Elvis’ cousin drops in on mayor of Worthing

Some celebrities reach such a level of super stardom that they become almost mythical figures; Princess Diana, Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley remain as popular as ever, if not more so, years after their deaths, but do we forget that they were real people, with real families?

Wayne Mann visits mayor Bob Smytherman
Wayne Mann visits mayor Bob Smytherman

On Friday afternoon, Elvis Presley’s first cousin, Wayne Mann, was in town alongside Worthing-based Elvis historian, Andrew Hearn, to have tea with the mayor of Worthing Bob Smytherman, mayoress Norah Fisher and Herbie.

In a relaxed hour inside the mayor’s parlour, Wayne talked about his relationship with Elvis, growing up in Tulepo, Mississippi, and shed light on the man who came to be known as ‘The King’.

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Wayne was with Elvis when he was played on the radio for the first time on July 8, 1954. The pair were watching a western in a theatre a few blocks away from Dewey Phillips’ WHBQ studio in downtown Memphis, when the track ‘That’s all right’ was played and sent the station’s switchboard into a frenzy.

Wayne Mann visits mayor Bob Smytherman

Wayne said: “He was nervous about hearing himself on the radio. I was proud of him.

“I used to go to the movies with him, fairgrounds and skating. It was hard getting to see him in the 60s because he was always in Hollywood doing movies. They were good times back then.”

Wayne revealed a scar on his leg given to him by Elvis after playing a game of ‘war’ at the Rainbow Rollerdome when they were teenagers. It was a rough game which involved two sides skating into one another.

He said: “The best team to be on was Elvis’ because he always was a bad loser. The game was called war and the last man standing was the winner. Elvis crashed into me and cut my leg, we were just young boys.”

Andrew added: “That’s the power of Elvis, people just want to take the look of a scar on his leg.”

Wayne was familiar with Graceland, Elvis’s world-famous home, visiting his cousin on weekends before the Hollywood years and also attending Elvis’s New Year parties.

He said: “I was there the night he put a scratch in his pool table. He got mad when he missed a shot, he had a temper.”

For the full story, see the Worthing Herald, Thursday, September 12.