'Walk A Mile In My Shoes'
By Arjan Deelen and Constantijn Zantingh
Book / CD Review by Piers Beagley
'Elvis: Walk A Mile In My Shoes' is subtitled “Arjan Deelen talks to the musicians, singers, songwriters and producers who helped create the ‘Presley Sound’”.
Arjan Deelen's interviews were carried out over a 14-year period and he interviewed everyone from Scotty Moore & D.J. Fontana and the TCB Band through to Shaun Nielsen, Jim Murray & Terry Blackwood, The Memphis Boys, Mary & Ginger Holladay and many, many more.
The book is also a feast for the eye, with almost 300 rare and unpublished photos of Elvis, in some cases sourced from the original negatives and dias. These photos cover the whole spectrum of Elvis’ career, from 1954 to 1977.
The book has finally arrived in Australia and EIN's Piers Beagley sees whether it lives up to its expectations..
Now Updated - See EIN reader's feedback below
Sometimes living in sunny Australia has its disadvantages. Ever since first hearing about this new project by Arjan Deelen and Constantijn Zantingh I have been excited about finally getting this book which seemed to take forever to arrive in the post.
Having already interviewed Arjan Deelen (see interview here) I had a good idea what to expect of this book which collects his many interviews with Elvis’ musicians and colleagues along with a selection of rare and unpublished photographs of Elvis. But did the book live up to my expectations?
Constantijn Zantingh from 'Elvis For Everyone' productions was the designer of the excellent Elvis Presley "Images" photo books released over the last couple of years and this new book is of a similar very stylish design.
A hardcover A4 size glossy book, this is the kind of book that fits very nicely next to ‘Elvis 68 @ 40’ or Ken Sharp’s ‘Elvis Vegas 1969’. The book is divided into around 30 sections, 15 of these being the detailed interviews Arjan Deelen has done over the years while the other sections feature selected photographic chapters such as ‘Elvis at the New York Hilton June 9 1972’, ‘Houston, Texas March 1, 1970’, or ‘Memories of 68 The Comeback’. There are photographs and candids of Elvis from all eras here, from 1956 through to the sixties and the sensational 70’s concert years.
Contrasting Elvis candids over the years from Jacksonville 1956 and JFK Airport July 1975.
The book starts with a delightful preface by Duke Bardwell who is surprisingly honest, and positive about the excitement of making music and how his association with Arjan Deelen came about.
The first surprise for me was how much is crammed into this delightful book. These are Arjan Deelen’s unedited interviews and they all show fascinating insights into what it was like being on the road with Elvis as a musician and a friend or working with Elvis.
Arjan Deelen's interviews were over a 14-year period from 1998 through to 2012. He interviewed the following musicians and associates.. Ronnie Tutt, James Burton, Glen D. Hardin, Jerry Scheff, Charlie Hodge, Duke Bardwell, Shaun Nielsen, Myrna Smith & Estelle Brown, Jim Murray & Terry Blackwood, Scotty Moore & D.J. Fontana, Michael Jarrett, Chips Moman & The Memphis Boys, Mary & Ginger Holladay, Johnny Christopher. The final interview is with Ernst Jorgensen.
The interviews themselves feature a nice selection of photographs showing the interviewee working with Elvis on stage (see Jerry Scheff below) and nicely place the interview in context. There really is plenty to read here, the layout is stylish while the text is very compact.
To be honest I have a feeling than in another publisher’s hand it would have been be more spaced out just to double the size of the book and thus increase the price. This is real value for money.
Ronnie Tutt, like many of the musicians, toured with Elvis for eight long years so there is plenty to learn and read about. The highs are discussed as well as the lows. Unlike the usual "biographies" of Elvis there is more to learn here from the close association that the musicians had with Elvis as a performer and as a friend.
Arjan Deelen: Are there any concerts that stick out in your mind?
Ronnie Tutt: There's a few. There's that one, and we played a New Year's Eve at the Pontiac Silverdome, for a New Year's Eve Party. There were 80.000 people there. We played in the round again, but it was solid people everywhere. From the first step down there were chairs all the way, as far as you could see. That was pretty exciting. And I remember one night in Buffalo, N.Y., where the fans rushed the stage at the end of the show. They were so excited that they just came right over the front of it. That was scary. Funny and bizarre, but scary at the same time. I remember the high 'highs', speaking on a level of consistency of doing concerts, and I remember the low 'lows'. In the South of the United States, the people are much more courteous, so they may not respond quite as enthusiastic as they might in some other part of the country. Elvis would take that personally, as if they were not enjoying it. So he'd turn around to me about halfway through the show, and say (in a low voice): "Let's get the hell out of here, Ronnie". That's what he'd do. Then it'd be 'Can't Help Falling In Love' and "Elvis has left the building" again! (laughs). So those were the low 'lows'... there were nights where he came out, and where he didn't seem to be into it to begin with, but there were also nights where there were just tremendous 'highs', because everything was right, he felt great, the audience was responding,
and people got the show of their life.
And on the frustration of later days in the Recording Studio
Arjan Deelen: But in the early years, he'd sometimes do 20 or 30 takes of a song, while during for example the Stax sessions in '73, he was often already satisfied after only 2 or 3 takes of a song. Some of the songs from these sessions sound unfinished and a little rough around the edges to me.
Ronnie Tutt: That's because none of it had the excitement and the energy of the live things. He liked the way the live things were. Even though he read a lot of books, he was an uneducated man. There were a lot of ways in which he didn't know how to express himself. That was one of the things he didn't know how to express. Elvis didn't know how to say to a producer or a record company or whoever: "Look, I don't feel what I need to feel in the studio, so let's just take it to the live stage". There would have been many ways to get around that. We could have rehearsed the songs for two or three days or a week somewhere, and then take and done them live. A whole week of recording live of all-new material. And he would have been much happier. He would have been excited about the crowd's response. Because he was very sensitive to how people perceived him. Like you said before, if he would have tried new material on a live audience, it could have been a totally different thing.
Ronnie Tutt, Glen Hardin and Jerry Scheff all have plenty to say and these are all good men who have been through some extraordinary times with Elvis.
Arjan Deelen: Many say that Elvis was never the same after his divorce. Did you observe any of that?
Jerry Scheff: One thing that sticks in my mind, and in my wife's mind, 'cause she saw it too... When he had this airplane built, the Lisa Marie, he had it delivered and flown into Las Vegas. He had his daughter Lisa Marie in Las Vegas, and he had to take her back to L.A. to Priscilla. He invited my wife and I to fly along with him, you know, "C'mon and fly in my new plane". "Sure". So Diane and I went out there, and we got on and took off. He gave us a guided tour of the plane, he was very proud of it.
He showed us everything, even the soap and the towels! He was very proud of it. So we got to L.A., landed in Burbank Airport, and Priscilla came on the plane. When she got on the plane, his whole demeanour changed. Diane said to me at the time: "You know, he knows he's blown it with losing her". He was just very, very... On the flight back he was very quiet. I think he was still sad about it.
Of course, as with any recollections, there are two sides to every story and this is what also makes the interviews so fascinating. For instance the majority of the interviewees do not have any good things to say about Col Parker whereas Charlie Hodge comes across as over-defensive praising Parker - but that’s what helps make the book such an interesting read.
Charlie Hodge also tells a good story of a near-death experience when the brakes failed on the bus Elvis was driving...
"We were coming down from the San Bernardino mountains into San Bernardino, and it was raining. And it was night. And the electrical system went out on the bus. And the breaks went out. So here we are coming down the mountain, and we can't stop. Just picking up speed, you know. We couldn't stop or anything, and
we just had to ride that thing all the way down to San Bernardino. We discussed and Elvis said, 'Well, I'm not gonna hit some family coming down for a week or something. I'll just run into a mountain first before I hit someone'. And we decided that if we did that, probably one of two things... We'd probably come to a dead stop or it would throw us across and down the mountain side. But that was the only thing we discussed, that Elvis was not going to hit anyone. Just as we got down to the end of the road, and you'd see a red light down here at San Bernardino, and there was a gasoline station here, and Elvis said, 'Joe, can we make it?',
and Joe said, 'I don't think we can'. Elvis said, 'We got to'...."
It is also a real positive that Arjan Deelen has also tracked down alternate interviewees, for instance composer Johnny Christopher as well as Mary and Ginger Holladay. The previously unpublished interview with producer Chips Moman and the Memphis Boys is also an interesting read.
Arjan Deelen: Are there any moments from those sessions that stand out for you?
Bobby Wood: Some of those times when we were kidding, just joking around in the studio. That was special for me. You know, this guy had the biggest
heart in the world. I remember... He was bragging about his ring when I was in the control room, and I said that it was a real cool looking ring. He pulled it off and handed it to me. I was looking at it, and of course it was 14 sizes too big for me, you know. I handed it back to him and he said, 'No, it's yours', and I said, 'No, take it. Are you kidding, man? You'd have to cut half of it off to make it fit my hand!' But there's a lot of people that would have taken it, I'm sure. I just didn't want to be one of those. I just thought too much of him to do that, you know. I really appreciated the gesture, and I know that that's the way it was with Elvis.
Chips Moman: I love Elvis like you all did, and like everybody did. I mean, I really did. I met him in late 1954.I remember when I heard his first record. That's what really made me want to leave LaGrange, Georgia! I'd never heard anything like it. I loved that song.
Bobby Wood: He was just sitting around having normal conversations with us you know.
Reggie Young: After everybody had gone.
Bobby Emmons: Elvis said some time after that that was the most fun he'd had it.
As EIN readers know,
I am a real fan of Erik Lorentzen’s Elvis Files series of books but those feature articles and newspaper stories of the day, rather than contemporary interviews with Elvis’ colleagues as featured here. And for me, like many fans, it is THE MUSIC which counts and so I find these stories from Elvis’ musicians and songwriters particularly interesting.
I know that some fans have a negative opinion about bassist Duke Bardwell but here he is very self-depreciating and open about his time with the TCB Band and how he was let go.
Arjan Deelen: You played on the "Today" sessions in March '75...
Duke Bardwell: Well, I already knew that I was gone, that I was on my way out. Quite honestly, I should have left before, but I had a young family and a brand new baby that I was very concerned about, and I had no real means of income.
Basically I went into the Elvis recording session with a relaxed attitude. Mostly before, I was very cautious playin'... I knew that he liked a lot of bass, because Jerry Scheff played a lot of bass. I learned from Jerry’s recordings, so I was trying to play at least busy. On this recording session, I just really relaxed and had a good time. In fact, Ronnie told me "I don't know what happened to you from the last thing we did to this one, but it was a good thing. That's the best you ever played". Felton Jarvis took me off of the album.
Elvis decided to bring me in, and he should have been the one to decide when it was time for me to go - and he did. I had a great time at that recording session, and I'm very grateful to hear those outtakes. I loved playing with James, Ronnie and Glen D, that's some of the most fun I've ever had in my life. But I ain't no Jerry Scheff. There is no other Jerry Scheff. But I was trying to do a good job, and be as professional about it as I could.
I have nothing in me but gratitude for the opportunity to have been a small part of the TCB band. It was the most magnificent thing musically that ever happened to me.
But the book is not just about the interviews but also about the fabulous selection of photographs.
While some of these photographs will be familiar there are still plenty of new previously unpublished images – around 300 - that will really appeal. And the quality of many of the photographs is impressive.
For instance eight glorious pages, 21 photos in total, are dedicated to Elvis live at the Los Angeles Forum on November 14th 1970. Capturing Elvis at his live best, these images impressive in their size and with the majority of them unseen, for instance not featured in ‘The Elvis Files’.
Similarly seven pages feature Elvis still looking great and rocking out live in Greensboro Colliseum 1974.
There are also seven pages featuring Elvis’ Press Conference on July 31, 1969. These images capture Elvis looking so happy and revitalised ane most are brand-new to my eyes – again not featured in ‘The Elvis Files’ or Ken Sharp’s lovely ‘ELVIS: VEGAS 1969’ book. I particularly like the full-page photograph of Elvis tapping his blue biro on his hand looking very pensive. (shown below)
And can any Elvis fan really have enough photos of Elvis looking stunning in his leather comeback suit? Once again this book features a dozen photos including some real stunners (see above left) which do not appear in the excellent Steve Binder book focused on ‘68 @ 40’.
One of my favourites is also the full page photograph of Elvis at the Blue Hawaii recording sessions in such great quality and detail. (right)
Other photographic chapters of note are ‘Aloha From Hawaii’, ‘Miami, Florida 1956’, ‘Audubon Drive '56’, and even ‘Caught In A Trap Vegas 1973’ which includes new photos not featured in Arjan Deelen’s book of the same name! (I love those 1973 'Monkey On My Back' photos - see below)
On a minor note I’m not sure (nor is Ernst Jorgensen) that the Elvis ‘red poncho’ photos actually come from the Stax 1973 session. Wayne Jackson who is present in the photos believes that they are from 1972 in Elvis’ Vegas hotel room. However Mary and Ginger Holladay do discuss this strange fashion statement so it is possible Elvis was wearing it at the time.
The book ends with a very detailed interview with Ernst Jorgensen from back in 2002, his last detailed interview before SONY bureaucracy seemed to take over. While 10 years old now it is still fascinating to understand how he approaches the Elvis Presley legacy and researching the music. In 2002 he even mentions fan Don Lance who is now responsible for these new rehearsal tapes that are being released over 10 years later (see 'From Hawaii to Las Vegas' rehearsal review)! Similarly we get an idea of how Ernst tries to hunt down his new photographs and information – and it sure is laborious!
Ernst Jorgensen.. It's also the same Paul Dowling who heard a bunch of 50's concerts, including Elvis singing 'Fools Hall Of Fame', 'Only You' and 'Don't', and this guy disappeared as well. He's also called me on some home-recordings that include 'Do The Clam, 'I Almost Lost My Mind' and 'Puppy Love'. This may be true, but as long as I haven't heard it I'm not going to believe it. You can only spend so much time, and if people disappear on you all the time then there's something wrong with the story.
A good example is the story about this lady, Evelyn Cramer from Pine Bluff, Ark. He told me that he'd gone down there, rented a projector, and seen the footage of Elvis at the Hayride. When I went there a year later and had her address, she didn't exist, never lived there, and there were no records of an Evelyn Cramer ever living in Pine Bluff. We wrote to over 200 Evelyn Cramers living in America. The only response we got were a few angry letters, but nothing from THE Evelyn Cramer. And why would she be shy about it if we offered her a lot of money? So some of these stories are either imagined or just very bad luck. "
Please note the pictures in this review are simple low-resolution scans and the images in the book are far clearer.
Finally as a bonus the book also comes with a free 13-track CD. This features a fascinating selection of Elvis rarities one kind or another and it is a free bonus! Hey, in the past I’ve spent a fair amount on bootlegs to get some of these! (See tracklist below).
Notable among these are the newly discovered Hayride 1955 ‘I Forgot To Remember To Forget’, the clever re-edit of 'Brown Eyed Handsome Man' (that was created by "elvisalisellers" of FECC fame), the fabulous 1955 Eagles Hall concert, the oddity of the Tickle Me movie version of 'I Feel That I’ve Known You Forever', plus the naughty & unreleased Palms Springs home recording of 'Let Me Be The One' and delightful 'Spanish Eyes' (not the Linda Thompson home recording).
Very intruiging is the complete interview of Elvis being interviewed in German by Hannelore Krab for the ‘Bayerischen Rundfunk’ in Munich, Germany on June 18, 1959. It is a delightful interview and totally unknown to me.
(Right: Even the CD itself has a cool Elvis image!)
Interestingly the CD also features the Master (take 31) of 'Hound Dog'. There has always been a big debate about which release sounds best (and there have been a fair few! ) but Arjan Deelen and Constatijn chose this as they both believe that it is better quality than all other versions! "With extra depth, just listen to the handclaps and drums" and indeed it does sound "crisper" than the new Vic Anesini Master version.
It has been a marvelous couple of years for Elvis fans with some stunning books being released such as 'A Boy From Tupelo', The Elvis Files and some books focused on particular events such as Ken Sharp's 'ELVIS: VEGAS 1969', JAT/Steve Binder's '68 @40' and Kieran Davis' 'Elvis November Tour 1971'. ‘Walk A Mile In My Shoes’ is another must-have for Elvis music fans.
Overall Verdict: Did the book live up to my expectations - it certainly did and more! The short excerpts and photos featured in this review surely help demonstrate the high quality
of the content, as well as the cool design of this project. ‘Walk A Mile In My Shoes’ is an excellent book with plenty of text helping you learn more about our hero and with quality photos lots of them previously unpublished.
And of course, even better you also get some new Elvis music to go with it! The last book that Arjan Deelen published was ‘Caught In A Trap’ 10 years ago (with photographer Laurens van Houten) and again this one is another winner. Great value-for-money and Highly recommended.
(GO HERE to EIN's exclusive interview with Arjan Deelen for extra photos and even more about the book)
Review by Piers Beagley.
-Copyright EIN November 2012
EIN Website content © Copyright the Elvis Information Network.
Click here to comment on this review
The book is nearly sold out - but you can get copies from Arjan Deelen. Price including postage is 40 Euros for Europe and US$50 ROW. Arjan will be happy to sign it personally for those that are interested.
EIN note - CLICK HERE to contact Arjan for this special deal
|‘Walk A Mile In My Shoes’ CD tracklisting:
1. I Forgot To Remember To Forget – Louisiana Hayride live broadcast, Probably October 1, 1955 March 19 1955 (Saturday - 10.45pm) Grand Prize Jamboree, Eagles Hall, Houston, Texas:
2. Intro/Good Rockin' Tonight/Band Intros
3. Intro/Baby Let's Play House
4. Intro/Blue Moon Of Kentucky
5. Intro/I Got A Woman
6. Intro/That's All Right
7. Rare Detroit radio promo 1956
8. Hound Dog
9. Brown Eyed Handsome Man (Elvisalisellers special edit)
10. Elvis interviewed by Hannelore Krab from ‘Bayerischen Rundfunk’, Munich (Germany), June 18, 1959. Complete interview from mastertape source.
11. I Feel That I’ve Known You Forever
12. Let Me Be The One – Home recording, Palm Springs, April 1974
13. Spanish Eyes – Home recording, Palm Springs, April 1974
You can also order your copy through Elvis For Everyone - email firstname.lastname@example.org
Arjan Deelen is also the producer of the 'The Original Elvis Tribute' Tours
For more information you can visit www.elvisnews.dk
From: Tuomo Takkunen
Now, i must say it was, anyway, a big surprise for me, i mean this is really something big, i mean, it´s soooo great i had to wipe somekind of ´curtain`from my eyes. It is REALLY GREAT ! The quality is at first `A`class and there were pics, which are so rare, even i, didn´t see before. I only watched at those pic´s and read a couple of lines this far, but i know it already, it´s so much better done than anything else, that those other books look like... . I respect you Arjan, you did it your way and it´s the best way to do, to honor the greatest guy in this whole roulette. P.S. Cd was awesome, track 1, i don´t even say anything, but also that German interview...and everything...
From: Eriik Straver
The book is stunning ! The look is superb, the interviews are informative and honest, the pictures are here in quality too. The cd is great too, because the the Sun recording is untampered with and the price is unbelieveble...it’s really a labour of love and deserves your support !!
PS - I enjoyed the interview with Dagmar very much ! thank you for publishing. It
seems Arjan has a habit of interviewing interesting people and asking the right
questions . I don’tmind !!
EIN note - Go here >>Arjan Deelen Interview with Elvis Photographer Dagmar:
From: Lee Dawson (Elvis Express Radio)
May I take this time to congratulate Arjan Deelen for such a fantastic job on this latest book.
As Elvis fans, we’ve been so lucky with the quality of books that have been produced lately. Walk A Mile In My Shoes is one of those special books which every fan should add to their collections because this is one of those books that delivers what it promises, rare and unseen photos and some of the best interviews you could ever wish to feast your eyes on. Oh and the bonus CD is a great treat as well. I loved Arjans book, ‘Caught In A Trap’ from 2002 and this latest treasure is as good, if not better? Let’s hope it’s not another 10 years between this and the next.
From: Dennis van Tiel
Because is curious and open minded, therefore you get interviews with depth and no holding back from the interviewed. Then, as a reader, you really get wiser and learn more about the biotope Elvis lived in. By this I mean of course the music, the people, the places and his own world of thoughts. And for that reason also, Arjan is not afraid to use many words in a book, to get away from those who are only interested in blinking paper filled with loads of pictures that look like they were taken nearby the monster of Loch Ness or a UFO (out of focus I mean.) At the end, it is always the content that matters. Well, to cut a long introduction of reasons short: thanks Arjan, for a honest book about that guy we all still seem interested in for one reason or another.
From: Robert Frieser
It is great book,
Its a thrill to read all the interviews
From: Jeanne P
This is an INCREDIBLE book!! The interviews are some of the best I've ever read. They're honest, insightful, and the questions asked were very well chosen. It's so nice to have these interviews in one beautiful book. The photos are spectacular, with many of them new to me. It's great to have pictures that are dated and labeled for location. It always annoys me when I see a photo, but there's no information about it. Thanks for caring enough to take the time to label them. This is one fantastic book and well worth the wait.
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