The recorded voice of Elvis Presley has been has been heard by more people than any other voice in history.
More photographs of Elvis have been taken than any other entertainer in history.
More articles have been written of Elvis than any entertainer.
More books have been written about Elvis than any other entertainer.
More people visit Graceland in Memphis and Elvis’ birthplace in Tupelo than any American each year.
I’ve known and admired many Elvis fans since the early 1970s during the days of his record setting concerts across America. Some I classify as Superfans. Loyalists like Carol Nowell, Sherry Evans, Kathy Savelio, Vera Burford, Cissie Lowe Young are just a few that immediately come to mind as people I would nominate if there was an Elvis Fan Hall of Fame.
Charter members would include:
Lida Kiejzer, from Holland spent years, with painstaking detail, creating miniature replicas of Graceland and the Tupelo birth house.
Becky Yancey, who was Elvis’ secretary and a confidant from March 1962 to July 1974. I’m honored to be her Facebook friend. Her book “My Life With Elvis” was the first honest book I read about him in 1977.
Mindi Miller, a devoted girlfriend to Elvis since 1975 has remained steadfast in her love and remembrances through the years.
Don Wilson, who has hung out with and faithfully chronicled the life of Elvis friends, relatives, associates and other actors over the years.
There are so many to name and admire, but without reservation, the most intriguing are those aficionado types who study, research and nearly obsess about the life and mind of Elvis.
One such Superfan is Darrin Lee Memmer, who has written at least a score of books on Elvis.
A few days before Dodie and I embarked on our month long roadtrip in June 2020, Darrin’s late book, a curiously titled “ELVIS, The Hand of Fate & SUN,” was published. I ordered it through Amazon, knowing I wouldn’t be reading it until our return home.
During out trip we visited many Elvis sites including his Killeen, Texas rented home in 1958 near Ft. Hood, his memorial at the home of the Louisiana Hayride, Circle G Ranch, Graceland, Audubon house, Humes High School, Lauderdale Courts, and SUN Studio.
When I mentioned we’d be going to Tupelo, both Darrin and Mindi Miller said they found it a different experience–more “spiritual” and “soulful” than Graceland. They were right. To get the same effect at the Memphis mansion, I had to walk away from the tourism and set alone in the back yard for a while.
I decided to wait until today, in fact, I began last night, the 43rd anniversary of Elvis’ death to read Darrin’s book. Like many fans, it’s our own “personal holiday” set aside for reflection, music and memories. I’m glad I waited until after I experienced some of these locations. It made the book even more meaningful.
I was somewhat surprised and humbled to be listed alongside the names of Priscilla Presley, Lisa Marie Presley, Mindi Miller, Scottie Moore, Kathy Westmoreland, TCB Radio Network, and others on page 14 as a reference in his research.
For the most die-hard fan, Darrin offers a detailed analysis into some of the most sacred moments in music history–especially the defining experiences of “Elvis Presley the teenager” during high school and into Sun Studio.
He actually interviewed some of Elvis’ classmates and neighbors that we are fortunate to still be around to provide intimate insight. The result is a analysis so detailed, Darrin compares the minute features of lyrics between studio takes and other artists.
Just from reading this book (and scanning the titles of his other Amazon offerings) it’s obvious he takes on some of the misinformation and misinterpreted stories of Elvis’s life. In the Elvis World, there are occassional threads offering different and sometimes skewed opinions of history. Darrin is tenacious in weeding the tales from the truth.
Darrin shows his references in detail and describes his research including
“access to primary source materials, and interviews with those who were there at the time.”
It took me a chapter or two to jive with his writing style, but once I figured it out (he uses “your author” to describe himself or nicknames like “”Cat” for Elvis, for instance), it was no different than doing the same during opening scenes of a movie.
The book title threw me off, until I read it. He explains that it’s drawn from Marion Keisker, Rufus Thomas and Sam Phillips quotes. If you’re beyond casual fan level, you recognize those names.
“It was Elvis who said in a ’56 interview (by Louis F. Larkin, a piece called “God is my Refuge”) that his success in entertainment had to be “a Plan of God.”
Of special interest for me are the never-before-read eyewitness accounts of Elvis’ 12th grade Carnival Variety Show performance and Sun Studio recordings.
Marion Keisker’s account of Elvis’s first record being played on the radio.
“By the time the evening was over, we knew that we had a big hit,” she said. “I never saw it happen with any other record…by a complete unknown…that sounds so different and so packed with excitement–that before it even played one minute, the public reacted immediately. And I have always found that to be true, since then. Now matter how you feel about how you act to Elvis, you react.”
“It’s impossible to remain neutral about Elvis Presley and one of his performances. You feel something and you feel it very intensely…”
I will be ordering another of Darrin’s Elvis books today.