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Robert Gene "Red" West (born 1936) is an American actor, film stuntman and songwriter. He was a close high school friend of rock and roll singer Elvis Presley. He is probably best known to American film audiences for his role as Red in Road House, alongside Patrick Swayze.
Robert Gene West was born in Memphis, Tennessee to Lois and Newton Thomas West. An excellent athlete and former U.S. Marine, West played football for his high school and junior college (Jones County Junior College) teams and was a boxer in the Golden Gloves championships.
West and Presley
In the entourage
Red West was fired by Presley and subsequently helped write the book Elvis: What Happened, which was published weeks before Presley's death. 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.
Dismissal and Elvis: What Happened
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 by the media. 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, and a third bodyguard named David Hebler were fired by Elvis's father, Vernon Presley, who hated most of, if not all, the members of his son's entourage.
As a songwriter
Red West contributed to several songs written by Elvis Presley in 1961 and 1962. 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." "You'll Be Gone" was also co-written with Charlie Hodge, and appeared on the Girl Happy soundtrack album and as a 45 single in 1965. The single reached number 35 on the Canadian singles chart in 1965.
"That's Someone You Never Forget" was the final track on the 1962 album Pot Luck and was released as a 45 B side single in 1967 and was featured on the Artist of the Century compilation. Red also co-wrote "If You Think I Don't Need You" with Joey Cooper for the motion picture Viva Las Vegas. He teamed up with Joey Cooper again on "I'm A Fool", which Ricky Nelson recorded. "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.
Red West also co wrote the song "Separate Ways" for Elvis in 1972. The song was the title of an Elvis album released on RCA's budget album line, Camden, in Jan. 1973. The song "Separate Ways" was the B side release of the single "You Were Always On My Mind" in November 1972. The single reached #20 on Billboard's Hot 100. It reached #16 on the Country Music Billboard chart. Again, largely due to the success of "Always On My Mind". Both songs struck a sad, melancholy tone thought to largely depict Elvis' mood and outlook following the recent separation of him and his eventual ex wife Priscilla.
Career in film and television
When Presley was making films in the 1960s in Hollywood, Red West appeared in small roles in sixteen of the star's films. 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. 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.
West played Master Sergeant Andy Micklin on Baa Baa Black Sheep. He guest starred twice on the CBS hit detective series Magnum, P.I. as different characters, as four different ones on The A-Team, the Knight Rider pilot episode "Knight of the Phoenix", on The Fall Guy and in The Once and Future King (The Twilight Zone). In 1989 West appeared in the action film Road House with Patrick Swayze as Red Webster, the auto parts store owner. West continued to work in motion pictures as of early February 2013. His most recent role was in the 2013 film Safe Haven.
- Live a Little, Love a Little (1968)
- Walking Tall (1973)
- Walking Tall Part II (1975)
- Road House (1989)
- Her Hidden Truth (1995)
- The Rainmaker (1997)
- I Still Know What You Did Last Summer (1998)
- Glory Road (2006)
- Goodbye Solo (2009)
- Father of Invention (2010)
- At Any Price (2012)
- Safe Haven (2013)