LOS ANGELES (AP) — Joe Esposito, a former road manager for Elvis Presley and a longtime member of the Presley inner circle known as “The Memphis Mafia,” has died at age 78.
Esposito’s daughter Cindy Bahr said Tuesday that he had dementia and died Nov. 23 of natural causes in Calabasas, California.
Esposito met Presley in 1959 while both were serving in the Army in Germany and remained close to him until Presley’s death, in 1977. He became Presley’s assistant in professional matters, from keeping his calendar to functioning as road manager when the King was on tour. He was also part of a Southern entourage of Presley pals and hangers-on dubbed by the press the “The Memphis Mafia,” which included Red West, Marty Lacker and numerous others.
Esposito appeared in some of Presley’s movies, including “It Happened at the World’s Fair,” and was one of two best men at Presley’s 1967 wedding to Priscilla Ann Beaulieu. A decade later, he was among the first to find Presley’s body after Elvis collapsed and died at his Graceland mansion in Memphis. Esposito broke the news of Presley’s death to Priscilla and to Presley’s manager, Tom Parker, and was a pallbearer at his funeral.
After Presley’s death, Esposito worked as a road manager for the Bee Gees, Michael Jackson and other artists. His books included “Good Rockin’ Tonight: Twenty Years on the Road and on the Town with Elvis,” and he was a frequent guest at Presley conventions.
Along with Bahr, Esposito is survived by his daughter Cindy, son Anthony, a brother, sister and three grandchildren.