This website is about Elvis books – books on the life and work of Elvis Presley.
Elvis’ life was full of great stories – from rags to riches to decline and fall.
Presley sprang from a fascinating time and place in American history. Elvis helped spawn the dominant culture of the 20th century. He was the subject of numerous controversies. And he gave rise to a sub-cult of aficionados, impersonators and fanatics who ensure that Elvis is still ‘taking care of business’ well into his seventies.
You can argue that it’s the Elvis’ music that matters, not the life-story – and I’d be inclined to agree.
However, for those of us who aren’t from Memphis or Tupelo and who didn’t grow up in the 1950s I think there is a lot to learn from the Elvis books.
Pages so far are:
I recently listened to a great podcast from RTE about an Elvis impersonator called Mark Leen. It’s a well made documentary and Mr Leen seems both interesting and particulary good at playing Presley. He’s performed for and met Bill Clinton.
I first encountered Saint Elvis (alternatively spelt Saint Ailbe) in researching the Welsh Saint David for the blog about my hometown, Salisbury, England.
Saint Elvis is probably most famous for having baptized Saint David, the patron saint of Wales.
Saint Elvis seems to have been Bishop of Emly in the County Tipperary in the 6th Century, although some sources imply there was actually another, Welsh, Saint Elvis.
The Catholic Encyclopedia says that
It is very difficult to sift out the germs of truth from among the mass of legends which have gathered round the life of this Irish saint
There is a legend that the Irish Saint Elvis was raised by wolves, having been left in a forest. The legend has it that the mother-wolf came to the Cathedral when Elvis was Bishop, and was looked after by the holy man thereafter.
It is also said that the saint was bent on travelling around the British Isles in an attempt to convert people to Christianity but King Aongus wanted to keep him close by.
The new book One on One by Craig Brown features a chapter on Elvis. I should say that I haven’t read the book, but there are a couple of extracts online – including the Elvis material.
The book gives an account of 101 meetings. Each account is given in exactly 1001 words. The meetings are, I think, exclusively between celebrities – Michael Jackson and Madonna, Kenneth Tynan and Princess Margaret, James Dean and Alec Guinness.
Craig Brown is a satirist. In the past he’s worked for Private Eye, but he now seems to be published in the Daily Mail.
Given Brown’s satirical background, I wasn’t entirely sure whether the encounters described in the book were real or imagined, but the account of the one encounter I know anything about does accord with what I’ve read elsewhere.
The chapter on Elvis is on his meeting with President Nixon. I must admit I found slightly disappointing given how interesting some of the other meetings are. Elvis and Nixon is a well trodden path. A quick internet search brings up all the known details, government reports of the meeting, as well as Elvis’ original letter to the President.
Anyhow, Brown’s summary of the meeting is pretty good and I enjoyed the other extracts I’ve read online. They typically give a brief snapshot into the lives of the participants and some flavour of the context of the times in which they lived.
At the time of writing, the Elvis/Nixon extract is online here:
- Daily Mail page including Elvis/Nixon extract
There are further extracts here:
- Daily Mail further extracts
Buy the book on Amazon here:
A few years back – I’m guessing somewhere around the turn of the century – Q magazine asked for readers questions for Joe Strummer.
I was a huge fan of Joe Strummer. I was lucky enough to have seen The Clash around the time of the ‘Sandinista!‘ record.
I thought very long and hard about what question I could ask the great man. Something about politics and protest music? Or about the interplay of reggae and punk? Or situationism ?
In the end I went for this:
Question: What’s your favourite Elvis song?
Strummer’s answer: Crawfish
I listened to Len Goodman of ‘Dancing with The Stars’ and ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ on Desert Island Discs over the weekend.
Kirsty Young asked him if he missed his old life of running a dancing school.
He quoted Chuck Berry talking about Elvis:
He got what he wanted, but lost what he had
The Desert Island Discs show is currentlyu available at:
This is my favourite Elvis travel book – there’s lots of detail, good illustration and it’s well designed: The Elvis Atlas: A Journey through Elvis Presley’s America (A Henry Holt reference book)
Also good: Travels With Elvis: A Guide Across America to All the Places Where the King Lived, Loved, and Laughed – Jack Barth
If you’re going to Memphis, there is a Rough Guide to the USA, but, when we went we found the Fodor’s Guide to the South both more useful and interesting. I should say that it was a long time ago that we went and both books have probably changed – as has the South.