EmailInterview With Paul Dowling (WorldWideElvis)

Andylon Lensen volunteered once again to do an interview for us. This time the "victim" is Paul Dowling, known by most of the fans on the Internet as the owner of WorldWideElvis. We think we have a very open view on the person behind this business for you.

Hi Paul, we have been friends now for many years, and it's an honour for me and ElvisNews.com to do this interview.

Thanks Andylon. Yes, we have known each other for awhile now and it's been a real pleasure. You are truly one of the nicest and most business like people I've dealt with in our "Elvis world" in all these years so it's an honor to have you interview me!!

How come this is the first time you ever do (or allow ?) a public interview? You never done this before right ?

Well, yes, this is the first interview I've done in a long, long time. I did do that one for Arjan's mag a few years ago but that was NOT essentially an interview but really a report on some of the unreleased tapes I've heard and a film I'd seen.

Why is this the first time I'm doing this?

Well, honestly it's because of you! You are so persuasive!! How could I resist!!

What do you mean I am persuasive ?

I mean you have such a nice, sweet sincere voice that I couldn't help but falling in love with you!! Well, anyway at least I like you a lot and I guess I just like your personality!

First Paul, let me ask you -for anyone out there who amazingly has never heard of you - who and what is WorldWide Elvis

I started off as an Elvis collector (and still am by the way!) but began selling Elvis vinyl in 1974. Basically, WWElvis sells only BMG CD's and vinyl from all over the world and some DVD's, VCD's, and books. We do not sell bootlegs, Frisbees, dolls, plates, decanters or anything else like that. (Photo from Andylon's personal collection :-))

Can you tell me a little about your background?

I was born in 1945 in Baltimore, Md (where I lived until I wised up in 1995 and came here to Siesta Key, Fl and have never left)! I have one sister who still lives in Baltimore. My father was a high school principal (not the high school I went to!) and he sent me to a very hard private boys school where basically all I did was study all the time. After I graduated I went to college but I think I just had too much studying in high school that I kind rebelled and decided that I was going to take my time getting out of college so....for the next eight years, I ended up taking my time graduating. I ended up with a business degree which of course then meant that I had to enter the real world and look for a job, something I honestly didn't want to do as I think I wanted to avoid reality as much as I possibly could!! Actually, except for a few summer jobs and 6 months as a substitute high school teacher (in other words, a glorified babysitter!), I have never had a real job! If I didn't luck out and get into Elvis, I have no idea what I'd be doing now for a living!!

Anyway, I discovered Elvis in the early 60's (no idea what I was doing in the late 50's!) when a friend wanted me to see "Follow That Dream" with him. It was then that I realized that I loved his music and even the movie was good but I was still in high school and had no money so I didn't go out and buy any of his records. I guess I really started getting into him in 1963 and 1964 which was a really weird time to start liking Elvis when all of my friends and the entire world was Beatle crazy!! But in Baltimore, every night from 7-8, a local radio station had an Elvis hour and I taped each show with the reel to reel recorder I had and I got more and more into him each week! They gave an address of Elvis Monthly so I subscribed to this magazine which opened up a totally different and new world to me. I think it was an EM article in 1969 that turned my world around! This was a fairly detailed, in depth listing of many RCA Elvis LP's released in countries such as England, France, South Africa, etc. Up until then I had absolutely no idea about this exciting new world out there and I had no idea that this was to be the start of an addictive hobby as well as a full time job!

For unknown reasons, the fact that other countries either put out the same LP (or single or EP!) with a different cover than the US or issued their own compilations intrigued me. I knew then that - somehow - I wanted to try and get as many different releases from as many countries as I possibly could but, unfortunately, at that time (1969) I had no idea as to where to start or who to write to IF these long deleted records could even be found! It wasn't until late 1972 when I subscribed to Elvis Weekly, without question the best Elvis publication to ever exist (which brings up the question - what ever happened to the guy behind it - Rex Martin?), that all of my dreams were about to come true as, in this great newsletter pub, there were addresses of people in every country imaginable who also were into what I wanted to be into and who could help me make my "impossible dreams" come true (of trying to get everything that was different as far as vinyl from every country in the world!).

So this began the constant corresponding with now famous and legendary figures in the Elvis world - the great Wayne "Pretty Boy" Hawthorne (Australia); Livio Monari (Italy); the wild Frenchman Jean Marc "Moe" Gargiulo; Carlos " The Beast" Ares and Ariel Gonzalez Llorente (Argentina) and many, many others, I'll never forget that day in March 1973 when my FIRST Elvis package arrived and what a package!! Thanks to my great friend now of almost 30 years (Haruo Hirose, the man behind one of the if not THE best Elvis websites today Elvis World I received the incredible Japanese LP's -Elvis' Golden Story Vol. 1 and 2 and 2 LP's; Golden Hymns; Girl Happy; etc. I literally looked up at the sky and thanked God for these presents and I knew then that my life would never be the same.

Elvis vinyl collecting had me addicted! But having an addiction costs money and it was tough to buy these records without a job so I was at first borrowing money from my mother and sister and then decided I needed to try and make money selling extras of the records I was collecting so I started putting out small lists and mailing out to people who had written to magazines at that time like Strictly Elvis and Elvis Monthly. By late June 1977 I had been able to put aside some money and I decided to take a chance and buy a mailing list of 500,000 people. At that time there was a company ( Brookville Marketing in New York) who had sold around 10,000,000 copies of an Elvis Greatest Hits LP and who offered their names for sale for 3.5 each. I somehow convinced my mother into lending me $20,000 (the biggest con of my life!!), bought a half as million names, printed a catalog (which contained all kinds of things like foreign and US records; pictures; mags; etc.), and mailed them out by bulk mail!!

Well, believe it or not, these catalogs were arriving in people's home's the week of Elvis' death!! To tell you what happened after that would take too long now but I'll just say that the next week (as I was still in shock after Elvis' passing) I went to the post office and I must have had 10,000 or more orders!!! I was totally stunned as we all were with what had happened - losing our idol, a friend whom we had never met but still felt close to - but now I had to deal with these orders and with the 1000 a day that kept coming in for 3 months or more. Well, that's another story but that's how WORLDWIDE ELVIS actually began and I've been doing it ever since!! I used to issue a catalog a year but I developed my web site in 1997 WorldWideElvis and this is how I operate now!

What was your reaction emotionally the day Elvis died on August 16 1977?

Here's how I found out about it! Jean Marc Gargiulo and some of his fan club members were at my home (they were over here to see Elvis on tour) and I was showing them 16mm films of the Sullivan TV shows; a Dorsey TV Show; and the 68 TV Special when someone called and told me that Elvis had died! I couldn't believe it was true but then the phones were ringing like crazy with calls from radio stations, TV stations, newspapers asking me to do interviews with them plus I had to tell Jean Marc who of course was, like me, in utter shock to learn that our idol had passed away! To tell you the truth Andylon, the next few weeks are still a blur to me. I do know that all I seemed to be doing was to be trying to fill orders and to try and get my mind off the horrible thing that happened plus trying to avoid the seemingly never ending barrage of calls from the press. It was not the best time of my life. It was like losing a relative which was strange since I never met Elvis but still he had this thing that I think endeared him to all of us. I know that Jean Marc and I will never forget that day as will all of us that were around at that time will never forget.

You began helping RCA in the early 90's, didn't you? Tell us more about this and what you have done?

A long story but to shorten it...I began working on a book on every known Elvis RCA vinyl release from every country in the world in 1989. I had become friends with Bernadette Moore in late 1991. She ran the RCA / BMG archives in New York and she was very helpful in getting me information on older releases from the US. Anyway, she invited me to come to New York anytime to go through her vast archives whenever I wanted to and, at around the same time, my good friend since the mid 70's (Ernst Jorgensen) invited me to come to RCA NEW YORK in Jan. 1992 to help with the 50's Master's box Set. This started everything with RCA and from then on I helped on the 60's and 70's box sets, most of the double features CD's plus even the Mobile Fidelity release of the That's The Way It Is CD. Plus later I did the two colored vinyl singles; CD Fans Only CD; and the recent American Trilogy (or " Patriot" CD as it's also called!).

When and where was the first time you saw Elvis live on stage ?

If I could go back in time I would go back to the 50's and see every Elvis concert! The 50's (in my opinion) was the real Elvis as far as his stage performances. I would give anything to have seen a concert then. The closest I've come is to seeing a color film of a few songs he did at the Hayride! Anyway, yes, I saw Elvis four times - the first in Baltimore (Nov.10, 1971) which was the best concert of the four! Obviously he looked fantastic and the feeling I got when he walked across the stage was the exact feeling that I thought or hoped I'd have! Then I saw him at the Univ. Of Md Sept 27, 1974 which was the worst show I ever saw . Elvis' hair looked gray, he talked more than he sang and slurred his words, and just looked fat and bloated! The last two shows were on May22, 1977 in Largo, Md and May 29 in Baltimore (the show where he left the stage for 30 min.). Both shows really weren't that bad despite what people have reported.

When did you really started to be a serious collector. Was it with vinyl?

Well my love , I have already kinda answered this but to talk a little more about my collection! Right now I think I have 7000 or so 78's, singles, EP's, and LP's - all RCA as I'm really not a serious bootleg collector! Most of these are different covers, compilations, labels, etc. I started doing a book in 1989 devoted to detailing every known vinyl release from over 60 countries that issued RCA Elvis records but this became a monster of an undertaking and, what I thought was going to be 500 pages, turned into a 3,000 + page book which may never come out for a lot of reasons! I did come out with that Ultimate Album Cover (note that I hate the title - the publisher insisted on it! - and I wanted more text) which gave a glimpse into what was released but this is really just a fraction of my collection!

Up until now, what is you favourite project that you did on Elvis ?

Hmm, good question!! Possibly the red and gold vinyl "King Of The Whole Wide World / King Creole" singles I did in 1997 but only because I always wanted to do a vinyl project with RCA and this was my first so it was a special thing for me. Actually, I think that the CD that was turned down last year (The First Time Ever) would have been my favorite but of course that was not meant to be because of various things that were happening with Joe Tunzi and the estate at the time and BMG didn't want to get involved and therefore cancelled the CD!

When can we expect something else in the future, you are doing on a special product

I am currently working on a CD project Andylon, however there may be a problem as BMG in the US may be putting a freeze on anyone outside of the main label doing anything this year because they want to be the only outlet selling Elvis during this 25th Anniversary. I am hoping to find out more about this soon and of course I will announce it on my web site (http://www.worldwideelvis.com) if it happens.

Why are you so expensive ?(Well, this is not all true, I always get them cheap from you lol).

It's good that you ask this because I think all of us dealers get this question (well, maybe not you my love because you have been mainly into wholesaling!) at one time or another! Anyway, I guess it depends on what item (s) you're referring to. Sure, I am higher than some dealers on certain items but, on others I'm lower or about the same. Sometimes we get things cheaper than others so we can sell them cheaper. Sometimes we get things in trade so we can obviously sell them cheaper. But sometimes we get items and honestly have no idea what price to sell them for and sometimes we pick prices that some people think are high. If you mentioned specific items I could go into detail better. I do know that I sell the FTD's for as low as $25 each whereas Graceland sells them for $26 plus they hit you for $7 postage for one CD! But hey, that's great for me as you won't believe how many customers I have gotten as a result of their prices!! So they have helped me out a lot.

I wish you had been specific so I could talk about other items but I guess it doesn't matter as I do know what you are saying and I have read that my prices (again, never really anything specific!) are high. You know, I used to think a certain individual years ago was ripping people off by charging high prices for things that I was selling for a lot less but one day I realized that this is not a rip off! Why? Well, think about it! If you go to a K Mart or Walmart or some large volume store here in the states (and I'm sure in Holland) you're going to be able to buy say a VCR for $30 (or whatever!) cheaper than say a department store or even a store specializing in video recorders! Do people complain that the specialized store is ripping them off? If you drive down the road and look at gas prices here you'll see gas for $1.55 a gallon and maybe the next gas station will have the same grade for $1.35! Do you call the first place a rip off? I could go on and on.

The bottom line is: what do you do in cases like these? simple! You simply make your choice and buy from whoever you want to and I assume that would be the cheapest one! This applies to me or you or any other Elvis dealer we know. Customers should always look around first, compare prices and then buy. As you well know, the prices we charge depend on our suppliers. So if I have a supplier who charges $10 more for the item than your supplier, obviously your price will then be lower. What the customer should do is to shop around always before buying and also make sure the dealer is honest and reputable! Customers should complain about people whom they ordered from who don't send anything or send things in bad condition but they shouldn't complain about dealers just because their price may be higher than someone else's. I hope this answers your question!!

What is you opinion on the latest "Long Lost Home Recording" release?

Well, I heard the songs and of course it's not Elvis Presley and not even close. I have no idea how anyone can listen to Elvis' voice for 40 + years and think this is Elvis! It's simply mind boggling but I guess some people are just living in a dream world! I can't believe the people doing this really truly believe it's Elvis. They probably got conned and paid money for the tape and now are just trying to make their money back!! That's just my opinion!

What is your favorite single - L.P. and film of Elvis and why ?

Probably my favorite LP is either "Elvis Is Back" or "Something For Everybody!" Of course this is not an "easy question". I guess I like them because I love Elvis' voice in the early 60's! My favorite film is really tough to decide on but "King Creole", "Loving You", "Jailhouse Rock", Follow That Dream" and "Viva Las Vegas" are the top 5.

What is your favourite Elvis website?

Well, even though I sometimes have issues with things that they print as far as accuracy is concerned, without question my favorite web site is ElvisNews.com. My next favorite would be Haruo's Elvis World and of course I guess we all go to Willem's site for the message board for unknown reasons or maybe because we like to read the crazy things people write!!

Paul you don't mean this !! those fanatic Elvis fans nutcase morons ??? C'mon ??They crucified everyone like Ernst Jorgenson, you, Joe Tunzi ,Gerry Rijff, Geller etcetera, yes, and even me !!!

I guess it's like...why do people sometimes read the INQUIRER or the STAR! Seriously, I only go to this messageboard when someone tells me that there may be some absurd story on me and I guess I just like to have a good laugh but I guess I must only visit this once a month as I have better things to do. Also, for recording session info I like Master And Sessions which is an incredible site with a wealth of great info. I recommend this one!

Who do you suggest we should interview for ElvisNews.com and why?

I've thought and thought about this and really the only people that come to mind are Scotty Moore and Sam Phillips and of course Ernst Jorgensen. I think fans should know Carlos "The Beast" Ares or Haruo Hirose better so maybe you could interview them. Hey, what about Shakin' Stevens although maybe a lot of newer fans don't know who he is!! And .. .now that I'm thinking, I would love to know who Doug Church is, that is I'd like to know more about him! As I say on my site, I'm really not into imitators but I think he's the best and I've sold loads of his CD's but have never spoken to him and know nothing about him but would like to know more.

Well Paul , it was really great talking to you for all the Fans world wide and for ElvisNews.com. I really appreciate this.

Thank you Andylon. It has been fun. Thanks for giving me an opportunity to get a few things off my chest and to answer some of the questions that I'm sure people have about me. Maybe they can understand what World Wide Elvis is about a little more now. I'd just like to say that if anyone would like to e mail me you can do so at my NEW e mail address: worldwideelvis@comcast.net. I wish you all the luck with your store.

ElvisNews.com likes to thank both Andylon Lensen and Paul Dowling for their contribution to this open interview.