Elvis Presley Interviews
Read all the latest interviews with friends and family about The King of Rock 'n' Roll, Elvis Presley.
Interviews By Scott Jenkins : Index of Elvis Interviews A-Z
Interview with Cynthia Pepper, PFC Midge Riley in Kissin' Cousins
, an Army stenographer assigned to accompany a lieutenant (Elvis) to the hills of East Tennessee to negotiate the sale of land to build a missile base. There, they encountered angry property owners, including the lieutenant's cousin, (Elvis)!
Eleven years ago I had the pleasure of meeting Elvis' first drummer D.J Fontana
. I was working as a reporter at a radio station, when, one day in April, 2006, a press release caught my eye. It announced that Fontana was touring Sweden as part of a Swedish group called The Cadillac Band that would be playing my home town that very night. As my news editor didn't seem to understand the significance of this, I practically had to beg him to let me interview the drummer instead of doing the news piece he had in mind for me to do.
This is an interview with Scotty Moore by retired Boston Herald journalist Larry Katz that he has recently transcribed. This is a superb, honest chat he had with Scotty Moore back in May 2002, almost exactly 15 years ago. At one point, Scotty makes an interesting observation. 'The stuff from back in the '50s is what people want to hear', he says. 'They love watching the jumpsuits and everything, but the music in the '70s don’t seem to have the staying power that the other stuff did'.
Could Elvis actually play guitar?
He played pretty good, yeah. And he played piano and drums. The first sessions he'd come in and work. After that, when he got more confident, he'd come in and play drums a while, then guitar, then piano. Then he'd practice his karate and then send out for 85 White Cottage burgers and then he'd go to work around 11 o'clock at night. But he loved gospel music. Jake Hess had influenced him and Bill Monroe and Big Boy Crudup. The first time I ever heard him I thought, 'What in the hell is this?' I couldn't tell if he was black or bluegrass or gospel or what. Of course that was what made him what he was. He was so damn versatile he could sing anything.
This is an interview I conducted with the great recording engineer Bill Porter
back in 1987. We chatted and listened to some of his recordings. In one week of 1960, Bill Porter-engineered recordings accounted for 15 of Billboard's Top 100 Singles. You could chalk it up to his having folks like Elvis Presley
, Roy Orbison
, Chet Atkins
and the Everly Brothers
to record, but then you'd have to explain why, with Porter out of the picture, so many of their careers took a nose-dive. The fact is, the original pressings of many of those classic Porter recordings possess a natural, spacious, jump-out-at-you 'live' feel that today's engineers don't seem capable of achieving ... Steve Sholes, who produced the first Elvis session Bill was involved with, said, 'Roll the tape' And I said, 'But I haven't heard the song yet!' And he said, 'Roll the tape, Bill!' and I look and the studio is totally black out there. I can't see a thing. I said, 'You're kidding!' He said, 'No, roll the tape!'.
In this video interview with Billy Strange (From 2010, to celebrate his 80th birthday), Billy talks about his friendship with Elvis, writing songs for him with Mac Davis
. Writing Memories, discussing the lyrics with Elvis in the process of writing the song, A Little Less Conversation
and about that songs mega success in 2002. Working with Elvis on the song Viva Las Vegas
, 'I was playing guitar on Viva Las Vegas
... he liked what I did'. On their friendship he talks about Elvis calling him up 'to his house' and them 'playing with the baby, Lisa Marie
for hours. Billy also talks about working with Nancy Sinatra
and her hit, These Boots Were Made for Walking
and much more.
Shirley Dieu met Elvis Presley in 1975. After becoming friends, she would spend the next 3 years touring and vacationing with him. In this exclusive Interview with Sergio Luiz Shirley tells her amazing story and how she became the 'Memphis Mafia Princess'. 'I dont think that Elvis took the vacation as a much-needed break. He had just gotten his plane The Lisa Marie and felt a certain freedom that he hadnt really had before. So since he loved Hawaii, he said Hey, I'm taking everyone to Hawaii. It was a last minute kind of thing ...'
So different are Elvis' voices, that if one could find a person who has never heard his recordings and you put him or her on an island and then had them listen to these fifty songs, mixed with say, those of 12 other distinctive singers, and then you then ask him or her, to classify them, to separate the singers, I could bet a million dollars that the person will never say that there are 13 singers, as would be the case, but at least 25.
Once an in-demand Hollywood actress, Dolores Hart shocked the entertainment industry when she gave up everything to become a cloistered Benedictine Roman Catholic nun. She left her career, broke off her engagement to Los Angeles businessman Don Robinson, and pursued her vocation as a nun.
Julie Parrish starred in several films, including 'Paradise Hawaiian Style', with Elvis Presley. In one of the most delightful moments of the film, Elvis sings to her in a helicopter, while she holds a group of dogs at bay. Julie was born, October 21, 1940 and passed away on October 1st, 2003.
Though Leonard Cohen and Elvis Presley seem to occupy different time-zones in the history of rock, they were born within a year of each other. And Cohen, like John Lennon, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen and so many others, vividly remembers the 'shock of recognition' he felt when he first heard Presley in the '50s.
One of Elvis' trusted friends, Marty Lacker was instrumental in arranging Elvis' seminal recording sessions at American Sound Studios with producer Chips Moman
in January and February of 1969. Marty shares the genesis behind those historic sessions, which yielded the hits, 'Suspicious Minds
', 'In The Ghetto
', 'Don't Cry Daddy
', and 'Kentucky Rain
' and marked an artistic rebirth for the singer.
Bruce Springsteen was seven when he first saw Elvis on The Ed Sullivan Show
. Elvis Presley's third and final appearance took place on January 6, 1957. Watching the show, Springsteen felt mesmerised: 'I couldn't imagine anyone not wanting to be Elvis Presley
', he recalled ... 'I jumped up over the wall and I started runnin' up the driveway, which when I look back on it now was kind of a stupid thing to do because I hate it when people do it at my house'.
Elvis was singing in the men's room. But I'd gotten used to that. This time, though, there was something new. And it led me, after all these years, to the legendary Barbara Hearn. A little explanation -- all right, a lot of explanation -- is in order:
Interview with Steve Wynn, bother of Kenny
who we recently featured an interview with.
Interview with Kenny Wynn, Colonel Tom Parker's assistant. Kenny had an insider's view of the Presley empire back in the 1970s when 'The King' was selling out hundreds of performances at the Las Vegas Hilton. Wynn was in charge of the sale of Elvis Presley memorabilia and even traveled with Elvis Presley on tour.
Interview with with Anita Wood, Elvis' girlfriend during the whirlwind late 50's. Anita talks about meeting Elvis for the first time WHPQ radio television in Memphis 1957, dating, Elvis being drafted and his mothers reaction, Hollywood, Elvis Presley Jr, Natalie Wood and more.
Interview with Elvis Presley - The 1969 Press Conference - August 1, 1969.
Interview with Vernon Presley by Nancy Anderson : Good Housekeeping, January 1978.
Elvis was gonna perform at the Armory and my friend and I, we were so excited to go and we went and everybody was screaming and all the girls and everything and then my friend wanted me to go back stage to get his autograph and I wouldn't go and she goes, 'Are you crazy?' and I go, 'I don't want to'. She goes, 'Why not?' I said, 'Because I'm gonna go to Hollywood and he is gonna be my friend' ... And she goes, 'You're crazy ...', because my name Aidieme, 'You're crazy Aidieme, you're never gonna be a movie star and you should go back. At least you get to see him in person'. And I wouldn't do it.
Pat Boone: I first met Elvis in Cleveland, Ohio. He was not very, he was not known really nationally at all. It was before Heartbreak Hotel, before Hound Dog
, he had two or three country records, sort of 'rockabilly' we called them. And I'd seen his name on some jukeboxes in Texas, and made note of the name. But he couldn't be a pop artist, not in those days.
Somehow, I scraped together enough money to buy every new Presley release so that I could play them in the privacy of my bedroom - all the better to study his unique singing style.
First time I had any contact with Elvis I was in the hospital and Elvis sent me a telegram ... I had written and recorded this song called Old Friend
and in the song it says, 'Would you be here if I could have been there?' in the song and that really means that at one point I think it was the second time maybe he went into the hospital or something I wanted to come to Memphis and talk to Elvis as a friend, you know, didn't want a Cadillac, didn't need anything, didn't want anything, just loved him.
'If I Can Dream' was the dynamic production duo of Don Reedman (Barbra Streisand
, Michael Crawford) and Nick Patrick (Plácido Domingo, Il Divo). Reedman first approached executive producer Priscilla Presley
with the idea to marry vintage Elvis vocal tracks with the RPO at famed Abbey Road Studios in London, and it was an idea she wholly embraced. Buoyed by the reception of If I Can Dream, the production Dream Team reunited to emerge with another stellar Elvis/RPO offering, 'The Wonder of You: Elvis Presley With the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
' (RCA/Legacy), a worthy sequel if ever there was.
Interview with Joe Esposito by Larry King 2007. Joe Esposito: Elvis loved to be on stage. That where -- he felt the happiest on stage because he got the love from the audience
. And he loved to sing. I mean, that's what he loved to do. He'd sit in his house on hours on end by himself at the piano and just play songs and sing.
There's a photograph of you and Elvis here that looked like a plaque. Can you tell us a little background about what happened there? Well, Elvis and I took a picture together, because we wrote a song called 'I'll Be Back', which was voted in the top ten in the motion picture category.
Interview with Ray Walker of the Jordanaires
. We were looking the other way when Elvis came in. When I turned around, he stuck his hand out and said, 'I'm Elvis Presley'. I said, 'I know who you are. I'm Ray Walker'. Elvis replied to me, 'And I know who you are'. We stood there and talked, and the minute I looked in to his face all his fame left. I saw one of the nicest guys. I'm not really one to keep my mouth shut most of the time, as long as I know there's no harm, so during that all-night session I said to him, 'You know, your heart's going to take a beating in this business. And I've only been in it three weeks'. (Laughs) I really liked him right off. There was just an aura about him, he was one of the most impressive people I have ever met in my life.
Video, B.B. King talks about Elvis Presley, and the first time he saw him at Sun Records. Later, Elvis Presley and B.B. King backstage at the WDIA Goodwill Revue at Ellis Auditorium on December 7, 1956.
The man who brought it all into focus and made the world catch on fire with rock and roll was Elvis Presley. He also generated those fires in me and my friends. We all thought we could be like him.
'I approached writing for Elvis differently than I did for any other artist. The songs had to have acombination of blues, country, rock and pop [what came to becalled 'rockabilly']. It was like walking in his musical shoes. With each new Elvis movie, more of my songs were being recorded. It became more and more exciting, for I was becoming the only songwriter to have so many songs recorded by him.
Interview with Richard Davis a longtime member of Elvis' Memphis Mafia. Richard started working for Elvis after Elvis returned from the Army and continued to work for him until 1971 as a body guard, a stand-in in 23 movies and eventually a wardrobe manager. He remained friends with Elvis until the end. Known among the other Memphis Mafia members for his quick wit and for being a bit of a prankster he once dropped a water balloon on Elvis' head as he walked out of his trailer in fresh makeup for a movie shoot.
Richard Davis : There's so many things it's hard to pinpoint. Well I got one thing. I don't remember what year it was. And one thing that happened is back in the dressing room before he went on one night, somebody came back and told Elvis, 'Muhammad Ali
is in the audience and he would like to meet you'. And Elvis said, 'Oh, yeah, yeah, bring him on back', 'cause Elvis loved Muhammad Ali. So Muhammad Ali comes back there and he's got his entourage with him and -- big old guys, man. You know, and big bodyguard guys.
The Houston Astrodome was chosen by Colonel Parker to be the first venue for Elvis to perform outside Las Vegas. After the concluding show Elvis held a press conference for about 100 journalists at Astroworld.
View three video interviews with Scotty Moore. Scotty talks about meeting Elvis
, about The Sun Sessions
, where Scotty says that it was Bill Black that came up with the flip side for what would be their first record. It was their rendition of the bluegrass standard 'Blue Moon of Kentucky', made famous by Bill Monroe and the Bluegrass Boys. And in a third interview Scotty talks about The 68 Comeback Special
Listen as Roy Orbison talks with Glen A. Baker about Elvis Presley and 'Only The Lonely' (1980).
'Elvis is a truly great vocalist, and you can hear why on this song. His phrasing, his use of echo, it's all so beautiful. It's the way he sings it, too. As if he's singing it from the depths of Hell. It's a perfect example of a singer being in command of the song. Musically it's perfect, too. The double-bass and the walk-in piano create this incredibly haunting atmosphere. It's so full of mystery, and it's never lost that for me. The echo is just stunning. When The Beatles
were recording, we'd often ask George Martin for 'the Elvis echo. I think we got it down perfectly on A Day in the Life
Well, my first meeting with Elvis was the pre-production meeting. I got a call from Tom Diskin who was the Colonel's associate, and he said they were thinking about me conducting the show for Elvis Presley. And someone had preceded me there for the first show.
Interview with Hal Kanter, screenwriter and director for the Elvis Presley movie Loving You
. Previously Hal had written for variety shows, graduating to screenplays and specializing in comedies. He wrote for Bob Hope as well as the comedy team of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. Over the years, Hal Kanter received six Emmy Award nominations, winning the last two for his writing on the annual Academy Awards telecast. He also wrote the script for Elvis Presley's 1961 hit film Blue Hawaii
, which garnered him a 'Best Written American Musical' nomination from the Writers Guild of America.
Interview With Elvis Presley. August 28, 1956, Location: 20th Century-Fox studios, Hollywood, California. About the 'Criticism'
, About the 'Show
, So I'm Never Nervous, Huh?
, My Special Girl
, What, No Singing Lessons?
, The Green Scrapbook
, My Greatest Ambition
, My Sideburns
, My True Religion
, Have I Changed?
, Who Am I Going to Act Like?
, Do I Really Play the Guitar?
, Do I Say All Those Things?
, On Amusement Parks
, Why Do I Sing Like I Do?
, And Now, What Can I Say?
, Fan Club Address Change
When Kurt Russell
first started his career, he appeared in a number of television shows and supporting roles in a couple of movies. Not many people realize this, but when Kurt Russell was 10 years old, he was able to act alongside the King himself, Elvis Presley in 'It Happened at the World's Fair
'. 'It was my first brush with a real celebrity.
I've never seen anything having to do with a real celebrity before. I didn't really know who Elvis Presley was. I was a 10 year old kid. I knew Elvis Presley was a name that everybody knew. If I'd seen him, I didn't know it. I wasn't into music and I didn't listen to music that much. So the first time he came on the set, a car went on the set, round 100's of women just broke through there and jumped on his car. We were all staring and I was thinking what's going on there.
If you're a fan of Elvis Presley, you certainly know the photograph entitled 'The Kiss'. The famous June 30, 1956
black-and-white photo features 'The King' smooching with a mysterious and unidentified woman. The photo became iconic; but even the photographer, Alfred Wertheimer
, didn't know who the girl was. Her name, if not her image, remained unknown for years. Who she was remained a mystery. Until now ...
'Way Down' song-writer, Layng Martine Jr. remembers being in seventh grade and hearing one of Elvis Presley's earliest singles on the radio. 'It changed my entire life', he says. Two decades later, the Nashville songwriter wrote a hit for Elvis - which ended up being the final single released before his death in 1977. He remembered writing the song, and learning of Elvis' death, in a conversation with Bart Herbison of Nashville Songwriters Association International.
March 23 marked the 60th anniversary of the self-titled debut RCA album from Elvis Presley. To commemorate that occasion, Legacy Recordings released the most comprehensive Presley collection yet. Titled Elvis Presley - The Album Collection
, the 60-disc set spans the entire run of his 21 years with the label. Sony Legacy senior vice president
, A&R John Jackson talked to Billboard concerning the thought process of assembling the set. 'The way we decided to approach this package -- because we have done similar things for other artists, such as Johnny Cash
and Ronnie Milsap -- was to recreate the original albums
. Now, the definition of what an original album is on Elvis becomes tricky because there's been so many collections and compilations of things that were released during his lifetime, and of course, a gazillion since then. What we decided to do was hone it down to what would be considered a new album with some new material on it that was released during his lifetime
-- the first place that a song appeared on a long playing record while he was alive', Jackson said ...
Freddy Bienstock is not a household name, he is famous to many as the music publisher and plugger for Elvis Presley. But still, even to Elvis fans, he is something of a mystery figure. We know about James Burton
, Scotty Moore
, Red West
and Colonel Parker
, but who can tell you much about Freddy Bienstock? And yet look in the index of any Elvis Presley biography
and you will find references to him. He runs through Peter Guralnick's definitive biographies, and, quite clearly, he is an essential component in the Elvis story. Just how important becomes clear when he said, quite matter of factly, 'For the first 12 years of Elvis' career with RCA, he wouldn't look at a song unless I had seen it first'.
Tupelo is a city in the state of Mississippi, which is best known for being the birthplace of Elvis Presley. John Lee Hooker recorded the original version of the song, 'Tupelo' in 1959, which chronicles a flood in Tupelo, 20 years previously. Said Hooker: 'People never forgot it. So when I grew up and got famous, I wrote about it and it brought back memories to a lot of people'. Inspired by John Lee Hooker's song, Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds reworked it as 'Tupelo,' combining imagery of the flood with memories of Elvis Presley. It was released on the Bad Seeds 1985 album The Firstborn is Dead.
Here Johm Lee Hooker talks about Elvis, and sings the song 'Tupelo'.
'Elvis was huge in the fifties, had his troubles in the sixties, but he came roaring back in the seventies when he was huge all over again. He took over Vegas and made the town his own. When he was playing the Hilton, everyone was happy because business trickled down from this show to everywhere else. I'd only met him in passing, but people kept saying he was a big fan of mine.
I met Elvis on a plane, in 1972. My manager, actually, at the time, was Steve Binder
, who directed the Elvis comeback special for NBC. So I was going back and forth from Australia because I didn't have a permanent visa, so I had to fly back and get another visitor's visa and fly back to America. I was doing that for a while. I got on the plane one time and I was in the back of the bus but I walked past the first-class section - it was stopping in Hawaii because he was going to Hawaii - and there was Elvis ...
Interview with Sheila Ryan who was was Elvis' girlfriend after Linda Thompson. Sheila was the Oct.'73 Playboy cover girl and married James Caan in '76 (divorced in '77). Elvis had qualities that no other human being has, had, will have. Some of them are so hard to describe because the charisma, the qualities that he had were almost not of this world, you know. They were, a lot of times, angelic. He knew things before I knew things. He knew things that I was feeling before I was feeling them.
Ann-Margret was born Ann-Margret
Olsson in Valsjöbyn, Jämtland, Sweden to Anna Aronsson and Gustav Olsson, a native of Örnsköldsvik. She grew up in a small town 'of lumberjacks and farmers high up near the Arctic Circle'. Her father worked in the United States during his youth and immigrated back in 1942, working with the Johnson Electrical Company. Ann-Margret and her mother moved to the USA four years later. When she filmed Viva Las Vegas
with Elvis the two began a relationship.
Interview with Myrna Smith, one of the Sweet Inspirations, the backing group who sang with Elvis in concert from 1969 to 1977. 'His voice was a lot more remarkable than it ever came off on record. He was just a much better singer than could ever be captured, some great singers voices are just too big.
Charlie Hodge began his musical career at age 20 in a gospel quartet with Bill Gaither. He went on to be the lead singer for the Foggy River Boys. At 5'3", the guitarist had to stand on an empty Coke crate to reach the microphone. Elvis Presley first met Hodge backstage after the group performed in Memphis, Tennessee. Charlie Hodge .... I said, 'Hello, Is Elvis there? This is Charlie Hodge'. And Lamar said, 'Charlie Hodge?' And I heard Elvis yell, 'Yeah, Charlie, come on up'. And so, that's how we got together ...