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Elvis Presley – Ramblings of a Lifelong Fan – Part XVIII  –  Song & Movie Tidbits

I thought I would share a few facts that I find interesting. If you’re an Elvis fan, you might already know them. If not, then I hope you find them interesting as well.

A Star is Born  – A highly successful movie released in 1976 starring Barbara Streisand and Kris Kristofferson. Barbara and Elvis were friends and held one another in high regard. Barbara asked Elvis to co-star with her in the movie, and he was thrilled. He planned to do it, but Colonel Parker nixed it and wouldn’t let him. I think this would have been a huge turning point in Elvis’ acting career, and in his life in general. 

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Thunder Road – An excellent movie from 1958 starring Robert Mitchum. Elvis was a fan of Mitchum’s and wanted to meet him. When they met, Mitchum asked him if he’d be interested in co-starring in Thunder Road. Elvis was thrilled and desperately wanted the role, but the Colonel refused.

EP pretty in pink a69cc30bfa73b00e

Don’t Cry Daddy – Written by Mac Davis, who also wrote quite a few other songs for Elvis, one of the most popular being In the Ghetto. Mac said that Elvis made some tweaks to most of his songs, and in this one, Mac ended it with ‘another little baby child is born in the ghetto’ and Elvis added ‘and his mama cries’ – which Mac thought was genius. Back to Don’t Cry Daddy, in Mac’s own words, here is the story of how the song came to be:
At the time I was going through a divorce. I had my son, Scotty for the weekend and was about to take him home. I had some time to kill, and I flipped on the five o’clock news. Scotty was about five or six years old. It just happened to be the broadcast where they were showing some film of the massacre in Vietnam. It was a very famous horrific incident where some of our guys shot to death some women and children villagers. They were showing some scenes of the bodies, and apparently I started crying and didn’t even realize it. The next thing I know Scotty was patting my back and trying to comfort a grown man going, “Don’t cry daddy.” That’s where the inspiration came from for “Don’t Cry Daddy.” My songwriter’s brain made it totally different. By the time I got Scotty home to his mother’s…on the way back to my house I had the chorus written. Basically that’s where the song came from. It was a combination of him telling me not to cry because of watching this massacre in Vietnam on TV and my own situation having gone through a divorce. I didn’t know at the time that it was a special song. It was just another day in the life of a songwriter. We write songs about our lives and about things that happen to us…I do remember thinking that I should have written another verse for it. But that was me. That’ll be on my tombstone, “I was still working on that last verse.”


Help Me – An Elvis song written by Larry Gatlin. Elvis recorded a few of Larry’s songs, my favorite of them by far is Bitter They Are, Harder They Fall. I heard a brief interview with Larry Gatlin on Elvis radio recently. He said that he was struggling financially, and he and his wife were at home, wondering how they were going to keep their house. He received a call from a mutual friend of his and Elvis who told him Elvis was recording his song. Larry hung up the phone and said to his wife, “Honey, we can keep the house.”

Here is Elvis’ rendition of Bitter They Are. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a live version. 


Heartbreak Hotel, recorded in January, 1956 – Elvis’ first million selling record was co-written by Mae Boren Axton, mother of singer/songwriter Hoyt Axton. She was an English teacher and a songwriter. A steel guitarist, Tommy Durden, read an article about a man who killed himself and left a suicide note that read “I walk a lonely street.” He showed the article to Mae and the two collaborated on the song. Mae took a position as a part time public relations secretary for Colonel Parker, and when she met Elvis in 1955, she said that he had everything it took to be a star except a hit song. She told him, “You need a million-seller, and I’m going to write it for you.” And, that she did.

elvis windwo 732d88f4cd069e1

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Elvis Presley – Ramblings of a Lifelong Fan – Part XVII  –  Elvis and Wink

Game show host Wink  Martindale started out in radio, and he was around when the Elvis phenomenon was just beginning. I’ve heard several interviews with Wink and his wife, Sandy, on Elvis radio. They both adored Elvis and have the utmost respect for him.

elvis and wink

Wink was part of a historical day in 1954. Here is an excerpt from an interview with Wink about that time:

“My dream was to work at WHBQ radio and do the morning show called ‘Clockwatchers’ — all the teenagers listened to that.”

His dream came true in 1954, when he auditioned and got the morning gig when he was just 19 years old. It was also the year he met Elvis Presley, with whom he was friends until the King’s death in 1977.

“I happened to be at the radio station one night showing a group of former football buddies from high school around the radio station,” Martindale recalls. “It was at night when there was a show called ‘Red Hot & Blue’ with a guy named Dewey Phillips. He played black music for white kids. All of a sudden I hear a commotion going on. The phones were lit up and I went into Dewey’s control room.”

It so happened that was the night that Sun Records founder Sam Phillips walked into Phillips’ control room with an acetate recording of Presley’s “That’s All Right Mama.”

“Dewey put it on the turntable and the switchboard lit up. He kept playing it over and over. Sam gave me Gladys and Vernon Presley’s telephone number and said get them on the phone and ask them where Elvis is. I was the one who made the call and got Gladys on the phone.”

Martindale told Presley’s mother that Dewey Phillips wanted to interview him that night at the station. His parents got into their truck and found their son at a movie theater by himself catching a western double bill.

“He got into the truck and went down and sat in front of the microphone,” says Martindale. That was the beginning of Presley mania. I think of that as the night when the course of popular music changed forever.”

Just a few years later, Jul 4, 1956,Wink would interview Elvis. Elvis was performing a benefit concert for at Russwood Park in Memphis for The Cynthia Mil Fund and the Variety Club’s Home for Convalescent Children. I love that Elvis was not only charitable, but that most of his charitable acts were to help children.

Colonel Parker did not want Elvis to appear on television without getting paid, but Elvis did so anyway. This is one of the first ever televised interviews of Elvis. 



The beginning of Elvis’ unprecedented career is rich with history and momentous events. Yet, even as it was happening, and even up to the day he passed away, he really wasn’t aware of the impact he had on the world. He was often afraid that his popularity would fade, that people would forget him. I imagine he would be blown away to see how his legend has lived on, how his life and career are still celebrated. 


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Elvis Presley – Ramblings of a Lifelong Fan – Part XVI – The Ultimate Celebrity

As everyone knows by now, in my opinion, Elvis had it all.

He was insanely gorgeous and sexy. His voice was phenomenal, magical. He could dance, he could act. He was generous and down to earth. And, people who met him said he had this special charisma that was impossible to put into words, impossible to resist.

EP close up beautiful EP 68 sexy EP Wink

And, Elvis did things that no other entertainers will ever do. Can you imagine performers of today; Justin Bieber, Justin Timberlake, Usher, Bruno Mars, and others like them, taking two years away from their careers to serve in the armed forces? (I guess these are good examples of the currently popular male singers. Either way, you get my point. :))

Elvis uniformEP in service

Elvis was so special, that my sister, Ruth, and I had to make a ‘deal’ when we played barbies. Instead of having actual Ken dolls (we didn’t have a lot of money, so we had to make do with just the Barbies themselves), we would have imaginary guys for our Barbie boyfriends. However, since we would both want Elvis, and neither would give in, and it would be unfair for either of us to have him for our BB’s (Barbie Boyfriends), we struck a bargain. Neither of us could pick Elvis. He was just too untouchable, off limits. :) Instead, we had to settle for guys like David Cassidy, Donny Osmond, Bobby Sherman, and so forth. Somehow, we made do.

Elvis cowboy Elvis in jeans

Elvis generosity is legendary. He purchased FDR’s Yacht in 1964, intending to donate it to March of Dimes, but they refused the gift, saying the upkeep was too much. He ended up donating it to St. Jude’s Children’s Research hospital. I’ve heard stories, although I’m not sure how many of them are true, about his giving nature. One story is about a man who saw Elvis and a friend in Memphis one day. Elvis was searching his pockets for a dime to make a phone call. The man gave him a dime, and Elvis asked for his address so he could send him a thank you note. A few weeks later, the man received a letter from Elvis with the news that he’d paid off his mortgage. Of course, the stories about his giving away cars is almost as well-known as Elvis himself. One of my favorites is the story about the black lady who worked as a housekeeper at a hospital in Memphis. She was walking down Union Avenue and saw a stretch limo in front of a dealership with its doors open. She stuck her head in to look inside and commented on what a beautiful car it was. Elvis was in the car, and he instructed the man with him to order her one just like it. I also heard that, In 1975, he bought an electric wheelchair for a poor woman in East Memphis, and that he picked her up and personally sat her in it. The woman’s teenage daughter told Elvis she liked his car. He gave it to her and even gave her boyfriend a job. Even if some of these stories are exaggerated or fabricated, enough has been documented about his philanthropic nature for me to be certain he had a kind and giving heart.

EP March of Dimes Elvis with gold record

Who is your ultimate celebrity? Why? Is it mainly because of their talent and appeal, or does it go deeper than that?




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A Fun Halloween Scavenger Hunt with AWESOME Prizes!!!

From October 6th through the 23rd, over 30 authors are hosting a Halloween Scavenger Hunt.  Participants visit each site to find a Halloween graphic.  The more sites you visit, the more chances to win. There are over 60 prizes, multiple winners each day. On October 6th, visit Sloan McBride’s blog Sloan McBride where you get all the information, including links to the authors’ pages, and a link to a sheet to type all the answers. It should be wicked fun!  

(Check the pages on my site to find the Halloween graphic and enter through Sloan’s site. SEE, so much fun!)

And while I have your attention, I’d like to share my latest release – a Halloween short story from The Wild Rose Press: Caster’s Unfriendly Ghost:




A year after her husband’s death, Emily Tillman is ready to start dating again, and hopefully, find what she’s always wanted—marriage and children. But the man who broke her heart five years ago is back. And he’s anything but the marrying kind. 

Confirmed bachelor Reese Caster is perfectly content with his life—and he’s finally over Emily, the one woman who almost made him commit. Now, his world is rocked when her dead husband shows up, demanding that Reese pursue Emily to keep her out of the clutches of her latest suitor—a jerk who is only after her money. 

Being around Emily again has made Reese reconsider his bachelor life style. But now that the threat of the other man is gone, the pesky ghost wants Reese to break things off. Can he and Emily find the love they were denied, or will the ghost of her dead husband destroy their chances? 


“Emily is the kind of woman you have to take things slowly with.”

“Sure, if this was real. But you have to step it up, turn on the charm. You need to show you care, that you know her, buy her things that she loves. Her favorite flowers are white roses, she loves dark chocolate, and her favorite wine is Merlot. You need to move in on her, hard.”

Caster gave a humorless laugh and shook his head. “Do you hear yourself? You were her husband, for God’s sake. Have some respect.”

Joey’s face flushed. “I do respect her. That’s why I don’t want this asshole putting one over on her. She deserves to find someone who will truly love her and give her the things I couldn’t.”

A note of pain in his voice almost made Caster feel sorry for him. But not as sorry as he felt for the family who lost a loved one less than half an hour ago. “Listen, I’ve performed back to back surgeries today, and had my night capped off by an emergency surgery that ended with a young girl’s death. So, you’ll understand why I’m not in the mood for this right now.”

“I’m sorry, but there’s nothing I can do about that. My concern is with Emily. And I need you to follow through with your end of the deal.”

“Deal, my ass. You blackmailed me into going along with this bullshit. Well, I’m out. I’ll finish the haunted forest thing, but no more of this romancing Emily crap. I can’t use her like that, I can’t break her heart again.”

“Break her heart? You sound pretty sure she’ll fall for you. My, my. Someone’s full of himself.”

Caster stood and stalked to the door. “Look, I don’t know if she will or not, I just know I can’t do this any longer. You can destroy everything I own, keep me up every night for the rest of my life, but I’m done.”

He put his hand on the door, but Joey’s voice stopped him. “I’ll tell her.”

Caster paused and turned to face him. “You’ll what?”

“Not only will I continue to screw with you, even on the job, but I’ll appear to Emily, tell her about our little scheme. What do you think she’ll think of you then?”

“You’re bluffing. You wouldn’t hurt her like that.”

Joey shook his head and closed his eyes. When he opened them, they were suspiciously damp. “I don’t want to. But I’ll do anything to keep her from making the biggest mistake of her life.”

Caster let out a resigned sigh and shook his head. “Nah, getting mixed up with the two of us was the biggest mistake of her life.”





Wild Rose Press:


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Elvis Presley – Ramblings of a Lifelong Fan – Part XV – Elvis’ Twin

elvis military snow

I have always been fascinated by the fact that Elvis was born a twin. The other baby, Jesse Garon, was stillborn. Can you imagine, what if Jesse had been born? Would they have looked alike? Would Jesse have been able to sing like Elvis? Would he have been an entertainer as well, or would it have changed Elvis’ course in life, and maybe he wouldn’t have become an entertainer at all? Throughout his life, Elvis was also fascinated about his twin. Those close to him knew just how much losing Jesse Garon affected him.

Here is a great article by Elvis’ hairdresser and friend, Larry Geller. He talks about how intrigued Elvis was about the fact that he had a twin brother. 

Click here for article

A couple of additional things to share…

I love it when other celebrities talk about Elvis, and this definitely caught my attention. I saw Robert Plant, lead singer of Led Zepplin on Jimmy Fallon recently. Plant is a huge Elvis fan. He speaks with Jimmy about meeting Elvis in 1974. Elvis said he’d heard that Robert sound checked to one of his songs and asked him which one. Robert said “Love Me.” They were leaving and headed down the hallway. Elvis turned around and started singing “Love Me” and Robert Plant sang with him. Plant said, “I could have packed up, quit and gone home right then.” (I paraphrased). Even though I’ve basically quoted the entire interview, here it is if you want to check it out:


Lastly, I have a new release out, and as I’ve stated before, I try to mention Elvis in all my published works. Here is a little snippet from Without Mercy:

China’s house was too quiet. She put on an Elvis Presley CD—finding comfort in the music she and her aunt had listened to when she was growing up—and turned the volume up as loud as it would go. She was heading up the stairs when it occurred to her that the music would mask the noise of an intruder.

Debating for just a moment, she decided the silence was worse, and left the music on. “Danny Boy” blasted around her as she reached the top of the stairs.

Her house was a multi-level, thirty four hundred square-foot Tudor with five bedrooms, a pool, sauna and hot tub. The front was secluded by an overhang of trees, and the back yard opened up into a wooded area. The home was much more elaborate than she could possibly afford on her salary. There were months she could barely make the utilities, and last summer she hadn’t opened the pool because she couldn’t afford the upkeep. But at least she didn’t have to pay a mortgage.

She’d always counted herself lucky that Gary had left her the house as compensation for his abandonment. But now it felt like enemy territory, and the spacious rooms seemed to be nothing more than good hiding places for intruders.

In the bathroom, she turned the shower on as hot as it would go and stripped, stepping quickly inside. Steam surrounded her, the spray so strong, it stung her skin. But that was okay. It meant she was alive.

She wasn’t sure how long she’d been standing under the water. It had turned cold, yet she remained. The strains of “Love Comin’ Down” penetrated through the closed door. She considered getting out, but the cold water was starting to numb her, and that was what she needed. To forget, not to feel for a while.

“China?” A man’s voice bellowed her name at the same time the bathroom door flung open, slamming against the wall. She screamed as the shower curtain was yanked back.

On sale – Only 99¢ for a limited time!

small cover


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Howard K invites you to ‘Dial M for Merlot’

I’m happy to introduce today’s guest, Howard K.

I ‘met’ Howard a little while back when he hired me to freelance edit his novel. I was a little wary after learning it was the first novel he’d ever written and that it was well over 100,000 words. However, I was pleasantly surprised once I started reading. While it needed some polishing, (as all stories do, even those from seasoned writers), it did not need a ton of reworking. The story was well written and immensely entertaining.

If you love wine and love to laugh (or if you even like ONE of those things), you’ll definitely want to check out Howard’s debut novel.

Now, let’s get to know a little more about him….

Where did you get the idea for Dial M for Merlot?

I had been a wine lover for many years, fully enjoying going to tastings, traveling to wine country destinations and attending wine themed dinner extravaganzas. In late 2007, I was diagnosed with throat cancer and had to endure surgery, radiation and chemo. I am happy to report that I bounced back and have remained cancer free since then, but for many years after, I lost all sense of taste. If you could see my wardrobe and clothing choices, you might be of the opinion that I never had any taste anyway…but that’s another story

Anyway, after a long while I was finally able to once again enjoy great wines and good times out with friends. It was at one of these wine dinners that someone suggested I write a book about the experience of being a ‘wino’, losing all sense of taste and the ability to enjoy wine, and then fully regaining my health and senses. It sounded like a good idea at the time, and I gave it try…but when I sat to write, the title “Dial M for Merlot” popped into my head and the story revealed itself to me as I typed.

What book have you read that you wish you would have written?

Tai Pan by James Clavell. I really love history and historical fiction.

Do you have another occupation, other than writer? If so, what is it and how do you like it?

Well, since I’m in my fifties and this is the first book I’ve written…one would think I’ve had another occupation, but I actually haven’t had a real job in my entire life! I have been a musician since I was in my teens and I’ve spent the last 25 years composing and producing music for commercials. I’ve been very fortunate to have done work for HBO Sports, McDonald’s, The Florida Lottery, Florida Grapefruit, Ritz Carlton Hotels, about a million car dealerships. My favorite project of all time: a down home-style jingle for ‘Black Kow, the Mature Manure.’  You know you’ve arrived when you can get paid for singing about bullsh*t!

What’s your favorite childhood book?

Goodnight Moon.  I loved reading this book over and over again to my two sons when they were very young, and we’ve still got the old, well-worn copy on the shelf in one of their bedrooms.

What do you want readers to come away with after they read Dial M for Merlot?

A few good laughs, a smile, and hopefully, a sense of anticipation and enthusiasm for the sequel.

Would you rather have a bad review or no review?

I would just rather have a good review.

What is your favorite quote?

‘Ich bin ein Berliner’   Of course JFK’s iconic quote was meant to send a message to the Soviets that America would stand with Germany in the face of the communist threat to freedom and liberty, but it has a different and personal meaning for me. I lived in West Berlin for a few years before the wall came down, and from the very first moment I arrived at Tegel airport in 1982, I had the strangest and most unexpected feeling that I had come home…that I belonged in Berlin. So yes, Ich bin auch ein Berliner- – I, too, am a Berliner.

If you were stranded on a deserted island and you could have 3 (inanimate) objects, what would they be?

A magic lantern with a Genie inside, a bottomless wine cellar and a corkscrew. The Genie would take care of everything else

What celebrity would you most like to be stranded on an island with?

Penelope Cruz. No explanation needed.

What is your favorite…

Movie  For a recent release “The Way Way Back”

Music:  The film score from “The Shawshank Redemption,” by Thomas Newman

Place you’ve visited:   the Priorat wine region in Northern Spain

Place you’d like to visit:   Burgundy, France

TV show from childhood:  Get Smart

TV show from adulthood:  Night Court

Food: Steak au poivre, medium rare, with a side of well done potatoes Lyonnaise, broiled asparagus and a bottle of smashing, full throttle cabernet sauvignon.

Which do you prefer: Board games/card games or television?

None of the above..I’ll take a good book anytime!

Keep reading to learn more about Dial M for Merlot (Only $2.99 for ebook…Click on the cover to be taken to the Amazon buy page where and find links to other outlets below)



In Vino Veritas—in wine there is truth, and the truth is that Justin James is a 30-year-old, socially inept guy who just can’t seem to get a second date. Maybe it’s because of his abiding love for all things sci-fi, including dressing up in costume at every Comic-Con® that comes to town— not exactly the universal definition of “sexy.”

One Friday night, after being stood up for the zillionth time, the lovelorn nerd wanders into a wine tasting at a local shop that opens his eyes, turns on his taste buds and totally changes his life.

Join Justin on an exhilarating, intoxicating and potentially dangerous voyage of discovery and transformation that leads him out of his shell and into the world of fine wine and fine living. From Florida to France and back, Justin discovers there is so much more to life than just Star Trek, Star Wars or Harry Potter—fun, stimulating, and seductive things like fabulous wine, fantastic food, hot sex…and murder. But not necessarily in that order.


Chapter One

 Justin James felt the pounding in his head even before he fully regained consciousness. When he finally succeeded in prying open his hangover-heavy eyelids, the room slowly came into a blurred, topsy-turvy view of unreality.

The soft light filtering through the yellowed linen curtains suggested a peaceful post-dawn morning, but the foul taste in his mouth and the fire bubbling up in the back of his throat screamed midnight in Hell.

He slowly propped himself up on one shaky elbow and tried to rub the pain out of his brain. That wasn’t working too well. He resumed crash position and massaged his throbbing temples, struggling to remember just how he had gotten back to the house after what must have been a very long night of wine-fueled debauchery.

Yesterday evening had started on a remarkably high note; attending an invitation-only wine tasting and dinner at one of the most renowned châteaus in all of France. The gigantic, but elegant, gala was co-sponsored by the largest, most powerful wine distributor in North America—the Richard Fox Company, along with its French counterpart, Beverage DeBussey.

It was the Célébration de Vin, an event held only once every ten years, and yet, Justin and his traveling companions managed to wrangle admission. They weren’t a particularly well-connected group of important movers and shakers in the wine industry, just a small band of vino tourists on-the-loose in France for a little fine living and some excessive wine drinking, during the week of the Vin Expo trade show in Bordeaux. Their names were nowhere on the guest list. But no matter.

Right place, right time, a little language barrier misunderstanding, and voila—admittance into the wine party of the decade. In some corners of the world that would be called chutzpah, but as some pissed-off Frenchman would later remark, “Those American bastards had some big balls.” Big balls, indeed.

So there they were—rubbing elbows with some of the most well-known figures in the world of wine, all of whom Justin had never even heard of until a few months back. He watched as the guys spread out into the main tasting room, standing side-by-side with some of the rich, famous, and beautiful people he had read about here and there, but never dreamed of actually seeing in person, let alone tasting outrageously expensive wines with and then discussing their marvelous attributes. Mind blowing. Really. Mind blowing.

Yes, it had started out as a wine enthusiast’s night-of-a-lifetime, but something had gone awry. Between the pounding, the bubbling, and a fair amount of spinning, he couldn’t remember much of what had happened after those first few minutes at the Grand Tasting. How had he wound up back in his bed, wearing clothing he didn’t recognize, with a half-empty to-go box of some sort of disgusting French version of KFC planted next to his head on the pillow?

And where were the guys? He should have at least heard them snoring their brains out in the adjacent bedrooms of their rental house, but strangely, he heard … nothing. If he hadn’t been in France on a vino-expedition, he might have vowed never to drink again.

Being a novice wino was hard work.



About Howard: 

First-time author and full-time wine enthusiast Howard K is an award winning composer and producer of music for television, film and advertising. He lives with his wife and family in the Tampa Bay, Florida area.

Contact:     howardkbooks@gmail.com

Find Dial M for Merlot here:









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Elvis Presley – Ramblings of a Lifelong Fan – Part XIII – Quotes by Elvis

Elvis has been quoted many, many times over the years. In some of the quotes, his vulnerability and insecurity come through. In some, his wisdom, and in others, his love for his fans. Those who were close to Elvis emphasized how much he loved and appreciated his fans. In spite of his unparalleled success, he never forgot how it came to be.


Here are some of my favorites…

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