In celebration of LSUP’s 80th anniversary the staff selected 80 of our most memorable titles. Adding to our “Around the Press in 80 Books” blog series, Assistant Production Manager and Designer Amanda Scallan writes about The Next Elvis.
Yeah, I’m an Elvis fan and I have been one for as long as I can remember. I could blog on being an Elvis fan for hours, but I won’t do that now. I will mention that I have a lovely collection of Elvis memorabilia—my favorite is a velvet painting of the King himself. And I have taken my husband and son to Memphis to educate them on the history of Graceland and Sun Records.
So as a lifelong fan of the King and a professional book designer, I was beyond thrilled by the opportunity to design Barbara Barnes Sims’s The Next Elvis: Searching for Stardom at Sun Records. I was so impressed with the fact that Sims worked for Sam Phillips—the visionary who discovered and recorded Elvis Presley—at Sun. Her book relates not only what it was like to work as a woman in a male-dominated industry, it also tells the story of the musicians she met whose careers were then on the rise, including Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison, Charlie Rich, and Johnny Cash. Theirs was music I was familiar with, and I wanted to capture the feel of early 1960s Memphis—when rock and roll music reigned—as well as the iconic look of Sun Records. For the cover design I used background art that mimicked the Sun Records “sun rays.” The only image I felt appropriate was a lone microphone—a microphone similar to the one that many of the recording artists of the era used at Sun. It is placed in the center of a circle with a stark white background to convey the feel of a spotlight. The display fonts I chose for the title and subtitle are sans serifs to reflect the time period as well.
When I met Sims in person, I was speechless. She was a part of the legacy that was Sun Records. Though she was only employed there for three years, she was a participant in the creative force that helped establish the careers of so many famous and talented musicians. I really like the opening sentence in her preface: “Lighting doesn’t strike twice in the same place—everybody knows that. But they still came.” There will never be another Elvis, but Barbara Barnes Sims tells of the many musicians who wanted to be. I am more than impressed. I am awestruck.
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