By Amy Silverman
By Olivia LaVecchia
By Monica Alonzo and Stephen Lemons
By Chris Parker
By Michael Lacey
By Weston Phippen
Smith claims he wrote the song when he was a young man toiling away as a songwriter for Capitol Records' Nashville division. But the song was published when Smith was only 10 years old, and was released not on Capitol or any of its subsidiaries, but on Jolly Roger Records, a label distributed by MGM Records. What's more, the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) gives sole songwriting credit to Rogers.
Smith also claims to have co-authored songs with the Gatlin Brothers and country band Restless Heart ("I was privileged to be a part of writing one of their biggest hits, 'The Bluest Eyes in Texas,'" he writes in his book), among others. But his name doesn't appear on any recording by these artists, neither of whom responded to e-mails and phone calls about their working relationship with John Smith.
Asked about this, Smith just chuckles. "Well, back then, the songwriter did all the work, and the artists took the credit and rode around in the limousines."
Not true, according to pop music archivist Lisa Kurtz Sutton, who has produced hundreds of pop music anthologies and dozens of TV shows about the history of rock. "There have always been stories about singers and producers and label owners giving shared songwriting credit to someone who didn't write the song," she says. "But not the other way. And that's because the recording industry is a union industry. It doesn't seem likely that a big, powerful union is going to look the other way while singers are putting their names on songs that some kid wrote."
But if Let the Boy Sing is any indication, Smith can't be bothered with unions or copyright dates or published song credits. In his book, Smith writes at length about the song that proves conclusively that Elvis is really his daddy.
"One of the biggest indicators of how Elvis felt about his time with my mom was shown when Elvis commissioned the writing of a song that just missed becoming his 17th number-one hit," Smith writes. "The song became popular in the later part of 1961 — the year that I was born. The song was '(Marie's the Name) His Latest Flame.'"
Rock historian Richie Unterberger doesn't think so. Unterberger, author of bestselling books about the Beatles, the Who, and Jimi Hendrix, says the song, penned by legendary songwriters Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman, originally was intended for singer Bobby Vee. "Producer Snuff Garrett realized the songs weren't appropriate for Vee," Unterberger says, "and Pomus and Shuman then approached Bobby Darin, who tried to record the songs with unsatisfactory results. It seems doubtful to me that Pomus and Shuman were commissioned to write the song by Elvis or his representatives."
The song eventually was recorded by singer Del Shannon, who'd recently had a hit with the now-classic "Runaway." The story goes that Elvis heard Shannon's version and decided to cover it.
"If Elvis ever commissioned a song with a particular girl's name," says Serene Dominic, "which he never did from Doc Pomus or anybody else, he would have had an exclusive on the song. No one else would've given a song to Del Shannon to sing if Elvis had commissioned it."
Asked whether he's sure his famous father commissioned the song about his mom, Smith is adamant. "Yes, sir. To the best of my knowledge, he did. I think Bo Diddley wrote that song for my daddy."
When he's told that the song was written by Pomus and Shuman, he backpedals. "Well, I wasn't born then," he mutters. "So I wouldn't know."
Some of Smith's prevarications provide unintentional humor. "I am still not sure how it happened, but we got the call to audition at Juilliard," he writes. "Looking back now, this was a big deal. At the time for me, it was a school. School and I did not see eye to eye. . . . I was thinking, school? In New York? They talk funny, and there is too much concrete. You can educate me all you want. I like being a hick."
He claims he deliberately blew the audition by singing a song he refers to in the book as "Pistol Packin' Annies," but which was probably the Al Dexter standard "Pistol Packin' Mama," since no search of the RIAA catalog turns up a song called "Pistol Packin' Annies."
"I guess that the good folks at Juilliard figured that I was already so good that they really couldn't do too much for me," he writes, "and so they had better induct some other singer that needed the help, or something like that."
Most of the rest of the book is less amusing. Scheduled for publication this month by Oklahoma-based Tate Publishing (which brought us A Busy Mom's Guide to Family Pleasing [sic] Meals and 'Til the Slipper Fits: Godly Encouragement for Single Women), Let the Boy Sing is riddled with the tense-shifting and narrative rambling found in most pay-to-publish books by would-be authors. Before it gets around to not delivering anything that might prove its premise, it makes a lot of promises it doesn't keep.
In the case of this writer he should get all the facts before he writes another word. In the case of John Smith let him go to court like Alice Tiffin (who submitted DNA) and like Deborah Presley-Brando (who WON in the Tennessee Supreme Court). I believe that anyone who writes a book, or article is entitled to Freedom of Speech as long as they are not libel in their writings. Court documentation especially from Family Court are private. Maybe Alice and Deborah and John don't want to spend their lives proving what is sealed in the courts because of irresponsible writers like this one.
I am very disappointed in Mr. Pela for this worthless piece. For an expose' to be worth the reader's time it needs to make a successful emotional connection between the reader and the subject. I need to either gain sympathy for the subject so his wrong doings will trigger an emotional reaction from myself...or I need to gain sympathy for the subject's victims. There are no victims. And by giving us a history of those before Mr. Smith that had claimed to be the blood of Elvis, there appears to be nothing special about him. There is no reason for me to care. The only thing that could had saved this article was some unbiased hope from the writer that maybe Mr. Smith was indeed the son of Elvis. Every bit of evidence detailed was revoked by Mr. Pela before the reader could absorb it and make a decision for themselves. So basically Robert Pela took a subject that 99.9% doubted in the first place before even reading the first paragraph and by the end of the article 99.9% still doubt Mr. Smith. Congrats! Mr. Pela's expose' impacted no one.
This stupid fake story is still in here?
Don't you have people that can write stories? I say NOT , there is no good stories in the New Times for a long time maybe you should call this paper LONG TIME!
I do hope "In the Shadow of ELVIS, Perils of a Ghostwriter" is as great a read as "My Bad Tequila" by author & writer - Rico Austin!
Seems like a lot of Elvis connections are here in Scottsdale! I dated one just recently. Believe me, Elvis has left the planet 'in pieces' and these guys are probably 'meteorite pieces' of Elvis for sure. Sad, that none of these guys could ever get a real life, and live their entire lives sadly believing People believe them, in hope to hide who they really are....which I find to be, totally uneducated no-bodies seeking public (mainly women's) attention thru their multiple personality disorder and, or, sick fascination to become their idol and most likely the man they wish they could (ahem) .... yuck! YOu should do an article on my story! 'Dating the ghosts of Elvis' . Pretty funny story, which would make a lot of these guys go back into the closet!
With he penchant for lying about his past, it seems Mr Smith is more likely to be Joe Arpaio's love child.
@Rico Austin I want to read your book. Dennis is a pathological liar and has completely lost touch with reality. I know this because I was married to him when he says he met his birth mother. I would have known that if it happened. In the new book, he claims his second marriage was annulled. That is a lie. It took years to find him to get a divorce. He attempted suicide on more than one occasion and was hospitalized in a psych ward. I really feel sorry for him. He needs professional help.
On the facebook page ELVIS ' "In The Shadow Of" they provided a link to this article as if it would give legitimacy to his claim... and it will if no one actually reads it. Well, okay. He has 114 "likes" on the page and there probably is a good chance that no one will actually read the article.
Really? reLLY? REALLY? He doesn't look a thing like Elvis!
Lets see the proof not talk the lie.
Hi, folks: I'M Elvis Presley, and I've been hiding in my trailer home here in Salome for years, and I can tell you all right now, that guy is NOT my kid! Thank you, thank you.
lol the King of Rock 'n' Roll married one time and had one child.
If what this fool is saying IS true thenhe should be required to prove it or shut the fuck up.