Raquel Welch talks Elvis, Sex, and Heartbreak Hotel
Raquel Welch : I first saw Elvis Presley in concert in 1956, when I was 15 years old. He played the San Diego Arena in the spring, and my family lived in nearby La Jolla. Heartbreak Hotel was already a radio hit, and I couldn't get enough of it. Hearing that song was a real turning point for me as a teenager. When I saw him in action, he was mesmerizing. I screamed myself silly.
Something about his voice on that song made me think, 'This must be what sex is all about'. My girlfriends and I didn't have a lot of experience in that department, but you just knew Elvis had it all. At the concert, Elvis was dressed in a pair of loose trousers, loafers, a shirt and open jacket. When he moved, he was smoldering. His hair fell over his eyes, his tone was sensual and he put a lot of body into it. His delivery on Heartbreak Hotel was loaded with insinuation. The song was also in a minor key, which always triggered a sexy reaction in me.
But it was his voice on the chorus [sings to illustrate] - 'You make me so lonely bay-bee / I get so lonely / I get so lonely I could die'. When he slipped in those low-register Elvis-isms - you know, the huh-huh thing - it came from his body, not from his head. He had that emotional, erotic intensity that was impossible to resist.
I never imagined when I got to Hollywood in 1964 that my first job would be in an Elvis movie. In 'Roustabout', I was a day player with one line. I met Elvis briefly on the set, but his hair was sprayed, he was wearing stiff pants and a wimpy windbreaker. I was so disappointed. He wasn't the same guy I saw in concert.
After the shoot, one of his buddies came over and said, 'Elvis is having a party at his house. He thought you might like to come by and have some fun'. I wondered, 'Why couldn't he ask me himself?' I didn't go.
Whenever I hear Heartbreak Hotel now, it takes me back. It reminds me of what a force Elvis was. He still is today. Sometimes I get misty-eyed over the whole thing.
Raquel Welch is the author of 'Beyond the Cleavage' (Weinstein Books). She spoke with reporter Marc Myers.
Tupelo's Own Elvis Presley DVD + 16 page booklet.
Never before have we seen an Elvis Presley concert from the 1950's with sound. Until Now! The DVD Contains recently discovered unreleased film of Elvis performing 6 songs, including Heartbreak Hotel and Don't Be Cruel, live in Tupelo Mississippi 1956. Included we see a live performance of the elusive Long Tall Sally seen here for the first time ever.
This is an excellent release no fan should be without it.
The 'parade' footage is good to see as it puts you in the right context with color and b&w footage. The interviews of Elvis' Parents are well worth hearing too. The afternoon show footage is wonderful and electrifying : Here is Elvis in his prime rocking and rolling in front of 11.000 people. Highly recommended.