Elvis’ Bodyguards

Celebrities, Celebrity Q&A, People
on November 14, 2004

I’ve already met one of Elvis’ bodyguards, Ardell Ricketts, but I would like to know more about Red and Sonny West, the two cousins and bodyguards who betrayed Elvis.

—Kolbey G., Utah

“Red and Sonny are alive and well,” says Alanna Nash, author of The Colonel: The Extraordinary Story of Colonel Tom Parker and Elvis Presley. Red, who lives in Memphis, Tenn., continues to act in movies and is currently in production on a Jerry Bruckheimer film, playing a trainer for a basketball team. Sonny, who worked for Presley from 1960 until 1976 and now lives in Nashville, Tenn., makes personal appearances throughout the world, speaking about Elvis. He is working on his second book, tentatively titled Taking Care of Business, about his years with Presley. In 1977, the Wests published a book, Elvis: What Happened?, detailing Presley’s downward spiral into drugs. While some fans considered the book to be a betrayal, the cousins contend it was only an attempt to save Presley’s life by convincing him to change his ways. As for Ardell Ricketts, “Never heard of him,” says Marty Lacker, another of the King’s bodyguards, “and he didn’t work for Elvis.”