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Elvis Presley News

January 2010
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late January
  • Springfield MO Man Reflects On Career Playing Guitar For Elvis Presley
    (, January 31 2010)
    By Emily Baucum
    Sunday night the music industry celebrated its biggest stars at the Grammy Awards, including people who have made such a mark on the world's culture, we refer to them simply by their first names because we feel like we know them.

    A Springfield musician, though, really can say he knew Elvis. Johnny Wilkinson says he's one of the few people who lived out his childhood dream. The guitarist shared the stage with Elvis Presley for the last ten years of the King's life.

    It's a friendship that began here in Springfield. "I'd like to introduce some members of my group to you," Elvis said during one concert. "On the rhythm guitar from Springfield, Missouri, John Wilkinson." The Queen City is where the King met his future guitarist: a pint-sized fan who watched him on TV. "I was 9 years old. It was about 1954," Wilkinson says. "I watched him and thought, that kid's having a lot of fun."

    Elvis Presley played a gig at the old Shrine Mosque. Remember, this was the hip-swiveling Elvis who was filmed from the waist-up, and Wilkinson had one thing to say to his idol. "My actual words were, he can't play guitar with a damn," Wilkinson says. "He said, you think you can play better than me boy? I said oh, I know I can." Turns out, the guitar prodigy floored the King, and Elvis had one thing to say to this precocious kid. "He said Johnny, I just know in the bottom of my heart we're going to meet again," Wilkinson says.

    And they did meet again, but this time at a famous bar on Hollywood's Sunset Strip where Wilkinson's band opened for Jefferson Airplane. "He says, are you the same Johnny Wilkinson that told me I couldn't play guitar worth a damn about 10 years ago?" Wilkinson says. Later that night, Elvis hired Wilkinson to play guitar, and the musician from Springfield went all over the world.

    Elvis even gave him the famous gold "Taking Care of Business In A Flash" necklace on January 31, 1969. To Elvis, that meant Wilkinson was part of his inner circle and could live up to the motto. "Every place he went I went," Wilkinson says.

    Perhaps most famously to Elvis' 1973 "Aloha Hawaii" concert. "Through everything, until that awful day in August in 1977 when he checked out," Wilkinson says. Wilkinson's now retired from the music business and living with his wife in Springfield. He looks back in wonder at the King who rocked the stage night after night.

    "Each person in that audience felt like he was singing directly to them," Wilkinson says. Unfortunately, Wilkinson can no longer play guitar because a stroke paralyzed his left hand, but he says he can't complain because he "took care of business" back in the day.

  • Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artists Tour plays Asheville Wednesday night
    ( / Times-News, January 31 2010)
    In honor of the King of Rock 'n' Roll's 75th birthday, On Stage Touring and Elvis Presley Enterprises Inc. are taking the first-ever Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artists Tour on the road. ...

    In honor of the King of Rock 'n' Roll's 75th birthday, On Stage Touring and Elvis Presley Enterprises Inc. are taking the first-ever Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artists Tour on the road.

    Ultimate Elvis, a 25-city tour, kicked off in Ames, Iowa on Jan. 15. The show hits the stage at Asheville's Thomas Wolfe Auditorium Wednesday night. The show starts at 8 p.m. and tickets are $25 to $35 each.

    The Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artists Tour is a multi-media extravaganza that pays homage to Elvis Presley during various stages of his career. The performers are tribute artists who were previously selected as finalists at worldwide preliminary competitions for the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist competition, held annually by Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc.

    These Elvis impersonators portray the King in one of four eras: the 1950s, 1960s, during his movie career and his concert years. The show is scheduled to play in 25 additional cities. The Elvis tribute artists will be joined by a live band, back-up singers, dancers, and an Ann-Margret tribute artist. Iconic imagery made available from the Graceland archives will enhance the performances. ...

  • "Baby, Let's Play House" looks at Elvis and the women in his life
    ( / Los Angeles Times, January 31 2010)
    "I had already done three Elvis books, but I realized, 'Wait a minute -- there hasn't been a book that looked at him almost purely from the female perspective,'" said veteran music journalist Alanna Nash, author of "Baby, Let's Play House: Elvis and the Women Who Loved Him" (It Books, $27.99)..

    Advertisement Nash conducted interviews with 40 to 50 women who had contact of some sort with Presley during his life, including classmates, relatives, girlfriends and co-stars.

    Among the relationships she explores are those with actresses Ann-Margret, Cybill Shepherd, Raquel Welch, Mary Ann Mobley, Barbara Eden and Yvonne Craig; she also examines Presley's ties to such pivotal early love interests as Dixie Locke, Barbara Hearn, June Juanico and Carolyn Bradshaw.

    At the center of it all, emotionally and psychologically, is Elvis' mother, Gladys, whose downward descent seemed to begin almost from the day she gave birth to the future King.

    Because his twin brother died at birth, "From the moment Elvis was born, mother and son demonstrated a remarkable closeness," writes Nash, who has also written on Elvis' manager, Col. Tom Parker, and his circle of cronies known as "the Memphis Mafia."

    She argues that the already worrisome Gladys became incapable of nurturing her surviving child toward independence as an adult and that his brother's death also left a crucial void in Elvis that no one, certainly none of his romantic partners, would ever be able to fill.

    After three deaths in the immediate family before Elvis was 1, Gladys "clung to her son tighter than before, almost as if he were a shield against a treacherous and mercurial world, where disaster could strike at any second and take away all that mattered," Nash writes.

    Nash examines how that mother-son knot eventually doomed Elvis in his personal relationships and colored his working relationships and career choices.

    She points out that many of the women Presley was attracted to physically resembled Gladys, and that many of them were 14 -- including the only one he ever married, Priscilla Beaulieu -- when they came into his life. It was at that age that Nash argues Elvis stopped developing emotionally.

    If anything, "Baby, Let's Play House," heightens the heartbreaking aspects of Presley's life. "His tragedy is not simply that he died too soon, without breaking his dependence on prescription drugs and realizing the enormity of his talent in projects that fed his creative Muse," Nash writes. "But that he was forever trapped in a loop of dissatisfaction and suffering, stemming from the loss of his twin and the premature death of his mother, with whom he had been lethally enmeshed since childhood."

  • Lago lands role to play Elvis in rock 'n' roll musical
    By Henry Veneracion
    (, January 29 2010)
    Downey's Emmy Award-winning actor David Lago isn't exactly trying to follow in Elvis Presley's footsteps, but his next gig calls for him to actually step into Elvis' shoes when Elvis was a youthful 21-year old on the threshold of stardom.

    Beginning Wednesday, Lago performs as Elvis Presley in the Chicago production of "Million Dollar Quartet," a 90-minute 'family-friendly', rock 'n' roll recreation of that rarest of star alignments that occurred on Dec. 4, 1956 when Elvis, a guy named Johnny Cash, and two other would-be pop music greats, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis, got together at Sun Records' storefront studio in Memphis for an impromptu recording session that turned into what Lago¹s publicist calls "one of the greatest rock jam sessions of all time."

    This production is actually an extension of "Million Dollar Quartet's" successful (some say spectacular) 15-month run at Chicago's Apollo Theatre. Its original cast and crew have moved on to Broadway where "Million Dollar Quartet" will be performed at the Nederlander Theatre, opening on April 11, with previews scheduled beginning on March 13.

    Notwithstanding his early successes on TV (he has been nominated for an Emmy five times, winning in 2005 for his role as Raul in "The Young and the Restless", and had a recurring role as Jeremy in "7th Heaven") and film (he has starred in and/or produced several indie films, including his latest, not-yet-released acting vehicle in "Deeper and Deeper"), landing Elvis' role in "Million Dollar Quartet" is huge ("a mega break") for Lago.

    In a phone interview, he says he's working hard at his 6-hour/day rehearsals in ("b-r-r-r-r...") cold Chicago. Lago realizes his big chance and hopes to maximize his contribution to the show's enormous potential.

    "Even before we've started," he says, "shows are getting sold out. I feel good about the whole thing. Elvis is one of my idols. It's very exciting."

    Lago says the whole production is geared towards entertaining people of all ages. To capture and project Elvis' essence will be his key.

    Born and raised in Downey, where he was schooled at OLPH, St. John Bosco and Warren High, David early on played drums and the guitar, and sang with his band, Panacea. His professional career started to intensify when he was a sophomore, he says.

    He was at one time the Holiday Lane Parade grand marshal (2000), and was a guest of honor as "one of the celebrities born at DRMC" at last October's Downey Regional Medical Center gala held at the Disneyland Hotel. His dad, Peter Lago, has enjoyed a longtime legal career here in Downey.

    Family and relatives -- from various points in California, Miami, and Tampa -- are flying in for "Million Dollar Quartet's" Wednesday opening. The show is scheduled to run until May 30, but David is of course hoping for an extended run.

    The rest of the ensemble cast includes fellow actor-musicians: 24-year old Texas native and rockabilly musician Lance Lipinsky (Jerry Lee Lewis), understudy Gabe Bowling (Carl Perkins) of Wisconsin, and actor and musician Sean Sullivan (Johnny Cash) of Ohio. Sam Phillips, considered the father of rock 'n' roll who "discovered them all and made it all happen," is played by veteran Chicago actor Tim Decker, while Elvis' girlfriend Dyanne (at the time) is played by Fullerton Civic Light Opera's (among others) Kelly Lamont, a native of Chicago.

    The production is directed by Eric Schaeffer, co-founder and artistic director of the Signature Theatre in Arlington, VA. More information about other crew and staff is available at

    Lago's publicist, Michael Conley, also attended OLPH. He says David is very grateful to everybody who's had a hand in "Million Dollar Quartet's" production. They'll even be more grateful, he says, if multitudes see the show.

    David Lago, born and raised in Downey, will star as Elvis in the Chicago production of "Million Dollar Quartet."
    Lago won an Emmy in 2005 for his portrayal of Raul in "The Young and the Restless." Courtesy Photo

  • Michael Jackson, Elvis Presley, Shahrukh Khan, John Lenon: Guess where can they be found together
    By Ritesh Agarwal
    (, January 26 2010)
    The above-mentioned names are those of high-profile celebsŠthey are men who have a strong legion of fans .... and a tremendous female following .... but they can all be found at one place .....

    And that place is moon, yes! You heard it right. If you ever, step onto the moon you can come across Michael or bump into Elvis or even fall in the arms of Shahrukh Khan, the romantic Bollywood hero. Coz, they are there in the form of craters. Actually, moon that is dotted by numerous craters has its craters named after these celebrities.

    Apart from them many other people from all walks of life have been bestowed the honour as other craters have been christened after them. Here's a list of some other names:
    1. Leonardo da Vinci (painter)
    2. Sir Isaac Newton (scientist)
    3. Christopher Columbus (navigator)
    4. Julius Caesar (Roman administrator)
    5. Jules Verne (author of the famous book ŒAround the World in 80 Days¹)
    6. CV Raman (physicist)
    7. Vikram Sarabhai (father of other Indian nuclear programme)
    8. Homi Bhabha (renowned Indian scientist)
    9. Meghnad Saha (luminary)
    10. And, as mentioned above, prominent figures like Michael Jackson, Elvis Presley, John Lenon and Shahrukh Khan.

    So, Michael and Elvis may have left their Earthly abodes; but, they can always be found on the moon, and of course, in our hearts.

  • Elvis of Sarawak collapses and dies during performance
    (, January 26 2010)
    KUCHING: He has taken to the stage as Elvis Presley for more than four decades but Saturday proved to be Reynolds Gregory's last performance when he collapsed while singing his favourite song by The King, Can't Help Falling In Love.

    Reynolds' eldest son, Trescott Linggie Gregory said the audience thought it was a gimmick when his father fell the first time. "We were told that he got up and tried to continue singing but he fell a second time. It was only then, the audience knew that it was something serious," he said yesterday. The 58-year-old later died at the Sarawak General Hospital.

    Known by the stage name Elrey, he won the Elvis Presley of Sarawak competition in 1966 and since then, he has been performing at weddings, birthday parties and functions in Sarawak and the peninsula. He retired from the state civil service two years ago.

    There are six Elvis impersonators in Kuching including Elrey, and one each in Sibu and Miri.

    Trescott, 38, said his father recovered after he had a heart attack 20 years ago. "After the attack, he quit smoking and regained his health back. So, it was shocking news for all of us when we heard that he collapsed because he was doing alright all these years,: he said. Reynolds will be buried at the All Saints Chapel cemetery today after a funeral mass at All Saints Chapel Tabuan Dayak at 10am.

  • A different take on Elvis’ life
    By Mike Householde / Associated Press
    (, January 24 2010)
    Elvis: My Best Man” by George Klein, $25

    Elvis Presley is one of the most enduring figures in American pop culture history.

    Hundreds of thousands of people still pay each year to see the Graceland mansion in Memphis, Tenn., and fork over cash for his music and memorabilia. And he consistently places at or near the top of the annual list of highest-earning dead celebrities.

    Not bad for a guy who died in 1977.

    He’s known around the world simply as Elvis, and his life story has been told and retold in every imaginable medium, from documentaries and movies to biographies and memoirs.

    And they keep rolling in. The latest comes from George Klein, who befriended Presley when they were high school classmates. Klein went on to earn a place in the King’s inner circle of friends and employees known as the Memphis Mafia.

    “Elvis: My Best Man” isn’t a tell-all. Klein makes it clear in the author’s note that he “was offered a fair amount” to write such a book after Presley’s death. Instead, what he offers is an insider’s view of Presley the man as opposed to Presley the singer, actor and icon.

    “So much has been written and said about Elvis Presley that for a long time I didn’t feel the need to add my own book to the clamor,” Klein writes. “Now, though, I’m old enough to know that I won’t always be around to speak of the Elvis I knew.”

    His Elvis is funny, kind, whip-smart and generous. Presley bought Klein gifts, including a new car, and paid for his wedding. He was Klein’s best man at the nuptials, hence the book’s title.

    Many who write or reminisce about their time with Presley focus on subjects that titillate, but Klein holds off on all of that, preferring to paint a picture of Presley the human being.

    The book comes across as an affectionate recounting of the times Klein spent with a man he considered his best friend.

    Klein — called “GK” by Presley — offers a stirring account of how Presley coped with the untimely passing of his beloved mother, Gladys, whom Klein calls “the anchor in his crazy life.” “I’ve come to believe that if Mrs. Presley had lived a full life, Elvis would be with us today,” Klein writes.

    “Elvis: My Best Man” also hits on the major points in Presley’s life, including his marriage to — and divorce from — Priscilla Beaulieu; his time in the Army; his movie and music careers; and so on.

    Klein unlocks the door to the King’s court, but what he shows us isn’t a tale of sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll favored by other Presley biographers.

    His is a tribute and a welcome addition to the mountain of Presley books already on the market.

  • From Dada to Elvis, Andrei Codrescu has plenty to say
    By Mark Hinson
    (, January 24 2010)
    In August 1997, the Romanian poet, essayist and National Public Radio commentator Andrei Codrescu delivered the closing address at a three-day conference about Elvis Presley in Memphis, Tenn., on the 20th anniversary of the famed singer's death.

    The summit was an odd combo platter of academics, Elvis fans, Elvis friends, conspiracy theorists and assorted celebrities such as El Vez (the Mexican Elvis) and the Rev. Howard Finster (the Southern folk artist and fundamentalist preacher). Codrescu decided to discuss the way the media tried to de-sexualize, tame and neuter the hip-popping Presley when he exploded into the American mainstream in the mid-'50s. Codrescu called his talk "The King's ...." Well, let's just say privates.

    The Rev. Finster was blushing and fidgeting by the time Codrescu wrapped things up.

    "I had to sit through all these maniacs giving talks for three days, so I figured I owed them," Codrescu, 64, said last week in a phone interview from his apartment in New Orleans' French Quarter. "I remember the one guy there who was convinced that the FBI or the CIA had murdered Elvis. He had all these papers and 'proof' stuffed in a black briefcase -- which is the typical, standard-issue briefcase preferred by maniacs everywhere."

    Squirming and nervous laughter aside, the Elvis lecture was quintessential Codrescu -- funny, playfully lewd, informed, slyly subversive, erudite and keenly insightful. Expect more of the same when Codrescu pays a visit to Florida State University to deliver a reading Tuesday night at The Warehouse. "Codrescu is one of the best essayists working today," said writer, FSU professor and fellow NPR commentator Diane "D.K." Roberts. "His pieces for NPR twist and turn, spiral almost out of control and zing back on point again. It's like finding yourself in the middle of a cocktail party conversation between James Joyce, Oscar Wilde and Dorothy Parker. You can't believe the way the guy can bend language into such intricate, beautiful and funny shapes." ...

  • Grammy Museum Elvis Exhibit Turns Back Time
    By Mark Hinson
    (, January 23 2010)
    I21 can be a great year for just about anyone. Especially if that ‘anyone’ is Elvis.

    Through March 28th, the Grammy Museum is hosting a photography exhibit showcasing the works of Alfred Wertheimer, as he travelled with Elvis from Memphis to New York City and all over America; as he rode along with Elvis from regional celebrity to national superstar. Lest we forget, Elvis purchased Graceland when he was 22 years old, making these black and while shots an inside peek at the moment before the moment.

    The Wertheimer collection, housed entirely on one of the museum’s lower floors, is a stunningly subtle portrait of a young man’s humbleness and ego, passion and disconnection, as he begins the journey that will lead him to become perhaps the most iconic American singer the world has ever known. There are several striking features to these photos, many of which should be new to even the most ardent Presley fans, not least of which is the startling representation of his pure youth and vitality. A hanging timeline reveals just how magnificent of a year Elvis had, jetsetting from movie sets to television appearances, and back on trains to overjoyed crowds of adoring fans. Yet through it all, Elvis never appears weary, and even in a particularly quiet moment where he is shirtless, listening to records with a young woman, he is never very unkempt. He hair still falls into his eyes and his suit may be (ironically) a shade too big, but the smile and sincerity remain, making him no less charming for his faults.

    The result of this is a large handful of photographs that really showcase an intimacy in Elvis that is normally reserved for Priscilla. Instead, these images predate even her, and give rise to a shadowed Elvis in a back corridor stealing kisses from the waitress at the diner that morning, or simply holding the hands of a bespectacled young woman in New York City until she falls to pieces. This is the look at Elvis that has been clouded by time and poor choices, and is perhaps the most interesting part of the exhibit as a whole. For the young, The King may be little more than a social punchline, a portrait of excess that could make the man seem an ogre. For the older crowd who may have grown up watching Elvis on Steve Allen or anywhere else, Wertheimer’s photographs offer a real chance to reconnect with the boyish-faced crooner that may have been so important at one time or another. These photographs are short on the glitz and glamour that came to define the later part o Elvis’ life, but they are still radiant, captivating, and altogether unique.

    The Alfred Wertheimer traveling Smithsonian exhibit is currently at the Grammy Museum downtown, and will run through March 28th of this year.

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