With "Inside Graceland" on the shelves at the ElvisMatters store, we couldn't resist in writing a review of the book. If you don't have it yet, this review will give you an idea of what to expect. The bottom line says it all, we think: ". If your Wish List for Santa isn’t mailed out yet, be sure to put this one on there too."
It was the unexpected Christmas present of the year. Less than 3 weeks after Elvis Unlimited announced the book “Inside Graceland”, the copies are already available at the ElvisMatters shop in Turnhout & online. It seemed as if nothing could go wrong with this release.
The marketing campaign was very successful (the cover and preview pictures showed up at all the major Elvis websites, and we even managed to add the information to our December magazine), the pictures looked gorgeous, the owner of the pictures (Sherif Hanna) is probably the biggest collector in the world with an Elvis archive any fan can only dream of, and third but not least: this new Inside book covers a subject that every fan wants to know more about: how did Elvis really live – how did Graceland look before it was redecorated Priscilla-style?
This book was the answer to all those questions. With all these things going for Elvis Unlimited, it was to expect that this would be a smash seller. Henrik Knudsen walks on air these days: pre orders are coming in with the dozens, and several fans asked for not one, but two copes: one to read in, one to keep. But: is the book what it was said it would be? Simply: yes. We congratulate Henrik and his team for the hard, dedicated work that went into this book. I know that Elvis Unlimited got several remarks about the English grammar errors in their other Inside books, but this one has been proofread by two people, and that shows.Also, if you have the ambition to team up with world’s number one collector, you can’t afford to blunder.
The book itself, is a 110+ page soft cover full color release, same size as the other Inside/Elvis Unlimited releases. In all honesty – that’s one thing I don’t understand. With Ali Baba’s cave waiting for you, why prefer a rather cheap (let’s say less expensive) soft square cover over a coffee table book with hard cover & dust jacket? I understand that tons of these books have to be shipped, but what really matters in the end, is the pleasure it gives the buyers, the fans. This book is worth getting gold on the page edges, so why settle for a flexi cover? If the Memphis Recording Session (Joseph Pirzada) delivers the goods he promised (a decent hard cover large Inside Graceland book), I have no doubt that the fans will want that too – even if the pictures look the same. It’s the way one presents the book, that’s so important. Anyway, that said: let’s turn that soft cover and look “inside Inside Graceland”.
To many die hard fans – yours truly included – it came as a surprise that that many pictures from 1975 even existed – let alone were still in terrific condition. We all know the Jeanne Dumas-pictures, and I honestly thought “that was it”. How wrong I was. It is as if Linda Thompson, who lived on and off at Graceland from 1972/73 up to 1975/76, takes you through the house. It is not clear – not even to the editors of the book – weather it was Linda’s idea to have the pictures taken, or the photographer’s. My guess would be the first, as Linda poses as a model in several outfits in nearly all the rooms of the house. And who better to be your guide than Linda, the lucky lady who was ‘queen of Graceland’ in the era these pictures were taken, right?
This book offers a detailed look into the mansion, the way it was when Elvis was alive. Red, red, red. It is divided in several chapters, with the Foyer opening. Forget the blue touch you see, and think red (with a white finish). One of the many things I noticed, was that there are no pictures of Elvis on the wall (opposite from the ‘new’ interior). Another thing that surprised me, was the story on Getlo, Elvis’s Chow, who is featured on many pictures. The dog got so sick, that Elvis had it flown (on board the Lisa Marie) to Boston for the best medical care possible. Getlo did not survive, and Elvis and Linda were left heartbroken.
The living room looks completely different from nowadays. Everything breaths the Louis XV Style, with red velour. Probably the only things that survived the remodelling in 1982, are the two glass stained peacocks – and that’s about it. It really is incredible. The piano room – now referred to as the Music Room – may have been Elvis’s favourite spot at one point, but not towards the end of his life – at least that’s what Aunt Delta is supposed to have said: “Elvis didn’t really like all the red that was put in, and he started to use the back stairs so he would not have to look at it.”
The dining room has different chairs, in – not surprisingly – red. We could go on & on, and paint pictures of each of the rooms, but you have to see it yourself. From the kitchen (with a playful Linda posing with some of the kitchen staff) and the Den (only later referred to as the ‘Jungle Room’ – with NO ‘view hole’ in the wall, as it is now but instead a large white video screen) to the TV room (which seems to be the only room still ‘intact’) and the pool room (with, good heavens, an organ!): it all looks so familiar, yet so different. The Trophy room is another discovery. For years I wondered how Elvis stacked away his countless awards. These pictures show how proud he really was: the gold records are behind glass, his music awards are on display in a counter-like furniture.
Equally interesting are the stories throughout the book. In one of the stories, Sandi Miller remembers her first visit to the house in January 1976: everywhere she looked, were Christmas trees, with lots of unopened presents. When she looked at the unopened presents, Elvis saw her puzzled look and explained that these were gifts from fans, that he opened one by one, if he had the time. Some presents were left unopened, because he got so many. The toys and teddy bears all moved to hospitals and other organizations.
Other stops of this tour include the racquetball court, downstairs and upstairs, the Meditation Garden (and even that looks different with stairs in Italian stones instead of plain cement), the cars and motorcycles, his TCB trike, the stables, horses and even the wardrobe. Imagine our surprise when we saw lo less than 82 jumpsuits hanging next to each other – with, to give just this example, the Flame suit twice. Elvis didn’t care for that suit & wore it only twice – yet he had two copies!
In all, this book takes you on a fascinating discovery trip through the real Graceland. I don’t know if EPE is too happy with the book, as it puts things in a completely different perspective – but, who cares. The fans will be thrilled with this book full with unexpected treasures. If your Wish List for Santa isn’t mailed out yet, be sure to put this one on there too.