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Last train to Memphis: The Rise of Elvis Presley (1994)

by Peter Guralnick

Series: Guralnick's Elvis Presley (Volume 1)

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1,1191218,096 (4.25)22
"From the moment that he first shook up the world in the mid 1950s, Elvis Presley has been one of the most vivid and enduring myths of American culture." "Last Train to Memphis: The Rise of Elvis Presley is the first biography to go past that myth and present an Elvis beyond the legend. Based on hundreds of interviews and nearly a decade of research, it traces the evolution not just of the man but of the music and of the culture he left utterly transformed, creating a completely fresh portrait of Elvis and his world." "This volume tracks the first twenty-four years of Elvis' life, covering his childhood, the stunning first recordings at Sun Records ("That's All Right," "Mystery Train"), and the early RCA hits ("Heartbreak Hotel," "Hound Dog," "Don't Be Cruel"). These were the years of his improbable self-invention and unprecedented triumphs, when it seemed that everything that Elvis tried succeeded wildly. There was scarcely a cloud in sight through this period until, in 1958, he was drafted into the army and his mother died shortly thereafter. The book closes on that somber and poignant note." "Last Train to Memphis takes us deep inside Elvis' life, exploring his lifelong passion for music of every sort (from blues and gospel to Bing Crosby and Mario Lanza), his compelling affection for his family, and his intimate relationships with girlfriends, mentors, band members, professional associates, and friends. It shows us the loneliness, the trustfulness, the voracious appetite for experience, and above all the unshakable, almost mystical faith that Elvis had in himself and his music. Drawing frequently on Elvis' own words and on the recollections of those closest to him, the book offers an emotional, complex portrait of young Elvis Presley with a depth and dimension that for the first time allow his extraordinary accomplishments to ring true."--Jacket.… (more)
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Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
One of the really good books on Elvis Presley. ( )
  Karen74Leigh | May 17, 2024 |
On sale on Thriftbooks.com site, I bought it because recently I watched a documentary regarding Elvis. He was my first love. As a young child, the local movie was only .25 cents on Saturday, and I think I saw every one of his not so good movies, but it was his dark hair and handsomeness that kept me coming back to watch them.

The is an exhaustive story of the King of Rock and Roll. It is a good book, but the author went way beyond keeping the story on track. Elvis came from a poor family. He was a twin, but his other brother died at birth. His father really had no gumption.

It was his mother that held everything together, including her only child. She was the queen of his heart. Her death co-incited with his military obligation.

A very polite person, he loved his mommy, fast, beautiful cars, and a plethora of young woman.

When he danced and sang, he girated his hips and legs. This led to many scandalous reviews. It also led to quite a large audience of women who screamed and at times, tore off his clothes.
  Whisper1 | Feb 26, 2021 |
A very detailed biography told as if close to each of the events. A good book ... but I'm not sure why it is listed as a 100 New Classics. ( )
  deldevries | Aug 17, 2017 |
Peter Guralnick certainly did his research for this book! He details the first half of Elvis's life, from early childhood growing up in Tupelo, Mississippi to his mother's death and his deployment to Germany during his stint in the army. Guralnick offers a fairly complete portrait of Elvis Presley as a polite, eager-to-please Southern kid with a penchant for loud clothes, nice cars, and pretty girls. Elvis's rise to fame happened pretty quickly (or, at least faster than I had originally thought), and the descriptions of the pandemonium that followed him wherever he went were wild. The only downside to this book is, ironically, the extreme attention to detail - at times I got confused trying to keep all the people straight. I look forward to reading the second volume of this biography, detailing "the fall of Elvis Presley". ( )
  kaylaraeintheway | Jan 14, 2017 |
Elvis Presley is so over-rated ( )
  clarkland | Jan 19, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
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For my mother and father and for Alexandra
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It is late May or early June, hot, steamy; a fetid breeze comes in off the river and wafts its way through the elegant lobby of the Hotel Peabody, where, it is said, the Mississippi Delta begins.
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"From the moment that he first shook up the world in the mid 1950s, Elvis Presley has been one of the most vivid and enduring myths of American culture." "Last Train to Memphis: The Rise of Elvis Presley is the first biography to go past that myth and present an Elvis beyond the legend. Based on hundreds of interviews and nearly a decade of research, it traces the evolution not just of the man but of the music and of the culture he left utterly transformed, creating a completely fresh portrait of Elvis and his world." "This volume tracks the first twenty-four years of Elvis' life, covering his childhood, the stunning first recordings at Sun Records ("That's All Right," "Mystery Train"), and the early RCA hits ("Heartbreak Hotel," "Hound Dog," "Don't Be Cruel"). These were the years of his improbable self-invention and unprecedented triumphs, when it seemed that everything that Elvis tried succeeded wildly. There was scarcely a cloud in sight through this period until, in 1958, he was drafted into the army and his mother died shortly thereafter. The book closes on that somber and poignant note." "Last Train to Memphis takes us deep inside Elvis' life, exploring his lifelong passion for music of every sort (from blues and gospel to Bing Crosby and Mario Lanza), his compelling affection for his family, and his intimate relationships with girlfriends, mentors, band members, professional associates, and friends. It shows us the loneliness, the trustfulness, the voracious appetite for experience, and above all the unshakable, almost mystical faith that Elvis had in himself and his music. Drawing frequently on Elvis' own words and on the recollections of those closest to him, the book offers an emotional, complex portrait of young Elvis Presley with a depth and dimension that for the first time allow his extraordinary accomplishments to ring true."--Jacket.

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