Picks and Pans Review: Revelations from the Memphis Mafia

updated 07/24/1995 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/24/1995 AT 01:00 AM EDT

by Alanna Nash with Billy Smith, Marty Lacker and Lamar Fike

In 700-plus pages of gossip about Elvis Presley's private life by three hangers-on, the authors make the alternately worshipful and unflattering comments about their beneficent boss that define the best tradition of gofer tell-alls. Not surprisingly their dish is pretty thin: 18 years after his death, we learn that Presley once nearly hired a hit man. Only an ardent fan or devoted voyeur will enjoy scaling this mountain of crumbs.

The book, though, is not without humor. Fike remembers how Presley drank Bloody Marys throughout a 1969 Barbra Streisand concert in Las Vegas while pondering Streisand's marital history. Afterward, he wobbled backstage and said, "Man, what did you ever see in Elliott Gould? I can't stand the guy."

But the revelations about Presley's last years are old stuff: He had to wear a corset to fit into his jeweled jumpsuit, he could no longer hit high or low notes and his drug use shifted into overdrive. (Smith estimates that in the '60s, Presley was "bombed" 40 percent of the time; by the '70s it was 60 percent.) His death seems inevitable, especially in the company of such indifferent—and unapologetic—minders as these. (HarperCollins, $25)

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