Here is the result of the interview you, the readers of ElvisNews and For Elvis CD Collectors, did with Joe Tunzi. The questions came from all corners of the globe and world wide net, and cover a wide variety of subjects. So the result is kind of a Q&A with Joe Tunzi. Part I focuses on Joe Tunzi and Elvis movies.
On his JAT Publishing website Joe Tunzi described as “widely acknowledged as one of the most reputable authorities on Elvis Presley’s recordings. Photographs from his own photo agency have appeared in the liner notes to numerous audio releases by B.M.G./R.C.A. as well as magazines such as Time, People, and T.V. Guide. His photos have appeared in numerous books by other authors, the Larry King Live television program, the 1998 Country Music Awards telecast, as well as a 1997 television commercial for Blockbuster Video. He has written and published the following books, most of which pertain to Elvis Presley.
Joe Tunzi learned us a lot about Elvis and his work, but the man himself remains in the background. Time to put the spotlight on Joe Tunzi and his work.
Joe Tunzi On Joe Tunzi
1. To start things of, for those few who don’t know you, can you tell us a little bit about yourself, and your Elvis background?
Joe: You could say that I've been in some form of the music industry for all my adult life, working for several Chicago radio stations in marketing and sales. I also owned a few record stores in the late seventies up to the mid-eighties where I started my own direct-mail publishing company. My Elvis background is very simple. The first thing I ever recall seeing on Elvis was the 1960 “Welcome Home Elvis” television program. While my parents were Frank Sinatra fans, Elvis captured my attention that this was one really cool guy and that he was totally different from the other guests on the show. I also remember my dad commenting the night the show aired that the last time he saw Elvis on television was on the Ed Sullivan show. Shortly afterwards, my dad and I purchased “It’s Now Or Never” at a music store called “Deluxe Music” in Chicago which I listened to quite a bit. My dad liked it because it was an Italian song. Being only 7 years old at the time, I would have preferred watching the Chicago Cubs play baseball rather than “Welcome Home Elvis” but Elvis still got stuck in my subconscious as a really cool guy and over the next few years though I didn’t follow him single release by single release, I would listen to the radio quite a bit and followed Elvis that way. I loved "Follow That Dream" when I heard it on the radio in 1962.
2. And to get a feel for your Elvis preferences, can you tell us what are your favorite, Elvis era, song, album and movie? And tell us why these are your favorites? And which books by other Elvis authors do you really like?
Joe: I don’t have a personal preference for a particular era. I try to enjoy all 24 years of Elvis' career. As for my other favorites, I think the term “favorite” is a loose term as these things can change from day to day. Right now I like the film “Follow That Dream” but I also think Elvis' acting was terrific in “King Creole”. Maybe it was because he really wasn't trying to act. He may have been thinking of another calling, such as the U.S. Army which may have relaxed him enough not to overthink his role. I think I would have to include the first two albums (“Elvis Presley” and “Elvis”) among my favorites but I also think that “From Elvis In Memphis” is one of the top ten greatest albums of all time. As for a song, I would have to pick “If I Can Dream” but again all of this is very subjective. Some of my favorite books by other authors would include both Jerry Hopkins original biography from 1971 and “The Final Years.” The original biography is very nostalgic for me personally because it was the first time we had a biography of Elvis of that magnitude. I also enjoyed the first Peter Guralnick book “Last Train To Memphis.”
3. How long have you had an interest in Elvis, as I never heard your name at all before you started your series of excellent books, and would you describe yourself as a fan of Elvis or a business man? (Question from Chris)
Joe: As stated in my answer to question one, my fascination in Elvis began in 1960 and continued until 1964 when I got caught up in Beatlemania. It wasn’t until 1968 that my interest in Elvis returned with a fervor. Don’t get me wrong, I still followed Elvis but from 1964-1968 Elvis was more known then as a motion picture star than as an entertainer.
First and foremost, I am a fan. I truly believe that if you are passionate about something, you should really try to make it work. I’ve been very fortunate to be able to have done as many projects that I have. I am a businessman as well. If I wasn’t, I probably wouldn’t have made it past only a handful of books.
4. Not to stir up any trouble, but if you and Ernst were to change places for the next set of FTD releases, what would you release? What three CDs would you put together for the October (?) release? (Question from Orion)
Joe: What I would do if I were releasing FTD is redo the original double album “From Memphis To Vegas” / “From Vegas To Memphis”. It would be a FTD double CD with the first disc featuring the original albums and the second disc featuring outtakes and some of the best live outtakes from the August 1969 recordings. Also I would include the unreleased selected masters from the August ‘69 performances. I would also redo the Madison Square Garden with both shows included and especially remix the evening show. Being that the Jungle Room Sessions is one of the best selling FTDs it would be a no-brainer to do “From Elvis Presley Boulevard, Memphis, Tennessee”. This is an album that has been dying to be remixed.
I would also like to see the main label redo both volumes of the Worldwide Gold Award Hits but only this time presented the way Elvis wanted them to be, which was in their original mono sound.
Another project I think the main label should seriously consider doing for the 30th Anniversary next year is a rock, ‘n’ soul oriented CD that would cover the years 1969 through 1976. It should be totally remixed in the same manner that 30 #1 Hits was done with the same dedication to remix each track individually. A 2 CD set should be tailored as if it were a new studio album by Elvis. It would feature songs recorded from 1969 through 1976 that are up-tempo rock oriented, whether that be gospel infused rock, country rock, or R&B flavored rock. For my own personal enjoyment, my engineer, John Szymanski and I have been able to do a little remixing and compiled our own CDs of this nature. Let's just say were calling it “Mojo Workin’”. It has 29 tracks and includes “Rubberneckin’”, “Stranger In My Own Home Town,” "I'm Movin' On," “Power Of My Love,” “Wearin’ That Loved On Look,” “I Washed My Hands In Muddy Water,” “Patch It Up,” “Cindy, Cindy,” "I Was Born About Ten Thousand Years Ago," “Got My Mojo Workin’/Keep Your Hands Off”, “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Going On,” “Merry Christmas, Baby,” “Burning Love,” “Raised On Rock,” “Just A Little Bit,” “If You Don’t Come Back,” "Three Corn Patches," “I‘ve Got A Thing About You Baby,” “Find Out What’s Happening,” “Promised Land,” “Talk About The Good Times,” “I Got A Feeling In My Body,” “If You Talk In Your Sleep,” "I Can Help," “Shake A Hand,” “T-R-O-U-B-L-E,” “For The Heart,” "Moody Blue" and “Way Down.” A release like this could be capped off with a new remix such as the one done of “Burning Love” featured in the Honda commercial.
5. Also, what has been released since Elvis' death that blew you away or have you heard anything that blew you away that is still sitting in a vault waiting to blow us away? (Question from Orion)
Joe: One thing that really blew me away when it came out was “The Lost Performances” video. That was probably the closest thing that simulated the feeling of going to an Elvis concert. The