Jerry Schilling is a lifelong friend and associate of Elvis Presley.
In 1954, at age 12, Schilling first met fellow Memphis homeboy Presley, a 19-year-old truck driver "a year out of high school and less than a week into a recording career that carried no guarantee of turning into steady work." He provides a fascinating view of Memphis in the late '50s, but most of his memoir is from after 1964, when he officially joined the retinue of friends-the "Memphis Mafia"-that served as Elvis's surrogate family. While this thoroughly enjoyable book deftly describes his many adventures with Elvis and other notables, including the Beatles, Ann-Margret, the Beach Boys and Billy Joel, the heart of it is his many observations of Elvis's inner exploration. Unlike the rest of Elvis's posse, Schilling was liberal in his musical and racial views, and he shared Elvis's spiritual hunger "for a sense of meaning and purpose." Schilling provides the most detailed account yet of the sometimes comical LSD trip he took with Presley, and he poignantly observes the "disappointment and frustration" Elvis felt about his Hollywood movies. Overall, Schilling's heartfelt narrative makes this more than just another piece of Elvis product. (Aug.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Schilling has the goodsuwhere else can you read about the King giving karate lessons to Liza Minnelli in a hotel room while Chubby Checker and porn star Linda Lovelace looked on? ("Entertainment Weekly")
More than anything, this moving and elegantly told memoir resonates with the spirit of true friendship. ("The Washington Post")
In 1954, Schilling had a chance meeting with Elvis Presley at a Memphis pickup football game. It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship, which eventually led to Schilling's entry into the strange and exciting Presley entourage in 1964. Here, the author vividly describes meeting the Beatles, Eric Clapton, Richard Nixon, and basketball great Wilt Chamberlain; tripping on LSD with the King; and sitting in shock with Elvis as they watched the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. on television. Throughout, Schilling treats Elvis evenhandedly, focusing on their friendship but not ignoring the drug problems, isolation, and creative vacuum that killed Presley. The King comes alive once again as a romantic, sensitive, caring, and sometimes childish and moody man in a bubble. Refreshingly, the author reveals as much about himself as Elvis, showing how the tinsel lifestyle transformed him from a well-meaning, wide-eyed, obedient kid to a divorced adult wanting freedom and a career. Schilling has captured the aura and grim realities of life with one of the most important American icons of the 20th century. One can only hope that he will follow with a book about his post-1977 life as a manager of the Beach Boys, Jerry Lee Lewis, Rick Nelson, and Billy Joel. Highly recommended for all types of readers.-David P. Szatmary, Univ. of Washington, Seattle Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.