Charlie Hodge was a singer, guitarist, pianist, and actor who was best known for being a close friend and collaborator of Elvis Presley. He worked with Elvis for 17 years, singing harmony, playing guitar, and handing him water and scarves on stage. He also appeared in some of Elvis’ movies and co-wrote some of his songs. He died of lung cancer on March 3, 2006, at the age of 71. Here is a brief overview of his life and legacy.
Early Life and Career
Charlie Hodge was born on December 14, 1934, in Decatur, Alabama. He started his musical career at age 17 in a gospel quartet called The Path Finders, with Bill Gaither. He later joined The Foggy River Boys, a popular gospel group that performed on the ABC-TV show Ozark Jubilee. He first met Elvis in 1955, when Elvis came backstage after The Foggy River Boys performed in Memphis, Tennessee.
The Elvis Presley Years
Charlie Hodge and Elvis Presley became friends in 1958, when they both served in the Army at Fort Hood, Texas. Elvis hired Charlie in 1960 as a member of his entourage, known as the “Memphis Mafia”. Charlie was the only professional musician and entertainer in that group. He became Elvis’ backup singer, rhythm guitarist, stage manager, and vocal coach. He also helped Elvis choose songs to record and perform, and co-wrote some of them, such as “I Will Be Home Again” and “You’ll Never Walk Alone”.
After Elvis’ Death
Charlie Hodge continued to perform and record after Elvis’ death, mostly in shows dedicated to Elvis’ memory. He also wrote a book called “Elvis ‘N Me”, which shared his personal stories and experiences with Elvis. He appeared in several documentaries and interviews about Elvis, and was inducted into the Alabama Music Hall of Fame in 2004. He was diagnosed with lung cancer in December 2005, and despite this, he continued to perform at Memories Theatres in Tennessee for the love of his fans. He had a couple of treatments of radiation therapy, but his condition worsened.
Legacy and Tributes
Charlie Hodge left behind a legacy of music and friendship that touched millions of people around the world. He was honored by various organizations for his contribution to Elvis’ music and career. He was also loved and respected by many fans and fellow artists who paid tribute to him on social media and expressed their condolences and gratitude for his music and ministry. Some of the celebrities who mourned his passing include Priscilla Presley, Lisa Marie Presley, Jerry Schilling, Joe Esposito, and Bill Gaither.
Charlie Hodge was a remarkable man who used his gifts to support and inspire Elvis and others. He will be remembered as one of the loyal and talented members of the “Memphis Mafia” and a faithful servant of the Lord. May he rest in peace and sing with Elvis in heaven.