Delbert B. "Sonny" West, Jr.

Born in Memphis, TN on July 5, 1938

Departed on May 24, 2017 and resided in Hendersonville, TN

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Delbert B. “Sonny” West, Jr., of Hendersonville, Tennessee, passed away peacefully on Wednesday, May 24, 2017. West was one of the original members of Elvis Presley’s “Memphis Mafia”. This name was given, by a Las Vegas reporter, referring to an entourage of friends, family, and body guards, in which the Rock’n’Roll superstar chose to spend his time with and, most importantly, entrust his life.

In April of 2012, West was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer of the tonsil. After a long battle, which included Chemo and Radiation, he was pronounced Cancer free. Since then, he suffered triple bypass heart surgery, pneumonia several times, and finally lung cancer. He fought this battle with his wife, Judy, who was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer. Their son, Bryan, and daughter, Alana, have been by their sides.

Sonny West was one of two sons and five daughters born to Delbert B. West, Sr., of Corinth, MS and Robbie Elaine Smith West, of Pontotoc, MS. Ironically, West may very well have been a distant cousin of Presley, as Pontotoc was only 20 miles from Tupelo, MS. Elvis’ mother, Gladys Smith, had family scattered throughout this area. Both Smith clans possessed the dark physical features of the Native American ancestry that both families claimed.

From July of 1955 until July of 1958, West served his country in the U.S. Air Force, being discharged with the rank of Airman, 3rd Class. Sonny’s cousin, Robert “Red” West, had been working with Elvis since his career began. Both Sonny and Red grew up in Memphis. Red had attended Humes High School with Elvis. After Elvis returned from his stint in the Army, Red invited Sonny and three of his sisters to Graceland to meet his boss, Elvis Presley. Sonny and Elvis clicked during their first meeting. A short time later, Elvis asked Sonny to come to work for him. He would serve in many capacities of assisting the singer.

Sonny earned the title and responsibilities of, “Head of Security”. He would accompany Elvis throughout the United States both at work and play. While with Elvis, on the movie sets, Sonny would appear in many of the movies, as did other members of his entourage. He even started to get speaking parts, so much so, he received billing credits in the movie, “Stay Away Joe”, where he played a Native American character. He was bitten by the movie bug. He started to get parts in non-Elvis movies and even appeared in the popular TV series, “The Beverly Hillbillies”, playing Ellie Mae’s boyfriend. When Elvis returned to live performances, in 1969, West and his fellow security staff and body guards put themselves in harm’s way on more than one occasion, but remained steadfast in putting Elvis’ physical well-being and safety above their own. He and the others remained loyal to him year after year.

In December of 1970, Sonny married Judy Jordan. Elvis served as Best Man and Priscilla as Matron of Honor at their wedding. Judy was an actress, who had been One of Jackie Gleason’s “Away We Go Girls.” It was Judy who said those famous lines at the beginning of every show. Sonny and Judy met on the set of the movie, “Big Foot”, in which they both had acting roles. After leaving Elvis’ employment, in 1976,

Sonny and Judy formed a company raising and breeding Arabian horses. Sonny entered the artistic world of designing and making Western jewelry. In 1982, the entertainment world came calling once again. Sonny accepted the position of, “Chief of Security”, for the “Salem Country Gold ‘82” country music tour featuring such acts as, Alabama, Mickey Gilley, Johnny Lee, and Juice Newton. Sonny joined Eddy Raven and began running his concession division of Raven’s business. He had honed his skills and talents, in booking, before leaving the entertainment world. He worked with many big name acts in the business. In 1988, West joined his wife, Judy, in a family business, while also hosting a local radio show on WMRO. This allowed him to spend more time with his family, of which a grandson, named Tristan, would be added.  During his retirement years, he produced a show called, “Memories of Elvis: An Evening with Sonny West”. He would travel around the world sharing stories of his life with the superstar.

At the time of his passing, he and Judy were in their forty-seventh year of marriage. They were devoted to each other and lived in close proximity to their children and grandchild, all of whom he adored and considered the center of his world.

Sonny is survived by his wife of 47 years, Judy Jordan West; children, Bryan Lee West and Alana Leigh West Green; grandson, Tristen Bryant; sisters, Elizabeth Case, Barbara Thorpe, Carolyn Harriss, Susan Clare and several nieces, nephews, great nieces and great nephews. In addition to his beloved family, Sonny West, throughout the years, made friends that became family. His memory will live in their hearts and minds forever.  A Life Celebration Service honoring Sonny will be held on Thursday, June 1, 2017 at 3:00 P.M. from the Chapel of Crestview Funeral Home with Billy Blackwood and Donnie Sumner officiating. Interment with Military Honors will follow in Crestview Memory Gardens. Visitation with the family will be held on Wednesday from 4-8 P.M. and Thursday from 12 P.M. until service time. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Sonny West Memorial Fund at  First Tennessee Bank, West Main Branch in Hendersonville, TN. Arrangements Entrusted To: Crestview Funeral Home and Memory Gardens, 1623 Highway 109 North, Gallatin, TN 37066 (615)452-1943 www.crestviewfh.com

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43 Comments to Mr. Delbert B. "Sonny" West, Jr.

  1. Sonny Jenkins
    May 30, 2017 11:39 pm

    My greatest memories of Sonny was when he was with WMRO …… I would call in a song or two most every week and he would always be glad to play songs of the 50’s-60’s….. He loved to talk with people about old music and Elvis…… Over a period of time I would win one of the Dairy Queen cakes he gave away……. Stopped by the station to talk with him one Saturday and he was always so jovial and friendly….. As it turned out it was a bad time to stop by and he told my wife and I that his dad had just passed away that day ….. Always loved these dj’s that would play old music…. Am sure Sonny will missed from all walks of life………..Our prayers to the family!!!

  2. Theresa Calvert
    May 31, 2017 2:09 pm

    i remember every time I would see Sonny he would always take time to stop and talk to me and answer any questions that I had, and he always had a smile on his face.He was a good man. My prayers are with all of you.. Sonny will be greatly missed

  3. Teresa Neely Wallace
    June 1, 2017 12:40 am

    Sorry for your loss. Rest in peace Sonny.

  4. Alisa Neely
    June 1, 2017 12:58 am

    Judy & Bryan,

    my thoughts are with you both at this really hard time. Hopefully Elvis & Sonny are making up for what happened so long ago. RIP Sonny. tcb

  5. Stormchaser Chris Schild
    June 1, 2017 1:28 am

    May God bless you during this time. Continued prayers for the family.

  6. Marie Francis
    June 1, 2017 2:08 am

    My thoughts and healing prayers are with you always.

  7. Dominik
    June 1, 2017 3:27 am

    Even though I never knew Sonny, he never knew me, I feel deeply saddened by these news. He was a great man and inspired a lot of people on this planet, like me. I wish I could have talked to him. Rest in peace, Sonny.

    Dominik from Austria

  8. Pat Foster
    June 1, 2017 4:04 am

    I am without words. My heart is broken, and I will miss you bubba. I can still hear your laughter, and I can see your smiling face. Sonny, you were like a brother to me and always had a comforting and compassionate heart while you were here. I know your in Jesus’ arms and your not hurting anymore.we will forever hold you in our hearts,so I won’t say goodbye,only that I will see you when it’s my turn…Say hello to Elvis and know your family here is loved and will TCB for you……KARATEPAT.

  9. Alison Beck
    June 1, 2017 4:18 am

    I never met Sonny but from what I have read about him he was a fine southern gentleman with a heart of gold. May Sonny rest in peace. Sending love and light to those he left behind.

  10. Kirstie smith
    June 1, 2017 4:43 am

    Rest easy now big man x Have fun with all your b the boys. You will be remembered with love xx

  11. Cathy Mann
    June 1, 2017 5:44 am

    My Prayers For His Family & Friends. May He Rest In Peace.

  12. Els Pacquets
    June 1, 2017 6:01 am

    My thoughts and prayers to Judy, Bryan, Alana and the rest of the family and friends ! Thank you Sonny for everything you did ! Rest in peace ! <3

  13. Laura Dulski
    June 1, 2017 6:27 am

    Very fond of Sonny even though we never met. My sincere condolences to his family and friends. May he Rest In Peace.

  14. Mona Lasyone
    June 1, 2017 6:34 am

    Praying for your family! Sonny will be missed by all of us, The Entirely Elvis Southern Style Fan Club: Alexandria, Louisiana. Mona Lasyone President

  15. Julie Guy
    June 1, 2017 7:09 am

    Praying for comfort and peace for Judy, Bryan and Alana. We will certainly all miss Sonny.

  16. Rose Childers
    June 1, 2017 8:43 am

    My deepest sympathies to the West family. I had the pleasure of meeting Sonny a few years ago when he spoke of his adventures with Elvis. What a delightful person and easily so likeable. God bless your family with peace.

  17. Lori Somerville
    June 1, 2017 8:53 am

    To Sonny’s family and friends. So sorry for your loss.
    He was a bodyguard a close friend to Elvis. He was
    a father son grandfather husband but always a good
    friend. You will be sadly missed. ❤️❤️❤️

  18. Edward Ryan
    June 1, 2017 10:29 am

    RIP Sonny.
    Had the pleasure of meeting him at Marlows, a famous restaurant in Memphis. He was generous with his time and allowed us to have some pictures with him. A true gentleman and very sincere.

  19. Kathy Savelio
    June 1, 2017 10:52 am

    The Elvis world is so saddened to lose your giving spirit to us all, but I know it can’t compare and doesn’t even come close to the devastating loss to the family. Judy, Alana and Bryan, our hearts go out to you all. You are all in my thoughts & Prayers. I pray for peace and comfort in the coming days and weeks.

  20. Liz Adams
    June 1, 2017 1:39 pm

    My prayers to Judy and the West family. As Sonny wrote in my brother’s book, ” One day, I will be with Elvis again. I loved him like a brother.” I’m grateful that I had the privilege of meeting him. He truly was a very nice down to earth guy. Rest in peace Sonny. The world will miss you Sonny. But now, Elvis has his arms out to welcome you into his world once again.

  21. Cookie and Paul Wolski
    June 1, 2017 2:14 pm

    To Sonny’s Family…. I am praying that you find comfort and peace knowing that Sonny is resting in the arms of Jesus. He will never leave you as long as you hold him in your heart. Jesus promised that all that believe in Him will live forever. Rest in peace, Sonny.

  22. Kathie Spehar (Kitten)
    June 1, 2017 6:45 pm

    Oh how we have lost a great man and a true friend to Elvis. I have known Sonny for many years and he and Judy have visited me many times in Las Vegas. I am saddened by this loss to all of us but know that he is happy and not suffering anymore. Prayers for the family and love you always my friend.

  23. mikewitcher
    June 1, 2017 10:48 pm

    I had the honor of meeting Sonny a few years ago. He was attending a Elvis tribute artist (David Lee) concert in my home town (Cullman Alabama). After the show I just had to meet him. He could not have been nicer. He allowed someone to take a picture of us together. My only regret is I didn’t talk to him longer. Rest in peace Sonny West.

  24. Renee Burdette Orr
    June 2, 2017 12:29 am

    sonny u be so missed I can remember meeting u the night I got to go to the after party in Atlanta. OMG u were so awesome all u guys were.
    Scotty left around fan week last year. Then Joe around Christmas then Jerry around Elvis B-Day. Now u. All less than a year. I know they were all waiting on u when u enter heaven.

  25. Renee Burdette Orr
    June 2, 2017 12:33 am

    I see we all feel the same way about sonny he was awesome man to meet have known. Those that were lucky to have met him or any of the guys. My heart sadden right now because every one leaving back to back it just isn’t fair. But God has his reasons. Still tears fall. Love y’all sonny as much as all the other guys Elvis.

  26. Renee Burdette Orr
    June 2, 2017 12:35 am

    Sending prayer up to the family. Heaven getting a good body guard.

  27. Kathy Harrison
    June 2, 2017 2:13 am

    Sonny RIP – you will be missed and forever in our hearts. Thank you for sharing your time and memories of Elvis while you were here on earth. Prayers to the family.

  28. Stephanie Powell
    June 7, 2017 9:29 am

    My heart and prayers go out to his family and friends

  29. Mickey Nilsen
    June 7, 2017 12:13 pm

    Remembering Sonny for his years of loving devotion to Elvis and the fans. So relieved all pain and suffering is over for him, and he is with his Lord and Savior. May every kind and generous comfort come to Judy, Bryan, and Alana. The Elvis world is left to carry on the stories without the chief storytellers. May we honor them, and Elvis, by telling it all right to the generations to come. Much love from one of the fans. Thank you for taking care of your Boss.

  30. Victor Ernst
    June 7, 2017 5:51 pm

    I purchased a copy of Elvis: Still Taking Care of Business by Sonny West (with Marshall Terrill) at Indigo Books (Manulife Center) 55 Bloor Street W., Toronto, Canada, back in 2009. I have read it so many times that it is wearing out. The one thing that impressed me most about the book was Sonny’s genuineness and sense of integrity. He (like his cousin Red) had the privilege of being a member of the inner circle of one of the greatest entertainers in World history. I lament Sonny’s passing.

  31. ron tramel
    June 8, 2017 12:54 pm

    All the KATZ Band are saddened about the loss of such a huge talent. Sonny West will be remembered and He and Red are spoken about durring our shows often. We will continue to hold Sonny like Elvis as examples of Musical Giants and the true pioneers of Rock and Roll.
    The KATZ TCB
    telecasterron
    ron tramel

  32. paul martin
    June 11, 2017 3:38 am

    what sad news it was the passing of sonny we had the pleasure of his company a few years ago in elvis week
    we spent a while talking about himself and his friend elvis i will never forget that meeting we shared together
    now he is with his friend elvis R.

    i was saddened to hear of the passing of sonny me and my wife spoke to him a few years ago in elvis week
    we had a good time talking about himself and his friend elvis i will always remember that time with fond memories
    now he is a rest with his friend elvis

    from a friend in england

  33. James Petrie, Jr
    June 16, 2017 2:24 pm

    To Sonny’s family…Please accept my sincere condolences over your loss…Elvis and all the guys became like family, and when a passing occurs, it hurts like we lost family as well. May the Good Lord wipe your tears away…

  34. markus
    June 16, 2017 3:22 pm

    Sonny you were a good man. RIP
    Markus

  35. Dennis newgent
    June 17, 2017 7:23 am

    God. Rest. Your. Soul. A. True. Good. Man. Whom. We’ll miss. Dearly. May. The. Good. Lord. Be. With. You. And. Look. Out. For. Yuri our. Family you. Done. Your. Job. TCB. Rest in peace

  36. Dennis newgent
    June 17, 2017 7:31 am

    God. Rest. Your. Soul. A. True. Good. Man. Whom. We’ll miss. Dearly. May. The. Good. Lord. Be. With. You. And. Look. Out. For. Your family we. Will miss. You. TCB. Forever

  37. Sandi Pichon
    June 20, 2017 6:02 pm

    When Sonny was your friend, you were his friend forever. I appreciate his loyalty and friendship. He will certainly be missed.

  38. Paul Rittenberry
    June 22, 2017 1:28 am

    I met Sonny at.curahealth in Nashville I was an honor to meet him and Judy we really became good friends Judy I know in my heart Sonny is singing those old songs with Elvis you are always in our hearts

  39. baillot
    July 25, 2017 7:23 pm

    rip sonny un mec tres gentil je les rencontrer a bad nauheim en 2003 ma dédicacé des photos que jai toujours il parlait toujours d Elvis c souvenirs avec lui il voulait monté dans ma voiture pour que je l emmene voir la maison d elvis a bad nauheim je savait pas qu il était malade c fut un choc pour moi quand il et parti je ne le croyais pas

    tellement gentil on t aime sonny j espère ou tu et tu et en paix avec elvis et red west qui vient de t rejoindre bisous

  40. Fred
    July 27, 2017 7:20 pm

    Tu va nous manquez sonny et ton cousin red les deux amis du King tu a été rejoindre les etoiled

  41. David Hayes
    August 3, 2017 11:35 pm

    My name is David and I live in Oklahoma, I met Sonny one year in Memphis during Elvis week. What a great guy and so nice. He and I talked for about 30 minutes just he and I. Just to think that he would take out time for that was so wonderful and just proved what kind of guy he was. I am disabled and I was unable to attend the service. I extend lot of prayers to Judy and the family, Sonny will be greatly missed.

  42. Roy Shropshire
    August 26, 2017 4:41 am

    My sincere thoughts go to Sonny’s family.

  43. Vic in Toronto, Canada
    May 24, 2018 7:55 pm

    Remembering Sonny West and Saluting him for his Service to his Country on this day, the first anniversary of Sonny’s passing. Thoughts & Prayers with Sonny’s family.

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