"Inside The Dream"

By Jimmy Velvet.

EIN Book Review

Fans will know Jimmy Velvet as a friend of Elvis’ as well as the creator of the Elvis Presley Museum and owner of one of the world's biggest collectors of rock’n’roll memorabilia.

Jimmy Velvet was also an enthusiastic photographer who always had his camera with him. Being a contemporary of these mega-stars he managed to capture thousands of candid photographs in a way that a press photographer couldn’t.

The photographic memoirs of Jimmy Velvet’s amazing life ‘Inside The Dream’ was released in 2007.

EIN’s Piers Beagley spent several days examining this hefty photo-biography to give you this review.

Released in 2007 ‘Inside The Dream’ is a look through the amazing life of entertainer Jimmy Velvet.

‘Inside The Dream’ is a large "coffee-table" sized book with nearly 300 quality colour pages packed with over 1,000 personal photographs of the stars that Jimmy Velvet has met over the years.

Fans will know Jimmy Velvet as a friend of Elvis’ as well as the creator of the Elvis Presley Museum and owner of one of the world's biggest collectors of rock’n’roll memorabilia.

Jimmy Velvet was also a successful recording artists and charting pop-star who toured the USA heavily during the heyday of Rock’n’Roll. This placed him on tours with almost all the major stars of the rock’n’roll era that you can imagine as well as in the studio with his contemporaries.

He toured with Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard – and ELVIS! - just to name a few!
In 1964 Jimmy hit the big-time with chart successes of ‘We Belong Together’, ‘To The Aisle’ and ‘It’s Almost Tomorrow’ which led to many tours as well as TV and radio appearances.

After the sixties Jimmy ran a recording studio while still performing and so stayed friends with a load of people in the music business including characters like George Jones, James Brown, Sam Phillips, Otis Blackwell, Priscilla Presley, Dolly Parton, Garth Books, Travis Tritt and countless Country & Western stars.

The really exciting aspect was that Jimmy Velvet was also an enthusiastic photographer who always had his camera with him. Being a contemporary of these mega-stars he managed to capture thousands of candid photographs in a way that a press photographer couldn’t.

The book 'Inside The Dream' - of more than 1000 photographs - is only the "Best Of" his collection of several 1000’s more! Several of his candid Elvis photographs are well-known, however these are just the tip of the iceberg.

The book is divided into the decades of his life from his childhood, the 1950s and through to today.

For most readers I suspect that it will be the first half of the book dedicated to the later 1950s, the 1960s and the 1970s that they will find the most fascinating. How can anyone have possibly have had the chance to meet and take candid photographs of so many well-known stars!?

Each decade is preceded by a few pages of Jimmy Velvet’s own story which nicely sets the scene. He also explains how his own career and recordings fit into his photographic journey.

A highlight of the first 1950’s chapter is that Jimmy Velvet was there at the famous Elvis Jacksonville 1956 concert where Judge Marion Gooding ruled that Elvis had to curtail his wild inappropriate gyrations on stage. He was also the photographer responsible for those stunning colour images of Elvis at the Tupelo Fair concert.

Here is an excerpt from his recollections of the 1950s…

... "I remember on the first day of the show, Elvis upset the Juvenile Judge with his gyrations on stage. Judge Marion Gooding ordered him not to move on stage during his performance on the second and final night of the show. Elvis had a rough time toning down his show but he managed. I remember him singing a new song, "I Want You, I Need You, I Love You" with his finger moving. He sang a line that he made up, interjecting, "'Cause I can't sing when I'm standing still," and he cut loose and the house went wild! He ran for the stage door and headed for New Orleans. Yes, the judge was very upset. The next night was spent in New Orleans and after that I headed for home.

Six weeks later, September 26, 1956, I joined Elvis and his parents in Tupelo, Mississippi for the Mississippi - Alabama, Fair and Dairy show. This was my first meeting with Vernon and Gladys Presley. I had one roll of color film and a new camera. I took five photos of Elvis on stage and six photos backstage with his parents. These are the only known color photos of the famous Tupelo concert. It was a great time. "


Just a flick through the first few pages shows you photographs of Jimmy next to Dean Martin, The Everly Brothers, Jerry Lee Lewis (shirtless), Chuck Berry, Carl Perkins, Alan Freed, Johnny Cash, Fabian, Connie Francis, Rock Hudson, Johnnie Ray, Connie Francis, Bobby Darin, Frankie Avalon, Dick Clark, Lloyd Price, Bo Diddley, Bill Haley – and who doesn’t have their own colour candid of Marilyn Monroe!!!

(Right: Jerry lee Lewis, Jimmy Velvet, J.W Whitten)

And all those pop-culture mega-stars listed above are all featured in the first twenty pages, I kid you not!!


My only real complaint about the book is that I wanted to read Velvet’s personal recollections of almost every photograph.

Some of the best or most unusual photos get some explanatory text but there are many instances when you want to know more.


Of course there just isn’t the space in this packed book and Jimmy admits that there wasn’t the time to meet the publishing deadline and that the book would have had to be bigger and then weigh even more than it already does! He recently told EIN in an exclusive interview that he is working on an audio version of the accompanying stories.

Elvis fans will be keen to know that Jimmy Velvet stayed friends with Elvis and his father throughout the years and so there is a great selection of candids of Elvis, his family and Graceland through to the 1970s. (Who hasn’t ridden a horse at Graceland!)

There’s a sensational selection of Elvis at the Florida Theatre, August 11 1956 and some wonderful photos of Graceland in 1957 featuring a very young Billy Smith, along with Vester, Vernon and Gladys Presley.

In one photo he notes, "Vernon had been ploughing in the front yard with a mule and plough before this photo was taken!" It is an amazing comment.

(left: Fabulous rare shot of Elvis backstage)

Within the 1960s section we find Jimmy Velvet in the company of everyone from The Everly Brothers, Jackie Wilson, James Brown, Gene Pitney to a very young Glenn Campbell. Not to forget Natalie Wood’s surprise Birthday party!
(Check out the story in our Jimmy Velvet interview here.)

This was the decade of Jimmy Velvet’s big record successes and those amazing "Dick Clark" packaged tours and the memorabilia along with the tour photos also help one get an understanding of what his incredibly hectic life must have been like at the time.

Of course Jimmy still visited Graceland a lot and there are plenty of pages of Elvis, his family and Graceland.

This includes Vernon’s 1968 Birthday party along with Dee, her three children and Elvis’ grandmother Minnie Mae.

I particularly like the photo of Elvis relaxing after a game of football. (right)

Jimmy Velvet was also there in the early 1960s when Elvis resumed his recording career at was there in Nashville for the ‘His Hand In Mine’ session.

He was even there on July 13th 1973 when he and Vernon and Elvis were sworn in together as Captains and Chief Deputy of the Shelby Country Sheriffs department!

... On July 13, 1973, Elvis, Vernon and I were sworn in as Deputies By Sheriff Roy "Skip" Nixon. Elvis looked the best ever. I on the other hand wasn't prepared. Vernon took this shot but as usual, he used his whole hand to press the button instead of his finger and blurred the photograph. Elvis was chief Deputy. Venon and I were Captains."

By the 1980s Jimmy Velvet was hard at work running his Elvis Presley Museums. Once again this brought him into close contact with Elvis’ friends and acquaintances.

There are some marvellous photos of Scotty Moore with his original Gibson guitar (left), as well as Linda Thompson with Bruce Jenner and their baby.

New 80’s stars such as Hall & Oates feature along with wonderful shots of composer Otis Blackwell (who Jimmy was very close to) and the fantastic Rufus Thomas.

By the 1990s Jimmy Velvet was good friends with an astounding number of Country & Western artists, too many to name.

There’s Garth Brooks, Emmylou Harris, Faith Hill, Waylon Jennings, Vince Gill, Kenny Rogers and Travis Tritt to name a few!

Jimmy was obviously a close friend to George Jones "a great part of my life" and the many candid photos of Dolly Parton are a wonder to behold!

(Right:Dolly Parton, all of her!)



He also stayed friends with all his old acquaintances and there are some interesting photos of Chuck Berry, Sam Phillips as well as Colonel Parker’s 85th birthday party.



To leisurely turn the pages of this book is to get an incredible insight into not only what an amazing life Jimmy Velvet has had but also a true look at the passing of Rock’n’Roll and popular music history.

However not everything was rosy in his life and Jimmy Velvet also explains how in the 1990’s from being "on top of the world" suddenly everything fell apart on him financially, "The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away". So one also realises that it hasn’t all been plain sailing for him.

Rock’n’Roll and modern "pop-culture" has really only existed for the last fifty five years. So it is incredible that within the 300 colour-pages ‘Inside The Dream’ looks at 50 years of that modern entertainment history.

It really is "Hundreds of Stars, Countless Memories" and as Jimmy Velvet notes in the introduction "If told without pictures my life would seem to be a fairytale. In my mind I was never a major star: just barely big enough to tour with the best of my day."

Verdict: If you are interested in rock’n’roll history of the past fifty years, and in particular stunning candid photographs of music legends, then ‘Inside The Dream’ is the book for you. Jimmy Velvet is a warm and self-depreciating man who has led one astounding life and this book is a wonderful reflection and insight into a fascinating history.


Review by Piers Beagley
-Copyright EIN, August 2009

Click to comment on this interview


Click here to check on purchase details

Please click here for more stunning images from the book along with and a recent interview with Jimmy Velvet - and find how to get a special EIN discount.

How many stars can you spot in this mini-collage?

CLICK HERE to 'Inside The Dream' website - for more info & purchase details

(Right: Elvis with Jimmy Velvet at Nashville's Studio B. Elvis has the broken finger and is there for the 'His Hand In Mine' gospel recording session)

Click here for the 'Inside The Dream' website. 

Other relevant EIN articles

Jimmy Velvet talks about his friend Elvis with EIN

Click here for Interview with Elvis' cousin Billy Smith and other Memphis Mafia members, Marty lacker & Lamar Fike.

'From Elvis To Garth' Bobby Wood & The Memphis Boys at the American Sound Studios

Click here for an interview with Larry Geller

Click here for an interview with Elvis' friend & photographer Ed Bonja

Click to comment on this interview

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