Elvis in Literature #1

'Celluloid jukebox – pop music and the movies since the 50s'

Elvis in Literature #2

'Inside Elvis by Ed Parker'

Elvis in Literature #3

'Elvis's Man Friday by Gene Smith'

Spotlight by Nigel Patterson, June / Aug / Oct 2023


'Elvis In Literature' is EIN's regular series of interesting and (hopefully) thought-provoking Elvis excerpts (references/discussions) found in general literature.

The intent of the series is to highlight the eclectic nature of Elvis across all forms of literature, including his important role as part of our socio-cultural fabric.....i.e. that his impact/influence is greater than just his music.

In most cases EIN will simply provide the excerpts, allowing readers to contemplate and interpret each author’s viewpoint and the sometimes conflicting, viewpoints of different authors in the one book.

Elvis in Literature #3: Elvis's Man Friday (Gene Smith)

An often forgotten "insider" memoir is Elvis's Man Friday by Elvis' first-cousin, Gene Smith.

Elvis and Gene were very close from a young age, and Gene later became a prominent member of Elvis' Memphis Mafia.

In his book, published in hardcover (with dust jacket) in 1994, Gene recounted his time with Elvis in linear fashion, in what was a very readable, entertaining and informative release.

In particular, the reader is informed about a number of unusual things and Elvis' idiosyncrasies.

EIN wonders how many readers knew that Elvis and Gene had (for a while) their own secret language?:

    And from that time on, Elvis and I were continuously talking to each other in our secret language, developing our special manner of speaking (the first word on the tail end of the sentence, and vice versa), and practicing every time we were together until, later on downstream, after Elvis became famous, others who happened to be near us, whether we were in a recording studio, or a film studio, or wherever, would hear Elvis and I speaking in an unknown tongue, and would think we were drunk, or tired, or just plain stupid.

    To this very day, various people have made unkind remarks in the media concerning the way Elvis and I used, or misused, the English language.......

About the female audience's reaction to Elvis on stage at the Overton Park Shell in Memphis in August 1954, Gene commented:

    I was stunned. I couldn't believe that decent, upstanding, law-abiding people would behave the way they behaved that evening, screaming, shouting, throwing themselves at the stage, trying to get to Elvis, and not just to touch him, or ask for an autograph, but to get up there on the stage with him and tear his clothes off. Women in the audience went wild and ripped open their blouses and became hysterical, and the men got pretty worked up, too, dancing, shouting, rejoicing and totally forgetting who they were and where they were, and for a few minutes the police on duty there looked like they were beginning to sweat about whether they could keep control of whatever it was that was happening.

 


During his performance, Elvis sang That's All Right, Mama, and Gene colorfully observed about the early instances of Presleymania:

    They weren't just hot and bothered, either, they were hollering like inmates who had been freed from an asylum. I couldn't believe my own eyes and ears, because I had witnessed many a stage show and plenty of country music concerts, but I had never witnessed an audience go out of its civilized mind, like somebody had screamed, "Free money!", or "Fire!". They were literally climbing over one another, and knocking one another down, to get to the stage, as if it was the only way off a sinking ship and there were no other exits and not enough lifeboats.

Another interesting topic that is discussed in the book is how Elvis was superstitious:

    But if a black cat ran across the road in front of our vehicle, Elvis would shout for me to stop!  And I mean immediately!

    Slam on the brakes, and turn around, right there!Make a U-turn in the road and go back looking for an alternate route. Because Elvis believed that a black cat crossing the highway ahead of us was literally bad luck.


    That didn't happen too often, thank goodness, but it happened often enough for me to remember it. Others might have taken the black cat business lightly. But Elvis believed it one hundred percent!

    My point is that Elvis' superstitions, or concepts of the supernatural, affected everything that he did or said, on the road, off the road, on stage, or offstage.

    For instance, offstage, say in a hotel room, Elvis always dressed in a particular manner, that is, the right sock first, then the left. The right trouser leg first, then the left. The right shirt sleeve first, then the left. The right shoe first, then the left. Always. And he never deviated from this method of getting dressed, in the hundreds of times I witnessed his preparations for whatever schedule he had in front of him, whether it was the recording studio, the concert stage, or a movie set.

    And he was constantly brushing his teeth. After he ate breakfast, he would go brush his teeth. After every meal, he would go brush his teeth. Even if he only had a Pepsi (the only soft drink he would touch), once he had polished off the beverage, he would go brush his teeth.


Elvis's Man Friday
adds to our understanding of who Elvis was as a person. 

While the book has been long out of print, copies are available on Amazon sites and ebay - see Amazon links.

Spotlight by Nigel Patterson.
-Copyright EIN October 2023
EIN Website content © Copyright the Elvis Information Network.

Click to comment on this Article

   
 

Elvis in Literature #2 – Inside Elvis by Ed Parker:

Continuing EIN’s occasional series of interesting and (hopefully) thought-provoking Elvis excerpts (references /discussions) found in general literature.

 

Inside Elvis by Elvis' good friend and martial arts instructor, Ed Parker, is one of the most liked memoirs by a member of Elvis' inner circle. Originally published in 1978, today it is difficult to find the original hardback (with dust jacket) at a reasonable price, although Amazon does list the softcover.

 

 

Thematically, Parker’s book is about who Elvis was as a person. He discusses several subjects not often included in books about Elvis, including Elvis’ interest in psychic healing and UFOs, and he also comments on Elvis’ relationship with Red West.

About Ed Parker: Edmund Kealoha Parker (March 19, 1931 – December 15, 1990) was an American  martial artist, actor, senior grandmaster, and founder of American Kenpo Karate. Born in Hawaii, Parker began training in Judo at an early age and later studied boxing.

Ed Parker had a minor career as a Hollywood actor and stunt man. His most notable film was Kill the Golden Goose. In this film, he co-stars with Hapkido master Bong Soo Han. He also played himself (as a mercenary) in the 1979 action film Seven, opposite William Smith. His other acting work included the (uncredited) role of Mr. Chong in Blake Edwards 'Revenge of the Pink Panther' and again in 'Curse of the Pink Panther'.

Parker was well known for his business creativity and helped many martial artists open their own dojos. He was well known in  Hollywood , where he trained several  stunt men and celebrities — most notably Elvis Presley , to whom he eventually awarded a first-degree black belt in Kenpo. He left behind a few world-renowned grand masters: Bob White; Richard "Huk" Planas; Larry Tatum; Ron Chapel; and Frank Trejo, who ran a school in California prior to his death. Parker helped Bruce Lee gain national attention by introducing him at his  International Karate Championships.

Parker is best known to Kenpoists as the founder of American Kenpo and is referred to fondly as the "Father of American Kenpo." He is formally referred to as Senior Grand Master of American Kenpo. Parker also authored more than a dozen books, most about the martial arts.

He served as one of Elvis' bodyguards during his final years.

Parker died of a heart attack on Saturday, 15 December 1990 after arriving at  Honolulu International Airport . He was 59 years old.

From Inside Elvis:

As its title implies, Inside Elvis is heavily concerned with who Elvis was as a person. The many stories Ed Parker tells are soaked in the psychology, beliefs, and experiences of the King of Rock 'n' Roll.

There are numerous instances where Parker offers great insight into Elvis' thinking, as the following few excerpts illustrate:

About Elvis' relationship with Red West, Parker comments (p35):

... I was deeply moved when I heard later that he [Red] was no longer employed by Elvis and was even more affected at the onset of all of the controversy resulting from their break-up. I could not help feeling that Red deep down, still really loved Elvis. I  believe he got caught up in an emotional flare-up that got out of control. Even if I am wrong, I would like to think that this is what happened. The sad part of it all is that Elvis told me with tears in his eyes that regardless of the controversy, of which he was painfully aware, he still loved Red.

p132: On a very different subject, Parker offers an insight often missing in other Elvis related memoirs:

By examining the topics Elvis loved to explore, we can begin to understand the inner man. Elvis was interested in all facets of life, death, resurrection, psychic healing, and other phenomena which, when put together, seemed to give many answers to the mysteries of the universe. He was keenly aware of his mortality, and felt compelled to learn how man and the universe interact......

Many of these topics were interrelated. Each area of discussion would soon lead to other topics, such as, who were the probable occupants of U.F.O.'s (Unidentified Flying Objects). We both expressed belief that U.F.O. sightings were genuine. It was not until I mentioned personally witnessing a flying saucer that he revealed his experience in observing one. At first I hesitated to discuss my sighting even with this close friend, but the depth of the discussion had given me confidence in Elvis' ability to distinguish truth from fiction......

In relation to Elvis' sighting of a UFO, which happened in the presence of his father, Vernon, and was similar to Ed Parker's sighting, Parker recounts:

"My father," Elvis began, "was so moved by the sighting of that craft that he shared with me an occurrence that happened at my birth."

As Elvis spoke, I could tell by the quiet, strained tones of his voice that this was very difficult for him to express, yet he felt it was so important, that he had to share it with someone he knew and trusted.

"I had a still-born twin brother," Elvis confided, "and at the time of our birth, my father said that there was a canopy of light over the house. Its aura lighted his way to the well outside the home in Tupelo. My father was amazed," Elvis continued. "He wondered in his mind what manner of occurrence this was. What was its significance? What did it mean? He had never spoken of it until that night we saw the unidentified flying object together. The light of that object reminded him of this occurrence at my birth. Ed, I still don't know what this means, but I'm convinced that there must be some significance to it......"

Elvis and Ed's interest in UFOs brought them into contact with a man claiming to be a UFO "abductee". This man regaled Elvis and Ed with his story of being aboard a UFO ("Rainbow X") and interacting with Prince Neasom and Princess Nagona from Planet Wolfe 359 in the Tythanium Galaxy. Parker states:

... Elvis took the original drawings [these are included in Inside Elvis] made by this man, that detailed the construction of the craft, how it functioned, the principles involved and studied it in detail for days. He tried to determine in his own mind the feasibility and the rationality of the presentation that had been made to us. He came to the conclusion that the possibility existed, but he did not accept it as fact.

(Sources / Inside Elvis/Ed Parker/ Wiki)

Spotlight by Nigel Patterson.
-Copyright EIN August 2023
EIN Website content © Copyright the Elvis Information Network.

Click to comment on this Article

 

Elvis in Literature #1:

celluloid jukebox: popular music and the movies since the 50s

(edited by Jon Romney and Adrian Wooten, British Film Institute, 1995

……Preface by Martin Scorsese)

Spotlight by Nigel Patterson , June 2023


This is the first in what will be a regular series on EIN of interesting and (hopefully) thought-provoking Elvis excerpts (references/discussions) found in general literature.

The intent of the series is to highlight the eclectic nature of Elvis across all forms of literature, including his important role as part of our socio-cultural fabric.....i.e. that his impact/influence is greater than just his music.

In most cases EIN will simply provide the excerpts, allowing readers to contemplate and interpret each author’s viewpoint and the sometimes conflicting, viewpoints of different authors in the one book.

Our first book is celluloid jukebox: popular music and the movies since the 50s.

 

About celluloid jukebox: popular music and the movies since the 50s:

Robert de Niro cruising into a Little Italy bar to the sound of the Stones in Mean Streets; Vietnam 'copter blades swirling to The Doors' "The End" in  Apocalypse Now; Public Enemy booming out the inner-city soundtrack of Spike Lee's  Do the Right Thing. From Bill Haley to gangsta rap, through Elvis, the Beatles and blaxploitation, cinema's affair with popular music has provided nearly 50 years' worth of movies and music stored up on celluloid, video, vinyl, and CD, giving us access to a collective jukebox of sounds and visions.

In Celluloid Jukebox, leading critics, filmmakers and musicians examine the state of the pop cinema past, present, and future. Biopics, British pop movies, blaxploitation and rap, underground movies, backstage moments, and the records that think they're movies--all come under scrutiny in a wide-ranging and provocative set of essays. Interviews with Quentin Tarantino, David Byrne, Penelope Spheeris, Ry Cooder, and Wim Wenders complete this essential study of popular music on film.

The excerpts:

Excerpt about the defining element of popular culture:

From the first footage of Elvis filmed by a RV news crew in 1955 through Woodstock to MTV, rock and roll has been a defining element of popular culture and its trends have been visually documented in every decade since its birth.

Excerpt about rock films not being considered to be good films:

The same is true of much of the Elvis Presley movie catalogue; nobody took Jailhouse Rock seriously in 1957, but it is now regarded as something of a cultural landmark.

Excerpt about Elvis: That’s the Way It Is:

With regard to rapid camera movement, the use of a zoom lens in Elvis, That’s the Way It Is (1970) - which is shot in and out of close-up supposedly in rhythm both with the music and with Elvis’ body swings - is surely one of the worst examples of a film misusing technology and so destroying the performance of a star. Additionally, the constant employment of on-stage cameras, combined with more and more rapid editing - as seen in David Byrne’s recent concert film Between the Teeth (1993) - was neither innovative nor exciting but simply engendered more confusion.

Excerpt about pop biopics and the Elvis legend:

Perhaps the question isn’t whether all want to rock ‘n’ roll stars so much as that we all can be; pop biopics have always adored the deathless tale of a guileless rube stumbling into success and attaining godhood by virtue of unschooled talent and good will, and eventually falling victim to Fame, the System, or just plain Fate. On a very real level, this is pure Americana, the arena of cheap apocalypse; wherever a pop idol crashes and burns, it’s always an American phenomenon, thanks to one man - Elvis, who cut his first Sun record less than a year before generational archetype James Dean smacked up his Porsche on Highway 41.

If Dean cut the mould, Elvis sold it to the world. The hayseed Christ of pop music, the Greatest Story Ever Told, the King of kings, Elvis served as the prototype for every pop myth imaginable, biopics included. Even if it took more than twenty years for the brush of iconolatry, wealth and drug abuse to boomerang back on him, the classic trajectory of Elvis’ life is still clung to popularly as a modern tragedy - as if he was meant to die sometime before getting fat, middle-aged and campy, didn’t, and we’ll just pretend he did.

Though undeniably pivotal and totemic, Elvis’ story may be too archetypal: modest country schmuck to instant sensation worshipped by millions, to lonely despot slumped dead over his gold-plated toilet, successful but empty and wasted by fame.

After Elvis, one could not have fame without paying for it with flesh and blood. (You’d have to pay for salvation that way too - take a big step backward and you’re looking at Christ himself, the first foredoomed pop idol.)

All modern pop biopics are by nature hagiographic, but haunted by the ghost of Elvis, they are also inevitably tempted by the forces of darkness.

To the naked eye, the Elvis legend seems simultaneously chintzy and debauched, and it’s somehow fitting that TV movies, the kitschiest and least self-important movie breed in America, have felt most comfortable exploring Elvis - you can imagine the man watching them himself, a gun in his lap. 'Elvis', 'Elvis and Me' and 'Elvis and the Beauty Queen' (starring Kurt Russell, Dale Midkiff and Don Johnson, respectively) all regard the premier pop saga with its misty, maternal sentiment of supermarket tabloids, the sort that report live Elvis sightings even to this day.

The most thorough, John Carpenter’s Elvis (1979), lavishes more angst upon Elvis’ relationship with his dependent mother (Shelley Winters) than upon the King’s various jailbait romances (as the other two movies do) or the frighteningly hollow nature of absolute fame, which TV could never have the wisdom to examine. All three movies are tinged with rue, without ever being explicit as to why. It’s assumed we know the rest of the story, and we do, all too well.

 

EIN Note: As celluloid jukebox was written in 1995, the commentary does not have regard to Baz Luhrmann’s recent Elvis biopic.

 

Click to comment on this Article

celluloid jukebox - available on Amazon:

       

Spotlight by Nigel Patterson.
-Copyright EIN June 2023
EIN Website content © Copyright the Elvis Information Network.



Elvis, Ann-Margret, the filming of Viva Las Vegas (aka 'Love in Las Vegas'), the slap heard across Hollywood, (and more): The story of the behind-the-scenes filming of Elvis’ best and highest grossing film, Viva Las Vegas (released in 1964), is colorful, and one that had repercussions for Elvis’ subsequent films as well as a rare loss for Colonel Tom Parker.
Drawing on a wide range of sources, EIN’s Nigel Patterson takes a reflective look at the drama between star, manager, Ann-Margret, Viva Las Vegas film director and what it all meant.

Read the full article

(Spotlight, Source:ElvisInformationNetwork)

 

Book Review: 8mm Elvis - The Story of Elvis on 8mm':  Long before the days of Bluray, DVD and VHS people watched home movies on 8mm film.
'8mm Elvis The Forgotten Format' is a glossy, colour, hardback book cataloguing the history of Elvis on 8mm film.
Author Vince Wright has been collecting all the Elvis 8mm he could find since the 80s.
He explained..  “I was cataloguing all these films hoping someone would write a book about it – I waited, they didn’t, so I did.”

So in 2023, and after many years of searching and researching, the author has released his comprehensive narrative and visual record of Elvis on 8mm.

This book is unique in its narrative and visual content and is an important inclusion in the complex jigsaw puzzle that forms a complete record of the multi-varied story of Elvis Presley.
Go here to read Nigel Patterson's review
(Book Reviews, Source;ElvisInformationNetwork)


'The Airplanes & The King' In-depth review: The original spanish book 'Los Aviones Y El Rey' by Carlos Varrenti was republished as an expanded English version 'The Airplanes & The King' towards the end of 2022.
Not only that but it was expanded from its original 197 pages to an amazing 400 pages with a lot of unreleased material and stunning photos from the 'Elvis Files' vaults!
The English version was unfortunately delayed by supply issues due to the worldwide Covid pandemic - but has now been published as a High quality Hardback book.
As an Aeronautical engineer and Elvis fan, Varrenti is well qualified to write a book which details Elvis’ history with his aircraft and his link to aeronautics in general. With photos and stories from 1955 through to 1977 - and beyond - the book is also an interesting historical look at Elvis’ life "on tour" but this time with an delightfully original theme.

EIN's Nigel Patterson takes a very detailed look at this impressive publication and discovers a trove of delights...

(Book Reviews,  Source:ElvisInformationNetwork)


(Book Review) Elvis For Vinyl Fans Only Vinyl Discography from Eastern Europe Yugoslavia * Romania (Piotr Soczynski): To date, Polish author Piotr Soczynski has published eight (one more to come) Elvis discographies. His first four books were two volumes chronicling Elvis’ demo and acetate records and two volumes detailing his U.S. Army vinyl records.
His most recent books have been discographies of Elvis’ music released in Eastern European countries.
All eight books are high quality “coffee table” hardcovers full of color and information for all fans, but particularly serious collectors.

EIN’s Nigel Patterson recently selected one of Piotr’s books to review.
You can read his detailed review here - with plenty of fascinating Eastern Europe vinyl images.


(Book Review, Source: ElvisInformationNetwork)


(Book Review) Elvis Live At The International 50th Anniversary Edition (Kieran Davis): In 2011, Kieran Davis released the highly praised book, Elvis Live At The International. In 2022, he has published an expanded 50th Anniversary edition…and what an expansion it is!
The latest edition dwarfs the original with 432 pages compared to 172 in the original release.
And the added 250+ pages of additional material is stunning, making the 50th Anniversary release one of the best Elvis books published in 2022.

As its title reflects, the book covers Elvis' appearances at the International Hotel in Las Vegas between 1969 and 1971 (it was renamed the Las Vegas Hilton in July 1971). The narrative element is significantly based around fan, Peggy Elzea’s copious diaries, and a bumper array of archival material. Peggy’s experience seeing Elvis in Las Vegas is one every fan will envy.
There is so much fascinating information and so many striking images in the book that it is hard to know where to start in describing it...

Read Nigel Patterson’s detailed 2,700 words review

 

(Book Review, Source:ElvisInformationNetwork)


(Book Review) 'The Sonic Swagger of Elvis Presley: A Critical History of the Early Recordings' (Gary Parker):. ‘For Elvis Presley, stardom was the promise, and he made the trip, but at an extraordinarily high cost’. This is one of the thought provoking themes in Gary Parker’s latest book which critically examines in thoroughly researched detail, Elvis’ seminal recordings in the 1950s (as well as more briefly discussing Elvis’ post Army recordings).
Noting that... "Elvis' clever manipulation of his numerous interests remains one of the music world's great marvels. Presley, with one foot in delta mud and the other in a country hoedown, teamed with Scotty Moore and Bill Black to fuse two distinctly American musical forms -- country and blues -- to form what would come to be known as 'rockabilly'". This is a book with plenty to discuss.
In their 2,100 words collaboration, EIN’s Nigel Patterson and Piers Beagley, review what they have found to be one of the best, and most important, Elvis book releases of 2022.
Read the full review here
(Book Review, Source: ElvisInformationNetwork)
 

Book Review - Elvis: The Quest For An Oscar (James Turiello): Many will find it surprising that someone could write more than 500 pages detailing the case why Elvis deserves to receive an Honorary Academy Award, but author James Turiello has achieved this with his latest book.
EIN's Nigel Patterson spent a weekend exploring the author's argument.
Can someone who appeared in Kissin' Cousins, Harum Scarum and Clambake really be Oscar worthy?
In a detailed review, Nigel discusses what the book has to offer and provides his assessment of whether or not the author successfully makes his case that Elvis is deserving of an Honorary Oscar.

Go here to read Nigel's insightful review
(Book Review, Source:ElvisInformationNetwork
)

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EIN Website content © Copyright the Elvis Information Network.
Elvis Presley, Elvis and Graceland are trademarks of Elvis Presley Enterprises.
The Elvis Information Network has been running since 1986 and is an EPE officially recognised Elvis fan club.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Parkes Elvis Festival 2009 (Australia)
Presley Law legal archives (Preslaw)
Presleys In The Press
Sale of EPE (Archives)
6th Annual Elvis Website Survey
Spotlight on The King
"Wikipedia" Elvis biography