I guess everybody has their own image of Elvis and yours might differ a lot from mine. Even those who were close to Elvis paint different pictures of him. One of the latest efforts is by Jerry Schillings whose book Me And A Guy Named Elvis I recently bought.
Jerry Schilling should know his subject. He was a friend of Elvis for 23 years and part of the Memphis Mafia.
After finishing the book yesterday, I think it' safe to point out that Jerry Schilling really thought of Elvis as his best friend. When he was young he idolised him, and in 1974 Elvis bought him a house. "How many friends buy you a house?" he asks in the book.
To me it's the first half of the book that is the most interesting. It's fascinating reading about how Jerry at twelve, in the summer of 1954, suddenly finds himself playing football in the same team as a nineteen-year-old quarterback named Elvis Presley.
I also enjoyed the part where Elvis asks him to come work for him in 1964. And also, how he during his first stay in the Bel Air house in California, scares the crap out of a woman who turns out to be Ann-Margret on her way to pay a nightly visit to Elvis.
Jerry Schilling also shares some stories revealing Elvis shrewd sense of humour. In one, Elvis has just returned from the restroom in a restaurant when he suddenly walks to the maître d's station. "Excuse me-are you...," a puzzled woman waiting for a table asks. "I get that all the time," Elvis answers back.
Me And A Guy Named Elvis is well written and a good read. But at the same time I get the feeling it becomes a little too much diplomatic at times.
For example, when Elvis in 1973 fires the Colonel when he doesn't want Elvis to tour overseas, Schilling writes: "I wanted him to tour overseas...but I also knew how hard the Colonel had worked for Elvis."
I also think that Elvis downfall is talked about in too general terms, when there is obviously a lot more to tell to get the reader to understand why it was happening. Maybe this is because Jerry, as a friend, doesn't want to go into any details in that area, or maybe it's because of his close friendship with Priscilla and Lisa-Marie.
Jerry Schilling still lives in the house Elvis gave him. That speaks a lot about how he feels about Elvis. And I guess he has his reasons for telling some things and excluding others.
All in all, the book is well worth reading and gives you some new insights into the life of Elvis Presley. And also, how it was to be Elvis friend.