'They just have old ears'. Because for us on stage, we have monitors, we hear something completely different from what the audience hears.

But I know it's loud, but that's what rock 'n' roll supposed to be. The first performances outside was the Houston Astrodome.

There was a story behind that. Well, Elvis -- the Rodeo didn't want us to come. There was a message sent to leave the black girls, they didn't need the black girls.

And so Elvis responded with, 'Well if they don't come, I don't come'. But he was really upset about it. There was one person in particular who had sent the message. So when we got there, we were greeted by this little blonde in a convertible and she had to drive us around and she was his daughter.

So Elvis always made sure he got even. I'm sure he said, 'And I want your daughter to drive them'. But, when it was happening we didn't know. We learned that later. Tell us about Elvis generosity? Elvis was generous to a fault, I think. He smith s what it s like to be a black girl away most of his fortune, y'know, when he was alive.

He rewarded you because it made him feel good. And if he had something, he wanted to share it with you. And you could eat dinner at his house. Even if he stayed upstairs, y'know, dinner was still served at Graceland. And, then you could just sit around and wait for him to come downstairs and we'd go to the movies.

And, he just gave us jewelry all the time, big rings that covered half my knuckle. And, he gave me an El Dorado. And he's given a lot of people that he didn't even know lots of things. Do you have specific gift that is special? I have a gold purse. It's a little square gold purse that he gave me. And when he gave it to me it was full of silver dollars and he signed it inside, Love Elvis.

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That's pretty dear to me. And, well the reason he gave me the car, the car was dear to me, I just didn't feel that he had to do it. He felt that he had to do it because there was a little misunderstanding.

And some of the girls walked off stage. Well all of the girls walked off stage, Kathy, Estelle and Sylvia. But I was privy to information that they were not because I had been with Kathy the night before, so I knew what was going on.

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And the other, Sylvia and Estelle didn't. And, you never try to upset Elvis before a show and he was told not to introduce Kathy in a manner that would embarrass her.

  • I pick out this brown, I don't know what it was, but a nice brown big Cadillac for his dad;
  • After Elvis died, he and his lady would call Jerry and me;
  • And, Elvis came up to me and said 'Do you wanna dance?

And so he introduced all of us in a manner that embarrassed us. So the girls walked off and I stayed and he put a ring on my finger and we talked tussled. Finally, I just kept it because it was holding up the show with him pushing it on my finger and me pulling it off. And, I took off the ring and I said I like the way this looks on you, and I put it on his finger. And he had the most hurt look in his eyes because if he gave you a gift, he didn't want you to return it.

Because he didn't know how to say I'm sorry about anything. It's hard for him to say 'You know what, I'm really sorry I did that'. But he gave all the girls gifts, y'know, a couple of nights later because they missed a couple of nights. And, the next night he took that ring, threw it in the audience. And a couple of weeks later I guess it was, I was at the house and he'd bought all these cars. I think 11, 12, 14 cars for the guys and all and himself. And the question that he wanted to ask Jerry was 'Is it all right if I buy Myrna a car?

But he didn't tell me. He asked me if I would go with him to the Cadillac dealer to pick out a car for his dad because he's forgotten to buy his dad a car. So I go and we pick. I pick out this brown, I don't know what it was, but a nice brown big Cadillac for his dad. The place is closed.

We're in the lot. Takes his flashlight out and goes looking, asks me what my favorite color was first. And goes looking around til he found a blue El Dorado and said, 'There's your car'. And, y'know, how do you respond. But it was because he had to give me something.

If I didn't accept the ring, I had to accept the car, y'know, or he would have just kept doing something like that. But I really appreciated it. They are, left to right: Elvis did have a tender heart? He was easily embarrassed and easily hurt and very forgiving because I've seen people do things to him and -- y'know, he'd be angry at first, really angry.

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Then he'd calm down gradually and then he'd show them nothing but love. Buy 'em some incredible house or whatever. Can you explain Elvis sense of humor? We used to call him squirrelly.