Red West

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Red West
BornRobert Gene West
(1936-03-08)March 8, 1936
Memphis, Tennessee, U.S.
DiedJuly 18, 2017(2017-07-18) (aged 81)
Memphis, Tennessee, U.S.
Alma materJones County Junior College
OccupationActor, stunt performer, songwriter, author
Years active1959–2015
Pat Boyd (m. 1961)
RelativesSonny West (Cousin)

Robert Gene "Red" West (March 8, 1936 – July 18, 2017) was an American actor, film stuntman and songwriter.[1] He was known for being a close confidant and songwriter for rock and roll singer Elvis Presley. Upon his firing, West wrote the controversial Elvis: What Happened?, in which he exposed the singer's dangerous drug dependence in an attempt to save him.[2]

West was probably best known to American film audiences for his role as Red in Road House, alongside Patrick Swayze. In later years, West appeared in the 2008 independent film Goodbye Solo as William to much critical acclaim.[3]

Early life[edit]

West was born in Memphis, Tennessee, to Lois and Newton Thomas West.[4] West was the cousin of actor 'Sonny' West.[5] While attending high school in Tennessee, West and Sonny met with Elvis Presley.[6]

An excellent athlete and former U.S. Marine, West played football for his high school and junior college at Jones County Junior College teams and was a boxer in the Golden Gloves championships.[7]

In 1961, West married his wife Pat Boyd.[6] Together, they had two children.[7]

West and Presley[edit]

Songwriting career[edit]

West contributed to several songs written by Elvis Presley in 1961 and 1962.[7] He received help from Elvis Presley in writing two songs in the early 1960s, which were collaborations: "You'll Be Gone" and "That's Someone You Never Forget".[8]

"That's Someone You Never Forget" was the final track on the 1962 album Pot Luck. The song was released as a 45-rpm B-side single in 1967 and was featured on the Artist of the Century compilation.[9] "You'll Be Gone" was featured on the Girl Happy soundtrack LP as a bonus track. West also co-wrote "If You Think I Don't Need You" with Joey Cooper for the motion picture Viva Las Vegas.[8] He teamed up with Joey Cooper again on "I'm A Fool", which Ricky Nelson recorded.[10] "I'm A Fool" later became a hit for Dino, Desi and Billy, the partnership of Dean-Paul "Dino" Martin, Desi Arnaz Jr., and William "Billy" Hinsche.[10]

West also co wrote the song "Separate Ways" with Richard Mainegra for Elvis in 1972 [11] and "If You Talk in Your Sleep" a track from Presley's 1975 album Promised Land. The latter song was written by Red West and Johnny Christopher.[12] Red also wrote "If Every Day Was Like Christmas", recorded by Elvis Presley in 1966.

In addition to writing for Elvis, Red also had songs recorded by the likes of Pat Boone, Rick Nelson, Johnny Burnette, Johnny Rivers, Dino, Desi & Billy, Petula Clark, Gary Puckett & The Union Gap, Andre Kostelanetz and His Orchestra, and Little Milton to name a few.

Elvis' entourage and firing[edit]

In 1976, West was involved in a series of heavy-handed incidents in Las Vegas with aggressive fans that got out of hand, drawing criticism from the media.[7] More than that, West was becoming more vocal about Presley's drug problem and how he needed help. As a result, West, his cousin Sonny West, and a third bodyguard named David Hebler were fired by Elvis's father, Vernon Presley, who hated most, if not all, of the members of his son's entourage.[5]

West subsequently helped write the book Elvis: What Happened?, which was published weeks before Presley's death.[11] The book, according to West in the book, was an attempt to help Presley, but believed by some to be an attempt to retaliate and earn an income after being fired. Presley offered the publisher of the book $1,000,000 ($1million) to stop printing the book.[2]

Acting career[edit]

When Presley was making films in the 1960s in Hollywood, Red West appeared in small roles in sixteen of the star's films.[13] During this time, West became good friends with actor Nick Adams and his physical abilities got him hired on as a stuntman on Adams' television series, The Rebel.[4] From there, West went on to do more stunt work in film as well as developing a career as an actor in a number of motion pictures and on television. He was often on screen as a henchman in the television series The Wild Wild West.[14]

West played the ornery, sometimes violent Master Sergeant Andy Micklin on Baa Baa Black Sheep.[15] He guest starred twice on the CBS hit detective series Magnum, P.I. as different characters, as five different ones on The A-Team, the Knight Rider pilot episode "Knight of the Phoenix", on The Fall Guy, Simon & Simon and in "The Once and Future King", an episode of The Twilight Zone.[6] In 1989 West appeared in the action film Road House with Patrick Swayze as Red Webster, the auto parts store owner.[2]

West played the lead role in the 2008 independent film Goodbye Solo as William, an elderly depressed man who befriends a Senegalese man in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.[3] The film received positive reviews and critic Roger Ebert remarked that "West isn't playing himself, but he evokes his character so fully that he might as well be. West's face is a map of hard living".[3]

His last film role was in the 2013 film Safe Haven as Roger, an elderly store clerk in Southport, North Carolina.[16]


West died on July 18, 2017, aged 81, from an aortic aneurysm, at the Baptist Hospital in his native Memphis.[13]

His death occurred less than two months after the death of his cousin, actor Sonny West, in May 2017.[5] His funeral and burial at Memorial Park Cemetery was held on July 24 in Memphis.[17]

Selected filmography[edit]


  1. ^ Daily Telegraph Issue no 50,439 dated Friday 21 July 2017- "Long-serving member of Elvis Presley's entourage who wrote a shocking exposé about his boss"
  2. ^ a b c "Red West, Longtime Elvis Confidant, Dies at 81". Chicago Tribune. July 20, 2017. Retrieved July 20, 2017.
  3. ^ a b c d Roger Ebert (March 25, 2009). "Goodbye Solo Movie Review". Retrieved July 20, 2017.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h "Red West profile". Retrieved November 15, 2014.
  5. ^ a b c "Sonny West of Elvis' Memphis Mafia dies at 79".
  6. ^ a b c "Red West, Longtime Elvis Confidant, Dies at 81". Fox News. July 20, 2017. Retrieved July 20, 2017.
  7. ^ a b c d "Red West, Songwriter and Actor Who Was Elvis Presley's Confidant, Dies At 81". The Hollywood Reporter. July 20, 2017. Retrieved July 20, 2017.
  8. ^ a b "Red West Dies: 'Road House' Actor, Stuntman & Songwriter Was 81". Deadline. July 20, 2017. Retrieved July 20, 2017.
  9. ^ Graff, Gary; Durchholz, Daniel (eds) (1999). MusicHound Rock: The Essential Album Guide. Farmington Hills, MI: Visible Ink Press. p. 892. ISBN 1-57859-061-2.
  10. ^ a b "I'm A Fool Facts". SongFacts. Retrieved July 20, 2017.
  11. ^ a b "Interview with Red West". May 29, 2008. Retrieved July 20, 2017.
  12. ^ "If You Talk in Your Sleep - Elvis Presley | Song Info | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 2017-07-21.
  13. ^ a b Beifuss, John (July 19, 2017). "Red West, Elvis friend and actor, is dead". The Commercial Appeal. Retrieved July 19, 2017.
  14. ^ "Red West Interview". ElvisInfoNet. Retrieved July 20, 2017.
  15. ^ Ken Sharp (June 24, 2017). "Red West Remembers Writing For The King". Retrieved July 20, 2017.
  16. ^ Roeper, Richard (February 12, 2013). "Safe Haven". Retrieved February 15, 2015.
  17. ^ John Beifuss (July 20, 2017). "Red West: Services set for Elvis friend, actor". Commercial Appeal. Retrieved July 23, 2017.
  18. ^ a b c Kate Feldman (July 20, 2017). "Red West, actor and longtime friend of Elvis Presley, dead at 81". The New York Daily News. Retrieved July 20, 2017.
  19. ^ Tony Scott (November 9, 1995). "Review: 'Nbc Sunday Night at the Movies Her Hidden Truth Sun.'". Variety. Retrieved July 20, 2017.
  20. ^ David Rooney (August 30, 2012). "At Any Price: Venice Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved July 20, 2017.
  21. ^ "'The Black Dove' film premiered at AMC Newport Sunday". WTOL. Retrieved 24 September 2017.

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