Interview with Carlos Ares
author of 'Elvis@argentina 1963 / 1969'
Interview conducted by Nigel Patterson in December 2020
(Right: Carlos Ares with Claudia Leon)
EIN: Carlos, it’s great to be talking with you. Congratulations on your new book, 'elvis@argentina 1963-1969'.
EIN: Before we discuss your latest book, please tell us about the Carlos Ares story.
Carlos Ares: I am a co-owner of ELVIS SHOP Argentina founded on February 14th, 1992. Even though I graduated with a degree in Civil Engineering in 1973, I have devoted a great deal of my life to the most amazing artist that ever walked on Earth.
It all started way back in early ’57 when, at the tender age of 7, I heard “Lawdy Miss Clawdy” playing on the radio in my daddy’s car.
My life changed forever after this first Elvis experience.
I immediately set out to get hold of all of Presley’s local releases. Then in 1961 I discovered Albert Hand’s “Elvis Monthly” magazine. As I simply couldn’t get enough of Argentine releases, I started buying UK releases through the Heanor Record Centre in Derbyshire, England.
Also through Elvis Monthly, I started corresponding with overseas collectors such as Paul Dowling, Wayne Hawthorne, Chris Giles, Jean Marc Gargiulo, Claude Laliberté and many, many others.
Those were the days of my discovering the different Elvis releases all over the world.
EIN: You have been involved in the Elvis world in South America since Elvis first broke in the mid-1950s. You will have experienced many highs, lows and changes regarding Elvis since then. What are some of the highlights for you in the past 65 years?
CA: There are SO many highlights!
Sometimes it’s difficult for the newer generations to understand the thrill of getting THREE Elvis UK LPs at a time in the mail, all of them unreleased here. Namely, Elvis (UK’s For LP Fans Only), A Date With Elvis and His Hand In Mine. Also things like contemplating young people back then dancing in the aisles while Presley belted out Jailhouse Rock, or watching Café Europa (G.I. Blues) ELEVEN TIMES at the movies within a week, and not to mention the fact of having attended Elvis live concerts in Vegas…
In 1988 “Elvis La Pelvis” was another turning point in my life.
It was such a worldwide success I had to choose between my career as a manager/producer and becoming an Elvis dealer.
You can guess what my choice was.
EIN: That is such an interesting career. Tell us more about your time working with Argentine rock bands.
CA: It all started in 1980 when I hired the legendary Rock singer Moris while vacationing in Madrid, Spain, in order to tour Argentina. It was such a big success I decided to set up a management agency.
I was lucky enough to discover and produce famous Rock bands such as Virus, Soda Stereo, Riff, Fabulosos Cadillacs, Ratones Paranoicos and many others. Most of them keep playing nowadays.
And my agency was considered one of the best here in Argentina during the 80s.
In 1988, one of my bands called ‘Casanovas’ was recording at our local RCA/BMG studios. While having coffee at BMG with A&R’s manager, I said to him (I still don’t know what prompted me to do that) “How I’d love to put out an Elvis Rock’n’Roll album in Argentina with unreleased tunes!”
To my surprise he replied: “Let’s do it, just let me know the titles you want to include and I’ll request authorization from Germany.” We were given the greenlight, and I forgot about Rock’n’Roll bands for good.
EIN: Have there been any lowlights?
CA: After Ricardo Mejía left, RCA simply lost interest in Elvis and a lot of albums were never released in our country. There were no new LPs in the period comprised between the release of Paraíso Hawaiano (Paradise, Hawaiian Style) and Elvis - En Vivo! (NBC-TV Special).
Obviously, Elvis’ demise was the ultimate lowlight for any Elvis fan, and I was not an exception.
EIN: Ricardo Mejía seems to have been a very important part of promoting Elvis and the new youth music.
CA: Yes. Ricardo Mejía was the first producer to acknowledge a new breed of both Argentine singers and local bands that were playing Rock’n’Roll in juke joints. He gathered them for RCA and also had a TV show featuring them which was a major success.
Mejía, a marketing genius.
EIN: Carlos, your latest book. In 2018 you published the first volume in your Elvis@argentina series and it was a great success. Now in 2020 comes the second volume. Are there particular things in the latest book you are especially proud of?
CA: I am very proud of John Kennedy’s assassination aftermath analysis. I think it clearly explains why the Beatles and the so called British Invasion took America by storm.
I am very proud of Claudia Leon analyzing his outdated films as being mildly reviewed by journalists. In 1966, Elvis was no longer a menace.
I am very proud to refute the myth that Mejía was recording Rock’n’Roll artists erasing Tango masters! I saw those masters in pristine condition in RCA vaults.
EIN: Going by the archival material included in elvis@argentina 1963-1969 it appears the gossip magazines and newspapers were as active in South America as they were in other countries. There were stories suggesting Elvis would be visiting Argentina. How did fans react to these claims at the time?
CA: First of all, we need to rewind and go back to the 1950s and 1960s and consider there was no Internet, no fax, no Google. But there was fake news!
By 1965 the rumour had spread out all over the country.
So much so, I vividly remember sending a letter out to my best friend, Ariel Llorente, who at that time was vacationing in Europe with his family, urging him to come back to Argentina because Elvis was actually coming this time!
EIN: On page 97, in relation to apparent quotes about each other by Elvis and Frank Sinatra, you use the caption “Yellow journalists...”. What does this mean?
CA: Yellowish press refers to news with flashy, scandalous, or exaggerated headlines to increase newspaper or magazine sales, upheld with no evidence whatsoever by what I call “yellow” journalists.
EIN: In the book you show the covers and label images for many Elvis records released in Argentina. How popular has Elvis been on the top 40 charts in South America? (eg. number of #1 and Top 10 hits)
CA: There’s never been an official chart this side of the world. Centro Cultural del Disco and Billboard magazine produced charts, but they were not official. That’s why they’re not included in my books.
EIN: And how successful were his films?
CA: Elvis’ films were very successful here until the mid-1960s much like in every other place. I remember how sometimes their projection had to be stopped due to wild audiences demanding some songs be played again like in the case of Baby I Don’t Care.
In the 50’s and early 60’s they were so successful, people danced in the aisles to songs like Jailhouse Rock and Frankfurt Special during the projection.
EIN: Are you pleased with the sales of the latest volume?
CA: Fortunately, sales are even better than for the previous volume. We are getting orders from all over the world.
EIN: That is fantastic!
EIN: Are there both Spanish and English language editions of elvis@argentina 1963-1969?
EIN: Carlos, EIN has been very impressed with the first two volumes of elvis@argentina with their great book design, wonderful information and visual colour. The iconography on display and gloriously different titles for Elvis’ songs and films are a delight to read. Who helps you with producing the books?
CA: Many thanks for your nice words, Nigel!
I am very proud of our team. Fabricio Vitetta is the best designer I have ever worked with. Nothing is impossible for him. Then comes Eloisa Yankelevich. She is a well-known photographer, very very talented.
There’s Gonzalo Corral San Martín, an obsessive researcher like myself! He spent many hours browsing old newspapers at our National Library. Carlos Rotondaro a.k.a. Charlie Callthrop has contributed on both volumes with very interesting comments.
Finally, there’s Claudia Giacobbe, who was very helpful as proofreader of the English version.
EIN: You have published many great books over the past few decades. I believe El Hijo de America was your first, followed by Viva Elvis! The Ultimate Discography and Record Price Guide from Argentina, and now your latest “coffee table” series. You obviously love producing Elvis books.
CA: Yes, the first one was Elvis Presley - El Hijo de América, then Viva Elvis! The Ultimate Discography and Record Price Guide from Argentina. Then came Elvis, South-American Style and now the elvis@argentina series.
And yes, I do love producing Elvis books. I think they are helpful in allowing collectors to get to know our releases and South-American Rock artists as well.
There are many Elvis biographies, discographies, books about his drug abuse, his girlfriends… anybody anywhere in the world can write about that. But when it comes to describing Elvis’s impact in a given country, it’s better to have it done by people born and raised there.
EIN: Elvis has always been very popular in South America and there has been a large number of great record and book releases from the continent (apart from your books, Gracia Divina, Elvis la Pelvis, Elvis Latino!, etc). Are the fan groups in South America (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, etc) a close group?
CA: No, not as a group, I think. There are Elvis fan clubs in Chile, Peru, Brazil, and we are in contact with each other, of course. But there are no joint ventures of any type. No trips, record fairs, or the like.
EIN: You are noted as having one of the world’s largest Elvis collections. Do you have a particular interest (e.g. vinyl, books, memorabilia, etc.)?
CA: I love to collect Elvis. My main interests are records and movie memorabilia. I love having Argentine Elvis movie posters hanging on my walls. I simply can’t stop looking at them.
I especially like all kinds of records: 78s, singles, EPs, LPs from every part of the world (Argentina, Uruguay, Chile Brazil, Peru, Mexico, the US, Europe in general, New Zealand, Japan, and so on). I have at least one record from, let’s say, every country, including Cuba!
EIN: How do you catalog your collection?
CA: Mainly I classify records according to format or country of origin. I keep displaying items following other criteria, too, like different versions of the same album, etc. And I’m constantly adding new stuff. Who knows when it will end? It’s the pleasure of collecting that keeps collectors alive, don’t you think?
EIN: I totally agree!
EIN: You have also contributed liner notes to a number of South American Sony/BMG Elvis CD releases. What are your favourites?
CA: Obviously, Elvis La Pelvis is my first “love”. Then comes Elvis Latino!, devised by Claudia Leon. It implied a joint effort by Claudia, our very good fríend Jean Michel Scesa and me. There were two different versions of it. As BMG objected the first one for having too many outtakes (oops!), it was re-issued as Elvis Latino! Re-configurado.
EIN: Carlos, I am very envious. You were lucky enough to see Elvis live in concert. That must have been incredible. Please tell us about that experience.
CA: I knew for sure Elvis was not coming to Argentina. So I figured if I wanted to see him live, there was nothing left to do but go to the States myself. Thanks to Elvis Monthly, I learnt a Summer Festival would take place in August/ September 1972. So I put down pen to paper and sent a letter out to the people at the Las Vegas Hilton Hotel asking for reservations for August 31st and September 1, 2 and 3, 1972.
A funny thing happened when I approached Emilio, the maitre d’, because when he asked what my last name was and I said “Rodriguez Ares” he checked and replied: “Sorry sir, you have no reservations.” As you can imagine, I almost fainted! But when he was closing the reservation book I caught a glimpse of my name registered at top of the page as “ARES, Carlos R.” So I yelled: “That’s me!”
Once inside, I had a “twenty” ready for tipping the waiter. He grabbed it quickly and ushered me to a nice table in mid-showroom. I learned the lesson, and on my fourth show, September 3rd, I gave the waiter a one-hundred-dollar bill.
This got me a seat in the front row!!!
When Elvis appeared on stage and put on his guitar, I thought I’d collapse. I had to look at the floor for a few seconds to put myself together.
After my fourth show, I was sipping my Bourbon while hanging out at one of the Hilton’s bars, when suddenly I realized I was sitting right next to Elvis's pianist Glen Hardin! We talked music for a while, and then I told Glen how sad I was for not being able to get that Elvis autograph I had been seeking so badly during the previous days. To which he replied: “OK. Please, let me see what I can do about that.”
He grabbed my “Hound Dog” Gold Standard 45 and went upstairs to the 30th floor. After what seemed like a lifetime, one of the elevator doors opened and at last out came Glen, happily holding my signed record in one hand.
My most beloved possession.
EIN: What can readers expect in the third volume of elvis@argentina ?
CA: It will cover the year 1970 up to December 1977. Most readers will be surprised to learn about what happened to Elvis in Argentina after the Aloha From Hawaii album release.
EIN: When can we expect to see the third volume?
CA: No sooner than 2022.
EIN: Do you ever see yourself retiring from the Elvis world?
EIN: Carlos, is there anything else you would like to say to EIN readers?
CA: Keep listening to Elvis… You’ll become better individuals along the way.
EIN: Carlos, thank you once again. It has been a great pleasure taking to you today.
Read EIN’s review of 'Elvis@argentina 1963-1969' here
Comment on this Interview
Interview by Nigel Patterson.
-Copyright EIN January 2021
EIN Website content © Copyright the Elvis Information Network.
(Book Review) Elvis@Argentina 1963-1969 (Carlos Ares): The second volume in Carlos Ares’ series of “coffee table” books detailing Elvis’ reception in Argentina is another high quality production. With a great balance between informative text, colorful images and impressive archival artefacts, it is a worthy inclusion in any fan’s Elvis library.
It is available in English and Spanish text editions.
Read EIN Nigel Patterson’s detailed review
(Book Review, Source:ElvisInfoNetwork)