Elvis Presley Pointed a Gun at His Backup Singer After She Refused to Go On Stage

At several concerts in 1975, Elvis Presley embarrassed backup singer Kathy Westmoreland in front of the audience. After a particularly disastrous show during which nearly all the backup singers walked offstage, Westmoreland refused to go on altogether. Following the show, Elvis pointed a gun at her. She explained how she felt in the terrifying moment.

Elvis Presley terrified his backup singer after a concert

Elvis and Westmoreland had an on-and-off again relationship, but she eventually began dating a member of his band. As a result, he made several disparaging remarks about her onstage, telling the audience that she’d take “affection” from any band member. After several tense shows, Westmoreland refused to take the stage. Following this concert, Elvis asked to see her.

“He was sitting on his bed wearing his karate pajamas, and he had a gun,” she said, per the book Careless Love: The Unmaking of Elvis Presley by Peter Guralnick. “He held up a gift-wrapped wristwatch in one hand and a gun with the other. He leveled the gun at me. ‘Which do you want, this or this?’”

Terrified, Westmoreland tried to diffuse the situation.

“I tried to compose myself, but my heart was pounding, and my mind was whirling with all sorts of crazy thoughts,” she said, adding, “I just smiled and said, ‘Why, I’ll take the gift of course, thank you!’ I laughed, too, but inside I was in a turmoil. ‘Oh, God, what is wrong with him?! What is he going to do?’ It was so scary I was feeling like every muscle was about to collapse from weakness, but outwardly I tried to remain calm.”

She told him she would finish the tour with him but thought she had to leave the show. It was no longer healthy for them to be around each other.

“He grinned at me and shrugged,” she said. “‘If you think it’s best, then it’s best. I won’t say anything to stop you if that’s the way you feel.’”

Elvis Presley later tried to make it up to his backup singers with jewelry

Westmoreland wasn’t the only backup singer who was frustrated with Elvis. He berated them all during a concert, causing nearly everyone to leave the stage. While he didn’t initially want to apologize, it caused so much friction that he realized he had to do something.

“Elvis bought what I would call practically a whole jewelry store,” jeweler Lowell Hays said. “He gave something to everybody in the group. He gave each of the Sweet Inspirations a five-thousand dollar ring.”

This was enough to make his backup singers remain on the tour with him.

Priscilla Presley worried that Elvis was obsessed with guns

According to Elvis’ ex-wife, Priscilla Presley, he grew increasingly interested in guns. He once dropped a gun onstage and frequently fired weapons when frustrated. Priscilla thought he wanted the guns on him as part of a fantasy he had constructed for himself.

“In the absence of any significant professional challenge, Elvis created his own real-life dramas,” she wrote in her book Elvis and Me. “His fascination with guns was now an obsession. He became paranoid over death threats, and from his association with the Memphis local police, he had access to a list of drug pushers. He felt he personally should get them off the streets. Phoning me late one evening, he said, ‘Cilla, you have anyone you want taken care of? Strictly top secret.’”

Priscilla and everyone else in his life watched this behavior with mounting concern.

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