Elvis and Tom Jones in Vegas: The King’s FURY at unforgivable betrayal
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Elvis was fickle in his personal life, taking frequent lovers while in relationships and then married, and allowing little opportunity for anyone to countermand his ever-changing wishes. By contrast, he expected absolute loyalty and fidelity from everyone around him. He was notoriously unforgiving and occasionally violent if he felt anyone had betrayed him. He didn’t just shoot televisions, on this one particular occasion he also physically attacked someone very close to him during an extraordinary sequence of events.
The night in question happened during Elvis’ long residence at The International Hotel in Las Vegas.
The King would frequently hang out with Tom Jones – and not just at afterparties. Elvis used to love turning up to surprise Sir Tom’s audiences mid-show.
The Welsh star was not quite as delighted, and would tell his crew to “hide the microphones” to prevent the American from trying to upstage him.
Journalist and writer Chris Hutchins was handling Sir Tom’s PR at the time and also became friends with Elvis and Priscilla. He described the shocking events of one particular night.
Hutchins said: “His (Elvis’) addiction to prescription medication — uppers, downers, and various narcotics — saw his behaviour becoming increasingly erratic.
“One night he turned up in Tom’s dressing room with his hand heavily bandaged.”
But the King hadn’t had an accident, he had actually hurt his hand badly attacking a member of his own entourage during a night which also saw the singer striding onto an airport runway to stop a plane.
Hutchins added: “It turned out that a member of his entourage had stolen a ring from his bedside table.
“When he learned the suspected thief was due to fly to Memphis that day, Elvis had driven to Las Vegas airport and stood in the path of the aircraft in which he was about to travel, holding up the shiny badge of a federal agent.”
Elvis’ love of police and agent badges was well-known, with many forces gifting the star with honorary badges when he performed or visited in their districts.
However, the federal agent badge was bestowed on Elvis by none less than President Nixon himself, after an infamous encounter at the White House.
Elvis saw himself as an upholder of American values and asked the President to make him a federal agent. Nixon fobbed him off but humoured him with a badge. The star, though, believed he now had the full weight of the government behind him.
His brutal treatment of the apprehended thief he dragged back to his hotel that night, however, was hardly very legal.
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George Klein, a former schoolmate and member of Elvis’ entourage, told Hutchins what happened next.
Hutchins said: “(He) told me how they’d hauled the supposed miscreant out of the airport and back to the Hilton where he was subjected to a summary punishment by his employer.
“‘Elvis slapped the guy around real good,’ said George. ‘He had a ring on and it kinda cut his head.’
“So fierce was the beating that Elvis injured his own hand in the process.”
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