Throughout his life, Elvis’ adoring fans expressed their devotion by attending his concerts, buying his records, joining fan clubs, and keeping Elvis scrapbooks. Look at the teenager below showing off her thick Elvis scrapbook to two friends. At that point in her life, do you think she had any other possession she considered as valuable and precious as that Elvis book?
Twenty years ago, I bought an Elvis scrapbook at a record show. One of the vendors had it in a box with a bunch of Elvis albums. I took it home and studied all the pages. Then I put it away in a cabinet crammed full of Elvis memorabilia. I’ve probably pulled it out two more times since then and looked through all the pages again.
Then, last week a friend of mine showed me a box of old albums he got from his mom. It was about 2/3 Elvis music, but it also had some old Johnny Cash, and Fabian, and a bunch of worthless stuff. All the potentially valuable albums had been played to death and were in less than ideal shape.
However, in a bit of déjà vu, there was also an Elvis scrapbook in the box. My friend let me take it home and photograph all the pages. So, this week, we will look at the efforts of a true Elvis fan. She was also a big Priscilla fan, as you will soon see. Here is her Elvis scrapbook.
The cover has a black ink drawing of Elvis. It was done by Dave Green, but I have been unable to find out anything about him. I wonder if he was a high school friend with artistic talent who drew it for her. In any case, it’s a pretty good job.
Page 1 is all about young Elvis. There’s the familiar toddler shot of Elvis in a pose with his hat at a rakish angle. This photo has since been on the cover of an Elvis CD. And last year, they came out with a T-shirt featuring this little Elvis wearing the famous 70s sunglasses.
Just below is a non-descript photo of Elvis at a 1956 recording session.
To the right is young boy Elvis, again wearing a hat, but also two six-shooters in holsters. Something about this picture has intrigued me for years. Did you notice the two things that foretell aspects of Elvis’ future stage appearance? Look at that big, wide belt. It reminds you of the ones Elvis had with his jumpsuits, doesn’t it? And look at his eyes. If he’s not wearing eye make-up, what else would make his eyes look like that? It’s been documented that Elvis wore eyeliner while performing at concerts in the 50s. This is no casual photo. It was posed, and I’m betting Elvis decided to dress up his eyes a bit for the shoot. So, here are two things Elvis preferred as a kid that he carried forward and used as a performer years later.
Next is a rare photo of Elvis being weighed in Ft. Chaffee, Arkansas after he was inducted into the Army. The photographer lined up the shot perfectly. But how weird must that moment have been for Elvis? Maybe it didn’t bother him after being in the spotlight for the previous four years and having a million photographs taken. However, it does belie the belief that life in the Army for Elvis would be just like any other soldier.
Finally, there is a somewhat familiar photo of Elvis and his mother, Gladys. I wish somebody that knows Photoshop would give Gladys a little bit of a smile. She always looks so sad. If she were happy, this would be such a cool photo.
Page 2 has just one photo – Bill Haley and Elvis. Do you younger readers know anything about Bill Haley? He was a country singer who slid on over to Rockabilly and Rock and Roll, and he was at the top of the heap until Elvis took over. One look at this picture shows you why the kids dumped him and flocked to Elvis. I love Bill Haley’s music, but look at that hair-do and bow-tie. Then look at Elvis’ hair and outfit. No contest.
Page 3 has four mid-fifties photos. Natalie Wood was Elvis’ first Hollywood girlfriend, and she was a beauty. She travelled back with Elvis to Memphis after the filming of Love Me Tender, and stayed for a week in Graceland during her visit. The second photo was taken in Tampa, Florida in July 1955. EPE has used this photo in various merchandising efforts.
Next is a rere right profile of Elvis showing the slicked back hair of his duck tail style. The last photo is Elvis in a convertible in 1957. I think this shot was snapped during the filming of Loving You, and the girl may be his co-star Lizabeth Scott.
Page 4 features all Army photos. The small photo at the top is nothing special, but the second larger one is a good color shot of Elvis in uniform. I like the line under the picture. It says Elvis fans thought they’d lost him forever once he entered the Army. Happily, he came back to us.
The other small photo shows Elvis pointing to his new Sergeant strips after getting promoted on February 11, 1960. For a complete explanation of the ranks Elvis achieved in the Army, click here. The last shot is Vernon with Elvis in his dress uniform. The medals on Elvis’ chest are for expert marksmanship – one for rifle and pistol, the other for sharpshooting with a carbine.
Page 5 contains three pictures that are rather familiar. The exception would be the first one, which shows Elvis in an Army uniform. However, this is not from real life. The large American flag background gives it away as a shot on the set of G I Blues. The marriage reception photo of Elvis and Priscilla has gotten a lot of mileage over the years, same as that black leather picture from the ’68 Comeback Special.
The last photo shows Lisa and Elvis in a wonderful pose. The text under the photo says Elvis spent the last night of his life playing with Lisa after giving her a special present. I wasn’t aware of this, so I looked it up in Elvis: Day By Day by Peter Guralnick and Ernst Jorgensen. They say Elvis spent his last night watching TV until 10:30, and then going to the dentist to have his teeth cleaned and two small cavities filled. (Only Elvis would have a dentist appointment at 10:30 at night.) They report he wore a black DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency) sweatsuit with two .45s stuck in his waistband.
It would be nice if the story about Lisa were true, but you’ve got to admit, Elvis spending the last night of his life getting his teeth cleaned while packing heat is just classic Elvis lore.
Page 6 is not about Elvis, as you can see. It is a large color photo of Priscilla, and there are three more later on (plus some newspaper photos in black and white). Unfortunately, they all show signs of age. I have never seen any of them before, and they all appear to be glamour photos done by a professional. Certainly, that’s not everyday apparel Priscilla is wearing. She looks great in all four photos, but you’ll have to wait for Elvis Scrapbooks – Part 2 to see the others.
© 2010 Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister All Rights Reserved www.ElvisBlog.net
Elvis, Elvis Presley, and Graceland are registered trademarks of Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc.