ELVIS PRESLEY’S current Top Tenner is “Suspicious Minds,” and a lot of people reading about his alleged rebellion against his former “goodie-goodie” image will approach the facts with minds a trifle suspicious.

But a reliable correspondent in Las Vegas tells us that he has definitely kicked over the traces, just prior to his opening again in cabaret in the gay Nevada town. Elvis has been playing the tables and escorting the pretty girls around.

This would seem to be in defiance of his wife Priscilla’s insistence that she have a movie career, something to which he is bitterly opposed. We are sorry about this row and hope it can be patched up, particularly for baby Lisa Marie Presley’s sake.

Elvis’ new desire to play to live audiences, which he did so successfully last year in Las Vegas’ International hotel, has given him a new sense of freedom. For years, like a battery-chicken, he kept himself to himself in his house in Hollywood, or on vacation in his Memphis mansion. He lived a most unnatural life, almost like a monk, shutting himself away from the rest of the world except for work.

Then he got married and things changed a bit. Priscilla got him to take her out more and he probably found what he had been missing. During Tom Jones’ stint in Las Vegas, the Presley’s drove from Los Angeles to see him. Elvis was getting more available and he liked it.

His TV Spectacular was a ball for him, reviving old memories and having fun with the audience. That was in July, 1968. Ann Moses, NME’s girl-columnist-in-Hollywood, was chosen to sit on the edge of the tiny, boxing-ring like stage and in one sequence she was super-imposed in a big close-up with Elvis.

This TV show was the beginning of the breaking-out of Elvis, I feel certain. He started to become a free-ranger instead of a battery bird! Of course, he still had some films to finish, but I’m sure he said “No more” to his manager Colonel Parker, who for so many years has guided Elvis along the path to a vast fortune. In the Colonel, Elvis has a wonderful fan-cum-manager and I am not surprised that he doesn’t want to lose him.

But there seems to have been a feeling somewhere along the line that it was the Colonel who has curtailed Elvis’ action, and we are told now that he has asked the Colonel not to concern himself with El’s private life.

Of course, in the earlier days, Elvis’ private life was most important and he played it cool, probably at the advice of the Colonel.

Now Elvis is a multi-millionaire and can start to forget about image. Maybe Elvis feels that he’d like to do more what he likes to do than what “is considered good for him to do.”

The Beatles went through it in the same way until they lost their manager, Brian Epstein, and then discovered a new freedom which hasn’t done the collective Beatles’ image much harm and has probably made John, Paul, Ringo and George much happier.

Of course, the new Elvis will probably shock a lot of his fans, specially if he continues to kick over the traces, but after such a long time bottled up by convention, I feel he is entitled to a bit of hell raisin’ now.

And if it results in Elvis making more personal appearances, particularly in Britain during this coming summer, then it will be all to the good.

As for TV, I only hope he will come over and do a show here. I felt that the TV show we saw at Christmas (a good year late, of course) was very good as far as Elvis’ singing and performance was concerned, but the colour was bad and the sets seemed to be left overs from some touring revue. No, we could do it so much better here. Elvis. So why not come over and do a TV show in Britain?

Andy Gray, New Musical Express, 24 January 1970