Elvis – My Best Man (book review)

Elvis -My Best Man: Radio Days, Rock n’ Roll Nights, and My Lifelong Friendship with Elvis Presley – George Klein (Crown) – book review –

You could fill a Wal Mart with all the books about Elvis.  Most of them were written by people who never met the singer, focus on Elvis – the freak, and are a complete waste of time.  Elvis – My Best Man was penned by one of Presley’s closest friends, George Klein, who met him in the eighth grade.

He was witness to Presley’s first-ever public performance in front of class, and they became fast friends.  Eventually, Klein was asked to join Elvis’ inner circle, known as the Memphis Mafia, that traveled with him everywhere.  The Elvis that Klein portrays in his book is much more human; he loved women, fast cars, and practical jokes, but he also had a big heart — there are numerous stories of Presley’s generosity: paying for Klein’s wedding (and agreeing to be his Best Man, hence the book title), but also stopping to talk with a janitor and promising to send him his entire catalog of music.  Throughout his book, Klein doesn’t attempt to saint the singer (he is especially frank about Elvis’ notorious womanizing), but instead shows him as a regular guy, who often times wanted to do regular things, like to go the movies, but couldn’t because of his fame.  Perhaps the best story is that of Elvis’ encounter with Miss Tennessee and her even cuter sister, and how he delicately chooses the better-looking one.

Elvis – My Best Man also touches on Klein’s interesting career in radio and TV (he was the first DJ to play black music on a white station in Memphis).  His interactions with legendary jock Dewey Phillips are particularly funny.  Klein is now the host of a weekly broadcast from Graceland on Sirius Radio.  For those looking for an honest portrayal of Elvis, the person, this book is the way to go.