The king is dyed...

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Indy Lifestyle Online
Elvis Presley didn't just live the American dream; in many ways he represented the American dream - including the foul rot that sets in when it turns sour.

The poor white trash, born in a shack built by his father in Tupelo, Mississ-ippi, was something of a self-starter, even without his God-given voice: he managed, despite a bad start, to graduate from high school and wanted to be a cop. Instead he set musical and film records that have yet to be challenged, and had a pretty awesome life before his humiliating death in the bathroom at Graceland. And the Elvis Presley industry churns on.

The latest addition to the King's memorabilia is The Elvis Encyclopaedia, compiled by journalist Frank Coffey, Elvis's stepbrother, David E Stanley, and long-term member of the "Memphis Mafia", Lamar Pike. Despite a fairly skimpy index, this is a fascinating social document in itself - the weird Southern names, the excesses, the spangles - but is also probably the most exhaustive catalogue of the man's life you could find.

Did you know, for instance, that his hair was actually "dishwater blond", dyed in imitation of Roy Orbison's and combed to look like Tony Curtis's? That his favourite aftershave was Brut? This his mother died at 46 from hepatitis brought on by obesity, alcohol and diet pills? That he managed to ignore his own drug abuse to try to set up as an undercover narc after Nixon gave him a badge? Or that, like liddle Lisa Marie's current husband, he owned a pet chimpanzee?

SERENA MACKESY

`The Elvis Encyclopaedia' (pounds 19.99), published by Virgin, 21 September, compiled by Frank Coffey, David E Stanley and Lamar Pike

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