In our last story, we talked about how long Ted plans to continue to don the feathers and display his eggcellence to the world. He talked about being inspired by seeing The Rolling Stones in concert and how he loved them. This week, Ted talks about the night he danced for a King in San Diego …
Padres360: Tell us about the night you met Elvis.
TED: Oh, yeah. It was 18 months before Elvis died, his last appearance in San Diego 1976, March of ’76 I think it was. And Elvis is performing in Sports Arena. That’s fat Elvis.
[Editorial note: Elvis Presley appeared at the Sports Arena on April 24, 1976 and the attendance was 17,500]
I used to go to all the concerts as a KGB Chicken, every one. Well here comes Elvis and we’re going to the Elvis show. One of the things I do was dance up and down the aisles. A lot of times, back in those days, they allowed for festival seating. So it was open seating down on the floor. Everybody would be shoulder to shoulder. But for the Elvis concert, they put seats down. It was a little bit of an older crowd coming out the whole day. They were in their 30’s.
Yeah, that was considered older back in the ‘70s. And so they had seats out front. Whereas the regular concert, you’d have teens and college kids. But they had seats laid down in aisles. And so I remember turning to my assistant. I said, “I am going to go down there when the time is right. Because I know security’s going to bum rush me out of here.” Security’s always been on our case because KGB never sponsored any of the concerts. It was always a rival radio station, KPLI or something else.
And here comes the KGB Chicken to steal their thunder. And they tried to give us the bum rush and make it difficult for us. They couldn’t kick us out. It is a tax-payer funded stadium and arena. But Elvis breaks into this song by Jerry Lee Lewis, ‘Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On’. I turned to my assistant. It was Ralph, not Dave at the time, I said, “I’m going down there for that.” I was up on the concourse. “Going down. Cover me,” if anything happens.
Going down the stairs and he’s singing ‘Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On’. And there’s a line in there, “We got chicken in the barn. Whose barn? My barn.” And so as I was singing, I’m dancing in front of the stage right below him, in front of the audience. And he gets a glimpse of this and he starts doubling over in laughter. He is in hysterics. Here’s a dancing chicken in front of the stage. And he is in such hysterics he no longer could go on with the song. He loses his lyrics. And then he drops to one knee to compose himself. He’s laughing so hard and he’s looking over at me. And I could tell he’s got tears in his eyes. The lights, you could clearly see he’s laughing so hard he’s got tears in his eyes. And he’s down on one knee. The band was playing. They’re looking at each other like, “Oh my god. Elvis is having a seizure,” because he had a seizure. He had a seizure a year before in his home. And they’re thinking, “Oh my god, Elvis is having a seizure onstage.” And the band is like, “What’s going on.”
And what do we do? And they’re playing softer now. Coming from the side stage then is a doctor. He’s got a three-piece dark suit, pompadour white hair. It’s the famous Dr. Nick who later turns out, just as an aside, gave all kinds of prescriptions that he shouldn’t have had to Elvis.
But it’s the infamous Dr. Nick running on and he’s got his black bag and a three-piece suit, the tie going. And Elvis is on one knee like this. [Deep breaths] He’s looking. And the song hasn’t stop. They’re still playing. The band always plays. And the doctor’s coming on and he’s trying to get Elvis to lie down, “Lay down.” And he’s going, “I’m okay. I’m okay,” shaking him off. He’s pointing to the chicken. And you could see Dr. Nick look up and, “What?” And he just mouths the word, “Oh, shit.”
“Elvis, is he okay?” “I’m okay. I’m okay.” And so Elvis collects himself, he turns to the band, and he signals them, “Keep going. Keep going,” which they are. They increase the volume. And he’s looking at me and he finishes the song. Audience applauds. He says, “Ladies and gentlemen, I don’t know if you can see in the back. But I swear to you, there’s a chicken dancing in front of the stage here as I was singing that last song,” and I’m off to the stage and the audience applauds. They say, “Yeah, we know. It’s a chicken. Yeah, we know,” because they know the KGB Chicken. And then Elvis comes up with a great line. He says, “I don’t know who put him up to this, but I want to warn the chicken. My manager’s name is The Colonel.”
And I feign complete shock. “Ah! No! I’m getting out of here.” And I run up the aisle all the way up into the concourse. Their security was waiting for me. They give me the bum’s rush. They didn’t have the balls to come down and haul me out in front of the people. They were waiting for me. And they literally picked me up and hauled me outside the doors of the Sports Arena. And the head of security was an usher, older guy. He had his red jacket on. He said, “You son of a bitch! You ruined Elvis’s show. You ruined it for everybody.” And I knew the guy, Bob – I forget his last name. It’s probably in the book. I said, “Everybody laughed. Elvis was cracking up. He had a great time. What are you mad about?” “You ruined it. You almost ruined my career. I can’t have you do this. This is Elvis’ show. You upstaged him. This is terrible. It’s disgusting. I’ll keep you out of here the rest of your life.” I said, “You can’t do that. You know that. My taxes paid for that building. You can’t kick me out.” And he says, “Get out of here. I’m kicking you out tonight. Don’t come back.”
I didn’t care. We made our mark. We got a big laugh out of the audience and Elvis. And we walked out of there so proud. And we couldn’t top ourselves. We knew. I turned to my assistant. “We can’t top ourselves now.” That was it. And so we walked out of there very proudly. “Have it. You can have it.” We walked out. And we were really taken aback that we stopped Elvis cold in mid-song. And it was sincere. It wasn’t an act. He really was busting up on stage. And later on, other historians that I came across would tell me, that may have been one of the last great laughs Elvis ever had in his life, because he died about 16 months later, August of ’77. But I still remember it was great to bust him up so hard like that on stage. And he looked like… He was down on his knee a good minute while everybody’s wondering what to do. And I’m just goofing up there. And that was a great line that he got off at the end. But back then, Elvis was giving away free Cadillacs to everybody who pleased him. I didn’t get mine.
It was a badge of honor. Hey, I made The King laugh. It was all worth it.
Next week, Ted wraps up our interview with some parting words for all of his fans and how much they mean to him and to his character.
Come on Padres – has it really been 4 years since you’ve invited the Chicken to Petco?
A question from “The Famous Chicken Baseball Quiz Book”
Which of the follow players hit the most home runs at age 40?
Answer next week!
Of course, we can’t leave you hanging from last week – here is the question and answer!
Which batter (of these listed) was hit by a pitch the most times during his career?
Ron Hunt was hit the most times with 227 times to his credit. The American League record was by Minnie Minoso with 189 times.
Be sure to join us next week!