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"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)



"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 human 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)


"Before Elvis there was nothing!"

(John Lennon)


"There were rock 'n' roll records before Heartbreak Hotel, but this was the one that didn't just open the door…it literally blasted the door off its rusted, rotten, anachronistic hinges...producing, no propelling, a fundamental, primordial and unstoppable shift in not only musical, but social, political and cultural history"

(JNP, BBC website)


"Elvis, the musician, is largely a relic belonging to the baby boomer generation...Elvis, the icon, is arguably one of the most potent symbols of popular culture"

( Dr. John Walker)


"It [rock & roll] was always about Elvis; not just because he was Elvis, but because he was the big star"

(Bono from U2)


"If they had let me on white radio stations back then, there never would have been an Elvis"

(Little Richard)


"Elvis loved opera, and he especially liked Mario Lanza. He would watch The Student Prince which was set in Heidelberg, over and over again. He loved the power of the big voices. And he loved big orchestras. He liked real dramatic things"

(Marty Lacker in 'Elvis and the Memphis Mafia')


"If life was fair, Elvis would be alive and all the impersonators would be dead"

(Johnny Carson)


'Elvis Presley: The Man, The Life, The Legend' - by Pamela Keogh.

- Book review -

Click here, August 2006 is Book Month @ EIN

Go here for our interview with author Pamela Keogh.

‘Elvis Presley: The Man, The Life, The Legend’
ISBN 0-7432-6332-4
270 pages. 88 photos including 63 full page photos, many in colour.

‘Elvis Presley: The Man, The Life, The Legend’ written by Pamela Clarke Keogh was released back in 2004. Surprisingly it was the first EPE authorised biography of Elvis.

Keogh is a respected author of previous best-selling biographies (Jacqueline Onassis & Audrey Hepburn) and had unparalleled access to the Graceland archives, as well as a wonderful selection of interviewees, including Priscilla herself!

Having read the Elvis story hundreds of times, surely we don’t need another biography and can anything new really be revealed?

In fact there is a lovely style & urgency to Keogh’s writing that does keep you reading, making the book very appealing & well-worth seeking out. In some ways the pacing of her phrasing reflects the very rush of Elvis’ life, which we all know will be lived too fast & end too soon. Printed on quality paper and with a good selection of beautiful full-plate images (some rare, some not) it is a shame that the release of last year’s ‘Elvis By the Presleys’ somewhat over-shadowed this book.

Seeing the photos printed on high-quality paper is a real treat and some of them positively glow.

The one of Elvis in his '68 Special gold jacket is particularly impressive, as are the rarer candid photos.

(Note - See below for more images)


The writing sets Elvis’ life-story in context with his contemporaries, and Keogh nicely focuses on Elvis’ humanity rather than his supposed perfection.

There are several side chapters that also examine topics outside of the main story. Elvis’ Fashion is tackled in ‘Elvis' Closet’ - "In Elvis world it was never casual Friday" - and it takes us right to into this millennium by mentioning Elvis’ very use of ‘Major Bling-Bling’ & references Sean Combs & Kelly Osbourne!

The section ‘Jessie Garon’ discusses whether Elvis was obsessed with his lost twin, or whether he was unimportant. (Priscilla says, "Elvis hardly ever spoke about Jessie")

Another compares Priscilla & Jackie O and how they tackled their all-powerful men. While interesting (it IS an EPE authorised book) this was one point that I felt there really was too much Priscilla and not enough Ann-Margret! Maybe Ann-Margret was to Elvis what Marilyn Monroe was to the Kennedys? Now that’s an interesting concept!

There is a depth & interest to the writing that actually gets you thinking…
On the recording of 'Hound Dog' ..
"At take eighteen, the boys got their groove on. Elvis grabbed the mike and rolled into the lyrics. Scotty's guitar bouncing and sharp with Bill's bass right behind. Elvis looked so joyous, what the Greeks call 'telesis' - man working with his highest power toward his greatest good. On the afternoon of July 2, 1956, at the RCA studios on 155 East Twenty-fourth Street in New York City, Elvis Presley was in his moment, what Mihaly Csikszentrnihalyi describes as "flow." He knew this feeling onstage, or when he declared his love for a woman. He had felt it with Sam Phillips at Sun. Elvis was in his moment, doing what he was meant to be doing."

For once key figures such as Ed Sullivan are sensibly referenced & explained..
"Ed Sullivan took his role seriously, making sure The Toast of the Town was a program - inoffensive, broad-based, culturally uplifting, just the way America imagined herself to be-the whole family could watch. Sullivan's popularity was all the more remarkable because he was so unlikable in print and on the air. A staid, humorless, mildly puritanical man, there was no way he would ever understand Elvis"

Similarly the photos match the text very well including this nice story from Sophia Loren.

"Miss Loren had just seen Mr. Presley. She did not know him. She knew who he was, of course, but they had never been formally introduced. Still smiling, she got up from the table, grabbed him, and brought him back. Her trophy. She pulled him down, sat on his lap, and started kissing him right in the middle of the commissary, not caring who saw. … They were both so relaxed and happy with no sense of what the future might bring. It was a rare snapshot: two movie stars with nothing but youth and beauty, and this small moment for each other."

Keogh also doesn’t hold back on her feelings - & expletives – As she says of the movies..
"Somehow, he had gotten locked into making the same movie over and over again. It was a nightmare, like something out of The Twilight Zone. … Through Girl Happy, Tickle Me, Double Trouble, and Clambake, it was shit, all of it, just shit."

She also acknowledges Elvis' spiritual search ..

"But away from his celluloid image (which had less and less to do with him, really) Elvis searched for meaning. He knew what he wanted, he just did not know how to get there. "When you're not in love, you're not alive," he scribbled in the margin of his copy of The Prophet."


(left: Elvis dreaming of better film scripts)

Keogh also has a passion and understanding of Elvis. She describes the "tacky" design of the Jungle Room saying, "Embrace our inner most Memphis Flash – we love the Jungle Room".

Elvis’ very enthusiasm for life, for girlfriends & for creating marvellous music is nicely featured and it is good to see (in an EPE authorised book!) that Elvis’ propensity for drugs is not ignored.. "Elvis' most secret love, brought over from Germany, .. uppers and downers - two distaff angels balancing one another"

If there is any disappointment it is the lack of insight into the final years as we rush from 1973’s sensational ‘Aloha’ to Elvis’ death in just seven pages.

As you might expect of an EPE authorised book these final key years of Elvis in emotional turmoil are almost ignored.

Elvis’ cousin Billy Smith was his closest friend in these last years and was there 24/7 to support Elvis, yet strangely he doesn’t get a mention. Keogh writes, "Now, alone in Graceland, Elvis was surrounded by new guys" yet we all know that Billy was there. I wonder if this was because he had a falling out with EPE who in turn didn’t want Keogh to talk with him?

As an Elvis-o-phile there are also a few too many mistakes for my liking. In the acknowledgments 5 people are thanked for "a very close reading of the text" including EPE’s Director of Media Todd Morgan! I presume that they are avid Elvis fans in which case they ought to be reprimanded for not spotting the following major errors..

  • Elvis’ Birthday is not Jan 20th.
  • ‘Peace in the Valley’ 1957 was not "the last song Elvis would sing on TV for 12 years." What about the Sinatra 1960 TV special?
  • 'Harum Scarum' was filmed in March 1965, not 1963.
  • MSG June 1972 is named as "Elvis’ first Press conference since 1969" - but a page later the book features a full-page photo from Elvis' 1970 Houston Press Conference.
  • Perhaps a minor quibble, but May 29th 1977 was not the first time Elvis left the stage mid-concert. Far more dramatic was Elvis’ voice failing mid-concert on Feb 15th 1973.

Overall the photos & exciting writing does compensate for these minor quibbles, and I guess that since this is a mainstream book most readers would never notice the above mistakes.

Verdict: With a nice urgency to the writing Pamela Keogh manages to imbue her all too well-known story making it a very enjoyable read. The photos are splendidly reproduced and the paper is of high-quality. Overall this book fits very nicely between being a glossy coffee-table book and a serious biography. It also complements the family stories & candid photos of ‘Elvis: By The Presleys’.

BELOW - more great images from the book.

Click here for Book Review: Elvis: By The Presleys

Click to comment on this article.


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

(Dr. Gary Enders)