The 140 black-and-white photographs in this book are beautiful to look at, but the 27 color photographs hold your attention just as long. The blue suede-looking cover is nice to touch and padded for thickness. The labels under the photographs provide detail, but the greatest part of Elvis Presley: The Family Album are the framed statements accompanying the photographs. Written by George Klein, they provide interesting commentary about the people and events in the photographs.
In chapter one,
The Early Years, there is a class picture of Elvis wearing overalls. George Klein writes, “Elvis hated blue jeans, hated overalls, and at one point he just said he didn’t want to wear them anymore.” A prom photograph shows Elvis with his arms around a smiling dark-haired young woman. The description beside the picture reveals the number of proms Elvis attended, and the name of his date. In some cases, a bit of local history is explained when describing a few of the photographs. There is one story about “the rodeo” involving Elvis and his driving abilities during high school. Another picture took place at the “iron park”
- “iron” because the Memphis Fairgrounds had rides made out of metal during those years. My favorite photograph in the book is from this first chapter as well. It shows Elvis in the back row of the Humes High School Library Group. While chapter one does focus on Elvis’s school days, including a black-and-white photograph of his ROTC platoon in high school, it also shows a couple of pictures of Elvis with his parents. One picture shows Elvis as a toddler, and the other was taken in Tupelo, Mississippi, when Elvis was four or five.
Chapter two is entitled Music Notes, and it’s the longest chapter in this four-chapter book at 72 pages. It starts with a photograph of Elvis on stage during a 1955 performance and ends with a picture of Elvis at Sam Phillips’ house sitting on the floor with Sam’s sons. In between these two pictures are a variety of photographs. They show Elvis playing touch football, boarding one of his first chartered planes, posing with fans (both young and old, upright and fainted), shopping for clothes, relaxing at home, and wearing his uniform. Family members appear in several shots, as do girlfriends, celebrities, friends and even the family dog, Spitz.
Hollywood is the focus of chapter three. Television appearances, stage performances, and photographs from his movie sets are all included. Elvis can be seen on his lunch break while on location for his movie
Love Me Tender. A photograph of a dance sequence from the 1957 movie Loving You is explained by George Klein. He points out where to look for Elvis’s mother, and he names the real members of Elvis’s band, who are on stage with the Jordanaires.
The final chapter shows Elvis and his family when he lived at Graceland. There is a black-and-white picture of Elvis inside Graceland after he first purchased it. The room he is standing in is bare except for a pair of curtains hanging from the window. Inside this chapter, there are colored pictures of Priscilla Presley and Elvis in the meditation gardens at Graceland. Later pages show Elvis posing with his karate instructor, the Memphis Mafia, and his girlfriend, Linda Thompson. Also included are color photographs of Elvis sitting in his Cadillac and driving around in his golf cart. Elvis’s Grandma Minnie Mae, wedding pictures of his wife, Priscilla, and baby pictures of his daughter, Lisa Marie, all appear in this chapter as well.
This book was designed to look like an old photo album. The end papers have the color and markings of corrugated cardboard. The pages of the book are black or light tan, and the photographs have white borders. One to three photographs appear pasted onto each page. All the photographs are clear and large enough to view easily. Label colors contrast well with the backgrounds, and the complementary colors chosen for the text boxes create a nice presentation and ensure easy reading.
George Klein continues to be a good friend to Elvis. Their friendship started in their high school music class and continued into the later years. A photograph in the introduction of this book shows Elvis as best man at Klein’s wedding. Given the award for Memphis’s “No. 1 Disc Jockey” by
Billboard magazine, George Klein has been entertaining radio listeners of the
Elvis Hour program for two decades.
It’s been thirty years since Elvis died. People still miss him and his music. This exquisite book is well suited to reflect the life of such a great man.