Elvis Aaron Presley: A Candle In The Wind

Author: Bill E. Burk

Publisher: Propwash Publishing, Memphis

ISBN: 1-879207-88-5 (Hardback, 112 pp.)


Bill E. Burk is by no means an unknown quantity in the world of Elvis literature. He has authored numerous Elvis books, not least the Early Elvis Trilogy, consisting of "The Tupelo Years," "The Humes Years" and "The SUN Years," a set of books that no Elvis fan should be without. In between looking after his Elvis World magazine, Bill has once again found time to produce an Elvis book, though this time one of a rather different nature.

"A Candle In The Wind" is much more of a coffee-table book, with a large format and very varied contents. Its 112 pages contain some great anecdotes, plucked from here and there throughout Elvis's career (and before), bringing the reader closer to Elvis the person, rather than Elvis the star. I assume that Burk chose the title of the book as a reference to Elvis's relatively brief existence; it has, after all, been closely associated with two other popular icons, Marilyn Monroe and the Princess of Wales, both of whom died earlier than might have been expected. On the other hand, the title might also refer to these little stories, these fleeting moments of time, at once there, but then so soon snuffed out, that in some way help to provide a better understanding of an individual.

The stories are not provided in any chronological order, though they are to some extent grouped into themes, such as cars, girls and royalty, giving some sense of order to the whole. Many of the tales are new, I'm sure; others might just seem to be new, perhaps because they are taken out of context; almost all will bring a wry smile to fans' faces. Less successful are the captions to the illustrations. Firstly, it must be said that "A Candle In The Wind" is richly illustrated in both colour and black and white. Many of the colour photos are full-page concert shots, showing Elvis in various suits. Unfortunately, none of these is captioned, so the curious will have a hard time discovering exactly when and where they were taken. Strangely, the quality of reproduction varies considerably, from the excellence of the shot on page 32, to the much poorer repro on page 31 (a bad scan, a poor original?). Happily, the better quality ones are in far greater number. Personally, I prefer the black and white pictures, which are, at least for the most part, captioned. These even include a few photographs taken during one of Elvis's visits to Paris in 1959 and during his stay in Germany (though one of the pics included in this section has nothing to do with that time and instead shows Elvis in Long Beach, California, holding up the Dutch magazine "Muziek Expres" during the presentation of the presidential yacht "Potomac" to St Jude's hospital). I'm not a photo buff, but it seems to me that some of the pics that Bill has selected have seldom, if ever, been seen in print before: two such are the small photo on page 33 of Elvis holding a child, which is great for its spontaneity, and the snap of Elvis and a girl, taken during a school trip to Maywood Beach, which is very unusual and most definitely belongs in the "cool cat" category.

Does Bill know something we don't know when he writes that Dolores Hart gave Elvis his first screen kiss in "Loving You"? Although many fans might prefer that honour to go to Dolores, I have always read that the perpetrator was Jana Lund, who played forceful fan Daisy Bricker, in that same film.

During his review of contributors to the book, Bill writes, "The picture of Elvis with Jane Russell and Lou Costello on page 48 is but one of a series of sensationally brilliant color photos that Noel Clarkson has allowed us to use… over the years." It is a pity, then, that the photo referred to on page 48 is printed in black and white. Similarly, on page 76 Bill refers to "the only known photo of Elvis sans specs" taken during the Jaycees ceremony in January 1971, but the three photos reproduced from that event all show Elvis wearing glasses. Frustrating!

"A Candle In The Wind" is a real pot-pourri of texts and images, sure to delight fans looking for some lighter reading. Fans of the 1970 concerts will especially enjoy the numerous photos from that period, and there are plenty of other pics to satisfy the rest (did I mention those of Elvis at the Mosque Theater, Richmond, Virginia, dating from 29 January 1956?). Good stuff.

"A Candle In The Wind" costs $49.95 (USD) when ordered directly from the author, and that price includes the cost of surface mail to anywhere in the world (if you prefer the book to be sent by air-mail, add $5). Payment can be by cheques, money order or Visa/MasterCard (mentioning the expiration date) to:  

Box 16792
Memphis TN 38186

E-mail enquiries can be sent to beb007@worldnet.att.net


David Neale

copyright October 2005

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