Rhythm guitar musician who played for Elvis dies at age 67
By Heather Hollingsworth, APKANSAS CITY, Missouri--Rhythm guitar player John Wilkinson, who performed with Elvis Presley more than a thousand times, has died at his home in southwest Missouri. He was 67.
January 14, 2013, 12:01 am TWN
Wilkinson passed away Friday at his home in Springfield after a fight with cancer, according to a family spokesman and the Gorman-Scharpf Funeral Home. Priscilla and Lisa Marie Presley offered their “deepest sympathy” to his family, saying in a statement that “John and the beautiful music he made with Elvis will live forever in our hearts.”
Wilkinson first met Elvis Presley when he was 10 years old after sneaking into his dressing room before a show at the Shrine Mosque in Springfield. He amused Presley when he told him, “You can't play guitar worth a damn.”
Family friend and spokesman Gary Ellison said a Springfield history museum recalled the pair's meeting in an exhibit that ran until about three weeks ago.
“John loved to tell that story,” Ellison, a fellow musician, said Friday.
After the chance meeting, Wilkinson developed a name for himself as a singer and guitarist, performing with such groups as The New Christy Minstrels, a folk music group.