...Elvis Presley's drummer visited Scotland! Here is his story!
Nearly 4 years ago a Fax arrived in the middle of the night. It turned out it was from someone called Bill Lynn, who has a Holiday company based in Branson/MO called 'American & Country Music Holidays'. He asked us if we could, through the Magazine, help him promote his company and try and get people to go over there on holiday. A lot more faxes went across the water before we finally agreed and we have worked together ever since, and have also become firm friends. A lot of people have been on one of Bill's holidays, including ourselves. We have visited Branson, truly one of the magical places to be, Nashville and a dream came true when we visited Graceland in Memphis/TN.
It was probably about a year before we found out who Bill Lynn really was. It turned out he had been the drummer for Elvis Presley for 5 years, and a close friend for 17 years, right up to Elvis's death on August 16th, 1977.
Bill has had a very colourful career. He was born in Bogota/Colombia and after his father's untimely death at only 33 his mother brought the 6-year old to the United States. They lived in Miami/Florida for 18 years. Even at that early age Bill would drum on his mother's pots and pans along to records from Duane Eddy, Buddy Holly, Everly Brothers, Little Richard. Bill Haley & the Comets, Chuck Berry & others.
After earning enough money from his newspaper sales, shoe shines and weekend drug store maintenance cleaning jobs he purchased a used drum set for $20.00 dollars and would practice in the garage with various songs being played on the local rock radio station.
At 11 years of age he formed his own trio and at 14 he was called to play with a Country & Western band, never forgetting the song 'Heartaches by the number'. He continued to play with that band at square dances with another young musician called Charlie McCoy.
At 16 he 'changed' his age to 18 so that he could play in bars with various bands and was always asked to perform a drum solo, which later titled him as 'The Drummatic Bill Lynn'!
In 1960 Bill signed a contract with ABC Paramount Records in Nashville/TN as their 'studio drummer'. He recorded with many of the 'exclusive' artists: Ray Charles, The Impressions, Brian Hyland, Jimmy Velvet, Tommy Roe, Jimmy Gilmore, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Bobby Vee and others.
During this same period Bill was introduced to Elvis Presley at RCA Recording Studio 'B'. During one of Elvis's recording sessions the drummer left the studio for coffee and Bill was asked to accompany the next song 'Its Now Or Never'. As the recording progressed, they liked it that much that Bill's drum track stayed on the final print.
In 1963 Bill moved to Los Angeles and joined a 'Beatle' group, dressing and playing 95% of Beatle and Rolling Stone music in night clubs, the Hollywood Palladium and even the famous Coconut Grove.
Bill was called on to play with several other groups on his 'Day off', and when Elvis Presley was filming one of movies in Hollywood, Bill went to visit him.Elvis slightly remembered him, but having a drummer already contracted for the movie 'Easy Come - Easy Go' Elvis asked Bill if he could play any other instruments. Having had some previous basic instruction on piano, guitar, bass and saxophone, Bill was hired to play each instrument during the filming, which gave Bill extra pay for playing each one. There was one problem, Bill already had a band-job in Sacramento/California, 350 miles north. Not wanting to loose the job with Elvis Bill commuted by plane every day, making do with only a couple of hours sleep. A couple of weeks passed before Elvis found out what Bill was up to and when he did, he went into hysterics of laughter. Bill was asked to continue working with Elvis as a musician and extra in other movies. Bill and others cleared parks and movie houses for the private Presley who yearned for a normal life and time to himself. "That's what he wanted most!"
On many occasions Bill was asked to drive to Elvis's house to pick up Priscilla and escort her back to the studio to join Elvis for lunch. Bill was frequently with Elvis until 1969/70, when Elvis began his live performances. There was friction with Priscilla and almost everyone was discharged, but to this day Bill wears his staff TCB (one of only 150 ever made!) pin on a chain around his neck, as Elvis Presley's drummer, friend and aide he keeps on "Taking Care of Business" (in a flash) for the King of Rock 'n Roll. 'In a Flash' ment 'now' so fun and spontaneity wouldn't fade, says Bill, who was nicknamed 'Flash' by Elvis because he was quick at getting things done.
In 1980 Bill's long-time friend Jimmy Velvet asked him to join him in Memphis and market his newly developed Elvis Presley Museum and in 16 years as Marketing Director he arranged tours for the museum to be presented in numerous shopping malls, expositions and trade fairs. Adding an Elvis tribute singer to the exhibition of artefacts, Bill would perform as a drummer, marketing director and promoter.
Bill freely talks about Elvis:"He was very generous, good mannered and humorous. He also was a real friend! There are many misconceptions about Elvis and the circumstances of his death. He had bone cancer. It was kept hush-hush by the family and left out of doctors reports. Elvis took prescription pills for the cancer pain. He died of a hypertensive heart attack, the same as his mother. He thought he would die when he was the same age she died. He died 4 years earlier. He did not take drugs, he took prescription pills and although he took pills, he was not a drug addict, if you have a headache or any other pain, you take a pill, that's what Elvis did!"
During the late 70s and 80s Bill became a restaurateur and night club owner, sometimes purchasing by himself or sometimes co-owning. He would be managing and also playing the drums in his establishments in Los Angeles, Memphis, Nashville, South America and Germany.
In 1994 Jimmy Velvet asked Bill to co-ordinate the marketing for the new 'Legends & Super Stars Museum', soon to open in Branson/Missouri. After a few months of analysing this 'new up and coming little town', Bill recognised the huge amount of tourists visiting Branson, but he did not notice any international visitors and decided to form his own company to try and fill this space. This is now called 'American & Country Music Holidays' and hopefully it will promote international tourism to Branson. By including Nashville and Memphis, he felt that eventually international travellers would 'notice' Branson and its plentiful and variety of entertainment, attractions, scenery and the very hospitable people in this small town of less than 4500, but which has in excess of 5 million visitors each year!
Nowadays Bill Lynn promotes the Elvis Presley heritage where-ever he can, combining it with his own holiday company and lately he is promoting a book written by Wayne Carman about a side of Elvis a lot of people have never heard of. It gives a revealing and in-depth look at Elvis Presley, his love for God and his passion for the martial arts. As his friend and training partner, Wayne gives an inside glance into Elvis's commitment to the T.C.B. (Taking Care of Business) Creed and how he applied these principles to achieve the many goals in his life.
Last week Bill Lynn finally visited Scotland to share some of his many stories with us. Appropriately he stayed at the Manor Park Hotel in Monkton, only a stones throw away from the only place in Britain Elvis has ever been to, namely Prestwick Airport. Of course this was the place Elvis passed through en-route to Germany on March 2nd, 1960. This is now marked with a plaque, which we took Bill to visit on Wednesday. Local celebrity, Tommy Truesdale, well known for his love of anything to do with Elvis, joined us to meet Bill and the stories were soon flowing again.
Bill spent 4 days in Scotland and enjoyed every minute of it. He left on Thursday for more meetings in Blackpool and London before setting off home to Branson/MO on Sunday. He made the promise that he would be back later on in the year.