I just saw "Elvis" yesterday, so it is still fresh in my mind, and reading your comments helped me better appreciate it.
I am often distracted when I watch artist biographies by factual errors, though I recognize poetic license and that many events have to be consolidated or eliminated to keep the plot moving. It helps for me to think of these movies as "based on biographies." Nevertheless, I found "Elvis" truer to life than many films that claim to be documentaries, such as Ken Burns' "Country Music."
There were some "Easter eggs" in "Elvis" for me, as I could appreciate that effort went into capturing the look and mannerisms of some of the most minor characters whom I met or saw in those days. In the first Las Vegas Hilton scene Elvis' conductor Joe Guercio was depicted. Joe was a friend and Nashville neighbor of ours, but I don't think anyone else in the theater would have recognized his appearance.
Without focusing too deeply on any of your details regarding your well-expressed review of “Elvis,” because most of my thoughts would literary [not sic] just be repetitious, I do agree with it overall. I think you framed it quite well with all its positives and negatives (a bit too long, missing some important historical highlights of his life and out of order songs … also see "Rocket Man," "Bohemian Rhapsody," and the like for similar song "disorders") and that Austin Butler and Tom Hanks were terrific! This is where I’ll predict that there will be some Cinematic Award Nominations and Wins for both of them.
As a young boy, Elvis was a major part of my early Forgotten Hits Pop Music foundation. I heard, became extremely familiar with and really liked, all his early songs and those that followed by hearing them on the radio. His stylings were impressive. I remember my best friend saying after hearing one of his slow songs, “Man, he sure can sing a lot of different kinds of songs!”
As I got older and started going to Junior High School Dances at our local YM-YWCA, I and my Guy Friends would pre-plan just which girl each of us was going to ask to “slow dance” with as soon as the first notes of Elvis’ record "Don’t" was played! Oh, whew . . .
Much later on, when my Radio Career was in its full trajectory, the announcement of Elvis’ death is another date that for many of us is remembered by where we were at the time we heard it. I was on the air at that moment when I related the news and it was an emotional stunner even for me having played so many of his songs on my radio shows throughout the years.
After the studio phones lit up with listeners weighing in with their sadness and grief and the impact he and his songs had on them, I immediately broke away from our current station’s On-Air Song Rotation “Hot Clock,” and with the help of others on staff, began pulling and playing his songs exclusively (hopefully in some factual resemblance of order!) interspersed with what relatable stories we could find on that pre-Internet day and, as well as we could under the circumstances, create and air in real time an informal and instant on-the-fly “Elvis Memormium Radio Special.” (Yeah, another time when a Joel Whitburn Book came in handy for reference!)
I had to smile when you shared that you and Frannie went to a “late Sunday matinee” to see the movie "Elvis" and that “the theater was less than half full.” Such was the case for Linda and me one afternoon last week. But then, she and I generally go to a movie in the afternoon for that very reason. When we went to see “Elvis,” there were only eight others there! We call those movie-going experiences our own “Personal Private Screenings!”
CB ( which stands for [1967’s] “Clambake Boy!” )
Lol - so funny you say that –
After sitting there for the first two hours I asked Frannie “Can you please hit pause - I have to go to the bathroom!”
But trouper that I am, I stuck it out till the very last end credit -
And then went and pee’d like a race horse! (kk)
I totally agree with you. I enjoyed the movie totally for the music and not the accuracy of the facts. I thought the performances were top ranked. I may go and see it again. When I went last Friday, the theater was only half-full. I hope word of mouth helps this movie cuz it was very enjoyable.
Well, I went to see the new Elvis movieyesterday. In the end, I liked it, but that first hour goes SO fast! It seemed like it went thru 1950 - 1958 in tne minutes and then ’62 – ‘68 and other five minutes. Once it slowed to a normal pace with the Comeback Special, the story really got better.
BUT 2 1/2 hours to cover a life -- whether it be Elvis OR Colonel Tom (shouldn't the movie title be "Colonel Tom" instead?), it jumped thru hoops to get to Elvis' death. We really missed most of Elvis life and we really didn't learn a lot of things along the way because the movie left asking about the Colonel as well.
I guess the goal was to show that the Colonel played Elvis for his whole life and Elvis couldn't shake it. (Well, he COULD shake it, but you know what I mean.)
The rap music didn't detract too much, but I guess they had to make it current. I never heard some of the songs listed at the end, either. SO many songs NOT played, while "That’s All Right Mama" gets three different era Elvis performances. NO Sullivan mentions or appearances? Lots about singing Hound Dog to the dog, but no view of what that looked like, so anybody unknowing watching this film would have no idea what they are talking about.
It was good, but maybe should have been made into two two hour movies instead –the early and the late years(?)
That said, the acting was TREMENDOUS! Both the Elvis and Priscilla performers looked and acted perfectly!
It’s SO hard to try and document a story that is already so well known. Of course, EVERYBODY knows the crazy bits … one hopes that a film like this turns some NEW stones over to help expand the story … and I think to a degree that’s what they were trying to do. I believe that’s why they made so much of the story about Colonel Tom Parker. But the truth of the matter is, comparatively speaking, Colonel Tom Parker isn’t anywhere NEAR as interesting as Elvis Presley. (There were moments where it felt like Parker lived his entire life vicariously through Elvis … and maybe he did, to a degree. I mean over the course of their partnership, he actually made more money than ELVIS did!!! So who was the REAL star?!?)
Like I said, there are better documentaries out there. (For a two-part look at The King’s career, check out “The Searcher.” It originally ran as a 2-part / 4 hour biography on HBO and it is VERY well done.
For me, seeing the Baz Luhrmann film was just for the fun of it … a couple of hours of fun entertainment presented with as much gloss as possible. (kk)
Personally, I could have lived without The Colonel Tom Parker Story … and that’s a shame because you’ve got a Big League, Academy Award Winning Actor like Tom Hanks assuming the title role … but WE WANT TO SEE ELVIS … and there is SO much more of the Elvis story that could have been told. (Let me rephrase that just a bit … I probably WOULD be interested in seeing a Colonel Tom Park Story if that’s what the filmmakers set out to make … and give us enough of the story to make it compelling to watch for a couple of hours … but here, in this context, he’s just a distraction … like swatting away at the flies at your backyard barbecue. If you’re going to make a movie about Elvis … and call it “Elvis” … that’s what people want to come out and see.
Actually, I think a Tom Parker movie (if done as a true and realistic expose) could make for a very interesting profile … and Hanks just might be the perfect guy to play him (although I personally found it distracting trying to accept him in this role. It’s not that Hanks did anything specifically wrong … it’s just that you can’t look at the guy without seeing all of the other major characters he’s played in his lifetime … and Forrest Gump just doesn’t fly as Elvis’ manager!)
In a Parker biopic, Elvis would have to be the incidental background … we’d want to see them delve into Parker’s shady past … how he immigrated to America (reportedly illegally), how he assumed a new identity and how he built himself into the PREMIER Entertainment Manager. (Hell, call the film “The Snowman” … and run with it!) But for me, the Parker story slowed the new “Elvis” movie down … and forced extremely relevant part of Presley’s career to be cut or flat out eliminated from the film. (kk)
Art Vuolo (aka “Radio’s Best Friend”) sent us this clip of Dick Clark discussing Colonel Tom Parker at a radio function. Clark has ALWAYS been the diplomat … always cool, calm and composed, he represented the “level head” of Rock And Roll … but you can see that he gets a little emotional here when talk of Parker gets his blood boiling …
With all the buzz currently about the "Elvis" movie and the curiosity by fans about Col. Tom Parker and exactly how he treated "The King of Rock & Roll," this brief clip should answer that question. Dick Clark was being interviewed by the late radio personality Kidd Kraddick at the 1998 R&R Radio Convention in LA and this is the only recording of that exchange. I'm glad I got it. If you use it in your column (and I hope you do) ... please just credit. Thanks!
Art Vuolo Jr.
Radio's Best Friend
It always takes me out of the movie a little when they screw up the chronology of hit records. I noticed that in "Bohemian Rhapsody" also. And in "Animal House," when they were partying to "Louie Louie" in the fall of 1962.
It didn’t bother me so much in the Elvis movie (nor was I ever really aware of it.) The one that abused this the most has gotta be “Rocket Man,” the Elton John biopic, that used Elton’s songs (in TOTALLY random order) to illustrate the various phases of his life. (They also distorted a large number of facts in that movie, too … which is always a turn-off … like Elton choosing his stage name “John” after John Lennon. Nope … that’s NOT what happened … it’s almost like Elton felt he could earn a bit more street cred by changing his story and then having it forever documented on film. (kk)
We got DOZENS of emails from people telling us “Seeing today,” “Seeing it tomorrow,” “Going this weekend,” etc., etc., etc.
Send us your thoughts after you see the film.
My goal is never to influence you opinion on these things …
I just try to bring a perspective that the average movie critic or movie fan might not have considered, looking at things from more of a music perspective. Are there things that aren’t historically accurate? Of course there are … and there will be in any biopic you see, no matter who it’s about. This one was dressed up in vibrant colors and brilliant sound and achieves the goal it set for itself. Would I liked to have seen more important events as the pertain to the life of The King? Of course I would … but I was still able to sit there and enjoy the two hour spectacle that is the movie “Elvis” … and I think you will, too. That’s why, despite all of it’s flaws, I still recommend seeing this film. (kk)
What an emotional, yet beautiful couple of days it's been.
Friday was Joel's "celebration of life" service at his church in Richfield, Wisconsin. I had the distinct honor of delivering the main eulogy. His grandson Nathaniel read the scripture and his granddaughter Samantha shared some personal memories. Towards the end of the service, Joel's "adopted" son Oscar (from Honduras) delivered an amazing speech that brought equal amounts of tears and laughter. I saw many old, familiar faces, along with some new ones.
Saturday was the private graveside service in Waupaca, Wisconsin. Joel chose to be buried near his beloved lake home, which has been in his family for decades. This crowd was smaller, but many stepped forward to share stories of Joel over the years. Again, a few tears, but also much laughter. Afterwards, we congregated at Joel's lake home and it was more stories, plenty of food and of course, music. Joel would've loved every minute of it.
Once again, I'd like to personally thank everyone who has shared a memory with me, either online, on the phone or in person. As I've stated many times, Joel wasn't only my boss, but also a dear friend. I will miss seeing him every day. However, life goes on and so does the business that Joel built. I hope to do whatever I can to see that his legacy continues for many years to come.
I love the idea of an annual "Joel Whitburn Day"! For many years, I've lobbied to have Joel inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I'm hoping that it still may happen someday. Even if it doesn't, his name will live on. Every time someone picks up a Record Research book, Joel will be remembered.
Thank you, Kent, for all you do to keep Joel's flame burning. I plan on keeping all of your readers posted on our activities at Record Research in the months and years to come.
As Joel would say, "keep rockin'!"
Please thank Paul for his support of my Joel Whitburn Day idea! I am so glad he's on board with this and I truly appreciate his backing!
Maybe someday I'LL be honored at Record Research as the instigator of the Forgotten Hits "Whitburn Day!" as endorsed by Paull Haney!
The Mind just Boggles.
We've got several idea in motion right now for an Annual Forgotten Hits "Joel Whitburn Day" ... we'll share them as we get closer to the date. (kk)
Tom Cuddy sent us this to share with our readers …
And believe me, I have been every bit as guilty as most in saying how absolutely MISERABLE Brian Wilson looks when he’s up on stage these days … that he can’t POSSIBLY be having any fun doing this … so why IS he doing it??? (He looks like he wishes he could be ANYWHERE else!) And WHY does he still goes out there after all these years ... and in poor health, too? What satisfaction can he possibly get from it anymore? (Let's face it ... he never liked touring in the first place!!! Even when he was a young man!!!)
So it was interesting to read this, as it comes from Tom by way of Brian Wilson’s manager, Jean Sievers … and as a direct result of a similar post by music blogger Bob Lefsetz.
Very few know what Brian Wilson is like behind the scenes.
Below is a posting that Brian’s manager Jean sent the day after Brian’s 80th to music blogger Bob Lefsetz.
From: Jean Sievers
Re: Brian Wilson 80th Birthday
Thanks, Bob ... I’ll show him your post.
He had a happy and fun day today filled with LOTS of love from his friends and peers (I’m sure you saw the video )
BIG cake from the Chicago guys at the show.
He IS on the road where he wants to be … forget the naysayers who say he should stay home … huh?
He calls and asks when is the bus leaving and is Marc getting my oatmeal cookies?
He is feeling love on the road
He loves soaking it up ... the music and applause for his music …
Watching the band …
Watching Al sing and Blondie killing it on guitar and vocals like a teenager.
He loves a steak for dinner and Popeyes on the bus.
Watching the baseball or basketball game … or football depending on the season
Is he running around like Mick?
He doesn’t have to and after a horrible back surgery he can’t … BUT he loves being there ... it means the world to him.
He thanks the Ladies and Gentleman and waves goodbye and hangs with his band and sings songs backstage off the cuff …
Zero prompters or lyrics …
He knows them all and sings whatever is floating his boat
Did you ever hear the Billy Idol story from the Greek before the pandemic?
Billy was coming to the show and his manager wondered about parking and saying hello. We told him to come do an encore.
He came to the soundcheck to work out some songs.
It was HOT so Brian was in his dressing room … people thought he wouldn’t know Billy.
Paul, our MD, said “Brian … Billy Idol is here.” Without any pause he replied, “Eyes Without a Face Billy Idol??!!” (which is what we call Billy now)
And demanded to see him right away.
He made Billy sit next to him on the couch and wanted to talk about the production of that track and said “I fucking LOVE that song” and he meant it !
Then he asked Billy if he was from England (classic Brian lol)
Billy was floored as were we and they had a great night at the Greek doing the encore and we had She & Him there as well ... they just did a beautiful tribute album with his songs ... you should check it out. MELT AWAY … A Tribute to Brian Wilson … it’s wonderful.
Just when you think he’s not paying attention, you are wrong!!!
He remembers everything!
He remembers what Paul McCartney was wearing the day they met, right down to his shoes!
I’m so happy for Brian …
And happy for us all to have lived in his world with his music
Happy 80th, Boss!
We love you!
REMINDER: The Beach Boys Channel kicks off again this Friday (July 1st) and runs thru Sunday, August 28th … all your favorites, solo tracks, interviews, live cut, alternate takes and more. Tune in to Channel 105 on Sirius / XM beginning THIS FRIDAY … for a whole lot of Fun, Fun, Fun!!! (kk)