Home > Newspaper Articles > 1975 > April 24, 1975. Macon, GA.

CONCERT DATE: April 24, 1975. Macon, GA.

Presley's Penthouse Has uninvited Guest
Richard Harris
The Macon Telegraph
Friday, April 25, 1975

The security around Elvis Presley was so tight that even the two chauffeured limousines assigned to follow the Presley limousine from his hotel room to the Macon Coliseum lost track of the superstar along the way.

But the security was not so tight that a newspaper reporter with a camera hidden in a black plastic bag couldn't venture up to Presley's penthouse suite or manage to grab a ride to one of the limousines searchingly following Presley to the Coliseum.

I was one of three reporters assigned to cover the mania surrounding Macon's most prestigious visitor this year. My mission: Find out from where Presley was to leave the Macon Hilton and what time and snap a picture of Presley's hips swaying on to the seat of the limousine that was to take him to the Coliseum.

"Mission Impossible," I said.

Inside the newsroom about an hour before the concert was schedules to begin at 8:30 p.m. someone handed me a black plastic bag to hide my camera. The word had gotten out that Presley's men in the top two floors of the hilton constantly spied on the traffic below. Anybody with a camera wouldn't have a change of getting near the place, I was told.

I drove to the Hilton, and immediately my spirits were booted when I saw two limousines parked out front, and people, mostly beautiful girls, standing around with cameras. But I found out that it was not to be that easy to get a picture of Presley leaving for the concert.

I was told that Presley was staying on the penthouse, but the elevators had been rigged so that anyone entering and pushing the PH button would find himself quickly being lowered to the basement.

With black bag in hand, I decided to try it. The elevator started rising to my glee, but stopped on the 14th floor, a man started to get on the elevator with me, but changed his mind. So I rode alone up to the penthouse.

When the elevator door opened I calmly walked out like I knew where I was going, greeted three uniformed and armed police officers and started roaming around the hall.

Trying to remain calm and leaving the camera in the black bag. I turned left, walked down the one hall and looked inside every room that was open. There were suitcases lying on the floor in the hall, and tall men with casual, open shirts talked quietly with each other. Not seeing Presley, and wondering what would do if I did, and not believing I was on the penthouse. I turned around and walked down the other end of the hall.

I entered a corner room. The bed was mussed, but no one was there. At this time, a uniformed officer walked up to me and told me that Elvis was on the floor below and I should proceed down the stairs, I did.

One floor below, I followed another man back up to the Penthouse. We started to get off the elevator. He walked into the hall but told me "You can't get off the elevator here on this floor." I started to anyway, but an officer pushed me back into the elevator rather sternly and closed the door.

This time I went all the way to the basement.

Now, I decided I'd better find out when Presley was leaving. I went across the street to Gray Clark, who was in charge of the VIP Cadillac Limousine Service that was to chauffer Presley to the Coliseum.

On Clark's helpful instructions, i stationed myself inside the loading dock of the Hilton, where Clark was to drive one of the limousines parked out front and pick up Presley.

I waited. It came time. Shortly after 9 p.m., 30 minutes after the concert started with the warmup group, Presley's advance security force of two men prodded their way from the penthouse to the dock through the kitchen of the Hilton.

I removed the camera from the plastic bag in anticipation. That was my mistake. Ignoring my pleading, the police threatened to lock me up if I didn't leave. I left. Waiting outside the loading dock, I saw Clark drive up to get Presley. He drove inside. The police shut the door. About 50 people had gathered at the dock. The door opened, and Presley sped off for the Coliseum about 9:15 p.m.

I got a quick shot of the limousine speeding away, and quickly I ran up the alley where it had been arranged for me to ride one of the two limousines escorting Presley. I opened the door and hopped in the front seat.

Presley was gone. Tommy Martin, driver of the limousine I was in, proceeded down Riverside, turned left onto the Fifth Street Bridge and entered the rear of the Coliseum parking lot with Martin tooting his horn and officers pointing the sleek vehicle towards the Coliseum.

But where was Elvis? Martin spotted the second companion limousine, or decoy, directly behind the Coliseum. He got out of the vehicle and asked the limousine's chauffer, Elmer Jenkins where Clark - and Elvis - were. Jenkins didn't know.

We drove around to the side, and spotted Clark's limousine ina ramp going down to a lower entrance of the Coliseum.

The Colonel had faked them all.

Courtesy of Francesc Lopez