ALL SHOOK UP: The Life and Times of Elvis Presley

Barry Denenberg, Author . Scholastic $16.95 (176p) ISBN 978-0-439-09504-4

This personable biography of the man who swayed his hips and ushered in the age of rock 'n' roll chronicles not only the turbulent life of Elvis but the sweeping shifts he brought to popular culture. "Before Elvis Presley, black music was separate from white music…. There was no such thing as 'teenage music,' " Denenberg (An American Hero: The True Story of Charles A. Lindbergh) asserts in his introduction. But he clearly demonstrates how this shy boy from the wrong side of the tracks in Tupelo, Miss., quickly changed all that. The author describes Elvis's relationship with his overprotective mother (for instance, she gave him a guitar for his 11th birthday instead of a bicycle because she thought it would be "safer") as well as the early (and seemingly unerring) influence of Sam Phillips and, of course, his long association with Colonel Parker—however "ill-fated and destructive." Lyrics by Chuck Berry, The Who, the Beatles and Emmylou Harris open each chapter, and quotes from other musicians pay homage to Elvis's legacy. For example, Bruce Springsteen remembers watching Elvis sing on The Ed Sullivan Show at age nine and saying "I wanna be just… like… that." The author effectively portrays the psychological motivation, professional compromises and seedy characters that contributed to Elvis's downward spiral from rock sensation to drugged-out Vegas lounge act. Readers will likely come away from this volume with a new appreciation of the pop icon. Ages 10-14. (Oct.)

Reviewed on: 10/15/2001
Release date: 09/01/2001
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