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As a child growing up in Humboldt, Tennessee, TG Sheppard often told his mother that he was going to meet Elvis Presley. She told him not to get his hopes up, Sheppard recalls.
By the time Sheppard was 15 years old, his parents were divorced. He was the singer in a local band, and when his father told him music wasn’t allowed under his roof, Sheppard
climbed out his bedroom window and hitchhiked to Memphis.


He slept on benches, in alleys or crashed on friends’ couches when he could, he recalled. Six decades ago, about 1 a.m., Sheppard was standing outside a local skating rink when
two Cadillacs pulled up. Presley was behind the wheel of one of the cars and invited Sheppard inside the rink to join his friends to play his favorite roller skating game.


They skated for four or five hours, and Sheppard thought that was it — he had met the King of Rock 'n' Roll and now the night was over. Instead, the chance meeting sparked a
friendship that lasted until Presley died. Sheppard was with Presley at Graceland the day before he died.

“It was a tough day anyway, but I think I was in denial for a long time,” said Sheppard, who lived at Graceland periodically for seven years. “Everywhere you looked, you still saw his
movies on TV, you still heard his music. You know he’s passed, but it’s just a weird feeling because he was everywhere. The legacy has been bigger than Elvis himself.”

Now Sheppard is celebrating their friendship with his new album,
“Midnight in Memphis.” Available Sept. 20, the collection is Sheppard’s first country project in more than 20
years. The title track was written by the Bee Gees’ Barry Gibb and is bookended with
“I Wanna Live Like Elvis” and “The Day Elvis Died.” Sheppard, who hosts "The TG
Sheppard Show" at 2 p.m. Fridays on SiriusXM’s Elvis Radio, will play the Grand Ole Opry on Sept. 25.

He didn’t intend to record songs inspired by his friend. But when the music started pouring in, Sheppard couldn’t turn it down. Written by Chip Davis, Billy Davis and Doug Graham,
“I Wanna Live Like Elvis” captured Sheppard’s attention first.

Lyrics include:
"I wanna learn karate, make a movie in Hawaii, work for the CIA, get a badge from the DEA. I wanna be friends with the president and have the respect of
the government."
“It’s this comical song that tells Elvis’ life in four minutes,” he explained. “I heard it, and I said, ‘That is hilarious.’ (Chip Davis) said, ‘TG, you’ve got to record this
because you were there. You lived some of the lines in the song.’ I heard the song and said, ‘You’re right, I’ve got to record it.’ ”

On
“The Day Elvis Died,” Sheppard sings: “The whole world stopped when the news came on, at 42 the King was gone.”

The country singer said he got Priscilla Presley's permission before he recorded both.

“I never want to ride his coattails, or I would have done it 40 years ago when he passed,” Sheppard said. “These songs, I just felt like I was called to do them. She said, ‘TG, you’ve
got to put these out. These are great songs.’ ”

Sadly, Sheppard doesn’t believe any photos exist of himself and Elvis Presley, despite their 16-year friendship. Jack Soden, president and CEO at Elvis Presley Enterprises, said
that doesn’t surprise him. In his near four-decade working relationship with Graceland, he’s well aware that candid snapshots of Presley are rare. Visitors to Graceland often
comment that more photos of Elvis should be displayed.

“It’s uncanny,” Soden said. “There aren’t any. There was just this unwritten assumed thing — no one ever took pictures. Almost one of the measures of how close someone was to
Elvis is how few photographs there are. The closest inner circle, there just aren’t.”

However, Sheppard has his memories with the King — and some of them are doozies. He recounted his top five favorite Elvis Presley stories.

1. Christmas at Graceland
“Every Christmas at Graceland was a memory,” Sheppard said. “Elvis was big on extravagant giving. He was a giver, not a taker. Throughout the year, people would get upset with
him for giving extravagant gifts, but at Christmas it was OK because it’s Christmas.”

2. The Tour Bus Surprise
It was midnight, and Sheppard was getting ready to go to bed when Presley called. Sheppard recalls Presley always said the same thing: “What are you doing?”
When Sheppard told him he was going to bed, Presley rejected the idea and asked him to drive the 20 minutes to Graceland. Sheppard arrived, and Presley met him wearing a
cape and told him to get into the limousine, he recalled.

“I said, ‘Where are we going?’ " Sheppard said. “He said, ‘We’re going to Dallas/Fort Worth.’ I said, ‘Texas? Now?’ He said, ‘Yeah, I want to show you the airplane I’m building.’ I
said, ‘How are we going?’ He said, ‘I bought a small jet today.’ We got in that, and we were sitting and we were just taking off, and he looked me in the eye and said, ‘Oh, by the way,
I bought you a bus today.’ I said, ‘You bought me a bus?’ I said, ‘Elvis, hell I don’t even have a band.’ He said, ‘Well look, I’ll buy you a bus, but I ain’t paying for no damn band.’  
That's his exact words.”

Presley dispatched J.D. Sumner and Larry Strickland to North Carolina to retrieve the coach. Presley and Sheppard returned to Memphis about 8 a.m. and Sheppard went home to
sleep. Then his phone rang.

“What are you doing?" Presley asked. “I’m sleeping,” Sheppard replied. “I need you to come out here. Your bus is here.”  Sheppard drove back to Graceland, and Presley had the
tour bus hidden behind the barn.
“He always made a big deal out of everything,” Sheppard said. “He brought everybody out in the backyard. He gets behind the wheel of the bus and drove that bus to my house in
East Memphis.”

3. The Lisa Marie’s Inaugural Flight
Months later after Presley’s large airplane (named Lisa Marie) was finished, Sheppard met his friend to join him on its first flight with its new owner. Sheppard said they were talking
on the plane and kept talking as they sat down.
“Finally, after about half an hour, I look at Elvis and I say, ‘Elvis, this is the smoothest plane I have ever been on in my life,’ ” Sheppard said. “And he said, ‘I guess so, you idiot. We
haven’t taken off yet.’ ”

4. Target practice
Presley loved to target practice, but with his schedule it typically happened in the middle of the night, Sheppard said. He remembers they were behind Graceland shooting guns
about 1 a.m. Presley was shooting his Colt Python, which Sheppard likened to something Clint Eastwood would shoot in the movies.  After about 30 minutes, Presley’s neighbors
started complaining.  “Here come the police up the driveway,” Sheppard said. “And they said, ‘Elvis, the neighbors are going crazy. You’ve got the whole neighborhood up shooting
these guns out here. Can you stop it for the night?’ And Elvis said, ‘Oh, yeah man, I’m sorry. That’s no problem.’ They had no sooner pulled out of the driveway and Elvis said,
‘Let’s go a couple of more rounds.’ And, we started shooting again.”

5. Road Rage
Somewhere along the line, Sheppard recalls, Presley was named an honorary sheriff of Shelby County, complete with a badge. Later, someone gave him a revolving blue light to sit
on top of his car. Presley put both to use one night when he and Sheppard were on the way to Graceland from the Memphian Theater.  
“Some guy blows around us wide open,” Sheppard said. “Elvis got in behind him and stuck his blue light on top of the car and pulled this guy over. I’m going, ‘Oh Lord.’ You can
only imagine the guy that got pulled over, what he thought when Elvis leaned down into his window and showed his badge to him. He had no authority to give him a ticket or
anything, but he signed him an autograph and told him not to drive like that."

LIVE CONCERT APPEARANCE
TG Sheppard Is Performing along with Charlie Daniels and more

Where: The Grand Ole Opry House, 2804 Opryland Drive in Nashville

When: 7 p.m. Sept. 25

Tickets: Tickets start at $45 at www.opry.com or by calling 1-800-733-6779.

Tune in: "The TG Sheppard Show" from 2 to 5 p.m. Fridays on SiriusXM’s Elvis Radio on Channel 19.  

Originating Source - Cindy Watts
for the Nashville Tennessean

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TG SHEPPARD "I LIVED WITH ELVIS AT GRACELAND"
Now He's Honouring The King With His New Album
TG Sheppard holds the TCB necklace that was given to him by Elvis Presley at his home in Hendersonville, Tennessee