Oct 15, 2013

Alan Hanson: Elvis Biographer Talks Movies, 50's Elvis and Living in The Real World

Alan Hanson: Elvis Biographer Talks Movies, 50's Elvis and Living in The Real World

Oh, what an immense pleasure to chat with Elvis Presley biographer, Alan Hanson.  His true Elvis area of interest:  the 50’s, particularly the last tours of 1957.

This is the area Mr. Hanson found the most fascinating and least researched when he set out to write his book.

Elvis ’57:  The Final Fifties Tour

The picture on the cover says it all……..

Regal in his gold lamé suit--strength, style, popularity, art in time and most importantly, depicting the vibe and sentiment of the youth and upcoming generation of the day.

That iconic pose--remember Madonna in that pose--sends the message of unbridled power to the viewer--people--get ready because the storm is coming and it is heading your way.

Who created Elvis?  According to Alan, Elvis did have input from his original band in creating and perfecting his sound and style, but his physical style, his movements and his natural singing ability were all his own.  Right, there indeed was input from talented others, many to be noted on the the way to fame and fortune, but Elvis himself was an innately talented powerhouse that could not be stopped or started regardless of what insight others had to offer.

Alan related a little known fact from Gordon Stoker of the Jordanaires, the original back-up vocal group.  He took the time to research and establish a long term relationship they carried on until he recently passed away.  Brilliant, but insecure in his stage performance Elvis got so close to his backup group on stage he literally stepped on their toes occasionally while he was performing.  

According to Alan,  Elvis remained insecure and demanded extreme loyalty from those around him throughout his entire life leading to claims of secrecy and bizarre activities particularly towards the end of his life.

As for the relationship between Elvis and the Jordanaires, I would characterize it as a very close “professional” relationship. Elvis respected the ability of the quartet to arrange the proper background vocals for his recordings. Of the four men in the group, Gordon Stoker had the closest relationship with Elvis. Gordon sang duets with Elvis on several of his hit records, including “All Shook Up” and “Good Luck Charm.” I believe both Elvis and Gordon would have said they were friends, but they were not close friends. Gordon would visit Elvis at Graceland occasionally, but most of their contact was in the recording studio or on stage. The Jordanaires worked on Presley’s recording sessions throughout the fifties and sixties. In the seventies, when Elvis went back to doing live shows in Vegas and on tour, the Jordanaires declined to accompany him. They had plenty of studio work in Nashville to keep them busy and were not willing to be away from their homes and families to follow Elvis around the country. Elvis then hired the Imperials as his male quartet on stage and in the recording studio. Gordon was loyal to Elvis through the years both before and after Elvis's death. I found Gordon to always to be a staunch defender of Elvis both as an entertainer and as a kind and charitable person right up until Gordon's death a few months ago.

“Jaggernaut” by nature I couldn’t resist asking Alan what he thought about the upcoming movie on the life of Elvis Presley.  This is reportedly a biopic by the production company of Mick Jagger.  According to Variety Mick has always been a fan of Elvis and admired him throughout his career.  Alan felt the movie is starting off on a good premise as long as it remains true to the book.  The movie will be based on the biography about Elvis, The Last Train To Memphis which details the beginning of his career.  Alan and others consider this book by Guralnick to be a true account of the early life of Elvis Presley.

Here is a little excerpt for the website of Alan Hanson which is called the Elvis History Blog--like a good book once you start reading this blog it is hard to put down.  Well-written and informative and good pictures, the time starts zooming by…..

While writing Elvis ’57:  The Final Fifties Tour, my goal was to be as accurate and as objective as possible (not easy for an Elvis fan).  There are other books such as Peter Guralnick’s two volume autobiography and Scotty Moore’s autobiography, that also strive to earn the owner’s trust through a factual and balanced look at Presley’s life and work.

here is a link to Alan's blog, Elvis History Blog:

from Variety……………………..

Mick Jagger and Victoria Pearman will produce through their Jagged Films banner along with Steven Bing, who will produce through his Shangri-La shingle. John Fusco is adapting the script.

The studio along with MacDonald (pictured above) and the producers will now begin searching for the young Presley, starting with a recently-launched website Young Elvis Presley where actors can submit audition tapes singing six to eight bars of any Presley song.

Jagger has been championing musical biopics lately, clearly a natural fit for the seasoned rocker. He’s also producing the untitled James Brown biopic starring Chadwick Boseman. He’s also helping to shepherd a 1970s-set music biz drama at HBO with Terence Winter and Martin Scorsese.

here is a link to the Variety page:

Talking about the gold lamé suit-------Alan worked hard to  find this picture and use it on the cover of his book.  First, Elvis did not often wear the entire suit as the knees started to wear out fast when he made the racy move of getting on his knees and sliding across the stage during this period of his career.  Who knew gold lame would not hold up…..as  a result there were very few pictures taken of Elvis in this particular suit and difficult to find.  Note the picture of Elvis from Alan’s blog and also from Variety…….the jacket only…..Alan also said he has seen the gold lamé suit on display at Graceland.


Just a practical note about writing from Alan Hanson:

He likes to write each day.  He starts his day with a little exercise to clear his mind and then gets into his office and writing for about 2 hours in the late morning.

As far as his latest blog post……...there will be an addition on the first and third week of each month…….and then the next month they will be a permanent fixture in the blog.

Thank you, Alan, for taking time to chat and giving the reader and fans a chance to focus the  microscope on your very precise area of Elvis information.  How does one get to be a star--talent and drive and millions of life-shaping moments along the way.  We are so lucky to know these interesting facts.

To order Alan's book........On stage with Elvis in 1957--the complete story--here is the link:

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