Raised On Elvis! Elvis! Elvis! A Look Back At The Good Times with Sandi Haynes Pichon

Sandi Haynes Pichon & Thorne Peters; Forewird by Kathy Westmoreland

Apex Publishing Ltd, 2004, UK, Softcover,196 pages, Illustrated, ISBN: 1-904444-23-7

Sandi Haynes Pichon is one of those people most Elvis fans envy! Why? Because Sandi became one of Elvis' friends and was admitted to The King's inner circle. She hugged Elvis on his motorcycle at his home on Audoban Drive, attended after show parties and visited Elvis at Graceland.

Her memoir, Raised On Elvis! Elvis! Elvis!, is both similar and dissimilar to other books of its ilk. Professionally produced, it is a flavoursome record of laughter, awe, tears and great times in the presence of The King of Rock 'n' Roll.

Raised On Elvis! Elvis! Elvis! has a pleasing book design. Its pages are well formatted with ample white space separating text and visual making it very easy on the eye. The print size is excellent and those with eyesight difficulties will particularly benefit from this.

This release has three distinct strengths:

  • engaging, easy to read text expressed with warmth and compassion by a person who shared part of Elvis' life
  • great color photographs most of which have never been published before
  • high quality paper stock allowing the many visuals to really shine

Ms Pichon's narrative reads like a diary as she recalls each moment of being in The King's presence, watching him live on stage and attending his after show parties with the Memphis Mafia and other celebrities.

There are many great and sometimes sad stories from the taping of Wink Martindale's famous "Dance Party" to Jackie Kahane being booed off stage at Madison Square Garden, fun times with Uncle Vester and the greed exhibited by cold-hearted vendors following Elvis' death. And as you'll read, Sandi Pichon was also there in Greensboro the night Elvis made very unfortunate remarks about Kathy Westmoreland and The Sweet Inspirations.

Importantly, Sandi's song-by-song descriptions of Elvis concerts vividly brings to life the magic of The King's charisma. Sandi Pichon and Thorne Peters know how to engage the readers interest with an easy flowing writing style full of interesting narrative:

"The group was off to Philadelphia and then to Memphis, while I made arrangements to be there on August 31st in Macon. But in those ten weeks the core of his world was shaken to its foundation in ways that no one could have imagined when he took a drastic action that would profoundly alter his life and legacy."

The author does not hold back her feelings and there are a number of passages that have particular potency. On the last few months of Elvis' life Sandi Haynes Pichon writes:

"I have wondered so often if any woman could have helped Elvis when he needed to turn to that special person when he felt alone, bored or just plain fed up with his lifestyle. He never found that one person to love him unconditionally like his momma had and he searched in vain to find another kindred spirit. The immature young waif that he was involved with was way over her head and neither understood his world, nor cared for him adequately."

The photographs, of which there are many, include numerous great shots of Elvis on stage in some of his most pronounced and colorful jumpsuits. There are also several intimate candids snapped during the 1950s and later showing Elvis with fans. As candid shots they obviously aren't of the same quality as is found in many "professionally shot" photo-journals but despite this they in no way disappoint!

The chapter titles are cleverly drawn directly from Elvis' career with titles such as 'Pot Luck', 'From Elvis Presley Boulevard', 'Don't Leave Me Now!', 'Promised Land' and 'The Last Farewell'.

Verdict: There have been many memoirs by fans lucky enough to have known Elvis Presley. Sandi Haynes Pichon's book ranks as one of the best ever and while it will arguably be appreciated more by women than men, it deserves to be read by all fans. Recommended for anyone wanting to experience the atmosphere of actually "being there".

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