THE BOY WHO WOULD BE KING: An Intimate Portrait of Elvis Presley by his Cousin by Earl & Kathleen Tracy Greenwood

THE BOY WHO WOULD BE KING: An Intimate Portrait of Elvis Presley by his Cousin

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A frank, revealing reminiscence of ""The King of Rock 'n' Roll,"" by the man who was the singer's closest childhood friend and who went on to become his press agent and confidant. Greenwood traces Elvis' many later problems--drug addiction, compulsive womanizing, profligate spending--back to the early days in Tupelo, Miss., where even the most impoverished residents of that poverty-stricken community regarded the Presley family as ""poor white trash."" Greenwood depicts Elvis' father as an ineffectual drifter who was once sent to prison for forgery, and his mother as an overprotective presence obsessed with the memory of Elvis' stillborn twin brother. When the elder Presley was caught bootlegging, the family was forced to leave Tupelo and move to Memphis, where Greenwood's parents had settled. The friendship between the two boys continued. Greenwood tells of Elvis' attempts in high school to establish an identity for himself--dyeing his hair jet-black, dressing in flamboyant outfits--and describes the singer's first ill-fated romance, though here the attempt to show that this disappointment in love colored Elvis' subsequent relations with women seems somewhat forced. When Greenwood details the singer's rise as a popular recording artist, the material turns to more familiar ground. Elvis' relations with Col. Tom Parker, the shady promoter who shaped his career, are recounted once again, and the singer's move to Graceland, the groupies, the Army stint, the affairs with such costars as Natalie Wood and Juliet Prowse are trotted out. In relating these much-publicized events, however, Greenwood does manage to provide a series of intriguing insights, particularly in portraying the progress of Elvis' romance and marriage to Priscilla Beaulieu. His suggestion that Parker may have used videotapes of Presley having sex with underage groupies--tapes that Greenwood admits taking--to blackmail his client is convincing. Much familiar material, but worthwhile for its depiction of the early circumstances that helped form a modern legend.

Pub Date: Sept. 25th, 1990
Publisher: Dutton