Red West has died at the age of 80. The songwriter-turned-actor, known for his 2013 role in Safe Haven and for his role in Road House (1989), passed away after suffering a heart attack, according to Local Memphis.
Robert “Red” Gene West was a friend of Elvis Presley and was a member of “The Memphis Mafia.” He and Elvis first met in high school and remained close in the years that followed. West also worked as a stuntman and appeared in 16 of Elvis’ films, according to his IMDb page.
West is also known for co-writing one of Presley’s most popular Christmas songs, “If Every Day Was Like Christmas,” which was released back in 1957.
West’s biography on IMDb states that he had a falling out of sorts with Presley in the mid-70s. In July of 1976, Presley’s father fired West. West’s cousin, Sonny West, was also fired; he had been serving as a bodyguard for Presley at the time. To this day, no one claims to know exactly what happened between Presley and West. Many refer to West as Presley’s “most loyal friend.”
Red West, his cousin Sonny, and another man named Dave Hebler, wrote a tell-all book about Elvis called Elvis What Happened? The book, which was published just two weeks’ before Presley’s death, documented the musician’s drug dependency and lifestyle. Unsurprisingly, the book became a best-seller.
At the time, its authors claimed that they wrote the book as a way to encourage Presley to change, according to Commercial Appeal. However, several Presley fans believe that the tell-all was written as a way for the scorned men to get back at their former boss (and friend).
West is survived by his wife, Pat West, and two sons, actor John West, of Tampa, Florida, and Brent West, of Memphis, Tennessee. Mr. and Mrs. West just celebrated their 56th wedding anniversary on July 1, 2017, according to Commercial Appeal.