ELVIS PRESLEY made many famous friends throughout his career and one of his first starlet pals was very excited to start a friendship with the star. She described the King as a “gentleman”, before adding she “loved that” about him.
In 1957 Elvis Presley was still an up-and-coming artist. At that time he was working with Colonel Tom Parker, but had not yet achieved the critical acclaim to crown him the King of Rock and Roll, so he only played the legendary Nashville venue, the Grand Ole Oprey, for the first time in 1957. At this gig, he met Brenda Lee, the young performer who took his breath away.
Brenda Lee is a legendary American singer who began her career at the age of seven. Throughout the 1960s she had 47 US chart hits – the fourth-most in the decade – beaten only by Elvis, The Beatles and Ray Charles. The starlet recalled meeting the King for the first time on December 13, 1957 backstage at the Grand Ole Oprey.
At the age of 13, she was ecstatic to meet the 22-year-old Elvis, who was becoming more famous by the day. In a video interview with The Tennessean, Brenda Lee showed off a photo of her meeting the King, revealing: “This is the first time that I worked with Elvis.”
Brenda Lee continued: “This was backstage at the Ryman Auditorium, 1957, December 13 – our first time on the Grand Ole Oprey.” She added that the photo was taken just after she had turned 13-years-old – but she was not the person in her family who had a crush on Elvis. She continued: “It was my sister who had a crush. I was an Elvis fan of course, we all were. He was a part of the fabric of our lives.”
Although the King was an important part of music culture, this first meeting kickstarted a long relationship between the two artists.
Elvis Presley met Brenda Lee in 1957 (Image: GETTY)
Brenda Lee remembered: “We became friends and, of course, bonded and saw each other until he passed away.”
She also revealed how she received a special gift from the star when she was still young. The singer said: “I was the recipient of a tender loving care lightning strike [necklace].” This TLC necklace was made out of gold and was a token of Elvis’ appreciation for the star’s support.
Visually, the necklace looks very similar to the Blue Suede Shoes singer’s taking care of business in a flash icon (TCB lightning bolt).
Brenda Lee added that she keeps the necklace framed alongside the photo of her with Elvis at the Grand Ole Oprey.
She also noted what she liked best about the star. She said: “I think my favourite thing was his loyalty to his mother and father and family and fans and friends. He never lost that Southern, genteel, gentlemanly persona. I loved that about him. He was that way to the end.”
Brenda Lee’s TLC necklace and the photo of her alongside Elvis are displayed together backstage at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville Tennessee. After the pair met, they both enjoyed extraordinary careers, with Lee reportedly worth more than $20 million.