Elvis and June

Elvis and June Juanico, his girlfriend in the maniac summer of 1956, the summer his fame exploded nationally.

June was a Biloxi girl. After tooling around together in Biloxi, with jaunts down to Shreveport, New Orleans, back up to Memphis (Elvis’ mother adored June, a huge factor in Elvis’ considerations), Elvis asked June to accompany him on his upcoming tour in Florida. He spoke to June’s mother about it, assuring June’s mother June would be safe, and they would have separate rooms. Her mother loved Elvis, and so let her daughter go off on this wacko tour. Incredible, if you think about it.

In Florida, riots broke out at his shows, the police were called to monitor the obscenity of his show, and Elvis could no longer go outside without being mobbed. When June attended the shows, walking next to Elvis, throngs of girls screamed “WHORE” at her. It was a madhouse.

He and June holed up in his hotel room (because of course they did not get separate rooms, what are you, cracked? According to her, there was no sex, although a lot of other hot and heavy torment went on OF COURSE). Elvis sat in the room reading some op-ed column calling him Satanic, a bad influence, vulgar. He threw the paper down, picked up a pair of his underwear, put it over his head and said, “I don’t think I’m vulgar, baby, do you?” They made fun of it!

He asked her to marry him but asked if she could wait a couple of years. His life was too crazy. His fame was exploding. She was not a shy person, and was not the type to say, “I’ll wait as long as it takes.” She said “No, I will not wait. What do you think I am?”

During their relationship, they discussed their shared love of a certain song. They both felt the song described perfectly the feeling they had when they were together. It’s called “Is It So Strange”. In January, 1957, a month or so after they broke up, Elvis recorded it. A powerful choice. There’s really no way to look at it as anything other than a personal choice, him working out his feelings about the relationship ending.

Imagine being her, heartbroken, hearing Elvis’ new single on the radio.

She got married soon after and Elvis was crushed.

In the early days of their relationship, she gave him a copy of Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet, since she saw how the lack of privacy affected him. She saw he was like a trapped animal. She worried about him. She thought the book might help.

He read the entire book in one night and said to her the next day, “How did you know I would need this, June? That’s the best book ever, you’re the nicest person ever” and etc. (Unlike so many others around him, she didn’t use him for what he could give her. She wasn’t just along for the wild ride. He was so touched she gave a shit enough about him to think to herself “Hm. I like this book. I think he might too.” Not too many people were doing that.) He talked about the book to her constantly.

When he died, it was on his bedside table.

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10 Responses to Elvis and June

  1. Melissa says:

    Really lovely. I like June a lot — her book is one of my favorites about Elvis. It seems like she was good for him…you have to wonder how their relationship might’ve gone if they’d been together at a time other than that particular moment when his career and fame were blowing up.

    • sheila says:

      Her book is also one of my favorites about Elvis. What a fascinating time.

      I can’t imagine their relationship could have survived where he was going!

      But he never forgot her. I love the anecdote in her book about how she was in Memphis years later and went to the movie theatre he had rented out – to say Hi. and he was thrilled she was there – and I think made a crack about her walking back up the aisle, because he had always loved her ass? I’m making it sound crass – but it wasn’t in the book. It was a private joke from their relationship – and he remembered all those years later.

      Something really deep went on there between the two of them. She was there just as it all HIT.

      • Melissa says:

        I remember that part of the book. Sweet Elvis. Nah, it wasn’t crass. It’s lovely that he remained so fond of her and vice versa.

  2. MBerg says:

    Your Elvis obsession is incredibly rewarding – to me. I knew none of this. Thanks!

    • Sheila says:

      Mitch – that makes me feel so good to hear! Your boy Bruce is a pretty huge voice in the Elvis HBO doc, premiering tomorrow! My review goes up today at some point.

  3. Sarah says:

    Sigh. This just breaks my HEART.

    • sheila says:

      I love their relationship. June Juanico is – last time I checked – still with us. Her book is really good!

      • sheila says:

        and lots of her own home movie footage of him showed up in the HBO doc! He and his parents went out sailing with June and her mother (and her uncle, maybe?) Maybe you’ll remember that footage.

        June was special too because she was one of the last serious girlfriends who got to meet his mother (and be approved of by his mother).

  4. Sarah says:

    Yes, yes, YES. I must read this book. MUST READ.

    I really can’t afford another fixation/obsession at the moment. *shakes fist at the sky*

    But what else can I do?

    Jensen Ackles and Elvis Presley. So be it.

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