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 Post subject: Janelle McComb Interview
PostPosted: Mon Oct 22, 2007 12:36 am 

Joined: Sun Jul 23, 2006 2:07 am
Posts: 81
Location: Shell Cove, NSW, Australia
I came across this interview with Janelle McComb - below is an excerpt of the interview - You can read the full interview here:

Ramage: All right. Janelle, one thing that we sort of eluded all during this interview is one person that you meant a lot in his life, and he was a Tupelo native, and I know what he thought of you and what his father thought of you, and that's Elvis Presley. And one of the stories that always (inaudible) is the time that you went up to Graceland, and—well, first, how did you—you know Elvis from—

McComb: I knew him better in the later years. And on a number of occasions, I would—he called them "happies." My secretary was Cathy Cody[?], Mike Cody's wife. And if he was sick, Cathy always answered the phone, and she would come in and say, "Elvis is in Baptist Hospital. He thought you might do him a little happy." That might be a little funny card or something just to acknowledge the fact that I knew he was ill. "He Touched Me" is my favorite song, and we had had a previous discussion about—we were in Las Vegas, and we had gone upstairs, and he was remarking about so many people there.

And I made the remark, "And there are people here from all over the world. There's a British conclave."

"Really?" And it seemed to amaze him.

And I said, "You know, when you placed your talent in the hands of God, Elvis, it was enough that the whole world knows you by one word, Elvis."

He said, "Really?" Again, really humble.

So, I spoke with his father about it, and I said, "You know, I want Elvis to let me borrow one of his guitars, and I want to design what I mean by 'He Touched Me.'" So, I've got the letter that I could choose which ever guitar I wanted. So, when we went upstairs, I chose the one with the mother-of-pearl name on it.

And he laughed, and he said, "How are you going to insure that? That's a pretty valuable guitar." (Laughter.)

I said—thought for a minute, and I thought, "Well, I sure didn't have the kind of money to insure it." I said, "I tell you what. I'll just sleep with it." I said, "Roy can sleep in the other bedroom, and I'll just sleep [with it]." So he got a big laugh out of that. So, I designed the picture, and I noticed an extra strap inside the guitar case. So, when the picture was completed, and it had been shot and framed, I thought we would go back with it, and—

Ramage: So, you took it back to Graceland?

McComb: Back to Graceland, and I have a picture of Roy holding his hand. And the man on the gate whose name is an old bachelor's name, Mr. Fred. And I said, "Mr. Fred, I've come back to bring Elvis' guitar." Elvis called him the little waving man. Every time you'd go through the gate, he'd wave. So, when I went back with it, I put—I have a picture of me sitting on the couch by the lamp with the picture.

But before he even looked at that, he grabbed the guitar case, opened it, and held up that strap and said, "Look, she brought it back." And for a minute, I didn't even know what he meant. He looked around; there were others in the room. And he said, "You didn't keep it for a souvenir."

And I said, "No. It was yours." And the look on his face was worth everything. I hadn't even thought about keeping it. I thought that it belonged to him.

If he had said, "You can have it." Or, "It's yours." But even then I don't think a guitar strap would have meant as much to me as my own way of demonstrating to him what I meant by "He Touched Me." But, I came home with a feeling.

Roy said, "You know, I guess so many have done that he really thought you wouldn't come back with that strap." Well, I won't ever forget that. And it stayed in my house two weeks. I just really never thought, "I wonder why a new strap"—it was new—"was put in the guitar when the old one"—I thought, "I wonder why he's got the new strap with the old guitar." But if I had to say of a legacy to children, he was not without fault, and he was—but if I had to say a legacy that he probably would leave or his era had left, it's the fact that in those two rooms, being involved in this particular era, I have found that most great people come from humble beginnings that really are great, and they never seem to forget that. And I think—

Ramage: Did he love his birthplace?

McComb: Beg pardon?

Ramage: Did he love his birthplace?

McComb: Yes. He did.

Ramage: What did he always say about his birthplace?

McComb: Well, he would always laugh, and, you know, say, "You can take this birthplace and put it in my living room at Graceland." But I think the thing that even his daughter—I've had the privilege of her sitting in his little chair in his birthplace, and I think she is always amazed to get that feeling that, "My dad came from this." I think she senses an impossible dream, and I think that the, as I have said often, when he sang, that little secretary remembered those two rooms, and she became office manager, that intern became chief of staff, that apprentice plumber became master plumber because he gave hope and inspiration to all those born under similar circumstances that could dream that impossible dream. And I think any time you leave a legacy of hope and dreaming, you've achieved. You don't have to sing. You can be the best butcher. You can wax floors or clean doors better than anybody because you want to be the best at what you do.

Ramage: Did Elvis love Mississippi?

McComb: I think a telegram in the museum at the Park[?] demonstrated that when he says, "Dear Colonel, I want to do a benefit for the McComb victims of the tornado in the state in which I was born. I want it to be a 100 percent benefit." So, I think that says something about Mississippi.

Ramage: Elvis's home.

McComb: Elvis's hometown, Mississippi, in the state—and he goes on to say, "in the state in which I was born." And so—

Ramage: Did he ever—when you would go to concerts and you would be his guest and things, would he ever mention that he was from Mississippi or would he—

McComb: I think on one occasion. One occasion I remember particularly that we were there one night, and he said, "There are some people here from my hometown, from the state I was born in." He said, "They're going to know what I mean when I sing 'poke salad.'" (Laughter.) And I never will forget, Robert Goulet was sitting on the right of us, and that night the Carpenters were there, Karen and her brother. And when he was done, she said, "What is poke salad?"

Ramage: Now, Elvis told Liz, when y'all were out at the Park one time, (inaudible.)

McComb: He said, "Where are you from, Liz?"

She said, "Pelahatchie." (Laughter.)

Ramage: Now, where is Liz? What's her last name?

McComb: Elizabeth Hill.

Ramage: From Jackson.

McComb: From [Jackson], but she lived in Pearl and Pelahatchie. I think she was born in Pelahatchie. And he laughed, he said, "Where the heck is Pelahatchie?" But he said, "It doesn't make any difference. It's where your mother gives you birth that's important. So, I guess all in all, the bottom line, is people are people. And shake it, twist it, wind it, elevate it, illuminate it, if you ain't got it in the heart, then you never were in the right place to begin with. All the talent in the world is not going to suffice or serve any entity if it doesn't come from the heart. The mainstream of life begins in that heart, and I think that your job, you do it with your heart. You do it for your salary, but you couldn't take that salary in good faith unless you knew that you'd given your very heartstrings for that entity in which you were responsible for doing.

Ramage: Now, let me ask you something. Let me figure this out. Year 2100, and you're probably going to have great, great-grandchildren that will be listening to this tape. And what would you tell them the secret of life is? They're sitting there listening to this tape; what would you say to them? What would you want them to know?

McComb: About him or about life?

Ramage: About life.

McComb: I would say to my grandchildren—

Ramage: Or great, great.

McComb: Or great, great, great-grandchildren. (Laughter.) Life is going to always be what you make it. It was a gift given to you in love and because of God's creation. You were made and born into his image. Don't distort that image because of wooden images, but take the gift he gave to you and remember you have the same twenty-four hours a day that any other person in this world will have. Take those twenty-four hours; encourage them; illuminate them; and, light the way for another person in another era to find his way through the niche in which you've arrived.

Ramage: Amen. And I thank you. You've been wonderful.

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Oct 22, 2007 1:17 am 
Jewel in the Lotus
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Joined: Thu Jun 01, 2006 7:28 am
Posts: 4625
Location: Spain
Great to read and so much interesting! Thank you very much for posting it.

I recall Elvis seemed to have great respect and affection for this lady.

Amanda Viola

Elvis said: "LOVE is what it's all about." :*::*: Now I know it's true.
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Oct 24, 2007 12:24 am 
Site Admin
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Joined: Tue Oct 31, 2006 3:41 pm
Posts: 3355
Location: Chicago
This was a really great interview to read. :D Stories about Elvis' humility never cease to amaze me. :D Thank you so much Vera for sharing this with us. :D

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Oct 24, 2007 6:49 am 

Joined: Sun Jul 23, 2006 2:07 am
Posts: 81
Location: Shell Cove, NSW, Australia
A pleasure Amanda, Mari & Sue!

I quite like how Janelle mentions Lisa Marie sitting in her daddy's chair in his birth home :) and remembering where her daddy started from.

Elvis commissioned Janelle to write that lovely poem for Lisa's birthday and the one for Vernons birthday. She was then commissioned by Vernon to write Elvis' epitaph. She did a great job!

For anyone interested this is Elvis' epitaph:


January 8, 1935
August 16, 1977

Son of
Vernon Elvis Presley
and Gladys Love Presley

Father of
Lisa Marie Presley

He was a precious gift from God
We cherished and loved dearly.

He had a God-given talent that he shared
With the world. And without a doubt,
He became most widely acclaimed;
Capturing the hearts of young and old alike.

He was admired not only as an entertainer,
But as the great humanitarian that he was;
For his generosity, and his kind feelings
For his fellow man.

He revolutionized the field of music and
Received its highest awards.

He became a living legend in his own time;
Earning the respect and love of millions.

God saw that he needed some rest and
Called him home to be with Him.

We miss you, Son and Daddy. I thank god
That He gave us you as our son.

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