The Women Who Loved Elvis

Very private confessions from women who were his lovers, dates, friends, and costars, on the touching and tragic truths about the King of Rock and Roll.
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June Juanico, early girlfriend

Thirty years after his death, on August 16, 1977, Elvis Presley still holds sway -- earning $42 million last year in marketing and product licensing, welcoming millions of visitors to Graceland, his Memphis home, and still popping up on the record charts now and then. But where the King of Rock and Roll proves most unforgettable is in the hearts of the women who loved and worked with him. Here, seven of them share their memories of the Elvis you never knew.

June Juanico, early girlfriend

Elvis was the love of my life. I met him in the summer of '55, when he was just a regional star. I was 17 and he was 20. He had been in my hometown of Biloxi, Mississippi, several times before, and people said, "You need to see him," and I went on this one night. I thought he was the most gorgeous thing: big, dreamy eyes. Girls were screaming over him, and I'm just not that kind. I was passing by him, not even looking at him, and he reached through the crowd and grabbed my arm. He said, "Where are you going?"

What I remember most about that night was sitting in his car outside my house, just talking, while my mother kept an eye out to see what I was doing. The first thing I said was, "What is your real name?" I had never heard of a name like Elvis. And he said, "What do you mean my real name? My name is Elvis Aaron Presley." We sat there until the sun came up at 6 a.m. He was shocked because my parents were divorced. He thought marriage was a lifelong thing, and when he got married, it was going to be forever. And he told me all about his twin who was dead at birth. I'd never met anybody quite like him.

We got so wrapped up in kissing on our very first date -- nothing too sloppy, it was just marvelous -- a little pecking here and there, a nibble here and there, then a serious bite.

But I didn't hear from him for a while after that. It turned out he was calling and my older brother wasn't bothering to tell me. Finally, he said, "Some guy with a hillbilly accent called."

For the one and a half years I dated him, our relationship remained chaste. He was just very tender and considerate. We spent so much time together, and we started talking about marriage. Mrs. Presley liked me. She saw me as domestic and wise for my young years. She was always telling me that Elvis needed someone to take care of him.

But Elvis was becoming more famous, and [manager] Colonel Tom Parker wanted him linked with actresses and Vegas showgirls. Of course, Elvis liked legs that went on for days, and he brought one of those showgirls home for Christmas in '56. That did it for me. I decided to marry someone else. And Elvis said the Colonel said we couldn't get married, that he wouldn't dare do that to the Colonel.

The next time I saw him was in a movie theater in Memphis in the early '60s. I went down the row behind him and tapped him on the back, and he turned around and our eyes just locked. He got up and put me in a death grip. One of his guys ran over because he thought someone was abusing Elvis. But Elvis was holding on to me. Priscilla was sitting next to him, and she was very gracious. She kept her eyes glued to the screen.

In August 1977, my mother was at my house. I had laid down for a nap, and when I came out of my bedroom my mother was looking at me really strange. Finally, she said, "June!" She had tears in her eyes. She said, "I just heard on the television that Elvis Presley has died." I looked at her and said, "That can't be! That can't be!" I went over to the television and fell to my knees in front of it. I couldn't breathe. I honestly think if my mother had not been with me, I might have died. In my heart, I always thought Elvis and I would be together somewhere down the road. I was married for 36 years, and I've got two beautiful children and beautiful grandchildren. I've been blessed in many ways. But I have just never been able to stop loving Elvis.

Continued on page 2:  Wanda Jackson, rockabilly performer


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