Interview with Elvis Presley: October 28, 1957, Los Angeles
September 17, 2017
Elvis Presley: October 28, 1957 - Pan Pacific Auditorium, Los Angeles, California
Attired in a red jacket, a black shirt and pants, a yellow tie, and black shoes with a cool silver belt studded with rhinestones, he made a rather colorful figure. And a frank one, as you will see!
Dolores: Elvis, exactly how do you feel about all these interviews?
Elvis: The press makes entertainers, and the deejays, too. If the press didn't write, no one would know what you're doing. Everyone needs the press.
As the reputed King of Rock 'n Roll, how do you feel about the comments Frank Sinatra made railing Rock 'n Roll enthusiasts nothing but a bunch of 'cretinous goons' and the music itself as 'the martial music of every side-burned delinquent on the face of the earth'?
He has a right to his opinion, but I can't see him knocking it for no good reason. I wouldn't knock Frank Sinatra. I like him very much. If I remember correctly, he was also part of a trend, just like Rock 'n' Roll. I think it's the greatest music ever naturally 'cause it's the only thing I can do! If I were a pop singer, I'd prefer pop'.
What pop singers do you dig most?
I like classical music, too.
(Ricky, incidentally, was in the audience opening night, left in the middle of one of Elvis' numbers.)
Do you dislike anything?
Who am I to sit here and knock someone else? If someone has strived for something, then it's OK. I don't dig in and question it. I never knock anyone who's successful
Is that your criterion? Anything which is successful is automatically good?
Yes, I guess so
Some critics have openly accused you of inciting juvenile delinquency. How do you feel about this?
I don't understand it. Delinquency to me means robbing, knife fighting, and things like that. I've done nothing to cause that and I'd never set up a pattern like that for others to follow.
Do you think a lot about your fans?
I sure do, I always try to conduct my personal life to set a good example for them.
I think about this all the time.
Elvis, is it true that you don't smoke or drink?
Being in the public eye constantly must be quite a strain, especially dating.
What are some of the limitations?
Well, I can't roam around like I used to. Can't go to football games or other public places.
What do you do on a date?
Well, usually we just ride around. I get mobbed if I go anyplace. Sometimes the girl comes up to my apartment and we have dinner there. Sometimes we go to a drive-in for a hamburger, or we go to a real late movie.
What do you do in Memphis?
Well, most of my friends are in Memphis. That's why I established a home there. We've been kicked out of the same places, you know, it's easier to be yourself there.
You've invited many girls to visit you in Memphis, Elvis. What happens when they get there?
Elvis: (grinning) Oh, we go motorcycle riding and to the movies. Nothing much.
Are you planning on taking any more gals to Memphis?
File your application at the door, honey.
How many have gone so far?
Elvis: Five (He named off Venetia Stevenson, Natalie Wood, and several others I'd never heard of.)
What about Yvonne Lime?
Yeah, I forgot Yvonne. That makes six.
Who pays their fare?
I pay all the expenses.
Do you still date any of these girls?
I still see Venetia once in a while. I own three horses, take her riding.
Dolores: (Handing him comment in 'Modern Teen' listing Anita Wood as his 'number one girlfriend')
Would you care to comment on this caption?
Elvis: (Reading it very seriously) Yes, I would. There's no truth in it. What happened was Anita was seeing me off at the station. A reporter approached, a photographer told me to kiss her and I did. The reporter said, 'Number one?' I said, 'Yeah, sure' and boarded the train. I was halfway to California before I realized what he meant. By then, it was in the papers that she was my number one girlfriend.
Is there a current number one girlfriend?
I've felt close to falling in love a couple of times. In fact, I almost was engaged twice before I got into show business. But I don't care enough for one girl to be identified with them.
Honey, I prefer to date 'em all until I find the right one.
Do you feel that any of these girls have dated you for publicity or to further their own careers?
Yes, several (He gallantly refused to name them).
What prevented you from getting involved at the last minute with some of these girls?
It's funny, but if you don't care for the gal, it'll come out. What happened was I discovered that I didn't care as much as I thought I did. So now I let things ride. In a way, it's lucky I didn't get tied up.
Can I say, on the record, that you have no romantic interests as of this interview?
I am not in love now. But I can't guarantee about tomorrow.
Any preferences in women?
I don't favor any one type. I like girls!
Getting back to your career, you've undoubtedly heard that some writers have printed that Presley is on the decline, that your popularity is waning. Do you think it is?
Well, about the reports that I'm through, this is a new one. I haven't noticed any decline. Anyway, you can't stay on top forever. Even if I stopped singing tomorrow, I'd have no regrets. I had a ball while I was there.
Financially, you're pretty well off, aren't you, even if you retired tomorrow?
I don't know exactly how much I've made. It's over a million a year.
Gross or net?
Gross, I believe.
Don't you have some 20-year contract, too?
My RCA Victor recording contract calls for a moderate salary over a 20-year period.
Then I have two music publishing companies, plus the Elvis Presley Enterprises. (The latter sells everything from Presley photos and buttons to lipsticks, shirts, and other wearing apparel.
How many personal appearances have you made?
Last year I did 87, this year only 20.
(For two appearances in Los Angeles, about an hour total on the stage, Elvis cleared $65,000!).
How much did your films 'Loving You' and 'Love Me Tender' gross?
I wouldn't know. Hal Wallis didn't tell me.
He doesn't have to tell you, Elvis. You can get the figures from Variety or the trade magazines.
Don't you read them? What do you read?
I read 'Superman' and 'Captain Marvel'.
What about news magazines or newspapers?
I don't have time to read.
What sports do you go in for?
Well, I don't particularly like baseball. I like football and boxing. I played football myself once, and I enjoy watching the 'Peewee Leagues'. As for fighting, I watch them on TV'. My favorites are Sugar Ray Robinson and Rocky Marciano. I know Rocky very well. He was going to teach me how to fight, but I chickened out.
Would you like a role in films as a fighter?
You bet a singin' fighter. Actually, I'd like to do a straight dramatic show. I'm betting on an acting career.
Some critics have said that Colonel Parker, your manager, and you have a Svengali-Trilby relationship.
Is this true?
Elvis, do you obey Colonel Parker? Does he rule your private life?
Heck, no. Colonel Parker only advises me on business matters and that's all! I'm young, have to do what I want. I hardly ever see him.
Elvis, you've had quite a few Gold Records marking sales of over a million.
What is your favorite song to date?
I wish you'd straighten out somethin' right here. Many magazines have printed that I have eight Gold Records, but I believe in giving a man credit for what he's done, and I've had 19 Gold Records!
My favorite is 'Don't Be Cruel'.
What was the hardest song for you to sing?
'Jailhouse Rock.' It's the hardest song to sing that I've ever recorded. My tongue practically falls out on this one. A quarter million of my Xmas album has sold to date!
Say, why did you change 'Blue Moon' all around?
Honey, when I recorded 'Blue Moon', I didn't know the words to it. When I got to the bridge, I just started yelling.
Elvis, what was the first song you ever sang?
Old Shep' was the first song I ever did in in life; I won $5 in a contest singin' it.
Now, what about all the gyrations you go through when you sing?
I wasn't aware of what I was doin' until people told me. I Just sing like they do back home. When I was younger, I always liked spiritual quartets and they sing like that.
It is commonly stated that 'The Singin' Idol' which Tommy Sands did on TV and now is doing for films is a thinly veiled biography of you. Is it really?
Elvis I didn't see it on TV. From what I hear, the only similarity between it and me is that we both were singers. My grandfather isn't dead yet. I just heard from him last week. And that character's manager was nuthin' like the Colonel! (The audience started screaming and applauding for an act which preceded Elvis. He Jumped to his feet, ran over to see who was on) (Laughing) I can t have any of that, applauding for someone else!
How do you feel when the girls scream for you?
Well, I figure it doesn't last, so I might as well enjoy it while I can.
Are you nervous at this moment?
I'm a little shaky. I go on stage and then I relax after I start singin'.
Do you ever forget your lyrics?
Sometimes, but no one knows it. They can t tell what I in singin'. anyway. I never rehearse; the band travels with me and knows all my numbers. Of course, I have to rehearse for TV shows and for movies.
What goes on ahead of you?
I have no idea. I haven't seen the other acts.
I get out there and sing for about 50 minutes, do about 17 numbers, all of the favorites.
Would you say you prefer this type of personal appearance, say to a nightclub appearance in Las Vegas?
Ouch! Two years ago, I laid the biggest egg of my life in Vegas. The older groups just don't go for Rock 'n Roll. My ego went through the floor with that one!
There were good crowds, but no response like in a teenage audience. I felt like I was pulling a booboo.
Do you have lines in this act?
No, I ad lib strictly. When I come off that stage, I look like I've been through a meat grinder.
Elvis, do you read music?
No. And I can't play the guitar, either.
What do you do with it if you don't play it?
Elvis (laughing) I use it as a brace.
Well, your name is listed on the credits of several hit tunes as the author.
How do you write music if you don't read it?
It's all a big hoax, honey. I never wrote a song in my life. I get one-third of the credit for recording it. It makes me look smarter than I am. I've never even had an idea for a song. Just once, maybe.
I went to bed one night, had quite a dream, and woke up all shook up. I phoned a pal and told him about it. By morning, he had a new song, 'All Shook Up'.
How do you leave a show without causing a riot?
Everything is pre-arranged. I'm just like a robot getting in and out. I just follow along, that's all. I leave before the audience knows I'm out of the building. They tell me to be at a certain door by 10:10 and I am! No bows, no curtain calls. I finish the last number, and away I go.
Do you study the day's rushes when you make a movie?
I sure do. I always criticize myself in films. When I attend a movie theatre, I'll get up and leave during the numbers I don't like. Then I come back in after they're over.
Do you have a teenage audience when your singing in a movie?
In 'Loving You' I did, but in Jailhouse Rock' I had to sing without a live audience, and it was a lot harder.
What did they finally do with your sideburns?
They covered them with makeup, I'm keeping them as long as I can, that is, until they draft me.
Elvis, do you think you'll ever return to school and further your education?
No, I see no point in studying. I don't think I need it, do you? But there is one thing, I'd like to be a good actor. I'm always striving to be natural in front of the camera. That takes studying, of a sort.
It was time for the show, so we terminated the interview.
Elvis Presley is quiet, courteous, and freer with his quips than expected. He's shrewd, so don't under estimate him. He'll be around for a long, long time. Incidentally, he is quite tall, much-better looking than his photographs with a clear complexion and dark blue eyes. He changed into his gold lame jacket with sparkling lapels and went out to mesmerize the audience, all 9,000 of them.
Elvis Presley Pan Pacific Auditorium, Los Angeles - October 28 & 29, 1957 ( Photos and full story).
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