Sixties City presents a wide-ranging series of articles on all aspects of the Sixties, penned by the creator of the iconic 60s music paper  Mersey Beat

Elvis and his pets

In 1945 Elvis Presley won a prize at the Mississippi - Alabama Fair for singing 'Old Shep', a song about a boy's love for his dog. It was quite apt, since Elvis's favourite pets were dogs.
He was also to sing 'Old Shep' at a senior talent show at Humes High and eventually recorded the song for an album in 1956. Appropriately enough, one of his earliest and biggest hits was called 'Hound Dog'.

As a boy, Elvis used to play with his mother's pet dog Sweetpea, named after the baby in the Popeye cartoons and one of his own pets in the 1950s was a terrier called Boy. When Elvis was enrolled in the army, a fan sent him a pedigree poodle called Teddy Bear of Zi-Pom-Pom. A dog called Edmund and a collie named Baba were among the large number of pets he kept at his Gracelands manor in Memphis. Baba made a brief appearance with Elvis in his film 'Paradise, Hawaiian Style'.

Muffin was another Graceland dog, a white Great Pyrenees who was injured at obedience school and had to be put down. Getlo was a pet Chow Chow Elvis bought in 1957 and the same year he introduced the dog on stage at the Las Vegas Hilton. Sadly, the same year, the dog developed a kidney ailment and Elvis had him flown to the New England Institute of Comparative Medicine, but he died a few months later following an operation. Elvis also liked to give pets as presents. At Christmas, 1958 he bought a toy French poodle called Littlebit for his girlfriend Anita Wood. A Christmas present for his wife Priscilla was a poodle called Honey and in 1973 he gave his girlfriend Linda Thompson a white Maltese dog called Foxhugh.

Another present for Priscilla took the shape of two Great Danes, Snoopy and Brutus. Snoopy became his daughter Lisa-Marie's own pet. Graceland was the home of a variety of pets, which included cats, although Elvis always claimed that he was allergic to cats. His daughter Lisa-Marie's cat was a long-haired white cat called Fluff. There were peacocks roaming the Gracelands grounds - although they tended to scratch the cars, and there were also chickens and ducks wandering around.

Priscilla was delighted when Elvis bought her Domino, a four-year-old black quarterhorse. It was the first of many horses Elvis was to stable at Gracelands. He bought himself a Palomino called Rising Sun and stabled it at a barn on Gracelands called House of the Rising Sun, along with various other horses which he bought, which included Golden Sun, Mare Ingram, Big Red, Colonel Midnight, Lady, Sheba, Scout, Thundercloud, El Poco, Beauty, Traveler, Bear, Keno, Buckshot, Sundown, Flaming Star and Star Trek.

In 1957 Australian fans sent Elvis a kangaroo, which he presented to Memphis Zoo. The most unusual pet Elvis had was a 40lb, 3ft tall chimpanzee called Scatter, who lived in a cage behind Graceland. Elvis had first seen the chimp on a Memphis TV show and had to have him. After he'd bought Scatter, Elvis and his group of male friends, known as the Memphis Mafia, took great glee in dressing him up in human clothes. When in Hollywood Elvis had his chauffeur drive Scatter around town, seated alone in the back of a luxury car, much to the amazement of passers-by. What caused great amusement for Elvis and his chums was the habit Scatter had of lifting up girls' skirts! Unfortunately, the chimp became an alcoholic, drinking such vast quantities of straight scotch and bourbon that he died of cirrhosis of the liver!
   Elvis and the Kangaroo   Elvis with Scatter the chimpanzee

Mersey Beat Magazine Bill Harry attended the Liverpool College of Art with Stuart Sutcliffe and John Lennon and made the arrangements for Brian Epstein to visit The Cavern, where he saw The Beatles for the first time. Bill was a member of 'The Dissenters' and the founder and editor of 'Mersey Beat', the iconic weekly music newspaper that documented the early Sixties music scene in the Liverpool area and is possibly best known for being the first periodical to feature a local band called 'The Beatles'. He has worked as a high powered publicist, doing PR for acts such as Suzi Quatro, Free, The Arrows and Hot Chocolate and has managed press campaigns for record labels such as CBS, EMI, Polydor. Bill is the critically acclaimed author of a large number of books about The Beatles and the 60s era including 'The Beatles Who's Who', 'The Best Years of the Beatles' and the Fab Four's 'Encyclopedia' series. He has appeared on 'Good Morning America' and has received a Gold Award from the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors.

Article Text Bill Harry               Original Graphics SixtiesCity     Other individual owner copyrights may apply to Photographic Images

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