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Special:
Elvis Specials

(January 2009)


The "Elvis Special" is an annual yearbook which was published by Elvis Monthly magazine from 1961 to 1984. It contains articles, short stories and poems by Elvis fans and experts, facts about Elvis's life and career including photographs, quotes, reviews, filmography and discography lists.

The first of the Elvis Special yearbooks was the "1962 Elvis Special" and appeared in 1961. Albert Hand was editor till "Special 1973". Hand was one of the earliest Elvis fans to write about his idol. From 1959 until his passing in 1972, Hand produced a number of Elvis titles, mostly in conjunction with his fan club and his magazine, Elvis Monthly (see for example A Century of Elvis and Elvis A to Z). The 100-page "The Elvis Pocket Handbook" published in 1961 was the first of its kind. Hand was president of the Official Elvis Presley Fan Club of Great Britain and the Commonwealth, as well as founder of the International Elvis Presley Appreciation Society.

After the passing of Hand the Elvis Specials 1973 to 1975 were edited by the "editor of Elvis Monthly". All later editions were edited by Todd Slaughter. The Elvis Special from 1978 was a special edition. Printing of "Elvis Special 1978" had been completed before Elvis's death and an updated Special appeared also simply as "Elvis Special". Except the "Elvis Special 1962", all editions were hardcover.

A more detailed description of each "Special" is given below. The text was partly taken from David Neale's excellent site Elvis in Print

Elvis Special 1962 (Albert Hand, 1961)
The very first Elvis Special (and not to be confused with "Meet Elvis" which is often listed as the 1962 Special, but was actually an "Elvis Monthly Special" issued in 1962!). Albert's brief editorial indicates his doubts about the success of his new project -- little did he know that more than 20 further annual Specials would follow! For a first attempt, this is an excellent collection of photos (all black and white, except for the cover) and fan articles. Already fans were writing about unreleased tracks, but the main question seemed to be if Elvis was going to marry! Controversy is provided in the form of an article listing "Elvis's Most Overrated Recordings," too! They were all "gone, real gone," and listening to their wirelesses in those days, but I bet they had a great time! The only Special with a soft cover, too. Being soft-cover, the 1962 Special has not held up so well against the ravages of time. Fewer of them were printed, too, than later editions, which all goes to make the 1962 Special a choice and scarce collectors item.

Elvis Special 1963 (Albert Hand, 1962)
The second Special, but the first in hardback! Apparently, this was the first UK home-grown Elvis hardback ever ("Operation Elvis" was originally published in the US, so isn't taken into account) -- the now late Albert Hand says so in his editorial, so who am I to argue? A 78-page effort, all b/w illustrations, with prize for best article going to "What Do You Think Of Elvis?" in which numerous pop stars of the day give their thought on the leader of the pack -- and some of them even think he'll still be around in 1972...!

Elvis Special 1964 (Albert Hand, 1963)
The first edition in 1962 was a soft-cover, 66 page effort -- If you've got one, let me know!; the 1963 edition was hardback with 78 pages, and by 1964 the annual had fattened out to almost 100 pages of fan articles and Elvis information. You'll love "The Elvis Monthly Story," with, amongst other things a pic of the El-Cyclopedia and (for the old-timer fans) one of Albert's red Sunbeam!

Elvis Special 1965 (Albert Hand, 1964)
Cartoons (Elvis Toons) illustrate Elvis song titles and the winning 1964 formula of articles and info continues.

Elvis Special 1966 (Albert Hand, 1965)
Best article must be "Elvis In Person -- 1972" in which Michael Wolkins looks into the future and has Elvis winning an Oscar for Best Actor and appearing live at Wembley Stadium. If only! Photos of Tupelo birthplace before the big clean-up.

Elvis Special 1967 (Albert Hand, 1966)
British fan club annual. Did Elvis have a nose job? Read the evidence, compare the photos, and judge for yourself! List of Elvis's films corrected tidily with ink, in small writing, to include "Kid Galahad," which had been forgotten!

Elvis Special 1968 (Albert Hand, 1967)
Read all about when Albert and Phyllis Hand meet Elvis on the "Kid Galahad" film set.

Elvis Special 1969 (Albert Hand, 1968)
Most specials contain fairly predictable Elvis photos, but there's an interesting series from "Elvis's Personal Album." Pics from the Elvis Birthday Party in London too.

Elvis Special 1970 (Albert Hand, 1969)
British fan club annual. The first issue to include colour photos -- five full-page plates from the sixties.

Elvis Special 1971 (Albert Hand, 1970)
Back to a full black-and-white content, following 1970's introduction of colour photos. Good selection of photos from the "personal album" of Elvis, along with the more usual publicity shots and film stills. Also included are some pics from the Fan Conventions held in the preceding years -- great to have! Peter Jones provides the three best articles and an early attempt at Elvis sleuthdom, mixed with science-fiction, is presented in the story, "Good Grief!!! Flying Sucers!" by Virginia Coons. Todd Slaughter lambasts Tom Parker in an open letter, imploring him to let Elvis visit Britain. 118 pages for the die-hard fans! This is "the crinkly one." Because of an error during the production process, almost all 1971 Specials display a crinkling of the plastic laminate used to cover the cover boards. Look upon it as a feature rather than an error

Elvis Special 1972 (Albert Hand, 1971)
Albert Hand looks forward in his editorial to Elvis's visit to Europe and Great Britan in particular ("this treat will not now be long delayed"). Albert was always an optimist! Terry Mailey Jr. does a stirling effort in providing a large part of the articles, backed up by Peter Jones and just a few others. Wayne Stierle does an excellent job of transforming Edgar Allan Poe's "Never More" poem (was it called "The Crow"?) into an Elvis context -- a decent fan poem for once! -- and the whole is, as usual, filled out with a good selection of EL-pictures!

Elvis Special 1973 (Albert Hand, 1972)
Albert Hand, long-time stalwart of the British Elvis movement, editor of Elvis Monthly and compiler of Elvis Special, died shortly after having compiled this edition of the Elvis Special annual. An excellent edition to go out on, with 94 pages of Elvis photos and fan articles, including a couple by Peter Jones, journalist and editor of "Record Mirror," one of the best pop weeklies (good article about B.B King), and Tony Neale. Todd Slaughter had already taken over the OEPFC by this time and writes of the problems involved, little knowing that soon he would also be confronted with getting out the next edition of Elvis Special. Also in this 1973 Special, a pic of Dave Kay and the Dykons performing!

Elvis Special 1974 (The Editor of Elvis Monthly, 1973)
Elvis in full concert belt-it-out mode on the cover of a mammoth 94-page Special. Peter Jones and Terry Mailey make big contributions, but Tony Neale does the best of a not very inspired collection of articles with "From Country To Blues."

Elvis Special 1975 (The Editor of Elvis Monthly, 1974)
A surprisingly good collection of fan articles, marred perhaps by some of the worst concert photos possible, especially the one on page 29!

Elvis Special 1976 (Todd Slaughter, 1975)
A fairly predictable collection, but still including some interesting stuff, such as the unusual "Elvis and Myth" by Kay Parley, a look at the carer of James Burton in "Play It James" by Tony Neale and, given the events to come, the unfortunately titled "Changes Ahead For Elvis?" by Peter Jones.

Elvis Special 1977 (Todd Slaughter, 1976)
A somewhat different-looking Special for 1977, with a collage of Elvis-in-concert photos on the cover, as opposed to the usual head-and-shoulders, and no colour on the inside. This is certainly not a drawback, however, as this must be one of the best Specials ever printed. Better than average articles, including one on the architectural history of Graceland! An added bonus is formed by the three cartoons by Dutch superfan Ger Rijff. Yep, one of the very best Specials, but what a year it would prove to be!

Elvis Special 1978 (Todd Slaughter, 1977)
Printing had obviously been completed before Elvis's death, as there are details of the planned 1978 visit to the USA with "the chance to see Elvis appearing live." Lots of colour pics, a review of all Elvis's films and a complete RCA catalogue are included, together with a number of articles from fans.

Elvis Special (Special Edition) (Todd Slaughter, undated)
Elvis Special 1978 (undated). Printing of Elvis Special 1978 had been completed before Elvis's death. To compensate for this, the 1978 Special appeared also simply as "Elvis Special" (no year, but otherwise the same cover), with the article about the forthcoming 1978 visit to the States scrapped (replaced by a concert photo), a more sober title page (with reference to "the late Elvis Presley") and a new leader by Todd Slaughter, called "The World Mourns Elvis."

Elvis Special 1979 (Todd Slaughter, 1978)
The first new edition of the Special to be completed after Elvis's death (the 1978 issue had been slightly amended after its dated edition and reissued with no date). Surprisingly upbeat issue, with no heart-rending, just good articles looking forward (as far as 2077!) and back. Some unusual pics, too, making this a very special Special.

Elvis Special 1980 (Todd Slaughter, 1979)
Wow! You'd think Elvis had never left the building! Better paper, a great selection of photos and some good articles, with stalwarts of Elvis Monthly, such as Terry Mailey and Anne Nixon still providing the goods. The shape of things to come is covered in a couple of pieces, especially "Collectormania" and "Two British Rarities."

Elvis Special 1981 (Todd Slaughter, 1980)
British fan club annual. Back to a slightly poorer quality of paper, but Terry Mailey continues his huge input and the crossword is back (it disappeared in 1980)! The prize for the most interesting article, though, must go to Dave Whitehead's "Behind Closed Doors," which looks at supposedly unreleased Elvis numbers. Some have appeared in the intervening time, some we now know were never recorded, and others seem to be lost forever. But at the time it gave us hope for far less than we have since received!

Elvis Special 1982 (Todd Slaughter, 1981)
The silver jubilee year of the OEPFC of Great Britain and the Commonwealth, but a standard issue 62-page Special. Lots of colour and Terry Mailey, but interesting, too, for the look back at 25 years of the fan club, the first Miss Elvis Presley Fan Club, a premonition of a fan club convention in 2003 (fairly accurate, too, other than the "new" De Montfort Hall!) and a review of Roy Hamilton's career by Tony Neale.

Elvis Special 1983 (1982)
Fairly lean issue of the the annual Special put out by the OEPFC of GB. Illustrations in both b/w and colour include one seldom seen portrait of Elvis and a pic of Billy Fury at the Pontins gathering of 1982, which makes the book of particular interest to fans of the late British singer. Articles are predictable, except for one about the making of the 8-LP set, "Elvis Aron Presley," by RCA's own Joan Deary.

Elvis Special 1984 (Todd Slaughter, 1983)
The 23rd annual Elvis Special to roll off the presses and a pretty good one at that, even if (or just because?) it follows the tried and tested formula. 16 pages of full colour are included in the full 62 this time. A reprint of an early 70s interview with Scotty Moore, a look back at the '61 Hawaii concert, and several pages of seldom-seen b/w pics are the highlights.

Elvis Special 1985 (Todd Slaughter, 1984)
By now an institution, and this edition celebrates what would have been Elvis's 50th birthday. Excellent editorial by Slaughter and the usual mixture of fan articles, poems and puzzles. Terry Mailey Jr is again a major contributor, with a fair input from Anne E. Nixon, too. Very well illustrated in b/w and colour.

The Man and his Music (Todd Slaughter, 1981)
This looks like an Elvis Special, but isn't. This "Special" was not published until 1981, or MCMLXXXI as the Romans used to say, but because it has the same dimensions as the usual Specials (though, strangely, not as the 1977 Special, which was larger than the others) and uses the same cover image as the 1977 Special, many sellers describe it as such.

Sources:

» Elvis In Print by David Neale
» Infinite Elvis; An Annotated Bibliography by Mary Hancock Hinds




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