This Is Elvis - The Lost Theme Song


Spotlight by Neil Colombari - May 2022

With all of the hype surrounding Baz Luhrmann's upcoming biopic, ELVIS, many fans will fondly recall the first official movie of Elvis' life, 1981's 'This Is Elvis', which, for better of worse, is the benchmark against which all subsequent attempts are measured.

One of the well-known names involved with This Is Elvis was Jerry Schilling, who was hired as a Consultant on the film - and who was involved in getting the long-lost theme song written and recorded by Beach Boy Carl Wilson and Sweet Inspirations Myrna Smith..  



EIN contributor Neil Colombari investigates...

This Is Elvis: The Lost Theme Song

With all of the hype surrounding Baz Luhrmann's upcoming biopic, ELVIS, many fans will fondly recall the first official movie of Elvis' life, 1981's This Is Elvis, which, for better of worse, is the benchmark against which all subsequent attempts are measured.

One of the well-known names involved with This Is Elvis was Jerry Schilling, who was hired as a Consultant on the film. 

As most fans know, Jerry was a long-term friend of Elvis, having met him in 1954, when, as a 12-year old, he wandered into one of Elvis' pickup football games at Guthrie Park in Memphis. That was the start of a friendship that lasted throughout Elvis' life and since 1977 he has been involved with many Elvis-related projects including Heartbreak Hotel, Elvis And Me,  Elvis: The Great Performances, Elvis: The Lost Performances, Elvis In Hollywood, Elvis By The Presleys, Elvis & Nixon, and Elvis Presley: The Searcher. For a time he was also a Director of Elvis Presley Enterprises. However, Schilling's experience in the entertainment industry extends beyond Elvis, and he has been involved in a number of capacities, including managing acts as diverse as Billy Joel, Jerry Lee Lewis, and The Beach Boys. 


Ross Schwartz, (legal advisor), Jerry Schilling with Carl Wilson in 1981

On This Is Elvis, Jerry was involved with finding a theme song for the film. At the time, Jerry was managing Carl Wilson of The Beach Boys and Carl was putting together his first solo album, simply titled 'Carl Wilson'. Carl's writing partner for the album was Myrna Smith, who most Elvis fans would recall as being one of The Sweet Inspirations (and for a time she was also Jerry's wife). 

Beach Boys, Dennis and Carl Wilson with Myrna Smith - 1981

In a recent interview with David Beard for Endless Summer Quarterly (a publication dedicated to The Beach Boys), Jerry explained that in the fall of 1980...

"I was looking for a theme song (for This Is Elvis). Carl and Myrna were up at Caribou Ranch (a recording studio in Colorado) working on his first solo album. I went up to Caribou just to check out how everything was going and because I was doing the film at the same time, I said 'I'm looking for a theme song for a project that's titled This Is Elvis. If you guys have any ideas and want to do a demo, we might use it'. So, Myrna wrote the lyrics, Carl wrote the music, and the two of them recorded a demo (however, in the end) Warner Brothers' publicity department felt the title track should be an Elvis song."

The track was then all-but forgotten. However, as Jerry continues...

"in 2014, Billy Hinsche (one third of the 1960's group Dino, Desi & Billy, and later a keyboardist for the The Beach Boys backing band, and one-time brother-in-law of Carl Wilson) called me and said 'Jerry, do you know about this song that Carl and Myrna did called This Is Elvis?. I said 'No.' I had completely forgotten about it. He said 'Well, I have a copy, and it's your voice at the end saying 'That was it!'. I said 'Send it to me Billy.' Once I heard it, I remembered the whole story, and it tells who Elvis was - the lyrics and the music. It's simple, it's sweet, and it's deep. It's emotional to talk about it because all three of these people - who were so close to me in my life - are all gone. (Elvis passed away in 1977, Carl in 1998, and Myrna in 2010), But boy, this is a great piece of all of their music left behind honouring Elvis and done by Carl and Myrna."

The song was eventually released in 2015, with proceeds from the sale going to the Carl Wilson Foundation (Carl had died from cancer, with one of the Foundation's aims being to raise funds for cancer research). In hindsight, the song probably would not have added anything to the movie, and we'll never know if it whether it was to be used over the opening credits (where no song was used), or at the end (possibly replacing memories). However, it is a beautiful song in its own right and you can listen to it here on YouTube...


Footnote: In the same issue of Endless Summer Quarterly, Jerry notes that Carl Wilson was a huge support to him after Elvis died and that Carl had a great love of Elvis. Carl also apparently visited Elvis' father, Vernon. As Jerry Schilling tells it....

"Vernon wasn't seeing anybody, and Carl asked me to ask Mr. Presley if he could come by and say hello. I called Vernon and said, 'Mr. Presley, I have a dear friend, and he would like to come by and say hello', and he said, 'If you want me to, yes,' Carl ended up spending a day at their home." Jerry concludes, "When Elvis passed away, Carl was quoted as saying, 'Elvis had a voice of an angel,' which is amazing because Carl had the voice of an angel (check out 'God Only Knows' by The Beach Boys where Carl takes the lead). After Elvis, Carl was my closest friend."


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Spotlight by Neil Colombari.
-Copyright EIN May 2022
EIN Website content © Copyright the Elvis Information Network.


Note: All quotes taken from Endless Sumer Quarterly, Winter 2021 Edition, Issue 136, Volume 35, Number 1. Interview with Jerry Schilling by David Beard (ESQ Editor, Head Writer, Design & Art Direction, Webmaster)

Jerry Schilling Interview: Ken Sharp recently interviewed one of Elvis' closest insiders Jerry Schilling for the US Goldmine magazine. Jerry Schilling and Elvis forged a close friendship that lasted from the mid 1950s all the way to Elvis' death in 1977. Jerry Schilling was a trusted friend and confidante who enjoyed an eyewitness take on life inside the gates of Graceland. He was also Lisa Marie's first manager and he still has strong bonds with EPE and Priscilla. His recent book 'Me And A Guy Named Elvis' however was one of the best releases of last year and his honesty was quite delightful. In this long and fascinating interview with EIN contributor Ken Sharp, Jerry reveals some great stories of his life with Elvis.

(Interviews, Source: Ken Sharp, Jan 2008)  

Marty Lacker opens up to EIN: In Part 1 of our two part interview with Memphis Mafia member, Marty Lacker, Marty tells us about the famous celebrities, the pills, marriage and the Memphis Mafia, the $10m concert offer for Elvis to play in front of the Pyramids in Egypt and the real reason Elvis shot out his TV set when Robert Goulet appeared on the screen. Part 2 of our fascinating talk with Marty will be published next week. (Interview, Source: EIN)

Lamar Fike opens up to EIN: In the first part of an absorbing two-part interview with EIN, prominent Memphis Mafia member, Lamar Fike, talks candidly about Elvis, the early years, the pills, why Elvis' relationship with Ann-Margret didn't work out, marriage to Priscilla and a lot more. (Interview, Source: EIN)

Billy Smith, Elvis' cousin, opens up to EIN (Part 1): In the first part of an fascinating two-part interview with EIN, Elvis' cousin Billy Smith talks candidly about Elvis & the family, the early years, his colleagues in the Memphis Mafia, meeting The Beatles and much more. Billy Smith is still working for his living and so it is a real privilege for us that he could spare so much time for this interview. (Interview, Source: EIN. Jan 2006)

Joe Esposito EIN Interview: Joe Esposito (RIP) is best known as a key member of the "Memphis Mafia' and one of Elvis' closest friends. Joe met Elvis in 1958 when they were both in the army. They met in Germany and formed a friendship over playing games of football and taking trips to Paris. Before leaving the service Elvis asked Joe to work for him, from then on their friendship would last almost two decades with Esposito's main role being road-manager.

In 2001 EIN's Nigel Patterson met up with Joe Esposito in Canberra. He had agreed to give us 15 minutes of his time, but ended up talking for over an hour. This interview was featured in our EIN Fan Club newsletter but not on-line. Joe Esposito January 22, 1938 - November 23,2016 - RIP.

Go here for Joe Esposito's delightful stories of sharing his life with Elvis and the special friendship they had.

(Interviews,  Source;ElvisInformationNetwork)

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