In the early spring of 1976, my Southwest Texas State University (now Texas State) journalism professor Jeff Henderson, asked his class on the second floor of Old Main to write down the names of two people we would like to interview if we could.
When he called on me to reveal my answers, embarrassingly, I said “Elvis Presley and Clint Eastwood.”
Spontaneously, my classmates laughed. Their answers were reasonable…and safe: the police chief, fire marshal, county commissioner, etc. But Jeff held his hand up and looked me seriously straight in the eyes and asked, “Why don’t you?”
WHY DON’T YOU?
“Look, Jack. You just came back from winning Investigative Reporter of the Year Award out of every university in the Rocky Mountain Collegiate Association,” he smirked, then grinned. “So, my question to you is—why don’t you?”
I thought of scores of reasons why I couldn’t. Jeff’s question would have profound impact the rest of my life. So, why don’t I? Within eight months, I interviewed both Presley and Eastwood.
I traveled to Memphis during Spring Break with one mission in mind: To do the impossible by interviewing Elvis.
Just a few days after my arrival, staying at a nearby (from Graceland) Howard Johnson’s, I was called in by a local radio station to be interviewed myself because there was much buzz (was that even a word, other than the sound a bee makes, in ’76?) about Elvis.
It was recently announced he’d be performing in his hometown later that summer. Months away and thousands of fans had been camped out for two days in line to buy tickets.
The day before, I drove by the Mid-South Colosseum and was astonished. People were in tents, sleeping bags, lawn chairs and on blankets waiting. Although it was hot and humid, they were happy.
Through the years I’ve found dedicated Elvis fans to be among the happiest people on the planet. Their camaraderie expands beyond man-made limiting boundaries such as race, politics, religion and sex. Generally, they’re united.
Two nights before, I gained quick notoriety among Memphis fans for gaining the “impossible dream.” I scored an interview with Elvis Presley!
As a young journalism student from then Southwest Texas State, I did my homework. The stars were aligned:
🔹Local fans were not swarming around Graceland,
🔹It was a time sandwiched between Elvis’ mother Gladys’ birthday week (reasoned he may leave to visit her gravesite) and Mother’s Day. Yes, it was a long shot, but I was giving it all I could.
🔹With donuts, coffee and burgers from the Hickory Log cafe, I befriended Elvis’ cousin Harold Loyd and other Graceland gate security guards at night…and Uncle Vester Presley, Charlie Hodge and others during the day in between naps (Elvis was a night owl, so I had to be).
🔹The big card up my sleeve was the ace in the hole: I was President of the Texas Chapter of the official Elvis Presley Graceland Fan Club.
Invited to the radio station because of the spike in interest of the upcoming concerts and me landing the interview, the DJ began asking questions in rapid fire.
I answered them as fast as he spit them out, but when he paused for a commercial break, I defaulted to my normal mode of operation–to engage in conversation rather than his Q&A approach.
He started taking live listener calls. It was compelling enough that he kept me on air for over an hour.
I was psyched, of course, but somehow all this excitement calmed my youthful ego. I was very thankful for meeting Elvis, but especially grateful for his kindness. When you hear or read how nice he was to fans, believe me, it was very genuine kindness.
Shaking the hand of the man my parents, my sister Bobbi and I would see on the giant screens of the Trail or Mission Drive-In theaters, watch on TV, or read about in magazines and newspapers, was a surreal and humbling experience.
Meeting Elvis taught me much, including the value of doing homework, being prepared, investigation and a more engaging approach to interviewing.
Most of all, it taught me to never let self-imposed obstacles get in the way of my dreams.
Photos of Dodie and me taken at Graceland, SUN Studio, on June 24, 25 2020.
The following August, I was able to meet Elvis briefly backstage at Hemisfair Arena in San Antonio to present him some official honorary documents from the City, Bexar County and a Texas-shaped award from fans across the state.
Two of my favorite journalism classmates under Jeff Henderson, Janis Johnson and Vicky Highsaw, joined me on the front row center section for the Elvis concert.
Photos taken from front row, center at Elvis Presley’s August 18, 1976 concert.
Elvis Presley unveiled his wedding band ring at The Aladdin Hotel in Las Vegas on Monday, May 1, 1967, the day he wed Priscilla in a ceremony that celebrated one of the most famous marriages of the 20th century.
The band is decorated with eight baguette-cut diamonds within a border of sixteen fill-cut diamonds. It sold at an auction for $90,000 in 2006.
Note: At the same auction by Profiles in History, the original Cowardly Lion costume worn by actor Bert Lahr fetched $700,000. Presley’s band had an expected sale price of $100,000 – $150,000.
Here is some information about the wedding band from 2006:
Knowing I’m an advid autograph collector, my mother, Geraldine Dennis was always on the lookout and obtained several signatures for me.
In April 1969, she took me to a Tom Jones concert with my cousins Carolyn Sanders Gerland and James Johnson at the Hemisfair Arena in San Antonio, Texas. Gladys Knight and the Pips and comedian Norm Crosby also appeared.
They performed on a stage, in the center of the arena, with an amazing orchestra on one side. I was only 13 and the entire show was incredible. Tom Jones sang such hits as “It’s Not Unusual,” “Delilah,” and “Help Yourself.”
I was mesmerized by the strength in his voice and boldness of his showmanship. (It would be three years later, in April 1972, when I would see Elvis Presley for the first time at that same arena…and up until that concert, never did I believe Tom Jones could be beat. LOL.)
For years Mom would laugh and say, “When I die I want to come back reincarnated as a gospel backup singer so I can stand behind Tom Jones and watch him work on stage.”
She meant it.
On her 50th birthday we took her to the Magic Time Machine restaurant. It first opened in 1973, the year I graduated from high school, and continues to be a fun favorite in San Antonio.
The Time Machine is like no other restaurant I’ve ever seen, with no two seating areas alike. In San Antonio, you can sit at the Sweethearts Table, in The Attic, a Thatched Hut or even an old Refrigerator. Mom loved the salad bar, a shiny red 1952 MG-TD Roadster modified to serve as a soup and salad vegetables.
“The thing that sets The Magic Time Machine apart is our zany cast of characters who transport our guests into another point in time,” their website bills themselves. “Our servers dress in costumes representing popular pop culture icons from the past, present, and future. The entertainment comes from the humorous interaction with your server in a family friendly environment. Pirate or Princess? Hero or Villain? We have characters for every occasion and group. At The Magic Time Machine, ‘Laughing Aloud is Allowed’!”
It was a fun night that January 17, 1988. Elvis was in the house and Mom told her friends Wayne and Betty Lewis, “I wished Tom Jones would make an appearance too” and explained her reincarnation wish.
We had great laughs but it was especially joyful to see her open my present to her—an 8×10″ glossy personally autographed picture of Tom Jones. The smile and happy tears on her face endure in my thoughts even today.
I took mom to see Tom Jones two more times (she had even seen him in Las Vegas) both in San Antonio’s Majestic Theater and the Laurie Auditorium. Each time she repeated her reincarnation wish–“gospel singer behind Tom Jones.”
When Mom died in September 2006, the funeral at First Baptist Church in Boerne, Texas was full. My sister Bobbi Shipman and I both addressed our dear family and friends, some we hadn’t seen in decades. Of course, there was great emotion and sadness.
To end it all, a gospel group from a Black San Antonio church led by Janet Givens (she has sang to royalty and backed up Michael Bolton) practically blew the stained glass windows out of the church with their songs. They concluded with “Oh Happy Day!”
Mom’s funeral was appropriately uplifting…just like her.
I imagine that as Sir Tom Jones celebrates his 82nd birthday here on Earth June 7th, Mom will be wishing him good will and happiness from Heaven–and looking at his behind.
“Channeled and embodied my father’s heart and soul beautifully”
The day before the May 15 release of Lisa Marie Presley’s album, Storm & Grace, the daughter of the most famous entertainer in history sent a social media message to the world regarding the upcoming Elvis movie.
This release, her first album in seven years, is also her Universal Republic/XIX Recordings debut. Presley is managed by Simon Fuller, CEO and Founder of XIX Entertainment. The album was produced by 12-time GRAMMY® winner T Bone Burnett and recorded at The Village in Los Angeles.
“When Lisa Marie’s songs arrived, I was curious,” Burnett said. “I wondered what the daughter of an American revolutionary music artist had to say. What I heard was honest, raw, unaffected, and soulful. I thought her father would be proud of her.”
“The more I listened to the songs, the deeper an artist I found her to be,” he continued. “Listening beyond the media static, Lisa Marie Presley is a Southern American folk music artist of great value.”
Since 2019, Lisa Marie has met several times with director Baz Luhrmann about the Elvis movie. She told Us Weekly, “I have been involved with Baz. He has come to my home and he has been emailing me… In fact, we’re going to be having another lunch at my home. He’s keeping me on top of everything. It’s been wonderful. He is a genius. I’m not getting involved with any kind of telling him what to do or how to do it or suggestions. No, no. I think this will be very stylized, very different.”
The movie follows a young Elvis, played by Austin Butler, as well as his dealings with his wife, Priscilla (played by Olivia DeJonge) and his manager, Colonel Tom Parker (played by Tom Hanks.)
When prompted about what she thought of the Colonel Parker role, Lisa Marie said, “Tom Hanks can pretty much capture anybody as far as his acting ability and how professional he is and how deep and deeply involved he gets with the character…I’m extremely pleased. I think that it’ll be very good.”
During filming, Tom spoke about a conversation he had with Priscilla, who revealed she had great affection for Colonel Tom, which is a different perception to that which many have.
He told late night host Stephen Colbert: “I was expecting to hear stories about the distrust she had for Colonel Tom Parker over these many years.”
On her post, Lisa Marie revealed she has seen Luhrman’s movie twice. Her thoughts?
“It is nothing short of spectacular,” she said. “Absolutely exquisite.”
“Austin Butler channeled and embodied my father’s heart and soul beautifully.”
“In my humble opinion, his performance is unprecedented and FINALLY done accurately and respectfully.”
“You can feel and witness Baz’s pure love, care and respect for my father throughout this beautiful film, and it is finally something that myself and my children and their children can be proud of forever.
“Elvis” will be released in theaters June 24, 2022.
Elvis Presley was flat out the world’s greatest singer. The King of Rock and Roll has been gone longer than the number of years he lived, but the truth of his legacy keeps marching on.
Even now, the recorded voice of Elvis has been heard by more people on earth than any other human being in history.
With his amazing versatility, he mastered and broke records (no pun intended) across music barriers.
Jack Dennis polled Elvis fans across the world from August 1-December 1, 2017 and again for CleverJourneys from January 3-May 1, 2022 to find out which songs they believe or wished he should have recorded. Over 3,400 fans (3,421 to be exact) responded.
Note: Jack Dennis (Texasjackson) was the president of the Texas Chapter of the Official Elvis Presley Graceland Fan Club in the late 1970s and at the time of Presley’s death in August 1977. He continues to maintain friendships with Elvis’ friends, family and fans globally.
Here are the top 50 songs Elvis fans wished he would have recorded.
I Will Always Love You
Originally written and recorded by Dolly Parton in 1973, “I Will Always Love You” is the number one song Elvis fans wished he would have recorded. The song won an Emmy for Best Recording of the Year by Whitney Houston in 1992 (from the movie “Body Guard”). Other notable covers were by Kenny Rogers in 1983 and Connie Talbot in 2007.
Old Rugged Cross
“The Old Rugged Cross” is the number two choice of Elvis fans. It is a popular hymn written in 1912, the year Elvis’ mother Gladys was born, by evangelist and song-leader George Bennard.
In order of Elvis fan choices here are the other 48 songs they wished he would have recorded:
In 2020, defying lockdowns and wearing masks, we took a 32 day roadtrip from the Texas Hill Country to Washington DC and back.
Our first stop was near Fort Hood in a central Killeen Texas neighborhood. If the walls of the circa 1950 ranch-style house at 605 Oakhill Drive could talk, they’d sing!
It’s a nice house but doesn’t have any visual features that dramatically set it apart from the other homes in the area not far from Conder Park. It’s a one-story, brick home with a rather large mailbox out front.
As big Elvis Presley fans, we thought there might be a landmark sign designating it as the house the most famous entertainer in history lived while going through Army training.
At the height of his early fame, the Army drafted Elvis in 1958, and at the Memphis induction center, he received his shots, his buzz cut, and his orders. On March 28, he and others were sent by military bus to Fort Hood, the Second Armored Division, General George S. Patton’s “Hell on Wheels” wild bunch.
Enroute the new troops stopped for a restaurant lunch break in Hillsboro causing “a small riot” when teenage customers recognized him.
Elvis didn’t want any special treatment offered. His desire was to be just another G.I. His fellow soldiers saw that in him and Elvis became one of the guys.
Private Simon Vega recalled, “I thought he was gonna get special treatment but he did KP, guard duty, everything, just like us.”
When basic training was completed, the Army allowed soldiers to live off base as long as they had dependents living in the area. It was not long before Elvis’ parents, grandmother, and a friend traveled to Killeen where they found a three-bedroom home to rent from Chester Crawford, an attorney who charged an outrageous $700 a month.
Soon crowds began showing up on Oakhill Drive to catch a glimpse of Elvis. It was common for him to stand outside and talk to fans for hours. Occasionally, he detoured through neighbors’ backyards to avoid the crowds, and according to neighbor Janie Sullivan, the clothesline in their yard once caught Elvis and the dog bit him.
Not everyone was thrilled by Elvis’ presence in the neighborhood. Some Oak Hill residents called the police to complain about the clouds of dust stirred up by the cars and the carnival-like atmosphere.
While completing an additional ten weeks of advanced tank training, Elvis had to take emergency leave to fly to Memphis to be with his mother, Gladys, who had returned home to be hospitalized. She died two days later on August 14.
After his mother’s funeral, Elvis returned and put in long days at Fort Hood learning to be a tanker. During his final days at Fort Hood, large crowds gathered outside his house, and some nights a hundred people kept vigil. The last night, on September 19, 1958, Elvis and his gang gathered at the home to make the drive to the troop train that would take him and 1,360 other G.I.s to Brooklyn to sail for Germany.
Biographers and friends reported that Elvis’ time at Fort Hood and in the Army was among the happiest of his life. For a time, he was almost “just another soldier.” Everyone agreed that Elvis was a good soldier, one of the best in the company.
His longtime girlfriend, Anita Wood, said, “he had finally found himself.”
Elvis said later, “I learned a lot about people in the Army. I never lived with other people before and had a chance to find out how they think.”
In 1958, longtime Killeen resident Edith Carlile lived four doors down from the house Pvt. Elvis Presley lived in with his parents, Vernon and Gladys. Presley rented the home for seven months from a local lawyer when he was stationed at Fort Hood.
“The street was extremely crowded with cars going by,” said Carlile, who lived next door to the house Presley lived in before she passed away a few years ago. “People were standing in the yard, wanting to touch him, kiss him.”
Carlile was a mother of four at the time, and wasn’t really into the rock ’n’ roll music that Presley is famous for.
“I’m not a fan of music of that age,” Carlile told a local news reporter, adding she was more into the tunes of the big band era.
Her children did get autographs from Presley, but Carlile said she threw the signed pieces of paper away years later.
She said the rock ’n’ roll king dated a few of the local girls when he was here, and his presence made a big impact, especially in the Oakhill Drive neighborhood, which in 1958 was home to lawyers, business owners and other upper-middle class families.
More than 64 years later, the house is still standing, and although it’s aged, the outside doesn’t look dramatically different from when Presley lived there.
Surprisingly, more recent owners of the Presley’s rental house indicated they didn’t even know the house had once been lived in by Presley when they bought it some years ago.
To this day Elvis fans regularly pop by the house to take a video, some puctures or inquire about the former home of the King.
Some drive hundreds of miles to do so. Others want to peep inside or look at the backyard.
Although there has been updated renovations (exterior windows and roof) owners are reluctant to offer details.
In November 2006, the 2,400-square-foot house was placed for purchase on eBay.
The owner at the time, Myka Allen-Johnson, a sales representative for CenTex Homes, said she wanted to sell the home to someone who would understand the historical significance.
“I didn’t buy the house with the intention of selling it on eBay,” Allen-Johnson told the Killeen Daily Herald in 2006. “I just don’t want people to forget that he lived here in Killeen.”
Penny Love was 3 or 4 years old and lived around the corner in 1958. She recalls her family seeing Presley sneak through her backyard to avoid the crowd that waited out front. She said she would sometimes sit on Presley’s father, Vernon’s lap on the front porch.
The community has missed out on any significant tourism and marketing opportunities over the years. In August 1958, Presley fans petitioned the Killeen City Council to change the name of Oakhill Drive to Presley Drive, bringing nationwide publicity to the area. Today, however, Oakhill is still the name of the street.
The owner said she allows Presley fans to take a quick picture of the front of the house. But those who try to pry closer are not totally welcome.
The backyard has a steep incline, she said, which can be dangerous, and a German shepherd patrols back there, too.
Barbara Eden will make her first-ever appearance at Elvis Week 2022 on August 15 at Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee as a special guest at Conversations on Elvis. In memory of the 45th anniversary of Elvis Presley’s passing, she will share some of her favorite memories of co-starring alongside Elvis in the 1960 film “Flaming Star.”
Throughout her illustrious career, Barbara Eden has starred in over 25 feature films, five network TV series, and 19 top-rated network made-for-television movies. Her iconic “I Dream of Jeannie” NBC Television series, launched in 1965, became an instant hit.
In addition, Barbara is a New York Times bestselling author with her memoir, Jeannie Out of the Bottle. She most recently released her debut children’s book, Barbara And The Djinn.
Barbara also guest starred on Nickelodeon’s #1 animated Pre-School series Shimmer & Shine lending her voice, for the first time, as Empress Caliana. Barbara keeps busy acting, making personal appearances, touring, participating in numerous charity events and home life, all of which are a part of her regular agenda.
Facts About the Elvis Presley Song That Changed the Direction of MusicForever
The phenomenal blues-rock n’ roll song was written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stroller. It contains 12 bars and was originally recorded on August 13, 1952, by Willie Mae “Big Mama” Thornton in Los Angeles. Late in the following February, the song was released by Peacock Records.
Houndog may have been her only hit record, but sales of Thornton’s version reached more than 500,000 copies. In the R&B music charts, it stayed number one for 7 weeks. One of the first ever “crossovers'” it also remained on top of the Country & Western and pop charts.
It took a while, but Hound Dog, in February 2013, was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame for playing an important role in the development of Rock and Roll music.
Due to the popularity of the song, Hound Dog has been recorded over 250 times. Elvis Presley had the most famous version. He recorded it in July 1956. In the list of 500 Greatest Songs of All time in Rolling Stone magazine, it in #19.
The sales of Presley’s Hound Dog surpassed a historical 10 million copies and marked the beginning of the rock and roll revolution. Many music historians and writers considered as the most commercial song of Presley during his life.
Hound Dog has appeared in movie soundtracks including Nowhere Boy, Indiana Jones and Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Hounddog, Lilo & Stitch, Forrest Gump, Grease and A Few Good Men.
Prior to Presley recording it, Hound Dog had been covered in 10 different versions including records by Freddy Bell, Billy Starr, Tomy Duncan, and Eddie Hazelwood.
Three Music Historians Open the Blinds of Truth on How He United People of All Races
With Over 40 Historical Photos
Presley fans across the globe realize that knowing the truth about Elvis Presley and the subject of racism requires knowledge about his early childhood and an exploration of the facts of his life throughout his career.
The great American musical pioneers of the 1950s were precise in their adamant characterizations of Presley being a uniting force. They often described him as the person who did far more for bringing blacks and whites together than anyone culturally.
According to three of the finest music culture researchers around the world, they all agree that Presley was a catalyst and powerful (as an individual human being and a worldwide example) influencer from the beginning and still continues to be.
Some time ago, I reached out to three experts on the topic to set the record straight. Their cumulative research represents over 85 years of study, exploration and documentation in the field of culture, music history and Elvis Presley. These specialists are:
Guillermo F. Perez-Argüello
Craig Philo (CP) is a music researcher and historian from Sheppey, in Kent, U.K.
Jay Viviano (JP) is a pop culture historian with over 20 years of experience in research of icons of the 50’s and 60’s, with a strong concentration on Blues artists.
Guillermo F. Perez-Argüello (GPA): “Critics and the uninformed should put themselves “in the position the 7-year-old Elvis Presley found himself in, circa 1942. He was white, but living in an area of Tupelo, Mississippi, totally surrounded by African Americans.
With an unerring ear and a photographic memory, he totally absorbed everything he heard, LIVE, at the gospel churches attended by African Americans. Now, this was not Georgia, Florida, New York, or Illinois, let alone California, Washington State, but Mississippi, a state which was then the poorest of the then 49 states of the Union.”
Craig Philo (CP): “Sam Bell, a childhood black friend in Tupelo, feared for his friend when Elvis made his life changing journey to Memphis at the age of 13 with his beloved parents. You see, perhaps old Sam knew a thing or two about human behavior, knew how his friend’s open and honest approach to all he came in contact with, driven into him by his mother not to hurt another’s feelings would someday hurt him, how right he was!”
GPA: “Then, at age 13, with his parents, he moves to the second poorest, Tennessee, actually to Memphis, the crossroads of urban and city blues.
Forget about the ear and the memory as, by now, starting at age 16, we are talking about a human being who MUSICALLY loves and masters everything around him–namely R&B, the Blues, and Gospel of all denominations, plus European ballads, Country and Western, Opera, Neo-classical recordings, Pop, you name it, he masters it.
And to top it all, he is armed as well with the most eclectic and elastic voice in history. In 1954, it became the most important, which it remains to this day. And that is why BB King was so impressed when he first met him, a lad of 17. ‘He knew more blues and gospel songs than anyone I had ever met’ and years later added, ‘I understand why they call him the King.’ Nuff said, from the King of the Blues.”
Jay Viviano (JV): “Reverend Milton Perry was an early Civil Rights activist in the 1950s. He had Elvis’ back just like many other great legends did. He published an open letter to Black America in a 1957 magazine that stated, after spending time talking to not only white people, but Black people in the R&B and Blues community, as well as African Americans that knew him as a child in Tupelo.
‘I found that an overwhelming majority of people who know Elvis speak of this boy as a boy who practices humility and a love for racial harmony,’ Rev. Perry wrote. ‘I learned that he is not too proud or important to speak to anyone, and to spend time with his fans of whatever color, whenever or wherever they approached him.’”
GPA: “Elvis stealing from black music? Tell it to BB King, Otis Redding, James Brown, Jackie Wilson, Cissy Houston, Darlene Love, Jim Brown, Mohammed Ali, Jesse Jackson, Al Green, Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Sammy Davis Jr. Count Basie, even Public Enemy’s Chuck D, who reconsidered his 1989 views in Fight the Power, and he did so in 2002, as well as to hundreds of other notable African Americans I have on record saying that was NOT the case with Presley.”
JV: “BB King, bluesman Little Milton and Little Richard referred to Elvis as an ‘Integrator.’ And they both use the words ‘that guts it took for Elvis to do what he was doing’ in their own interviews.
Elvis ticked off mainstream racist white America when he came on the scene–especially the KKK and white Citizens Council members—by hanging out with black folks in public, speaking respectful of black artists and continually defending rock and roll, R&B and blues music to the point that young white American kids were paying attention and opening up their minds.
This drove their parents (meaning mainstream racist white America) to anger against Elvis. For his first two years on the scene he was public enemy number one. Little Richard in a later interview in his life praised Elvis passionately for his impact on young white America.”
CP: “In all my time on researching Elvis Aaron Presley I have never ever once come across any racial behavior or activity. Indeed the only stuff you will find was a slanderous lie that’s gathered mythical proportions through the years originally reported by Sepia magazine in April of 1957 and consequently torn to shreds by none other than the great Louie Robinson of Jet Magazine.”
GPA: “In fact Louis Robinson, the talented African American writer who Jet Magazine commissioned to go to LA and interview Presley on the MGM set of “Jailhouse Rock”, in 1957, to obtain his views on racist and other “copycat” remarks which appeared in SEPIA, a magazine geared towards the African American market in the US South. But unlike Jet and Ebony, it was owned by white anti-integrationist and based in Fort Worth, TX.
Robinson has just passed away. He unequivocally stated the rumors were false, so this mentioning of Presley as one who stole, or copied, from African Americans and coming from a prestigious magazine as Ebony tells me (that any writer who differs), well how can I put this, is ill informed.”
JV: “The truth though, which stands up to scrutiny, is that there simply was no other white man as famous as Elvis back in those days that took so many hits for proudly befriending the black community.
The ridiculous fact that people try to spread the opposite as ‘some sort of truth’ makes it paramount that this is handled aggressively.”
CP: “When actor Sidney Poitier and tennis great Arthur Ashe wanted to write books, they sought Mr. Robinson’s help.
‘Never in my life have I known a better man,’ Poitier said.
Yes, Robinson went and interviewed Elvis on the set of Jailhouse Rock. The fact Presley was never in Boston when the quote was reputedly made matters little to some. It was and remains a vicious lie concocted by a fearful white middle America as a weapon to try and cut down this brave and carefree spirited individual whose only crime was to record the music he loved and respected. And at all times in doing so paid reverence and respect to those black artists that he deemed did it better than he did. After all, there is no color in music!”
JV: “People need to get over their ignorance about American history. Elvis did himself NO favors back then by hanging out and letting himself be photographed with black folks. Racism was a common blatant practice of the day. It was these very things that made Elvis hated by many older white folks, yet respected by the black community.
Reverend Milton Perry concluded his statement by saying ‘Presley set an example of wholesome Brotherhood. I find something to admire in Presley and that is his attitude on the racial issue. And that it would be good if other people in the South in other parts of the nation emulated his attitude’.”
GPA: “Notice that, in the US, of all the early Blues, Country and Western, Gospel and R&B masters, the ones who sprang from them, namely Elvis Presley, Fats Domino, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Bill Haley, Little Richard and Ray Charles, let alone the ones who sprang from or appeared in the scene IMMEDIATELEY after them; namely Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, Ricky Nelson, Buddy Holly, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, Gene Vincent and say Eddie Cochran, the only one whose MUSICAL palette was totally complete was Elvis Presley.
Otherwise, how can one explain that the top singer in the world, on December 4, 1956, should start, the guitar now firmly in his arms, the so called Million Dollar Quartet session with an Agustin Lara song from 1941, the classic “Solamente una vez.” Only Elvis, in this case with (his mother) Gladys’ music taste’s help, was destined to rule.”
JV: “Interestingly, not only did Elvis have the same Blues background as many blues men had, but also their same Country and Western roots. As so many Blues artists did indeed, in many of their interviews, state they had strong Country and Western music influences as well.
Otis Blackwell had strong country and Western roots. Some in the Blues and R&B community accused him of being too country. That explains why he and Elvis were probably such a perfect fit right out of the gate for Elvis to end up doing a handful of his songs. I always thought these dynamics were interesting and things aren’t always cut and dry as people assume.”
CP: “Is it so farfetched or is it just simple logic that of the time in mid-50’s segregated America that it took a white kid to bust open the doors for all these truly great black artists?
Is it right that Presley gets lambasted and ridiculed by so many because he was that one?
People seem to forget the song that catapulted him to stardom in the south had on the backside of it ‘Blue moon of Kentucky’ steeped in Bluegrass/Country, until Presley spiced it up as he did with ‘That’s Alright,’ which is in no way a theft of any kind! Crudup is in there but so too are other influences. Presley was not a COPYCAT! A COOL CAT YES!”
JV: “I mean is there anybody that SERIOUSLY would say, if they could go back in time, they would tell Muhammad Ali, James Brown, BB King, Bobby blue Bland, Etta James, Sammy Davis Jr, Jackie Wilson and many others, they were wrong for proudly calling Elvis their friend and stating he was a help to black artists.
Many of them said it wasn’t until Elvis got other white kids across America listening to rock and roll that it was after that, their own records started to skyrocket in sales. And if we go back and look at the physical numbers and sales charts we see this is true.
Even modern activists that have been around since the 1960’s civil rights movement have admitted they were wrong about Elvis. Nikki Giovanni there for the movement since the 1960s is a perfect example: ‘I’m glad to find out I was wrong about Elvis.’
Dret Scott Keyes when becoming aware of the integrity Elvis had, always pointing out the black music influence on him, just as he did the country and western and white pop artists, ‘Elvis was honest.’ And they’re certainly not the only ones.
The R&B community acknowledge him and inducted him into the R&B Hall of Fame the same year along with Little Richard, Bobby Rush and other legends that had publicly praised Elvis.”
CP: “When a reporter referred to Elvis as the ‘King of Rock ’n’ Roll’ at the press conference following his 1969 Las Vegas opening, he rejected the title, as he always did, calling attention to the presence in the room of his friend Fats Domino, ‘one of my influences from way back.’ He often paid homage to Fats recognizing no one could sing those songs like he did.
From close friends to the many, many black entertainers that he adored or merely those that met him briefly, have come out and said PROUDLY he was my friend. To quote Muhammad Ali, ‘Elvis Presley was the sweetest, most humble and nicest man you’d want to know.’ Sammy Davis Junior another also was quoted as saying “the only thing that’s matters, is that he was my friend.”
GPA: Rev. Thomas A. Dorsey was highlighted on a recent Black History Month television program and I the “mention of Mahalia Jackson and Elvis Presley having recorded the Reverend’s ‘Take my Hand Precious Lord.’ There was another song also penned by the Reverend which was, in fact, written for Mahalia in 1937 and which Presley sang live, on January 6, 1957, during his third appearance at the Ed Sullivan Show, at CBS.
The audience, estimated by Trendex, the precursor of Nielsen, at 50 million. As this may be the largest audience ever assembled on US television for a gospel song, ever, and that includes Obama’s swearing in which drew less than 50 million. It may be important to take note of what became of it.
Presley wanted to sing it, as he had promised his mother that he would do, but Ed Sullivan was initially against it. During rehearsals that same day, the decision to film Presley from the waist up only was taken by Sullivan, for other reasons, so eventually Sullivan eased on Presley’s request.
Elvis was allowed to sing it that night, immediately following Sullivan’s announcement that Presley wanted specifically for those watching to send their contributions towards the lessening of the plight of some 250,000 Hungarians fleeing the Soviet intervention of their country and which had taken place on both the 24th and 31st of October of 1956. Sullivan added that Presley wanted to dedicate the song to the Hungarians.
By the end of 1957, in the next 11 months, some $6 million were received as a result of Presley’s request. In 2010, the Mayor of Budapest honored Presley posthumously by making him a citizen of that city and naming a park facing the oldest and most beautiful bridge, the Margaret Bridge, after him.
The song’s delivery by Presley was so earnest, that it brightened the hearts of the 50 million watching, and they in turn, as I said, sent the equivalent of $49.5 million in 2016 dollars (SFR 26 million at the 1957 SFR 4.31 to the US$ exchange rate). So, the Reverend’s song brought a happy ending, via Elvis, as the refugees settled for life in both Vienna and London.”
JV: “Just one example is Elvis being the ONLY white artist that bothered to show up at charity events for black folks. Google ‘Elvis Goodwill Review Memphis.’ Carl Perkins, Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, Bill Haley and many other white artists, were NOT doing these things. And many of the black artist from those days have pointed this out, while making it very clear, Elvis WAS.
People need to get over the NEED to inaccurately, continue to portray Presley as just some ‘cold-hearted cultural bandit.’ We need to quit believing the lies and rumors that keep getting passed on over the decades as “truth” and to start respecting the words of our legends who said otherwise.
To even try to disagree with these things or argue against it only makes those that do look bad, and it’s a disrespect to our great black legends that have praised and defended Elvis.
There were white guys back then that were cheap imitations, just jumping on the bandwagon, like Pat Boone, and others that are guilty of appropriation, but James Brown, BB King, and many others said Elvis was NOT the one. They pointed out Elvis came from extreme poverty and humble conditions and new and respected the music he was singing.
The R&B community has done the research themselves in recent years and found out Elvis was incorrectly labeled ‘a racist and cultural thief.’ They have done their part trying to publicly honor Elvis in many ways the last few years and help clear Elvis name of slanderous claims of him being a ‘racist thief.’
Many have paid attention to many of our great black legends from the past who have defended Elvis in their interviews and in their own autobiographies, basically stating how much credit EP always publicly gave to black artists in his interviews and how much help he was to the black community ….especially when we consider the KKK is documented to have hated Elvis.”
CP: “For far too long accusations of cultural thief, racist and white trash have been disgracefully hung around Presley’s neck like a blinding Vegas neon sign. The time has come once and for all for this crap to be debunked–blown to smithereens. You can label it anyway you like, but purely and simply, isn’t it time the real truth was told?
Now telling the truth, researching the truth is far different from listening to rumor. If you think by cupping your ear to listen with intent to nasty whispers and needless tittle tattle in trying to dirty a man’s name is without shame, then continue. The real shame here is that actually that man stood for so much that was right with the world. Still, if that is OK and of noteworthy behavior to you then stand up and be counted and look like the fool you are. Do some reading! In all seriousness it borders on stupidity and ignorance of biblical proportions.”
It was fun interviewing and meeting performers (Elvis Presley, Willie Nelson, Clint Eastwood, Freddie Mercury, Kenny Loggins, Jim Messina, and Jackson Browne, to name a few).
In journalism school at Southwest Texas State (now Texas State) University, I started out as University Star Fine Arts Assistant Editor my sophomore year.
Especially rewarding were lessons I took away from writing reviews of concerts, theatrical performing arts, books and art. Committed to learning all I could to hone writing skills, I paid particular attention to Journalism and English professors who endured my thirst for knowledge in and out of class.
One of the more prominent lessons was the “Three Act Narrative.” Today, we have the Internet, but I wouldn’t trade the value of learning from brilliant teachers and good ol’ trial and error.
In screenplay writing, I’ve learned movie plots go by a formula called “The Hero’s Journey.” However, in practically every story you’ve ever read or seen has more in common than you think.
What if I said that a bloodcurdling horror movie with zombies and a Shakespeare play has the same building blocks? Sounds bizarre, doesn’t it? But it won’t be once you understand what narrative structure is.
Plot vs Narrative
You may have heard of the word plot and the word narrative, but they are not one and the same.
🔹‘Plot’ refers to the summation of events in any given story.
🔹 ‘Narrative’ refers to the way the plot is structured and presented to the reader.
Detective novels involve the investigation recounting what actually happened in the mystery. While the plot would involve these details regardless of where they appear in the text, the narrative offers the reader clues along the way and saves the big reveal for the end.
By cursory glance, the structure may seem inconsequential. But in truth, the narrative is what makes every story satisfying.
As readers, we love to piece together the details of any story ourselves before its revealed at the end. We also love when the writer peppers foreshadowing throughout the novel, as it makes the ending that much more satisfying. Even twist endings make sense in some way. But why is that?
This is because of a concept most writers use called the three-act structure. The concept is simple; your story can be divided into three, clearly defined or not, acts, each serving a different purpose. At its simplest, a story must have a beginning, middle and end. But how the writer structures these three has a large impact on how the story itself is read.
Act I: The first act has all to do with the setup. Also known as the expository act, this part of the story establishes everything we, the reader, need to know.
Where is this story set? If it’s not a real-world setting, what are the rules by which the universe operates? Who is our main character? What are their strengths? What are their weaknesses? What is the main conflict our hero must overcome? These are all questions the first act must answer.
The first act also features an ‘inciting incident’ that sets the story in motion and slowly builds towards a major plot point.
Act II: The second act starts right after the first major ‘incident’ in a novel. In The Wizard of Oz, this would be when Dorothy reaches Munchin Land for example, and the first major plot point was Glenna the Good Witch telling her to “follow the Yellow Brick Road.”
The second act’s role is to build towards the big climax by adding additional details that will become relevant later and include a second major plot point. Some novels may even feature a ‘midpoint’ – this is where the protagonist is at their lowest or the farthest from achieving their goals.
Act III: The third act packs the biggest punch of all – the climax. But before the climax, there must be something called a pre-climax. This is the part where the protagonist is working towards the climax in which they face their primary conflict head-on.
In The Wizard of Oz, this would be the lessons learned along the way with Scarecrow, Tinman and the Cowardly Lion to be overcomed before Dorothy confronts the Great and Powerful Wizard.
The third act is usually the shortest act in any novel because it moves so fast. Following the climax, the novel quickly offers a resolution that wraps everything up.
The 19th-century German writer Gustav Freytag adapted the three-act structure into what is now known as Freytag’s pyramid.
According to Freytag:
🔹‘Rising action’ is where the stakes are continuously raised and the key to building a satisfying climax.
🔹‘Falling action’ is when the big conflict is conquered and the story either winds down for a resolution or resets for a sequel, as is the case with most children’s books.
The name ‘three act structure’ comes from the fact that most dramas, especially dramas in ancient Greece as well as most of Shakespeare’s play years later, followed the three-act structure almost religiously.
Aristotle, in his seminal work ‘poetics’, where he explains the mechanics of what makes a good story, explains the important way to keep a story moving is its “cause and effect beats”. Every scene in a story must feed into the scene that happens next and not seem like standalone episodes.
The three-act structure is especially important in cinema, which must fit a remarkable amount of plot points, rising action and character growth into two hours or so.
Screenplay writers rely on the three-act structure to help them pace their movie in a way that keeps the audience engaged as well. The three-act structure really took off in the film industry after Syd Field’s pioneering book ‘Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting. This book has served as a reference for some giants in the industry like James Cameron, Steven Spielberg and Clint Eastwood and in writing their own movies too.
The three-act structure has become so prevalent that it has also influenced the way TV shows are written. You may have noticed that when your favorite television show ends on a cliffhanger, the next season quickly resolves the cliffhanger so it can move on to building up the story again.
A narrative that is just as intense throughout the story with no build rarely has a satisfying ending. So what these TV show creators are doing is something like a soft reset. They are slowly building conflict again so that the season finale can be the most exciting point in the season.
Once you realize the basics of the three-act structure, it’s not that hard to spot. Whether it’s in books, movies, or TV shows, the three-act structure is everywhere.
A common topic of discussion in our family after watching a movie or seeing a play include questions like Where did the writers go wrong? Was there not enough exposition? Was there too much exposition? Did they drag out the middle?
The recorded voice of Elvis Presley has been heard by more people than any other in human existence. Elvis remains arguably the most famous and recognizable entertainer in history. From music, movies and memorabilia, his lifetime earnings were $4.3 billion–worth $19 billion today. His earnings since his death on August 16, 1977 far exceed that.
Here are some of our readers favorite articles about Elvis from Clever Journeys, beginning with the most widely viewed.