Elvis Week: The Life and Times of Scatter, Elvis' Pet Chimp
Don't get me wrong, I enjoy Elvis' music, honestly I do. Ask my wife she'll confirm on any long car trip I'll fire up Elvis tunes to sing along with on my iPod. But as entertaining as he was on stage, I found his life to be amazingly fascinating. I credit the old Don Geronimo and Mike O'Meara Show for bringing Scatter the Chimp to light many moons ago during one of their Elvis dedication shows. I found the entire recounting as I'd heard on the radio at this site(www.orsocon.com) after a lot of Googling. So far this week we've had the meeting of Elvis and Richard Nixon, Elvis vs. Hamburger James... Now the story of Scatter the Chimp as told by Memphis Mafia members Marty Lacker, Billy Smith and Lamar Fike:
Thank again to http://orsocron.com/
In the early sixties, the entourage took on its most problematic and entertaining member, a forty-pound chimpanzee named Scatter. His trainer Bill Killebrew, who featured both Scatter, and his brother, Chatter, on a Memphis children's show, wanted to pare down the act and approached Elvis about buying the chimp as a companion. "I guess he figured Graceland was the kind of untamed place where a monkey would feel at home," remembered Alan Fortas.
Elvis, who'd adored Scatter's earlier incarnation, Jayhew, was an easy mark. But no one in the group foresaw the inevitable trouble that comes with mixing eight guys, 150 girls, and a chimpanze eager to make his reputation as rock'n'roll's ultimate party animal.
MARTY LACKER: Scatter was with us on my first trip cross-country. We had him in a cage in the back of the Chrysler station wagon. One night, we checked into a motel in Flagstaff, Arizona. The chimp stayed in Alan and Lamar's room. All night long we heard Scatter going "Ba-dum, Ba-dum!" just running back and forth in the room. The next morning, Lamar said, in this real quiet voice, "You need to come in here and see this." Scatter had gotten up on the drapes and started swinging on them, and they were partially pulled down. And he'd shit all over them. Oh, God, it was a mess. Lamar said Scatter was just throwing everything he could find. He'd even shit in his hands and thrown it on the walls. I said, "How do you think we're going to get out of here without paying for this?" Lamar said, "Don't worry about it." So we closed the door and went and had breakfast at the restaurant across the way.
LAMAR FIKE: Just about the time our food came, I looked out the window, and I said, "Oh, my God!" The Mexican maid was knocking on the door. We all jumped at the same time and tried to yell at her, but it was too late. Before we could even gt out of our chairs, she'd walked in and closed the door to start making up the room. It was early in the morning, and the room was dark.
Well, you can picture what it was like for a Mexican maid to open a motel room door in Flagstaf, Arizona, and find a chimp inside. Scatter ran across the room and latched onto her, and she went bananas. She started screaming the most blood curdling yell, I've ever heard. We ran over there, and God, That was the funniest sight. That maid came flying out of that room with Scatter wrapped around her like a damn boa constrictor. He'd jumped on her back, and fastened his legs around her waist, and put his hands over her eyes so she couldn't see.
We peeled Scatter off of her, but then he bolted out the door and went tearing out across the porte cochere which ran over the shed in front of the hotel. He went right up the drain-pipe and over the top. The maid was still screeching. And Scatter was on the damn roof, just dancing up a storm--laughing at us.
Alan said, "What are we going to do?" I said, "Go get in your car, and I'll go get the station wagon. I'll leave th back door open and the windown down, and the door to the cage ajar. Just slowly drive off."
Well, that car hadn't rolled ten feet when Scatter was on that sucker. He thought we were going to leave him. He stuck so tight he looked like adhesive tape.
MARTY LACKER: We'd paid when we checked in, so we took the keys and threw them on the front desk, and just took off before anybody discovered how bad it was.
LAMAR FIKE—As much of a terror as he was, Scatter was also capable of behaving like a gentleman. Alan used to love to take him for a drive in the Rolls Royce. He’d buy little suits for him, and sometimes he’d stick a chauffeur’s cap on him and balance him on his lap. When they’d meet a car, Alan would duck down to make it look like Scatter was driving. One guy drove right off the road.
MARTY LACKER: We came home one night on Bellagio Road and found that Scatter had bitten Jimmy, the butler, real bad. Elvis was furious. Jimmy and Lillian were all upset and yelling and threatening to quit if Elvis didn’t get rid of him.
Scatter was upset too. We kept him in the basement, underneath the steps, and Alan tried to get him to go downstairs to his cage, and he wouldn’t.
Elvis finally calmed down, and he walked up to Scatter and he stood over him. Scatter was on top of his cabinet, and he looked up at Elvis with those innocent eyes, and all Elvis did was stare at him, trying to keep a straight face.
Finally, Elvis said, “You coconut-headed little mother fucker, you’d better get downstairs in your cage. And you’d better not bite anyone anymore, either.”
Scatter hopped off the cabinet, and he slowly walked downstairs like a man going to the electric chair, with his hands folded in front of him. We all followed him. Alan put his hand out for Scatter to hold it, but he wouldn’t do it. He had too much pride. He just marched down to the basement and right into the cage. We came upstairs, and Elvis fell on the floor laughing.
LAMAR FIKE: Elvis hit him with a cue stick one night. He hit him so damn hard that chimp just saw stars. And then he ran up the curtain. I said, “God Almighty!” I came downstairs with a gun. I said, “Elvis, if you’ll lead him about two yards, I’ll shoot him.”
LAMAR FIKE: Another time, the damn monkey had bitten me, and caused me a lot of roblems, and tried my patience every which way but loose. So I went out and got a Hot Shot, a kind of cattle prod. I knew chimps hate water, so I ran a tub full and forced him into it. And helanded in that water, and he started going, “RUUUUUH!” I said, “Okay, you little bastard,” and I jammed that catle prod into him, and I promise you, every hair on his body stood straight up.
Everybody came in, and Elvis said “You’re trying to hill him!” And I said, “Yes, I’m going to kill the son of a bitch right here!” I hated that damn chimp.
MARTY LACKER: Elvis used to wait until the den was filled with girls, and everybody was real comfortable and having a nice time. Then he’d whisper, “Okay, boys, let him out!” We’d open the door from under the steps, and Scatter would come out whooping like crazy and scaring a couple of people so bad they almost had a heart attack. Because he could make some noise. He was about three and a half or four feet tall, and he made an impression. And he would just naturally gravitate towards the girls.
BILLY SMITH: Alan taught him a lot of things, but he learned some on his own. When a woman got up to go to the bathroom, for example, he’d run and hide behind the bathroom door. And in a minute, we’d hear this godawful scream and this frantic grabbing of the doorknob. It was like jerking the door off the hinges. The girl would bolt out of there screaming her head off, and Scatter would come waddling after her.
One time, this big, tall girl named Pat Parry was over at the house. Well, she didn’t know about Scatter, and this sucker made his entrance. He come in with that screeching and with his hands up, and she thought he was going to attack her. He didn’t, but then he kept trying to look up her skirt. She told him to stop, and then when he wouldn’t, she said, “You do that one more time, and I’m going to knock the hell out of you.” They were both in front of a couch by the bar. Well, naturally, Scatter did it again. And Pat came off the floor and hit that monkey under the chin, and he did a back flip and landed on the couch, dazed. He looked at her like he couldn’t believe it. He had a head like a bowling ball, and she put a dent in it.
MARTY LACKER: One of Scatter’s favorite pranks was to line on his back on the edge of the couch, so he was be half on the couch, and half of. And when a girl walked by, he’d crook his finger under the hem of her skirt and stick his head up there. He really had a thing about that. You can imagine how it went over. And sometimes he’d masturbate in front of everybody. Believe it or not, we did not teach him to do that. But Sonny and Alan would put him in a bedroom with a couple who was making love, and he’d get excited and jump on the guy’s back. Scatter was the real life of the party.
BILLY SMITH: We knew a woman named Brandy Marlow who’d come to the parties. She made her living as a stripper, but she didn’t come to the party as one. She was just a guest. But she liked to play around with the chimp. She thought he was fascinating.
One night, the monkey got in her lap, and she had on a low cut blouse. And Scatter kept running his finger down her cleavage. Elvis said, “Is he bothering you?” She said no. So Elvis said, “Well, if you don’t mind, see how far he’ll go” And the monkey went to unbuttoning with both hands.
Scatter started off with somebody’s drink one night. Turned out, he was a damned suds-head. He liked beer, but he could down a fifth of liquor before you knew it. He’d get so damn drunk that he would fall off the couch onto the floor and just slide.
He got loose in Bel Air once, and the next-door neighbors were real upset. The final straw came when he went over there again. They were having a fancy cocktail party, and Scatter went roaring through their house with his hands up and all the hair standing up on his back. He went, “Whoo-whoo-whoo!” Loud as a freight train, you know.
When he screamed, God, it would just send chills down your spine. And it scared the hell out of the party guests, especially when he ran towards ‘em. He just wanted attention, really. They didn’t know that once you saw him, he’d let down and go on about his business. But, man, they went nuts! They said people went up on the back of couches and on the tables. He cleared the house. So that did it. Scatter was banned from Bel Air. We had to take him back to Memphis.
LAMAR FIKE: Scatter met a sad end. We put him outside behind Graceland. He couldn’t stand being left alone after all the attention he’d gotten. He died out there by himself hanging on to the side of the cage.
BILLY SMITH: When we took Scatter back to Graceland, the maids had to feed him because we were gone so much. One day, a maid named Daisy went out there, and she had her wig on, and that damn chimp grabbed that wig right off her head. It scared a couple of years off her life. We always thought she poisoned him. And it wouldn’t surprise me. Because not long after that the monkey come up dead.
MARTY LACKER: It happened to be out in the backyard when they took him off. He was hard as a brickbat, just frozen dead. Two guys came from the animal shelter and each guy had one arm, supporting him, because he was upright, with his long arms out and his legs bowed. It was eerie. It kind of shocked me. They just carried him out to their truck and hauled him off. Poor old Scatter. Alan cried and cried.
Thank again to http://orsocron.com/