Elvis Presley died thirty years ago today, but he left behind many reasons for Denverites to remember him.
Cadillacs, for starters.
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When he was in Denver, Elvis regularly stopped by the Colorado Mine Company, the Glendale restaurant run by Buck and Cindy Scott that was a hangout for visiting celebrities (Elvis’s patronage was honored with a special, $50 peanut butter and banana sandwich on the menu), as well as the town’s movers and shakers, including then-Rocky Mountain News editor Michael Howard, grandson of the co-founder of the Scripps-Howard newspaper chain. In 1984, a deposed Howard was called to testify before the Colorado Senate Judiciary Committee, which was investigating the state’s Organized Crime Strike Force because of allegations of impropriety. For years, Ron Pietrafeso, a Denver Police Department detective assigned to the strike force, had served as Howard's bodyguard; he'd gotten the job through Captain Jerry Kennedy, the head of the DPD's vice squad who also supervised police moonlighting duties -- including guarding Elvis on his visits to Denver in the '70s.
On January 16, 1976, the Howard-edited News wrote about one such Elvis episode. In town to celebrate his birthday, Elvis had invited all of his local cop friends to the party -- Kennedy, Pietrafeso, even Denver police chief Art Dill, who gave the King a gold badge designating him an honorary DPD captain. (It's still on display at Graceland.) A few days later, the drug-addled Elvis gave Kennedy a Lincoln Continental and Pietrafeso a Caddy. (Chief Dill declined a new car.)
None of the cops noted anything odd about Elvis -- not then, not later. Asked about potential conflicts posed by his moonlighting jobs, Kennedy told the News: "Where there are drugs, we make arrests." -- Patricia Calhoun