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ELVIS SHOT BY ED BONJA (Elvis Unlimited Productions) (Released 2000)

  1. Review by Oven Egeland
  2. Review by Crister Berge
On Stage Pictures from 1970-75

This book has been awaited with quite some anticipation. 100 pages of photographs by Ed Bonja and all in color sounds very good. And the price of the book shouldn't prevent many people from obtaining it.

After looking through the book a few minutes, one is quite thankful that this is a picture book and not a book you have to read.... There are so many typing errors that it is almost embarrassing. On top of that, the written text is in capital letters, which in my opinion is a strain to read... is a picture book - what about the pictures then? Not bad, in fact some of them are very good! These are perhaps not Ed Bonja's best pictures, but still most of them deserve to be in a book like this. If I should object to anything regarding the chosen pictures it has to be the selection. There are only a handful of different concerts in this book, and no picture from post '75. Most of them come from 1972 and Las Vegas, January 1973.

The production of this book, however, leaves quite a lot to be desired! As said above...there are a lot of typing errors that would have been found quite easily with some proofreading.
Also, something has happened during the printing of this book. Originally it looks like the pictures should have been chronological, but suddenly in the middle of what looks like a nice system of pictures from one period, comes one out of context. In addition, two of the pictures are featured two times!

There can be no doubt that this book has been "forced" out, and that Elvis Unlimited has spent way too little time on this production. Most of the errors are so easy to point out, that they stand as a solid proof of haste!

I can only encourage Elvis Unlimited to postpone their next release, said to be out in October 2000. Please, we're not in a great hurry. Spend an extra month or so, and make it a solid work next time!


Page 6: Not November 13 1971, but April 6 1972 (This picture is also on page 46).
Page 7: The picture is from April 18, not April 2 (Elvis wasn't performing on April 2).
Page 17: Not April 17 1972, but January 26 1973.
Page 24: Not 1972, but 1970 [By the way, this is a GREAT picture].
Page 46: Not November 13 1971, but April 6 1972. Same picture as on page 6!
Page 57: Probably January 26 and not January 25.
Page 83: Same picture as on Page 5.

© Oven Egeland, Elvis In Norway, 2000.

2. Review by Crister Berge

I just obtained this book from British magazine Elvis Today, who had a special price offer on it. Shot By Ed Bonja contains 96 pages worth of color pictures (one on each page) of The King dating from 1970 until 1975, though most of them are from 1972 and 1973. There's only one back stage picture, the rest are from live appearances. This one should've been a real stunner, but all in all it's a very disappointing book; keep reading and I'll give you a few reasons why.

First of all: Let's face the facts, Ed Bonja was NOT a very good photographer; he took some classes in photography but he certainly did not have any natural ability for this craft. Bonja took over 5,000 pictures of Elvis and it was his pictures that were used for Elvis' single and EP covers during the 70's (*). Those pictures were good, but what about the rest of them? Well, the answer's here. As we can see, many of them were real shoddy pictures: blurred, out of focus, strange angulations - amateur photos, if you will. We even get a shot of Elvis' ass on page 28! The two pictures from 1970 are odd: The first one features Elvis almost swallowing the microphone and the second one is not very flattering and it clearly shows his drug-saturated eyes.

(*) Colonel Parker's assistant Tom Diskin was Ed Bonja's uncle so that was how Eddie got to work for Elvis. The reason Parker hired him as the "official Elvis photographer" was that since Bonja was not a professional photographer, he could exploit him. Ed was not given any photo credit or a decent fee for his work.

Furthermore, Eddie's foreword is so embarrassing, it borders on the ridiculous or infantile, and for some reason the text is in capital letters and only one column, which makes the text an ordeal to get through. Also, I found quite a few spelling errors: "MILENNIUM", "LOUISIANNA", "EXTRADORINARILY" and two versions of the word "charisma": "CHAISMA" and "CHRISMA". Proof-reading, someone?

There are many errors to be found inside the book as well, just look at this list:
  • On no less than five occasions, year, date and venue is stated twice on the same page.
  • Three pictures are used twice.
  • The picture on page 22 is horrible, even of lower quality than had it been taken by an audience member with a Kodak Instamatic.
  • The picture on page 24 was taken 1970, not 1972.
  • Spelling error on page 27: San Bernadino.
  • The same caption is used twice (pages 33 and 35), though the second time around the final two letters have disappeared.
  • The picture on page 66 is strangely cut down, resulting in the upper half of the page being pitch black!
  • The town of Jackson is said to be located both in the state of Memphis and the state of Tennessee.
So many errors. Sloppy. I also think the price ($35) is way too high; sure it's in color, but at 96 pages, it's a thin book. And why, why, why aren't the pictures in chronological order?

On a more positive note, all pictures are in color and most of them are new to this reviewer's eyes. I have seen some of the good ones in various Elvis magazines. Criticism aside, the man behind this book, Danish fan club president Henrik Knudsen should be commended for his fantastic work. If only we had someone of his caliber in Sweden!

On a scale from 1 to 5, I give Shot By Ed Bonja a 3.

© Crister Berge, Stockholm, Sweden 2002

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