Edwards' tumultuous seven-year romance with Priscilla Presley is the subject of "Priscilla, Elvis and Me: In the Shadow of the King" (St. Martin's, $18.95).
The title and nature of the kiss-and-tell book promises oodles of scandalous gossip sure to infuriate Priscilla Presley. (She's not commenting, said her publicist at Rogers & Cowan in Los Angeles.) Edwards does not disappoint readers. There is news of her abortion, a description of her breasts, a few sex scenes, a couple of names dropped about her infidelities and his. The juiciest tidbit is not about her, however, but about him: his lust for Lisa Marie, the teen-age daughter of Elvis and Priscilla. Lisa Marie becomes his secret love, he writes, "my beloved . . . Everything about her was exactly what I wanted in a woman."
Where does Elvis come in? In Edwards' mind. The King was already dead when Priscilla and Edwards hooked up, but he was always there to Edwards.
"I tried to wear Elvis' shoes," said Edwards, 44, in a phone interview
from his home in Los Angeles. "I tried to take the place of Elvis, to carry on the Elvis Presley legend. Here I was with Elvis' wife. With Elvis' daughter. I was in his house, with his belongings, behind the big black gate. The fans were at the gate. 'Priscilla! Michael!' The paparazzi."
His fragile ego was the relationship's undoing in 1985. Edwards blames his
drug and alcohol problems, his insecurities and his arrogance. Priscilla never wanted a god for a lover, never compared him to Elvis or wanted him to be like Elvis, Edwards said.
"It was in my own head," Edwards admitted during the interview. "She was always telling me: 'Just be yourself, that's who I love. Tell me your fears. Tell me your weaknesses.'
"I was an alcoholic. I had to be bigger than life."
The book could have easily been more sensational. The sex scenes are not graphic or crude. The tone of the book is cool, understated, controlled, with no rancor toward Priscilla, whom he portrays as a caring woman in search of her own identity.
Edwards said he took a year to write the book (without a ghost writer), crossing out two words for each one he wrote so as to minimize embarrassment to Priscilla and Lisa Marie.
His intent, he said, was not to make money off Elvis' name, as critics have suggested, but because he needed "to clean the slate, to take responsibility."
"There were all these unanswered questions. Now there's nothing that is
"I was tormented for a year, writing the book. I saw the mistakes, one after the other. I was this frightened little person who was trying to do this ridiculous thing - be bigger than Elvis. I was a model. He was a megastar. But I had to live up to his image."
What finally tore the couple apart was Edward's resentment of Priscilla's growing confidence and independence. She pursued acting, landing a role in ''Dallas." No longer needed as a mentor, he was left with himself.