Trevor’s Elvis treasure trove in Calderdale
- Credit: Alamy Stock Photo
Elvis is one of the summer’s must-see movies – one person sure to be taking a look is Trevor Simpson, Calderdale’s Presley superfan
It’s not an understatement to say that Trevor Simpson is a world expert on Elvis Presley. He’s written acclaimed and collectable books, met Priscilla Presley and is on first name terms with the staff at Presley’s home, Graceland.
It all started with a ‘78 record brought to school. Trevor was hooked. As we sit down for a coffee at his home, it’s apparent that Trevor is as enthusiastic about Elvis as he was when he first heard ‘Heartbreak Hotel’ back in 1956.
‘Somebody brought the 78 single into school and we played it in the music lesson. We’d never heard anything like it before in our lives’, he remembers. ‘I was hooked, and still am,’ he laughs.
Rather than simply being a fan of Elvis, Trevor has taken his admiration to a different level. His work room is adorned with pictures of Tupelo’s most famous son, from movie posters to nearly every CD and album ever published.
‘We had never seen him on TV and I was interested in the music more than the person, the songwriters, names of the songs, the backing singers. The Jordanaires fascinated me and it became a quest to build up as much information as I could about this person. Then the films came out including ‘Loving You’ which I saw for five straight nights at The Roxy, Sowerby Bridge in glorious Technicolor.
John Lennon famously said that ‘before Elvis there was nothing’, and Trevor would agree. ‘His influence on teenagers in this country was immense, I remember going to see Cliff Richard in Halifax in 1959, this was the nearest we ever got. Then came Marty Wilde, Gene Vincent and Billy Fury who really did set a standard, but Elvis was out there on his own. He had that clean-cut image, good manners, he’d served his country, so he was very inspiring really’.
Writing letters as a teenager to America and Europe to track down records that weren’t released in the UK would be seen by some as an obsession, but Trevor doesn’t feel that. ‘It’s a great interest, okay I’ve taken it to some extremes by going to America and meeting his backing singers, songwriters and members of the band, but I’ve managed to build up a picture of the music.
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Trevor is viewed by many as a worldwide authority on Presley, and has written numerous articles about him in various magazines across the world. He has published five weighty volumes charting Elvis’s career through the various stages of his life. They were a limited run and completely sold out, with copies now commanding hundreds of pounds on auction sites. The books were even available at Graceland, the exclusive American outlet. Many trips to Memphis over the years means Trevor is on friendly terms with those closest to Elvis.
‘I’ve met Priscilla Presley who is who is a dear, lovely lady. She has my books and knew quite a bit about me and she is to be applauded for all she has done to keep the magic alive. I also met one of the main songwriters who was blown away with all I’ve done to keep Elvis in focus.’
2022 sees the 45th anniversary of Elvis’s untimely death. ‘I was in the car coming back from football training and couldn’t believe it. I was in shock and Radio Luxembourg dedicated a whole night to him, unbelievable.’ But the quest still continues for new material and memorabilia. ‘I’ve got a tie which was presented to him by RCA records when he signed for the label in 1955. I’ve got demo records, autographs, an original Sun single but I’ll always keep looking. There will always be something new waiting to be discovered.’
I ask Trevor about the appeal of Presley to this day. ‘It’s just incredible that every generation finds something and hooks into him, a new album, pictures or re-workings of his songs for TV adverts.’ Will we be talking about him in another 45 years? ‘It’s had to tell but I would like to think we would, because his appeal is timeless.’
You might be thinking that this is the only thing that has consumed Trevor’s life, but you’d be wrong. Trevor was a referee in the old first division or, as we’d call it now, the Premier League.
‘Throughout the 1980s I managed to referee at 91 out of the 92 clubs and stepping out on to the pitch at places like Liverpool, Manchester United and Arsenal was just a massive thrill.
Sir Alex Ferguson reminds me that they never won when I was in charge of a game! Brian Clough, Joe Fagan, Ron Atkinson, Bryan Robson and Gazza were some real characters of the game. I always tried to create a rapport with them, Vinny Jones was a renowned hard man... good as gold with me!’
Any players who were Elvis fans? ‘Frank Worthington was the greatest, we used to have pop quizzes after the game with other players and when he went to play in America, he had it put into his contract that he had to go Graceland!’.
Trevor’s working life was in finance, but alongside that, his football - and the passion for Elvis - was another great hobby, radio. He helped set up Halifax Hospitals Radio and to this day presents a show on a community station in the region, Calder Valley Radio. ‘I get a healthy response from listeners in this area but all over the world too. It’s quite amazing and I get to play the odd Elvis track too’ he says, with glint in his eye.
Elvis is in cinemas from June 24.