Jerry Schilling talks about Elvis and The Wonder of You tour

By: Kara Bertoncini
June 5, 2017

In one way or another, Elvis has been a part of everyone's musical exploration. He is an artist who has transcended generations with his groundbreaking songs, and it's incredibly hard to think he's not with us anymore. His music does live on however, and with Elvis Live: The Wonder of You touring the country at this very moment, audiences have been able to share a very musical and personal experience with the man himself. Childhood best friend and manager Jerry Schilling, has been emceeing the shows and remarkably, he found some time to chat with us about the King of Rock n Roll, and what Elvis' one wish would have been for the world and music.

Elvis Presley MP3 Audio Listen to 'The Wonder Of You' (03:45)

First of all, tell me how is the tour going? How have audiences responded to the show so far?

The tour is going fantastically. We've done Perth, Adelaide and Brisbane, and I gotta tell you, I said it to the audience last night; I feel like I'm back on tour with Elvis! People are dancing in the aisles, having fun and we have this great orchestra conducted by the renowned Chong Lim who is awesome. This 40-piece orchestra has a rhythm section and three singers; it's first class. You look up at the big screen and you see Elvis, and I know it may sound weird, but you feel his presence.

Elvis Presley Video Elvis The Wonder of You Australian Tour (2017) (01:03)

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Elvis News Latest Audio (and video) updates : Video courtesy of Elvis Presley Video Elvis Presley Video Central.

This is an incredible concept to showcase Elvis' music by collaborating with an orchestra. How does this show leave more of a mark than others shows you've curated?

I don't do this normally. I did do one show in Memphis for 25,000 people and it was with an orchestra and that was fantastic, but this came about because the producer who produced his first album If I Can Dream, with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, became a huge hit for Elvis. But the person who really believed in this idea and sold it to the record company was Priscilla (Presley). She was a hands on Executive Producer; she's actually been hosting the tour recently in the UK and Europe, and she passed the baton to me for Australia. She and I grew up in Graceland together, and I've seen her grow and make the hard decisions; this wasn't an easy decision to do but that's how we're here now. We all know how much Elvis wanted to tour the world and Australia, and this is as close as it can be without having him, but we do have his spirit here.

Elvis Presley MP3 Audio Listen to 'Suspicious Minds' (02:36)

His presence is probably with every die-hard fan and musician. I'm a spiritual person and believe in the after life, and souls living on, so I do believe he is here with us in some capacity.

I do too, and Elvis had that same philosophy as well. I'm so thrilled Ralph Carr has made this possible. He got all the right people technically, it's been a wonderful experience - more so than I expected. I've done hundreds of shows with Elvis but I'm loving it, and the audiences are too.

Jerry Schilling, Gina Rinehart, Ralph Carr, and Richard Wilkins.
Jerry Schilling, Gina Rinehart, Ralph Carr, and Richard Wilkins.

In 2017 music concerts can often be a very over the top in production. If Elvis was still alive, what do you think his shows would be like and what do you think he'd charge, because tickets to these shows are also very expensive?

Elvis: The Wonder Of You Tour (Australia 2017)

If you go back and look, Elvis' ticket prices were always reasonable. The philosophy was always that he wanted to see all the fans who wanted to see him. It was always important for Elvis to reach out and make it available. I can't believe what ticket prices are like these days too.

If Elvis was alive today, which artists do you think he'd be working or collaborating with? We're spoilt for choice given how accessible music is.

Elvis was not a collaborator; he was more a producer and he was the most underrated producer in rock and roll in history. I'm working on a documentary with Priscilla, which goes into that. He came from an era where artists sang and songwriters wrote, so right on that cusp where The Beatles took it to the next level as songwriters, Elvis was from that older school where singers basically didn't write.

Elvis Presley Video Jerry Schilling talks about 'The Wonder Of You' Tour (05:36)

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Elvis News Latest Audio (and video) updates Video courtesy of Elvis Presley Video Elvis Presley Video Central.

What do you think was one wish Elvis had for the world and music?

I think the one personal wish was he wanted to visit the whole world and share his music. There was one song he was involved with the writing alongside Earl Brown called 'If I Can Dream'. That's what he wanted for the world; 'If I can dream of a better land, where all my brothers walk hand in hand'. He meant all of our brothers from every colour. It's a song of hope still to this day; it's very important. I consider Elvis a co songwriter on that song.

Elvis Live: The Wonder of You has three remaining shows in Melbourne from June 8th to 10th. For tickets and more info, head here.

Interviews with or about Elvis Presley Interview with Jerry Schilling

Interviews with or about Elvis Presley Interview with the producers of 'The Wonder of You'

Buy 'The Wonder Of You: Elvis Presley With The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra' CD
Buy 'If I Can Dream: Elvis Presley With The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra' CD

Elvis Presley CD, Book and DVD Reviews Review: If I Can Dream: Elvis Presley With The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra CD
Elvis Presley News Elvis 'If I Can Dream' the concert coming to Australia

Elvis: The Wonder Of You Tour (Australia 2017)

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Elvis Presley Video Tupelo's Own Elvis Presley DVD

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. + Plus Bonus DVD Audio.

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.

Tupelo's Own Elvis Presley DVD Video with Sound.