Elvis Week 2007 Report

The Aussies have invaded!!

EIN's Ultimate Tour to Elvis Week 2007 has kicked off with our tour group well into its 17 days adventure. As you will read below, EW 2007 is turning out to be a phenomenal experience for this group of intrepid Aussies!

EIN promised the Tour Group some special guest surprises along the way and we have lived up to our promise!!!

Reports by Piers Beagley, EIN Vice-President and Tour Leader

Report #9 - 16 August 2007

Exclusive EIN Elvis Week Photos: Every year EIN's Sanja Meegin provides some of the BEST photos from Memphis - and 2007 is no exception. Click here for a tasty insider's selection. Or click HERE for 170 of her best photographs on-line. Continuing our exclusive reports from Elvis Week in Memphis EIN supplies all the news and photos that others have missed. (News, Source; EIN/Sanja M)

Report #8 - 16 August 2007

'Elvis 30th Anniversary Concert' - The Ultimate Review: The shared emotions of this adoring, loving, crowd wrapped up in the beauty of Elvis as he sang from his heart and soul will never be repeated. When we arrived at the FedEx Forum at 7.15pm we were prepared for anything. We had had such a great trip, that nothing could dampen our spirits, but I don’t think anything prepared us for the treat we were about to experience. Just walking into that massive stadium was electrifying…. the atmosphere was something I had never experienced, and the sense of anticipation was spine tingling. Thanks to EIN the whole group had some great seats, and a surprise was in store for us later in the evening. . . Click here for the in-depth EIN ultimate review of the final 'Elvis In Concert' - plus 'The Midnight Show'. Includes complete set-lists and photos. It was a very magical experience. (Spotlight, Source;EIN)

Report #7 - 15 August 2007

'Last Man Standing' - Scotty Moore concert
A Darwin Lamm concert, this was a very sad experience. Firstly Boots Randolph was scheduled to perform but sadly died last month. (see EIN Obituary) Even more disturbing were rumours of Scotty Moore's arthritis now stopping him from playing guitar.

After a quick introduction by Red Robinson and a tribute to Boots Randolph, our man Scotty Moore took the stage to a standing ovation. A man of few words, Scotty did talk a little about his time with Elvis and joked, "Well I'm still standing!"

However Scotty then left the stage before Paul Ansell and his rhythm band set up. As demonstrated on the excellent DVD 'A Tribute To The King by Scotty Moore & Friends', Paul Ansell knows how to rock the house. The feeling and rocking rhythms were very fine except for the obvious fact that Scotty was missing from the brew. Paul Ansell even commented, "These are songs that were hoping to play with Scotty Moore tonight".

Halfway through the concert and Billy Swan then took the stage with his band. Even though the group featured the very fine Bob Moore (Elvis' bass player after Bill Black) and Backy Barrett (Roy Orbison's guitarist) the band seemed awfully unrehearsed and after 30 minutes there was still no sign of Scotty. Billy Swan as a frontman was also very lazy and uninspired. 

In the crowd there was a horrible realisation with the mood slowly dropping from being a celebration to the feeling of a wake. A fair number of the audience even started to walk out. It felt very sad. 

In the end Scotty Moore did return to the stage for the last 3 songs however he was obviously not playing his guitar. I had been hoping for a final magnificent celebration of this great man's contribution to Rock'n'Roll as I had witnessed five years ago in the same Peabody Hotel venue.
However it only felt like the very sad end of the road.



2007 Candlelight Vigil.

The Candlelight Vigil will be something that I will never forget. Our EIN tour group arrived at the front of the Graceland gates around 6:30pm, although it seemed like mid-afternoon as it was still hot, hot, hot, a burning 40plus degrees. Luckily we managed to get a reasonable place in the line, even though same fans had been queuing since early that day.

Waiting in the line there was a good chance to observe and chat to other Elvis fans that have come from all over the world for this 30th Anniversary. 

There was a good feeling of camaraderie and I even chatted to one fan who said that she was in front of the Graceland Gates the very day that Elvis died 30 years ago. Her whole family was back there after 30 years, including her kids.

As the sun started to go down there were more and more fans arriving in droves. The line was just growing & growing as it began to snake across the closed off side of E.P. Boulevard.  As night started to fall EPE’s Todd Morgan explained to all the fans what was going to take place and the importance of this very special event. He also said that it was already the largest crowd on record for this 29th anniversary of the annual Candlelight Service. 
Then someone from the Elvis Country Fan Club spoke and explained exactly why we were all here and how Elvis touched our lives. It was a very poignant and moving speech. Songs were played in between the speeches starting with ‘If I Can Dream’ (this year's theme song) and finally ending with ‘Can’t Help Falling in Love’. As we all sang along to the touching lyrics and thought of Elvis’ life ending all too soon, tears welled-up into a lot of eyes including mine.
Starting a little earlier than usual because of the huge size of the crowd, Graceland finally started to let people file through the gates. Members of the Elvis Country Fan Club handed out candles to the fans which were all lit from the sacred flame. The music of our man Elvis played constantly. Very slowly we made our way past the gates and started the long walk to the Meditation Garden. As you get closer to the meditation garden and see the floral tributes from all over the world you can’t help but think that Elvis touched so many lives of people in all walks of life. 

After over an hour we slowly filed past the Meditation Garden and Elvis’ memorial which subtly glowed from the light of fans' candles.

It was a very touching moment. I had tears in my eyes as I privately thanked him for the great memories that he shared with the world. As you make your way back to the gates it gives one a chance to reflect on how Elvis touched our own lives.

It was always my dream to pay my respects to Elvis and to thank him for bringing so much joy into my life helping me through both the good and bad times.  He was always there for me and has helped me a lot throughout my life.

Elvis will continue to touch people lives because he gave his heart and soul to us and as a result he touched our very hearts and souls as well.. 
Thank you Elvis for sharing your heart and soul and your very life with the rest of the world.

(By EIN contributor Tony Canatta)

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Report #6 - 14 August 2007

Insiders Conference - The Main Act - Priscilla.

The international media gathered and the anticipation heightened with Priscilla's afternoon appearance to talk to the fans. Looking far more natural and relaxed than she has of late, Priscilla shared and hour of her time being asked fan questions selected by Jerry Schilling. There can be no doubt that she has had a marketing (as well as a facial) make-over since she last faced Elvis' beloved fans. Priscilla's new relaxed demeanour and casualness made her a real hit with the audience.

These were the main stories and details that she mentioned.
- Priscilla talked about how, even though they were separated, she brought Mickey Newbury's 'American Trilogy' up to Elvis in Monovale Drive as she loved the song so much and knew it would be perfect for Elvis. Of course the rest is history, except the nice touch that Elvis gave Priscilla the original studio acetate as a 'thank you', which she still owns.

- She assured us that she wrote her biography 'Elvis and Me' as a rebuttal against Goldman's book which she found so nasty and full of downright lies. She said that she wanted to present the "humanistic and loving" side of Elvis and that writing the book had been the hardest thing she ever did. She also noted that she didn't want to betray Elvis' trust in publishing the book and wanted to "find a balance".
- She laughed about Elvis' wilder side, noting that he could never do anything in moderation and always over indulged with everything.
- A touching moment was when Priscilla discovered that a long-lost Elvis relative who she had wanted to reconnect with, Gene Smith's wife Louise, was in the audience. She reminisced how Louise was there the very first day that Elvis opened the front door of Graceland for her.
- Yes, Priscilla can sing - if pressed! She talked about spending time with Elvis playing the piano and singing along with him. She mentioned as a side-line that in the sixties Roy Orbison's 'Pretty Woman' was a song that Elvis really loved along with Timi Yuro's 'Hurt'.
- She recalled the last time that she talked with Elvis, a couple of days before August 16th. She related how Elvis had been concerned about his weight but seemed to be looking forward to the new tour. However when she put down the receiver she had that nagging feeling that she needed to call him back for some reason - but she never did.
- Priscilla mentioned Lisa Marie and her concerns about the society of today and the worry that everything is now so "disposable". She worries where the youth are heading when they witness such poor role models nowadays - and nicely noted that good education and family bonding is all so important.
- Finally she assured all the fans that Elvis' future is fine with CKX and Sillerman in charge. She and Lisa still oversee all the decisions and were making sure the Elvis' legacy will only get bigger and better and will be passed on to the newer generations.
- She wants Graceland to be more 'children positive and user friendly' and that something like the Cirque Du Soleil would present Elvis' music with "a new vision".

'That's The Way It Is' on the Graceland lawn.

EIN ended the night with the wonderful TTWII on Graceland's lawn.

Starting with a wonderful Gospel concert featuring The Imperials, The Stamps, The Sweet Inspirations along with Joe Guercio there was real magic in the air. Hearing 'American Trilogy' and 'How Great Thou Art' flowing through the Graceland trees and up to the Meditation Garden was an incredible experience.

As for seeing the real ELVIS in 'TTWII' playing on the big screen, the experience was so powerful as to be almost undescribable.

There were tears of joy, sadness and pure emotion as Elvis sang classic after classic. Was he looking down at us? It sure felt like it. 'Just Pretend' has never carried so much importance within its lyrics - and the whole audience bonded with that Sweet, Sweet Spirit .. One of the BEST Elvis events of my life...

"And think of me, how its gonna be,
Just Pretend I didn’t go,
When I walked away, I heard you say
If you need me, you know what to do.
I knew it then, Id be back again
Just pretend I'm right there with you..
Oh, I will hold you and love you again
But until then, well Just Pretend."

With all our heartfelt thanks to Elvis,
Piers, Carolyn, Tony, Melany, Robert and all the 2007 EIN Tour group.

Report #5 - 14 August 2007

Elvis' friend Marion Cocke presented her fund-raising dinner last night. With The Jordanaires fronted by Terry Mike Jeffrey and Millie Kirkham there was a classic gospel feel in the air.

Plenty of Elvis friends were there including Larry Geller, Jerry Schilling (pictured opposite) and Patti Parry with the surprise guest of Priscilla also turning up to bid at the charity auction. (She bid on a mink coat that Elvis had given to Marian Cocke!).

Touching tributes were paid to the dear departed, including Boots Randolph (Obituary), Janelle MCComb, Charlie Hodge , Sam Phillips and too many others.

With 'Peace In The Valley', 'Trying To Get To You' and other classics being sung live it was a magnificent event. The Jordanaires told some delightful stories including how Elvis wanted to "Mess around" with the original 'Blue Christmas' recording as he didn't particularly care for the song. Mark James appeared later to also share some wonderful insights into Elvis' recording of his songs 'Suspicious Minds' and 'Always On My Mind'.

EIN chatted to Jeanne LeMay Dumas (Read EIN's interview with Jeanne) who told us that Linda Thompson has recently dislocated her shoulder and was very upset at not being able to attend Elvis Week this year.

AUGUST 14th. Insiders Conference Day 2: There was a better level of excitement on the second day of the conference. (Well, Priscilla was going to be there!!)

In the morning the TCB Band were on great form all looking younger and healthier than they did 2 years ago. A skinny Glen Hardin looked 10 years younger! There were some lovely comments and talk about working with The King.

James Burton (opposite) noted, "Whenever I worked with Tom Jones, all we did was talk about Elvis!" Ronnie Tutt talked of the 'endurance test' of late nights and early rises to get on the tour plane in time. Jerry Scheff however laughed about how easy the old days were, "Hell, in those days we'd turn up 15 minutes before the show and most nights only play one hour! Now we have to play twice as long - and we're twice as old!!"

The cameraderie flowed as it did when the 1969 American Studio 'Memphis Boys' then took their turn. Bobby Wood, Mike Leach, Reggie Young, Gene Crispman, Bobby Emmons. It was great to hear them all talk about the rats in the rafters and the spontaneousness ofthier recording method. They talked of the bootleg outakes (Read EIN's review of "The American Way") and how interesting it is to hear the grorth of the songs as every band member worked with Elvis on producing those marvellous classics.

They recalled Elvis noting as he walked into the American Studios, "What a funky, funky place." All these great musicians commented that even though they had all worked on hundereds of chart singles, working with Elvis was the proudest moments of their careers - and how indescribable it made them feel as studio session musicians. It was a total pleasure to chat with keyboardist Bobby Wood later on and you can look forward to plenty of interviews with these guys on EIN in the future.

Myrna Smith (Read EIN's interview with Myrna) and Estelle Brown of The Sweet Inspirations talked about their time with Elvis, as did two of Elvis' local friends Sandi Miller and Sandi Pichon.

Both Sandis told delightful stories and shared some of thier candid photos with us. Sandi Miller recalled how Elvis had to insist that she came in to the Bel Air house to hang around with him, while Sandi Pichon told a marvellous tale of Elvis sneaking up behind her and giving her a hug outside Audubon Drive!

But the Main Event everyone was hanging out for was Priscilla.

Report #4 - 13 August 2007

Elvis Insiders Conference Day 1: There is always too much to do during Elvis Week but the Insiders Conference is always a highlight. On the first day there were almost too many guests, no audience questions were allowed to be asked and most guests talked for around 20 minutes. Elvis' Tour staff Dick Grob and Charles Stone talked in the morning reminiscing about their days with Elvis. While most of their would be known by Elvis fans, two bits of VERY debatable information were revealed.

Charles Stone told that an airilne ticket had been organised for him to go to England in summer 1977 to check out the possibility of London's Wembley Arena as a possible Elvis concert venue. Dick Grob came up with the ludicrous idea of Colonel Parker having "first Option" on being The Beatles manager after Brian Epstein died. Can anyone "imagine" John Lennon accepting The Colonel as his manager in 1966? Someone is dreaming!!

Loanne Parker also told us more about the warm and generous side of he ex-husband Colonel Parker. While it was touching just how emotional she felt about the old guy there were more strange tales being told. She said that "Elvis personally chose all his movie roles" - implying that The Col had little to do with the terrible mid -sixties movies period!

She also said that The Colonel had a passport and could travel any where he
wanted. The only reason The Col didn't let Elvis travel overseas was that he was concerned that Europe would have to have "too high ticket prices for the fans."

With both England and other countries offering incredibly high contracts for Elvis live performances, it was a shame that we couldn't ask questions. Surely The Colonel with his gambling habits would have gone for the buck? - AND Elvis wanted to go. She also suggested that The Colonel dressed for Elvis' funeral in his Hawaiian shirt because he was "Too busy organising everything and did not have his suitcase of clothes with him." As if there are no clothes shops in Memphis!

One highlight of the day was the delightful and fesity Maxine Brown who toured with Elvis in the fifties and knew him as a friend through to 1961. She suggested that Elvis had a temper if you rubbed him the wrong way.. but IF you rubbed him the RIGHT way..... - and she had obviously done that! I think her new book will be a "must read" and she sure tells things how they are, with no B.S.

There was an obvious and exciting tension in the air between the wonderful Maxine and Johnny Cash's sister who was also on stage. This was due to unbelievable tales  of Elvis supporting Johnny Cash in concert, cadillacs  to pick up thier family and other strange tales. If looks could kill.....

We all got the chance to compare the video and audio upgared of the new Warner Brothers DVD releases. The new 'Viva Las Vegas' sure glowed on the big screen and how good was it to see Ann Margret and Elvis in action once again. There was also an interesting story of 'king of the quickies' Director Sam Katzman
being behind schedule on 'Harum Scarum' and catching by ripping four pages directly out of the script with no concern about continuity. This explains the obvious lack of 'Wisdom Of the Ages' and 'Animal Instinct'
from the film.

Finally there was real joy in hearing Mary Anne Mobley's tales of life with Elvis. Every tale she told was delightful and brought a lot of smiles and emotional tears to one and all.

She joked that Elvis had told her of 'Harum Scarum', "Well you don't have to worry about being up late on Academy Award night with this film!" She also reminded everyone that she was one of the few Elvis co-stars not to have had a relationship with Elvis which allowed her to stay a close confidant.

She explained Elvis' frustrations with the quality of his movies and truly believed that had Elvis been pushed by a good director he would have proved himself as a great actor. She brought everyone to tears when she told us how she wouldn't trade anything in her whole life for the special time that she had spent with Elvis. It was a lovely bonding Elvis moment.

But James Burton is on Beale Street - and that's where we are headed.

"Tomorrow's a Long Time" - Piers, Sanja & The EIN Elvis Tour

Report #3 - 12 August 2007

The EIN Elvis tour is rushing by with never a moment to take a breath. Three days in Vegas gave us just enough time to soak up the 1970's emotion of Elvis at the International. His statue is now outside the entrance but the decor inside hasn't changed.

Unfortunately Elvis' 30th floor suite has been split into three high class apartments and Barry Manilow was staying there this week so we could get onto the level although some did try getting past the alarms!

Although Barry Manilow had also 'locked down' the Hilton showroom, EIN Sanja Meegin and friends did get a chance to spend a magic time soaking in the incredible atmousphere of standing on that very special Vegas stage.

Vegas also gave us the chance to check out cocktails and fun of 'The Legends In Concert' as well as The Beatles 'Cirque Du Soleil' LOVE performance.  Although there were some marvellous acrobatic pieces, in general the over-all feel was rather underwhelming. The performers seemed to be struggling to get the crowd excited - and this is with a 3 month queue for seats. There was no standing ovation as with their regular shows and sadly, to be honest, I cannot see an Elvis 'Cirque Du Soleil' venture working.

The stay in Nashville saw the EIN crew stay at the gorgeous Hotel-of-a-Lifetime, The Opryland Grand. Our Grand Ole Opry show featured the gorgeous gospel of The Stamps (featuring Ed Enoch as the only original member) as well as Elvis comrade, Porter Wagoner celebrating his 80th birthday.

The Ryman auditorium was as special as ever but the Nashville Elvis highlight had to be a personal tour of Studio B. Sitting in the wonderful ambience of Studio B with the lights turned down low listening to Elvis singing 'How Great Thou Art' and 'He Touched Me' was  enough to bring genuine tears of emotion to every one in the group.

Once in Tupelo the group visited Elvis' old schools, the Tupelo Hardware store, old fairgrounds, and of course Elvis' birthplace. It was a real priviledge to be guided around the updated Elvis museum by Tupelo expert Roy Turner. Roy had plenty of tales to share about finding historic Elvis material (like the original 1945 Fair photo) as well as marvellous stories of spending time with Elvis' early childhood friends.

Read EIN's review of "Tupelo's Own Elvis Presley"

But MEMPHIS beckoned along with the sounds of blues, music, laughter, Beale Street and Elvis. First stop the new EP's Delta Kitchen in the old Lansky building. Rocking the house from floor-to-ceiling was Jamie Aaron Kelley. An absolutely stunning performer he was one of the BEST Elvis styled singers we had ever seen. Even suffering the 'Vegas throat' Jamie Kelley never held back singing extremely challenging classics such as 'My Wish Came True' and 'Surrender'.

His vocalisations were magnificent and he had a lovely style choosing more obscure Elvis songs (Poor Man's Gold, Come What May) while throwing in some Johhny Cash and Sam Cooke along the way. Also checking out and appreciating his style and guitar action was our friend James Burton. DO NOT miss Jamie Aaron Kelley if you get the chance to see him.

The night ended as always with some hot music at Alfred's and James Burton playing some hot rock'n'Roll and Blues into the early hours of the morning... The town was rocking - "I'm a Steamroller Baby" .. indeed it truly is HOT HOT HOT.

If you're in Memphis, look out for us, we're the ones having fun and rockin' the night away..

Piers, Sanja and all the EIN Tour crew.

Report #2 - Thursday 9 August 2007

EIN speaks with Lamar Fike: EIN's Vice-President, Piers Beagley, briefly caught up with MM member Lamar Fike as part of our Ultimate Tour to Elvis Week 2007. Piers reports Lamar was in very good spirits and doing fine after his recent hospitalisation. Lamar joked that now all he has to do is lose 600 pounds! Lamar also said he is still expecting his book about Elvis to be released in 2008.

Report #1 - Thursday 9 August 2007

Los Angeles.....

The select EIN 2007 tour is having the time of their lives...Never has so much intesnse Elvis fun been had on and Elvis week tour. First stop LA. The first night features a special get together in the famous Formosa Cafe in Hollywood. This was the cafe that Elvis would drop into while filming Kid Galahad. As featured in recent US movies like 'LA Confidential', the EIN gang all got a chance to sit in Elvis' favourite red leather booth. All in beautiful art deco design, - Marilyn Monroe also used to hang out in the corner booth. you could still feel his presencse. Signed photos of both Elvis and the Colonel hang on the wall. Elvis' spirit was also present when the tour group visited faboulous Radio Recorders studios, saw his jumpsuits in the LA Hard Rock cafe as well as visited Elvis' Hillcrest Home.

The house is still in the same condition and looks just as if Elvis is about to walk out the door and up to those famous gates.The Tour group's busy LA schedule continued with vists to Elvis' old LA Hotel haunts, the glamorous Wiltshire Hotel (Gladys was never happy with the over-the-top luxury of this Hotel) and the much more down to earth Knickerbocker Hotel. In the afternoon having a chance to visit the SRF 'Lake Shrine' - where Elvis spend time escaping his dreadful mid sixties movies - was a marvellous experience.

However the highlight for all the EIN tour group had to be spending a wonderful evening in the lobby of the luxurious Roosevelt Hotel with one of Elvis' best friends, Patti Parry. She told us fascinating stories of her 17 years knowing Elvis and spending close time with him.

From the archives - Patti Parry talks to EIN

There were so many unkown tales of time with the Colonel, and so many stories of sharing Elvis' life in LA. Patti Parry is one of the nicest people you could ever meet, and of course one of a few who has never tried to make money from her close connection to Elvis. Elvis changed her life and she is so happy that Elvis' spirit still lives on, making all Elvis fans lives that much brighter.

We learnt how Elvis loved to picnic on the open park next to his LA Hillcrest home overlooking the lights of LA and was a little upset when Danny Thomas bought the block and built a rather large monstrosity of a house next door, thus stopping Elvis' private pinics.

Another treat was when author and Tupelo expert Roy Turner dropped by to say 'hello' to us all.

Read EIN's review of "Tupelo's Own Elvis Presley"

We were also joined by Elvis friends Paul & Joan Gansky. Joan knew Elvis from 1967 and ended seeing Elvis in concert over 45 times. It was an amazing and delightful privilege seeing all thier special Elvis souvenirs collected over the years.

Some of us also toured the MGM lot where Elvis made 14 of his films. Remember Elvis bicycling to the MGM Soundstage One in 'TTWII"? - ahh, it is all still there.. what memories..

Another treat was seeing the "Nevada" gym from 'Viva Las Vegas'. Incredibly it is still there untouched and unrenovated! You could feel the excitement of 'C'mon Everybody' as we danced on the stage. There was also a private story of someone finding Elvis and Ann Margret in the back row of the gym one day in 1963,,, but that's story for another time..

EIN has to thank all our WONDERFUL friends in the Elvis world, you know who you are, for making this truly an experience of a lifetime.

And thanks to Elvis too, for starting it all. If you are heading for Elvis Week look out for the EIN Tour group and say 'Hi'.

Next stop VEGAS, bright lights, big city! here we come...

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