Interview: Rex Martin (Part 3)

January 2009

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ALSO: Read more about Rex Martin including special info on his amazing Elvis film collection and old friends he wants to re-establish contact with


Introduction: Rex Martin and his legendary publication, the Worldwide Elvis News Service Weekly, were an integral part of how fans "got their Elvis news" in the late 1960s and 1970s. The Weekly News Service represented a fundamental shift in both the frequency and currency of fan's access to Elvis news around the world.

The weekly grew from being a small concern into a mass circulation publication recognised throughout the Elvis world.

The importance of Rex's innovative publication cannot be underestimated (and a potent parallel can be drawn between the function of the Weekly then and the function of Elvis news today provided by the Internet!).

In the third part of a riveting interview, Rex talks about, among other things:

  • finally meeting Elvis!
  • hidden microphone
  • Red & Sonny's double somersault
  • why Rex threw his clothes away
  • the "awkward" February 1973 Las Vegas season
  • the riot on stage in Vegas
  • the fan who got kicked in the eye during that fight
  • getting banned from Vegas
  • the logistics of following an Elvis tour
  • having to buy a ticket from a scalper
  • wild times in Cleveland
  • how a car battery helped Rex film Elvis on tour
  • the final years!!!!!

Rex's vivid narrative of life and technology in the 60s and early 70s paints a wonderful panoramic of the landscape in which his weekly Elvis news publication crystallised and grew. It is a slice of what was an often frenetic, challenging and very rewarding part of the Elvis story.


Part 3


EIN: At the end of Part 2 of Rex's interview he was describing the lead up to what only a few fans experienced........meeting Elvis face-to-face! Rex takes up the story......

RM: A few minutes later the door opened and Elvis walked in. He was wearing a two-piece black jacket and pants with leather insets on the pockets and the back of the collar. The inside of the lining was exactly the same material as the shirt he wore when he landed in Hawaii for the Aloha concert. When he came in the room he knew we were from England and apologised that he hadn't been there yet. It was very intelligent of him as it was the obvious question we would have asked him.

We were introduced to Elvis in a line. I was the 4th person to be introduced. He was standing next to a leather chair with a big flat armrest. As I was introduced I shook Elvis' hand and said "Elvis, I've got these for you". And thinking that everyone behind me in the line wanted to meet him and the girls all wanted a kiss, instead of handing them to him I put them down beside the chair. But before I could move away, Elvis bent down and he had a quick look at them, flicking through the first few pages of the booklets. Then he straightened up, and as he did I noticed that he had fantastically expressive eyes....I'd never seen anything like it before in my life. Then he shook my hand and said "I want to thank you very much for this." That was really a special moment for me.

Everyone else was introduced and the girls got to hug him a bit; then we were set up behind the table for the official photograph. I don't know who the photographer was but he had his camera set up on a tripod. And he took only one shot of us all.

Meeting Elvis!!!

Then everything just went beserk. Everyone grabbed cameras and Tony Prince was trying to do an interview with his microphone hidden because the Colonel had said it's all right as long as he didn't know about it.

The girls from Sweden presented Elvis with a silver cannon. I'm not sure what that was all about. And the British fan club gave him an award from the New Musical Express (NME).

It was just wild standing about with Elvis. I asked Elvis at one point about the silver tourquoise necklace that he was wearing. There is a picture of him looking down at that necklace which the Swedish girls took. In it I'm mostly hidden behind someone else. The only really good picture I've got is the group shot, and this is why I've worked so much on it.

We had about 8 minutes with Elvis. It was just the length of the Sweet Inspirations act that could be seen on the monitor in the room. For a very short time Elvis left the room and came back in without his jacket on and he was wearing a white puff sleeved shirt. He was clutching 6 emerald green scarves in his left hand. And of course there were 11 of us backstage so I put my hand out really fast and got a scarf. The girls got a few more hugs and kisses and the Colonel was all the time going "Elvis, you've got to get ready for your show" because he hadn't changed into his jumpsuit yet. Elvis would just look over at him, nod and then go back to talking to whoever he was talking to. Anyway our 8 minutes was really up and we were being ushered out of the room and the Swedish girls were still trying to talk to Elvis and get an autograph signed.

Most of the others had left the room and I was going through the doorway to leave when Colonel Parker pushed Sonny against Red and they fell to the floor, did a double somersault and jumped up again. As we were getting into the lift the Colonel said to them "That was a good show boys". It was so unexpected that something like that would happen. It was really weird but it really happened.

EIN: Rex, Who else was in the room during the meeting?

RM: Elvis' father Vernon was also in the room as were people like Charlie Hodge and Joe Esposito.

After the meeting I went back to the Balcony and saw my 26th (8pm) and 27th (Midnight show) that night (it was the final night of the season). I also filmed Elvis as he walked out in his Blue Swirl jumpsuit minutes after we'd left him. I probably shot 25 minutes of film of that show.

Over the whole August-September season I shot around four and a quarter hours of film. It was 120 cartridges and they filled a suitcase. I threw my clothes away! There wasn't room for clothes. And at the meeting all the others were dressed up for it, except me in my shirt, because they knew they were going. But I didn't have any warning at all. It was a big shock..

I have just fantastic memories of meeting Elvis.

An English friend, John Andrews, had flown out from Malvern with us. And had he stayed he would definitely have met Elvis at the same time I did.

I went back to Vegas, 5 months later in February 1973  and the opportunity never happened again. In fact, in 1975 John Andrews arrived at the airport as Elvis cancelled and he didn't get to see even one show. He was really unlucky. But he did see a lot of shows on other trips. He just never got to meet Elvis.

EIN: Rex, you saw Elvis a lot of times between 1972 and 1977. Given that by 1977 Elvis was physically, emotionally and psychologically in decline, did you notice that deterioration - how noticeable was it to you?

RM: In 1972, for me, he looked fantastic but some people criticsed how he looked then. And the weird thing when I met him was that he looked great on stage but he looked a different Elvis backstage. It is really hard to explain why there was that much difference between stage and backstage. I've thought about it for years and years and I still haven't really fathomed why. I think one main difference was that his eye expressions really didn't come over on stage as they did backstage, and if he said something to you backstage you knew he really meant it. And you could see that intelligence sort of behind his eyes and his mind when he was being asked questions and he was thinking how he should answer them.

Special Issue of News Service (1973)

EIN: The 1973 season. Tell us about that.

RM: The February 1973 season was a really awkward season as Elvis was supposed to have had a dry throat. There were reports that he was on a lot of prescription medication drugs and maybe he didn't have a sore throat and it was nothing to do with the desert air. When I arrived he was only doing the one show a night (Weekdays) rather than two shows (it was still 2 shows a night at weekends). A lot of books still list that he did two shows a night but he didn't.

I remember the 15 February 1973 show. Elvis only did a dinner show that night. He had only been on stage for about 20 minutes and he said he had to leave the stage and he was off for about 20 minutes. There were people upstairs just getting up and leaving. The balcony was half empty by the time Elvis came back.

Charlie filled in while Elvis was off stage and he asked the Stamps to sing some songs  - And also the Sweet Inspirations who wouldn't. Also Charlie told a lot of really good jokes. I think he held the fort admirably well until Elvis came back on.

When Elvis came back he basically did Can't Help Falling In Love and the curtain is coming was almost to a few feet from his head and Charlie had put the cape on Elvis, you know one of those sprinkled star capes - of course 1973 was the last year he wore capes in Vegas - anyway the curtain was coming down on Can't Help Falling In Love.......and in fact Elvis didn't really stop finishing the song. He stopped singing and said "No, I'm not going to finish the show this way". The house lights had virtually come up as well which was a bit unusual because usually you just had the spotlights on stage on Elvis. Until the curtain was right down you didn't get the house lights.

Anyway Elvis then says "No, I'm going to start the show again", which was so weird as he'd kept saying he couldn't hit the high notes on songs like What Now My Love. Yet when he did start again he did songs like Faded Love and Suspicious Minds and he did really powerful versions of them. So you have Elvis Closing the same show Twice, with Two C.H..F.I.Love versions. Also this was the first of two shows Elvis didn't introduce the Group. (This was all the more surprising given the doctors had told him to cancel his shows)

Then 3 days later on the 18th of February they had the riot show on stage where the Peruvians got up and attacked him in a karate stance type of way. In fact it started even before Elvis came on stage. During Jackie Kahane’s segment they rolled an empty beer bottle across the stage to his shoe. And then three songs into Elvis’ act a girl from the group got up on the table and walked down the table and onto a ramp which came out from the stage. She walked on to the stage and up to Elvis and without touching him she used the tip of her finger and thumb to take his scarf then circled it from around his neck and walked back down the ramp and on to her table where she gave it to the leader of the group (at the head of the table). This was the guy who would later attack Elvis. But what she did was such a weird thing to do ~ any other female fan would have hugged and kissed Elvis ~ she seemed to be in some sort of Trance!! and I mean the audience went in to a hushed silence. 

Elvis then did Suspicious Minds and of course he always ends it with a karate kick. At this stage one guy got up and then another guy, so there were two of them going across the ramp towards Elvis. The stage is so wide that Elvis probably wouldn’t have seen them coming on stage from where he was standing. They would have been in the shadows. And then Jerry and Sonny and Red were all rushing to the centre of the stage to protect Elvis. Then a third and forth guy got up and there was almost a melee fight with karate kicks and everything. 

And it has not been printed before but Rosemary Leech was kicked in the eye. A lot of fans will know Rosemary’s name as she was a very well known fan at the time. We really couldn’t print the story at the time because she was in litigation with the Hilton and they were upstairs in her room every night after the 18th to the 23rd discussing the issue. And Yanique Diskin was there and was told by the Colonel not to get involved between an Elvis fan and the Hilton.

Anyway after the fight was over Elvis said off mic, “I’ll never let any mother f*****s do this on my show!” On mic he said, “If a man wants to shake my hand that’s fine, but if he wants to pick a fight I’ll Wup his ass!” in a really deep Southern, angry voice. 

Then Rosemary was brought up on stage and they set up a chair for her on the far right hand side of the stage and her husband 'Len' stood behind her as Elvis did the next three songs to finish the show. Elvis wouldn’t have seen her from where he was.

While the fight was going on the TCB Band were playing the introduction for their intros plus whoever might be a guest in the audience and throughout the fight they didn’t stop playing that intro music. And in the end Elvis didn’t do any introductions because he was so mad. In fact at one point his father and Tom Diskin were holding him back because he was so angry about what had happened. (To see Vernon and Tom next to Elvis in the Centre of the stage was something that was very unusual ~ in the middle of an Elvis show)

After the show Elvis was asking if anyone had been hurt and he was told that no one had. In the West’s book that was when he was pacing up and down and wanted Mike Stone killed. That was all a link to the on stage event.

The four Peruvian guys were handcuffed and taken away to loud cheers from the audience. And strangely then Rosemary (with Len) had to be checked out at the hospital and they took her there in the same van as these four guys!!!

EIN: What happened with Rosemary's litigation?

RM: Well, afterwards the Hilton people were saying to Rosemary that if she didn’t accept the settlement they were offering they’d ban her from seeing Elvis which obviously really upset her. As it turned out it was something they couldn’t do. It was actually quite nasty between the Hilton and Rosemary for the last four days of the season. Rosemary kept going to the shows but the incident was hanging over her enjoyment and she also had partial blurred vision in one eye. Eventually she accepted a sum of money from the Hilton. A long time has now passed since the incident so I think the story can be told.

Of course I got banned that season as well. What happened was….…you remember Sue and Cricket? (TTWII) Well I went in with Cricket to the showroom during the Dinner show on the last night. We didn’t get given very good seats. We were about half way back in the Showroom even though we’d tipped a bit. And Cricket was really unhappy. Every time Bruce E. Bank, the Publicity Director for the Hilton went by she was hassling him about getting moved. But he wasn’t really interested. Anyway she told him I was there filming and taping and also had a copy of the Super 8 Hawaii film that I’d shot in Belgium and Holland. Of course the Americans didn’t get to see Aloha until May and here I was in Vegas in February with a copy of it. I’d been showing it to American fans which was probably a naughty thing of me to do.. Anyway Bank told Tom Diskin and when I came out from the show Tom was really angry with me. He was saying half veiled threats such as “You don’t know what this country can do to you!”

I possibly could have gone back but I definitely wouldn’t have been able to film or tape.

EIN: While you concentrated on shooting film of Elvis, we believe in 1973 you also took some photos of Elvis in Vegas. Is this right?

RM: Yes, 1973 was the only time I ever took photos. I used a Microspy Camera which is a lot easier to smuggle in. For me Sean Shaver and all the others were taking thousands of negatives so I didn't see the point in me doing the same. As it's turned out film was the right way for me to go. Anyway, for that season I had this small camera and as I knew security tended to watch the stage rather than what was happeneing in the aisles I was able to use it unnoticed. And at the end of Can't Help Falling In Love I would walk up to the front tables and take close up photos.

Elvis News Service Mini Booklets (1973)

EIN: Rex, let's move on to the 1974 tour. What was it like

RM: Yes, in 1974 I went back to the US, only this time to follow Elvis on tour. It was really hard to keep the News Service going when I was following a tour.. Also, they announced the dates so late it was really hard to get tickets. It was a 2 week tour which I was picking up in Cleveland and I didn’t have tickets for any of the shows during the first week. Martha Collins in Fort Worth, Indiana had picked up tickets for me for the second week. So I’m flying three and a half thousand miles into New York to catch a connecting flight on to Cleveland without a ticket or knowing whether I could somehow get into the show.

In the middle of the tour it was rumoured Elvis was going to do New York but in actual fact he did Bloomington and Louisville. For 2 weeks before we didn’t know properly what the dates were. This was really difficult as you couldn’t book all your internal flights until you got over there. And I ran the News Service and couldn’t find out! (laughs)

Anyway, when I got into Cleveland I saw a travel agent and booked all 14 of my internal flights. The tour included the Niagara Falls show on a Monday when he did a matinee because so many Canadian fans had turned up. That was unusual as he didn’t normally do 2 shows through the week, just 2 shows on weekends.

The first show in Cleveland was the day after I got there and I bought a ticket from a scalper. I think it was a $15.00 ticket for 20 bucks. And I got in and it’s a really old building and the stage is like 5 feet off the ground. With the modern arenas they build stages 10 feet high so nobody can clamber up on it. Of course they opened with the theme from 2001 and then CC Rider. And as the music started the whole of the ground floor got up and moved to the front. They were piling up on to the stage left, right and centre. So I just got up and moved with them. I stood really close on a chair just filming away. They were having so many problems with people at the stage that they weren’t even thinking about people filming. I just filmed non stop. I couldn’t believe it! 

And it was wild as well. Elvis was saying “Be careful” and because of the issues controlling the crowd he cut the show short to about 45 minutes instead of the usual one hour. But it was still thrilling to watch because it was just a melee of fans at the front stage trying to get on and at Elvis. But because of the age of the arena and the low stage the security headaches were tremendous. It was unbelievable nobody got hurt. 

So that was my first experience of Elvis on tour. The next morning I got a flight to Providence, Rhode Island. I talked to lots of fans going to the arena and I met one guy from Pennsylvania who became a very firm friend over the years and we shared a hotel room together in Memphis in 1976 when watched Elvis at the Graceland gates and coming out of cinemas and everything.

Rex Martin's Elvis Film Events (1974 & 1977)

EIN: What other memories do you have of the 1974 tour?

RM: There were loads of things that happened through the June tour. It was the tour they did the Having Fun On Stage album from. And in Kansas City a girl gave Elvis this huge, stuffed gorilla. I was given a free ticket by this guy in Pennsylvania for that. He liked talking to me so much. The tour finished in Omaha, Nebraska. I’d been filming pretty well non stop with nobody paying any attention at all. I skipped Milwaukee to go and visit Martha Collins in Indiana because she’d become a really good friend and contributor to the News Service. I even opened a bank account while I was in Indiana to deal with all the US$ checks that were coming in because the bank charges and clearance charges were just horrendous if I did it in the UK.

The end of the tour was in Omaha in Nebraska and Elvis did 3 shows in 2 days. Everywhere I went I was having trouble picking up sound film. You know I could get 4 rolls here and 4 rolls there but I was using 12 to 15 cartridges per show. 

There was a photographic shop in a shopping center underneath the arena in Omaha and I went in to get about 60 X-chrome colour 160 films which used available light. And I looked behind the sales guy’s shoulder and I said “What’s that?” And he goes “Oh, it’s some black and white cartridge film” and I said “Well, let’s have a look”.. It turned out to be 400 ASA where the other film was only 160 ASA. So I said “I’ll have 18 cartridges of that” and then I shot the 3rd Omaha show in black and white. It might sound crazy now but at the time I had never seen 400 ASA Super 8 film anywhere in Europe or in the States. And I was thinking it’s experimental….I’ve got to use it. 

And that black & white film emphasized the photo flashes more than any other film I’ve ever used. So I was sort of pleased I’d taken it and shot it in black and white. Some people would probably think it was criminal but I’d shot the rest of the tour in colour. And I ended up with probably eight and a half to nine hours of film during that June 1974 tour.

They set the Omaha stage up in a different way. Instead of being an oval shape with the stage in the middle of the long end of the oval they had it in the middle of the short end, so even if you were on the first level up you were looking straight across at Elvis and you weren’t really that far away. In a way the first level seats were better seats because you didn’t have the audience bobbing up and down in front of you as you did on the ground floor.

EIN: Rex, moving forward to 1976. Were there any noticeable changes in how Elvis looked and his stage performance?

RM: By the March 1976 tour I think Elvis was putting on noticeable weight but he still was really good to look at. The girls were still really screaming for him and he didn’t look puffy then. He didn’t have that water retention thing in 1976, at least in the early part of that year. What happened in the latter part I’m not sure.

For the March 1976 tour I followed him from Johnson City and I’d taken a car battery with me which connected to a floodlight system on my shoulder. You know how heavy a car battery can be and I had to lug it around on 10  flights! Anyway, I met Len and Rosemary before the first Johnson City show and we were sitting around chatting, trying to think where Elvis was staying. It took us about a couple of hours to find out he was staying in Bristol, Tennessee, in a three story Manitou. So they drove me over and when we arrived there were about 7,000 fans in the car park by the motel. 

There was a small rise near by where you could stand and look down on all these people and you could see the windows covered in the aluminum foil where Elvis was obviously staying.. We stayed there, away from the crowds, waiting for Elvis to come out. When he finally did come out they put him in a white Ford LTD car and the crush getting him through the crowds was a real headache. In fact it was very risky and quite dangerous. So Elvis is in the car and they’re trying to get it through the crowd, and there was obviously a delay, so we just rushed down the bank on the other side and we got in the car and rushed back to the venue. 

It was in a college campus with a one way system of windy, landscaped roads in and another going out again. There were cars parked on either side of the road and we found a spot. Then the white Ford LTD appears over a rise and I hit the car battery floodlights. I’m still amazed at its wonderful quality and Len Leech took this beautiful 10x8 of Elvis in the car. We did that again for the 2nd and 3rd nights and by the 3rd night there were almost 10,000 fans waiting for him in the motel car park so they used a Greyhound bus to get him out. They were really frightened they were going to have the car turned over. Anyway, as did the Ford LTD, on the 3rd night the Greyhound bus appears over the rise and I hit the floodlights. Elvis is right next to the driver looking amazingly at the floodlights. Then of course we rushed in and got our seats.

Len used to say to me “If ever the sun goes out we’ll always have Rex's Floodlight??”

Selection of News Service Issues from 1977

EIN: You saw Elvis for the final time in 1977. Please tell us about that.

RM: March 1977 was my final trip. I started off with Norman in Oklahoma. I must admit this time I was disappointed about how he looked. He was very puffy with a lot of water retention. I can’t remember which show it was, Abilene or Austin, but the following show was in a customized auditorium shaped a little like the Las Vegas Hilton. There was no side seating and no back seating. They were only slighter bigger than the Hilton venue and I was having tremendous problems getting equipment in. They were looking in bags and everything. I had to buy 2 or 3 tickets and go in different entrances as I was being refused entry at one or another. I was putting my equipment back in my car to keep the security happy then trying another entrance. But, for some reason, it became quite hard on that tour to film.

On one of the shows Elvis had lost all the puffiness. I couldn’t believe it. He didn’t have water retention. So it showed he could lose it in 24 hours and then the next day it could be back again. But it was sort of sad how he looked on that tour because obviously there was something wrong and really he needed to stop and have a good rest. Despite his physical appearance it didn’t really impact on his shows. 

If anything, when Elvis wanted to, his voice was more powerful than you’d ever heard it! I mean, in Alexandra, Louisiana, 14,000 fans were on their feet with tears of emotion for How Great Thou Art. It was just wringing with emotion. He could still do fantastic songs. 

OK, he did mumble sometimes, stopping songs half way through. He’d done that a little bit in 1976 but I think part of the reason he did that in 76 was that he didn’t have Ronnie Tutt, he had a new drummer and they hadn’t rehearsed. In a way this was also Elvis’ fault that he hadn’t taken the time to rehearse at least just a bit. I suppose it was a bit shabby in a way but you came away having enjoyed the show, but you felt bad for Elvis at the same time.

There was something going on with Kathy Westmoreland on that March 1977 tour because she wasn’t on stage for any of the 6 shows I saw. Yet she was with the group. She’s never explained what happened, not even in her book. So whether it was something really personal between her and Elvis or not I don’t know. There were of course a lot of personal things between them. I bumped into Kathy outside one of the shows on that tour and she said “Oh Rex, I didn’t know you were here at this show”. 

And it was funny but at the Louisiana show there were none of the people who followed Elvis, like Bob Heis, Sean Shaver and Len and Rosemary. So when we got there, there were none of the people who you’d call the big camp followers of Elvis. . Elvis was wearing the same jumpsuit all the time, the Mexican Sundial suit, so maybe this was why they didn’t come. They would have had enough shots of that suit so may have taken the attitude they weren’t going.

I was in a hotel between shows and in the cafeteria of this hotel there was James Burton, Ronnie Tutt, Felton Jarvis, Bill Porter and Jerry Scheff. They were all on two tables and I sat down with them. At another table the Sweet Inspirations were being interviewed by a reporter about their career. Jackie Kahane was in the room as well. And I was lucky as I had them to myself as there weren’t any other Elvis fans there

Anyway, we were just chatting away about recordings and I said to Felton, “Have you seen the new Welcome To My World album?” and he goes “No”. Well I had just bought it in a record shop as it had just come out in the States so I got it out to show Felton. And just as I was going to hand it to him James pinched it off me. And he turns it over and looks at the back cover and says “The Jordanaires are still on this. They’d put any shit out!” (laughs) And Felton’s going, “I had nothing to do with it”. It was a Joan Deary release. But they hadn’t seen it which was amazing. No one had even seen to show them an advance copy of something they’d partly worked on.

After the Alexandra show I had to fly home and I return really dejected that I’m not going to see the rest of the tour. And then of course I hear Elvis has cancelled the rest of the tour after the Alexandra show ~ and gone to hospital in Memphis. So I did in fact see the last show of the tour which was a bit strange. I didn’t have any inkling even looking at him with the puffiness that he was going to the hospital. And the group weren’t talking about that when I was with them. 

EIN: You have enjoyed a friendship with people like Rocky Barra, publisher of Strictly Elvis and Jerry Hopkins, author of the first substantive Elvis biography. What stories can you tell us on these friendships?

RM: I helped both Rocky and Jerry and they are good guys. In fact, in the first issue of Strictly Elvis, Rocky published a very nice citation to me in the inside cover. When he was putting his Elvis bio together. Jerry was a contributor to Rolling Stone magazine and I provided him with audio tapes of Elvis' shows. At the time the audio was quite rare but not so much today. But it helped Jerry with his factual writing of the shows.

Anyway, in the review copy of his Elvis bio that he sent me, Jerry wrote a brilliant thanks (see visual below). Rocky included this alongside his own citation in Strictly Elvis #1. That was nice.

Jerry Hopkins thanks Rex!

In EIN's interview with Rocky you mentioned the parody magazine, Sticky Elvis. Well, what fans won't know is that there was also a send up of the News Service. It was done by a guy in Holland, and he called it "White Space Fans Only". It was never printed and publicly released as Sticky Elvis was.

.......The final part of Rex's interview will be published in early February 2009.......

in it Rex talks about his impressions of Elvis coming on stage; song highlights; and the difference between seeing Elvis in Vegas and on the road

The Final Part: In the final part of his riveting interview, Rex talks about, among other things:

  • the impact of seeing Elvis live on stage
  • some of Elvis' "live" song highlights
  • Elvis in Vegas vs. Elvis on the road
  • how Rex looks back on publishing the Weekly and spending so much time following Elvis in Vegas and on the road
  • the logistics of doing a trans global interview!!!!!

Rex's vivid narrative of life and technology in the 60s and early 70s paints a wonderful panoramic of the landscape in which his weekly Elvis news publication crystallised and grew. It is a slice of what was an often frenetic, challenging and very rewarding part of the Elvis story. (Feb 2009)

Selection of News Service Issues (1976)

(Three animated motion gifs are being prepared to share with EIN readers)

Comment on this interview

Interview conducted by Nigel Patterson in November 2008

Copyright EIN 2008

Do not re-post this interview without permission

February 8, 2013 - Rex Martin "super-fan" Passed away: While possibly not well-known to more recent Elvis fans, Rex Martin was a key part of the Elvis World history. Rex Martin and his legendary publication, the Worldwide Elvis News Service Weekly, were an integral part of how fans "got their Elvis news" in the late 1960s and 1970s. The Weekly News Service represented a fundamental shift in both the frequency and currency of fan's access to Elvis news around the world.
The weekly grew from being a small concern into a mass circulation publication recognised throughout the Elvis world. The importance of Rex's innovative publication cannot be underestimated (and a potent parallel can be drawn between the function of the Weekly then and the function of Elvis news today provided by the Internet!).
Rex Martin saw Elvis in concert more than 60 times and as one of the most influential publishers in the Elvis world he amassed an incredible photo and audio-visual library.
He wrote some incredible and informative articles over the years. Back in the mid 2000s EIN's Nigel Patterson finally tracked down Rex Martin who had been laying-low for a while. It was great that the two of them got back together after all the years - and Nigel did a long interview with Rex which helped inspired him to get back into the excitement of sharing Elvis stories with friends worldwide. Very sadly Rex Martin was found dead at his home in Blackpool, UK, two days ago.
RIP Rex Martin - Thanks for the marvellous memories - and with EIN's sincere condolences to his family and friends.
(News, Source;ElvisInfoNet)


Clive (Birmingham): I was very lucky to find out about rex through my very dear friend Ann Nixon. I have some fantastic conversations with Rex over the last couple of months. Rex is so full of information and its great to hear how things happened over the years. A wonderfull man and great to talk to. Keep up the great work Rex

Vera: A wonderful interview.

Merijn van der Meer: VERY interesting read again. It also explains where a lot of the great (video)recordings came from (72 Sep footage, Omaha 1974 etc).

What I wonder is, will Rex release his video of Cleveland June 21 1974? I know Rosemary Leech and Len Leech recorded it, because they described it in every detail in Strictly Elvis. The show is indeed shorter.

Reason I ask is because it was the first time Elvis attempted to sing Good time Charlie's got the blues after Let me be there. Obviously he liked it and sing the full version at the 19th August opening show. So historically it is very interesting to hear that excerpt of Good time Charlie. 

Cleveland 21 June 1974 (Peacock suit) See see rider - I got a woman / Amen - Love me - Trying to get to you - All shook up - Love me tender - Hound dog - Fever - Polk salad Annie - Why me, Lord? - You don’t have to say you love me - Suspicious minds - Introductions - I can’t stop loving you - Help me - Bridge over troubled water - Let me be there - Reprise - Good time Charlie’s got the blues (few lines) - Funny how time slips away - Big boss man - Can’t help falling in love.


Warren Trengrove: Your multi-part interview with Rex M. is great stuff!



Tom Jenkins: Thanks EIN. Your interview with Rex brings back many wonderful memories of life in the 1960s and 1970s. I had just left school and my girlfriend and I were big Elvis fans. We attended Rex's shows and had a ball. Those really were the days.

Cec: Fantastic interview with Rex Martin. Keep up the good work

Marie (UK): Great write up with Rex, really enjoyed reading it.

David K: What a legend Rex Martin is!!!! I thoroughly enjoyed your interview with the great man and look forward to the next instalment. Merry Christmas to all at EIN!

Brian Quinn: Great to see that Rex has surfaced once again. I knew Rex for many years, subscribed to his GROUNDBREAKING Newsletter, and attended some of his film conventions which were outstanding. It's nice to hear that he has done well for himself and he comes within my definition of a 'REAL ELVIS FAN'. I sincerely hope that he will now remain on the scene as the Elvis Legacy needs him. I look forward to reading Part 2 of the Interview. Welcome back Rex.

Christopher Brown: I was a long-time subscriber of Rex’s news service, and have all but the first 25 issues, I think.  It was wonderful getting weekly (and sometimes twice a week) news about Elvis, upcoming shows and recent shows with detailed reviews and newspaper articles.  Many of my own show reviews were printed in his publication – a real honor, and a backbone to the two books I published, ON TOUR WITH ELVIS and ELVIS IN CONCERT.

I probably said it back then, but I’ll say it again – thanks Rex for all your work in getting Elvis news out.  Your publication and with Rocky’s were the two essentials of Elvis information in the ‘70s.

Terry C: I was born after the era of Rex Martin's Elvis weekly. After reading the first part of his interview I wish I had been around. The guy was ahead of his time!! I can't wait to read more of Rex's memories. Keep it coming.

Christopher Tyler: When interviewing people who saw or met Elvis ask a lot more questions as to what their first impressions of Elvis were when he came on stage? What songs and performances from the concerts they saw stand out in the person’s mind. Of the 60 shows he saw, how consistent was Elvis etc?

EIN Comment: Chris, there is plenty yet to come from Rex in his multi-part interviews with EIN, including the questions you have asked.

Jenny: Thanks EIN for another fantastic interview. I was a subscriber to Rex's wonderful newsletter for many years and I always looked forward to it arriving in my letter box each week.

Frances Smythe: Before my marriage I attended a lot of Rex's Elvis discos and they were really fabulous. I had such a good time with all my Elvis friends. Thank you Rex for what you've done over the years for Elvis fans. You probably didn't get appreciated very often but you can believe me we DID appreciate all your efforts to bring us Elvis.

Jon-Jon: What a cool dude is Mr Rex Martin. Cool interview too.

Frank (Lancs): What a blast from the past! Rex Martin published one of my all-time favourite Elvis publications. It was always full of the latest news and reviews and it made me feel as though I was part of what was going on. Without the Weekly Elvis fans lives would have been much worse off, it filled an important space in the world of Elvis.

Penny Charles: I met Rex once at one of his discos. I used to go regularly with my friends Sue and Terry. Rex was a lovely person and his discos meant the world to us as young Elvis fans. I really enjoyed his interview and will be reading the next part with a lot of interest and memories of a great time in my life.

Garry Turner: I remember the Rex Martin newsletters as if it was only yesterday. I still have a large batch as part of my Elvis collection. Rex's newsletters were current and entertaining. It's good to read he's still around. I'm looking forward to part 2 of his interview with EIN.















































































































Interview: Marty Lacker (2008)
CD Reviews
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