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RIP Bernard Lansky, outfitter of Elvis Presley

Bernard Lansky outfitting the King
Bernard Lansky

Bernard Lansky, a Memphis haberdasher who dressed the royalty of rhythm and blues, including the King, Elvis Presley, died on Thursday at his home in Memphis. He was 85.

The cause was Alzheimer’s disease, his granddaughter, Julie Lansky, said.

As the story goes, Presley was a teenager, working as an usher at a movie theater, when Mr. Lansky first encountered him. Presley was looking in the window of the clothing store, at 126 Beale Street, in the heart of Memphis’s music district, where the sign read “Lansky Bros.” The store catered to many musicians, most of them black – B. B. King was a regular – and its inventory, in the argot of the day, was filled with way-out threads, man.

“He looked in the window and said, ‘You have some nice stuff in there,’ ” Mr. Lansky recalled, referring to Presley, in a 2005 interview. ” ‘When I get rich, I’ll buy you out.’ I said, ‘No, don’t buy me out, just buy from me.’ ”

Mr. Lansky was not responsible for the sequined jumpsuits Presley adopted in his Las Vegas years, but he did choose the white suit he wears in the grave.

“I put him in his first suit,” Mr. Lansky said, “and I put him in his last suit.” [NY Times]

Rest in peace Bernard.

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