ELVIS

THE SECRET FILES

``Dead or alive, the magic of Elvis lives on'' claims the original dust jacket of this British import, emblazoning the words above a close-up of the King—a deliciously ironic sentiment given that here, as in his earlier books, Parker (Prince Philip, 1991, etc.) does his best, none too successfully, to stir up mud. Parker's angle is that the rock star may have been murdered by the Mafia, a conclusion he builds on stilts constructed primarily of previously unreleased interviews with Elvis associates (interviews not conducted by Parker), as well as of info gleaned from his ferreting through 663 pages of the ``FBI general file'' on Elvis. Parker digs out little that's not been revealed before, though he does highlight much that's not well known: particularly that J. Edgar Hoover began tracking Elvis as early as spring 1956, and that Elvis suffered constant money problems that, in 1976, prompted his father to succumb to a scam involving the leasing of the singer's jet—a scam that soon came to the attention of the Bureau. Moreover, this scam allegedly was only a small part of a multimillion-dollar mob operation that was threatened when it became ``likely that Elvis and Vernon Presley...would be required to give testimony at [an] eventual trial.'' Parker dregs up the many minor mysteries surrounding the star's death—including the locking-away of the autopsy report—to support his case. Throughout, the author also manages to provide a lurid account of Elvis's decline into drug-decay, and speculates that his 1970 Oval Office meeting with Richard Nixon prompted—through the singer's envy of the Beatles—Nixon's persecution of John Lennon. Not bad as a concise chronicle of the superstar's dark side, but Parker's case that Elvis may have been murdered will convince few—after all, we all know that he's hiding out in Kalamazoo.... (Forty-two b&w photographs)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1994

ISBN: 1-85470-039-1

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Collins & Brown/Trafalgar

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 1993

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MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. AND THE MARCH ON WASHINGTON

This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD

A LIFETIME OF RECORDINGS

Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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