The six Elvis Files volume 1-6 are a very ambitious project by Erik Lorentzen that will carefully document almost every single day of Elvis' life from 1954 to 1977, covering everything from what he wore on stage, to who he met, rare interviews, candid photos and newly discovered images.
Erik Lorentzen is also the author of the critical acclaimed book 'Elvis - The King Of Las Vegas' and there is no doubt that this stunning six-volume series is truly unlike any Elvis book series that you have seen before. This second volume, covering the three years 1957– 1959, is 540 pages, hard-backed and printed on high quality paper.
A large "coffee-table" book of 30 cm x 26cm with colour photos throughout, it is almost 1½ times bigger than Ernst Jorgensen/Peter Guralnick’s ‘Day by Day’ book yet covers only three years in Elvis’ life!
The first volume of this massive series which looked at Elvis’ life from 1960 up to 1965 was extremely impressive. It was particularly interesting to me since it covered some of those 'mid-sixties' years that rarely get featured in any detail in Elvis biographies and photo-books.
While an expensive treat it was certainly great value-for-money (even with all that extra postage to Australia!) and was my favourite Elvis book release of 2010.
Now after a little production delay comes the sumptuous second volume from author Erik Lorentzen featuring Elvis' life 1957 - 1959. And while covering only three years, this book is even bigger than the first release!
As noted in the publicity
The Elvis Files Vol. 2 features over 1300 stunning photos in its 540 pages and all in quality printing.
All ELVIS EVENTS in this Time Frame Period 1957-1959 are shown..
- Every Working Moment...
- Elvis AT PLAY Images. (over 200 Newly Discovered - seen for the first time)
- Plenty of Off Set CANDID Moments.
- All the Recording Sessions
- All the " Interviews" are shown.
- The Tours of 1957
- The Movies: Loving You, Jailhouse Rock and King Creole, are covered in Great Details with lots of unseen photos.
- The Army Days
- On Tour, On TV, In Germany, Paris, Memphis, Hollywood, Hawaii, Tupelo, Nashville & Las Vegas... We cover it all...
It is an amazingly packed 540 pages featuring an impressive selection of quality photographs - many previously unpublished, as well as a fascinating collection of interviews and articles - again many that I had not read.
With one of the the book's main focuses being on the astounding 1,300+ photos the extensive acknowledgements are noted below.
Perhaps the difficulty with this particular volume might be that Elvis' life story from this period, the three movies - Loving You, Jailhouse Rock and King Creole - plus the army years, have all been covered in great detail before by other books.
However Lorentzen tries to avoid repeating the overly used well-known images using where possible alternate shots and new discoveries. And where ‘Classic’ shots are used they are always printed in tremendous quality making them a joy to see again. The chronological, almost daily, detailed look into Elvis’ life presents a very different view to previous books. In many ways it is far, far more thorough than ‘Elvis Day By Day’ or any other biographical book.
In this volume the story starts on January 4th 1957 with a delightful article, 'Elvis With a G.I. Haircut', from Memphis journalist Bob Johnson about Elvis' pre-induction army examination at Kennedy Veterans Hospital.
.... At exactly 1 p.m. on Friday, January 4, just four days before his 22nd birthday, Elvis Aron Presley drove up to Builder 103 at Kennedy Veterans Hospital in Memphis, Tenn. He parked his cream-colored Cadillac and grinned at the battery of newspaper, wire service, TV, and news-reel cameramen and reporters waiting for him.
Draft Board 86 had told him to go to the hospital, an induction examination center. It is just a few blocks from Elvis' home, and Elvis had gone there many times to entertain the patients.
This is followed by Elvis' train ride to New York for his final Ed Sullivan TV show, the March of Dimes photo-shoot, The Warwick Hotel, 'From the Waist Up' appearance and then back to Memphis only 3 days later where Elvis visited Popular Tunes with Barbara Hearn and Dewey Phillips!
All these events from the first few days of 1957 are covered in fascinating detail with 81 photos (several of them full-page) and all within the first 22 pages of the book! Reading this book one can truly understand the incredible pace of Elvis' life as well as the demands on him – and it is exhausting.
It is also obvious that while The Elvis Files Vol.2 continues in a similar layout to the first volume, the overall design is better here and it has a more polished finish. For instance the song lyrics that I felt were more of a "filler" in the first book nicely fit here. Other slight annoyances of the first book, like spelling mistakes and poorly proofed text (Norway<>English) have also been sorted out with this volume.
Whereas the excellent Jorgensen/Guralnick book ‘Elvis: Day By Day’ of course covers the same period in diary form, ‘The Elvis Files’ presents you with so much more and so many fabulous images of the time.
The newspaper articles and appropriate interviews all help to explain the phenomenon of Elvis at the time.
Another joy is the fact that you can finally work out where those niggly undated photos that you may have collected or filed-away by comparing them with Elvis’ clothing, whereabouts or look from each day.
While much of the material has been written by Erik Lorentzen he also uses his massive library of newspaper articles and other sources, such as Elvis:The Man & His Music, Keith Flynn, Alan Hanson (Elvis 1957), Joe Krien (Elvis Express Radio) and more who all contribute fine articles or interviews.
And at no point with this book did I feel that I had seen or read it all before, as one often does with Elvis biographies.
As an example one only has to compare the excellent Gerr Riff/Chris Giles ‘Inside Loving You’ (EIN review here) to see that there are even more photos featured in The Elvis Files. And it is notable that some key photos that are repeated here are of better quality & clearer print. Previously seen Movie Poster images or familiar screen-grabs are avoided here in preference of new discoveries. (I also spotted a colour snap of Elvis sitting down that was incorrectly flipped in the ‘Inside Loving You’ book but is correct here.)
The two books however are of course differently themed so since ‘The Elvis Files’ concentrates on Elvis’ chronological history there are for instance no scanned Single covers, memorabilia or suchlike here.
Several full page ‘Loving You’ images are new to me and the quality of others are stunning. Here are two examples, both printed full-page …
And while I had seen this marvellous smouldering Elvis, Lizabeth Scott image before, I have never seen it in this stunning quality. (note this is only a low-resolution scan of it!)
Of course, a lot of material from Alan Hanson’s excellent ‘Elvis ’57 Final Fifties Tours’ has to be repeated but here ‘The Elvis Files’ includes all those stunning photos that were so needed to help properly explain Hanson’s text.
Later on Elvis’ "Gold Lame" tour of the US and Canada is extensively covered with an abundance of newspaper articles and interviews. Again the photos are impressive in both their size and quality. To get an idea of the size of the book you need to see a photo & double-page compared with the size of a standard CD case.
With all the articles and interviews, familiar stories of the time now get explained in more detail. Many of us already know about Elvis falling out with old friend Dewey Phillips due to his unauthorised stealing and playing on-air of a pre-release copy of ‘Teddy Bear’.
However I have never read the story in such detail as here, and Elvis did far more for Dewey at the time than I had realised. And there’s even a photo of Elvis playing Dewey the acetate at MGM studios!
Interestingly there is also an "Elvis and Dewey Bury the Hatchet" make-up newspaper story later from September 1957 that I was not aware of.
Of course a huge part of the book is dedicated to ‘Jailhouse Rock’ with 60 pages including many previously unpublished images.
‘King Creole’ is also featured in 68 pages, but unlike the recent FTD book also including plenty of delicious colour shots along with Recording Session & Movie and Candid shots.
(Right:King Creole colour candid shots)
When you look at the pace of his life in this detailed form, heaven knows how Elvis had time to travel by boat to perform in Hawaii, as well as buy Graceland during this over-hectic period!
No wonder our boy suffered exhaustion and insomnia.
Having owned this book for only a few days it would be impossible for me to have read it all – and I’m going to savour this for a month! However it is worth listing a few interesting articles and interviews that I have enjoyed so far.
- Elvis In Gold: A Look Back (by Mike Eder)
- Presley’s A Nice Guy, Enjoying Popularity While It Lasts. (March 57)
- 23,000 See Elvis: Late Show 15,000 His largest Ever (Toronto, 1957)
- Elvis Ottawa Backstage Interview April 3 1957
- Gloria Pal Interview (Jailhouse Rock) (Elvis:The Man & His Music)
- Anita Wood Interview
- Elvis Vancouver Press Conference (Aug 31 1957)
- Elvis Is ‘Shocked’ At Musicians Quitting
- Elvis Pan-Pacific Interview (Oct 28 1957)
- 6,000 Kids Cheer Elvis’ Frantic Sex Show
- Elvis and Ernest C. Withers
- Backstage at the Grand Ole Opry
- Jan Shepard Interview (by Joe Krein)
- Anita Wood Reveals "Why Elvis And I Couldn’t Marry’
- Elvis Brooklyn Interview (Sept 22, 1958)
- Elvis’ Secretary/Girlfriend Finds Love With King’s Friend.
- Elvis In the City Of Light By Night (Paris and Nancy Holloway) (below)
- When Elvis Met Priscilla
One of my favourite moments is the short interview by great King Creole actor Walter Matthau…
"The first thing Elvis said to me was, `Mr Matthau, I sure would appreciate it if you could help me out with this acting thing.' I told him, "I've seen you act and I don't think you need any help from me." Then the next thing I remember we were having this fight scene. I hit him over the head with a chair - naturally they substitute the balsa-wood chair - and I'm left with a leg. I smashed him across the back as he was down on the floor. And he threw up. It was just after lunch and it was warm in the studio and then all this activity and that final thing of me smacking him in the hack. We couldn't use that shot."
"I almost hesitate - I creep up to the sentence: Elvis was an instinctive actor. That almost is a derogation of his talents. That's saying "well, you know, he's just a dumb animal who does it well by instinct." No. He was quite bright too. He was very intelligent enough to
understand what a character was and how to play the character simply by being himself through the means of the story. He was not a punk. He was very elegant, sedate, and refined and sophisticated."
Perhaps the most devastating event that occurred to Elvis during this period of his life was the death of his mother Gladys. Looking at the earlier photos of her and Elvis on the set of ‘Loving You’ (Feb 15 1957 11 shots) through to the sadness of her saying goodbye to Elvis on that March 24th 1958 morning, one case witness the life & happiness being drained away in her last two years. It strangely mirrors those images of Elvis in his final two years as the weight and physical darkness also arrived.
The final part of this period of Elvis’ life was of course spent in the army and in Germany, which features in the final 80 pages.
Once again, despite owning several Army period books such as the great ‘A Date With Elvis’ this section still featured new stories and photos for me and wraps up the time-frame very succinctly.
Check out the great Pre-Army short haircut photo - plus the fabulous photo of Elvis with his feet off the ground in the arms of some frauleins! (see below)
To be honest the BIG decision for me was whether to buy the first volume of this series since postage to Australia of a book of this size and weight is a significant extra cost. Buying all six volumes was always going to be a big investment - since each volume costs around US$90 - and I would have been disappointed had I felt these Elvis Files just repeated what I already own. However I was so impressed by the first volume that I had no qualms at all about buying this second volume which turns out to be even better!
It is obvious that the initial mini-faults of the first book, (proof reading, font changes, some layout issues) have all been ironed-out and the series can only get better and better from now on.
My only mini complaint about The Elvis Files Vol.2 is that a few photos have been blown up too large thus losing resolution and several photos have that annoying badly-scanned patterned look. However the fantastic quality of the majority of the photos (of which there are well over one thousand) more than makes up for the occasional disappointing one.
And while the book still has no index, this time there is a usefull Bibliography at the back of the book.
(Note more example pages are shown below- as they say a picture is worth a thousand words)
Overall Verdict: I can’t wait to have all these great books lined up side-by-side in my bookshelf and know that, unlike many Elvis photo-biographies, I will be going back to re-read them and will often use them as reference books in the same way I now use Jorgensen’s ‘Day By Day.’
While I recommended the first book (Volume 3) I insist that every fan must at least get a chance to check out this glorious ‘Elvis Files Vol.2’ - even if you can’t afford to buy one. I cannot imagine any Elvis fan not being stunned by what they see. Buy Volume 2 now and I’m sure you’ll be saving up to collect them all!
Review by Piers Beagley.
-Copyright EIN January 2011
EIN Website content © Copyright the Elvis Information Network.
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EIN Honesty note: While I am thanked in the credits of the book I had no idea that Erik Lorentzen was going to do this. Only one EIN interview is used in the book, I contributed nothing else. The book is a labour of love for Erik Lorentzen and his colleagues.
Also note that I paid full price and postage for this book like any other fan.
Several fans have contacted EIN regarding the price of these books.
Yes, they are more costly than the average photo book but the size and production values still make them great value-for-money.
The size and weight of them means postage has to be high.
EIN is not selling them directly but the cost is around US$95, GB£60 or EU70 plus postage.
CLICK HERE to buy them direct from ‘The Elvis Files’
or try a local Elvis dealer to see if the total PLUS postage works out cheaper.
Here is the proposed release schedule:
The Elvis Files Vol. 3, 1960-1964, (June 2010)
The Elvis Files Vol. 2, 1957-1959, (Out Now)
The Elvis Files Vol. 4, 1965-1969, (MAY 2011)
The Elvis Files Vol. 1, 1953-1956, (November 2011)
The Elvis Files Vol. 5, 1970-1973, (April 2012)
The Elvis Files Vol. 6, 1974-1977, (November 2012)
For more details information click here to this website> www.elvisfiles.no
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This volume includes photographs by:
All Over Press/Getty Images, Ed Clarity, Gian Colombo, Elvis Monthly, Eddie Fadal, Filmjournalen - Norway, Fitchhollister, Fotorama - Norway, Bud Fraker, Currie Grant, Memphis Pres-Scimitar, MGM Studios, Andrew Newton, Paramount Studios, Bill Ray, Jim Reid, Sjoberg_ Press, Bob Wendlinger, Bob Willoughby and Ernest C. Withers.
This volume features photographs from the collections of.
Real Bouwman, Elaine Christian, Virginia Coons, Christi Dragomir, Mike Florysiak, Chris Giles, Pal Granlund, Patrick Janssen, Anthony King, Kenny Kjohl, Erik Lorentzen, Rex Martin, Alessandra Pede, Jean-Marie Pouzenc, Helmut Radermacher, Andreas Roth, Louis Van Ettinger and Erik Viervoll.