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
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'.
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 ...
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.
For six years, Donnie Sumner toured with and was a close personal friend of the King of Rock and Roll, Elvis Presley. His father was a Pentecostal preacher, and his uncle, J.D. Sumner, was a legendary musical figure. Listen to a private recording where Elvis sings 'Let Me Be The One'.
In the early 1950s, a friend brought Charlie Chaplin a copy of Elvis' first record: Charlie was always aware of the public. While at the Manoir in the fifties, a friend visited him and brought him a record of a new singer named Elvis Presley. Charlie hadn't heard of him. 'This man has made a sensation in the States', his friend said. 'I can't understand it. He wiggles his hips and sings and people go mad'. 'If he's made such an impact', Charlie replied, 'he must have something. You can't fool the public'.
This is the review of Elvis' first concert
at the International Hotel on July 31, 1969
. It was written by Ray Connelly and originally published in the London Evening Standard August 2, 1969. Included with the review is an exciting interview with The King, again by Ray Connelly.
Elois Bedford was probably Elvis' first 'girlfriend' - the relationship ended after perhaps one year when Elvis handed Elois a note as she was about to board the school bus. It said he had gone to another girl. Her name was Magdalene Morgan. Magdalene had had her eyes on the shy youngster for a longer time and she knew - just knew - that one day, sooner or later, they would become 'an item'.
For me, it was a horrible scene, Just horrible. But Elvis turned it all around. I did a Hollywood gossip column for a fan magazine called Teen Scene. You may remember it. Well, Dad had known Elvis' manager, Col. Tom Parker
, and his wife, Marie, for many years. So Dad was able to get me an interview with the great Elvis who had just come back from Germany and had come out to the West Coast to make movies. The interview was going to take a place on the set of GI Blues
. It really was a fantastic break for a kid like me. I knew it. I bought new shoes. I chose a new dress. I got an appointment with an expensive hairdresser. I was shaking but I was going to look sharp and make a great impression on Elvis.
Elvis and I felt a common bond, coming from Mississippi. He thought I understood him. He didn't have to put on airs with me, and I wasn't after anything. This is an odd thing to say about Elvis Presley, but it was like I was working with my brother. We never dated. We were just two people from the same state.
B.B. King knew 'the definitive truth about Elvis Presley and racism'. 'Let me tell you the definitive truth about Elvis Presley and racism', The King of the Blues, B.B. King said in 2010. 'With Elvis, there was not a single drop of racism in that man. And when I say that, believe me I should know'.
On January 4, 1976, on the spur of the moment Elvis decided to fly to Vail, Colorado for a vacation. During this time, Elvis purchased and gave as gifts several Cadillacs. In reporting the story of Elvis generosity to his police friends it is said that Denver television newsman Don Kinney
joked on air that he'd like a car, too ('Elvis, if you're watching - I wouldn't mind getting a car too') and that Elvis buys him a Seville. In the following, Don Kinney contradicts this and tells his story.
Keith Richards can be a bit hard to listen too, but it is Keith Richards talks about Elvis Presley after all! Watch and listen as Keith talks about Elvis Presley.
While it is well known that Elvis Presley and Sammy Davis Jr. were good friends, first meeting in the 1950s, maintaining a friendship through the years, now, we have a fantastic photo via a news paper clipping from Jet magazine, February 27, 1958 showing Sammy in full swing imitating Elvis, and what's more, the clipping tells us that Elvis was sitting in the front row, roaring with laughter. Imitations were a big part of Sammy's shows and Elvis was not left out in this regard, with Sammy singing Hound Dog in concert.
Elvis was a very tender soul. He had such a good heart. We literally bought out a pet shop one night. About three o'clock one morning, Get- Low was acting really strange, so we had a doctor come over. He said, 'I don't think the dog will make it through the night'. So Elvis leased a Learjet and flew Get Lo, my girlfriend and me, and the doctor up to Boston to a special clinic for kidney dialysis. We left him up there for about three months. But he didn't live long after that. He was only about a year old. We were on tour when he died, and we were coming home on his plane when they told us. Elvis just cried.
Interview With Roger Semon
, Elvis Expert Aired June 16, 2002 - 09:14 ET CNN Kyra Phillips, CNN Anchor: This morning, we have a rare glimpse into The King's past. It's a new four CD boxed set with 100 songs of outtakes, alternate versions and never heard before live recordings of Elvis Presley's music
In this comprehensive Elvis Presley biography
, you will find a complete history of Elvis' dynamic life story from his humble beginnings through his rise to stardom. It is a fascinating journey which has earned Elvis Presley his still undefeated title of the "King of Rock 'N Roll".
When The Imperials first worked with Elvis during the May 1966 'How Great Thou Art' sessions, he told them that he had been an admirer of their music for years. Murray and Blackwood were not singing with The Imperials yet at that point, but they were there when Elvis returned to live performances in 1969. The Imperials continued to sing back-up for Elvis until the fall of 1971, and can be seen in 'That's The Way It Is'. They recorded in the studio with him in May / June 1971, where Elvis recorded the Grammy Award winning album 'He Touched Me'. Because of Presley's love for Gospel music, Murray and Blackwood got to know him quite well, and in the following interview they shed some light on their relationship with him.
'On the drums from Dallas, Texas, is hard-working Ronnie Tutt', is how Elvis usually introduced Ronnie on stage, but I don't think that any kind of introduction is really necessary for our readers. Not only did he play drums for Elvis from 1969 to 1977, but he's also a highly regarded session-drummer that has worked with the likes of Neil Diamond and Elvis Costello.
On March 28th, 1998, Scotty and D.J. Fontana
performed at an Elvis convention here in Europe. That same evening, I interviewed them both in Scotty's hotelroom. Actually, it wasn't easy to find good questions, as Scotty's That's All Right Elvis
and Peter Guralnick's Last Train To Memphis
describe the early years in wonderful detail. Nevertheless, the interviews were quite interesting in many ways. Especially Scotty is very straightforward and outspoken, and his viewpoints shed a new light on various issues for me.
So many singers sing a song, and they're thinking about the way they're going to sing - the projection, the phrasing and so forth. When Elvis sang a song, it was just going through him, and it came out to the people that way. He was probably better at that than anybody that ever lived.
James Burton was born in Dubberly, Louisiana, on August 21, 1939, but he grew up in Shreveport which he refers to as home. He never took any lessons in how to play the guitar. He picked it up from listening and sitting in. His first guitar was not a Fender (the one he is most associated with) but a Rex, and after that a Stella. In 1953, he walked into a Shreveport music store and fell in love with the '53 Telecaster.
It's not a secret that Elvis loved the voice of tenor Shaun 'Sherrill' Nielsen. During a 1970 Las Vegas show, Presley introduced him as: 'The greatest tenor in Gospel music'.
Dominic Joseph Fontana was born on March 15, 1931 in Shreveport, Louisiana. It was in Shreveport that D.J. Fontana
started his career - as the staff drummer for the Louisiana Hayride. In 1954, when Elvis Presley was starting to make inroads in the Mid-South region as an up and coming act to be reckoned with, he and his band, which then included the legendary Scotty Moore
on lead guitar, Bill Black
on bass and Elvis doing the vocals and playing rhythm acoustic guitar, were knocking out audiences with their signature, seminal acoustic hybrid rockabilly/R&B sound, which, while rocking, did not as yet include drums.
Glen D. Hardin played in Elvis' 70s road-band for six years, tickling the ivories and arranging things like 'The Wonder Of You', 'Let It Be Me' and 'I Just Can't Help Believing'. Before that, he was an in demand session-musician, arranger and songwriter, working with artists like Merle Haggard, George Jones, The Everly Brothers and Ricky Nelson. After leaving Elvis in 1976, he has toured with Emmylou Harris, John Denver, The Crickets and, since 1997, with Elvis The Concert. In this interview we talked about his years with The King.
First off, congratulations with the new 'Silver Screen Stereo' CD. This FTD release contains quite a few surprises, like for instance stereo outtakes of Loving You
, Don't Leave Me Now
and Jailhouse Rock
, as well as some amazing alternates from 'Viva Las Vegas'. Were these tapes acquired recently?
Duke Bardwell worked both on stage and in the studio with The King in the mid-70s, and in all he played bass on 181 concerts
. Yet he's always avoided media exposure about his association with Elvis, until now.
Interview with songwriter Michael Jarrett who wrote both I'm Leavin'
as well as a Christmas song cut at the same sessions, the bluesy I'll Be Home On Christmas Day
, which Elvis recorded in 1971.
grew up with Elvis in Tupelo and in this video interview shares some of his favorite memories of his childhood friend Elvis. Much is covered in this interesting 3 and a half minute video; from a tree house, to church, using a broom as a make believe guitar, Shakrag, Elvis' musical ability and that old chestnut; racism
Elvis Presley was a Cadillac man and everybody knew it.
His taste in cars was especially well-known in his hometown, where folks believed that if you were in the right place at the right time he might suddenly appear out of nowhere and give you the car of your dreams, because that was one of the splendid things about him: He got a kick out of giving away automobiles.
wrote the song, It Keeps Right On A Hurtin'
early in 1962 inspired by the terminal illness of his father. He recorded the song himself and it became one of his biggest hits, reaching # 3 in the US pop chart and becoming the first of his records to make the country music charts, where it peaked at # 4. It earned him his first Grammy nomination, for Best Country & Western Recording, and was later recorded by over 100 performers including Elvis Presley in 1969 at his legendary American Sound Studios Sessions
Elvis Presley never got the chance to sing in front of a symphony orchestra. But decades after his death, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra got the chance to play behind him. Priscilla Presley worked with producers Don Reedman and Nick Patrick to combine some of Elvis' classic vocal performances with a big, lush sound. Plus, they invited special guests to join - Duane Eddy, Il Volo and Michael Buble, who sang a duet with Elvis. Anthony DeCurtis hosts this one-hour special that chronicles how the project came about through interviews with Priscilla, Don, Nick and Michael, and it features a lot of music.