Surf Party
The following interview with Jackie DeShannon about her friendship with Elvis Presley and be found at

Q : When was the first time you saw Elvis

Q : When was the first time you saw Elvis?

A : May have been Milton Berle. Iím really not sure.

Q : Tell us how you first met Elvis.

A : I was lucky enough to first meet Elvis at his house in Bel Air and he  used to invite different artists, singers and musicians, to come and jam with  him at his house. And in the lower room, we had a jukebox and just played  records and sang together and just had a great time.

Q : What were nights usually like?

A : Elvis was, at least the times I was around him, Elvis was a practical  joker. He was always, had some little mischievous something going. And I know I  laughed an awful lot. It was an interesting time because he made it so  interesting. He would get the Jordanaires. He would get, again, as I say, these  different people would come up. He was extremely down to earth. He really set  the standard, Elvis set the standard as far as Iím concerned on how a star  should act. He was the first star. He will always be the king. He will always be  the biggest star there is. No one can ever take his place, and what he got  across was that spirit, that generous spirit. He was generous with the artists  that he worked with and I always felt kinda special because heís very picky  about his singers. So I felt very honored to be there and to be a part of that  special time.

Q : Did Elvis have a nickname for you?

A : Yes, he did, and Iím thinking now. He used to call me Jacqueline,  Jacqueline Child of God. I donít know why but that was one of his nicknames. And  I sent him a turtle once. We were talking about turtles. He said, ďOh, I donít  have a turtle.Ē So I sent him a turtle. I forgot the name of the turtle, though.  Just lost it for a moment. But just something so simple like that or I had an  opening night or I was working, he would send me a little note, very sweet.

Q : Did he introduce himself when you first met him?

A : I donít think Elvis needed an introduction. I have a great little story  that before I went up to the house. He said, ďIím gonna send one of the guys  down to pick you up.Ē And I said, ďWell, I donít think thatís gonna work because  my mother.Ē I come from a background where, no matter who you are, you come to  the door and you say, you know, ďIs Jackie homeĒ or whatever. And I said to my  mother, ďThis is Elvis Presley. He will not be coming to the door so you can  forget that and youíre making it impossible for me to go up and sing with the  Jordanaires, to sing with Elvis, have this great jam session.Ē And he would call  and track me down and say, ďCome on up. Weíre gonna sing tonightĒ or so and so  and Iíd say, ďElvis I canít come. My mother will not have it.Ē And I was living  at home and this went on for several months.

And so finally I came home from ballet class one night and there was Elvis  talking to my mother with a huge pink dog, bigger than I was. And that was it.  And he always said to me that my mother reminded him so much of his mother. And  from then on my mother didnít care how I got there. Because he actually, that is  the generous person that I know and that is the person who, you know, he was so  unassuming and with no airs or graces or anything like that. He was just so  real. And I think thatís why everyone clings to him and heís still very much a  part of everybodyís music world because of the person he was, let alone the  talent that he had. He was so special. He just had something that God gives.

Q : Did you start dating Elvis?

A : No, I never dated Elvis. I wanted to but I wanted to have a relationship  with Elvis that was more than a one date or two dates. I wanted to be able to be  with him on a level that I could always feel comfortable calling him and saying,  ďHey, letís get togetherĒ or ďWanna come upĒ or ďIím coming to VegasĒ or  something. And it was a very tough decision for me to make. But I wanted to have  that long lasting kind of relationship.

Q : Did you talk about spirituality?

A : Not in, itís just something he carried with him and something that I  carried with me and I think that was the spark and connected us. It was a, for  me it was very special and he always treated me very special so I think there  was a bond there in many ways that just was something that you feel.

Q : Did Elvis talk about his goals or his films?

A : Yeah, I donít remember it, you know, it was a little while ago, but yes,  he did say he wanted to tour Europe and that he wanted to do more acting and not  singing in a film but acting and I always thought he was a fabulous actor. And  had he had an opportunity to do more dramatic parts, I think he would have  gotten an Oscar. I mean, he was so gifted and I donít think that he was really  given an opportunity to show the kind of actor and the kind of talent. He had so  much talent and but he, you know, it was a Catch-22.

Q : Talk about the camaraderie around him and the fun.

A : Oh, Elvisís group around him had an amazing time. As I said, it was  always such fun to be around him and the guys. They were always doing funny  things, you know. Doing karate, doing, making jokes. It was, you know, it was  really great.

Q : Were you able to go to any screenings with Elvis?

A : No, I did not go. I think it was date night and much more of that sort of  thing. No, I was mainly at the house and jamming and, you know, just kind of  riding around in the car and singing and talking about things and kind of a  buddy sort of thing.

Q : Elvis told you he appreciated your songs?

A : When I first saw Elvis in Las Vegas, he made certain that I had the, I  guess, celebrity booth where he would have his personal friends sitting,  actresses, actors and singers. And he made sure that I had that booth and he  introduced me, made me stand up. It was just an amazing evening for me.

Q : What was Elvis like as a performer?

A : I donít think that, we havenít had anything like Elvis. He just had that  gift and he was able to make you feel like every performance was only for you.  And youíd catch his eye or he would take a look or something. It was very, very  personal and that generosity was given to the audience. He had that generosity  and he gave everything that he had. He did not hold back anything on stage.

Q : Was there a special buzz when Elvis was in Vegas?
A : When Elvis was in Vegas, the buzz was how do you get in? How do I get a  ticket? Who do I know? What can I do? That was the buzz and everybody just  stopped what they were doing. When Elvis was performing, you just tried to  figure out a way to get there. I think he set all the records and anyone that  has ever had the good fortune to see him, you know what itís like to try to get  in to see Elvis. It was impossible, practically.

Q : Comment on the relationship between Elvis and his fans.
A : Well, I think that I donít know if this is true or not but itís a story  that I heard and it sounded so much like him I assume that it is. Itís supposed  to have taken place in
Memphis or somewhere back when he first exploded. The  fans were so excited they were pulling things off the Cadillacs and they were  like going wild and reporters were there covering everything and they said,  ďWell, donít you get mad or angry when the fans tear everything up or when they  want to take things and just anything to be a part of you?Ē And he said, ďNo,  they bought it for me so they can tear it up.Ē I mean, he was that loose with it  and that I didnít hear it but it sounds very much like him.

Q : Would there be a throng at the gate of Elvisís home?

A : When I used to go to Elvisís house was always a nightmare trying to get  into the house because of so many fans outside the gate and he really couldnít  go anywhere without sneaking in or doing something because people just wanted to  be around him and to be with him.

Q : Do you have a story of Elvisís generosity?

A : Well, as an artist, I think that Elvisís generosity to me he always  talked very highly about me, he always spoke very highly about my work and  singing and my writing. And he was very generous with other artists. I mean, it  wasnít like, well, Iím Elvis Presley and Iím the greatest thing. And he was  always talking about how he loved Roy Orbison or how he loved this one and he  was, you know, he was the king and he wore his crown very, very well.

Q : Did he ever talk to you about his musical roots?

A : Well, it was kind of something that was just rather understood because we  both, I believe, came out of that same gospel pocket. And he was a great admirer  of the people that were making records and recording rhythm and blues and gospel  music. I think they were a tremendous influence on him.

Q : What do you think is the highlight of Elvisís career?

A : I think to just single out a highlight of Elvisís career is pretty much  impossible. As far as being a fan of his, a lifetime fan, there were just too  many highlights. And every time that you had an opportunity to see Elvis in  person was, of course, my biggest highlight, because to watch him on stage and  to know him and there was not a lot of, there was no difference, really. That  energy and that restlessness and that kind of thing that persona, he took that  onstage and then you added the great songs and the great band and the great  music and it was a spiritual awakening every time that you had an opportunity to  see him. And I think thatís why it was so impossible to get to see him and all  the fans that did, itís a great gift he gave us all.

Q : If you could describe Elvis in one word, what would it be? One word or  one sentence.
A : One sentence. Well, I couldnít do it in one word, thatís for sure. I  think, describing Elvis for me would be a very generous king. He was the king of  rock and roll, will always be. Heís whatís made it possible for everyone to be  performers and to do the things they do now. We all owe that to Elvis. And Iím  really proud to have known him and he was generous with his spirit, generous  with his talent and wore his crown very well.

Q : Do you have any memories of the 68 special?

A : Yes, I just sat down like a three year old when I saw Elvis do his  special, I just sat there mesmerized. I didnít get up. I didnít move. Itís  never, you know, nothing ever changed. He always had that magic.

Q : Where were you when you found out Elvis had passed away?

A : When I heard the news that Elvis passed away, I believe that I was here,  I was in Los Angeles. And I just remember, you know, breaking into tears and  feeling so empty because, as long as Elvis was in the world, you always knew  something was going and he always had something that kept everybody mesmerized.  And he may perform, he may not, you know, Elvis is, he was just Elvis and  everybody followed him and everybody wanted to know all the time what he was  doing and what was going on and itís a great, great loss. But he left us so  much. Elvis left us all so much and I start my Christmas holidays with the Elvis  Presley Christmas album and itís not Christmas till Elvis says ďItís Christmas.Ē

Q : Is there a particular memory that makes you smile?

A : Yes, I think that I, my special memory about Elvis is after he did his  concert in Las Vegas and I was going backstage, when I saw him and he saw me, I  ran to him and he gave me the biggest hug and just, you know, kind of picked me  up and was so happy to see me and that was, you know, a memory Iíll carry with  me always.

Q : Did Elvis ever tell you anything that stuck in your mind?

A : Yeah, every time in all the time that I spent with Elvis, again, I go  back to his generosity. He was always very encouraging to me to keep going and  keep doing it and, you know, I just have the greatest memories and everything,  every time that I was with him was very wonderful and I cherish all my memories  so theyíre all pretty equal.

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