I’ve read numerous books about The Beatles and other rock stars but never one on Elvis. This book is detailed pretty well and you get to know Elvis, his friends, and family up until 1958 and after his mother’s death. Peter Guralnick does a very good job not dwelling too long in one place. He keeps the story moving at a good pace. Guralnick is very even-handed and does not sensationalize his life.
Peter does have a second book called “Careless Love” I will start reading soon that covers the rest of Elvis’s life when things come unraveled.
I grew up listening to Elvis. I was never a huge fan. He was a great entertainer and interrupter of other people’s songs. He helped open the door to blues. soul and rock music for the masses like The Beatles and Stones did later.
You meet some very interesting and historical characters. Sam Phillips who first signed Elvis to Sun Records, Dewey Phillips (famous Memphis DJ) who first played “It’s All Right” on the radio, Hank Snow, and many others. Elvis wasn’t an overnight sensation but his success just continued to grow until it was uncontrollable. He covers the tours and tv appearances.
I’ve never thought too much of Colonel Tom Parker and this book didn’t help. Keeping Elvis separated from anyone who could influence him and caring more about his investment than the person.
Even at this early stage, I started feeling sorry for Elvis because of the isolation of not being able to go out in public without causing a scandal or being chased. He did have some close relationships with girls that were broken up because of the situation Elvis was in.
The part that disappointed me was that Elvis seemed to neglect his band. Scotty Moore and Bill Black were put on salary and could not work for anyone else. Scotty has blamed it on some RCA execs and Parker. They were with Elvis through the lean times and Scotty even managed them at the beginning. Scotty’s guitar help develop Elvis’s sound at the beginning.
Overall Elvis comes off as a good kid who got the world thrown at him and being his age he took it rather well. He was nearly always gracious to his fans, friends, and family.
If I had to give a rating I would give it 5 stars out of 5… A great book on how he began and it did clear up some myths built around him.