Email Interview With Stanley Oberst

Jun 11, 2002
Email Interview With Stanley Oberst
A couple of months ago I did an interview with Ernst Jorgensen for ElvisNews.com and when I asked him who he liked me to interview for ElvisNews.com he only mentioned one person ; Stanley Oberst the Author of “Elvis in Texas” and indeed through my dear friend Bob Hayden from Australia, we made some phone-calls and E-mails and here we are Stanley. And I must say, I am honored to interview you and also, to introduce you to the Elvis-fans world wide as one of the most interesting authors in the last couple of years about Elvis in the 50’s, when it comes down to new facts, details, some questions that are now answered in your book. You can imagine that people like Ernst Jorgenson, Sean O'Neal, Peter Guralnick were grateful as additional information can be added on the many questionable, doubtful, uncertain live concerts Elvis did in the 50’s. Can you add something more here Stanley? Wow, what honored words you and others have for me. I am so taken-back!!! Thank you very much. I am and will continue to try and hunt down leads to a few shows that took place in East Texas. I appreciate you taking the time to interview me and I hope my answers please all Elvis fans as well as non-Elvis fans. Maybe we will convert a few souls to become fans. Aren’t there enough Stanley, do you want to make Graceland more greedy? Forget Graceland, we want the music to live on!!! I guess you have been approached by different countries to introduce yourself, since this is your first book, is this correct. I have been interviewed by e-mail from England, Australia, Italy and Brazil. That is great to hear that there is so much interest world-wide. Would you be so kind to introduce your book by telling what the content is of your ”Elvis In Texas" "Elvis in Texas" is about the early years of Elvis and his performances and the people who met Elvis from 1954-1956 and their stories with him. Also, there is a chapter on Elvis's stint for basic training in the Army and his friendship with the Fadal family. Now can you tell us something more about your background, where you were born, raised, school about your mom and dad? I was born in Kansas City, Missouri. My father was in the government so I lived overseas many years. My parents are still with us and live nearby. I have a sister, two nephews, two stepchildren, wife of course, two beautiful granddaughters, two brother-in-laws and an old English Springer who doesn't realize he's a dog. I have a Bachelors Degree from the University of Maryland, Social Studies Composite Degree from University of Texas at Dallas and a Masters Degree from Southern Methodist University. Concerning my family and Elvis; well lets just say he's part of the family and always has been. Can you tell us short about your Elvis History I started collecting Elvis when I was nine years old. Mostly, at that time, were recordings but today I have a very nice collection of Elvis memorabilia, especially 50’s items: ticket stubs, tour booklets, pictures and etc. Now, the first thing that popped into my mind, is this guy an Elvis- fan or is it just one of those authors who also wanted to write an Elvis book. No, Elvis has always been a great part of my life since he first appeared on the Ed Sullivan show when I was nine years old. I imitated him at a school show. I did it many times, even as an adult for students at school and talent shows. That’s a relief, so you are a serious ElvisFan, Did you ever had the chance to see one of his live-concerts Stanley I was very fortunate to see Elvis perform in 1972,’74, ’75, &' 76. They were tremendous shows, especially the one in 1974. It was wild. I do know the shows after middle August 1974 it should have been really incredible, is that also your opinion on 1974, Stanley ? Yes, Elvis was incredible, especially on stage. He was like a tiger on the prowl. His voice was beautiful and yet wild. That show was one of the best. I have seen many artists over the years but none could generate the excitement that Elvis had on stage. He was not only a great singer but a great entertainer as well. Did you find (after you were hunting everywhere in Texas those few years) some rare recordings on audio or acetate or reel to reels or do you know there are people out there in Texas that still have items in their private possession or some information that is still unknown ? Yes and No, The Fadal family, here in Texas, have some film and music recordings of Elvis taken in 1958 at their home. I personally haven't found anything other then the few performances that no one knew about which are in my book. I know you told me you are a teacher and you also lived in Europe in the past, could you enlighten us and tell us more about this? Yes, I teach High School Social Studies (Geography and History) for almost 25 years. I grew up in Europe, mostly in Greece, and it was a great experience. What made you decide to do an book on Elvis “Elvis In Texas” My wife told me many years ago that I needed to write a book. In my mind, I always knew that if I did write a book, it would be about Elvis in Texas. I knew Elvis had toured here more then anywhere else. I used to do a lot of archeology work and would travel through many small towns knowing Elvis had played some of those towns. Sooooooo… One day instead of doing archeology work, I started investigating in those small towns where Elvis may have or did perform. I started tracking down people who may have seen him or better yet, taken a photo, had ticket stubs or etc. Was it hard to track down all those people in those small towns in Texas, Stanley? Not really. My wife says I can talk to anyone and manage to get what I need. I spent three years traveling throughout the state of Texas during my summers off from teaching as well as winter and spring breaks. I crisscrossed the state many times following up every lead. It was a lot of fun researching Elvis because I went to parts of Texas I’d never seen and met some of the nicest people. I know you told me you were excited about a publisher that would work with you, can you explain what went wrong? I was very excited when I finally found a publisher that would work with me. Unfortunately, when the book (1st. printing) came out, the book gave more credit to the person who edited some of my passages but hardly mentioned my name. That was quite a blow since I had done all the research and writing for three years. Good news… the publisher has since ( corrected 2nd. Printing) corrected the situation, but I am still fuming that such a thing could have happened. We learn every day, don't we ... The 2nd edition is now reissued again, that means it sold quite well Stanley. And are you now in terms of speaking satisfied with your 2nd printing. I mean people do know now, you are the author, right? Yes, the 2nd. printing looks good. I feel that by now, most people have gotten the word as to who really put this book together. That being ME of course. Lets just say that if the 1st printing had been completed correctly as the 2nd. printing has been done, we would not be having this conversation on this matter. What kind of books do you read yourself? I like to read books about Native Americans, nature, wild life, history, and music. And which other Elvis author’s work do you enjoy Stanley ? I appreciate the works of Peter Guralnick and Ernst Jorgensen. They each have taken very good care in the details they have presented. Books written for the shear purpose of sensationalizing Elvis do not interest me. And what will the next state be; another great book? Oh, I hope so, but than with a better quality on the paper, please , I know your incredible pictures comes out SO much better. I know it’s not your fault, Stanley, but if the publisher was an Elvis-fan, he couldn’t allow himself to publish 99% of your unknown- unpublished
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