Charlie Hodge, longtime Elvis friend, dies at 71
- *In this message they speak of a Elvis Website where fans are paying tribute to Charlie - this is in fact our site that they are speaking of *By Holly Hollman
DAILY Staff Writer
hhollman@... · 340-2445
Charlie Hodge not only got the audience's attention when he performed on an empty Coke crate. He got the attention of a music legend.
Mr. Hodge said that the first time Elvis Presley saw him, he was standing and singing on the crate while performing with The Foggy River Boys in Memphis. The memory always gave Elvis a chuckle, Mr. Hodge said in a 2005 interview with the Web site Elvis Australia.
Mr. Hodge, a Decatur native who died Friday at age 71, said he used the crate because he was 5 feet 3 inches tall and the other band members "towered over me."
After meeting backstage at that performance, Mr. Hodge didn't see Elvis again until both were in the Army, where they became friends.
Elvis hired Mr. Hodge in 1960 as a member of his "Memphis Mafia." Mr. Hodge was the only professional musician and entertainer in that group.
Mr. Hodge became a background vocalist and rhythm guitarist for Elvis, known as the man who gave Elvis his water and scarves.
He worked with Elvis for 17 years.
Not bad for a boy who started out plucking a ukulele on his front porch in Decatur and did comedy routines in school.
Mr. Hodge was with Elvis when he first met his future wife, Priscilla, and was at Graceland when The King died in 1977.
After Elvis' death, Mr. Hodge performed at shows dedicated to Elvis, including a March 2005 appearance at Decatur's Princess Theatre Center for the Performing Arts.
He also wrote "Elvis 'N Me," which Castle Books published in 1988.
Elvis' bodyguard, Sonny West, said in a DAILY interview that after Elvis' death, he and Mr. Hodge went 27 years without seeing each other.
Then they met in Decatur at West's one-man show, "Memories of Elvis."
"He walked up, shook my hand, and said, 'It's been too long, Sonny. I'll tell you right now, if he (Elvis) was watching us, he'd want us to get together, because where he's at now, he's nothing but
love,' " West recalled.
Although Mr. Hodge lived at Graceland, he returned to Decatur to visit his parents' Jackson Street home.
He told THE DAILY in 1982 that "when you come back to Decatur, there are two things you have to have: Bob Gibson's barbecue and a C.F. Penn hamburger."
Now the entertainment industry has lost a man who worked to keep Elvis' memory alive.
Mr. Hodge died of cancer at Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center in Knoxville.
Fans are posting tributes to Mr. Hodge on Elvis Web sites. A Yahoo site had 81 messages as of Saturday night, including a message from one fan who wrote, "May God bless your soul, Charlie. Now you're together again with your true friend Elvis."
That seems fitting, since in his book about Elvis, Mr. Hodge wrote, "Remembering Elvis for the purpose of writing this book, has created loneliness in me like a torment."
Source of Article http://www.decaturdaily.com/decaturdaily/news/060305/hodge.shtml