‘Elvis Presley: The Man, The Life, The Legend’
270 pages. 88 photos including 63 full page photos, many in colour.
Having read the Elvis story hundreds of times, surely we don’t need another biography and can anything new really be revealed?
In fact there is a lovely style & urgency to Keogh’s writing that does keep you reading, making the book very appealing & well-worth seeking out. In some ways the pacing of her phrasing reflects the very rush of Elvis’ life, which we all know will be lived too fast & end too soon. Printed on quality paper and with a good selection of beautiful full-plate images (some rare, some not) it is a shame that the release of last year’s ‘Elvis By the Presleys’ somewhat over-shadowed this book.
There are several side chapters that also examine topics outside of the main story. Elvis’ Fashion is tackled in ‘Elvis' Closet’ - "In Elvis world it was never casual Friday" - and it takes us right to into this millennium by mentioning Elvis’ very use of ‘Major Bling-Bling’ & references Sean Combs & Kelly Osbourne!
The section ‘Jessie Garon’ discusses whether Elvis was obsessed with his lost twin, or whether he was unimportant. (Priscilla says, "Elvis hardly ever spoke about Jessie")
Another compares Priscilla & Jackie O and how they tackled their all-powerful men. While interesting (it IS an EPE authorised book) this was one point that I felt there really was too much Priscilla and not enough Ann-Margret! Maybe Ann-Margret was to Elvis what Marilyn Monroe was to the Kennedys? Now that’s an interesting concept!
There is a depth & interest to the writing that actually gets you thinking…
For once key figures such as Ed Sullivan are sensibly referenced & explained..
Keogh also doesn’t hold back on her feelings - & expletives – As she says of the movies..
Keogh also has a passion and understanding of Elvis. She describes the "tacky" design of the Jungle Room saying, "Embrace our inner most Memphis Flash – we love the Jungle Room".
Elvis’ very enthusiasm for life, for girlfriends & for creating marvellous music is nicely featured and it is good to see (in an EPE authorised book!) that Elvis’ propensity for drugs is not ignored.. "Elvis' most secret love, brought over from Germany, .. uppers and downers - two distaff angels balancing one another"
Elvis’ cousin Billy Smith was his closest friend in these last years and was there 24/7 to support Elvis, yet strangely he doesn’t get a mention. Keogh writes, "Now, alone in Graceland, Elvis was surrounded by new guys" yet we all know that Billy was there. I wonder if this was because he had a falling out with EPE who in turn didn’t want Keogh to talk with him?
As an Elvis-o-phile there are also a few too many mistakes for my liking. In the acknowledgments 5 people are thanked for "a very close reading of the text" including EPE’s Director of Media Todd Morgan! I presume that they are avid Elvis fans in which case they ought to be reprimanded for not spotting the following major errors..
Overall the photos & exciting writing does compensate for these minor quibbles, and I guess that since this is a mainstream book most readers would never notice the above mistakes.
Verdict: With a nice urgency to the writing Pamela Keogh manages to imbue her all too well-known story making it a very enjoyable read. The photos are splendidly reproduced and the paper is of high-quality. Overall this book fits very nicely between being a glossy coffee-table book and a serious biography. It also complements the family stories & candid photos of ‘Elvis: By The Presleys’.
BELOW - more great images from the book.
Review by Piers Beagley.
Click here for Book Review: Elvis: By The Presleys
"Elvis Presley is the supreme socio-cultural icon in the history of pop culture"
(Dr. Gary Enders)