Nov 23, 2016: Elvis Presley Confidant Joe Esposito Dies

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Frank Sinatra, Joe Esposito and Elvis Presley in an undated photo. Elvis' father, Vernon Presley, is at left.

Frank Sinatra, Joe Esposito and Elvis Presley in an undated photo. Elvis’ father, Vernon Presley, is at left.

Elvis Presley’s level of fame was so off the charts that even his friends and staff—often called the Memphis Mafia—became celebrities in their own right. Joe Esposito, who met Elvis when they were in the Army together and became one of his most trusted aides, died Nov. 23, 2016, at his home in Calabasas, Calif., after a year of declining health. The precise cause of death was not reported, although it was known that Esposito had been suffering from dementia. He was 78.

The two men met in the service in 1958 while serving in Germany after Presley had already been a worldwide star for a couple of years. They became fast friends and after their discharge in 1960 Esposito went to work for Elvis as his right-hand man and, eventually, his road manager. Esposito served as Presley’s co-best man at his wedding to Priscilla Presley and remained close to Elvis until the singer’s 1977 death.

Priscilla Presley made the following statement upon Esposito’s death: “I’m so sad to hear my dear friend, Joe Esposito, has passed. Joe has been a true friend of mine since I met him in Germany with Elvis. I will forever have a soft spot for him and will feel a profound emptiness, as we shared stories only he and I could share, as we have lost many, in our very tight group.”

Related: Elvis Presley dies, August 16, 1977

A recent photo of Joe Esposito

A recent photo of Joe Esposito

It was Esposito who informed Priscilla and Presley’s manager, Col. Tom Parker, of Elvis’ death.

Following Presley’s passing, Esposito worked for talent agent Jerry Weintraub as road manager for Michael Jackson, the Bee Gees, Karen Carpenter and John Denver. But his connection to Elvis was never far away: Esposito served as a consultant on the film This Is Elvis and he worked on many other Elvis-related projects. He also attended many Elvis festivals and conventions, where he told stories of “the king.”

In the years after Presley’s death, Esposito also became an author, not surprisingly writing books about his old friend, including Good Rockin’ Tonight: Twenty Years on the Road and on the Town with Elvis, Elvis Straight Up, Elvis Intimate & Rare, Remember Elvis and two volumes of Celebrate Elvis.

Watch Joe Esposito interviewed by Larry King

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