"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)


"Absolute id crashed into absolute superego...as the uptightset man in America shook hands with just about the loosest."

(Mark Feeney on the 'Elvis meets Nixon' meeting)


"Elvis is everywhere"

(Mojo Nixon & Skid Roper)


"...especially in the South, they talk about Elvis and Jesus in the same breath"

(Michael Ventura, LA Weekly)


"The image is one thing and the huiman being is another...it's very hard to live up to an image"


(Elvis Presley, Madison Square Garden press conference, 1972)


"Elvis was a major hero of mine. I was actually stupid enough to believe that having the same birthday as him actually meant something"

(David Bowie)


"No-one, but no-one, is his equal, or ever will be. He was, and is supreme"

(Mick Jagger)


"I wasn't just a fan, I was his brother...there'll never be another like that soul brother"

(Soul legend, James Brown)


















































































































































































































































































The King and I

Alice Kahn

The San Francisco Chronicle, Sunday, July 17, 2005

How can I explain -- from a fashionably feminist perspective -- the role of Elvis in women's lives? Could I hold up my head in the intellectual community if it were ever learned that I, like Priscilla Beaulieu Presley, once worshipped the blue suede shoes he walked in?

Her new book, "Elvis and Me," will certainly draw a lot of old Elvis fans out of the closet, and not because it debunks Elvis either. Debunking Elvis is nothing new. Elvis is about as easy to debunk as fast food and tract houses.

Lots of Decent People who always knew Elvis was scum will be looking for the King's kinkier antics in the recently published memoirs of his former wife. And right there on page 239 is the Ultimate Shocker. Elvis, whose gyrating pelvis sent countless mothers and fathers to the family liquor cabinet for quick sedation, insisted that Priscilla stay a virgin until their wedding night. In a world of AC/DC, Twisted Sister and Motley Crue, this has got to stand out as some kind of a clean joke.

Cilla, as the King called his No. 1, spent her youth living out the dream many of us cherished as we sat in our rooms with those first bulky transistor radios plastered against our ears. Flashback to 1956. I am a tormented 12-year-old looking for an escape from the Willie Loman-esque pathos of middle-class life. At the same time, I am possessed by biochemical demons that are coursing through my bloodstream and insisting that I can't remain a little girl. Hoping to make sense of this chaos, I turn on "The Ed Sullivan Show," and a voice speaks right to these demons. It says: "You ain't nothin' but a houn' dog."

Now, I have an identity. I am an Elvis fan. He is a kind of big, rockin', good ferry conducting me across the troubled waters from puberty to adolescence. I go to my first concert and stand on my chair with thousands of other girls and scream for two hours straight. I never see Elvis the whole time except for one fleeting second when I rush the police lines and ecstatically touch the trouser leg of his gold lame suit.

I discover mass hysteria is much more fun than solitary hysteria. The fact that grown-ups hate him is icing on the cake. My dream is to succeed in the Win a Date With Elvis contest. I sit in my room with my Hit Parader magazine, studying the rules and imagining what it'll be like if I win.

Me: Love me tender, Elvis.

Him: Someday, little girl, but not now. It's a very sacred thing to me.

Me: Elvis, you're too much.

Him: I just wanna be your teddy bear.

By 1958 it was all over for me. My crush on Elvis was an embarrassment. Uncle Sam could have him. I was in high school and fielding the advances of real boys.

It wasn't just that my taste in music changed. Elvis was lower-class to the core, and I think that's what frightened parents about him. They didn't want their daughter to marry one. Other singers brought black music to white people, but Elvis brought white trash culture to the masses.

The aging of Elvis was a national nightmare. We wanted him to take diet pills rather than torment us with the idea that our fate also might include middle-age spread. Nobody with any pretensions to style would have admitted liking Elvis in the '70s. He wore Vegas suits that made Sammy Davis look Amish. Elvis became an easy target in his last years. His once-shocking sideburns fluffed out, his voice was shot. He was a self-satire. A young rebel is one thing; a washed-out idol quite another.

The slow decline of the King was an embarrassment to the girls who once screamed for him. Elvis lived out our adolescence to its logical conclusion while we went on to more mundane midlife crises.

Dethroned at home, except among the bouffant lifers, Elvis nevertheless continues to be an international symbol of greatness.

When you cross the border at Tijuana, there will always be three faces immortalized in velvet: Jesus, Montezuma and Elvis Presley. The guy's in good company. He did all of us little girls proud.

This story, excerpted here, was first published in The Chronicle on Sept. 29, 1985.



Book: Dewey and Elvis
CD: Black & White Elvis
CD: All Shook Up
Book: Rough Guide to Elvis
DVD: Elvis by the Presleys
FTD: Rockin' Across Texas
FTD: Elvis Is Back
TV Special: "Elvis by the Presleys"
Book: Elvis by the Presleys
CD: Tom Green
Show: Sonny West
CD: A Legendary Performer Vol. 5
CD: Young & Beautiful (TV Guide)
DVD: Elvis by the Presleys "Target" bonus disc
Mini-series: Elvis
FTD: Big Boss Man
VCD: Joe Esposito's Home Videos of Elvis
Book: Complete Guide to Elvis Presley
CD: Now What (Lisa Presley)
Elvis was a racist? (4)
Elvis was a racist? (3)
Schism between Elvis' stage & studio work
Tupelo, Miss....Elvis 2005
Elvis was a racist? (#2)
Elvis vs. Jerry Lee Lewis
Elvis was a racist? (#1)
Elvis making a killing
Elvis & the treasure chest of blood money
Priscilla - "no angel"
Elvis in the 1970s
More on Elvis on TV
"Orion" gunned down!
Elvis Is Back
Elvis - Hero with 1000 faces
Elvis Film Guide
Elvis rules on television! (updated May 2005)
Elvis & other major artists miss out on Grammy Awards
How did Elvis die?
Albert Wertheimer
Priscilla Presley
Marshall Terrill
Lisa Presley on Larry King Show
Tony Joe White
Stanley Oberst
Bud Glass (part 2)
Red & Sonny West
Ed Bonja (Part 2)
Ernst Jorgensen
Phil Aitcheson (Presley Commission)
Graceland cam
Listen to the Elvis "strung out" in Vegas audio
The "Real" Elvis off-stage
Unreleased Elvis audio now online
View EPE Graceland tourism ads
View video of "All Shook Up" opening night on Broadway
All about Elvis
All about Elvis tribute artists
All about Lisa Presley
All about Graceland
Elvis books 2005-07
Elvis film guide
Elvis Online Virtual Library
Elvis Presley Research Forum
Elvis was a racist? (archives)
Elvis Week 2005
Links to Elvis' family & friends
Online Elvis Symposium
Sale of EPE "Archives"
6th Elvis Website Survey
Spotlight on The King


"Elvis Presley is the supreme socio-cultural icon in the history of pop culture"

(Dr. Gary Enders)


" Elvis is the 'glue' which holds our society together....which subconciously gives our world meaning"



"Eventually everybody has to die, except Elvis"

(humorist Dave Barry)


"He is the "Big Bang", and the universe he detonated is still expanding, the pieces are still flying"

(Greil Marcus, "Dead Elvis")


"I think Elvis Presley will never be solved"

(Nick Tosches)


"He was the most popular man that ever walked on this planet since Christ himself was here"

(Carl Perkins)


"When I first heard Elvis' voice I just knew I wasn't going to work for anybody...hearing him for the first time was like busting out of jail"

(Bob Dylan)


"When we were kids growing up in Liverpool, all we ever wanted was to be Elvis Presley"

(Sir Paul McCartney)