Charlie Hodge

Elvis Presley's 'little guy'


Charles Franklin Hodge, singer and guitarist: born Decatur, Alabama 14 December 1934; died Knoxville, Tennessee 3 March 2006.

When Elvis Presley was on stage in Las Vegas, he would introduce Charlie Hodge as "the little guy who sings harmony with me and gives me my water and my scarves". Hodge was one of the so-called Memphis Mafia, a gang of friends, wholly devoted to Presley, who carried out his every wish.

Charlie Hodge was born in Decatur, Alabama, in 1934 and, as a child, he played the ukulele and developed comedy routines. He loved singing gospel music and when he was 20 he became the lead singer for the Foggy River Boys. Hodge was five foot three and, as they were taller than him, he would carry a crate on stage and stand on it to perform. This endeared him to audiences and the group became a regular feature on Red Foley's Ozark Jubilee, a television show and a touring attraction.

For a time, Hodge dated one of Foley's daughters and as another daughter, Shirley, married Pat Boone, he became friendly with Presley's musical rival. He first met Presley at an Ozark Jubilee concert in Memphis in 1956 and Presley was impressed with his high vocals.

In 1958, both Hodge and Presley were drafted at the same time and they met in basic training at Fort Hood. They travelled on the same troopship to Germany, and Hodge saw him socially during the coming months. On a furlough in Paris, Presley and his entourage invited many of the showgirls from the Lido back to his hotel suite. The manager of the Lido called Presley and asked, "Would you mind sending the girls back? We have a show to do in 10 minutes."

On being demobbed in 1960, Presley asked Hodge to work for him. He could see that Hodge had skills in keeping him away from reporters, that he could make him laugh, that he could sing gospel with him and that he didn't mind being a dogsbody. Hodge was involved with some of his records, singing harmony on the beautiful "I Will Be Home Again" (1960) and co-writing "You'll Be Gone" (1965). Hodge had minor roles in his films Clambake (1967), Speedway (1968) and Charro! (1969). His mission was to keep Presley amused while he made these dull but profitable films.

He was a close confidant of Presley, always by his side and even witnessing his will. He lived in an apartment at the back of Graceland.

When Hodge saw Jimmy Wakely in Las Vegas, he was impressed that the country star closed his show with a ballad. When Presley returned to live performing in 1969, he passed on this tip and Presley ended every concert with "Can't Help Falling in Love". During the song, Presley would hand out scarves to emotional fans and Hodge would pass him as many as 20 in three minutes. Presley occasionally allowed Hodge to sing lead on the gospel song "You Better Run", while he sang bass. Hodge can be seen in all of Presley's concert films.

Seven years after Presley's death, Hodge published a memoir, Me 'n Elvis (1984). He acted as an adviser for several films about Presley and took part in lecture tours. In later years, he often played the Memories Theatre in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. He continued to perform while he had treatment for lung cancer and consoled himself with the thought that he would soon see Presley again.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: HR Generalist - 2 week contract - £200pd - Immediate start

£200 per day: Ashdown Group: Working within a business that has a high number ...

Austen Lloyd: Private Client Solicitor - Oxford

Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: OXFORD - REGIONAL FIRM - An excellent opportu...

Recruitment Genius: Business / Operations Manager

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This well-established and growi...

Recruitment Genius: Marketing Executive - Major Sporting Venue

£29500 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Day In a Page

In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran
The young are the new poor: A third of young people pushed into poverty

The young are the new poor

Sharp increase in the number of under-25s living in poverty
Greens on the march: ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’

Greens on the march

‘We could be on the edge of something very big’
Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby - through the stories of his accusers

Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby

Through the stories of his accusers
Why are words like 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?

The Meaning of Mongol

Why are the words 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?
Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible