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The King is dead. Long Live the King.
on 16 August 2015
This book was printed in 1999 and I probably got it a year or so after that and decided to have a re-read of it. If you've never read a book about Elvis before I def wouldn't recommend this one.
I think I'm not keen on it partly because it's a rather stodgy writing style, partly because it's such a depressing period of Elvis' life and partly because this is the 3rd Elvis book I've read in the last 2-3 weeks and there are things jumping out that don't quite add up.
To give an example - in Elaine Dundy's book (Elvis and Gladys) she describes how, returning home in June 1960 (after Elvis' beloved mother has died in Aug 1958) he goes back to Graceland to find his future stepmother, Dee, has redecorated the house - decor which he'd personally chosen with Gladys and which, to some extent, he was keeping like a shrine. Elaine has 2 women (Lilian and a maid, in the house at the time) recounting how he lost it with Vernon and went round "tearing down drapes" and "hurling furniture about". And that, later that day, a furniture van arrived and took away Dee and all her belongings, children and pets to another house nearby.
Personally I find that entirely plausible and think any of us who came home to find a stranger had taken over our home would have the same reaction. Especially as he was allegedly wary of Dee as she'd originally seemed to have made a beeline for Elvis.
And yet in Careless Love he "had a quiet word with Vernon". Who is right? And him taking it calmly just doesn't ring true as the author had only mentioned a little while before that Elvis' amphetamine use was making his hair trigger temper even worse.
The author has clearly done a ton of research and it's always hard to tell, when comparing books on EP, where being a fan or holding opinions on certain events have coloured the writing tone. Especially now 38 years (today) have padded since his tragic death.
I think one thing that has coloured my opinion of this book is that, certainly in the first half of the book, he seems to impressed by Parker as a manager. Endless telling us how hard he worked to get the price of a movie %age increased. Course he tried to get the price up - he was getting a big, fat wodge of cash. But how can you be impressed by the price on the contract when the talent is telling co-stars he's embarrassed, is increasingly bored and disappearing into prescription drugs and the goal has started to be to film these crapfests in under a month, to maximise profit?
I think if you have never read a book about Elvis before you should start with Elvis and Gladys as at least then you will get an idea of how this dirt poor family struggled to cope with his explosion on to the music scene. And you'll get an idea of the joy and excitement he started out with....instead of this book covering the saddest, most depressing period of the conveyor belt of god-awful movies.