'Walk A Mile In My Shoes'
Interview with author Arjan Deelen
EIN Interview 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’”. It’s an essential book that for once focuses on the music and the music-making process in Elvis’ career.
Several of the interviews in the book such as with Ronnie Tutt, Jerry Scheff and Michael Jarrett are widely regarded as the best and most revealing interviews ever with these gentlemen. There’s also a strong sense of honesty about the book, because these interviews are presented precisely as they were conducted – so no editing or other manipulation afterwards. ‘Straight from the horses’ mouth’, so to speak.
The book is also a feast for the eye, with almost 300 rare and unpublished photos of Elvis, in some cases sourced from the original negatives and dias.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 foreword was written by Duke Bardwell, Elvis’ mid-70s bassplayer.
EIN has had several readers wanting to know more about this new book.
EIN's Piers Beagley posed the questions to author Arjan Deelen.
EIN: Hi Arjan, your new book hasn't arrived here in Australia yet so thanks for agreeing to a few questions that EIN fan club members have been asking me about it. You haven’t been involved in a book for a fair while. What made you decide to release this one?
Arjan Deelen: I’ve always enjoyed doing these interviews. They are the result of a desire to understand Elvis as an artist and as a human being. Over the years I have come to realize that these interviews are a worthy body of work, and that they deserve a special “home”. This book is that home.
EIN: Who also worked on this book with you?
Arjan: We’ve had help from various collectors like Helmut Radermacher and Mike Florysiak. They provided rare photos from their collections. And people like Duke Bardwell and Mary Holladay also shared stuff from their private collections with me.
EIN: Who designed the book?
Arjan: The publisher did - Constatijn Zantingh. And what a tremendous job he did. I think he is one of the best and most creative designers in the Elvis world today. I was blown away the first time I held the book in my hands. It’s gorgeous. Both Constatijn and I are very creative, and we always seem to feed off of eachother’s creativity. And we both have a strong desire to ‘get it right’. Hence the delays. But the results are worth it. I have sent you a few general photographs of the book so fans can get an idea, but apologies for the poor quality snaps!.
|EIN: There are three specific eras for Elvis. 50s, 60s, 70s. How much of Elvis’ legacy does this book cover?
Arjan: All the eras are covered, but obviously the 70s are most prominently featured. I think that especially the 70s fans are going to enjoy this book. There’s some remarkable insights as well as many great photos.
EIN: Does your book feature any of the last sad years of 1976 or 77?
Arjan: Sure, it’s part of the story. We didn’t try to avoid that part of the story or sugarcoat it. And some of the musicians’ thoughts and observations on the final days are very moving.
I know that I was sometimes deeply moved while listening to these tapes again – and I can tell you that the musicians were moved while talking about it. I remember that Glen D. had tears in his eyes while listening to the September ’74 drug rant. We’ve also included a couple of photos from ‘76 and ’77 and these complement their observations very well.
EIN: As we all know, recently fans have seen a large number of quality Elvis books hit the market. What does this ‘Walk A Mile’ book offer compared to other books like the FTD books or Tunzi’s photo books?
Arjan: Really, I don’t think it would be fair to praise my work at the expense of others. The only Norwegian book that I have seen in recent years is the FTD Jumpsuit book, which I gave to a friend since I had no use for it. But I think that my book represents great value for money. It’s a gorgeous book, it’s filled to the brim with photos, many great ones, and most importantly, it has a story to tell. There’s a lot of food for thought in the book. And of course you get a CD too. Not a bad deal for EUR 29,95.
EIN: What I always want from an Elvis book is good textual content, as well as some quality hopefully unreleased photos – and hopefully an interesting CD as a bonus! How did you decide what photographs to use and how many are unpublished?
Arjan: I left the photographic part up to Constatijn for the most part. The obvious limitation is that the photos had to fit the context. Obviously, there were some great rare photos that didn’t fit the context, so we decided to use special ‘photo chapters’ in the book, each focusing on a specific topic, a show or a press conference or whatever…. and I think it works great.
EIN: What new photographs particularly impressed you?
Arjan: There’s a color series from the ’69 press conference that I think are tremendous… Beautiful quality, great color and Elvis looks unbelievable. As you can tell from the front cover photo.
That brief period of ’68 – ’70 was so special, and there are many great photos from those years in the book, including a series of sensational shots of Elvis at the Forum on November 14, 1970. These are just awesome, and thanks to Constatijn’s cool design these photos really come alive.
EIN: There is definite competition in the Elvis book world nowadays.
Are any of your “unpublished” photos featured in the recent Elvis Files Vol.5 book that was published around the same time?
Arjan: To be honest, I haven't checked the photos in the recent Elvis Files books. I do believe that many of the photos we decided to use are unpublished, or at least in the stunning quality in which they are presented in the book. That's what Constatijn and I aimed for. A lot of work was done on presenting these photos the right way, and date them correctly. Nearly all of the photos in the book are dated. In any case the Elvis Files books feature mainly newspaper articles and reviews from the time. 'Walk A Mile' is very different in that we feature a huge number of contemporary interviews with Elvis' musicians, producers and songwriters which help you understand the man and his music so much better. This kind of information you can only get from very personal interviews. Obviously they are very different style books and I believe one compliments the other.
EIN: How many of your interviews are in the book?
Arjan: They’re all there.
EIN Note: the following musicians are interviewed in the book. 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.
To finish with there is a very detailed interview with Ernst Jorgensen.
EIN: Is there any particular interview that you found the most fascinating?
Arjan: I think they are all special. I hope I don’t sound too conceited if I say this, but I think these are some of the best Elvis musicians interviews out there. I think the general problem with fan interviews is that usually these interviewers are so in awe of the musicians that they don’t dare to ask the unpleasant questions, and as a result many of these interviews have no edge to them, they’re very bland. As you know, I have worked with most of these musicians, so my angle is totally different. I respect them for their work, but I am not in awe and I have never been afraid of asking about the darker elements of Elvis’ life. And maybe it’s my background of working in psychiatry, but I am a good listener and I also pick up on things that others might not spot. I think that especially my interviews with Ronnie Tutt and Jerry Scheff are tremendous – very insightful and very surprising in many ways.
EIN: Several of your previous interviews have been published on the internet – including EIN – are these expanded on in the book?
Arjan: Piers, there’s a couple of things that are important to point out. One is that yes, some of these interviews have appeared on the net, and unfortunately in most cases without even asking me and against my will. And often poorly presented. With this book I am reclaiming my interviews and they are now getting the ‘home’ that they deserve. It’s great to finally have these interviews tastefully presented, in the right context and with photos that really add something to the interviews. There are also various interviews in the book that are not on the net, like those with Chips Moman, Johnny Christopher and with Ginger and Mary Holladay. Several of these are now used in their unedited form, yes.
EIN: It is always hard to ask those “difficult questions” – for instance discussing the less happy times musicians might have had while working with Elvis. How do you approach your interview?
Arjan: It’s never been an issue for me. I have usually pointed out to the musicians that I ask these type of questions not to criticize Elvis, but to gain a deeper understanding, and they have all responded really well to it. And I really feel that they were all totally upfront with me. In that sense it’s a very honest book that gives the reader a deeper understanding of Elvis… obviously the music and the music-making process… but there are also many personal insights that give you a better understanding of the man behind the myth.
EIN: I am sure many Elvis fans get annoyed by those photos books that you only look at once or twice and then file away - recent books I have been more impressed with were Ken Sharp's "Vegas 69" and the Kieran Davis books that were packed with text. How does 'Walk A Mile' compare?
Arjan: To tell you the truth, I feel a little awkward tooting my own horn, but yes, I really believe that this is one of those very special books. In my opinion, some of the Elvis books that I have bought in the past are simply ‘products’, just designed to make money for the producer and with very little thought behind them. I think that my book is one of those rare instances where the text and photos really compliment each other and where the results give you a deeper understanding of Elvis’ life. It’s interesting that you mention Ken Sharp. I know Ken very well and he’s a great guy. As you know, quotes from my interviews are used in his VEGAS ’69 book, and he very kindly sent me the following quote: “Arjan Deelen's insightful interviews shed compelling new light on the legacy of Elvis Presley. His innate love of his subject and well-spring of knowledge informs his work, ultimately producing a series of captivating, candid and revelatory interviews that offer heretofore new perspective on the artistry of ‘the King’”.
EIN: Where did you get your new negatives and from – or is that secret?
Arjan: Some are from Constatijn’s collection, others are from mine… There are several from other collectors.
One of my favorites is a great shot of Elvis introducing Duke Bardwell, the best photo I have seen of them together and unpublished until now.
EIN: What info can you give us about the free CD that you get with the book?
|Arjan: That was a last-moment decision, after the wholesale and retail prices had already been quoted to the distributors. It’s basically a gift, a nice little extra. But there’s some pretty cool stuff on it, including the untampered-with live-version of ‘I Forgot To Remember To Forget’ as well as two great home recordings from April 1974, ‘Spanish Eyes’ and ‘Let Me Be The One’. Shaun Nielsen mentions those in my interview with him. (EIN note - See full CD details below)
EIN: I know the forward is by Duke Bardwell. Have many of your interviewees seen the finished book and what has been there reaction?
Arjan: I love the introduction that Duke wrote. He’s such a sweet guy, fun to be with, and someone with great soul. He writes that touring with me is some of the most fun he has ever had – with his clothes on! I laughed my ass off when I read that. The book has not reached the US yet, so I am eagerly awaiting to hear what Duke and the others think of the book.
EIN: I see that at your recent presentation in Holland you note that the first print run is nearly sold out! Do you have many copies left?
Arjan: Sure, I still have some copies left. Those that want to order the book can do so from me directly, and can pay through PayPal: email@example.com . Price including postage is 40 Euros for Europe and US$50 ROW. I’d be happy to sign it personally for those that are interested.
EIN note - CLICK HERE to contact Arjan for this special deal
EIN: How did the recent presentation in Holland go?
Arjan: That was a lot of fun to do. Constatijn and I did the presentation at my mom’s home in Holland (I have lived in Denmark since ‘96). All the main players from the Dutch Elvis scene were there, including Robert Frieser, Richard Schraa, Luuk Bonthond, Dennis van Tiel and Ray Bowman. Constatijn and I got a lot of praise for the book. It’s always fun talking Elvis with like-minded people.
EIN: Is there a possibilty of a second print run?
Arjan: Yes, I think so, but it’s not decided yet.
EIN: Thanks for the info, and snaps! - and I am sure looking forward to the book when it finally arrives here in Sydney!
Interview by Piers Beagley.
-Copyright EIN October 2012
EIN Website content © Copyright the Elvis Information Network.
Click here to comment on this interview
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
|‘Walk A Mile In My Shoes’ Bonus CD:
‘I Forgot To Remember To Forget’ is the newly discovered radio broadcast. The Eagles Hall concert was speed-corrected and restored in a renowned Amsterdam studio.
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
| 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 (Movie Version)
12. Let Me Be The One – Home recording, Palm Springs, April 1974
13. Spanish Eyes – Home recording, Palm Springs, April 1974
EIN Website content © Copyright the Elvis Information Network.
Elvis Presley, Elvis and Graceland are trademarks of Elvis Presley Enterprises.
The Elvis Information Network has been running since 1986 and is an EPE officially recognised Elvis fan club.