"Elvis Presley is the greatest cultural force in the 20th century."

(Leonard Bernstein)


"If you're an Elvis fan, no explanation is necessary; If you're not an Elvis fan, no explanation is possible."

(George Klein)


"For a dead man, Elvis Presley is awfully noisy."

(Professor Gilbert B. Rodman)


"History has him as this good old country boy, Elvis is about as country as Bono!"

(Jerry Schilling)






Bud Glass talks to EIN

Interview by Piers Beagley

Bud Glass is one of the world's best known collectors of Elvis memorabilia. He also happens to be friends with a great number of Elvis personal acquaintances like Sonny West, Kathy Westmoreland & Sandi Miller. His 'Behind The Image' DVDs & book are essential for any true Elvis fan and now he has also created a special Elvis memorabilia exhibition, "The King's Ransom", which was a real hit at Elvis week in Memphis last year.

EIN - Thanks for agreeing to talk with us. I know that you spent sometime with one of EIN's major contributors, Sanja Meegin, last August in Memphis.

Bud Glass - It is my pleasure. Sanja is a great fan and a wonderful person. She came by THE KING'S RANSOM exhibit in Memphis last August and we had a wonderful time.

EIN - Do you go to Memphis every year for Elvis week and tell us a bit about The King's Ransom exhibition?

BG - The King's Ransom is an exhibit of personal treasures once owned by Elvis, from the private collections of Russ Howe, Tom Salva and myself. We have separately been collecting authentic personal items for years, and decided that the rest of the world may enjoy a museum type exhibit of these rare items. We have some very interesting items including stage and screen costumes, clothing from Elvis' personal wardrobe from the 1950's to the 1970's, rings, bracelets, watches and other jewelry. We also have a large collection of Elvis' personal guns and badges, including the actual badge Elvis received from President Richard Nixon at the White House on December 21, 1970.

I'd like also mention some of Elvis' personal items including his prescription sunglasses, his Precision Tool photo I.D. badge from the 50's, original Army Induction papers, red velvet bedspread from Graceland, his pajamas, and even his personal Bible that was on his night stand the day he passed away! There is much more in the collection than I can possibly tell you and everything is displayed with photos of Elvis with the items. It is a very impressive display, if I do say so myself.

EIN - How many of you are involved in the exhibition - Russ Howe and Tom Salva were both with you in Memphis, are they also partners?

BG - Russ Howe and Tom Salva and I are best friends and partners. We thought that since these things have been in our private collection for years, we would share it with other fans who would enjoy seeing it all. Most everything in our collection is on public display for the very first time.

The King's Ransom in Memphis, 2004. Russ Howe, Sonny West, Bud Glass and Tom Salva

EIN - You seem pretty young to have such an Elvis collection. What started your interest in Elvis?

BG - I am actually 40 years old, but thanks for calling me young! My interest in Elvis started when I was a boy living in Illinois. I heard an Elvis recording of Jailhouse Rock and I was hooked. For many years I searched for anything other than the material that was available in any store. I found someone with some audio tapes of unreleased Elvis concerts and that sparked a desire to obtain every concert possible.

I did a tremendous amount of research to locate people who attended Elvis concerts. I looked for photos, recordings, 8mm film footage shot at any performance or candid footage. Years of work and searching for any rare material I could find has been the main reason for the bulk of my collection. I currently have over 900 performances on tape, as well as a large collection of photos and film footage. I eventually started collecting Elvis personal items as well and am fortunate enough to have made some great friends in the Elvis world. Many of the items in my collection are from those who personally received the items from Elvis.

EIN - Tell me more about your connection with J D Sumner & your interest in gospel music? I believe your father was a Baptist preacher.

BG - My parents are from the south. Although I was born and raised near Chicago, Illinois, my southern roots run deep. As the oldest son of a Baptist preacher, I was raised on southern gospel quartet music. I was a fan of J.D. and The Stamps long before I even knew who Elvis was. My father is still a Baptist preacher in Florida. I was fortunate enough to know J.D. and The Stamps on a personal level over the years. My wife, kids and I would spend many weekends with them and on many occasions, I would also meet up with them in Nashville or Memphis. My kids were raised around them, and looked at J.D. as a grandfather, and still call Ed Enoch and Ed Hill "Uncle Ed".

EIN - How is Uncle Ed Hill now? Have you seen him? We all heard that he was in hospital & were concerned.

With Ed Enoch backstage in Memphis Aug. 16, 1996

BG - He's recovering from a stroke but I haven't been able to get up to Nashville to see him. I have spoken to Ed Enoch who says he is doing ok - Ed Hill has had a stroke before. I'm hoping to hear from him soon - he's a good man.

EIN - Isn't it sad for all of us that Elvis' friends and acquittances are getting old (as we all are!) I think it is important that people like you do produce DVDs including interviews about Elvis' life with his colleagues before it all gets too late. The interview with Ed Hill on Behind The Image 2 is a treat.

BG - I feel that these are stories that need to be told and I want to explore further than the generic answers that they might have given at fan conventions or whatever. You just have to ask the right questions. One of the last things I did in Elvis Week last year was talk to Al Dvorin about his introduction to our 'Born To Rock' book. I had been encouraging Al to write a book of all his memories. He had started to put his notes down on tape but I don't know how much he finished. He had some incredible stories.

EIN - You must have been very upset when J.D. Sumner passed away.

BG - It was very upsetting as I had spent a lot of time with J.D. and got to know the real man behind the legend. Most Elvis fans are interested in J.D, The Stamps, and others in the Elvis group because of their connection with Elvis. Although I am an extreme Elvis fan, my love and respect for J.D., Ed Enoch and Ed Hill had nothing to do with Elvis.

Although we naturally talk quite a bit about Elvis, I wish Elvis fans would realize what a legend J.D. was, outside of his seven years with Elvis. He is responsible for so many great things. He was the lowest bass singer in the world according to the Guinness book of world records. He was a Grammy winner who wrote literally hundreds of songs. He was founder of The Gospel Music Association and The National Quartet Convention. He was the first to have all four vocalist using separate microphones and first to convert a bus for travelling! He was truly a great man. I was honored to have known him personally and I miss him dearly.

EIN - You are probably best known for your "Behind The Image" DVDs & books, what started you on that project?

Bud Glass with J.D. Sumner just months before he passed away in 1998

BG - Several years ago, I obtained what has to be the most incredible home movie footage in existence. I literally tried for 15 years to talk the owner into selling it to me. I realized that there were many other fans like me out there who love rare Elvis footage as I do, so I decided to share it with fans around the world. I was only interested in producing a top notch, quality production that was 100% positive. So much has been told about the Legend of Elvis Presley, so I decided to explore more of the man behind the image.

By interviewing friends of mine in the Elvis world who knew Elvis personally, like Kathy Westmoreland, John Wilkinson, Sandi Miller and others, I wanted to show the more personal side of Elvis. After years of talking to people who knew Elvis, I came to the realization that no one person really knew the real Elvis. This is mainly because Elvis only exposed a certain portion of himself and his soul to different people based on how he connected with that person. Each person who knew Elvis personally holds a piece of the puzzle.

I believe that only through the collective efforts of taking those individual pieces and putting them together, do we start to see a glimpse of the true man behind the image.

EIN - What do you think separates your 'Behind The Image' series from others of a similar nature?

BG - I really wanted and to present a different perspective into the real Elvis Presley & I set out to use all my rare footage, photos and interviews to kinda' put together the pieces of the puzzle. Although the bulk of my footage is concert footage, it was never before released and ultra rare. I mixed it with the limited amount of candid "home movie" type footage I had, to go along with the stories that were told by those who knew him best. The goal for me was never to make a buck - the money that is made covers production costs and helps to finance the next production.

With all of my dvd and book productions, my goal has always been to leave a small dent in the Elvis world with something I can be proud to have my name on. And to contribute back to the wonderful world of Elvis that has brought me so much joy over the years.

EIN - I was particularly impressed with the book 'Behind The Image' - While there are a plethora of photo books out there, something about the candid photos as well as Sandi Miller's notes made it very special - a kind of reference book. How did the book come about?

BG - Soon after I started on the first BEHIND THE IMAGE dvd, I knew right away that I wanted to do a follow-up book that also dealt specifically with the private side of Elvis.

Sandi Miller is a fan who became a friend to Elvis, and who spent time at his homes in California, at rehearsals in the studio and in Vegas. She was also with Elvis on the set of his movies and she took a great deal of photos, and also kept journals. I was fascinated with the fact that she had kept journals, since everyone's memories fail us sometimes. Her diary entries ensured that the details of the stories were as fresh as the day they happened. I think it is a great insight into a side of Elvis that was not seen by typical fans.

Only one other person has ever used her photos so, for the most part, everything I used was unreleased. If you do recognize a particular photo, I was able to put six or eight more along with it that had never been seen since they were taken over 30 years ago. I love showing complete sets of photos whenever possible.

EIN - I thought the use of Sandi's journals combined with her photos was a great idea.

BG - Sandi had never allowed anyone access to her private journals, so this was a great opportunity to put together a candid book that would be like no other before. My friend Russ Howe has what is most likely the largest collection of Elvis photos in existence. The added use of his images made a good book even better in my opinion.

I am a stickler for details and I do loads of research in everything I produce. Instead of a crazy caption, I prefer to put the date, location, and what was happening in each photo. It kills me when I have photos with no date or information, because I like to add all the relevant information I can with every photo. To me, it makes a beautiful photo book into a reference book of sorts as well. I am glad you feel the same way about my books being a reference type book since I seem to have accomplished my goal.

EIN - Ok, but to be honest however in my review of your 'Behind The Image' Vol.1 DVD on this site I actually complained that, although the Elvis footage was superb, I felt that we didn't really get 'Behind The Image'?

BG - I can only release what I have available to me. I agree that more candid footage would be better. Unfortunately, I have MUCH MORE concert footage than candid footage available to use. Although this is unfortunate, it still does not prohibit me from showing the man behind the image in other ways.

There is rare candid footage in my documentaries, and there are also rare candid photos, and stories told first hand from the people who were there with Elvis. The candid footage is short, but you must remember the footage is a visual aid to the story being told. You will never learn about the man behind the image from just watching home movies. It is the entire package combined that shows the private side of Elvis I am trying to expose.

After you hear the stories of the personal side of Elvis as they are told by the people who were there, then see him on stage in front of all those people, it makes you look at Elvis a bit differently, as you start to see into his soul. You realize this legend is after all, a mortal just like you and me. And even this seemingly confident KING, has weaknesses, vulnerability and insecurities like the rest of us. The concert footage serves it purpose in my documentaries.

EIN - One thing I do like is the fact that Elvis is more relaxed in your concert footage since he is often not aware that he was being filmed.

BG - I agree and do feel that Elvis did cut loose & be more un-inhibited in my footage. Without the TTWII cameras he did not feel the nervousness and pressure. I also find it interesting how Elvis really moved on stage in the 1970-71 footage I have shown so far. Elvis off-camera is a different person than Elvis on-camera. So to have such close and clear footage of an un-inhibited Elvis, shows more of the real man behind the image to me.

If you want to watch Elvis recite from a script, watch his movies. If you want to see a slightly nervous Elvis perform, watch Aloha From Hawaii, but always bear in mind that as long as there was a professional film crew there, Elvis was aware of this and it was always in the back of his mind throughout the entire performance.

If you want to see the REAL Elvis…watch an amateur film shot when Elvis was not aware of the cameras. The private side of Elvis is also explored in my dvds. What made him laugh, cry and what he discussed in private about several things, including how "he could buy everything as far as your eyes could see, but he could not buy the one thing he truly wanted …peace in his heart".

I don't think it is a fair statement to say you learned nothing new about the man behind the image from the documentaries. I learned things I had never known before. I guarantee you heard stories from the people interviewed that you have never heard before. I guarantee you saw rare footage that you have never seen before. If you want sensationalism, you purchased the wrong dvd. I don't do that.

EIN - Are you working on further volumes of 'Behind The Image' - what can we expect with the next volume?

Behind The Image Volume 2

BG- As you know, BEHIND THE IMAGE VOLUME 2 was released. We are currently working on VOLUME 3. If you saw the preview for volume 3, then as you know, you are in for a real treat. If you have not seen the preview yet, please visit the official web site, where you can view previews of all of my productions. www.behind-the-image.com There is absolutely no question that the rare, unreleased footage I use in my productions is the best, closest, clearest home movie footage in existence. I cannot give you too many details at this point, other than the footage in this volume is mainly from 1971-1973, and is guaranteed to blow your mind!

EIN - I believe that you an incredible amount of home footage of Elvis - Just how much do you own, make me jealous!?

BG - I have many hours of footage that still has never been released. I own the original reels and they have never been transferred from the original super 8 reels since it was shot and developed over 30 years ago. I love sharing my footage through my documentaries with fans who appreciate it as much as I do. I despise it when collectors buy rare footage and put it in their closets, keeping it to themselves. My goal is free the footage to live and breathe again, and to be enjoyed by fans around the world as it should be. I am just a fan myself, releasing the type of productions that I wish others were releasing.

EIN - So what do you know about the 'Pied Piper of Cleveland'. I am sure that by now it must be an urban myth, despite what rumours I have heard. What are your feelings, do you know anyone who has seen it?

BG - I have to say that I do know that a portion of it exists, about 15 minutes of footage. I haven't seen it myself but this 15 minutes of footage does have Elvis in it - however it does not include his actual performance, he's just off to the side. So Elvis is in the footage but the rumour is of course that Elvis' performance is out there somewhere.

Remember that we it took a long while for the CBS outtakes to actually appear I just hope that Pied Piper turns up before we're too old. I can tell you that the complete 1958 Russwood Park performance was filmed and that exists. We got a glimpse of it on the Elvis Memories thing, but I hear that it was professionally filmed and in colour! I guess that is was faith is based on, "belief in things not seen"!

I can tell you that, sadly, I lost a good friendship in obtaining the footage for the Behind The Image DVD just because of other unscrupulous collectors. I truly want this rare footage to be shared.

EIN - Even Ernst Jorgensen admits that paying high amounts for rare Elvis footage is a problem, so how much are you willing to pay for rare Elvis footage - and how can you afford to be such an avid collector?

BG - It is hard to say how much I would be willing to pay for footage. The bulk of the footage used in the BEHIND THE IMAGE series was very expensive, but it is without a doubt the best, closest, clearest private footage in existence. I am by no means a wealthy man and to continue to purchase new material, I must find a way to help finance that purchase.

In addition to the price of the footage, you must consider the additional cost to turn that raw footage into a quality production. People have no idea how long and hard I work on each book and dvd release. I have a great team that works hard to help me release the best possible productions at a reasonable price & I would like to take this opportunity to mention Greg Retkowski and Andre Mester who helped to make BEHIND THE IMAGE what it is today. I am proud of the quality that goes into each production, but with that high quality is high production costs.

In the same way I made the same decision with my books to create the most beautiful, full color, hardback books possible. If I were more interested in my profit margin, it would obviously show in my work. I am against throwing photos on a page and calling it a book. If I were to do that, I could release a book every 3 months.

The work that I put into my books & DVDs takes a tremendous amount of time, effort and research and hard work. I am only interested in releasing quality productions and as long as the fans continue to support my efforts, I will be happy to continue sharing it with them.

* * Coming soon to EIN in Part 2, Bud Glass replies to EIN's challenge that Elvis was not "Born to Rock" in 1975 (the title of his recent book), and talks about Madison Square Garden footage & Marilyn Monroe's white dress!

Click for part 2 of this interview

Spotlight by Piers Beagley.
-Copyright EIN 2005 - Do NOT copy

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