Gary Lewis' Tribute to Elvis


Gary Lewis' had not made his decision: whether or not to go until such time as his final decision was influenced with the help of what he called a "role model," someone he had looked up to. Someone who had once had to make the same decision--Elvis Presley.

Gary believed that if Elvis could do it; take a chance on losing his career in order to fulfill an obligation to God and country, he could do it, too. And he did. Gary served in the United States Army for two years, some of that time being spent overseas--in Vietnam--in Saigon. As a usual practice, the children of very important people are given secure status in the military and it was thought that Gary would be sent to entertain the troops. Instead, Gary, like Elvis, preferred no special treatment. Though Gary was kept away from the immediate frey and in an administrative position, he still remained vulnerable and exposed in areas where danger was eminent such as during the time of the Pueblo incident. Gary recalls the time when the US naval ship was captured in unassumed North Korean waters.

Gary was in Korea at the time the Pueblo was captured by the North Koreans and remembers a very "tense situation" existed there. "A Vietnam veteran reading this article wrote and told me that 'No matter where you were, there was some kind of chance you could be killed. A buddy of mine kidded us because we were all staying behind in Vietnam while he was going on to Korea. He said he would be safe there. Shortly after he arrived in Korea, he was shot dead. There is no safe zone in war."

Gary Lewis is a Vietnam veteran, and proud of he had served his country, putting his own career on hold to uphold the defense of our nation in time of war.

The most touching addition to this story is knowing what Gary Lewis thought about Elvis. He chose him as a role model soldier, but in Gary's own words, in an email to Barbara Lee, Gary told of why he wrote a song, a tribute to Elvis Presley, one of the very few tribute songs ever written to Elvis while he was still alive. and Gary's was the first.

The song called,"I Saw Elvis Presley Last Night," was written and recorded by Gary Lewis in the early seventies. Gary said: "Everyone who knows, has told me that my song for Elvis was the only tribute song to him while he was still alive. I saw him in Las Vegas in 1971 or 1972, at the Hilton and loved it so much that I wrote the song. I couldn't figure out a title, so I just called it,'I Saw Elvis Presley Last Night'."In addition Gary said: "After I saw Elvis in 1971 or 1972 at the Hilton in Las Vegas, he sent someone out to bring me and my wife back to meet him. He was so gracious. He was pouring champagne for everyone and giving all the wives his scarves. He even said to me, 'Hey man, nice suit.' I had a cool purple suit on. I thought he was great."

Gary continues to perform today. All the hits he made famous from the days gone by continue to attract new audiences.

I Saw Elvis Presley Last Night

Gary Lewis has been kind enough to allow us to present his song, "I Saw Elvis Presley Last Night," music and lyrics. We have finally found this rare recording and it is here for all Elvis' and Gary Lewis' fans to enjoy!

There have been many tributes to Elvis Presley since his untimely death thirty years ago. Most of these tributes presented by fans, family members and friends, and the media, have come in the form of DVD's, CD's, Books, web-sites, films, and photos. The tributes are ongoing and with each passing year seem to expand, with the onset of new generations of fans who are simply taken in by the magic, and mystery, of Elvis Presley

Gary Lewis became a sixties icon in an era when the Beatles came upon the scene and changed rock and roll forever. While Elvis is responsible for rock and roll becoming a peak condition, groups such as Gary Lewis and the Playboys, The Monkees, The Beatles,Herman's Hermits, The Dave Clark Five, and even the Rolling Stones, changed the style of Rock and Roll from the fifties mode to the sixties pop culture. With such great songs as "Everybody Loves A Clown," "Count Me In," and "This Diamond Ring," Gary Lewis and the Playboys became a household word.

It was Gary Lewis who soared to the top of the charts as Cash Box Magazine's top male vocalist of the year 1965, surpassing even Elvis!

In 1965, having already secured a couple of hit records and the position of top vocalist of the year, Gary was beckoned by Uncle Sam. He was drafted with his career about to take off to new heights and Gary, like Elvis, was uncertain if going off to join the army might mean the end of a promising career.

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