Another body of opinion on the King

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The Independent Online
Today I am proud to bring you an exclusive interview with a leading expert on the late Elvis Presley, Jerry Bonaventura. Jerry is over here from his naive America to publicise his new book, Elvis Presley - The Posthumous Years.

Welcome to Britain, Mr Bonaventura.

Thanks very much. Incidentally, I am over here from my native America, not my naive America, as you just said.

I am sorry. It was just a joke.

I appreciate it. Especially as I am a Canadian.

You're a Canadian?

Yes. I think you'll find that most of the most important and influential figures in American public life are of Canadian origin.

Bill Clinton isn't Canadian.

My point exactly.


Yes, well, turning to your book, `Elvis Presley, The Posthumous Years', I believe this is the first publication on the man which actually takes his dying day as its starting point.

Apart from his autopsy report.

Apart, as you say, from his autopsy report. But isn't this a little unconventional? To write the life of a man and deal only with his dead years?

Well, there are two answers to that. One is that his life has been exhaustively written about, and the only space for a new book was in his posthumous days. That's obviously a trivial and facile answer, so I won't give that. The other is that what has happened to Elvis's reputation in the years since his death is just as interesting in its own way as what happened when he was alive.

How interesting is it?

Very interesting.

Try and interest me.

Well, for starters, you've got the whole phenomenon of people who refuse to believe that Elvis is dead. That never happened in his lifetime.

On the contrary, there were millions of people in his lifetime who refused to believe he was dead. I was one of them. I always thought he was alive in his lifetime.

Wise guy. What I am saying is that there are people now who think he is still alive, which is the same as believing he was dead during his lifetime. There were in fact quite a few people in his lifetime who thought he was dead at the time. They were nearly right, some of the time.

Where do they think he is now, those people who think he is still alive?

On another planet, mostly.

Do they think Colonel Tom Parker is also alive on another planet, still forcing the reborn Elvis to make very bad alien movies ?

No, I have not come across that theory before.


Getting back to your book, did you find it difficult to write about a man who died when you were only three years old?

Not at all. I was reading the other day in your English papers about a life of Daniel Defoe which has just come out. Nobody says to the author of that, "Wasn't it a bit daring writing about a man who has been dead so long, whom you never even met?".

Point taken. On the other hand, the book is about Defoe when alive, not about the dead Defoe.

Listen, wise guy. Every biography I have ever read of anyone famous has a chapter or two at the beginning about the subject's antecedents. About his parents and their parents and where they came from, and the politics of the time and all that. Right?


So what you've got there is a whole lot of stuff about the man's prenatal background. About him before he is alive. Right?


So, if they can write all that stuff about his prenatal years, why can't I do it about his posthumous years? After all, with all due respect to Mr Defoe, there is nobody going round imitating him today, but it is reckoned there are now more than 10 times the number of Elvis impersonators alive today than when he was alive. If they go on increasing at that rate, it has been calculated there will be more people imitating him by the year 2044 than people listening to them.

Yes, but ...

And that's just the impersonators who imitate the young, living Elvis. Did you realise that there is a growing school of Elvis impersonators who imitate Elvis Presley as he would be if he were alive today and a 62-year-old rocker?