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Concert Date: February 18, 1977. Columbia, SC.

Bodyguard Says Elvis "Gentleman"
by Frank Zupan
Columbia Record
February 21, 1977

The man who stayed by Elvis Presley's side during much of his five-hour say in Columbia Friday says that the King is a "gentleman of the highest (who) doesn't feel he's any better than anybody else".

C.S. "Sonny" Young, an investigator with the Columbia Police Department who was hired by Presley's manager to head the security for the superstar and his entourage, described Elvis as extremely modest and humble.

"He realizes people are what made Elvis great," Young said. "…To summarize it, I'd say, he is just an average, home town, country boy who made it big in the industry.

Elvis arrived at Columbia Metropolitan Airport about 8 pm Friday, according to Young. He was kept on his plush plane, the Lisa Marie (named for his daughter), until shortly before his 9:50 pm appearance at Carolina Coliseum.

A plane that had arrived about noon at nearby Eagle Aviation had contained only his band and his back-up singers, contrary to what some of his advance crewmen had said to lead reporters astray.

Young said Elvis was accompanied to the Coliseum by a beautiful woman with long black hair in her mid-twenties.

The 42 year old singer gave the hour and 15 minute performance with a touch of the flu, the investigator said. "Due to the fact that he had a virus, he was unable to do all the numbers he wanted to do," Young said. "He was very concerned about that."

After the concert Elvis returned to his gigantic plane, which is equipped with several bedrooms and a living room and pork chops and chicken were served. Elvis changed into a leisure suit before his 10-minute flight to Charlotte, NC.

"He took time to sit down and rap about Columbia," Young said. "He was in the military here some time ago, and he said his daddy used to live here in Columbia."

Young said Elvis is a tender-hearted man who makes sure his people are well taken care of."

"Anything we wanted, we got," he said.

In addition, the swivel-hipped singer is extremely polite ("he was very quick to say thank you") and was quite concerned about the safety of his fans around the airport construction work, near where his plane was parked, the policeman said.

Young said about 150 to 200 fans turned out at the airport to greet Elvis and another 100 or so were at the Coliseum door. At both places, Elvis blew kisses to his admirers.

Young declined to say how much he, Investigator Dorsey Taylor and Officer Gordon Crews were paid for guarding Elvis and his manager Col. Tom Parker. In addition, Parker had hired two uniformed policemen to patrol the second and fourth floors of the local Sheraton Inn which the group had rented.

The Investigator also refused to say what gifts the policemen and Elvis exchanged.

"I'd rather not to say," he said "It was something one close friend would give to another." Young did say that Elvis also had given the officers autographed pictures and autographed scarves for their wives.

Young labeled the security system around the superstar "elaborate" and said planning for it began several weeks ago.

"He's a billion dollar product," Young said of Elvis. "You have to take extreme measures to make sure he's not hurt."

The policeman said Presley's manager, Col. Tom Parker, a short, stubby character with a walking cane and ever present cigar, is "a genius" of planning.

"You never really know how to take him," he said of Parker. "He's real serious minded and concerned about business, but he's inclined to play a practical joke or two."

Young said the emphasis on business throughout the Presley operation is accentuated by jewelry bearing the letters TCB which Elvis has given to his people. TCB stands for Taking Care of Business and also is written on the side of Presley's plane, Young said.

Young said that there was no talk of Presley's retirement by anyone in the singer's party.

"The way Colonel Parker and them talk, they look forward to years and years of continued performing for the fans,"

Courtesy of Francesc Lopez