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Elvis Day by Day

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Granted unprecedented access to hundreds of thousands of photos, documents, letters, artifacts, and memorabilia by Elvis Presley Enterprises, Guralnick and Jorgensen present the King as you've never seen him before. Elvis Day by Day is a complete account of public, private, rare, forgotten, and renowned moments, captured with such detail and immediacy they read like diary entries in a life - from first steps to the first time the young "hillbilly cat" stepped onstage; from the creation of a revolutionary new ...
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Former Library book. Shows some signs of wear, and may have some markings on the inside. 100% Money Back Guarantee. Shipped to over one million happy customers. Your purchase ... benefits world literacy! Read more Show Less

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New York, New York 1999 Hard Cover First Edition, 1st Printing Fine in Fine jacket 4to-over 9?"-12" tall. Elvis Presley's life chronicled. Over 400 color and B&W photos. ... Indexed. 391 pp. Read more Show Less

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Granted unprecedented access to hundreds of thousands of photos, documents, letters, artifacts, and memorabilia by Elvis Presley Enterprises, Guralnick and Jorgensen present the King as you've never seen him before. Elvis Day by Day is a complete account of public, private, rare, forgotten, and renowned moments, captured with such detail and immediacy they read like diary entries in a life - from first steps to the first time the young "hillbilly cat" stepped onstage; from the creation of a revolutionary new sound to the last days of a universally known, tragically misunderstood music legend.
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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Tracking the King

No mere bunching of lists, Elvis Day by Day joins Peter Guralnick's breathtaking two-volume Presley biography (Last Train to Memphis: The Rise of Elvis Presley and Careless Love: The Unmaking of Elvis Presley) and Ernst Jorgensen's exhaustively researched Elvis Presley: A Life in Music, which details every aspect of the King's recording sessions, to complete an essential quartet of books chronicling the life, times, and artistry of this century's most influential cultural figure. Together, the authors' impeccable research into and abiding passion for this artist's extraordinary life has produced another mesmerizing work.

Starting with the birth of Presley's mother on April 25, 1912, and concluding on October 3, 1977, with the heartbreaking words of Sweet Inspiration member Myrna Smith ("We were all wearing blinders.") upon viewing the broadcast of what was Elvis's final concert the previous June, Elvis Day by Day chronicles, by day, month, and year, the trajectory of Presley's life. The events noted are as mundane as a quick trip to Dallas for no apparent reason or "Elvis buys a 1956 Ford for Anita Wood" (March 21, 1958); as touching as the reproduction of a postcard Elvis's father wrote to his family from the Parchman Prison Farm, during his six-month imprisonment for forgery in 1938; or as monumental as the details of sessions at Chips Moman's American Studios in January 1969.

A wealth of this material was culled from the personal files of Presley's manager, Col. Tom Parker, to which the authors were granted exclusive access. The final work reads like the polished primary research they gathered for their respective previous projects, with the sundry documents, reviews, press reports, and record releases supplemented by succinct critical commentary replete with the insight and low-key wit ("Under some duress, the entire troupe gathers on the tarmac at the Louisville airport to sing 'Happy Birthday' to the Colonel as Elvis's plane arrives and the Colonel's is about to take off.") common to Guralnick and Jorgenson's exegesis of Presleyana. The photographs (more than 400 all told), many published here for the first time, are worth the price of admission alone.

Authoritative and indispensable, Elvis Day by Day adds breadth, depth, and an informed point of view to the dry facts concerning this brilliant artist and troubled man, offering musicologists and devoted fans alike much to chew on.

David McGee David McGee is the author of Go, Cat, Go! The Life and Times of Carl Perkins, The King of Rockabilly.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780345420893
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 10/5/1999
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 391
  • Product dimensions: 8.76 (w) x 11.30 (h) x 1.29 (d)

Meet the Author

A leading authority on Elvis Presley, Peter Guralnick has written extensively about American music and musicians. His books include the two-volume, prize-winning Elvis Presley biography, Last Train to Memphis and Careless Love; an acclaimed trilogy on American roots music, Sweet Soul Music, Lost Highway, and Feel Like Going Home; the biographical inquiry Searching for Robert Johnson; and the novel Nighthawk Blues.
Producer and catalog expert Ernst Jorgensen has been instrumental in the revival of Elvis Presley's body of recordings for nearly a decade; the box sets he coproduced for RCA, including The King of Rock 'n' Roll, From Nashville to Memphis, Walk a Mile in My Shoes, and Platinum: A Life in Music, have been nominated for the Grammy Award and have sold well over a million copies. He is also author of the definitive account of Elvis' recording sessions, Elvis Presley: A Life in Music.
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Read an Excerpt

22 Saturday

Louisiana Hayride, Municipal Auditorium, Shreveport

Elvis performs "Money Honey," "I Don't Care If the Sun Don't Shine," "Blue Moon of Kentucky," and "That's All Right."

Colonel Parker informs Bob Neal by letter that he has booked Elvis on the Hank Snow Tour from February 14 to 18, sending both a contract and a check made out to Elvis Presley for $425, a 50 percent advance on what he can expect to earn for the tour.

24 Monday

Humble Oil Company Camp, Hawkins, Texas

This week's shows, and others in the oil fields area of east Texas, are presented by Gladewater disc jockey Tom Perryman.

25 Tuesday

Mayfair Building, Tyler, Texas

26 Wednesday

REA (Rural Electric Administration) Building, Gilmer, Texas

27 Thursday

Reo Palm Isle Club, Longview, Texas

At this time the Colonel and Tom Diskin begin spreading Elvis' name throughout their world of show--business acquaintances. Diskin writes to a booking agent in Chicago looking for a TV spot for a "new boy" who he believes will be one of the "biggest things in the business." He goes on to explain that Elvis gets the girls as excited as Frank Sinatra used to, as well as being "as good looking as all heck."

28 Friday

High School, Gaston, Texas

29 Saturday

Louisiana Hayride, Shreveport

By Scotty Moore's meticulous accounting, Elvis, Scotty, and Bill have grossed $2,083.63 from their last month of touring. Half goes to Elvis, 25 percent each to Scotty and Bill, after expenses have been paid.


01 Tuesday

High School,Randolph, Mississippi

Elvis begins a week of Bob Neal bookings, appearing with local singer Bud Deckelman of "Daydreamin'" fame.

02 Wednesday

High School, Augusta, Arkansas (sponsored by the senior class)

The newspaper ad for the show pictures Elvis, Scotty, and Bill ("The Blue Moon Boys") still dressed in their western shirts. This photograph will continue to be used for some months in newspapers throughout the South, though Scotty and Bill have by now stopped wearing the cowboy--styled outfits that are a carryover from their Starlite Wrangler days.

03 Thursday

Most likely, Elvis, Scotty, and Bill take time to work on new songs in the studio during this week. On February 5 a posed photograph appears in the Memphis Press--Scimitar showing the three of them at Sun, with Sam Phillips at the console. During this time they record "Baby Let's Play House," which will be the A--side of their next single, along with still--unreleased (and undiscovered as of 1999) versions of Ray Charles' "I Got a Woman" and "Trying to Get to You." After the session Stan Kesler, a steel guitarist who works primarily on Sun's hillbilly sides, goes home and writes what will become the B--side, "I'm Left, You're Right, She's Gone," based on the melody of the Campbell's Soup commercial.

During this week the trio also appear at school programs at Messick High School and Messick Junior High to help Sonny Neal, Bob's son, in his campaign for the student council.

04 Friday

Jesuit High School, New Orleans, Louisiana

Elvis appears with Ann Raye, daughter of Biloxi promoter Yankie Barhanovich. He is late for an appearance at radio station WWEZ to promote the show.

05 Saturday

Louisiana Hayride, Municipal Auditorium, Shreveport

Wearing pink pants and tie with a charcoal jacket, Elvis performs "That's All Right," "Blue Moon of Kentucky," "Tweedlee Dee," and "Money Honey."

A four--column story in the Memphis Press--Scimitar announces, "Through the Patience of Sam Phillips Suddenly Singing Elvis Presley Zooms into Recording Stardom," noting that "a white man's voice singing Negro rhythms with a rural flavor [has] changed life overnight for Elvis Presley."

Colonel Parker sends Elvis a second check for $550 as a deposit for additional dates on the upcoming Hank Snow tour.

06 Sunday

Ellis Auditorium, Memphis, at 3:00 and 8:00 p.m.

For all of his local eminence, Elvis is listed down on the bill, below such established stars as Hayride graduate Faron Young, Ferlin Huskey, and "Beautiful Gospel Singer" Martha Carson, whose signature tune, "Satisfied," is one of Elvis' favorites.

Between shows Bob Neal arranges a meeting between Sun Records president Sam Phillips and Colonel Tom Parker and Tom Diskin at Palumbo's Restaurant across the street from the auditorium. The ostensible purpose of the meeting is to discuss the future of the young performer in whom they are all so interested. Neal is very much encouraged by the Colonel's enthusiasm, but the meeting does not go well, as Parker explains to Sam Phillips that Elvis is going nowhere on a small--time label like Sun and that he has already made overtures to RCA to buy the contract. Phillips does not react well to this piece of information, and Parker silently revises his plan without ever retreating.

07 Monday

Ripley High School Gym, Ripley, Mississippi (sponsored by the senior class)

10 Thursday

High School, Alpine, Texas (to benefit the Future Farmers of America)

Harry Kalcheim, an agent with the powerful William Morris Talent Agency office in New York, writes to Colonel Parker that he has mislaid the picture of Presley that Parker has sent him but agrees that he sounds promising with "a very special type of voice."

11 Friday

Sports Arena, Carlsbad, New Mexico, at 4:00 p.m.

Hobbs, New Mexico, in the evening

12 Saturday

Legion Hut, Carlsbad, New Mexico

Cash Box reports that Bob Neal, Elvis' new manager, has opened a booking office at 160 Union Avenue in Memphis.

13 Sunday

Fair Park Coliseum, Lubbock, Texas, at 4:00 p.m.

"Elvis Presley, The Be--Bop Western Star of the Louisiana Hayride, returns to Lubbock" reads the advertisement, with "Big 'D' [Dallas] Jamboree" regular Charlene Arthur and Jimmie Rodgers Snow, Hank Snow's nineteen--year--old son and an RCA recording artist in his own right. This is the first booking that Neal has obtained directly through Colonel Parker, and the group receives $350 for their matinee performance. A young Buddy Holly appears at the bottom of this bill as half of the country--and--western duo Buddy and Bob.

14 Monday

Tom Parker has instructed Elvis to meet Tom Diskin at Roswell, New Mexico's, "leading hotel" no later than 3:00 p.m. in order to do radio promotion and get the schedule for his first appearance this evening on the already--in--progess Hank Snow Jamboree tour.

North Junior High School Auditorium, Roswell, at 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. (sponsored by the Fire Department)

15 Tuesday

Fairpark Auditorium, Abilene, Texas, at 7:00 and 9:00 p.m.

Elvis "and his Bop Band" are advertised below headliner Hank Snow and popular hillbilly comedian the Duke of Paducah, with Charlene Arthur and Jimmie Rodgers Snow completing the lineup.

On February 10, Colonel Parker has had Tom Diskin inform Steve Sholes, RCA's head of A & R in the company's country--and--western division (A & R stands for "artists and repertoire" and encompasses everything to do with recording, from renting the studio to finding the songs to producing the session) that Elvis Presley "is pretty securely tied up" at Sun while simultaneously trying to convince Sholes to sign Tommy Sands instead. Sholes replies on this date that "the last I heard from the Colonel seemed quite favorable toward our signing Elvis Presley so naturally your comments with respect to Presley were a little surprising." His letter does not indicate that he feels Tommy Sands is a suitable replacement.

16 Wednesday

Odessa Senior High School Field House, Odessa, Texas, at 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. (sponsored by the Voting Home Owners Club)

The shows in Odessa attract more than 4,000 people, including local singer Roy Orbison, who later comments, "His energy was incredible, his instinct was just amazing." It is swiftly becoming apparent that any other act has trouble following him.

17 Thursday

City Auditorium, San Angelo, Texas, at 7:30 and 9:30 p.m.

18 Friday

West Monroe High School Auditorium, Monroe, Louisiana, at 7:30 and 9:30 p.m.

The end of the Hank Snow tour.

19 Saturday

Louisiana Hayride, Municipal Auditorium, Shreveport

20 Sunday

Robinson Auditorium, Little Rock, Arkansas, at 3:00 and 8:15 p.m.

Elvis begins another Jamboree Attractions tour, this one billed as a "WSM Grand Ole Opry" show and headlined as an Extra Added Attraction by the Duke of Paducah and country music legends Mother Maybelle (Carter) and her daughters, the Carter Sisters. As a specially advertised feature attraction, however, with billing throughout the tour as big as the Duke of Paducah's (the tickets for Little Rock actually advertise "The Elvis Presley Show"), Elvis, Scotty, and Bill receive $350 for these two shows instead of their usual $200 per day.

21 Monday

City Auditorium, Camden, Arkansas

22 Tuesday

City Hall, Hope, Arkansas

23 Wednesday

High School Auditorium, Pine Bluff, Arkansas, at 7:30 and 9:30 p.m.

Seeking bookings for Elvis all over the country, the Colonel contacts A. V. "Bam" Bamford, an influential promoter who first gained prominence in Nashville by booking Hank Williams in the early fifties, now located in California. Parker informs Bamford that Elvis is "a great artist but will need lots of buildup before he's a good investment."

24 Thursday

South Side Elementary School, Bastrop, Louisiana, at 7:30 and 9:30 p.m.

The last show of this second Jamboree Attractions tour. This package has proven far less of a draw than the Hank Snow show, and Jamboree Attractions loses money on the tour.

25 Friday

Elvis, Scotty, and Bill drive to Cleveland with Bob Neal to play their first date outside the South. They make stops at various radio stations along the way, in hopes of getting subsequent airplay.

Colonel Parker writes to Harry Kalcheim at the William Morris Agency office in New York, once again soliciting Kalcheim's opinion of "this ELVIS PRESLEY BOY" at the end of his letter. The Colonel adds his own opinion that Elvis can succeed if he is "exploited properly." It should be noted here that, as a master promoter, the Colonel saw proper "exploitation" as his calling card, with no element of opprobrium attached.

26 Saturday

Hillbilly Jamboree, Circle Theater, Cleveland, Ohio, at 7:30 and 10:30 p.m.

Hosted by WERE disc jockey Tommy Edwards, the weekly show attracts country music fans living in the city, including a number who have first been exposed to Elvis' records through Edwards' broadcasts (Sun distribution does not effectively reach as far as Cleveland). After the show, Elvis meets top WERE jock Bill Randle, who has just returned from his nationally syndicated Saturday--afternoon CBS show in New York. Randle suggests to Bob Neal that he has "a big artist on his way" and gives Neal the name of a contact for Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts, which Randle thinks would be the perfect vehicle for national exposure.

When the group totals up its income at the end of February, earnings have doubled to over $4,000. Bookings will peak the following month, bringing in over $5,000, then return to approximately $1,000 a week through September. Out of this sum, the band pays for its own expenses (gas and automobile maintenance, hotel bills, booking and promotion commissions) before making the agreed-upon 50-25-25 split.

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This book had at least three principal sources of inspiration.

It started, of course, with the research that I conducted while writing my biography of Elvis Presley and the closely allied work of Ernst Jorgensen in developing his definitive Elvis sessionography.

One of the first obstacles that we both encountered was trying to sort out the stories. Often some of the most vividly detailed recollections by unimpeachable eyewitnesses were impossible to place in chronological context simply because: who was watching the clock? And yet it mattered when events took place, it was of crucial consequence whether one event occurred before another, for without that knowledge, on the most basic level, there could be no understanding of cause and effect.

For that reason alone, I learned early on, my first obligation was to go back to primary sources, if only to try to establish a chain of evidence that might conceivably lead to objective truth. Ernst and I tested out our theories on each other, challenged each other's logic and sanity, and very quickly adopted a single double-edged rule: scorn no source, however humble, but-conversely-trust no source implicitly without first testing its assumptions. Just as an archaeologist carefully studies and preserves layers of debris left in turn by successive generations, we tried to sift through not just the evidence but the provenance of the evidence to determine as accurately as possible just what happened here.

Our big breakthrough-at least in terms of this book-came with our introduction to the Graceland archives in 1996. Obviously Ernst and I had access to a wide variety of sources prior to this date, but we could never have imagined the wealth of hitherto unexamined documentation that awaited us on our first joint archival venture. When we initially encountered this material, it lay virtually untouched, much as it had been left when Elvis' father, Vernon, died in 1979, and as it had been received from Colonel Parker's Madison, Tennessee, offices, when the Elvis Presley Estate purchased Elvis' manager's collection of photographs, artifacts, posters, products, contracts, and correspondence in 1990, transporting thirty-five tons of material in two eighteen-wheelers, two large moving vans, and a host of smaller vans and vehicles. What we confronted on our first visit was almost unimaginable: carefully preserved, lovingly filed, but completely unsorted in rusted file cabinets and colorful pink, red, and green trunks that could have served as magician's props. It presented a challenge that Ernst, my wife Alexandra, and I were scarcely about to shrink from-but, on the other hand, I'm not sure that Ernst and I could have maintained what little equilibrium we were still holding on to had it not been for Alexandra's steadily realistic perspective and the quiet encouragement of Graceland's chief archivist, Greg Howell.

I said there were three basic sources of inspiration for this book. One was the persistent drive to establish a timeline on both Ernst's and my part. Another was to pool our resources in a more formal way than extended transatlantic debate. The third, however, was in many ways the most compelling: to have fun with the material that we found. I don't know if the reader can fully imagine the excitement we all felt when Alexandra discovered Vernon Presley's touching postcards from prison anxiously seeking news of his three-year-old boy. To be presented by Greg with photographs of Colonel Parker as a young man in Holland, serving in the Sixty-Fourth Regiment of the U.S. Coast Guard Artillery in Honolulu, putting on a New Year's Eve show with Dick Powell and Ruby Keeler in Tampa in the mid-1930s; to have a single ticket for a previously undocumented 1955 show in Dermott, Arkansas, flutter out of a miscellaneous file; to at last be able to understand and date the origins of Elvis' unsuccessful try-out for Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts and the surprisingly tangled plot behind his eventual television debut on the Dorsey brothers' Stage Show-these are the kinds of discoveries you want to share in the same spirit with which they were received. We look upon this book, then, as a kind of treasure trove of moments, the patchwork of a life, informed with a wealth of illuminating illustrations and facts both well and little known, all placed as close as we could possibly get, at this time, to proper chronological sequence-we had to believe it wasn't just us, that this was was something that could appeal to Elvis fan, student of American popular culture, and casual reader alike.

Obviously, even a book of this sort involves any number of choices and discriminations, so we are by no means pretending either to omniscience or to the one unassailable truth-if, indeed, such a thing exists. We wanted to tell a story that could be used as a starting point for any understanding of Elvis' life, a kind of biographical exoskeleton that was broad enough to allow various thematic threads to emerge and detailed enough to provide a context to understand the many scrambled (and sometimes innocently thesis-driven) accounts that have been carried from volume to volume, in many cases in the absence of actual knowledge.

Our methodology was simple, even if the road it took (and continues to take) was bumpy more often than not. Almost every entry in this book is based on a contemporaneous document or documents, in many cases augmented by eyewitness accounts. If a group of people is listed as having traveled with Elvis, it is because we have seen airline tickets or hotel bills. If a time is given for a recording session, it is because we have had access to the paperwork for that session. If Elvis is said to have visited a particular place, purchased a particular item, performed in a little Texas town on a given date, signed a specific contract, sent or received a letter or telegram, it is because documentary evidence of this event exists. And where we do not have that documentation but what we believe to be compelling anecdotal evidence exists, we have tried to indicate likelihood as opposed to fact by the language of the entry, in the hope that keen-eyed readers may verify or refute our hypothesis.

There is no question, though, that documents require interpretation, too (just because a train or airline ticket exists, for example, does not always mean that it is used, and receipts only begin to tell a story), and we are resigned by now to the idea that we are not infallible, that we are providing neither the first nor the last word on the subject. The first word, of course, belongs to the many indispensable sources that we have relied upon: newspaper archives; helpful local librarians; Lee Cotten's pioneering research (his two-volume account of "Elvis on Tour" in the '50s and '70s, Did Elvis Sing in Your Hometown?, remains authoritative); the astonishing, primary-source research on Elvis' early success carried out from Sweden by Brian Petersen (The Atomic Powered Singer) and Holland by Ger Rijff (Long Lonely Highway, among many others); Donna Lewis' meticulously observed diaries (published in two volumes so far as "Hurry Home, Elvis"); Stein Erik Skar's Elvis: The Concert Years, l969-1977; Joe Tunzi's indefatigable photographic and discographical research (Elvis Sessions II, among others)-if we were to list every one of our individual sources, the source notes would be as long as this book! Jim Cole of the Mississippi Valley Collection at the University of Memphis proved an enormous help, as did Sam Gill at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Margaret Herrick Library, where the Hal Wallis papers are housed.

In the end, however, two men are responsible for the continued survival of much of the information contained in this book, and it is they who should be recognized as keepers of the historical record. I'm not sure either one of them would have fully embraced the title, and yet the character of each is absolutely consistent with the notion of careful preservation and attention to detail. Colonel Tom Parker, Elvis' manager of twenty-two years and one of the most colorful figures ever to set foot in what he liked to describe as "the wonderful world of show business," and Elvis' father, Vernon Presley, a man of humble means and (like the Dutch-born "Colonel") limited education, showed a spirit of scrupulous, almost academic dedication to the task of maintaining these records, and without their efforts much of this history would simply not exist.

Well, it has been a great adventure for us all, not just for Ernst and Alexandra and me but, I think, for Greg Howell and his entire staff (Carol Drake, Carrie Stetler, Angie Marchese, Phoebe Neal, Sheilah James, Michele Desrosiers, and LaVonne Gaw), who threw themselves wholeheartedly and unstintingly into the project. Discovering the informal home tape recordings that Elvis had made at various points in his life (including a brief glimpse of Elvis' parents, Vernon and Gladys, singing religious songs, which certainly went to show one thing: Elvis got his talent from his father) was just one of the many ancillary benefits that stemmed from a frequently messy but never less than mesmerizing plunge into a past that has so often been all but buried in a blur of myth and repetition. Obviously we couldn't put everything in, and I'm sure we haven't gotten everything right, despite what has seemed at times like an increasingly irresistible obsession with our obsession. It's an ongoing process, which others are bound to carry on. But we hope we have provided some of the tools to do so-for hobbyists and historians alike. And we hope we have provided a portrait, in words and in pictures, of the trajectory of a life, the life of one of the century's major cultural forces, around whom controversy will continue to swirl (as it does around every significant historical figure, for whom each generation must find its own truth) but whose voice will unquestionably continue to be heard.

—Peter Guralnick

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 11, 2003

    the book of all books

    I have been collecting books, collector's magazines and other memorabilias and I can truly say this book takes the cake. While reading the book, I can just imagine Elvis moving about those days, day by day , and this honestly gives me goose bumps.I will never can get tired of looking at the never-been-seen photographs.

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    Posted September 3, 2013

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