Gauging Elvis Presley’s Shakespearean destiny from an outsider’s perspective

A thorough interview with definitive Steve McQueen chronicler Marshall Terrill uncovers an unambiguous admiration for Elvis Presley. Anecdotes abound regarding Colonel Tom Parker’s debilitating penchant for gambling, the Beatles vs. Elvis fan mentality, founding Memphis Mafia member Sonny West and his controversial “Elvis: What Happened?” expose, Los Angeles hairstylist-guru Larry Geller, rejecting radio deejay George Klein’s memoir, the memoirs of effervescent near-wife Linda Thompson and final girlfriend Ginger Alden, how Elvis’s inspired performances often hinged on his level of instrumental commitment, why Elvis didn’t compose more material, how lifestyle choices gradually diminished his recording career, and loads more. With perfectly coiffed hair, the King of Rock ’n’ Roll portrays dashing riverboat gambler Johnny in an elegant still from “Frankie and Johnny,” distributed to cinemas on March 31, 1966. Image Credit: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer / Elvis Photo Shoot Sessions
As newspaper photographer Greg Nolan, Elvis Presley poses for the cover of the “A Little Less Conversation” b/w “Almost in Love” single sometime between May 1 and 5, 1968. Both songs were slated for the soundtrack of the “Live a Little, Love a Little” movie, which included a grand total of only four tunes. Image Credit: Elvis Photo Shoot Sessions / MGM

The Marshall Terrill — Elvis Interview

As Chad Gates, the son of a major pineapple company executive just released from the Army, a debonair, lei-clad Elvis Presley busks with a ukulele on the soundtrack album cover of “Blue Hawaii,” mid-May 1961. Image Credit: Paramount Pictures / Elvis Presley Enterprises
A scholarly Marshall Terrill, author of the best-selling 1993 biography entitled “Steve McQueen: Portrait of an American Rebel,” poses during a German photo session on September 22, 2012. Photography by Steven Haberland / Courtesy of Marshall Terrill
A 30-year-old Elvis Presley is captured in excellent physical form on the MGM set of the less than stellar “Frankie and Johnny” in Hollywood, June 1965. Image Credit: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer / IMDB
Resembling a Greek Adonis, 34-year-old Elvis Presley returns to performing after an eight-year hiatus at the International Hotel in Las Vegas, August 1969. Image Credit: FECC Elvis-Collectors
Elvis Presley picks a tune with his refurbished J-200 Gibson acoustic guitar, circa March 1961, after a recording session at RCA Studio B in Nashville, Tennessee. Image Credit: Elvis Presley Enterprises
Captured sometime between April 11 and 15, 1966, Colonel Tom Parker fools around with Elvis Presley’s mid-’60s Hoyer 12-string acoustic guitar with electric pickups during a promotional still for the musical “Spinout.” Photography by Virgil Apger / Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
A 26-year-old Elvis Presley caresses his legendary 1956 J-200 Gibson acoustic guitar in a still for the “Wild in the Country” movie drama, early 1961. Photography by Frank Powolny / EPSS [Elvis Photo Shoot Sessions]
The drop-dead sexy cover of “The King, McQueen and the Love Machine” by Barbara Leigh with Marshall Terrill. Unveiled on June 28, 2002, the former actress-model revealed her fast-paced, simultaneous love triangle with Elvis Presley, Steve McQueen, and MGM producer Jim Aubrey. Image Credit: Courtesy of Marshall Terrill / Xlibris
“Steve McQueen: Portrait of an American Rebel,” the debut tome written by hard-hitting journalist Marshall Terrill. Published by Donald I. Fine in December 1993, the 564–page tome puts the reader firmly inside the King of Cool’s fascinating psyche. Image Credit: Courtesy of Marshall Terrill
The book cover of “Sergeant Presley,” written by Rex and Elisabeth Mansfield along with Marshall Terrill and wife Zoe Terrill. Published on September 1, 2002, the memoir recounts Elvis Presley’s Army exploits between 1958 and 1960 with the Mansfields. Elisabeth later became the King of Rock ’n’ Roll’s personal secretary. Image Credit: Courtesy of Marshall Terrill / ECW Press
Elvis Presley and Sonny West soak in the glitzy Hollywood atmosphere circa November 1960 while filming “Wild in the Country,” later used as the cover of West’s memoir, “Elvis: Still Taking Care of Business,” and the media campaign plugging the failed movie adaptation of “Fame & Fortune.” Image Credit: RLF Victor Productions
In February 1973, a handsome, red and black fur coat sporting Elvis Presley and longtime pal Sonny West congregate inside the “Promised Land” rocker’s Las Vegas Hilton suite. West autographed the photo “To Ray, all my best, Sonny West.” Image Credit: The Ray Ellis Collection
Documentary filmmaker John Scheinfeld, responsible for the widely acclaimed “The U.S. vs. John Lennon” and “Who Is Harry Nilsson (And Why Is Everybody Talkin’ About Him)?” among many other projects, circa July 21, 2009. Image Credit: Courtesy of John Scheinfeld
Elvis Presley and George Klein are pictured during the latter’s wedding reception on December 5, 1970, inside the former leading man’s Las Vegas Hilton suite. The photo became the cover of the deejay’s memoir entitled “Elvis: My Best Man,” released on January 5, 2010, during Elvis Birthday Week. Photography by Frank Carroll / Three Rivers Press
Colonel Tom Parker, Elvis Presley, and hairstylist Larry Geller lean against the star’s 1960 Cadillac Series 75 Fleetwood limousine, customized by Chuck Barris, at Ascot Park Raceway, Gardena, California, on location for MGM’s “Spinout” in February 1966. Image Credit: The Larry Geller Collection / Elvis Presley Enterprises
The cover of “Elvis & Ginger: Elvis Presley’s Fiancee and Last Love Finally Tells Her Story,” written by Ginger Alden and published on August 4, 2015. The cover shot, captured only three days after Presley’s sold-out New Year’s Eve show in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, finds the artist and Alden in Mount Sherman, Arkansas, to attend the funeral of the latter’s grandfather in a very small Methodist church on January 3, 1977. At the dawn of the “Moody Blue” artist’s final year things were looking up, if only briefly. Image Credit: Penguin Group
On Sunday, August 5, 1956, a 21-year-old, acne-scarred Elvis Presley descended upon the Fort Homer Hesterly Armory, in Tampa,Florida, for a sold out show with lead guitarist Scotty Moore, bassist Bill Black, and drummer D.J. Fontana. Presley appeared at the Armory a few times previously in May and July 1955. Bob Moreland, who retired from the St. Petersburg Times in 1992 after 40 years as a news photographer, helped cover Presley concerts. He won a first-place award in the National Press Photographers news photo contest for this close-up of a serene, calm in the midst of the storm artist savoring his band’s musical interplay on “Heartbreak Hotel.” Photography by Bob Moreland / FECC Elvis-Collectors messageboard user Galaxie
Click to hear Elvis Presley strut during a delicious reading of “Big Boss Man,” recorded on September 10, 1967, at RCA Studio B in Nashville. Jerry “Guitar Man” Reed provides lead electric guitar. Music Credit: Sony Music Entertainment; Video Credit: YouTube user Joyce Gilbert
Click to experience the undisputed King of Rock ’n’ Roll delivering a blistering live rendition of “Burning Love” from the “Aloha From Hawaii” satellite NBC telecast on January 14, 1973. The song had criminally stalled at No. 2 on Billboard weeks earlier. Video Credit: Sony Music Entertainment / Elvis Presley Enterprises
Listen to Elvis Presley sing a powerful, emotional rendition of country ballad “Loving Arms,” written by Tom Jans and recorded on December 13, 1973, at Stax Studios in Memphis. The cut languished on the poorly promoted “Good Times” RCA Victor album in March 1974. Music Credit: Sony Music Entertainment; Video Credit: YouTube user Maxim Golovlev

Retro pop culture interviews & lovin’ someone fierce sustain this University of Georgia Master of Agricultural Leadership alum. Email:

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