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Posted: Feb 24, 2006 4:10 am
Katrina was cruel to a collection of Elvis memorabilia in Chalmette
Monday, January 09, 2006
By Lynne Jensen
Staff writer
Graceland isn't the only home turned Elvis Presley's graveyard. Gabriel Puccio's Katrina-flooded house in Chalmette is an above-ground tomb filled with Presley memorabilia.

Before the storm, the main entrance of Puccio's modest house was a shrine to the reputed king of rock 'n' roll, who would have turned 71 on Sunday.

Every inch of every wall of Puccio's Elvis room was covered with Presley record albums, photographs and movie posters. Now those mementos dangle from dank paneling or droop over the muck-covered furniture that floated in from other rooms.

As floodwater rose steadily toward the ceiling, Puccio, 57, fled through his kitchen window. He planted his toes on the ledge and clung to the roof for hours before being rescued by boat.

"The water came up so fast that I really didn't have a chance to do anything," Puccio said last week, trying to peel apart the limp layers of a cardboard Elvis.

Puccio's last-minute attempt to save a few treasured items paid off. Packed into an insulated duffel bag, they rode out the storm atop a kitchen table that floated without toppling. Inside the bag were photographs of Puccio posing with celebrities such as Debbie Reynolds, a handwritten draft of a how-to book about autograph collecting and a spiral notebook filled with biographies of stars he met during the years and gimmicks used to score tickets to their performances.

A chef before Katrina, Puccio now is working as a runner for Durr Heavy Construction and lives on the company's Harahan grounds. He is the divorced father of two sons.

Born in Sicily, Puccio was 8 when he came to New Orleans. No one in his family could speak English. He learned at the Dreamland theater on Elysian Fields Avenue and Dauphine Street, trading six soft-drink bottle tops for a ticket.

The first movie he saw was Presley's "King Creole," filmed partially in young Puccio's French Quarter neighborhood. After decades of collecting movie memorabilia, Presley remains his favorite subject, said Puccio, who scored bit parts in several movies shot in New Orleans.

Among the many framed, water-damaged photographs Puccio hopes to save is an unpublished 8-by-10, black-and-white glossy print of Presley with Fats Domino, taken in the late 1950s backstage at the Frontier Hotel in Las Vegas.

Puccio said Domino is one of his favorite performers and that he and the local legend became friends over the years.

After giving him "a little bottle of the liquor and some fruit" as a Christmas gift one year, Puccio got Domino to autograph the photo. "Here buddy, this is for you," Puccio recalled him saying. "I said, 'Fats, this is beautiful,' and I came home and put it in a frame right away."

Although Puccio never met Presley, he saw him perform twice and collected three of his autographs.

Among his most prized Elvis items lost in the mess that once was Puccio's Elvis room is a 1956 brass buckle embossed with a Sun record label and "Best Wishes, Elvis Presley."

"It was used as a promotion for Elvis before he went to RCA records," Puccio said.

The longtime collector said he can't put a dollar amount on what his collection was worth before Katrina, and he has no idea how much of it he'll be able to save. But Puccio hopes to salvage enough items about Presley and performers such as Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Fabian to help create a local rock 'n' roll museum, perhaps in the Kenner community of Rivertown.

It would be a place where Presley music and movies could play forever, he said.
Posted: Feb 24, 2006 4:17 am
Posted: Feb 24, 2006 5:17 am
blasphemer. see how far you get in rock and roll now.
Posted: Feb 24, 2006 5:21 am
Elvis put on a good fucking show, isn't that why everybody loves the black lips and other shit like that. the music isn't that ground breaking, but sometimes the live show is.
Posted: Feb 24, 2006 5:26 am
he did too play guitar. did you ever hear the sun sessions??? he was the fucking king. all that punk rock shit you love came from him.
Posted: Feb 24, 2006 6:02 am
Elvis is dead- ....Living Colour.
Posted: Feb 24, 2006 1:44 pm
nothing came from him, all he was is a white boy singer who stole some black musical influence

bradx, you're my goner brother and for that alone you've always got a place in my heart, but take this back RIGHT NOW. Elvis was the motherfucking JAM, a badass, one-of-a-kind FREAK, with pipes of pure gold.

Elvis could rip it in any style because he had TALENT.

everyone steals from everybody. that's what music's all about--feeling it then stealing it, then making something from it, then giving it back. if you don't give it back in your own form you're just a thief.

I'm reading this great interview in Mojo with The Kinks and the Davies brothers admit who they copied and stole from--and look at the beauty they produced!
Posted: Feb 24, 2006 2:09 pm
all he was is a white boy singer who stole some black musical influence

Hey, bradx is damn right about this.
Don't act as if you don't know there were big business plans and "focus groups" or whatever behind Elvis' every move.
Face it : he wuz a dumbass who could dance and sing.

Even so, he made some very great music.
Posted: Feb 24, 2006 2:10 pm
Lots of great artists have shit taste.
Posted: Feb 24, 2006 2:15 pm | Edited by: Ned Niggler
like me!
i LOVE trick knee records!
Posted: Feb 24, 2006 2:58 pm
didn't he die on the toliet? i respect him for that.
Posted: Feb 24, 2006 2:59 pm
elvis, i mean.
Posted: Feb 24, 2006 3:32 pm
It's hard to grow up in Memphis and see Elvis as anything but a tourist attraction, but I still love him. Near the end he was making some of the best records of his career. He made loads of awful crap in between. I mostly blame the Col. for that. He wasn't looking for good songs, just songwriters hungry enough to sell cheap to a brand name. A very soulful guy got caught in the machine. Thats all. If he'd lived he would have made some of the greatest white soul records ever. I can only dream of an entire album written and produced by Dan Penn. Think about it. It's only skin.
Posted: Feb 24, 2006 3:54 pm
It fucking SUCKS that he lost most of the memoribilia but at least he was able to save some of it. Historical signifigance trumps would-be flame wars over musical validity.

But yeah,don't hate the Elvis hate the Colonel.
Posted: Feb 24, 2006 4:08 pm
Just a note: when you say "The Colonel" that means Colonel Sanders. He don't deserve no kinda hate.
Posted: Feb 24, 2006 4:18 pm
Colonel Sanders was a saint.
Posted: Feb 24, 2006 4:29 pm
Posted: Feb 24, 2006 4:47 pm
Nothin' wrong with "in the ghetto" to my ears.
Posted: Feb 24, 2006 4:48 pm
Written by Mac Davis I think. Now thats funny.
Posted: Feb 24, 2006 5:22 pm
e did what he could do to keep his music fresh. james burton. jordanaires. he kept it real. way past when chuck berry and bo diddley couldn't have cared less. those bands he played with in vegas rocked. even the gigs he did when he was so high he couldn't talk or remember the words to the songs were awesome. especially those.
Posted: Feb 24, 2006 5:24 pm
and he could generate excitement like nobody else. except maybe me.
Posted: Feb 24, 2006 5:30 pm
and he could generate excitement like nobody else

this is TRUTH. i still compare every man I see live to elvis. very few men can pull off total showmanship, HOT AS HELL raw sex appeal, and incredible talent-- working the crowd, working the room, lip-locking the ladies. fucking A.
Posted: Feb 24, 2006 5:36 pm
It's hard to grow up in Memphis and see Elvis as anything but a tourist attraction,

So true.

I kind of would like to have those brass knuckles embossed with Sun Studios, though. Hell, I just want some brass knuckles.
Posted: Feb 24, 2006 5:40 pm
do you remember when pedro martinez said if babe ruth was playing today he'd hit him in his fat ass??? he went out and lost about 10 games in a row. then he went back and said he was sorry and that the babe was great. he started winning again and the red sox eventually won the world series. let that be a lesson to you.

elvis's first 2 albums for rca are also very great as well as the "from memphis" record and the "'68 comeback special" and many of the later live albums like "aloha from hawaii" (hence aloha from hell) and "live at madison square garden."

those acetates of elvis's first recordings right off the street playing a crappy acoustic tell the entire story. he was already a fully developed genius.
Posted: Feb 24, 2006 5:47 pm
I just watched some Bo on youtube. Hail Satan.
Posted: Feb 24, 2006 5:49 pm
you got a lot to learn bradster.
Posted: Feb 24, 2006 5:59 pm
I think some folks confuse Pat Boone and Elvis; Boone recorded versions of "Tutti Fruitti," and his versions sucked.
Listen to the original versions of "Let's Play House," and "That's Allright, Mama," and one realizes that Elvis was a great interpreter. Not paint but the number versions, but transformed readings.
Jerry Lee Lewis only wrote 5 songs and none of them are very good- certainly not great, but I'll keep listening to Jerry Lee.
Listened to a bunch of Elvis outtakes recently and even his throw away vocals are incredible- he had great range.
Posted: Feb 24, 2006 6:17 pm
Posted: Feb 24, 2006 6:20 pm
don't get me wrong i love chuck berry and bo diddley. seen them live and never saw elvis. probably been far more influenced musically by them than elvis. but elvis was the original punk. the attitude is all from elvis.
Posted: Feb 24, 2006 6:22 pm
His range(pre-drugs) was nothing short of ubeleivable. Even the lost pop crap years had some highlights. But on the backhalf, when his voice was shot. Thats where he slays me. Dig the strained high notes on "Burning Love". FUCKING HEARTBREAKING!!!! His voice won't reach but his heart and soul are there, and you can actually hear it.
Posted: Feb 24, 2006 6:23 pm
Elvis was atually the 2nd punk,
Satan was the 1st, but still Elvis was the first holding a guitar.
Posted: Feb 24, 2006 6:25 pm

What a great sense of humor he had. Damn.
Posted: Feb 24, 2006 6:29 pm
the Pussy getter:

That one soaked my gash up real good.
Posted: Feb 24, 2006 6:42 pm | Edited by: The Driver
I can only dream of an entire album written and produced by Dan Penn.
I'm haunted by that picture taken at American Studios that includes Dan Penn ( [url=http://i46.photobucket.com/albums/f126/psychorazine/Elvis-America nStu]http://i46.photobucket.com/albums/f126/psychorazine/Elvis-America nStudios.jpg ) and yet damn, he's nowhere on any recordings. As great as those sessions are, one can only imagine what they could have been. I still listen to those cuts way more than the Sun sessions.
Posted: Feb 24, 2006 6:46 pm
Posted: Feb 24, 2006 7:01 pm | Edited by: cthort
Growing up in Memphis, you were constantly bombarded with Elvis images and stories. Many of my friends took an somewhat understandably anti-Elvis stance. Then they grew up. That live performance of Unchained Melody from the Great Performances video gets me every time. He's sitting at a piano pouring it all out there. Recorded so close to his demise. Incredible.
Posted: Feb 24, 2006 9:58 pm
Carl Perkins
Posted: Feb 25, 2006 5:05 am
john goodman aka blueswizard
Posted: Feb 25, 2006 10:43 pm
Posted: Feb 26, 2006 8:36 pm
trivia- i played elvis in jmm's movie.
Posted: Feb 27, 2006 2:58 am
Elvis Presley in the movie Jailhouse Rock....

Woman at Party: I think atonality in jazz is a passing fad, don't you, Mr. Everett?
Vince Everett: Lady, I don't know what the hell you're talking about.

I don't like people that don't like Elvis.
Posted: Feb 27, 2006 3:03 am
It's not that I don't like him, but I would put it akin to someone who grew up in Roswell: "Hey, Buddy! How 'bout them Aliens?"
Posted: Feb 27, 2006 3:23 am
elvis was a CUNTflap

you are what you eat!!! gott-cha!
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