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Red West (1936 - 2017)

Getty / FilmMagic / Photo by Derek Bauer

Red West (1936 - 2017)

Red West, an actor and a close friend of Elvis Presley, died Tuesday, July 18, 2017, according to multiple news sources. He was 80.

Pat West, Red’s wife, told The Commercial Appeal that Red had complained of pains Sunday afternoon and was taken to Baptist Hospital. Early in the evening, he died after having what she described as an abdominal aortic aneurysm.

“From the very start, we had a bond that was just unusual,” Pat West said of her husband. “He was just a straight shooter.”

Red West was born Nov. 20, 1936, in Bolivar, Tennessee. West and Presley became great friends at Humes High School. Elvis legend has it that West protected Presley from bullies a few times in school. West played football in junior college and was a Golden Gloves boxer. He worked with Presley for 20 years as his driver, confidante, and bodyguard.

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West had small roles in some of Presley’s movies including “Flaming Star.” He co-wrote some songs for Presley including “Separate Ways,” which became a hit song in 1972. West also contributed to songs by Ricky Nelson and Johnny Rivers.

West and two other members of Elvis’s “Memphis Mafia,” Sonny West and David Hebler, were fired by Vernon Presley in 1976. The three wrote a book titled "Elvis: What Happened?" that was published shortly before Presley died in 1977. The book detailed the singer’s dependency on drugs, and the three were criticized for the disclosure. West said he wrote the book hoping it would help the King of Rock ’n’ Roll realize he had a dangerous addiction to drugs.

After working for Presley, West became a full-time actor. He was a regular on the 1970s television series “Black Sheep Squadron.” One of his most famous roles was in the Patrick Swayze movie “Road House” in 1989. He played Red Webster, an auto parts store owner.

West also had roles in “Glory Road” and “Natural Born Killers.” His last on-screen role was in 2015 on the television series “Nashville.”

In addition to his wife, West is survived by two sons and six grandchildren.

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