MARCH 7 TO MARCH 31
By Paul Belard
Linden Press, USA, 2020, 207 pages, Illustrated (color/b&w)
Book Review by Nigel Patterson, April 2020
When Elvis returned to Memphis after two years in the Army, both he and the media questioned if he could re-establish his career. However, neither party need have worried as his arrival home sparked frenzied scenes and intense media interest.
In his latest photo-journal, Paul Belard has compiled another impressive set of photos, reviews and other archival material recording the 25 days after Elvis' arrival back in Memphis and up to his successful appearance on the Frank Sinatra Times "Welcome Home Elvis" television special.
Belard colorfully encapsulates the overview of his book:
Elvis returned to Memphis after two years in the Army on March 7, 1960. On the 9th, he received a combination radio-television set from RCA as a gift. It was presented to him for the sale of 50 million records from 1956 to 1960.
On the 20th, he left for Nashville for his first recording session in almost two years. That session was so well guarded that, so far, not a single picture of the actual session has surfaced.
The next day, Elvis boarded the Southwind which would depart Nashville Railroad Station, heading for Miami. Frank Sinatra, who came close to calling him a blabbering idiot a few years back, ate crow and dug deep in his pockets to have him on his television show. It must have been a sweet moment of complete vindication.
Three days after it was recorded, RCA shipped more than one million copies of the single, "Stuck On You" backed with "Fame and Fortune".
Elvis was back.
The narrative element of Elvis 1960 March 7 to March 31 is primarily driven by archival material.
Belard devotes 60 pages to Elvis' appearance on the Frank Sinatra Timex "Welcome Home Elvis" special. It includes numerous color images as well as b&w shots, all in great quality.
The addition of a fascinating article by John Davidson, originally published on PopMatters.com in 2004, will please many readers. Davidson's thought-provoking article includes:
Presley's arrival remains the single most significant jolt in the history of popular music. In a certain sense the Beatles were a seismic after shock to Presley, albeit one whose impact produced arguably more wide-ranging long-term effects
One section of the book deserves special mention. It is the Holiday On Ice company visiting Graceland on March 14. The previous evening, Elvis had attended the company's "performance for negroes", and as Belard rightfully comments:
....once again showing he did not share the prejudices of his city towards African Americans.
The book features a feast of visual highlights, a number of which are very rare. They include:
- Elvis with Wallace Dorritt who was injured in a motor vehicle accident and Elvis stopped to help
- Elvis at the Holiday On Ice show "Performance for Negroes"
- Elvis with children visiting Graceland (four pages)
- a great color image taken from above of Elvis seemingly staring into the sky behind the gates of Graceland
- the large and eager crowd greeting at the Miami Railway Station to see Elvis (six pages)
- Elvis at the Rainbow Rollerdome in Memphis
- Elvis meeting children at Lansky Brothers in Memphis
- Elvis with "Grandma" Winders, a Presley family neighbor in Tupelo
- magazine covers from March 1960
Given the age and nature of some of the photos (candid shots), their quality is variable. Publicity images are in excellent quality. Readers will have seen many of the photos before but not all together in one volume. As a collection, they are an important and comprehensive visual record of their subject matter.
In this respect, the book is rich in interesting information. Highlights include:
- the Holiday On Ice company visiting Graceland
- press ad for the TV Guide edition featuring Elvis and Frank Sinatra on the cover
- Miami Herald article, 'Her Wish', with photos about young Sheila Riddell meeting Elvis
- Bill Burk's newspaper article, Elvis is Going to Miami for TV Show Filming
- the 'Private Invitation" card for the Frank Sinatra Timex Show "Welcome Home Elvis"
- cartoon featuring Elvis, Frank Sinatra and Nancy Sinatra
- the TV Guide and Variety reviews of the "Welcome Home Special"
The book also includes a list of website consulted by the author and an illustrated bibliography.
Verdict: Paul Belard has published yet another strong photo-book on a particular time period in the multi-layered and fascinating Elvis story. Elvis historians and those interested in a pictorial record of Elvis' life will welcome and thoroughly enjoy this release.
Review by Nigel Patterson.
-Copyright EIN April 2020
EIN Website content © Copyright the Elvis Information Network.
To buy 'Elvis 1960 March 7 to March 31' contact Paul Belard
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The Paul Belard Book List
(highlighted books reviewed by EIN)
Elvis A Humanitarian
Elvis The Gospel Singer
Elvis Black and White to Technicolor
Elvis January - February 1956
Elvis March 1956
Elvis April 1956
Elvis May 1956
Elvis Las Vegas April - May 1956
Elvis December 1956
Elvis in Hawaii November 1957
Elvis September 1958 Germany Bound
Elvis 1960 Seven Days in March
Elvis 1960 March 7 to March 31