Record of Elvis' life, day-by-day is a monumental effort

Book Review: Elvis Day By Day: The Definitive Record of His Life and Music (Peter Guralnick & Ernst Jorgensen)

Once in a while a book comes along that stands out from the myriad of other books published about Elvis. Elvis Day By Day – The Definitive Record of His Life and Music is one such book.

The day-by-day chronicle of Elvis’ life is well written and fascinating. Everything is covered, from the well known to the obscure and from the humorous to the unpleasant:

April 5, 1935: A devastating tornado sweeps through Tupelo, killing 235 and injuring another 350. In Presley family lore it will always be remembered how Vernon and Gladys took refuge in Jessie and Minnie Mae’s home, with Gladys holding her baby tight.

May 8, 1954: Elvis and Dixie (Locke) attend the annual Memphis Cotton Carnival, where Elvis runs into Ronald Smith, a friend they both know from Dixie'’ south Memphis neighbourhood.

August 15, 1958: On emergency leave from the army when his beloved mother Gladys dies, Elvis cries out inconsolably at her funeral, "Goodbye, darling, I love you so much….I lived my whole life just for you."

October 2, 1958: Elvis is assigned to the Ray Kaserne barracks in Friedberg, a row of brick buildings that once housed Hitler’s troops. January 25, 1963: The Paramount make up department requests that when Elvis reports at 1:30pm, he bring his favorite hair dye.

February 1, 1968: Elvis is so nervous before leaving the house that his grandmother reminds him that it is Priscilla, not he, who is having the baby.

July 18, 1969: In James Burton’s recollection, "Right off the bat we probably learned 150 songs" over six nights of work.

August 16, 1977: …Elvis is not in bed, and she [Ginger] discovers him shortly thereafter lying facedown in a pool of vomit on the bathroom floor…

Interspersed throughout the book are details of Elvis' record releases, their chart statistics and sales achievements. There are some eye-opening facts here that will surprise many fans...and not for the reasons one might think.

The authors are to be commended for the incredible amount of time they have obviously spent in researching and double-checking their facts.

Elvis : Day By Day is one of those rare books every fan should have in their collection. It is a book you can read from cover to cover or leaf through from time to time. Regardless, you are sure to learn something new about the life and music of The King. 

Not only is Elvis Day By Day outstanding for its depth of detail, but it also shines due to the staggering number of very rare colour and black and white photos. Some of these are:

o a great colour shot of The Hillbilly Cat live on stage in Cleveland in October 1955

o Elvis almost on one knee composing himself backstage in Minnesota in May 1956

o Elvis with Jimmie Rodgers Snow in the parade at the Jimmie Rodgers Festival

o Elvis addressing the Tennessee State Legislature

o Colonel Parker cradling Lisa Marie as a baby

o Priscilla and Elvis at the JCC Prayer breakfast in January 1971

o Elvis onstage at at Tom Jones’ show in Las Vegas in 1974

o Elvis at a roadside accident scene in 1976

o Elvis lying on a bed donating blood

o The King sparring with Muhammad Ali

Verdict: Elvis Day By Day is simply one of the best books about Elvis to ever have been published. A book for every fan’s Elvis library.

Reviewer:Nigel Patterson, © EIN 2001