Summary: Sonny West was a close friend and former bodyguard of Elvis Presley, who died at the age of 79 on May 24, 2018. His death shocked many of his fans and friends. He was well known as one of the Memphis Mafia members, who worked with the music legend in the 1960s.
1. Who Was Sonny West?
Sonny West was born William Joseph West on July 15th, 1937, in Memphis, Tennesse. He was a close friend and former bodyguard of Elvis Presley, along with other members of the Memphis Mafia, including Red West and Billy Smith. Sonny met Elvis when they were in eighth grade, and they became best friends. After serving in the army together, Sonny began working for Elvis as a bodyguard in 1960. He remained a loyal member of Elvis’s inner circle until the late 1970s.
During his time as Elvis’s bodyguard, Sonny was responsible for protecting the singer from fans and paparazzi. He was also tasked with running errands, arranging transport, and managing Elvis’s schedule. He was well respected by both Elvis and his fans, who saw him as an essential part of the Memphis Mafia.
Sonny later went on to work in real estate and continued to be involved in the entertainment industry.
2. A Rocky Relationship with Elvis
Despite their close friendship, Sonny West had a tumultuous relationship with Elvis in later years. In his book, Elvis: What Happened?, Sonny and his co-authors painted a less-than-flattering picture of the King of Rock and Roll, highlighting his drug addiction and erratic behavior. As a result, Elvis severed all ties with Sonny and his co-authors, which led to a bitter rift between them.
In recent years, Sonny had attempted to reconcile with Elvis’s family, but they remained distant. Nevertheless, he still remained highly respected by many of Elvis’s fans, who held him in high esteem for his contributions to the singer’s empire.
3. Sonny West’s Legacy
Sonny West will be remembered as an iconic member of the Memphis Mafia and a close confidant of Elvis Presley. His contributions to the music icon’s career cannot be understated, and his loyalty and dedication were admired by many.
Despite the acrimony in later years, Sonny remained a beloved figure among Elvis’s fans, who saw him as an essential part of the Elvis mythos. His death is a significant loss for both his friends and his fans, who will always remember him fondly.
4. The Impact of Sonny West’s Death
Sonny West’s death sent shockwaves through the Elvis fan community and the entertainment industry as a whole. He was a beloved figure who had played an essential role in shaping the career of one of the most significant music icons in history.
Tributes poured in from music luminaries, including Priscilla Presley, who tweeted, “RIP Sonny West. You were an important part of Elvis’s life, and we will never forget you.” His former bodyguard, Dick Grob, added, “Sonny was a great friend and one of the toughest guys I’ve ever known. He had a heart of gold and would have done anything for Elvis.”
Sonny’s death is a reminder that the Memphis Mafia era has come to an end, leaving behind a rich legacy that will forever be associated with the King of Rock and Roll.
5. Sonny West’s Last Days
According to reports, Sonny had been battling cancer for several years before his death. He died peacefully at his home in Tennessee, surrounded by his family.
Despite his health struggles, Sonny remained active in the music industry until the very end. In 2017, he released his book, Elvis: Still Taking Care of Business, which gave fans an insight into his life with Elvis. The book received widespread acclaim and cemented his legacy as a vital part of the Memphis Mafia.
The passing of Sonny West marks the end of an era in the entertainment industry. His contributions to Elvis’s career cannot be overstated, and his loyalty and dedication were admired by many. Despite the turbulent relationship in later years, Sonny remained a beloved figure among Elvis’s fans and the wider music community. His death is a reminder that the Memphis Mafia era has come to an end. He will always be remembered for his role in shaping the career of one of the most significant music icons in history.