Elvis: My Best Man: Radio Days, Rock 'n' Roll Nights, and My Lifelong Friendship with Elvis Presley

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When George Klein was an eighth grader at Humes High, he couldn’t have known how important the new kid with the guitar—the boy named Elvis—would later become in his life. But from the first time GK (as he was nicknamed by Elvis) heard this kid sing, he knew that Elvis Presley was someone extraordinary. During Elvis’s rise to fame and throughout the wild swirl of his remarkable life, Klein was a steady presence and one of Elvis’s closest and most loyal friends until his untimely death in 1977.

In Elvis: My Best Man, a heartfelt, entertaining, and long-awaited contribution to our understanding of Elvis Presley and the early days of rock ’n’ roll, George Klein writes with great affection for the friend he knew—about who the King of Rock ’n’ Roll really was and how he acted when the stage lights were off. This fascinating chronicle of boundary-breaking and music-making through one of the most intriguing and dynamic stretches of American history overflows with insights and anecdotes from someone who was in the middle of it all. From the good times at Graceland to hanging out with Hollywood stars to butting heads with Elvis’s iron-handed manager, Colonel Tom Parker, to making sure that Elvis’s legacy is fittingly honored, GK was a true friend of the King and a trailblazer in the music industry in his own right.


From the Hardcover edition.
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About the author

GEORGE “GK” KLEIN is a Memphis native and a pioneering disc jockey and television host. He and Elvis met in eighth grade at Humes High in North Memphis, and they became lifelong friends. Today, Klein hosts a program for Sirius XM Radio’s Elvis channel, Memphis Sounds for WYPL-18 TV, and the Elvis Hour for WMC radio in Memphis, where he lives with his wife, Dara. He misses Elvis every day.

CHUCK CRISAFULLI is a veteran entertainment journalist and author, most recently of Go to Hell: A Heated History of the Underworld, and Me and a Guy Named Elvis, with Jerry Schilling.


From the Hardcover edition.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Crown Archetype
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Published on
Jan 5, 2010
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Pages
320
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ISBN
9780307452764
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Language
English
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Genres
Biography & Autobiography / Music
Music / Genres & Styles / Rock
Music / History & Criticism
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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On a lazy Sunday in 1954, twelve-year-old Jerry Schilling wandered into a Memphis touch football game, only to discover that his team was quarterbacked by a nineteen-year-old Elvis Presley, the local teenager whose first record, "That’s All Right," had just debuted on Memphis radio. The two became fast friends, even as Elvis turned into the world’s biggest star. In 1964, Elvis invited Jerry to work for him as part of his "Memphis Mafia," and Jerry soon found himself living with Elvis full-time in a Bel Air mansion and, later, in his own room at Graceland. Over the next thirteen years Jerry would work for Elvis in various capacities — from bodyguard to photo double to co-executive producer on a karate film. But more than anything else he was Elvis’s close friend and confidant: Elvis trusted Jerry with protecting his life when he received death threats, he asked Jerry to drive him and Priscilla to the hospital the day Lisa Marie was born and to accompany him during the famous "lost weekend" when he traveled to meet President Nixon at the White House. Me and a Guy Named Elvis looks at Presley from a friend’s perspective, offering readers the man rather than the icon — including insights into the creative frustrations that lead to Elvis’s abuse of prescription medicine and his tragic death. Jerry offers never-before-told stories about life inside Elvis’s inner circle and an emotional recounting of the great times, hard times, and unique times he and Elvis shared. These vivid memories will be priceless to Elvis’s millions of fans, and the compelling story will fascinate an even wider audience.
From the moment that he first shook up the world in the mid 1950s, Elvis Presley has been one of the most vivid and enduring myths of American culture.

Last Train to Memphis: The Rise of Elvis Presley is the first biography to go past that myth and present an Elvis beyond the legend. Based on hundreds of interviews and nearly a decade of research, it traces the evolution not just of the man but of the music and of the culture he left utterly transformed, creating a completely fresh portrait of Elvis and his world.

This volume tracks the first twenty-four years of Elvis' life, covering his childhood, the stunning first recordings at Sun Records ("That's All Right," "Mystery Train"), and the early RCA hits ("Heartbreak Hotel," "Hound Dog," "Don't Be Cruel"). These were the years of his improbable self-invention and unprecedented triumphs, when it seemed that everything that Elvis tried succeeded wildly. There was scarcely a cloud in sight through this period until, in 1958, he was drafted into the army and his mother died shortly thereafter. The book closes on that somber and poignant note.

Last Train to Memphis takes us deep inside Elvis' life, exploring his lifelong passion for music of every sort (from blues and gospel to Bing Crosby and Mario Lanza), his compelling affection for his family, and his intimate relationships with girlfriends, mentors, band members, professional associates, and friends. It shows us the loneliness, the trustfulness, the voracious appetite for experience, and above all the unshakable, almost mystical faith that Elvis had in himself and his music. Drawing frequently on Elvis' own words and on the recollections of those closest to him, the book offers an emotional, complex portrait of young Elvis Presley with a depth and dimension that for the first time allow his extraordinary accomplishments to ring true.

Peter Guralnick has given us a previously unseen world, a rich panoply of people and events that illuminate an achievement, a place, and a time as never revealed before. Written with grace, humor, and affection, Last Train to Memphis has been hailed as the definitive biography of Elvis Presley. It is the first to set aside the myths and focus on Elvis' humanity in a way that has yet to be duplicated.
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