The new, expanded edition of The Rebel & The King is in the works and coming soon on Amazon! 33 classic photos, introduction by historian Roy Turner and an amazing essay by bestselling author, Elaine Dundy, who wrote Elvis and Gladys.
The upcoming July 19 book signing and screening of Love Me Tender at the Agoura Historic Center have inspired me to share the stories that I have discovered since I first launched the book two years ago. I’ve mentioned before that this is my first Elvis rodeo and the fans and experts have schooled me well.
When I went to Elvis Week in 2012, I discovered photos of Nick and Elvis that I had never seen before. It was funny because I had seen some of these Elvis photos through the years, but my Dad had been cut out. People in Memphis remember Elvis carrying around a typewriter with my Dad that Homecoming week and when they asked him what he was doing, Elvis said, “We’re writing a book!”
Elvis wanted to set the record straight after a whole lot of slander from his critics. People forget how controversial Elvis was in his early career, and Nick and he were in cahoots to punch back. Here is an excerpt from The Rebel & The King by Nick Adams.
(From the chapter Don’t Be Cruel)
“While my blood is boiling I have one more thing I’d like to say regarding someone else who made a public statement about Elvis. Namely, Baptist preacher Robert Gray, whose picture appeared in Life magazine, August 27th of this year.
He said, and I quote, “Elvis Presley has achieved a new low in spiritual degeneracy. If he were offered his salvation tonight, he would probably say, “No thanks, I’m on top.” End of quote.
I could go on for hours regarding how I feel about your statement, Reverend, but I think I can sum it up (God willing) in a few paragraphs. And just so you don’t get the idea that I’m a non-believer I want you to know that I’m a Catholic and was educated in Catholic schools.
I don’t feel that one religion is better than another. I feel that faith, and God (which is salvation) is present in all our religions and churches whether they be Protestant, Jewish or Catholic.
But getting back to the statement you made about Elvis, I don’t think you had any right to slander someone you know nothing about. Especially when it’s detrimental not only to the individual, but to his family and friends as well. Even a Baptist preacher doesn’t know what Elvis Presley would say in such circumstance. How can you make a statement telling the entire world what Elvis Presley would say if he were offered his salvation? You’ve never even met Elvis!
I can tell you what he’d say Reverend, because I know him. I’ve lived with him and his family and I can safely say that salvation means more to him than selling records. He and his family believe in and love God, and were hurt very badly by the statement you so rashly made. If they didn’t have so strong a belief, they wouldn’t care what you said. But when Elvis read what you said about him, tears formed in his eyes and I think you hurt him worse than any other single statement made about him.
I think after you read this story you should make a public apology and hope that God is listening. While I’m on the subject, Reverend, how many young men in your congregation around the age of twenty-one do not drink or smoke, and how many love their mother and father so much that they work twenty hours a day, seven days a week, so that they can give their parents everything they’ve ever dreamed about?”
(End of excerpt)
I get a real dose of my father’s passion when I hear him defending Elvis. That’s my favorite thing about finding the manuscript. I get to hear firsthand what was happening right at the time. My father didn’t write this years later from memory. He was there in the moment. Many of the Elvis passages in the book are taken straight from recordings Nick and Elvis made. Roy Turner mentions in his introduction how the southern vernacular of the time is imbedded in the natural dialogue between Elvis and his homies.
Elaine Dundy’s magical essay about Elvis is a poetic portal into the Kings destiny.
During my trip to Memphis, I met a man who still had a teddy bear my Dad gave him when he was a little boy in ’56. And the memories continue…
Enjoy the ride.