Elvis Presley would have been 78 today. Here are the six best Colorado stories about The King
Last fall on the 35th anniversary of his death, we rounded up all of the best local Elvis Presley stories we could find. We spoke with Nick Andurlakis of Nick's Cafe, and he told us all about how Fool's Gold Loaf, Elvis's favorite sandwich, was conceived, and he regaled us with a first hand account of the time that he brought a bunch of sandwiches to Elvis at Stapleton Airport. We also spoke with the jeweler who tracked down a black diamond for The King in the middle of the night, as well as a few of the retired police officers who guarded Elvis on his trips to Denver, including his last show here at McNichols Sports Arena in 1976. Today, in honor of what would've been The King's 78th birthday, we take another look back. Keep reading for the highlights if you missed them the first time around.
See also: - Nick Andurlakis on Elvis's beloved Fool's Gold Loaf sandwich - Bob Kortz on tracking down a black diamond for The King in the middle of the night - Bob Pietrafeso on Elvis's last Denver concert in April 1976
You can still order a Fool's Gold Loaf sandwich from Nick Andurlakis, the man who helped conceived and once served up the gooey contraption to The King.
FOOL'S GOLD LOAF Fool's Gold Loaf, of course, was no ordinary sandwich. It was a ginormous, artery-hardening contraption invented and offered exclusively at the Colorado Mine Company, a long-defunct restaurant in Glendale run by Buck and Cindy Scott that was once a hangout for media types, politicians, cops...and Elvis.
TRACKING DOWN A BLACK DIAMOND FOR THE KING In the winter of 1975-'76, while on vacation in Vail, Elvis Presley's newfound interest in numerology led him to believe he needed a black diamond ring, immediately. He had a police friend call local jeweler Bob Kortz late in the evening with the odd request -- a request that Kortz heeded, despite having never even seen a black diamond. Never mind that it was a Saturday, and Kortz, whose family business is in its 118th year, had no idea of where to find such a stone. Elvis sent word to Kortz through his DPD pal that he had two airplanes waiting for the jeweler at Stapleton Airport, ready to fly to Vail once he procured the black diamond.
The Lincoln Mark IV that Elvis bought Jerry Kennedy, as it sits today at the Tupelo Automobile Museum.
ELVIS BOUGHT THIS LINCOLN Elvis Presley's generosity is almost as legendary as his sideburns and white jumpsuits. Case in point: Denver Police Captain Jerry Kennedy, who received a brand new Lincoln Mark IV courtesy of The King. Kennedy first met Presley through the DPD, when the former was in charge of running the department's off-duty operations and The King needed security when he came to town. Presley himself had wanted to be a policeman from the time he was a kid.
A ticket stub from Elvis's last Denver concert on April 23, 1976 at McNichols Arena
GUARDING ELVIS AT HIS LAST SHOW IN DENVER Elvis's last Denver gig took place at McNichols Sports Arena on April 23, 1976. According to former Jefferson County Sheriff's deputy Bob Pietrafeso, who vividly remembers doing security at the singer's final concert in the Mile High City, the King was nervous -- scared, even -- in the final moments leading up to the performance. This was far from Elvis's first visit to Denver. By the time he showed up in the spring of '76, he had become close friends with a number of locals, most notably law enforcement types, Pietrafeso among them.
ELVIS'S "NURSE" MAKES A HOUSE CALL During Elvis Presley's second visit to Denver in 1970, security was understandably tight. Entire hotel floors were put on lockdown, and the King's own hired force of Denver Police Department officers had their hands full trying to keep unwanted guests away from the entertainer. One night, Officer Bob Cantwell turned away a female visitor he shouldn't have, which caused Elvis to nearly lose his mind. According to Cantwell, who served on the force for 27 years before retiring, it was all a case of miscues and innocent mistakes.
Courtesy of Jonny Barber
ELVIS SAT HERE ONCE In early 1976, Elvis Presley snuck in the back door of Holy Family Catholic Church on 43rd and Utica dressed in a specially tailored replica police uniform. The occasion was the funeral of police captain Jerry Kennedy's brother. A year later, when the building was slated for remodeling, someone had the bright idea to auction off the thirteen-foot pew where the King had sat for the service. John Bucci was the lucky bidder at the church bazaar, which also featured one of Elvis's trademark jumpsuits.
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