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Interview With Christophe Jouanne

Jul 11, 2002
Can you share a little about yourself with us?

There isn’t much to say : I’m 37 years old, married, and my job involves working with computers. I started out in the printing business, almost 20 years ago. As the equipment improved, I was finally able, like a lot of people, to purchase a personal computer. I had been thinking about doing something on Internet for a while, but I first had to learn how to use the new software. I work on the site when I’m on vacation and when I have the time, and living in the country somehow inspires me. Unlike other fans, I wasn’t lucky to have a member of my family who loved Elvis, and you might even say that I was ”protected” from rock ’n’ roll during my childhood – only to fall for it later in a big way, but as they say, better late than never!

How did you become an Elvis fan?

I became a fan by accident, in a way: from early childhood until the age of 14, my musical ”education” was essentially classical – Beethoven, Mahler and Bruckner were more familiar to me than Elvis. I spent a good part of the time buried in music sheets, going from a symphony to an opera, without looking up to see if there were anything else. Then, one day, a friend at school told me about Elvis, whom I didn’t know and had never seen on TV. This friend gave me 2 audio cassettes: if I remember correctly, the titles were ”Madison Square Garden” and ”Elvis Now.” I didn’t listen to them all that closely at first; to tell the truth, it wasn’t an immediate revelation. I put the tapes away, promising myself that I would listen to them more carefully later. And it was some months later that this happened. It was mid-1976 when I listened to the cassettes and discovered in Elvis’ voice something that reminded me of what I was used to hearing in classical music: first of all, it was the idea of being backed by a large orchestra which affected me in a familiar way, and I no longer felt that I was in a completely unknown territory. In other words, I found classical references to this kind of music - rock ’n’ roll, in fact – that I was just discovering. Strangely enough, I limited myself to these 2 cassettes for a number of years, listening to them more and more often and appreciating more and more because each time I’d discover things that I hadn’t heard the time before.

My first important purchase was in 1980, when I found the box set ”Elvis Aron Presley” at a record store: I looked at the content, it looked good, so I bought the set. This represented quite an investment for me, since I was still a student at the time. I listened to the set so many times that, for fear of wearing it out, I finally bought a second set as a ”spare” in case the first ever had an ”accident”. At that time, CDs weren’t on the market, and nobody could tell that they would be some day. Everything has changed now, and I can’t see myself buying 2 copies of the 4-CD box. After that, I bought all the Elvis on vinyl that I could find, I did the rounds of the record shops almost every day, I passed quite a few orders, and finally I succeeded in securing the main part of the Elvis catalog. This was no easy task in the seventies, especially since I had no outside help.

Do you really collect Elvis? Only music, or also collectibles and/or books?

I collect everything that concerns Elvis’ concerts. You might say that that’s my ”specialty”: his concerts, his recordings – especially audio -, the vinyl releases, both official and non-official, before the first CDs came out. I prefer everything that’s audio, as opposed to those who prefer video, but that’s a choice I made when I started collecting. At first, I had some difficulty finding concert recordings, because RCA hadn’t released much, but then I learned about ”parallel” [i.e. bootleg] recordings, and I was able to really start a collection that made me discover stage performances that I never would have imagined before: unreleased songs, incredible versions by a sometimes overexcited Elvis. I also had to learn expressions from the ”Elvis language”, such as ”dinner show,” ”midnight show,” ”afternoon show,” and ”evening show.” One I had got it all clear in my head, things became easier. These performances allowed me to share my listening pleasure with other fans, in particular through concert articles that I wrote for the Luxemburg Elvis Club. I also own a number of singles and magazines, some large-format calendars et about 400 concerts in audio cassette, not to mention over 3,200 photos, most of them of Elvis on stage.

What in general is your favorite Elvis stuff?

As far as collecting is concerned, my preference goes to vinyl records and CDs, and also books, of course: some of them are great, but it hasn’t always been easy to find them in France, or they’re overpriced. This is why I didn’t concentrate essentially on collecting books – at least, I don’t have as many books as Laura Levin! As for the audio items, I bought everything that I could find in the city where I live, where there isn’t much of a choice: nonetheless, for a while I would go the rounds of all the bookstores and browse through the foreign-language magazines, hoping to find an article on Elvis, since the neighboring countries (Germany, Great Britain) write more often about Elvis than the French do.

Name your favorite Elvis song, movie and album (at the moment).

Well, it’s rather difficult to name one song as my ”favorite”: there are several that I would put in the same category. I can name ”Always On My Mind,” ”but also ”America The Beautiful,” ”Stay Away,” not to forget ”The Twelfth of Never,” both the original version and the version remixed by David Briggs in 1994: it’s very unfortunate that Elvis never recorded this last song officially, because it’s really a fantastic ballad. As far as movies are concerned, I have to admit that I’m not too much into movies, although I sometimes watch 1 or 2 over the weekend. I prefer TTWII, that’s the real Elvis, and he’s not acting, he’s himself. My favorite album? Right now, of the official releases, I would say that it’s the re-release of ”On Stage” with the added tracks: it corresponds to a period when Elvis was in great shape. As far as bootlegs are concerned, even though there have been others since then, for a long time now I’ve been listening to the double CD ”Gyrating Elvis”, the recording of the Asheville concert of July 23, 1975. I waited more than 15 years for that particular concert, so you can imagine how delighted I was when I heard that it was finally released. There was a rumor 6 or 7 years ago that it was going to be released, but nothing happened – until now. Of course, the sound isn’t first-rate, but the atmosphere is fantastic, and there are interesting songs, especially ”Turn Around And Look At Me.”

What's your favorite Elvis site?

Difficult to say, because there are so many sites on Elvis that it’s not possible to limit my selection to 1 site only, or even 2 or 3. So I’ll mention 4 sites, each of which has a little ”extra,” a ”specialization” so to speak.

The first site is Willem Kaauw’s ”For CD Collectors Only”, not only because it’s the first site that I discovered on the Net, but also and especially because Willem gives interesting, exhaustive and up-to-date news, not to mention his work in the bootleg department. The second site is ”Crazy Canuck” by Claude Baker, because of his well-documented jumpsuit collection and the pertinence of his comments, and also because the dates he gives are correct, which is not the case for other sites. Claude wanted to give up and close his sites, so I’d like to advise everybody who’s interested to visit them. If they were to disappear, they would be missed, and others would never get to know them. The third site is Francesc Lopez’ ”Elvis Presley In Concert”. Francesc has some very good ideas on his site, in particular the very interesting section where fans who actually saw Elvis in concert, either in the 70s or in th
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