Interview with Ginger Alden
Source: Elvis Australia
March 15, 2015 - 1:41:21 PM
Elvis Interviews, Elvis Articles, By Scott Jenkins
Scott Jenkins : Thanks for your time, Ginger.
Scott : Do you remember the first time you became aware of Elvis growing up, was it when your Dad talked about meeting Elvis in the army, or was it before that?
Ginger : I just remember my older siblings having some of his records and my mother also had a few of Elvis' albums which they played on our stereo at home. I also watched some of Elvis' movies on television. He was such a big part of Memphis and his music often played on various radio stations. My mom was quite musically talented, she played a few instruments, including the piano, and I often stood behind her and sang while she played gospel hymns that Elvis had recorded. I was aware of who Elvis was at an early age and I was proud that we shared the same hometown.
Scott : Did your Dad talk much about his experiences with Elvis, and if so, what did he say?
Ginger : My dad used to repeat some of his stories about meeting Elvis when he was inducted into the army and being invited along with Elvis and others to the movies in the early 60's. My father spoke highly of Elvis and thought he was a nice person.
Ginger was five years old when her father met Elvis as a Public Relations Officer in the army in Memphis. This is her dad with Elvis.
Scott : Did you have any Elvis records in your collection as a kid, and if so, which ones? What other music were/are you into?
Ginger : Although I did love his music, I didn't own his records at a young age but my brother and sister had a few of his Sun label records. I did and do appreciate all types of music from classical to Led Zeppelin.
Scott : That first meeting with Elvis: what struck you about him when you first saw him?
Ginger : When he first entered Lisa's bedroom, I just remember thinking how gorgeous he was in person!
Scott : How did he eventually ask you to go steady? Did the age difference bother you, did you ever talk about it with him?
Ginger : We were together at the Las Vegas Hilton during Elvis' December '76 engagement when he mentioned that he would like me not to see anyone else. I never really thought about our age difference. The only time Elvis acted a little older to me was when he was reading and teaching me something but Elvis could also be like a little boy at times.
Scott : How did your family and friends feel about you dating the biggest star in the world, did any of them advise you against it.
Ginger : I spoke with my mother at one point, which I wrote about in 'Elvis and Ginger'. My parents and friends were happy for me as long as I was happy.
Scott : Did you feel generally accepted by Elvis' family and friends? Overall, were you treated well?
Ginger : Most were usually cordial and I hoped his family and friends would like me. I was quite shy and spending so much time with Elvis and focusing on him, that I didn't get to really know others well, nor they me, during our time together.
Scott : Who was your favourite and least favourite of the Memphis Mafia, and why?
Ginger : Not getting to know them well, shortly after Elvis passed away, I was extremely disappointed to see the character of some that Elvis had around him. A few speculated and began telling untruths regarding Elvis and me which were completely unwarranted, mean spirited and wrong. I became very untrusting of people because of this and quickly learned that people who have known each other a while, will stick together and repeat untruths. There was much going on behind closed doors which fuelled speculation and I hope those who speculated on things will read my book 'Elvis and Ginger' to see what was truly going on during Elvis and my relationship. I did strongly sense that Elvis was ready for change during his last months as he got upset with a few, Joe Esposito, Dick Grob, Charlie Hodge, Dr. Nick, some aides and often mentioned changing things to me at various times. Ed Parker and George Klein did their own thing which I thought was good. I never knew Jerry Schilling at all as he was not around during Elvis' last months, nor was Elvis' step brother Billy Stanley, by Elvis' choice, so I never really spoke with either of them, except in the very beginning when we first met.
Scott : Did you have any contact with Linda Thompson at all? Have you ever met, and what do you think of her?
Ginger : I have never met most of the women Elvis dated in his past, except for Kathy Westmoreland and Priscilla. I didn't know much about Elvis and Linda's relationship, only what Elvis told me and I came to understand that he had been trying to end their relationship for a while. I later wasn't happy about a story that Linda Thompson was going to give the National Enquirer shortly after Elvis passed away, which gave a negative slant on me, which in turn made me feel like I had to give them a story. I also wasn't happy that Linda Thompson had the knowledge that her brother, Sam, a bodyguard to Elvis, wrote the forward to a self-published book that his friend, Dick Grob, another bodyguard, wrote. No publisher would touch this book which told horrible lies regarding me and my family and all in an attempt to make money. Why did Sam do this? Did he actually believe the lies Grob told or is it because Elvis was seeing me, Linda is his sister and it was an obvious attempt to make me and my family look bad to the public and his sister look good? It was wrong and completely unjust, but as I have said before, people in groups stick together.
Ginger Alden and Elvis Presley.
Scott : Do you recall the first concert you saw? Are there any shows in particular that stick out in your memory? Do you have a favourite jumpsuit?
Ginger : Yes, I wrote about the first concert I attended which was a few months before I met Elvis. I was at all of Elvis' shows except 4 or 5 during our relationship and thought most were great. I sat off stage, behind the sound man and was always in the moment with Elvis and rooting for him to hit certain notes. He was human, some shows were not up to par as others but he usually put 100 percent into his performances as he always wanted to please his fans. I did not get to see all of his jumpsuits in person but to name a couple off the top of my head, I thought the peacock and Indian feather suits were beautiful.
Scott : Did Elvis talk much about his future career plans, and if so, what were they? Did he express much of a desire to return to acting, do a world tour, or change record labels? Anything else?
Ginger : I know Elvis hoped to do more serious films and perform in Europe one day as far as work goes but he didn't sit around talking about the future except when he brought up marriage which he did at various times throughout our relationship.
Scott : What would you have liked to have seen him do at this stage of his life?
Ginger : Whatever would have made him the happiest and from what I witnessed, it was what he was doing, performing on stage. A serious role to showcase his acting talent would have been great too. He once told me that being natural on camera was one of the harder things but I felt that came easily for him.
Scott : Why do you think Elvis had RCA come to Graceland in '76 to record him, as opposed to him going to them as usual?
Ginger : I can't comment as I have no idea. I didn't know Elvis then.
Scott : Do you know anything about the aborted recording session in Nashville in 1977? Is it true he cancelled because you didn't want to go with him, or was there another reason behind it? And anything else re the session – what was meant to happen?
Ginger : I went with Elvis to Nashville and don't know how the untruth got started that I did not go or who started it. I wrote about what happened while we were there. Elvis got a sore throat, nothing more and cancelled the session.
Scott : How often did Elvis ride his horses? I presume not much in the time you were with him?
Ginger : Elvis was at a different stage in his life when we met, he was in a quieter place, he enjoyed reading and occasionally riding his motorcycles and three wheelers but I never felt like he would never ride horses again. There just wasn't enough time for us to do so.
Scott : Did he talk much about his mother? His early career and music?
Ginger : No, he didn't bring his mother up much or discuss his early music and career. Elvis was in the present and didn't really talk about the past.
Scott : Elvis had a movie script called 'The Mission' that he apparently showed you. Do you remember what the movie was about? And did Elvis ever mention Barbra Streisand offering him the male role in 'A Star Is Born'?
Ginger : We looked for the script briefly once in his attic but I never saw it. The film was supposed to parallel what he was trying to do in life, there was a spiritual side to it as well, about someone who brings joy and teaches others through music. Yes, I wrote in 'Elvis and Ginger', his comments to me and my family regarding the film, 'A Star Is Born'.
Scott : Did he ever see any preview footage of the final TV Special 'Elvis In Concert' and if so, what was his reaction? Did you see it before it went to air two months after he passed? What did you think of the program?
Ginger : As far as I know, he did not see any footage before passing away. I watched when it came on television and was so proud, reliving it with him. The makeup they had applied, I knew he would not be happy with as he looked better without it. The camera added weight also. He was quite nervous during filming in the beginning but he finished that tour and did a wonderful job. I was blown away and it was a very emotional night when I saw that they had captured my image on camera as he was singing.
Scott : Did Elvis ever discuss the MM's book 'Elvis What Happened?' with you, and if so, what did he say? Do you know if he was given unpublished chapters to read before it was made public? Did you ever read it?
Ginger : I don't know about him seeing any unpublished chapters or if he read any of it. I wrote in 'Elvis and Ginger' about when and what Elvis said to me about these people who I never knew but I felt that Elvis had come to a place in his mind where he had accepted it and was moving on. I have not read the book.
Scott : Have you read many books about Elvis? Which ones did you like or not like, and why?
Ginger : Over the years, untruths had been pointed out to me in various books and I recently began to skim through a few in regard to Elvis and our time together but I have not read any as a whole. There was much misunderstood, I remained out of the public eye, quiet and during that time, here say, fabrications and untruths were being told and then got repeated by some biographers. Other than reading 'Elvis and Ginger', I can't recommend another book as far as the true story about our time together.
Scott : What were your impressions of The Colonel, both as to how he treated you, and his treatment of Elvis as his manager? Overall, do you think The Colonel was good for Elvis?
Ginger : The Colonel was always friendly whenever I saw him. I sensed that Elvis and Colonel Parker had more of a business relationship than anything else. I wish there had been more time for me to really get a feel of what the Colonel was about. There were times when Elvis was discouraged by little things the Colonel did and I know some people think that the Colonel pushed Elvis too hard but the Elvis I knew, loved performing and Elvis never intimated to me that he was being overworked, overall. A short while before Elvis passed away, he told me that he had been off too long. That didn't sound like someone being pushed.
Ginger's engagement ring.
Scott : How do you deal with the fact that many in the inner circle simply refuse to believe you and Elvis were actually engaged? Do you recall specifically which people you or he told about the engagement?
Ginger : Sorry, but I have not heard that as most have admitted that we were engaged and even a few talked about being there during the time that Elvis proposed. Elvis' jeweller Lowell Hayes, who made my ring, has been selling replicas of my engagement ring for years. George Klein is on You Tube speaking about my engagement ring as well. Vernon Presley knew of our engagement and spoke of it, Billy Smith, David and Ricky Stanley, Charlie Hodge, Elvis' Aunt Delta, Dodger, and Elvis also called a few of the maids in to show them my ring not long after he proposed on January 26th 1977.
Scott : After January 1977, when Elvis proposed, was there much further discussion on the matter? Did you have an idea of when or where you'd eventually tie the knot?
Ginger : I wrote about this in my book. Yes, Elvis brought up our marriage at various times throughout our relationship and we set a wedding date on the early morning of August 16th 1977 after we returned from a visit to his dentist.
Scott : Had the wedding taken place, where would you have liked to have gone on your honeymoon?
Ginger : Elvis mentioned Vail, Colorado and I had never been, but I certainly could have returned to Hawaii!
Scott : Back in 2009, your engagement ring was up for sale. The pictures from the time appear to show a different ring to the one that you've shown in recent interviews. Why the difference?
Ginger : This is another untruth. My engagement ring was never up for sale. The auction house released a statement years back which told of the mix up in their copy department in which someone wrongfully wrote that a cocktail ring was my engagement ring. I saw it, called the auction house but got no answer as it was late on a Friday, no one was in and I had to wait till Monday to have them correct it. By that time, over the weekend, many had seen it and so I am glad I can finally clear this up.
Scott : What are the biggest untruths of which you have been accused? What's the one that hurts the most? How frustrating is it knowing that you can't really stop people from saying what they want about you? Does it bother you, or is it like water off a duck's back?
Ginger : Off the top of my head, that 'I hated touring', 'continued dating an old boyfriend', 'called the National Enquirer'. They all deeply hurt, I'm human, but that seems to have gotten lost somewhere along the way for lack of people getting to know me and what was going on behind closed doors during Elvis and my relationship. I went through a great deal at a very young age. Being engaged to Elvis, put me in a very high position and there was much jealousy (which Elvis warned me about) that I later learned was partly over the time Elvis was spending with me and my family. Others weren't getting to spend as much time with Elvis and there was shuffling of rooms on vacation. People once in rooms or riding in cars next to Elvis were now in hotels or in other cars etc. Knowing the truth has kept me going all these years though and I've felt Elvis with me, every step of the way.
Scott : After Elvis died, your family sued the estate over an unfulfilled promise Elvis made to pay off your parents' mortgage. You were advised to sue, and eventually lost the case. What was the fallout from that?
Ginger : My mother sued the estate after 6 months and one has to read 'Elvis and Ginger' to fully understand and see the whole picture as to why my mother did decide to sue. Elvis passed away thinking that her home was taken care of as the estate had taken her payment books to pay her mortgage off as requested by Elvis for he didn't want her to have the burden of a house note anymore. He had put in landscaping at her home and was starting to put in a swimming pool which he wanted her to also have. It was not an unfulfilled promise by Elvis. He just passed away in the middle of completing his gift to my mother.
Scott : Some people have accused you of two things on the day Elvis died. That you made a phone call to the National Enquirer to inform them of what happened, and that you had taken the time to apply full makeup before the paramedics arrived? Can you set the record straight?
Ginger : It's not some people: it is one person, Dick Grob, an Elvis bodyguard, who started these vicious lies. This is an example of what some will do in an attempt to try to make money when an icon passes away. Fabricate tales of deception and create some sort of conspiracy no matter who it hurts. Google the name Dick Grob and Veterans and you will see the character of this person Elvis had hired. Elvis didn't have a clue who he had working for him. I did not apply makeup nor did I call the National Enquirer. My fiancée had just passed away and I was heartbroken when I found Elvis. Grob's lies were cleared up years back by many people, Bill Burk (Bill E. Burk) from Elvis World and also author Peter Harry Brown who I have a letter from telling me that he spoke with the highest sources at the Enquirer, who did an investigation on their own, and they told him that no phone call ever happened.
Scott : Why do you think Dick Grob specifically has accused you of the above, and other things? Any truth to the rumour that he made a pass at you, and you rebuffed him?
Ginger : Yes, Grob did and I rebuffed him. He decided to try to make money and wrote a book filled with untruths. When you google Dick Grob and Veterans, remember that many a soldier has gone through the gates of Graceland but needing people to tell the fans 'Elvis stories,' this bodyguard was asked to speak at Graceland and at other Elvis related events. I never understood that and he should be checked into. Hopefully Graceland or some veterans will do just that….
Scott : This may seem like a ridiculous question, but a new book claims Elvis had an 'extensive' collection of Nazi memorabilia. Did you ever see anything of this sort, or is this yet another stupid claim made about the man?
Ginger : I never saw any collection like this.
Scott : During the final months, while he was seeing you, it was rumoured that Elvis was also seeing a woman named Alicia Kerwin. From your perspective was this, or could it have been, true?
Ginger : I never heard of this woman until Elvis' cousin Billy started this story after Elvis passed away. Billy got chummy with Dick Grob and I have many questions for Billy. Dick Grob became involved in spreading this too. I don't get it and once again, there is no regard for feelings here. I can tell you this: I was with Elvis every day except for a couple of times which I wrote about in 'Elvis and Ginger'. There was obviously much misunderstood that was going on behind closed doors and I can only think that when certain events happened, in which I tried helping Elvis and left Graceland for a few hours because of his actions, Elvis must have gotten mad at me when he couldn't reach me and said something to others. Could he have taken someone for a night somewhere when mad? Is it possible? I guess so. Is it true? I don't know. I have seen no pictures of him with this woman. But, it is very wrong and a huge exaggeration to say that Elvis was seeing someone else. He was not, we were not apart from each other for any days for him to be 'dating 'someone else and I can honestly tell you that. We loved each other and were moving forward in our relationship by setting a wedding date in the early hours of August 16th, 1977.
Scott : You've also been accused of seeing someone else when you were with Elvis, and that you'd go into clubs in Memphis for your dates. Any comment?
Ginger : Not true at all, just more lies.
Scott : Did you have much to do with Dr Nick?
Ginger : No, thankfully.
Scott : What's the silliest or funniest memory you have of your time with Elvis?
Ginger : He could be like a big kid and there are many. From riding three wheelers to motorcycles with him. He loved it and so did I! One funny time was in Hawaii with my sister Rosemary when she and Elvis were on the floor and she had him in a headlock. Another time he kicked me off the bed as I was trying to get him to teach me more karate. He also loved to joke around on an electric organ in his office.
Scott : And the scariest?
Ginger : There were a couple of incidents which I wrote about but Elvis was a wonderful man 98 percent of the time.
Scott : Did Elvis ever play any practical jokes on you? How would you describe his sense of humour?
Ginger : He had the air let out of my car tires once. He had a great sense of humour which could be quite wicked at times.
Scott : What TV shows did you watch with him, and do you recall which movies you went to see?
Ginger : He liked comedies, gospel early Sunday mornings and we went to see the 'Pink Panther Strikes Again' and 'The Spy Who Loved Me'.
Scott : Broadly speaking, when were you happiest with Elvis?
Ginger : When we were alone, upstairs at Graceland and he was playing the organ for me and also reading alone together. I also loved riding on his motorcycles and three wheelers!
Scott : What's the one thing you didn't (or still don't) understand about Elvis or the way in which he lived?
Ginger : Why it was hard for him to admit to a weakness and why he surrounded himself with so many people that I deep down, felt were not really necessary.
Elvis Presley and Ginger Alden, Hawaii, March 1977.
Scott : How different was he behind closed doors? Quieter? Were there subjects you talked with him about that he didn't discuss with his friends or others?
Ginger : I know of times he was unhappy with some on his staff. They weren't where they were supposed to be at times and he liked them close by which he told me about. We talked about many things spiritually which I didn't see anyone else do with him outside of Larry Geller.
Scott : He once said, 'The image is one thing, the human being is another. It's very hard to live up to an image'. Really, how difficult do you think it was for him? And what were the major differences between what the world saw, and what you knew him as?
Ginger : I didn't really feel that Elvis was trying to live up to an image. He was human and that was one of the first things he let me know about him. The way Elvis was onstage is the way he was at home. He sang and joked around with others.
Scott : What's the one happy memory that sticks out above all others?
Ginger : I have many but when Elvis asked me to marry him and when he set our wedding date.
Scott : What was/is your relationship with Priscilla like?
Ginger : I was with her a couple of times, spoke with her on the phone and she was friendly but I did not get to know her.
Scott : Do you have a favourite Elvis song? Movie? Album? Do you play Elvis much these days, and if so, which albums get a spin?
Ginger : I love so many of Elvis' songs that it is hard to for me pick just one. Trying To Get To You, Memories, Kentucky Rain and of course his gospel songs. I don't play his music often, there is usually a sadness that creeps in when I hear some songs but I do have some CDs.
Scott : Are you aware of Sony's 'Follow That Dream' collectors label, ie concerts and unreleased stuff distributed through fan clubs and the like. You're occasionally featured during Elvis' on stage introductions during some of the shows.
Ginger : I have been fortunate over the years to have fans give me recordings and it is so great to hear the introductions of me and my family. Brings back some happy memories.
Scott : How do your husband and son feel about you having dated Elvis? Does it make you 'cool' in your son's eyes?
Ginger : My husband asked me when first learning that I was from Memphis, if I had ever been inside Graceland. I hesitated and then answered, 'Yes'. He was quite surprised. My son thinks it's 'pretty neat' that we dated and got engaged!
Scott : How do you deal with the internet trolling that almost invariably comes when your name appears online? When an out-and-out lie is written about you or your family, how does it affect you? Why do you think some people from the Elvis world seem to be in a conspiracy against you?
Ginger : I try not to read any garbage. All of us in the 'Elvis World' take hits at some time or another. I was shocked when some from Elvis' 'inner circle' turned on each other. I honestly don't know who likes who. When you are in the public eye, it just goes along with it but knowing certain things are lies, makes me angry. I learned after Elvis passed away that some people had former allegiances to other women in Elvis' life. They spent time with them and got to know them better than they did me. I was shy, quiet and Elvis was spending time at my family's home and having my sisters in rooms near us while on vacation. I don't think that sat too well with others who had known him for years as they were suddenly being misplaced. I also made the statement years back that I felt Elvis had some around him that he shouldn't have. I don't think that sat too well either as he had known some for years. I was a newcomer and who was I? There is also an agenda, some are close to or work for the estate which has an image that it wants to portray. One of Elvis' jewellers, Lowell Hayes, used to have a big story on his website of how he made my engagement ring under special stories and he was selling copies of my ring for years but I saw where he began selling jewellery associated with the estate and poof, my story is no longer on his website. Interesting.
Ginger : I had gone forward with my life and worked although during that time, there were lies and much hearsay being tossed about and spread. I knew I had to get the truth out about our relationship but I also knew it was going to be a very emotional journey and it was going to take some time. I waited until my son went off to college, I didn't want to lose time with him, and it took me two years to put everything together that I had written down shortly after Elvis passed away as my way of holding onto him. It had to be done and I was not going to let lies, hearsay and fabricated tales sit as truth.
Scott : Your book has done very well, and the majority of Elvis fans have given it the thumbs up. Are you surprised by the reaction and the sales figures?
Ginger : Thank you and I'm so happy that so many have said to me, 'I now understand'. It was a very long time coming. I'd been asked over the many years, to write a book about our time together so I wasn't really surprised but I'm very happy it became a New York Times best seller!
Scott : The lovely cover shot of you and Elvis was taken at your grandmother's funeral, is that right? Do you remember who took it or how it came about?
Ginger : Yes, a cousin of mine quickly asked if he could take a photo and Elvis obliged.
Scott : Considering all of Elvis' problems in the later years, what do you think was the core issue? Something seemed to be missing those last couple of years; what did Elvis need for fulfilment?
Ginger : There is an unfair portrayal of Elvis out there. He was happy 98 percent of the time and I never got the feeling from him that something was missing in his life. I do know he wanted to get married and have more children. I was with him and we had many good times so this is hard for me to answer as I disagree. He was just at a quieter place in his life.
Scott : From your perspective, do you think he was generally happy in his final months? Was there one thing or one area in his life where you think he was not on the right path?
Ginger : Absolutely, Elvis was happy in his final months. I was with him and he was not depressed or sad. I wrote about certain things which I tried to help Elvis with but overall, he was generally in an upbeat and good mood.
Scott : Why didn't you pursue your acting or music career?
Ginger : It wasn't my big plan in life but I went forward and worked and had a career for many years. I stopped when I had my son as I wanted to be with him.
Scott : If you could re-live it all, what things - trivial or major? - would you have done differently? What would you tell your 20-year-old self if you had the chance?
Ginger : To be more assertive and 'the lady of the house' as Elvis had asked and wanted me to be. I would have wanted to get to know others around Elvis better and I also would have asked more questions of those around him.
Scott : How do you feel about Elvis impersonators?
Ginger : I have not seen any yet and don't have any problem with ETAs as long as their shows are respectfully done and they have a great voice and are doing their best to honour Elvis and his music.
Scott : How do you feel about the 'Elvis Is Alive' conspiracy theorists?
Ginger : It is a slap in the face to those of us inside Graceland on August 16th, what we were witness to and our grief.
Scott : What's the most ridiculous story you've ever heard about Elvis? And about you?
Ginger : I don't know as new ones get invented often. Lots of craziness out there!
Scott : Do you get recognised on the street much?
Ginger : No, but I have chosen to stay away from the limelight.
Scott : I know that your experiences with Elvis and in the years that followed have led you to where you are today (ie with a husband and son and loving marriage etc.) But, taking them out of the equation and considering the heartache of losing Elvis and some of the negativity that's been flung your way over the years … if you could go back in time to that moment where you had a choice to say yes or no to being Elvis' girlfriend, would you do it all again? To make it easier, let's assume that if you said no, you'd still end up with the family and life you have now … again, would you in retrospect say yes or no?
Ginger : Absolutely, I would say yes again to having shared in Elvis' life! I wouldn't trade the experience and love we shared for anything!
Scott : So how's your life now? What does the future hold for Ginger Alden?
Ginger : I have loved being a mother and spending time with my son and husband. Always taking one day at a time and who knows, maybe one day I will write another book.
Scott : You look fantastic, by the way! And I don't mean fantastic 'for your age', either: I mean fantastic, PERIOD! What's your secret?
Ginger : I appreciate it very much! Wear sunscreen!
Ginger Alden today.
Scott : Any message for the fans who are reading this?
Ginger : I'd like to say a big thankyou for all of your love and support for Elvis after all these years. He would be so very happy to know how he is still influencing so many lives and his music is still bringing joy and comfort to so many.
Scott : And to the haters?
Ginger : It saddens me to think that there are haters, it truly does. I never understood how someone could hate someone that they don't even know but I know untruths have been sitting out in the Elvis world for a long time. I hope anyone who has listened to gossip and hearsay will read my book to see the real story of my time with Elvis. I know there will be some that won't want to change their minds or can't change them because negative things are ingrained in their minds but I do hope many will walk away with a better understanding. As I said in my book, better late than never.
Scott : Thank you so very much for taking the time to answer my questions, Ginger. Best wishes for the future.
Ginger : Thankyou and God Bless.
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