'Elvis On Tour: November 1971'
By Kieran Davis
Book Review by Piers Beagley
Published last year by author Kieran Davis this hardcover book focuses on Elvis' famous tour of November 1971.
With every show detailed over 150 pages it features more than 200 photographs many previously unpublished, memorabilia plus exclusive original tour documents. Packed with rare pictures and full reviews for each show, it is one of the most comprehensive books ever written about the somewhat forgotten Elvis year of 1971.
It has been described as a labour-of-love by a true Elvis fan who wanted to self-publish a book for true Elvis fans.
EIN's Piers Beagley checks out whether the book lives up to the description.
For some reason 'Elvis On Tour November 1971' by author Kieran Davis slipped under EIN's usually thorough radar. In fact we first spotted it only in May this year.
With JAT's similarly-themed 1971 book just going to dealers, 'Elvis On Tour November 1971' coincidentally arrived last week in Australia - and how impressive it is!
Author Kieran Davis chronicles Elvis' only Tour of 1971 in the most thorough detail. He has used every newspaper article and review he could find along with tracking down a pile of previously unseen photographs and memorabilia from this little-documented tour. As well as owning a huge amount of photographs himself, other photo sources featured include Bob Heis, Patrick Janssen and Derek Phillips, as well as numerous candid snaps from fans.
Davis has also tracked down numerous articles from fans who were there for the performances, even pen-pal letters and it is these personal insights that give the book a intimate feel of what Elvis' performances (or even his state-of-mind) were like. Some of the best fan articles have been collated from Rex Martin's iconic publication Elvis News Service Weekly.
(Go here for EIN's Rex Martin exclusives).
While the focus is on the November tour itself, the book starts with a six-page introduction on '1971 The Year So Far' which nicely sets the scene.
The book looks at every aspect in intimate detail, and as a great start Billy Smith's Tour Itinerary is even included.
The overall amount of detail is fascinating and after reading the book I know far more about how Elvis tours were put together and produced that I ever did before.
There is even a section on Elvis Souvenirs from the tour that even explains the Elvis buttons and their comparable sizes! This is a very thorough work from a true Elvis fan.
The core of the book is the detailed look at each individual concert along with reviews, fan comments, seating charts and memorabilia, along with plenty of photographs.
Here we get plenty of candid snaps that are published for the first time. Some are of course taken from a distance but some are very impressive.
As an example Elvis' November 9th 1971 Baltimore concert is thoroughly documented here with 37 photographs, nine of them printed full-page including the one on the cover of the book.
The Boston Garden show must be everyone's favourite as the FTD released soundboard (At Boston Garden '71) shows Elvis in great spirits and gives you a true flavour of the energy of this tour.
Elvis fan Cathi Avenell who provided FTD with their candid snaps also has supplied some of the photographs for Davis' book, 8 pages of great colour photographs for this one, along with four newspaper reviews.
(I strongly suspect most fans will be spinning the Boston disc while reading this book!)
(Right: A full-page example of Cathi Avenell's 1971 Boston Garden candid photos)
I particularly like the fan input and Davis has tracked down some wonderful previously unpublished articles.
Fan Peggy Elzea for instance provides an emotional and lengthy article about what it was like as a hard-core Elvis fan observing the Kansas City Nov 15 concert. The book contains 21 candid photos from her - and she tells of how she sneaked into the auditorium before the show and talked with Tom Diskin. It also features her involving, at-the-time review of the show including...
.. Elvis removed his guitar and the cape, "Thank you very much. Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. My first movie was 'Love Me Tender'... I did it back in 1927... just before I played Kansas City the first time. Okay."
Elvis went on to sing 'Love Me Tender' and 'You Don't Have To Say You Love Me' before saying, "Thank you very much... I have to wait until the mood hits me... There it is!"
After singing 'You've Lost That Loving Feeling' and `Polk Salad Annie' Elvis continued, "Thank you very much. I'd like to do a few of the songs that I started out with years ago... when I was a baby. I was a weird little kid, man. I had sideburns... two years old, you know... a little bitty guitar... trying to put diapers on and I'm going ‘ummmhmm, whmuhmuh, wuhmuhmuh'... never said `mama!'... always `wuhmuhmuh'. Oh lord. What was I talking about? Oh yeah. Trrrrr ... Treat... let me breathe for just a second, folks. Just a minute."
The audience screamed its approval. This was the most enthusiastic audience I can ever remember at an Elvis show. They loved him and showed it. He responded by giving the longest show I have ever seen him give, about an hour and ten minutes. This was also the best vocal performance I have heard Elvis give both in length and the quality of his voice. He was in excellent voice in Las Vegas this summer, too, but there was more of it at this show.
Similarly Elvis fan Richard Hall's detailed article about seeing Elvis in Dallas on Nov 13th is a lovely detailed review of being there including some fabulous details of the concert setting itself....
… In the lobby the souvenir vendors were busy and doing brisk trade. "Colour posters of Elvis only $2. Colour photo books $2..." There were more dollar bills being exchanged than in a casino as people happily handed over their money for the latest additions to their collections. Staring wide-eyed at the full-page pictures in the tour book, many would have paid twice as much and still been happy. There was a constant chatter through the Coliseum. A nervous excitement. This really was the place where Elvis going to be. The souvenirs were here, next would be the man himself.
… As darkness filled the arena for the first time, the warm-up acts began their routines. The Sweet Inspirations were kindly received. Jackie Kahane politely, but certainly less enthusiastically. Elvis needed no warm-up, but for the fans to make an evening of it the show had to be longer than Elvis' hour long set.
Intermission came and thankfully went in less than 20 minutes. It had only been a few hours since Elvis had left the stage after the afternoon concert and with him 10,000 fans had streamed out of the Coliseum.
Now another 10,000 were back and in their seats ready for round two. This time when the houselights went down the atmosphere was charged with expectations. There would be no more warm-ups. It was time for Elvis…. "
(Right: Some excellent images from Elvis at Cleveland Public Hall, Ohio, November 6, 1971)
After the examination and reviews of each individual concert, the book continues with several pages of interesting Tour Documents.
Did you know Elvis required eight chairs in his dressing room, 10 Cokes (doesn't say 'Pepsi') and 4 cups of water! That is unbelievable compared to today's stars Tour demands!
The section on the "Audio and Video" record of the November tour, bootleg CDs DVDs etc, is very detailed and also very useful for collectors since it examines the quality of the footage that is available.
Finally there is even a few pages dedicated to the Tour Scarves!
The book's text ends with this insightful comment…
"The tour was over and business was finished for the years. There had been several ups and downs over the last 12 months, but the November tour was something to be proud of.
In hindsight Elvis' best tours were now behind him and the November tour of 1971 the best ever undertaken. 1970 had been a better year overall, but the tour of 1971 was better than those done a year earlier. ...
By November of 1972 Elvis has really slowed down and no longer ran or jumped around the stage... All things change, and as the years progressed, Elvis' enthusiasm and ability to entertain continued to decrease. During the last 18 months of his life, his shows were shadows of previous years but the fans kept coming back for more. For better or worse, Elvis worked until the day he died.
Every fan that attended an Elvis concert experienced an event unlike any other. Be it the performance or the anticipation, seeing Elvis there was something electric about the proceedings. Every Elvis concert held some special memories, but the fans that saw Elvis on tour in the winter of 1971 saw his when he was at the peak of his physical and vocal powers, perhaps for the last time."
After reading it I could not believe that such a marvellous Elvis book was published with such little fan-fare - so I contacted the author for a few comments as to why he wrote and self-published the book.
Kieran Davis.. "I wrote the book because I think it was Elvis' best tour of the 1970's yet has never received good coverage. Few photographs from the tour were ever to be found all in one place and any information was scattered. Also, I had some great material in my collection and plenty of first hand accounts that needed to be shared. I see no point in hoarding information, it needs to be disseminated so everyone can enjoy it and to help preserve the historical record. That is also why I included materials of barely average quality - it is better they are preserved somewhere than lost in the ether. Mostly I did the book as a labour of love but I am glad it is steadily selling and most feedback has been positive. "
At £29.95GBPounds or under US$50 (plus postage) it is also fantastic value for money.
Overall Verdict: This a great book, totally absorbing with so much to read and with lots new to learn. It is what I require from a book, full of interesting text plus some great high-quality photos and possibly a hundred fascinating unreleased candids. This book examines Elvis' 1971 Tour in the same thorough way that 'The Final Curtain' looked at Elvis' final few months but with the benefit here of new fan input - as well as only a 12-date tour covered in 140 pages! This book should be filed next to my other detailed favourites about specific Elvis years, Ken Sharp's 'Elvis Vegas '69' and the Steve Binder JAT "'68 at40'. Possibly the best Elvis book of the year so far.
Note 1 - Unless there is a reprint, there are only a few copies of this book left to purchase.
Be quick and Click Here to the author’s website and to buy.
Note 2 - Author Kieran Davis is working a new book similarly detailed about Elvis from 1969 - 1971.
He has informed EIN that, "The International book is all first-hand accounts written within 24 hours of the events happening so the detail is fantastic. Each chapter relates to a few days from each of the first 5 seasons in Vegas by the same fan who saw 8 shows each trip. It is a great read and by far the most personal on the early Vegas seasons. The book covers 1969-1971, with a great deal of emphasis on 1971. There
is one chapter per season with a bonus chapter on Tahoe. There are very few
photos of Elvis on stage in this new book (for obvious reasons) but the hundreds of photos of memorabilia and photos taken around the hotel more than make up for it, plus Peggy's narrative is fantastic (the same Peggy that wrote the Kansas City review)."
Review by Piers Beagley.
-Copyright EIN July 2011
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