George Klein, Best Friend Of Elvis Passes Away
George Klein, the legendary DJ who called Elvis his best friend, died Tuesday February 5th from complications from dementia. He was 83 years old.
Klein met the man who would become King of Rock ‘n’ Roll in the 8th grade at Humes High School and stayed close by his side until Presley’s death in 1977. Elvis even served as best man at Klein’s wedding. George Klein’s friendship with Elvis spanned 30 years. A part of Presley’s inner circle, Klein was eyewitness the singer’s rags to riches rise from a high school talent show to superstar.
A member of the so-called “Memphis Mafia,” Klein hung out with Elvis at Graceland, in Las Vegas and even appeared in cameo roles in eight of Elvis’ 33 movies, including Klein’s favorite, Jailhouse Rock.
So when Elvis was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986, Priscilla Presley asked George Klein to make the acceptance speech.
“Personally Elvis was a great friend to me,” Klein said. "You know I never saw Elvis refuse an autograph. I never saw Elvis refuse a handshake. I never saw Elvis refuse to take a picture with anyone. His accomplishments were so many, I’d be up here another hour if I read them off.”
The pictures tell the story of Klein’s close connection to the King. Little Brown & Company hired Klein a dozen years ago to tell the stories behind the pictures published in a 2007 book, Elvis Family Album.
“I would say Joe about 70 percent of the pictures in that book have been seen, 30 percent haven’t,” Klein said in 2007. "But the 70 percent that have been seen, people don’t know the story behind the picture. That’s what I tell in this book.”
Klein told hundreds of Elvis stories to a worldwide radio audience at the SiriusXM Elvis Channel 19 in a studio across from Graceland.
While Klein is best known as the King’s right hand man, the smiling DJ had a 64 year long career in Memphis radio, notably at WHBQ where he also hosted his TV show “Talent Party” for a decade, featuring local rising stars of rock and roll.
A true blue Memphis Tigers fan, Klein knew every U of M Basketball Coach from Gene Bartow to Penny Hardaway and stayed close to the program.
Born the same year as Elvis, the “Geeker in your speaker” told countless Elvis fans the true character of his dear friend. “Elvis was a very, very humble man. He was terrifically nice guy,” Klein said. "You may recall on January 8, 1935 a star was born.”
Klein outlived the King by more than 40 years, but their friendship will be remembered for as long as Elvis fans make the trip to Graceland.