A couple of weeks ago we started this series with an interview with Lex Raaphorst. He suggested Sandi Miller as "victim" for a next interview. We are glad Sandi did agree and here it is. Her name may not be known to a lot of our readers, but we are sure a lot of you know her pictures.
Can you share a little about yourself with us?
I'm not too good about this sort of thing. For starters, I was born in Hilversum, The Netherlands, moved to Minnesota when I was 13, then to California when I graduated. I've lived in Las Vegas for a little over a year now having moved out here from California. I love it here-small town atmosphere with the big city lights right down the road! I'm self employed with two businesses which keeps me entirely too busy but not so busy that I can't squeeze in the fun stuff (like working at the MGM auction last week). I have two grown children who both live in California.
How did you became an Elvis-fan?
I don't know that I could pinpoint the exact time but my mother owned a restaurant in Minnesota when I was in Jr. HighSchool and we used to go to work with her. Because there was a juke box in the place, we were exposed to alot of Elvis songs, most of which my mother played I think. On top of that, there was a movie theatre right next door and we could see any movie that was playing there, as many times as we wanted, free of charge...I think the movies may have been what hooked me when I could put a face to the voice - what a combination!
How did you get so close to Elvis?
I think it was a matter of being in the right place at the right time. I first met him in the mid 60's. My friend and I would go up to his home in Bel Air. The guys were inviting us to go in the house and we kept turning them down. Mainly I think because we were fairly young, my friend was 17 at the time and I had just turned 18 and her mother would have killed us! (and those guys all seemed terribly old to us.) To make a long story short we did finally accept (after Elvis assured us that we would be safe). Back then, if you were half way normal, didn't cause any problems etc. you could pretty well be assured that you would continue to be invited in.
That progressed to being invited down to Palm Springs for the weekends whenever he would go plus rehearsals at RCA and some movie locations. When Elvis moved into his last home in LA, on Monovale, it was a completely different situation than it had been in prior years - security was tighter, no new people seemed to come around, but still we were welcomed into his home and I think that says alot about Elvis. The Pennington sisters where at the house one evening and a big squirt-gun fight broke out...oh, but that's another story!
What is in general your favourite "Elvis-stuff"?
I'm thoroughly enjoying all the rehearsal CD's that are coming out. Next my photos and movies, not to mention everyone else's photos in general because they capture a moment in time that is forever lost. I also have a few personal items that were gifts from Elvis and I'd definately count them as !!favorite!!
Name your favourite Elvis-song, -movie and -album.
That's a hard one! My favorite songs change from month to month depending on my mood! My favorite movie is probably Blue Hawaii but that ties with Stay Away Joe and Charro but not because of their fantastic storyline. We were able to watch him film several days in Sedona (for SAJ) and Apache Junction, Arizona (for Charro) so that made those movies interesting when they came out because I kept remembering all the goof-ups and the fun they all had on the set.
Are your pictures of Elvis collected in any book? (If yes, Is it/ are they still available?)
I 'm not sure I could even begin to list all the books my photographs are in. I have approx. 75 of them in Sean Shaver's books. Jim Curtin has alot in his books. Graceland uses some of my photos on their postcards and RCA has used them in their boxed sets. They're just kind of everywhere....including all over the internet :)
Do you visit Elvis-sites regularly, and if so which type do you like most?
The photo sites!! It's amazing to see how many different sites there are! I also like the sites that list all the CD's available since I'm fairly new to collecting these.
Do you use the Internet for other things regularly?
I use it to keep in touch with my kids who both live in California plus relatives in Holland and in the Midwest - sure helps on the phone bills! Also use it occasionally for one of my businesses.
Now the question Lex asked you in his interview: Do you want to share one of your great stories with us?
It's always hard to pick just one incident but I guess I'll go with one of the rehearsals at RCA in Los Angeles : Like almost everything Elvis did, rehearsals wouldn't start until very late at night...10, 11 pm usually. Elvis was normally the last one to show up. With the equipment all set up and all the stools sitting around, there really wasn't very much free space in the small room (which was fine by me!) We (my roomate and I) always knew when Elvis' car was pulling into the parking garage because you could hear the fans standing outside start calling for him to stop and talk. I never counted how many actual rehearsals we attended but I know he only seriously got something accomplished a few times ...the other times it was more like play time...sing a few songs, tell alot of jokes, cause general havoc in the rehearsal room. Mostly everyone just horsed around for a couple of hours. One particular night he was in a really goofy mood-even for him! He started to sing "Bury me not in the lone prairieeeeeeeeeeee" then he did a little tap dance" We knew right then it was going to be one of those un-productive nights. Charlie was getting a little agitated because he wanted to smooth out some arrangements and the more serious Charlie got, the goofier Elvis got. After a whole 10 minutes Elvis decided it was "donut and coffee" break time. Elvis sent one of the guys out to get that taken care of, then starts singing "It's Only Love" changing all the words and singing off key. Then he asked for "requests" so we made up a song title. No such song-we just made up a title that I can't even remember now and Elvis proceeds to sing this non-existant song. He made up the tune and the words as he went along and it was actually darn good, to the point that we were beginning to think that maybe there really was a song by that title - but - there wasn't! Now the donuts have arrived with coffee etc. I think it was James Caughley that brought them in - everyone thinks the donuts are for everyone in the room so we all gather around the box and the cups only to have Elvis pick everything up and march outside and give everything to the fans standing outside. Needless to say they were absolutely thrilled! We on the other hand, were starving! Elvis was having alot of trouble with his microphone and just wasn't in any mood to be rehearsing so the evening ended shortly after that with Elvis telling us he was staying at the Century Plaza Hotel and instructing us to go there and use the house phone to call up to the suite when we arrived and someone would come down and get us. We stayed there until around 6 a.m. watching tv and talking, (the boys had all gone to their own rooms so we had Elvis to ourselves! Then we had to leave to go back home and to work....with no sleep! The following night was another rehearsal -- the word zombie comes to mind (us, not Elvis!) I'm sure Elvis got a nice day's sleep while we sat behind a desk trying to stay awake! It was well worth it though! Next to going to Palm Springs I'd have to say rehearsal time was always one of my favorite things.
Who do you want to be interviewed in a next issue and why?
Sandi suggested two people, her friends Bev and Carol. Carol for the great Elvis-stories she has and Be