Elvis By The Presleys – The Book

By Peter Verbruggen - Elvis MattersMay 8, 2005
Elvis By The Presleys – The Book
Not a Pulitzer price winner (but I would buy it again) For months now, picture previews, special launched websites and cheering news updates made sure that we wouldn’t forget to pick up a copy of “Elvis By The Presleys – the Book”. Last Friday, I had mine at home. Although I’m in the news paper business myself, and therefore somewhat immune for over-enthusiastic news bulletins, I have to confess that I counted the days to finally get my hand on The Much Talked About Book, the first joint venture as it were, of Lisa and Priscilla. After all, wasn’t this what the official website said: “Elvis By the Presleys is a unique fascinating treasure and serves as the essential companion to a major tv special…” Unique. Fascinating. Treasure. Essential…. I mean: what more does a fan need to be persuaded? And there’s more where this came from: “In all, the book is the compelling result of a historic gathering of voices of those who not only witnessed from the wings Elvis Presley’s public life, but also knew the superstar out of the spotlight.” What this actually means is: if you don’t buy this book, it’s your loss. So, there were my 19,50 euros (I know where to buy them cheap ;-)) and here was my book. Let me first start by giving my personal view on the cover… I’m sure that somebody has a scientific explanation as to why the general public will buy a dull cover with a piano keyboard, three small familiar pictures and an old man’s reading glasses – but I can’t find one. To put it mildly: the cover is not a Pulitzer price winner, far from. But it’s the content that counts, right? With the words “unique” and “historic” still in the back of my mind, I ran thru the book looking (hoping) to find the ultimate treasure. Knowing that Ed Bonja once told me that Graceland has at least 3,000 unreleased pictures of Elvis – I wanted to know what I had missed all those years. Sorry to disappoint you, but if you’re looking for great seventies pix, you just came to the wrong place. I found… two. One on page 203: black and white, Elvis pictured from the back and to blurry to call it a quality shot. And another on page 200: admitted, that’s a great shot of Our Man on stage in 1969. But that’s all, there’s no more. My mistake probably: it’s supposed to be a book about the “man” Elvis, not the legend. But strange as it may seem, I didn’t find too many pictures of that either. Of course we all know the family pictures of Elvis in the green chair, little Lisa on his lap and Priscilla next to him, but I wouldn’t exactly call those “unique”. Then the strangest thing happened: what I did see, were pictures that I really didn’t want to see. Lisa’s baby plate with Disney pictures, an (empty) cigarette case, a clock radio (11:02 am) top view of a case of Mountain Valley spring water, 3 cigars, a bullet from Elvis’s Colt .45, diving glasses, a pair of baby shoes, a child’s bicycle, and a matchbook from the Sahara hotel (1962). All full page pictures, in color. A bit disappointing for the ultimate “historic gathering”, remember the synopsis? But fair is fair: I did see a few interesting pictures as well. Dodger’s glasses in close-up (they look funky, man!), the last record Elvis played (“a Stamps acetate”) and a scarf, signed: “To Yisa, Long Beach Arena. I Love my Yisa. Daddy, Wednesday Nov 15, 1972”. Private pictures of Elvis and Priscilla: don’t be too excited about those either. There are a few, five or so, but that’s about it. I know for a fact that there are many more private pictures of Elvis – the father and husband – out there, but Priscilla apparently didn’t want them to be released yet. There just may be a sequel to the book, you never know… If they do put out a sequel, let’s hope that at least they correct some of the mistakes in the book. Have a look at the bottom picture on page 85: never knew that Vernon and Priscilla’s father were identical twins. But, let’s skip the picture part – although that’s half of the book – and go to the interviews. It’s clear that the editor, David Ritz, used the DVD-interviews as only source for the book. The advantage is that the written part is easy to understand for non-English speaking fans. People interviewed on film, for some reason always use an easy-to-understand vocabulary. The effect of knowing that all the producers are looking for are SoundBits, probably. On the other side, the book never gets any depth. If Lisa Marie decides not to talk about the subject – that’s exactly what she does: not talk about it. For instance; she was barely 9 when Elvis passed away. That traumatic night must have left a big imprint on her youth – so I turned to the last chapter… only to find two quotes: one of Priscilla (“the last year of his life was rough, and we underestimated his emotional pain”) and one of Patsy Presley (“People will continue to listen to him, no matter what”). Not a word on how little Lisa remembers the first hours of her life after Elvis, and how she must have felt in the eye of the storm. Most quotes in the book are not really revealing. It’s as if Lisa, Priscilla and Patsy only seem to confirm what has been written over and over. Although I did laugh out loud when I read about Dodger. Lisa is quoted as follows: “The woman was hysterically funny. She’d insult anyone who’d come within a five mile radius of her. People feared her. Among the fans, she even got a little famous. One fan asked her: “Aren’t you Aunt Delta?” “Hell no”, she snapped back, “Aunt Delta is dead. The old hag died last night.” Don’t know about you – but I find it incredibly funny! I can almost hear her say it. I just wish there were more of those memories that we, the die hard fans, haven’t heard before. Going thru the book backwards, my eye fell on the very first sentence of the very first quote (page 3): “Who can think of Elvis without thinking of Graceland? Walk through the front door and you feel him. To understand Elvis – the real Elvis – is to see him, in his truest element. That’s Graceland.” It could have been the opening line of the Graceland Guide Book. But maybe that’s what this book actually is: a well packed invitation to come to Graceland, an encouragement to keep the business going. No harm in that. I just wish they’d simply say so, and stop calling the book the compelling result of a historic gathering… Final conclusion: If I sound disappointed, that’s because my expectations were too high. It would’ve been a different ball game had they not announced this book as a must-have, a document you can’t live without. Sometimes, honesty works miracles. For those on the doubting side: no collection can really do without “the” book by Lisa and Priscilla – only because of the names of the co-writers. But once read “Elvis By the Presleys” probably never leaves the shelf again. And 20 euros is not really a bad deal for a hard cover Elvis book with 240 pages, is it?
Elvis Presley on: eBay, Amazon


emjel (profilecontact) wrote on May 20, 2005report abuse
I too have been disappointed by the boo and CD. There are a few photos that I haven't seen before, but there must be hundreds of unpublished posed pictures that would have enhanced this book. I bought it now 'cos I managed to get down to the book signing. On to the CD and this was a real disappointment too. OK, we knew that the first disc was going to be made up of tracks we'd already got, but the flow is all wrong. Going from "Trouble" straight into "Hawaiian Wedding Song" just doesn't work for me. And as for disc 2, this must be the shortest playing time for an Elvis CD. And it just seems a mish-mash of a selection. Maybe BMG thought they were giving us a freebie instead of a proper double disc set. I'm now hoping the DVD will be the redeeming factor in this release trilogy.
PTCJones (profilecontact) wrote on May 18, 2005report abuse
I have to agree with most of the other opinions. I was not very impressed with the whole theme. I thought the CD was uninspired, the DVD mostly the same (with the exception of Jerry Schilling's contribution and the Karate sequence) and now the book lives up to the other two. Close ups of a mail box, big huge in your face writing isn't what I was expecting. What happened to all the rare and unpublished photos??
swan (profilecontact) wrote on May 16, 2005report abuse
I bought this book last tuesday well its ok Like many others said before i expected a treasure trove of pictures i was dissapointed. its a ok read was hoping for more i think. has anyone got a first edition book? lets hope the dvd wil be great
Rick Mercoa (profilecontact) wrote on May 14, 2005report abuse
I bought the book today, curious as hell I ran through it and just finished it. This book could easily been putt in a pocket with a set of unpublished photos separately. Looks to me that with the deal of Graceland & EPE they where obligated to make some promotion for the theme park Graceland., Together with a tv serie where we weren't waiting for. The cd set is also a disappointing alternate greatest hits.collection. “Second to none” and “30 number ones” weren’t enough ! At least putt more rare recordings on de bonus cd. Just wait till the next FTD is released and you'll see that the takes are used on a good album! I haven't seen the DVD yet but I heard that a lot of the material is Joe Esposito's 8mm and again we are seeing nothing new. As Peter said, they have access are we “fans" appearing that stupid?
bennie (profilecontact) wrote on May 14, 2005report abuse
To the opinon of Peter Verbruggen who wrote the artikel: Your defenitly right. I received my copy today. All I can say to those who haven't bought it or ordered it. Take a chance to see it before you buy it. It's a disappointment. And I dare to state A wast of you money. There are far better books available. Or wait for the DVD. But for the few (and I mean a few) new pictures it's a really disappoitment when you realize what kind of archive the have to there disposel. come on Priscilla, you can do better than this.......
jeff (profilecontact) wrote on May 12, 2005report abuse
I bought this book last week.Like many other fans,i expected a treasure trove of unreleased pictures of Elvis..so was dissapointed when this proved not be so.However,it still is a book to cherish,there are many pictures of a personal nature,memory,etc that will delight and touch every fan,and some little treasures from lisa do bring a tear to the eye.so this compensates for the lack of `rare photos` of Elvis i was expecting after all the promotion of this book .Like so many other books,there is the odd error,especially on page 85 which states Priscilla and Vernon in front of Graceland,this is Priscilla with her dad!!!,or maybe i need a new pair of glasses!!,and that kind of error is unacceptable considering the authors.The memorys shared and told to us reveal nothing new in my eyes about the `private Elvis`,but are told in a very touching way,both happy and sad,and clearly in my view,Elvis was,and still is,and always will be,loved eternally by Priscilla and Lisa,and by all who knew him in a personal way,be it family,or friend,and also by those who never met him,namely fans,just like us!!.There is only one way of honestly judging this book in my view,and that is to buy it,dont expect in the likes of a Sean Shaver,Joe Tunzi,etc,but enjoy it for its true intent and worth,a beautiful book written by those who knew and loved Elvis more than we ever can or ever will know..We all remember Elvis in our way,but,as we all agree,he was human and had faults and weaknesses as we all do,at the same time he was the most caring and beautiful person.As for the cover,never judge a book by its cover,a wise man once said!!!.In closing,i rate this book highly, it does leave you wanting more, thats a great success and a credit to all involved.
U.S. Male (profilecontact) wrote on May 12, 2005report abuse
I saw the book yesterday and I can't wait to get it!!!
Juliepresleyfan (profilecontact) wrote on May 11, 2005report abuse
sorry didnt mean to put you off. but i was dissapointed in that there werent many photos of Elvis family and pets too, and ofcourse Elvis too. too many pics of artefacts which were too big. should have been smaller pics of those so a few more family pics could have been added. maybe lisa and priscilla rushed the book too quickly thinking that will do. well i too feel cheated but there you go , still its new i suppose, but nothing much new in there really. best wishes
vegaskid37 (profilecontact) wrote on May 9, 2005report abuse
Thank you for reviewing the book. Watching "Elvis" on CBS last night I was looking forward to those unreleased movies to be shown this Friday night. now. I'm sure we've seen them all. As far as the book..I'll wait till it's on a "clearance sale" next year or the year after for $5. Long live the legend
Nilson Rego (profilecontact) wrote on May 9, 2005report abuse
Nice Verbruggen! As a matter of fact, I would not like to be in Lisa and Cilla´s place. They have been loyal to Elvis´ memory for a long time. They did not want to be crucified and had to preserve interests. They are ethic people, trying strongly not to disappoint millions. They could not betray Elvis´ image and had the difficult challenge of bringing us something new. How??? They did their utmost. And got it!Thanks once again, Cilla and Lisa. Mainly you, Cilla. "How great thou both art"!
cathyreno (profilecontact) wrote on May 9, 2005report abuse
I to was expecting too much from this book photos were fantastic, some stories funny and and some sad 'lisa's drawing to her parents' Aunt Delta little quip. The photo of the scarf to Lisa very touching, Not much to read about with nothing new and I paid over 20 euro and I think I was robbed. Anyway hope the DVD will be better,
Viva (profilecontact) wrote on May 8, 2005report abuse
Well thanks Peter and the rest of you, it looks as if my first reaction when this book was announced was right. I thought that it would be a sanitized, wishy washy type of read designed to purely make money by saying nothing new. I was however, swayed to order it by the claims of the unreleased documents and pictures it was supposed to contain. Now I've read what you guys think, I have now cancelled my order. It seems that this book will contain hundreds of words but won't actually say anything. I don't need a book to tell me how great Elvis was, or how funny he was, or what a great humanitarian he was - I know these things already, so 'Cilla and Lisa, my dears, please stick your cynical and lame attempt at revealing Elvis' story where the sun don't shine. I should have known you couldn't be trusted to deliver.
pacer1965 (profilecontact) wrote on May 8, 2005report abuse
Thanks Juliepresleyfan on your opinon of the book.I was tempted to get it because of the photos but I dont think I will bother now
asd123 (profilecontact) wrote on May 8, 2005report abuse
Maybe scient, took all her (elvis') money ;) Don't have the book yet, but i can wait after reading some dissapointing reviews!
newyorknewyork (profilecontact) wrote on May 8, 2005report abuse
For weeks now I have been undecided wether to buy this book or not. Over the years I have spent an absolute fortune on Elvis books, cds, etc. I absolutely loved the dvd box sets that came out last year. But this time I wasn't sure what to do. I felt quite guilty because I thought that if I didn't buy it then I wasn't a true fan. But I read an article some where which said that Priscilla was broke! I really don't want to line her pockets if I can help it. I used to feel sorry for her, because it couldn't have been easy. But millions of people divorce every year and she has probably had more money than any body I know has. Maybe it's about time that she stood on her own two feet and didn't rely on Elvis so much.
MauriceColgan (profilecontact) wrote on May 8, 2005report abuse
Flicked through it in our large bookshop where it is prominently displayed, and read the review in the million selling, "The Sunday Times", magazine today. Another Elvis book to be ordered from our public library herein Irelandtoo, just a hundred yards from our home:-)Then many others will enjoy the book with so few new photos.
Juliepresleyfan (profilecontact) wrote on May 8, 2005report abuse
i was eagerly awaiting my book, it arrived on election day may 5th. i also got Elvis and me by priscilla i ordered at same time. looking at both books ive noticed a lot of the quotes are very similar, the new elvis by the presleys quotes could have come from the Elvis and me paper back. now to the book in question well, i for one was very disappointed in it, i prefer the usa cover. we were promised personal photos of elvis the family man, and the family talking about him the book to leave al others in the shade. as i read some of it, i realised i can feel that lisa and priscilla are still being guarded and said very little new quotes. i mean we werent asking for a tell all, but more of a feel what it was like to be that close to the man we adore.
I think it was nothing but a money making scheme to get more dosh from us fans, in total weve been duped yet again. my friend looked in a book shops copy and decided not to purchase he was so disgusted. i will keep mine but im sad it was not better, come on priscilla we dont want to know everything about really personal bits, we are respectfull of your privacy after all, but maybe you should rethink it its not exactly as was promised. us fans just want to get to know more of his personality he is so much more than vegas and love me tender. Now he is sadly gone , you priscilla and lisa are among a group of people who really knew him when at home. and we rely on you to get to know him. hope the dvd is a lot better, from julie xxx tcb

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