The Genuine Elvis - Photos and Untold Stories about the King, launches at Elvis Week 2009 in Memphis, TN with authors and contributors
Sunday, August 29, 2009
THE GENUINE ELVIS BOOK LAUNCH AT ELVIS WEEK
By Rick Watson
Elvis Week is always special in Memphis. It was even more special this year with the international launch of a new book entitled The Genuine Elvis, authored by Edie Hand, Ronnie McDowell, and Joe Meador, and published by Pelican books. The Genuine Elvis illustrated with art painted by Ronnie McDowell and photos taken by Al Wertheimer. Edie Hand is Elvis’ cousin, and she managed to bring together a unique group of individuals who told stories and shared pictures, which show a side of Elvis that fans around the world can appreciate.
One of the highlights of the book is the section detailing Elvis’ gospel roots written by Judy Spencer Nelon. Judy was on hand for the weekend event, which kicked off at Audubon House; the first home purchased by Elvis for his parents after his career took off. In the book, she describes the impact gospel music had on Elvis and the music he made. He was awarded only three Grammy’s, all for gospel music: two for How Great Thou Art and one for He Touched Me. “Southern gospel music inspired the heart and music of Elvis, from his early childhood,” she wrote. “This love began at the First Assembly of God Church in Memphis, Tennessee, where with his beloved parents, Vernon and Gladys Presley, Elvis attended the home church of the famous Blackwood Brothers Quartet.” Gospel music played an important role in the life of Elvis to the end. “The Genuine Elvis captures the heartwarming story of Elvis before and after he became the greatest artist of all time,” said Judy. Priscilla Presley states in Elvis by the Presleys, “Gospel music was his deepest roots and, I believe, his deepest love.”
Nelon was on hand along with Ronnie McDowell, country music entertainer, Joe Meador, songwriter and music industry executive; Jimmy Angel a childhood friend of Elvis; Ray Walker of the Jordanaires; Bill Medley of the Righteous Brothers; recording artist Tyler Dean; Mike Curb of Curb Records and his wife Linda. The Curbs purchased Audubon House and donated it to Rhodes College in Memphis. College officials were also on hand to celebrate the book launch with the media.
After the event at Audubon House, the entourage moved over to the Elvis Lives Theater for a book signing open to the public. The excitement leading up to the event was palatable. Fans from around the world stood in line for hours awaiting a chance to buy The Genuine Elvis and to meet the authors and contributors. Fans had an opportunity to chat and take pictures during the signing. Louise Smith, widow of Elvis’ cousin and lifelong friend Gene Smith was on hand to delight the crowd with her kind words and engaging smile, as she signed their books.
It was a day full of memories for fans and all of those involved.