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.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Personal Tax Senior

£28000 - £37000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Customer and Markets Development Executive

£22000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company's mission is to ma...

Recruitment Genius: Guest Services Assistant

£13832 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This 5 star leisure destination on the w...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Account Manager

£20000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Account Manager is requ...

Day In a Page

A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory