(NASHVILLE, TN) -- August 8, 2023 -- As this month marks the forty-sixth anniversary of Elvis’ death on August 16, 1977, the legions of fans fascinated by the King of Rock & Roll continues to grow. Proof positive was the global success in 2022 of the Warner Brothers film release, Elvis, which drew major box office numbers and critical acclaim worldwide. The desire to know increasingly more about the man behind the legend, has never grown dim for both old fans and the continuing new generations of Elvis followers that have come.
With the release of his new book, My Army Days With Elvis (Friendship, Football & Follies), author Johnny Lang is fulfilling a lifetime dream. It answers the seemingly insatiable desire fans have to “know the real Elvis”— this time in the somewhat hidden years of his life in the military in Germany where Elvis served from March 1958 to March 1960. His memories bring readers a portrait of the young King that Lang knew on that youthful “field of dreams” at the Army base outside the small town of Friedberg, Germany. Elvis was his pal, partying buddy, fellow soldier, and Sunday afternoon team quarterback. Lang’s devotion to their friendship remains true throughout the book - a loyalty proven true by the myriad of “rag mag expose” opportunities Lang has passed on over the years. He noted in a recent interview: “We were kids, clowning around, having fun, playing football, and chasing girls. I didn’t know him in his turbulent years or have exposure to any prescription drug abuse. I only knew the young, very funny, and unvarnished version of Elvis. That’s the one I knew and want his fans to know and remember.”
It was, in fact, seeing the Elvis bio pic last year that spurred Lang to write and publish his new book. Recalls the author’s son, Jeff: “Seeing my Dad’s emotional reaction to the movie, I said to him, ‘Dad, why don’t you write your book and get it out there?’ Throughout my childhood in the ‘70s my dad had walked me and my sisters through his treasured Elvis photo album countless times. It held three dozen black and white photos of Dad with Elvis – all lovingly enshrined in what I can still see in my mind’s eye—a threadbare, leather-bound treasure chest filled with priceless memories. A few years ago, someone stole the photos—along with the album itself—a family tragedy, yes, but one that couldn’t steal the devotion in my dad’s heart for his old Army buddy and his determination to get the truth told about the Elvis he knew."
Readers will pick up rare gems of information and memories of Elvis that are unique. The book is populated by glimpses of some the familiar legendary members of the “Memphis Mafia” - Charlie Hodge, Red West, and Lamar Fike - Elvis’ dad, Vernon, as well as the opening notes of the King’s relationship with his first secretary - Elisabeth Mansfield who Johnny introduced to the Elvis’ circle in Germany.
Now for Lang, at 87 and on regular dialysis from his home in rural Michigan, the release of “My Army Days With Elvis” checks off a major to-do on his life’s “bucket list.” Laughing in the improbable face of “old age” Johnny, spunky, full of fun and outspoken humor, is a local pub celebrity and still cuts a mean rug on the dance floor. His friend, the King, would be proud.
The book, from Xulon Press, is available at Amazon.com.