Andylon Lensen volunteered once again to do an interview for us. This time the "victim" is Paul Dowling, known by most of the fans on the Internet as the owner of WorldWideElvis. We think we have a very open view on the person behind this business for you.
Hi Paul, we have been friends now for many years, and it's an honour for me and ElvisNews.com to do this interview.
Thanks Andylon. Yes, we have known each other for awhile now and it's been a real pleasure. You are truly one of the nicest and most business like people I've dealt with in our "Elvis world" in all these years so it's an honor to have you interview me!!
How come this is the first time you ever do (or allow ?) a public interview? You never done this before right ?
Well, yes, this is the first interview I've done in a long, long time. I did do that one for Arjan's mag a few years ago but that was NOT essentially an interview but really a report on some of the unreleased tapes I've heard and a film I'd seen.
Why is this the first time I'm doing this?
Well, honestly it's because of you! You are so persuasive!! How could I resist!!
What do you mean I am persuasive ?
I mean you have such a nice, sweet sincere voice that I couldn't help but falling in love with you!! Well, anyway at least I like you a lot and I guess I just like your personality!
First Paul, let me ask you -for anyone out there who amazingly has never heard of you - who and what is WorldWide Elvis
I started off as an Elvis collector (and still am by the way!) but began selling Elvis vinyl in 1974. Basically, WWElvis sells only BMG CD's and vinyl from all over the world and some DVD's, VCD's, and books. We do not sell bootlegs, Frisbees, dolls, plates, decanters or anything else like that. (Photo from Andylon's personal collection :-))
Can you tell me a little about your background?
I was born in 1945 in Baltimore, Md (where I lived until I wised up in 1995 and came here to Siesta Key, Fl and have never left)! I have one sister who still lives in Baltimore. My father was a high school principal (not the high school I went to!) and he sent me to a very hard private boys school where basically all I did was study all the time. After I graduated I went to college but I think I just had too much studying in high school that I kind rebelled and decided that I was going to take my time getting out of college so....for the next eight years, I ended up taking my time graduating. I ended up with a business degree which of course then meant that I had to enter the real world and look for a job, something I honestly didn't want to do as I think I wanted to avoid reality as much as I possibly could!! Actually, except for a few summer jobs and 6 months as a substitute high school teacher (in other words, a glorified babysitter!), I have never had a real job! If I didn't luck out and get into Elvis, I have no idea what I'd be doing now for a living!!
Anyway, I discovered Elvis in the early 60's (no idea what I was doing in the late 50's!) when a friend wanted me to see "Follow That Dream" with him. It was then that I realized that I loved his music and even the movie was good but I was still in high school and had no money so I didn't go out and buy any of his records. I guess I really started getting into him in 1963 and 1964 which was a really weird time to start liking Elvis when all of my friends and the entire world was Beatle crazy!! But in Baltimore, every night from 7-8, a local radio station had an Elvis hour and I taped each show with the reel to reel recorder I had and I got more and more into him each week! They gave an address of Elvis Monthly so I subscribed to this magazine which opened up a totally different and new world to me. I think it was an EM article in 1969 that turned my world around! This was a fairly detailed, in depth listing of many RCA Elvis LP's released in countries such as England, France, South Africa, etc. Up until then I had absolutely no idea about this exciting new world out there and I had no idea that this was to be the start of an addictive hobby as well as a full time job!
For unknown reasons, the fact that other countries either put out the same LP (or single or EP!) with a different cover than the US or issued their own compilations intrigued me. I knew then that - somehow - I wanted to try and get as many different releases from as many countries as I possibly could but, unfortunately, at that time (1969) I had no idea as to where to start or who to write to IF these long deleted records could even be found! It wasn't until late 1972 when I subscribed to Elvis Weekly, without question the best Elvis publication to ever exist (which brings up the question - what ever happened to the guy behind it - Rex Martin?), that all of my dreams were about to come true as, in this great newsletter pub, there were addresses of people in every country imaginable who also were into what I wanted to be into and who could help me make my "impossible dreams" come true (of trying to get everything that was different as far as vinyl from every country in the world!).
So this began the constant corresponding with now famous and legendary figures in the Elvis world - the great Wayne "Pretty Boy" Hawthorne (Australia); Livio Monari (Italy); the wild Frenchman Jean Marc "Moe" Gargiulo; Carlos " The Beast" Ares and Ariel Gonzalez Llorente (Argentina) and many, many others, I'll never forget that day in March 1973 when my FIRST Elvis package arrived and what a package!! Thanks to my great friend now of almost 30 years (Haruo Hirose, the man behind one of the if not THE best Elvis websites today Elvis World I received the incredible Japanese LP's -Elvis' Golden Story Vol. 1 and 2 and 2 LP's; Golden Hymns; Girl Happy; etc. I literally looked up at the sky and thanked God for these presents and I knew then that my life would never be the same.
Elvis vinyl collecting had me addicted! But having an addiction costs money and it was tough to buy these records without a job so I was at first borrowing money from my mother and sister and then decided I needed to try and make money selling extras of the records I was collecting so I started putting out small lists and mailing out to people who had written to magazines at that time like Strictly Elvis and Elvis Monthly. By late June 1977 I had been able to put aside some money and I decided to take a chance and buy a mailing list of 500,000 people. At that time there was a company ( Brookville Marketing in New York) who had sold around 10,000,000 copies of an Elvis Greatest Hits LP and who offered their names for sale for 3.5¢ each. I somehow convinced my mother into lending me $20,000 (the biggest con of my life!!), bought a half as million names, printed a catalog (which contained all kinds of things like foreign and US records; pictures; mags; etc.), and mailed them out by bulk mail!!
Well, believe it or not, these catalogs were arriving in people's home's the week of Elvis' death!! To tell you what happened after that would take too long now but I'll just say that the next week (as I was still in shock after Elvis' passing) I went to the post office and I must have had 10,000 or more orders!!! I was totally stunned as we all were with what had happened - losing our idol, a friend whom we had never met but still felt close to - but now I had to deal with these orders and with the 1000 a day that kept coming in for 3 months or more. Well, that's another story but that's how WORLDWIDE ELVIS actually began and I've been doing it ever since!! I used to issue a catalog a year but I developed my web site in 1997 WorldWideElvis and this is how I operate now!
What was your reaction emotionally the day Elvis died on August 16 1977?
Here's how I found out about it! Jean Marc Gargiulo and some of his fan club members were at my home (they were over here to see Elvis on tour) and I was sho