For the first time, the inside story of legendary entertainer Elvis Presley’s life as a husband, father, son, cousin, friend, spiritual seeker — Priscilla and Lisa Marie Presley, and other family members, come together to memorialize our greatest star in this stunningly illustrated companion to a major television special and longer-form documentary.
Elvis by the Presleys is a uniquely fascinating treasure and serves as the essential companion to a major television special on CBS and, from Sony BMG, a longer-form documentary DVD and its related CD. Culled from hours of new family interviews conducted for the television special and DVD (much of it appearing exclusively in this book), enhanced with Elvis quotes, and illustrated with private family photographs and images of personal memorabilia from the archives of Graceland/Elvis Presley Enterprises, Elvis by the Presleys is an extraordinary document about an extraordinary figure.
In all, the book is the compelling result of a historic gathering of voices of those who not only witnessed from the wings Elvis Presley’s public life, but also knew the superstar out of the spotlight. His former wife Priscilla Presley, their daughter Lisa Marie Presley, his cousin Patsy Presley Geranen, Priscilla’s parents, and members of the combined and extended families sensitively and candidly share their intimate perspective on the real person, while at the same time celebrating one of America’s greatest stars.
As Priscilla Presley puts it in Elvis by the Presleys, “Who can think of Elvis without thinking of Graceland?” Here Graceland is seen as a teeming family retreat, where the kitchen was the center of operations; where tag football games were played in the yard; where folks drove golf carts up and down the hills; and where Elvis spent many of his happiest times.
Elvis by the Presleys reveals life at Graceland like never before. We witness the arc of his love affair with Priscilla; Elvis as a father to his adored Lisa Marie; his obsessions and passions; and the strength of his musical legacy, which continues unabated to this day. There are Christmas cards here, too; contracts and invoices; selections from Lisa Marie’s childhood scrapbook; and even a picture of the champagne bottle (signed) from Elvis and Priscilla’s wedding.
Here, now, is the tumultuous story of the life of a lovely yet complex man; a portrait of the career of a brilliantly accomplished yet often frustrated artist; an insider’s tale of enduring love, related with warmth and unguarded candor . . . and a story told the way only a family can tell it.
2-hour CBS special airs May 2005
4-hour Sony BMG documentary DVDand its companion CD in stores May 2005
The DVD is a longer-form presentation of the footage edited for the special. Both the special and the DVD are comprised of the family interviews, private home movies, performance footage and interviews, and photography — some of the material rare, some never before available to the public.
The CD of Elvis’s music features Elvis classics, hidden treasures, rarities and family favorites.
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Think of Elvis by the Presleys as the ultimate souvenir guide from your tour of Graceland. The 256 pages are packed with family photos, reminisces, and still-life photography of Elvis's possessions. The book is also a companion volume to the multimdedia event that brings the personal side of Elvis to the masses from the recollections of just six family members: wife Priscilla; daughter Lisa Marie; cousin Patsy; along with Priscilla's mom, dad, and sister. Many of the words written here were not in the TV show but one assumes what will make this a keeper are the photos. Along with candid shots, there are stills of the home movies seen on the CBS special (and subsequent--and expanded--DVD), and the still life shots by Henry Leutwyler get your mind racing. Here one can dwell on Elvis's guitar and think of all the music that came out of it. You can spy his phonograph with the record that was on it when he died, his wallet, an autographed Bible, his first contract, a hand-drawn football play, even his FBI badge along with pristine views inside Graceland. Some shots seem like filler (a boot, "with the original mud," Lisa Marie's crayons), but the overall impression is you are viewing pieces from the Museum of Cool, circa 1970. Several of Pricilla's passages and some of the images allude to Elvis's dark side: the massive reference book on pills and three guns are shown (plus the TV Elvis shot) looking like items from a murder investigation. Ultimately, do we really learn anything new about Elvis? Perhaps not, but there are several segments where Priscilla (the main voice) draws us in with her emotional recollections. The book (and program) is never better than telling the courtship in Germany when a homesick solider found an older-than-her-age 9th grader. Elvis by the Presleys does not try to be compressive; it succeeds as a warmer, more heartfelt tribute to The King. --Doug ThomasFrom Booklist:
Nearly 30 years after his death, America just can't get enough of Elvis, and to feed that hunger, some of the King's surviving family members present a big, colorful celebration of all things E. Priscilla Beaulieu Presley, abetted by daughter Lisa Marie, mother and father Ann and Paul Beaulieu, sister Michelle Beaulieu Hovey, and "Elvis' double first cousin" Patsy Presley Geranen, presents cozy reminiscences--"Elvis was sentimental, and Christmas brought out his sentiments in force"--and tons of photos, including even a reproduction of one of youthful Elvis' favorite books as marked up by him. Picture books about Elvis are hardly new, nor are collections of the memories of those nearest to him, but this book offers some offbeat stuff that should be new to most fans, like the two-page spread of an old mailbox with "3764 Hwy. 51" hand scrawled on the side, a full-page picture of what was apparently Presley's favorite plastic comb, and the selection of pictures of the King's favorite toys, such as a tricycle and a snub-nosed revolver. Sure, there's nary a disparaging word to be found here--"The hits my father cut like 'In the Ghetto' and 'Suspicious Minds' are great," reports Lisa Marie with admirable restraint--but the down-home, funky charm and honest (not to mention salable) sentiment on view are well worth a look. Good, clean fun; fry up a banana sandwich, and enjoy. Mike Tribby
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