Albert Goldman --> The Evil That Men Do

Thu Apr 18, 2013 5:29 am

The evil that men do lives after them; The good is oft-interred with their bones.
- William Shakespeare


Most fans know very well of Elvis, the hideous, hateful biography published by New York critic Albert Goldman in 1981. He fooled old Presley friend Lamar Fike into thinking his was to be a serious biography, gained his confidence and contacts, and the end result was a mishmash of scholarly study, faux facts and deeply flawed evaluation of the man and his music.

It would take nearly 13 years for a thoughtful, balanced biography, by way of Peter Guralnick in 1994, to begin to redress the imbalance. But, had people been looking carefully, they would have known the man's anti-rock, anti-southern culture agenda years before, in his rock reviews for newspapers and magazines.

In December 1968, Goldman shared his feelings on Elvis' impending 1968 TV Special. In no way does he give any credit to the man or his music:



681201_New York Times pD21.JPG

681201_New York Times pD22.JPG
New York Times, Sunday, December 1, 1968



In March 1970, he saw Elvis' second season at the International Hotel in Las Vegas, and further derision, thinly-veiled jealousies and odd observations were apparent in his LIFE magazine review:



Life Magazine - Mar 20 1970 p 17.JPG
LIFE magazine, March 20, 1970



Eleven years later, Goldman sealed the deal on the man, his music and the generation that embraced him. In the aftermath of 1981's Elvis, many fans of Presley turned away in disgust. How could such a talentless, horrible person have ever been the avatar of rock 'n' roll?

But historian and rock critic Greil Marcus, author of 1975's seminal Mystery Train: Images of America in Rock 'n' Roll Music, read the book.

And got very, very angry.

And he fought back.

[Part TWO below]
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Last edited by drjohncarpenter on Fri Apr 19, 2013 11:32 am, edited 1 time in total.

Re: Albert Goldman --> The Evil That Men Do

Thu Apr 18, 2013 5:33 am

Marcus wrote a tremendous response to Goldman's book for the Village Voice Literary Review section that winter, and Presley made the cover as well, with a canny shot from his New York press conference nine years before. In Greil's piece, he laid out the hate, lies, and numerous peculiar obsessions that resulted in Elvis.

Below is the entire article, as it ran back then. It is available nowhere else on the internet, and well worth reading, every single word.

It meant a LOT for every true fan to see someone refuting the diabolic intent that drove Goldman's biography:



811125_Village Voice_01.JPG

811125_Village Voice_02.JPG

811125_Village Voice_03a.JPG

811125_Village Voice_03b.JPG
Village Voice, November 25, 1981



Ironically, in the same literary review was an ad for the Goldman book, on sale for only $9.95 at Barnes & Noble!



811125_Village Voice_04.JPG




Brighter days were ahead, although we didn't know it then.
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Last edited by drjohncarpenter on Sat May 11, 2013 10:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Re: Albert Goldman --> The Evil That Men Do

Thu Apr 18, 2013 5:39 am

Aw, shoot! I was gonna scan in the original Voice article!

Oh, well - she who hesitates is lost. Many thanks! (The original should be in the archives here, whomever does it. And, now, I didn't have to do it. ;) )

I remember where I was when I first read both of these pieces. The first I read on the microfilm machine, kind of stunned. The second was later, when I had a subscription. So, I read it in my bedroom. Marcus nailed him, completely, but still Goldman had an effect on Elvis' image for a number of years, with many people. It was very sad.

It was only when he wrote the Lennon bio that people finally realized who and what kind of a slimebag he was. When he died on that airplane, after a tantrum at the ticket counter in the airport, they shipped the body home as cargo. Yes!

rjm

Re: Albert Goldman --> The Evil That Men Do

Thu Apr 18, 2013 7:22 am

Wow it read so well in this version. The stuff about Elvis playing the Palace in high school or dating black girls I haven't heard elsewhere looking at the article from a factual standpoint, but this article was so very needed. Goldman's fall from grace can be traced back to here, thank goodness.

Re: Albert Goldman --> The Evil That Men Do

Thu Apr 18, 2013 7:40 am

Mike Eder wrote:Wow it read so well in this version. The stuff about Elvis playing the Palace in high school or dating black girls I haven't heard elsewhere looking at the article from a factual standpoint, but this article was so very needed. Goldman's fall from grace can be traced back to here, thank goodness.


1.
Nat D. Williams' story about "the Palace" appears to be a little confused. There doesn't seem to be any record of Elvis playing the Palace, but he did attend the Goodwill Reviews in '56 and '57. And he was spotted in several Beale St. clubs when he was about 20, with some significant figures, but not on stage. He jumped on stage in the Sun era during a Lowell Fulson show, and this is confirmed completely by Scotty Moore.

On the other hand, according Louis Cantor's history of WDIA, Williams' daughter remembers Elvis, probably at about 19, at their house. He already had a fancy car, as she recalled. She was quite young, but remembered it very vividly! So, he did know "Nat Daddy," as he was known on the radio. Williams also taught at Booker T. Washington high school, and wrote for the Memphis World. (An African-American oriented newspaper, like the Tri-State Defender. I think he might also have done some writing for them, too, but I'm not sure.) Years before Elvis was old enough to be involved, he hosted amateur night at The Palace. So it appears to be just a little confusion.

He also hung out in West Memphis very, very early. He told some friends, also when very, very young (pre-Sun) that he he had been on Beale. (Rose Clayton's oral history. http://www.amazon.com/Elvis-Up-Close-Words-Those/dp/1570360588/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1366260514 ) B.B. King has remembered him there very, very early, in at least one interview a long time ago.

Guralnick "sort of" concurs with Goldman, but not completely. The truth is in between Guralnick's overly careful approach, and Marcus' very carefree approach to this.

2.
The "having sex with black girls" is something Marcus himself apparently picked up as Beale St. gossip. He went around talking to people. There was a member here, I have no memory of who, who claimed he saw a TV report back in the '80s about a "parking" encounter when Elvis was 18. I don't think so. Frankly, I think Elvis might have been a virgin the night he cut "That's All Right (Mama)." Maybe.

The implication is that they were perhaps ladies of the evening, but I don't think he did that. And it's only just gossip. Marcus was very angry . . .

rjm

Re: Albert Goldman --> The Evil That Men Do

Thu Apr 18, 2013 8:25 am

Doc, you once found for me the hilarious Saturday Night Live skit where Albert Goldman was originally an off key musician for the early Beatles and Elvis came backstage and told the group to fire him and John Lennon does. That would be a great item for this thread. Can you find it again?

Re: Albert Goldman --> The Evil That Men Do

Thu Apr 18, 2013 8:41 am

stevelecher wrote:Doc, you once found for me the hilarious Saturday Night Live skit where Albert Goldman was originally an off key musician for the early Beatles and Elvis came backstage and told the group to fire him and John Lennon does. That would be a great item for this thread. Can you find it again?


1988. Phil Hartman. Not on YouTube, but here it is!!

http://s794.photobucket.com/user/slickbuzzard/media/bb.mp4.html

Image

Phil_Hartman_as_AlbertGoldman.jpg


Hot dang! Got it! (I only vaguely remember this . . . very vaguely. Thanks!)

rjm (I feel redeemed!!! Wahoo!)
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Re: Albert Goldman --> The Evil That Men Do

Thu Apr 18, 2013 9:00 am

Thanks RJM. Hilarious.

Re: Albert Goldman --> The Evil That Men Do

Thu Apr 18, 2013 9:31 am

stevelecher wrote:Thanks RJM. Hilarious.


You're most welcome, Steve. I needed a good laugh -- rough day at the office. (Really.)

rjm

Re: Albert Goldman --> The Evil That Men Do

Thu Apr 18, 2013 9:37 am

It is quite an archievement for any artist to be as 'big' as Elvis Presley still today - decades after his unfortunate death. But if you consider the destructive powers that came on his way, it is nothing less than a miracle.

The destructive powers IMO are:

1. The carelessness Elvis' artistic career and catalogue was managed and published during his lifetime
2. The Golman Assault
3. The Continous Impersonators Carnaval
4. The Continous Elvis Is Alive Hoax

Elvis as an icon has survived it all. But let's not forget that it is only from the last decade that Elvis gets some of the credits he deserves for his influence on popular music. The destructive powers were ultra destructive in the 70s, 80s and 90s.

Re: Albert Goldman --> The Evil That Men Do

Thu Apr 18, 2013 10:48 am

Image
"Call me what names you like............................. see if I care !"

Re: Albert Goldman --> The Evil That Men Do

Thu Apr 18, 2013 12:09 pm

drjohncarpenter wrote:
And got very, very angry.

And he fought back.

[Part TWO below]


I love this thread very, very much!

Someone is very, very angry.

Very, very.

Goldman is a very, very good writer. In these articles he also makes some very, very interesting observations about American dollar, nostalgia and Elvis' stage show - I actually like his Vegas review despite the fact that I don't agree with him all the way. It is obvious that Goldman is an educated man, more sophisticated than rock critics usually are. The problem is that he didn't love Elvis - or John Lennon - very, very much. Actually, he didn't even understand what rock 'n' roll was all about - and he was very, very mean towards something that he could not comprehend.

Sometimes I also wonder if the people who sacrifice their whole lives - and I mean their whole lives - collecting or posting fan mail and Google-quotes to some internet forums have any idea what that music was all about.

Re: Albert Goldman --> The Evil That Men Do

Thu Apr 18, 2013 12:38 pm

Albert Goldman wrote:Goldman is a very, very good writer. In these articles he also makes some very, very interesting observations about American dollar, nostalgia and Elvis' stage show - I actually like his Vegas review despite the fact that I don't agree with him all the way. It is obvious that Goldman is an educated man, more sophisticated than rock critics usually are. The problem is that he didn't love Elvis - or John Lennon - very, very much. Actually, he didn't even understand what rock 'n' roll was all about - and he was very, very mean towards something that he could not comprehend.


The worst journalists are journalists who write without passion for the subject. Your analysis brings Goldman down to the lowest level of journalism. Like you said:

Albert Goldman wrote: The problem is that he didn't love Elvis - or John Lennon - very, very much. Actually, he didn't even understand what rock 'n' roll was all about - and he was very, very mean towards something that he could not comprehend.


For example Guralnick and Marcus understood Elvis' place in music history, knew exactly what Rock 'n Roll was all about. They "loved" Elvis for it, to use your words. Yet there is quite some criticism in their biographies. They were black and white and every grey colour in between. Very balanced. Goldman did not care for the subject nor the truth. And that is what a journalists first obligation should be: a relfrespecting journalist should investigate, report and reflect the truth in the stories. Goldmans book was black all the way. As educated and sophisticated he may have been, he ended up writing trash on same level as the National Enquirer publishes. So he was not a very, very good writer at all in that sense.

Albert Goldman got his 15 minutes of fame in the 80s after which he reportedly died a lonely man, while the music of Elvis Presley and John Lennon got more credit and praise as decades went by. The book since then has never been considered a standard on Elvis nor John Lennons life and no serious author today refers to it or uses it as a serious reference. Over time both Goldman and the book got a very just treatment: they are both buried and forgotten. Let's leave it that way. The creature does not deserve our attention.

Re: Albert Goldman --> The Evil That Men Do

Thu Apr 18, 2013 1:16 pm

Alexander wrote:
Albert Goldman wrote:Goldman is a very, very good writer. In these articles he also makes some very, very interesting observations about American dollar, nostalgia and Elvis' stage show - I actually like his Vegas review despite the fact that I don't agree with him all the way. It is obvious that Goldman is an educated man, more sophisticated than rock critics usually are. The problem is that he didn't love Elvis - or John Lennon - very, very much. Actually, he didn't even understand what rock 'n' roll was all about - and he was very, very mean towards something that he could not comprehend.


The worst journalists are journalists who write without passion for the subject. Your analysis brings Goldman down to the lowest level of journalism. Like you said:

Albert Goldman wrote: The problem is that he didn't love Elvis - or John Lennon - very, very much. Actually, he didn't even understand what rock 'n' roll was all about - and he was very, very mean towards something that he could not comprehend.


For example Guralnick and Marcus understood Elvis' place in music history, knew exactly what Rock 'n Roll was all about. They "loved" Elvis for it, to use your words. Yet there is quite some criticism in their biographies. They were black and white and every grey colour in between. Very balanced. Goldman did not care for the subject nor the truth. And that is what a journalists first obligation should be: a relfrespecting journalist should investigate, report and reflect the truth in the stories. Goldmans book was black all the way. As educated and sophisticated he may have been, he ended up writing trash on same level as the National Enquirer publishes. So he was not a very, very good writer at all in that sense.

Albert Goldman got his 15 minutes of fame in the 80s after which he reportedly died a lonely man, while the music of Elvis Presley and John Lennon got more credit and praise as decades went by. The book since then has never been considered a standard on Elvis nor John Lennons life and no serious author today refers to it or uses it as a serious reference. Over time both Goldman and the book got a very just treatment: they are both buried and forgotten. Let's leave it that way. The creature does not deserve our attention.


Thank you for a great reply! It is easy to agree with you in many things.

Journalists can't always have passion for their subjects, but biographers should have some form of positive passions - which does not mean blind admiration. Goldman had huge impact for Elvis' image for a long time, and Goldman was the one who benefited for it. But as you said, time has passed and Elvis (and Lennon) are still standing. Time changes perspectives. As a young boy I was shocked by Goldman's portrait of Elvis, but nowadays I just can't take seriously all the hatred that some still feel against him.

Re: Albert Goldman --> The Evil That Men Do

Thu Apr 18, 2013 1:57 pm

Good topic Doc, Goldman's spiteful book was truly a disgraceful piece of writing

Re: Albert Goldman --> The Evil That Men Do

Thu Apr 18, 2013 3:43 pm

I am always surprised how fast socalled fans have the tendency to come up with arguments and
pieces of counter proof to attack in this case Albert Goldman's book. Like every writer,journalist
is on purpose trying to give certain artists a bad name.

Regarding his book on Elvis it is clear that noone likes it when his idol is attacked this way,yet
we all know that the story he published was based on first hand stories from former bodyguards
who have known Elvis since he started mid-50's So instead of blaming Albert Goldman,i would
blame Elvis his former bodyguards.

There is that old saying: " Don't shoot the Messenger "

I did buy the book then, still have it and most of what is written was true,despite that it hurts
to find out that your idol was far from perfect.

Re: Albert Goldman --> The Evil That Men Do

Thu Apr 18, 2013 4:09 pm

moffringa wrote:I am always surprised how fast socalled fans have the tendency to come up with arguments and
pieces of counter proof to attack in this case Albert Goldman's book. Like every writer,journalist
is on purpose trying to give certain artists a bad name.

Regarding his book on Elvis it is clear that noone likes it when his idol is attacked this way,yet
we all know that the story he published was based on first hand stories from former bodyguards
who have known Elvis since he started mid-50's So instead of blaming Albert Goldman,i would
blame Elvis his former bodyguards.

There is that old saying: " Don't shoot the Messenger "

I did buy the book then, still have it and most of what is written was true,despite that it hurts
to find out that your idol was far from perfect.



Can't agree with this. The `messenger' in this case seems to have approached the subject with an intense hatred and an agenda to highlight the negative and ignore the positive. This was not good or balanced journalism. It was unecessarily harsh and malicious.

Re: Albert Goldman --> The Evil That Men Do

Thu Apr 18, 2013 4:13 pm

moffringa wrote:I am always surprised how fast socalled fans have the tendency to come up with arguments and
pieces of counter proof to attack in this case Albert Goldman's book. Like every writer,journalist
is on purpose trying to give certain artists a bad name.

Regarding his book on Elvis it is clear that noone likes it when his idol is attacked this way,yet
we all know that the story he published was based on first hand stories from former bodyguards
who have known Elvis since he started mid-50's So instead of blaming Albert Goldman,i would
blame Elvis his former bodyguards.

There is that old saying: " Don't shoot the Messenger "

I did buy the book then, still have it and most of what is written was true,despite that it hurts
to find out that your idol was far from perfect.

<Sigh>... the trolls here are really getting boring... common, you can be more creative than that!

Re: Albert Goldman --> The Evil That Men Do

Thu Apr 18, 2013 4:33 pm

I bought in 1981, read it in a week and sold it the next week. Vile.

Re: Albert Goldman --> The Evil That Men Do

Thu Apr 18, 2013 4:55 pm

Albert Goldman wrote: Journalists can't always have passion for their subjects, but biographers should have some form of positive passions - which does not mean blind admiration. Goldman had huge impact for Elvis' image for a long time, and Goldman was the one who benefited for it. But as you said, time has passed and Elvis (and Lennon) are still standing. Time changes perspectives.


As Lennon once said, "Time wounds all heels."

Re: Albert Goldman --> The Evil That Men Do

Thu Apr 18, 2013 5:04 pm

Thanks Doc. I have never read Albut Goldbums book...and from what i've heard and read about it, i wouldn't want to. He is a nasty piece of trash, who didn't desrve to be put on this earth. He's six foot in the ground now-which is the best place for him. I don't know why he had such a hatred for Elvis or Rock'n'Roll, he did the same nastiness to the great John Lennon and, apparently, at the time of his death he was working on one about Jim Morrison...writting about dead rock stars who can't defend themselves was his trade. The sad part is, is the company who chose to publish it, even though they probably though what he wrote was rubbish, but they still went and published it because they knew that the book would cause a stir and make money. Book companies love sensationalism and revelations, because it causes people to go out and buy it and it makes them money which is all their interested in more so then someones life, who they have destroyed.

Re: Albert Goldman --> The Evil That Men Do

Thu Apr 18, 2013 6:49 pm

moffringa wrote:I am always surprised how fast so called fans have the tendency to come up with arguments and
pieces of counter proof to attack in this case Albert Goldman's book. Like every writer,journalist
is on purpose trying to give certain artists a bad name.


You clearly do not have a clue about journalism. Only bad journalism is "on purpose trying to give certain artists a bad name." Guralnick

moffringa wrote: I did buy the book then, still have it and most of what is written was true,despite that it hurts
to find out that your idol was far from perfect.


I do not shoot the messenger but great biographies like both Guralnick books and the Greil Marcus book (but let's also not forget the Alannah Nash Memphis Maffia book) show Elvis in a far more balanced manner. They too told the stories that are painful (especially Guralnick in his second book), but with respect for the artist and person. Goldman was all black. He was "on purpose trying to give certain artists a bad name". That is a shameful practice. Apart from that: I still have my US-copy from 1981 and apart from the countless inaccuracies and factual errors one can also tell by the tone of voice that it was meant to be vicious and damaging. In a biography there can never be an excuse for inaccuracies and factual errors but Goldman just did not seemed to care for the factual details.

Re: Albert Goldman --> The Evil That Men Do

Thu Apr 18, 2013 8:50 pm

Very nice thread and information. Thank you!

Re: Albert Goldman --> The Evil That Men Do

Thu Apr 18, 2013 9:21 pm

John, he shares your affection for the word, "Balderdash!"

So, you've got that going for you.

Goldman's torrents of hate were cascading as early as 1968.

Re: Albert Goldman --> The Evil That Men Do

Fri Apr 19, 2013 12:03 am

stevelecher wrote:Doc, you once found for me the hilarious Saturday Night Live skit where Albert Goldman was originally an off key musician for the early Beatles and Elvis came backstage and told the group to fire him and John Lennon does. That would be a great item for this thread. Can you find it again?


Yes, I can. It was a delightful parody.


881015_SNL_The Five Beatles.JPG
John Lennon (Matthew Broderick) and Elvis Presley (Kevin Nealon) confront Albert Goldman (Phil Hartman) backstage at the Cavern Club in Liverpool.


A direct link to the complete sketch:
"The Five Beatles" Saturday Night Live (NBC-TV, Saturday, October 15, 1988)
http://vid794.photobucket.com/albums/yy229/slickbuzzard/bb.mp4


Here is the complete transcript:
http://snltranscripts.jt.org/88/88bgoldman.phtml
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