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August 16, 1977 : Kathy Westmoreland Remembers

By Kathy Westmoreland

It was raining in Los Angeles when I caught the Elvis Presley shuttle plane to join his next concert. There were about ten musicians and two members of the Sweet Inspirations singing group when I got there. And as usual, we were to stop once again in Las Vegas to pick up more band members before heading for Portland, Maine to join the rest of the troupe. The people I can remember being on the chartered Holiday Airline Electrojet that day were Marty Harrell, bass trombone player; Pat Houston, trumpet; Myrna Smith, and Estelle Brown of the Sweet Inspirations singing group; James Burton, Jerry Scheff, Ronnie Tutt, Glen D. Hardin, all musicians; and Jacky Kahane, a comedian. Also two men from Colonel Parker's office were aboard.

I think they were Tom Diskin and Ed Bonja. Much of the excitement was gone about being on tour again. After all, I had been singing with Elvis for seven years and we had traveled thousands and thousands of miles, criss crossing the country hundreds of times. But it was always nice to see the old gang. No question about it, we were all veterans of Elvis Presley tours and we had all been trough a lot together.

Elvis Presley and Kathy Westmoreland September 6, 1976
Elvis Presley and Kathy Westmoreland September 6, 1976

Since everyone knew I had a close relationship with Elvis and he telephoned me whenever the mood struck him, night or day, it was understandable that some aboard the plane would ask me: 'How's Elvis doing?' Everyone knew he was sick, that each public appearance brought him to the point of exhaustion. I didn't want to say much, didn't want to alarm everyone, but I was really surprised that we were even going to do a concert in Portland, Maine. Because of Elvis' worsening health and the way he talked to me the last time we had been together about a month earlier, I thought Elvis' touring days were over. I don't remember it now, but my sister said I told her the night before: 'Don't be surprised if I'm back home in a day.' 'Why?' she asked. 'Because, I don't think it will ever happen, not the way Elvis is feeling', I told her. However, Elvis said we were going to give a concert in Portland and that's what we set out to do. The plane droned on and since I had gotten up so early, I curled up in my seat and went to sleep. The next thing I remember is waking up to find out we were landing. I couldn't believe we had already arrived in Portland. And we hadn't.

'The pilot was told to land in Pueblo, Colorado so we could call for further orders', someone told me later, but I was asleep and it was only the plane wheels touching on the ground that woke me up. We made a rough landing in a heavy wind and everybody got out of the plane to get fresh air and stretch. Marty Harrell had gone to call Memphis, but I didn't know what. If I had been told we had orders to call Memphis, I would have known right away that it was some kind of crisis. we all strolled near the plane, waiting for a report on why we were being delayed. It all happened so quickly that I had no time and was still too sleepy to do any rational thinking. Marty came out of the airport terminal and walked up the plane steps. 'Everybody gather around, I have something to tell you', he said. We all moved slowly toward Marty and then he said in a soft, clear voice: ' Elvis died this morning. We are to head back to Las Vegas and Los Angeles right away'.

It was a simple statement that brought moans from some and others looked disbelieving. I felt numb and suddenly very drained. After all those years together, Elvis was gone from my life and even though I had known for months that the ending was near, it was still a shock to hear that it had finally happened. My feelings were mixed. Relief for Elvis because he would no longer suffer, yet there was my own sense of loss far beyond tears. In fact, years went by before I could really cry about the greatest hurt of my life. My friend, my fun loving, unpredictable Elvis was dead. Even now it's difficult to realize.

February 1977

Elvis Presley Photos Elvis Presley : Orlando Florida : February 15, 1977
Elvis Presley Photos Elvis Presley : Charlotte, NC : February 20, 1977

March

Elvis Presley Photos Elvis Presleys last vactaion : Hawaii, March 1977

April

Elvis Presley Photos Elvis Presley : Ann Arbor Michigon: April 25, 1977

May

Elvis Presley Photos Elvis Presley : Louisville Kentucky : May 21st 1977
Elvis Presley Photos Elvis Presley performs in Louisville Kentucky : May 22, 1977
Elvis Presley Photos Elvis Presley : Philadelphia Spectrum, Saturday, May 28, 1977

June

Elvis Presley Photos Elvis Macon, GA : June 1, 1977
Elvis Presley Photos Elvis Presley : Dade County Coliseum, Madison : June 24, 1977
Elvis Presley Photos Elvis Presley: June 25, 1977 : 8.30pm Riverfront Coliseum, Cincinnati, Oh
Elvis Presley Photos Elvis Presley: June 26, 1977 : 8.30pm Market Square Arena, Indianapolis, In.

August

Elvis Presley Photos Photos : Elvis Presley August 16, 1977
Elvis Presley Photos Elvis returning to Graceland (Date Unknown)
Articles about Elvis Presley Kathy Westmoreland Remembers

CDs

CD Moody Blue
CD Elvis In Concert
CD Elvis : Spring Tours '77 [Stereo] : Elvis Presley FTD CD
CD Unchained Melody : 1977 : Elvis Presley FTD CD
CD Elvis : Amarillo '77 : Elvis Presley FTD CD

Books

Elvis Presley Books The Elvis Files Vol. 7, 1974-1977
Book Elvis : The Final Performance Book
Book Elvis : The King Of Las Vegas : Hardcover Book : 360 pages, with 1300 pictures
Book Elvis : The Concert Years 1969-1977 Book
Book Elvis Concerts : Elvis Presley Book from JAT Publishing
Book Elvis On Stage By Keith Alverson
Book Elvis : For The First Time Ever Elvis Book
Book America The Beautiful : Elvis Book with Free Promo CD

Elvis Australia : Official Elvis Presley Fan Club : www.elvis.com.au

Elvis Presley Video Video Preview: Tupelo's Own Elvis Presley DVD

Tupelo's Own Elvis Presley DVD + 16 page booklet. Never before have we seen an Elvis concert from the 50's with sound. Until Now! The DVD Contains recently discovered Unreleased Film of Elvis performing 6 songs, including Heartbreak Hotel and Don’t Be Cruel, live in Tupelo Mississippi 1956. Included we see a live performance of the elusive Long Tall Sally seen here for the first time ever. This is an excellent release no fan should be without it. The 'parade' footage is good to see as it puts you in the right context with color and b&w footage. The interviews of Elvis' Parents are well worth hearing too. The afternoon show footage is wonderful and electrifying : Here is Elvis in his prime rocking and rolling in front of 11.000 people.

We love Elvis Presley !!!!!!!! : So ... Stop, look and listen baby that's our philosophy ... First thing in the morning, last thing at night ... look, stare everywhere and see everything inside ... Stop, look and listen!

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