'Elvis and Me': Memorializing Elvis Presley

By: Nada Marjanovich
Source: lipulse.com
October 30, 2017

Priscilla Presley: 'I start my show off saying, 'You're probably wondering why I'm doing this'. I think it's time. I feel much more comfortable with crowds, with people and with talking', says Priscilla Presley. 'I just want to clear up so many things that have been altered or perceived differently. I want to put the record straight from my side'.

Everyone has an Elvis story. The first time they heard him, the first time they saw him, the time they did a remake of one of his hits or imitated his style… Elvis was a lot of things, which makes for a lot of stories. He was rock 'n' roll and for that matter he was a parable for our country during his time. He was wild and creative, alive and vibrant, reckless, impetuous, generous, unstoppable, hypnotic and consuming. Even at his worst moments, he seemed to be all of this. For that, some forgave him and others turned away.

Like most music lovers, I've been an Elvis fan all my life. When I got the invitation to moderate a discussion of the king's life and work with Priscilla Beaulieu Presley, I was naturally floored. Of all our stories, she is the only one to have the story of being his wife, confidant, friend, accomplice and the mother of his child. To prepare, I read her memoir, Elvis and Me. Among other things, Priscilla shares intimate details about their 18 years together, the complications of it all and the life of the king.

Priscilla Presley's 'Elvis and Me' Starts November 4.

Through the precious prism of her relationship with the legend, we learn about some of the forces at play behind the world's greatest star. Priscilla tells the tale of a complicated man under extraordinary circumstances. She wrote the book for their daughter, Lisa Marie, who is living her own extraordinary life. But I also think she wrote it for herself, the undying love she shared with Elvis and for him too. 'In many ways, I don't feel like we ever left (each other)', Priscilla told me. 'We still cared for each other. We still called each other, I went to his shows, I visited him at Graceland and he'd come to see me early morning hours at my home and he would always come by and show me one of his newest cars. I'm still very close to basically most of the old gang. Sadly many have passed. This tour is many things for me…It's staying in touch with his fans, clearing up myths, rumors and lies, and to be honest, it's very therapeutic. I also answer questions from the audience'.

Priscilla exposes a man of exceptional vastness. The energy and emotion we enjoyed from the performer was no act. It was the product of a man who lived just as fiercely, felt just as deeply and hurt just as badly. We learn of the couple living a life of sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll, but also a deep rooted hunger for the forces influencing this life. Elvis taught us how to plead to be loved tenderly because he was tender. And he also taught us how to shake with 'Jailhouse Rock' because he was able to love every moment freely like it was his last.

I always wondered what influenced Elvis to make music that could influence so many others it spoke to them across all genres. Or that people in any country could be so taken by words they didn't understand. Elvis loved opera and gospel, read books on philosophy voraciously, played with guns, rode horses, was afraid to fly but seemed to fear no one. 'Elvis enjoyed listening to and watching opera. The emotional ties between conductor (with his baton in hand), music and his orchestra was intriguing to him. He loved the drama put forth when the maestro would get lost in the music and guide his 50 or more men and women who themselves would get lost in all the glory of emotion. Sometimes he would take his cane and mimic the conductor as we watched…Elvis loved the operatic tenor voices of Enrico Caruso, Jan Peerce, John Gary, Mario Lanza … Beethoven, Mozart, Brahm', Priscilla told me.

Priscilla Presley's 'Elvis and Me' Starts November 4.

Despite the painstakingly curated costumes and acts, he came to us honest and vulnerable. Pure. Because he was so exposed to us, it's easy to think we knew everything about him. Then again, it's impossible to know everything about even those we are closest to.

Here are five things you might learn about Elvis from Priscilla Presley's perspective:

Elvis was a homebody

To avoid crowds, Elvis was often cloistered in his home with his wife. 'We didn't go out for dinners. We had our cook and didn't want to be interrupted with people coming over asking for autographs or gawking at him while he's eating', Presley says. 'It got so bad that even if we were sunning around our pool in bathing suits we'd hear the bushes rustling - sure enough there were paparazzi behind the trees'.

Elvis was a night owl

Elvis had his fun late in the evening. 'We'd go to the movies very late at night until the early morning hours; that's when he'd go to the music room and start playing', Presley says. 'Never his songs - it was always other people's songs. Mostly with me it was gospel singing. Everyone else would be asleep so it would be great'.

Priscilla Presley's 'Elvis and Me' Starts November 4.

Elvis wasn't going to play indefinitely

Unlike his contemporaries Chuck Berry and Little Richard, Elvis, who died at 42, didn't see himself performing into his golden years.

'You have to remember that back in the day, age 40 was getting up there. In fact, he was wondering what he should be doing', Presley says. 'He was thinking maybe he should be giving it up because he didn't want to be old on stage singing rocker songs'.

Elvis was nervous about his '68 Comeback Special'

In December 1968, Elvis made a big return to the music scene when this special aired on NBC.

'He was so nervous. Mind you, it was the first time I saw him perform live in front of an audience. It was quite an experience for me', Presley says. 'He thought for sure it was going to make him or break him. He hadn't performed in almost 10 years. You can't be so confident that things are going to go right and that people are going to love you'.

Elvis and Priscilla remained close even after they divorced

Although they married in 1967 and were divorced by 1973, Presley says the couple had a deeper bond back to when they met in 1959.

'Elvis and I liked each other. That made a big difference right there. Just because you get a divorce does not mean you have to hate or dislike, it just means things change', Presley says. 'For me, it was trying to find out who I was. I got so caught up and wrapped up in him'.

The couple were always in contact, right up until his death on Aug. 16, 1977.

'I talked to him just a couple of days before he passed. We spoke a few times a month. He'd even come visit me alone at my home in L.A.', Presley says. 'We still cared very much, which made it quite easy. We didn't have a divorce like most people do'.

1 Week To Go!! 'An Evening With' Priscilla Presley Australia

Just 1 week to go, Priscilla Presley will be in Australia. Gold Coast Nov. 4, Perth Nov. 6, Melbourne Nov. 9, Sydney Nov 12. Following the tremendous success of the 'The Wonder Of You' Tour, RCM touring are bringing Priscilla Presley to Australia in November for an intimate 'An Evening With' conversation event. The nights will be titled Elvis and Me and will provide fans with rare insight into Priscilla's life with Elvis.

Buy Tickets ...


Priscilla Presley

Interviews with or about Elvis Presley 'He poured his heart out to me': Priscilla Presley, candidly speaks on life with Elvis
Interviews with or about Elvis Presley Interview with Priscilla Presley (2017)
Elvis Presley Video Elvis: 40 Years On With Richard Wilkins & Priscilla Presley (05:05)

Interviews with or about Elvis Presley Read Interviews with and about Priscilla Presley

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