John’s talent surfaced early. He started playing the guitar at age 5 and the banjo at age 6. He was influenced by the folk music of the day (in fact, his “signature song” with Elvis was Early Morning Rain). Over the years he performed with Gordon Lightfoot, the Kingston Trio, Peter, Paul and Mary - in addition to many, many other well-known artists and groups, both in live performances and as a studio musician. He can be heard on hundreds of recordings.

Elvis and John first met in l954 when Elvis was l9 and John was 9....Elvis was so impressed with the young boy’s guitar playing that he never forgot him and, in l968, John, at age 23, was hand picked by Elvis to become a member of the TCB Band.

After Elvis died in l977, John formed another band and continued to perform for a number of years - he also took a bit of break and worked outside the entertainment industry for a while - now he’s back into the music - singing, and telling his great stories!

Written by Carol Hunter

John Wilkinson is known to Elvis fans world wide as the rhythm guitar player who backed Elvis during the “concert years” from l968 to l977 - from the opening shows at the International Hotel in Las Vegas, to the Aloha Special in Hawaii, to the last concert in Indianapolis - and everything in between. In his own words, he was also “part-time bodyguard and full-time friend”. If you go to John’s wonderful website at www.johnwilkinson.net you can spend hours just browsing through the stories, incredible photos, music clips - getting a real sense of what it was like to be with and work with Elvis Presley during this history-making time - and a sense of the immense talent of this young man from Springfield, Missouri who “made records for RCA Victor”.

In addition to appearances in North America, John’s recent shows have included performances in Germany and Belgium - and he’s back again in Belgium this month. As always, the fans love him and he loves to meet the fans! We can look forward to seeing John on stage with his TCB Band-mates in Memphis at Elvis - The Concert on August l6 and the 25th Anniversary Elvis Farewell Tribute Concert on August l7. He’ll also be making other appearances that week and mingling with the fans.

You’ll enjoy this interview with John Wilkinson. His down-to-earth personality, his stories, his humour, and his candor are refreshing.

And - John - a personal note to you if you happen to see this. After listening to the interview, my first thoughts were, No wonder Elvis liked him so much” and “I’m so glad Elvis had a friend like this.” Thank you.


“The young man on the rhythm guitar - he makes records for RCA Victor - his name is John Wilkinson. Also one of my closest friends.”

Elvis Presley, Las Vegas, August 21, l970.