Author: Peter Verbruggen
Published in paperback by Uitgeverij Scoop, Gent
is only a small country, just a little larger than Wales, if that means anything
you, but it has remarkably rich Elvis history and has, indeed, influenced the
Elvis Presley "movement" in a number of surprising ways.
to do with Elvis and Belgium is eloquently described in Peter Verbruggen's
"Elvis - King of Belgium," though, unfortunately for many potential
readers, only in Dutch!
book follows Elvis in Belgium, though with a strong emphasis on Flanders, and
sometimes drifting into other parts of Europe, as well, from the first press
report, a brief 15-line article in the "Jukebox" magazine in May 1956,
through Elvis's first release ("Heartbreak Hotel"), all the way to the
beginning of 1999 with the "Elvis On Tour" show. Along the way, we
discover that Belgium has issued the only official record sleeve to show Elvis
and The Blue Moon Boys playing together, that Belgium produced Elvis jeans for
Europe, that an Elvis photo was used on the cover of a Belgian novel that had
nothing at all to do with Elvis, that scenes for the film "Double
Trouble" were actually shot in Belgium (though not with Elvis!), that
Belgium was the country of origin of the Elvis badge, that Belgian clubs played
a major part in trying to unite European fans in the unfortunately now defunct
International Elvis Presley Appreciation Society in the sixties, and... well,
need I go on? By now you get the picture that the Elvis-Belgium link is much
greater than a country of its size deserves to be.
course, the press never really took to Elvis, and he received more than his fair
share of negative criticism in what is, and in the fifties was even more so a
very Catholic country. Even the music press, which was more supportive for a
while, later turned on him, and the book contains numerous references to press
reports throughout the career.
record collectors, "Elvis - King of Belgium" is an excellent source of
information about Belgian Elvis releases, many of which were restricted to that
country: in the early years, Elvis's Belgian releases were actually pressed in
Belgium, too, so all sorts of unusual items are there for the finding, including
a plethora of spelling mistakes on a host of unusual label formats and record
sleeves, many of which are illustrated in the book.
buffs will be equally pleased with the section which shows all the Belgian
bilingual film posters in full colour, and will be amused by some of the titles
given to the films in Dutch and French. The Dutch translators responsible for
these titles clearly lacked inspiration at times, resulting in such gems as
"Elvis in Dubbel" (Elvis in Double, for Kissin' Cousins) and
"Elvis en de Non" (Elvis and The Nun, for Change of Habit).
the end of the book, a chapter is reserved for a closer look at a few
exceptional Belgian Elvis fans, and we learn that a museum in the town of
Hasselt contains, in addition to Bill Clinton's saxophone and a Madonna brassiere
(there are other more interesting items), a wax model clothed fully in genuine
Elvis apparel, including sunglasses, jumpsuit and shoes - unfortunately, the
guitar is post-Elvis.
first 500 copies of "Elvis - King of Belgium" come with a
limited-edition CD of the same name, containing the four tracks Suspicious
Minds, In The Ghetto, Tomorrow Is A Long Time, and Separate Ways (the original
idea was to issue a CD with four previously unreleased takes, but BMG scuppered
these plans at the last moment).