20 Years - 20 Favorites



20 Years - 20 Favorites



by Phil Arnold


20 Years –

20 Favorites


Contributing Editor Phil Arnold had his first article published in Elvis International Forum in 1999.  Since then, his work has appeared thirty-seven times as the magazine transitioned from quarterly to semi-annual publication and changed its name to Elvis International, the Magazine and finally to Elvis…The Magazine.  Arnold went back and reviewed all the issues of the past twenty years and selected his personal favorites for each year.



“No Regrets” by Bob Neal,  from Vol 1 - #4:   As a general rule, I will always tend to favor articles about the early years of Elvis’ career, and this is one of the best.  Bob Neal was Elvis’ manager for one year before Colonel Parker took over in late 1956.  Neal was a famous Memphis disc jockey who promoted concerts throughout the Mid-South.  His association with Elvis dates back to July 1954, when he booked Elvis for his first concert appearance.  It was interesting to learn the reasons for Bob Neal’s “No Regrets” as he let the management of Elvis’ career pass on to Colonel Parker.  The article also includes some of Neal’s memories of traveling on tour with Elvis, plus his reflections on Elvis’ mom, Gladys.


“Felton Jarvis – Elvis’ Record Producer at RCA,” from Vol 2 - #1: For some reason, there is no writer credit for this lengthy interview with Jarvis, who worked with Elvis in recording studios from 1965 to 1977.  In addition, from 1970 on, Jarvis accompanied Elvis on all his tours acting as liaison with the band, sound people, etc.  I particularly like his anecdotes about Elvis’ recording sessions, which were unique to say the least.  Jarvis also sets the record straight on the rumor that Elvis shot up the speakers during a session recorded in Graceland.  Another good feature are his answers to the reviewer’s question about which of his songs Elvis liked best personally.


Collector’s Corner” by Jerry Osborne,  from Vol 3 - #2:

“Collectors Corner” was a regular feature during the early years of the magazine, and every one of that series by Jerry Osborne appealed to me.  As a record collector myself, I was particularly fond of this article because it was about the super rare releases of Elvis on the short-lived Compact 33 singles format, which I’ve never even seen.  I’m not sure what possessed RCA to release Elvis songs on this format (think 45s, except with a small hole and played on the same turntable speed as albums).  There were only five songs (plus the flip sides) released in 1961 and 1962.  According to renown record collector Jerry Osborne, there was only one known copy of “Good Luck Charm,” only a couple of “Can’t Help Falling in Love,” and only four or five copies of “Marie’s the Name, His Latest Flame” and “Surrender” (in stereo).  The first two Elvis Compact 33 singles, “Surrender (mono) and “I Feel So Bad” are somewhat more common.  Prices back in 1990 were $1,000-2,000 for the rarest ones, so we can only imagine what they are worth seventeen years later.  This was a superb article about Elvis collectible records that only Jerry Osborne could have written.


“Elvis on the Steve Allen Show” by Nigel Patterson,  from Vol 4 - #1: I watched this show as a fourteen-year old boy and wondered what was going on.  Allen had Elvis wear a tux, stand absolutely still, and sing “Hound Dog” to a bassett hound sitting on a stool.  This was Elvis’ next TV appearance after he had freaked out the nation on the Milton Berle Show three weeks earlier.  Many fans and critics saw this as Steve Allen’s ridiculous attempt to tame Elvis.  Author Nigel Patterson explores that assertion, and does a good job of backing up his conclusion that the criticism of Steve Allen was unwarranted.  Allen’s show relied on comedy more than other variety shows, and it was more of a “family” program.  Patterson also goes into some detail on the comedy sketch Elvis participated in with Allen and other guests Andy Griffith and Imogene Coca.  Elvis even got to deliver the punch line to a very inane joke.  Reading this article made me what to dig out the VCR tape and watch the show again.


“Elvis and Eddie A Special Friend- ship,” from Vol 5 - #1: “Elvis and Eddie,” written by Eddie Fadal, was another long-time continuing series in the magazine, and I enjoyed them all.  What makes Eddie so appealing to me, as opposed to some of Elvis’ other buddies, is that it was a pure friendship.  Eddie had his own career and never wanted anything from Elvis, just his friendship.  In this article, Eddie tells about a concert Elvis performed at the Hilton Hotel in Las Vegas (he fails to tell what year).  Elvis took a big dose of laxative that afternoon and it kicked in during the show.  This is a funny story.  Anything that makes me laugh deserves to be in the 20 Favorites.


“Heaven in Las Vegas”  by Bill Graham, from Vol 6 - #3: As a general rule, I usually skip the stories from fans about “when I saw Elvis in concert,’ but this one had a different twist at the end.  Author Graham does start with the typical description of the whole atmosphere in the hotel and his anticipation about seeing Elvis in person.  We learn how he managed to secure front-row seats.  Graham got even more charged up writing about Elvis during the concert: “this God-like icon,” “cheeks oozing raw sex,” and “applauding, screaming, standing ovations.”  Then we get to the good part of the story – how Graham and his sister managed to get into Elvis’ top-floor suite while Elvis was down in the theater doing his second show that night.  They almost got arrested and detained, but everything worked out OK.  So, in addition to a offering a detailed description of an Elvis concert, this article finishes with a fun look at the rare occurrence of a fan making it into Elvis’ quarters.  I don’t think too many other fans have been that successful.


Elvis Buyers All Shook Up”  by Pamela Tapp, from Vol 7 - #3:

I have always followed auctions of Elvis memorabilia with interest, even though I don’t have the resources to go after the ‘good stuff.’  This article chronicled the sale of items from Jimmy Velvet’s Elvis Presley Museum.  Jimmy Velvet is a complex character who I have written about previously in Elvisblog, so I was interested to see what he had for sale and what it went for.  Author Pamela Tapp goes into detail covering over thirty items sold on June 18-19, 1994,  at the Hilton Hotel in Las Vegas.  Five color photographs of various items illustrated the piece. The big items for sale were three cars, two jumpsuits, oodles of jewelery, and two guitars.  I think the best bargains were scored by John Corbett, co-star of the television series “Northern Exposure” and the movie “Elvis Has Left The Building.”  Corbett purchased Elvis’ American Express card for $41,400 and Elvis original birth record for $68,500.  The cheapest item mentioned in the story was a broken tree limb from Graceland for $747.  Do you think it came with a certificate of authenticity?


Elvis: From Memphis To Hollywood” by Alan Fortas, from Vol 8 - #2: We’ve all read lots of stories by members of the Memphis Mafia, but none of them ever made me laugh like this one did.  Alan Fortas talks about the forty-pound chimp named Scatter that Elvis bought in the spring of 1962 from the star of a local TV station.  Shortly after that, Elvis had to go to out west for another movie, so he and Alan and six other guys moved into Elvis’ home in posh Bel Air, CA.  Of course, Scatter went with them.  As Fortas relates, “There was no telling what he would get into, and some of us helped him find his way.  We dressed him in little boy’s clothes, and at least one of us helped him acquire a taste for straight scotch.”  Fortas tells entertaining stories of Scatter’s pranks wearing a chauffeur’s cap in a limo, sitting at producer Sam Goldwyn’s desk, and crashing a nest-door cocktail party.  I wish the article had been twice as long.  Fun stuff.


Go, Cat, Go”  by Darwin Lamm, from Vol 9, #4: Darwin Lamm is the Editor/Publisher of this magazine, but he seldom publishes articles with himself credited as the author.  This one is special because Carl Perkins was such a friend to Darwin and the whole Elvis International family.  When Darwin presented his first “Good Rockin’ Tonight Concert” during Elvis Week 1989, Carl was the headliner.  He returned to thrill audiences many more years.  In the article, Darwin reviews how Carl Perkins got his start and explores the relationship between him and Elvis.  Another interesting feature was about all the Carl Perkins’ songs recorded by other singers, such as Dolly Parton, The Judds, George Strait, Johnny Cash, John Fogerty, George Harrison, Paul McCartney, Willie Nelson and Tom Petty.  All in all, a nice tribute to a nice man.  I particularly liked the altered photo that showed 1956 Perkins and 1996 Perkins side-by-side.


A Three Way Tie.  (Sorry, I just couldn’t narrow it down to one): 


“Remembering Colonel Tom Parker”  by Darwin Lamm, Joe Esposito, Jerry Schilling,  from Vol 10 - #1: This was actually three articles commemorating the passing of Colonel Parker.  I’ve always had a dislike for the man because of the poor treatment he gave Scotty Moore and Bill Black.  However, the three authors actually knew Parker, and they all liked him.  They wrote interesting anecdotes on Parker, and it gave me a new perspective on him.  I still think he screwed Scotty and Bill.


“Nightmare In Memphis”  by Judy Kuniba,  from Vol 10, #2: This year marked the 20th anniversary of Elvis’ death, so it was natural to have a story by a young fan who actually attended the viewing in Graceland.  Judy Kuniba flew to Memphis with no motel or rental car reservation.  Her only concern was to see Elvis one last time.  This is a story that touches your heart.


“All the King’s Men’  by Gail Pollock,  from Vol 10 - #2: As a big fan of Scotty Moore and DJ Fontana, I was pleased when they recorded with a dozen other rock and country artists and released the CD, All The King’s Men.  Gail Pollock did a great job telling how the sessions came about and describing each song on the CD.


Collecting the King”  by Robert Alaniz,  from Winter 1998 issue: In the 90s, Editor Lamm usually had a theme for each issue of Elvis International.  The Winter 1998 issue commemorated the 30th anniversary of the ’68 Comeback Special, and it contained five excellent articles on that TV special.  Any of them would be worthy of mention here, but I would like to single out the one by record dealer and author, Robert Alaniz.  For the past decade, Alaniz has been providing excellent articles for the magazine.  Most are about collectible Elvis records and CDs, but he sometimes gives us thoughtful editorials on things in Elvisworld he either likes or dislikes.  I always look forward to reading articles by Robert Alaniz.


Elvis Movie Match-Up”  by Phil Arnold,  from Fall 1999 Issue: This was an easy choice, because I didn’t even consider any other articles.  Why?  Because this was the first time I was published in the magazine.  When Darwin told me the theme for the issue was going to be Elvis in the movies, I was determined to come up with something that fit.  Instead of a regular article, I created a quiz where I listed the tag-lines from the coming attraction trailers of all 31 Elvis movies.  There was also a list of all the movie titles, and the challenge was to match up the tag-lines with the right movies.   Darwin added photos from five Elvis movies to illustrate my quiz.  My second choice for 1999 would be my article in the next issue titled “Too Many Santas, Let’s Have An Elvis.”


ELVIS: A Canadian Tribute”  by Red Robinson, from Fall 2000 Issue: Red Robinson is a famous DJ and music impresario in Vancouver, BC.  I’ve been to restaurants, concerts and parties with Red during three Elvis Weeks, and I consider him a friend.  Even if that were not the case, I would still select this article as my favorite for 2000.  It describes Elvis only concerts outside the USA:  Toronto and Ottawa in late March 1957, and Vancouver in August of that year.  Red tells a lot of historical facts but adds plenty of personal stuff to make it interesting.  The article is six pages long, so, even with eight rare photos, it is one of the longest essays to appear in the magazine. Red spends the most time covering the Vancouver show because he was there as the MC.  This is the famous concert where the fans erupted, and the music had to be halted after just twenty-two minutes.  Red has great stories to tell, and I especially liked the one about Elvis handcuffing him to a shower rod.  One of the best articles ever in the magazine.


The Bootleg Album”  by Phil Arnold,  from 24th Anniversary Edition: I’m sorry to pick one of mine again, but this one is special.  “The Bootleg Album” is the only fiction short story to have appeared in the magazine.  It is the story of a forty-two year old widow who goes to Memphis in 1982 to reconnect with Elvis.  After seeing everything at Graceland and Sun Studios, she goes to a record store and buys a bootleg Elvis album called The Burbank Sessions.  She ends up at Lansky Brothers clothing store and has a strange encounter with a man that she talks to through the wall of a changing stall, but never sees.  I can’t tell you any more or it will blow the surprise, but this is as good as any Elvis short fiction ever written (if I do say so, myself).


56: The early Years”  photos by Al Wertheimer, from 25th Anniversary Edition: This was a big, special edition, a prized collectible item for folks celebrating the 25th anniversary of Elvis’ passing.  Editor Darwin Lamm had already selected a long article (four pages) of mine for inclusion, and I was proud to be a big part of such a landmark issue.  Then, just before going to print, Darwin makes a last minute acquisition of six Al Wertheimer photos.  Naturally he wants to get them in the magazine and needs to free up a lot of space so the photos can be shown large-sized.  Guess who’s article got cut?  It killed me not to be in the special edition, but I’ll still select Al’s photo lay-out as my favorite for the year.  Over time, some of his more famous photos have become know by name.  This article includes the “Sea of Hair” and “No More Paper Towels” shots.  Al later autographed that last one for me.



Friends of Elvis 25th Anniversary Reunion”  by Gerard Montz,  from 2003 Birthday Edition:

Gerard Montz has been a regular contributor to the magazine for years.  He attends most Elvis Weeks, and when he does, he always comes up with a good article on some element of the proceedings.  This time he covered the “Friends of Elvis” question and answer session moderated by Darwin Lamm.  The panel that year was one of the strongest ever with close Elvis friends like DJ Fontana, Joe Esposito, Jerry Schilling, Marion Cocke, Charlie Hodge and others.  Gerard must have been using a tape recorder at the session, because he related Jerry Schilling’s lengthy answer about the time he accompanied Elvis to visit President Richard Nixon.  Good story.  This issue of the magazine also featured a second article by Gerard.  It traced the history of the USS Potomac, President Franklin Roosevelt’s former floating Whitehouse, which Colonel parker purchased for Elvis in 1964 for $55,000.


“Sam Phillips Remembered”  by Knox Phillips and Others,  from 2004 Birthday Tribute: This was the first issue of the magazine after Sam Phillips passed away, and “Sam Phillips Remembered” was a banner title for a collection of remembrances by seven people who were close to him.  In addition to his son Knox Phillips, the other writers included Scotty Moore, Stan Kessler, Roland James, Darwin Lamm, Jerry Schilling, and Marion Cocke.  The issue also included two separate articles on Sam Phillips.  Gerard Montz covered Sam Phillip’s speech at George Kline’s Elvis Memorial Service in 1992 (Gerard must have had that tape recorder going again).  I also wrote an article about the four music halls of fame that had inducted Sam Phillips (Rock & Roll, Blues, Rockabilly, and Country Music).  If you wanted to learn about Sam Phillips, this was the issue to read.


The Louisiana Hayride”  by the Shreveport Times,  from 70th Birthday Tribute: Elvis’ performances at the Louisiana Hayride in Shreveport were an important part of his development as an entertainer.  So, it was natural that there would be a celebration on the 50th anniversary of his first appearance on October 16, 1954.  The Shreveport Times marked the occasion by publishing a retrospective on that first night and a discussion of what followed.  The subheading for the article was very telling: “Audience Didn’t Realize Significance of Event.”  Two other related stories about other aspects of the celebration were in this issue as well.  There was a feature on “The Spirit of Elvis,” a concert on the Hayride’s original stage starring James Burton and the TCB Band, DJ Fontana, and the Jordanaires.  Also, the unveiling of a statue of Elvis in front of the auditorium was covered with a nice photo spread and article.


Al Wertheimer”  by Phil Arnold,  from 29th Anniversary Edition:  This time I was much happier to see eight Alfred Wertheimer photos in the magazine, because they illustrated the best article I ever wrote.  Also the longest (it was even longer that the Red Robison article mentioned above), and the one that took the most time to research and write.  I spent 5-1/2 hours on the phone interviewing Al to get all the facts for the story.  The article was e-mailed to Al twice to get his review and suggestions for improvement.  The finished product filled eight pages in the magazine, and it told numerous Elvis anecdotes that had never before appeared in any magazine.  I am extremely proud of this article, and I’ll thank Alfred Wertheimer one more time for his help in making it happen.


Conversations and Memories”  by Gerard Montz,  from 30th Anniversary Collectors Edition This was a special issue.  It went to the regular subscribers, of course, but it was conceived as a collectible item for folks who attended Elvis Week 2007.  We sold tons of copies there.  There were two main sections in it: a 30-year timeline of notable events in Elvis’ history (by me), and thirteen pages of memories.  Gerald didn’t have to write the text.  He did go back and select the best memories published in the magazine over the years.  He chose ones by Bernard Lansky, DJ Fontana, Sam Phillips, Marian Cocke, Jimmy Velvet, Scotty Moore, Johnny Cash, June Juanico, Eddie Fadal, Anita Wood, Gordon Stoker, Red West, Joe Esposito, Charlie Hodge, and a dozen others.  The stories are great, and the love all these people have for Elvis shows in each one.  We all miss him, but articles like this keep his memory alive.


For the Story Behind the Magazine CLICK HERE.




Contributing Editor Phil Arnold is also the creator and host of the popular website Elvisblog. New articles covering news, history or commentary about Elvis Presley are posted each week.  If you would like to read any of the 390 archived articles, check out www.elvisblog.net.