Ginger Alden and her family have exclusively chosen Essential Elvis magazine, Great Britain's official publication, and ElvisNews.com to print her first fan-based interview. Conducted in February 2002 (and first printed in the March / April issue of Essential Elvis) by Andrew Hearn, the magazine's editor and publisher. This revealing interview has caused massive worldwide interest. Ginger herself has expressed that all future requests for interviews will be politely declined. Therefore, please enjoy this rare and exclusive feature ...
AH: Andrew Hearn / GA: Ginger Alden / RA: Rosemary Alden.
AH: Can I start by asking you both to describe the circumstances leading up to your visit to Graceland, and meeting Elvis for the first time?
GA: I first met Elvis when I was five years old. I know my sister Rosemary is telling about this first meeting so I will jump to the evening of November 19th 1976. George Klein called my sister Terry, the reigning Miss Tennessee, asking if she would like to meet Elvis. My sister was engaged at the time but thought, of course it would be nice to see Graceland and meet Elvis. She told George yes, but felt awkward going alone. My sister Rosemary suggested that she and I accompany Terry saying they could always ask us to leave. We arrived at Graceland and were escorted upstairs and in to his daughter Lisa's bedroom. I know this sounds funny but when Elvis entered the room, I thought trumpets would sound. He looked so handsome. He quickly sat in a chair and started talking with each of us. It turned out to be a truly wonderful evening as he took us on a tour of Graceland. Later he sang for us and read aloud from some of his books about religion.
RA: We had initially first met Elvis quite a few years earlier when our father was a Public Relations Officer in the army in Memphis. (We even have several photos of our father with Elvis just after Elvis was inducted). When Elvis returned from Germany and was no longer in the service, our family was invited, by an uncle of Elvis', to join Elvis and a group at the local fairground. I was 12 at the time and Ginger was 5. Elvis remembered my father and walked over to meet him and our family. Elvis was so kind and cordial. He shook hands with each of us and patted Ginger on the head. We never dreamed our paths would cross again or that in 15 years Ginger would become engaged to Elvis!
AH: Ginger, within just days of meeting you, Elvis' seemed to be in constant high spirits, especially on stage. One of Elvis' best live shows, ever, was the New Years Eve show on December 31st, 1976 in Pittsburgh. Please describe your recollections of that evening.
GA: I went to almost every one of Elvis' shows after meeting him and I felt his voice was in the best shape during the last years of his life. It was always great to see him performing at his best and having a great time as with the New Year's Eve show. Like any performance, some shows are just better than others be it sound problems or just being tired. I know Elvis always tried to give 100% for his fans. He was always so happy when Lisa was able to be at his shows. I always sat in a chair near the stage and during that particular show, I remember holding Lisa up so she could have a better view of his performance.
AH: Are there any specific shows that stand out in your mind Rosemary?
RA: There were several shows. The first one being the Las Vegas shows that Elvis had our entire family flown in to see. We were flown in on his private jet called The Jetstar. What fantastic performances Elvis gave! Ginger had already been in Vegas with Elvis while he was performing two shows a night for two weeks. There was also a great show in which Elvis called my sister Terry onstage to play a classical piece. I can't remember exactly which city we were in but during one show, I needed to go to the ladies room and asked Ginger if she would go with me. She said okay but we would have to hurry back before Elvis started his introduction of his band because he usually would introduce Ginger and our family as well. As we were returning, the stage door jammed and we could not get back…all I could think was, what is Elvis going to think when he starts to introduce us and we aren't there? We finally got the door open and just in time for Elvis' introduction! Later that evening, I told Elvis what happened and he thought it was so funny! While performing the very next night, he jokingly said," Rosemary, you just stay put!" He was so very funny. We loved his sense of humor as it reminded us so much of our own.
AH: Elvis proposed on January 26th 1977 at Graceland. Can you give me your recollections and reactions to what happened that day?
GA: When January 26th came, I felt as if I had known Elvis longer than a few months. Our relationship had been so intense as if he wanted me to know almost everything about him in a short time. I knew I had fallen in love and couldn't imagine not being with him. His cousin Billy had told me how Elvis would come in from riding motorcycles, fall across the bed and say, "there must be someone out there for me. We had been together a short time but I felt I had found my soul mate. There was a lot of activity going on that day at Graceland and it had to do with me getting my engagement ring. I was called into his bathroom where Elvis then said many beautiful things ending his proposal with, "I never thought that I would find it in my own backyard, I'm asking you, will you marry me?" I was so happy as he presented a green velvet box, opened it and placed a very large and beautiful diamond ring on my finger. My hand was shaking as we kissed and stepped out of the bathroom into his bedroom. My hand was still trembling as he kept lifting it to look at the ring saying, "oh, boy." We were congratulated by his stepbrothers and Charlie Hodge gave us a small backgammon game as a quick gift.
RA: I know we were all so happy for them both after Ginger came home and showed us her beautiful 11½ carat diamond engagement ring which we later found out had been especially made from his TCB ring that he always wore on stage. I remember thinking now Elvis won't be alone anymore and will have a family again.
AH: Do you still have your engagement ring Ginger?
Yes I do.
AH: Can you tell me a little more about the trip to Hawaii in March 1977? The photographs from the time indicate that Elvis was in excellent spirits (playing football, relaxing on the beach and generally having fun). You were all there weren't you?
GA: My time with Elvis was so special and the Hawaiian vacation was a lot of fun. Elvis knew I had never been to Hawaii and wanted to take my whole family but only my sisters could go at this time. We left on my sister Terry's birthday, which was March 3rd. He was in a great mood, despite the fact, he had mentioned that more of his group had asked to go along and he reluctantly let them. My sisters and I stayed with Elvis in the back of the Lisa Marie during the flight as he joked, laughed and sang. The trip was so beautiful, but unfortunately cut short when Elvis irritated one of his eyes and we had to return to Memphis. I stayed at Graceland and administered eye cream for a few days so I could help him be prepared for his next tour. I felt he genuinely had a good time on this trip and it was so wonderful to see him relax, go out to a shopping mall and sing. I have never forgotten the thrill of that vacation!
RA: Yes, Elvis wanted to take our whole family but they couldn't leave their jobs so Terry and myself went along with Ginger. We had a great time in Hawaii seeing Elvis relax and take in some sun.
AH: Apart from the vacation in Hawaii, can you tell me about any other trips that took place with Elvis? We're aware of your Grandfather's funeral in January 1977.
GA: When my grandfather passed away, Elvis was very concerned and really wonderful. Of co