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Understanding Elvis: Interview with Nigel Patterson

One of the most amazing things about Elvis Presley are his fans. The amount of creative, well-educated and dedicated people among them who manage to do continuous in-depth research and writing about the man besides having successful professional careers and active family lives is simply astounding. One of their key figures who for decades has helped to better understand Elvis Presley’s life, career and cultural impact on many different levels is Nigel Patterson from Australia. The Memphis Flash has talked to the Elvis expert about his passion for the King and what interests him most: Elvis‘ films and books.

The Memphis Flash: Nigel, most English-speaking Elvis aficionados are familiar with you as Honorary President of the Elvis Information Network (EIN), an Australian fan club that runs one of the, if not the most prolific and informative websites on Elvis Presley: www.elvisinfonet.com. Apart from that, not too much is known about you (at least not in Germany). Please do tell us more about yourself, your background and what made you such an expert on everything Elvis.

Nigel Patterson: I am originally from Northern Ireland and my family moved to Canberra, capital city of the “lucky country”, Australia, in the early 1960s.  While I knew of Elvis and seen some of his movies I did not become a fan until early 1969 when on a school excursion to Griffith, a small town in the winery region of country New South Wales. As I would learn later Griffith was also a hot spot for dope production in Australia (but I digress)!  While on the bus we were listening to 2CA, the only commercial radio station in Canberra at the time, and Edge of Reality came on.  I was hooked the moment I heard it and my interest in things Elvis quickly grew from there.

The Memphis Flash: Sounds like a fun way of being introduced to Elvis ;-). The psychedelic Edge Of Reality from the movie Live A Little, Love A Little (German: Liebling, laß‘ das Lügen, 1968) was a hit in Australia, right? It’s relatively unknown in Germany though. Let’s give it a listen.

Audio Edge of Reality – Complete Masters

 

The Memphis Flash: How was being an Elvis fan like in Australia in the late 1960s?

elvis-monthly-1960Nigel Patterson: Living “downunder” in a snail mail and pre-Internet time we relied on primarily newspapers and magazines for our news of overseas stars.  I started buying the newsstand magazine Elvis Monthly (which, due to its small size, fitted nicely into the inside pocket of my school jacket and served me well when I became bored with scholarly instruction), subscribed to Rocky Barra’s Strictly Elvis and submerged myself in various popular Aussie magazines including Movie News, Everybody’s and the Australasian Post, as they regularly featured Elvis on their cover and had feature articles inside.

In the early 70s I joined my first Elvis fan club, run by Bob Stephens in Sydney and I started contributing to Rex Martin’s fantastic Worldwide Weekly Elvis News Service and later Elvis Monthly.

The Memphis Flash: Some great magazines that have iconic status among fans today. I’ve seen that there is an → interesting interview with Rocky Barra, the guy behind Strictly Elvis, on EIN. Besides magazines films soon became another great interest of yours?

Nigel Patterson: From my childhood years growing up during the silver age of television I always had a fascination with TV shows and films.  In the late 1970s-early 1980s I became a reviewer for the Brisbane Film Group (BFG) enjoying working “flexi-time” (before it was introduced to the bureaucracy) as I was given free tickets to watch and review films screening usually at 11 am in the morning. I remember the first time I asked my boss if I could take an early, long lunch and he looked at me as if I was from another planet! In those days we had a regimented 12:30-1:30 lunch period.  A few years later flexitime was the norm.  Most of my reviews for the BFG were of horror movies as classic titles like Halloween, Friday the 13th, Prom Night and the underrated Happy Birthday To Me were enjoying peak popularity.  My involvement with the Brisbane Film Group was the genesis of my interest in a more analytical approach to the Elvis film canon.

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Buchtipp: Elvis Films FAQ von Paul Simpson

ElvisFAQ-buchcoverWenn Elvis Presley bis zum Schluss einen ganz großen Traum hatte, dann war es der, selbst einen wirklich großen Film zu machen. Denn der King war zeitlebens ein leidenschaftlicher Kinofan. Als Teenager jobbte er als Platzanweiser, um sich die neuesten Filme aus Hollywoods Traumfabrik ansehen zu können, später mietete er sich regelmäßig in Memphis gleich das komplette Kino für Privatvorführungen an – Vorstellungen, für die er sich die Filme, die ihn besonders interessierten, extra organisieren ließ.

Wie dieser Traum mit den 31 Kino- und 2 Dokumentarfilmen, die der King zwischen 1956 und 1972 drehte, zusammenhängt, dieser Frage geht der britische Journalist und Buchautor Paul Simpson in seinem gerade erst erschienenen Buch Elvis Films FAQ: All That’s Left to Know about the King of Rock ’n‘ Roll in Hollywood auf über 400 Seiten ernsthaft, sehr informativ und dabei höchst unterhaltsam nach.

→ Interview mit Paul Simpson  → original English version deutsche Übersetzung.

Elvis Films FAQ: All That’s Left to Know about the King of Rock ’n‘ Roll in Hollywood, was so viel heißt wie „Häufig gestellte Fragen zu Elvis‘ Filmen: Alles, was es zu wissen gibt, über den King of Rock ’n‘ Roll in Hollywood„, ist keines der üblichen Bilderbücher für Elvis-Fans mit vielen Fotos und meist magerem Begleittext, wie es sie in Mengen gibt.

Nein, Simpson, der 2005 schon The Rough Guide To Elvis herausgebracht hat, schafft es in 65 mundgerechten, klar strukturierten Kapiteln – man muss das Buch nicht von vorne bis hinten lesen, das Schöne ist, man kann irgendwo einsteigen und findet sich trotzdem zurecht – viele interessante Hintergrundinformationen zu Elvis Presleys Filmkarriere zu präsentieren, die sich in der Form auch nicht in namhaften Biographien des King finden. Dabei ist das Ganze kurzweilig, alles andere als staubtrocken aufbereitet, was schon die bildhaften, oftmals witzigen Kapitelüberschriften erahnen lassen. Man kann auch folgen, wenn man sich bislang noch nicht groß mit Elvis Presleys Filmen beschäftigt hat… und – keine Angst – man muss sie auch nicht alle gesehen haben, um dem Buch etwas abzugewinnen ;-).

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