Author Interview: Gary Revel – To Live Or Maybe Not, Or Character Assassinations

August 15, 2021

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Playing poker with men in a rough and tumble southern juke joint is not the typical activity of a 10-year-old boy but it was for Gary Revel. Dancing with waitresses to rock and roll, blues and country music coming from the jukebox was also part of his usual child’s play. And once he accepted the request to associate in the investigation of the Martin Luther King assassination, he started a journey that would eventually take him into Brushy Mountain Prison in Petros Tennessee to meet the supposed killer of Martin Luther King Jr, James Earl Ray. He tells these and other stories in his autobiography, To Live Or Maybe Not.


When, and under what circumstances, did the idea for your latest book come to you?

I started writing To Live or Maybe Not in 2006. I had found, in a book, my name, and the fact that I had been a Special Investigator for the investigations of the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr (MLK) and President John F Kennedy. The book was entitled Investigation Of The Assassination Of Martin Luther King Jr. There are several editions of the book, all published by the US Government Printing Office. Some contain the transcription of the hearings in Washington DC and some contain the transcription of the audio tapes I recorded during the meetings, at Brushy Mountain Prison, with James Earl Ray. Once I read one of those that contained transcripts of the audio tapes I had made, in Brushy Mountain Prison, in which I identify myself for the HSCA committee, as a Special Investigator on the case, I saw they had published my name and title, I was greatly concerned. I had been promised by the first Chief Counsel Richard Sprague and then by Deputy Chief Counsel Robert Lehner that my name and title would never be made public, except at my authorisation. That was the day I began writing this book, because I knew my name and knowledge of the fact that I had been a Special Investigator, investigating the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr and President John F Kennedy, was already in the public sphere.


Did it initially feel like something to commit to, or was that something that took time to develop?

It was, at the beginning, a therapeutic release. Getting my feelings and understandings in a memoir was the reason – it was beneficial, I felt, for my mental health. I start with my birth and follow with much of my youth. Troublesome times as well as exciting times growing up in Florida are included. I graduate high school and join the US Navy during the Vietnam War. Some interesting and perplexing times were had in the Navy. I touch on these and then find my way to Hollywood, California. It’s music and movie business there, which leads me to New York City, Memphis and then Nashville. In the meantime, I get married and spend about eight years in Nashville, Tennessee. It is there, working with attorney Jack Kershaw, that I begin my investigation of the MLK killing. Back in Hollywood, I eventually find movie producers who want to make a movie about my story of my MLK assassination investigation. The book ends with a question lingering – will the movie about my investigation ever be made?


When considering influence, do you find yourself wanting to write like someone (in terms of their style, tone or use of language), or aiming for a kind of perspective or storytelling approach you admire or enjoy?

No, I wrote this book in my own words, without the help of an editor, and published it without regard to the imperfect style. It is the story of my life, to some extent, and introduces information about my investigation of the assassination of MLK, to start; then following with the JFK killing and RFK killing. I can point out here that I found, via my investigation, that neither James Earl Ray nor Lee Harvey Oswald were the assassins they were made out to be.


What’s in your to-read pile – and what upcoming book (other than yours!) are you most looking forward to?

A new book being written by Patrick Wood, which will use some of my investigative findings in a complex historical expose of the MLK assassination and related crimes.


Do you have a favourite character that you have created? Or if you’re writing non-fiction, do you have a specific topic that you find endlessly fascinating?

There are interesting associations related to the JFK, MLK and RFK assassinations. The following people had a vested interest in having John F Kennedy taken out. Not only did they have an interest, they also had the means to do it and the means to cover it up. Allen Dulles (associated interests: J Edgar Hoover, Vice President Lyndon B Johnson, HL Hunt, Clint Murchison Sr, Meyer Lansky, Carlos Marcello, Sam Giancana, Santo Trafficante Jr), James Jesus Angleton, Cord Meyer, Bill Harvey, David Morales and E Howard Hunt (Tthe leader of the assassination team that took out JFK and MLK).

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