Sharing an Elvis Fan’s Sentiments 40 Years Later

Newspaper Headline of Elvis' Death

This is the front page of the Memphis Commercial Appeal on the day after Elvis died. Just about every newspaper in the country had something similar. There were also many articles in their inner pages that featured the heart-felt sentiments from Elvis fans. Reporters sought them out.

But one journalist wrote her own personal story — Linda Deutsch, a 33-year-old Associated Press reporter who had loved Elvis since she was twelve.

Young Linda Deutsch

Linda’s story went out on the AP newswire to all the papers and was printed by many. I couldn’t find a photo of it on Google, but the original transmission paper showed up at last year’s Elvis Week Auction at Graceland.

I Was an Elvis Presley Fan - Linda Deutsch

 

Here is the incredibly moving personal story told by Linda Deutsch:

August 17, 1977

I was an Elvis fan. Not just an admirer who casually bought records, but a fanatic.

One of my clearest memories is the day in 1956 when I, a pre-teenager, first heard “Heartbreak Hotel” on the radio.

Soon, all the girls in penny loafers and poodle skirts were talking about this “dreamy guy,” Presley.

My junior high school girlfriends in Bradley Beach, N.J., selected me president of our own Elvis Presley Fan Club. We had nine members and held meetings in my basement.

Our local record store, stocked with Glenn Miller and Frank Sinatra, placated us by ordering some 45 records by this southerner with the strange name – Elvis.

We collected his pictures, listened to his music, and danced because Elvis just made you feel like dancing.

Then, something miraculous happened. We wrote to a Memphis address found in a movie magazine. And – fantastic – we received in the mail pink membership cards signed by “The King” himself.

Ours was now an “authorized” Presley fan club in a list circulated by the singer’s manager. The mail began to pour in. We had Presley pen-pals as far away as England, Germany, and New Zealand.

Elvis had given us an identity. No matter our age, we were now “teen-agers.” Better yet, we were rebels.

Our teachers hated Elvis. Our parents didn’t understand. They looked on in befuddlement as “the fan club” screamed at the TV screen while Elvis sang on the Ed Sullivan Show. The tears when my parents forbid me to travel in a snowstorm to see soldier Elvis arrive at Ft. Dix.

Once, a friend’s mother, yielding to cries that we would “just die” if we didn’t see Elvis in person, rode a bus to Philadelphia with three giggling 13-year olds to attend an Elvis Presley concert.

We climbed to the top of the bleachers of an arena holding 28,000 frenzied kids. Flashbulbs exploded, the building shook with screams. Way down on the stage, all we could see was a tiny wiggling speck. We couldn’t hear him, but we knew it was Elvis.

“He looked at me,” shouted my trembling girlfriend.

We screamed. Kids fainted. Doctors and nurses rushed around reviving them. Our mother-chaperone was terrified. We loved every minute of it.

I never stopped loving Elvis’ music. But times changed. My best friend in high school carried a picture of Van Cliburn and wanted to be a nuclear physicist. She “tolerated” my Elvis passion.

Years later when I came to California as a journalist and covered the music industry, I had fleeting thoughts of trying to interview the “King.” I never did: perhaps I didn’t want to.

Then he died on Tuesday. It was like losing an old friend who had shared my youth and my dreams.

I realized I could still sing all the words to “Hound Dog,” “Blue Suede Shoes” and “Love Me Tender.”

For the first time in my life, I felt old.

 

Do you have a lump in your throat after reading that?  Does it to me every time.

I absolutely love the lines:

“It was like losing an old friend who had shared my youth and my dreams.  

For the first time in my life, I felt old.”

 

I felt exactly the same way, and I’m sure many of you readers did too.

 

Linda Deutsch Elvis Presley Fan Club Membership Card

This is a membership card for a fan club Linda Deutsch joined in addition to the one she and her friends started. Please note the mailing address. Madison, Tennessee is where Col. Tom Parker had his office. It shows Linda was on board right from the very start when Elvis became a national phenomenon. You can almost envision Parker’s secretary putting this card in an envelope and sending it off to Linda.

 

Linda Deutsch and Dick Clark

This is Linda at age 15 with Dick Clark on American Bandstand January 8, 1959. The way she got in this memorable photo is a wonderful story of a dedicated fan’s unceasing effort to support Elvis. By now she was the president of an Elvis fan club with over 300 members, while he was in the Army and not likely to be home for another year. So, Linda started on a project and worked constantly to get it done in three weeks.

It’s hard to believe, but she got 3,500 signatures on a petition urging Dick Clark to play nothing but Elvis records for the entire program on his 24th birthday. Linda and a friend went to Philadelphia and somehow managed to get in to see Dick Clark just the day before that show. He listened to her plea, and when she rolled out the 16 foot long petition, he was convinced.

Linda Deutsch's Petition to Dick Clark

The following day, Dick Clark announced at the start of the show that he had talked to Col. Parker, and Elvis’ manager had agreed to the special program. The Colonel must have jumped at a chance for this wonderful publicity.

I applaud Linda Deutsch for being an extraordinary Elvis fan. She has achieved many other successes in her life.

As part of her duties as an Elvis fan club president, she published The Elvis Times, a newsletter that was distributed to 300 fans around the world. She wrote, typed, mimeographed it, and licked the stamps to mail it. It was her first foray into writing for a mass audience, and it stuck, giving her a life-long love for journalism. She followed her dream with stops as a reporter for the Perth Amboy (N.J.) News, the Asbury Park (N.J.) Press and the San Bernardino (Ca.) Sun, before joining the Associated Press in Los Angeles.

Linda once aspired to be an entertainment journalist, but wound up covering many celebrities in a very different venue – the courtroom.

In nearly a half century with the Associated Press, Linda Deutsch has been ranked among the foremost American courtroom journalists of modern times. She is best known for her detailed, objective reporting on some of the most sensational, newsworthy and influential trials — O.J. Simpson, Michael Jackson, Phil Spector, Sirhan Sirhan, Charles Manson, Patty Hearst, Angela Davis, Robert Blake, and the Menendez Brothers.

 

Linda Deutsch in front of Graceland Gates - 25 Anniversary of Elvis' Death

This is a photo of Linda in front of the Graceland gates in 2002, her first visit. It was part of an article about her in an official Graceland collectible magazine, ELVIS Then & Now.

ELVIS Then & Now

This is my favorite quote from the article:

“People like Linda come to Graceland because Elvis injected energy into their lives when they needed it most — during their teenage years. You could say that Elvis provided the soundtrack to their adolescence.”

 

Linda has been back to Graceland numerous times since. And she gets to spend time with important people in Elvis world, too.

Linda Deutsch and Priscilla Presley

Linda Deutsch and Al Wertheimer

Linda Deutsch and Al Wertheimer

Linda Deutsch With Elvis Statue Feb 28, 2010

 

 

You can see that Linda Deutsch has remained an Elvis fan all her life. Like the rest of us, she will remember him this Wednesday, August 16, the 40th anniversary of his death. And along with those of us whose connection with Elvis goes way back to the beginning, we will think of him as old friend who shared our youth and our dreams.

And we will feel young.

 

Check out Linda’s website  and Facebook page to learn more about this extraordinary Elvis fan.

 

© 2017 Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister All Rights Reserved www.ElvisBlog.net

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Glen Campbell and Elvis

Elvis and Glen Campbell

Glen Campbell died yesterday, August 8, from complications of Alzheimer’s disease. He was 81.

Elvis and Glen Campbell had been friends for over a decade before Campbell became a star in 1967 with songs like “Gentle on my Mind,” and “By the Time I get to Phoenix.”

Glen Campbell first met Elvis on April 12, 1956 when Elvis performed at the Armory in Albuquerque, NM.

Elvis in Albuquerque

Campbell later recalled, “I saw him in the rough. He was so electrifying.”

They remained friends over the years. When Campbell moved to Los Angeles in 1960, he started playing at a little club called the Crossbow. They had a private room upstairs seating 15 to 20 people, and Elvis would bring the guys and watch Campbell perform.

In 1963, Glen Campbell was in the group of studio musicians that backed Elvis on the soundtrack songs for Viva Las Vegas.

Elvis Presley, Red West, Glen Campbell at George Klein's wedding, 1970

Elvis Presley, Red West, and Glen Campbell at George Klein’s wedding, 1970

 

There is a video on YouTube where Campbell tells a wonderful story about Elvis. In March 1975, Campbell had just finished a run at the Las Vegas Hilton. Elvis was the next headliner, so Campbell stayed around to catch his first show. With Campbell sitting in the audience, Elvis said:

“I’d like to introduce you to a good friend of mine. He just closed here last night…and he should have. I’m only kidding‘, ladies and gentlemen, he’s one of the finest voices around. He plays a fair guitar, his hair never moves, Jack, no matter what he does. Naw, he’s a great friend, Glen Campbell.”

The good natured ribbing continued:

Elvis — Hey, Campbell. I understand you’re trying to do me on stage.

Glen — I am doing you. (Audience laughs)

Elvis — If you don’t stop doing me, me and the boys will sit in the front row and read newspapers during your show.

Glen — If I’m going to do you in the future, I’m gonna have to gain some weight.

With that line, the audience booed Glen Campbell. He and Elvis got together later and had a good laugh about it. Elvis gave him some good-natured grief: “You smart ass.”

 

Glen Campbell Wearing Elvis Jumpsuit - 1975

This is Glen Campbell wearing a jump suit and “doing Elvis” in 1975.

 

Good bye, Glen Campbell. We’ll miss you. Say hi to Elvis for us.

 

 

© 2017 Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister All Rights Reserved www.ElvisBlog.net

 

 

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An Elvis Movie You’ll Want to Skip

Elvis Lives Poster

When the movie Elvis & Nixon was released last year, I grumbled in an ElvisBlog post about how it featured an ugly-looking Elvis.

Michael Shannon as Elvis in Elvis & Nixon

Michael Shannon as Elvis.

In the blog article I questioned the why producers would portray an ugly Elvis when he was one of the best-looking men that ever lived. Well, they’ve done it again.

Elvis Lives Actor as Elvis Close-up

If this guy was an Elvis Tribute Artist would you pay money to see him? No, and you don’t want to watch him in a movie either. At 10pm on Wednesday, August 16, that movie, Elvis Lives, will appear on cable channel AXS TV. This network offered two good Elvis documentary movies in the preceding weeks: ELVIS That’s The Way It Is (Aug. 1), and This Is Elvis (Aug. 8), and the following week: Elvis On Tour (August 22).

But on the big day, the 40th anniversary of Elvis’ death, they will show a movie the New York Times website review slammed. Elvis is portrayed as “paranoid, delusional and rabidly opposed to illegal drugs, though he shovels in the prescription variety like candy.”

Actor as Elvis Popping Pills in Elvis Lives

This is one scene of Elvis popping pills, and there are many others throughout the movie. In fact, Elvis’ first line of dialog is “I want my pills.”

The film degrades Elvis’ memory even more with scenes of him screwing up song lyrics, and drinking hard liquor (which shows how little the script writers actually know about Elvis).

Actor as Elvis Drinking hard Liquor

 

So who is this guy they chose to be Elvis in the movie? His name is Johnathan Nation, and when I searched for publicity photos of him, they all seemed to be from several years ago.

Jonathan Nation

I never heard of him, so I checked out his film credits on IMDb (a great website you should check out if you want to know more about a movie or TV show). Here are some of the highlights of Johnathan Nation’s career.

Mega Shark versus Giant Octopus

Johnathan Nation had fourth billing in this 2009 movie. Do you think he got better rolls in better movies in later years?

Erotic Vampires of Beverly Hills

In 2015 he had eighth billing in Erotic Vampires of Beverly Hills. Uh, oh. Going the wrong way. So, AXS TV hardly got themselves a hot actor to portray Elvis.

Part of the movie takes place six months after his supposedly faked death. Picking up on one of those fantasies that permeated Elvis world for a few years, Elvis is in the FBI’s Witness Protection Program. And guess what name they give him for his new life — Jesse Garon. Give me a break. Of course nobody would suspect he was Elvis using that name. Well, actually they might not, because the guy looks like this.

Actor as Elvis without Hair Dye

 

Here is why Elvis supposedly needed to disappear and start a new life:

FBI Catches Mobster with Help from Elvis

Now the whole mob, called the Fraternity, is out to get Elvis.

Actor in Elvis Lives Holding Gun

 

So, unless you have a morbid curiosity or are a glutton for punishment, be sure to skip Elvis Lives on August 16. There are so many better ways to honor the memory of Elvis Presley.

 

There are a couple of interesting things associated with this movie.

Billionaire Mark Cuban is the founder and CEO of AXS TV, the cable channel showing it. The press release says, he commissioned the film after working with The Asylum [the production company] on Sharknado 3 (2015), in which he played Marcus Robbins, the President of the United States.

Sharknado 3

The Sharknado movies have been branded as “proudly, shamelessly, and gloriously brainless” by movie website Rotten Tomatoes. In spite of this, a press release from Asylum’s president says, “we intend to do for the life of Elvis Presley what Sharknado did for flying sharks.”

That’s just what Elvis fans want, right?

And there’s more stupid stuff. Before he decided to actually run for president, Donald Trump tried to get the part as the president in Sharknado 3 that eventually went to Mark Cuban.

Donald Trump Wanted to Play the President in Sharknado 3

And last, (and definitely least) Sharknado 3 features a cameo by Anthony Weiner.

 

Here’s one more thing that emphasizes my opinion about the movie that’s the topic of this post. Neil Genzlinger, the NY Times website movie reviewer suggested they make a sequel to Elvis Lives and call it

Elvis vs. Mega Squid in the Bermuda Triangle

 

It might be an improvement.

 

© 2017 Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister All Rights Reserved www.ElvisBlog.net
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Elvis’ First Guitar — Part 2

Elvis Presley's First Guitar in front of Picture

When I posted the article last weekend on Elvis’ first guitar, I had no idea of what was to follow. There were more favorable comments on this post than any other in a long time. For example, Collette C. sent in this:

Oh, this story was fantastic. I can see his mama grinning from ear to ear when she got her way. As a mom I know how she felt! I just love this blog. Thank you so much.

Selma S. had this to say:

Phil, I am relatively new to your blogs, and as a lifelong Elvis fan, I can’t tell you how much I look forward to your email landing in my inbox.

Your dedicated research, your ability to write a logical story and your way of bringing the emotions to life are matched by the fresh information you bring.

As much as I appreciated these, I was more intrigued by this comment made by an unidentified member of the Tupelo Elvis Fan Club:

I believe Mr. Larry Moss of Memphis owns the original guitar.

Larry Moss at Tupelo Hardware with Elvis Presley's First Guitar.

Larry Moss with Elvis’ first guitar in Tupelo Hardware, June 2017, at Tupelo Elvis Festival

I replied to the comment and asked a few questions about Larry Moss. Within hours, I heard from him:

Great story and great due diligence. I am the person who owns the “Tupelo Special” guitar as some people call it… I’ll gladly discuss the details, if you’re interested…Larry Moss.

I jumped at the chance to learn more about Elvis’ first guitar, and Larry and I talked for an hour on Friday.

Larry Moss Collection 1

It turns out he and his wife Judy are major collectors of all sorts of Elvis memorabilia. They are kept in a secure, private location, but Larry has been known to let special people view his collection. When I get back to Memphis again, I will be thrilled to take up his offer for a guided tour.

Larry Moss and his wife started collecting back in 1973 when they got boxing champ Joe Frazier’s autograph on a dollar bill.

Elvis Presley's Contract with Col. Parker

Now Larry and Judy’s collection amounts to hundreds of Elvis items, a very eclectic mix. For example, Larry owns the original contract Elvis signed with Col. Parker in November 1955. Vernon and Gladys also signed because Elvis was a minor at the time.

 

There is an interesting history to Elvis’ first guitar between the time Elvis had it and today when it occupies a prime space in the Moss’ museum-like collection.

Red West And George Klein with Elvis first guitar

Red West and George Klein with Elvis’ first guitar

Elvis and the guitar were inseparable during his time in Tupelo, throughout high school in Memphis, at the first recording sessions at Sun records, and on the road performing early in his career. Back in the summer of 1955, Elvis and the band toured throughout the South. Red West was Elvis’ friend from their high school days, and Elvis asked him to travel with them. During off-time, Red took an interest in guitar playing, and Scotty Moore taught him the basics.

As the end of summer approached, Red told Elvis he would be leaving to attend Jones County Community College in Mississippi on a football scholarship. Elvis bought his friend a used Ford Model A or Modal T (a forerunner of things to come). By that time, Elvis had purchased better guitars, so he also gave his first guitar to Red so he could continue to master the instrument.

Red’s best friend and roommate in college was Ronnie Williams, another scholarship football player. He was a fan of Elvis because he liked all of the first Sun releases. Ronnie would talk to Red all the time about Elvis.

Even with a scholarship, Red found himself financially unable to stay in college. He sold the car for $50 and gave the guitar to Ronnie Williams. He later stated that the reason he did this was because Ronnie was such a big Elvis fan (plus Red couldn’t afford a case to properly carry it around). Red went back to work for Elvis as a bodyguard.

Shortly after that, Ronnie Williams transferred to Florida State. Later, he was killed (possibly shot by the police, details are fuzzy.) The guitar ended up with his brother, Bill Williams, who in 2011, tried to sell Elvis’ first guitar at Guernsey’s Auction House in New York.

Guernsey’s February 2016 Guitar Auction

Guernsey’s February 2016 Guitar Auction

The guitar had a minimum bid of $200,000, or possibly $250,000 (details are unclear), but no bidders wanted to pay that much for a guitar with absolutely no validation presented. There was no documentation to tie it to Elvis, particularly no photo of Elvis holding the guitar.

This is where the current owner, Larry Moss, came into the picture. He had an association with Guernsey’s Auctions from when they held the Archives of Graceland Auction in Las Vegas in 1999. Gurnsey’s Arlan Ettinger contacted Larry and gave him the name and phone number of the man who had put the guitar up at auction. Over several months, Larry Moss and Bill Williams negotiated, and finally, Larry Moss became the owner of Elvis’ first guitar.

He took a gamble, but had a connection he figured would help him prove the provenance of the guitar. His father played football at Humes High with Red West’s dad. Larry conducted interviews with Red in 2013 and 2014, and has nearly a half-hour of tape where Red provides valuable confirmation that the guitar is in fact Elvis’ first guitar. Larry is in negotiations with Graceland right now, so no more details can be given.

 

Scotty and Larry Moss with Guitars

Photo by James V. Roy

Larry Moss owns several other prized guitars. In the 2013 photo above, Scotty Moore holds a Gibson ES-295, the one he played when “That’s All Right, Mama” was recorded. This is Larry’s second most valuable guitar. You can spot it in the next photo (taken before Larry acquired Elvis’ guitar).

Larry Moss Collection Guitar Close-up

Photo by James V Roy

 

The collection also includes many items of Elvis’ wardrobe and five of his rings, which will be featured at a later date in a special edition of the ElvisBlog series, “Elvis’ Fabulous Rings.” Here are some of Elvis’ clothes and movie wardrobe.

Jacket Elvis wore in Million Dollar Quartet

This is the jacket Elvis wore when the guys jammed around in Sun studios, creating the iconic Million Dollar Quartet.

Million Dollar Quartet

 

Larry Moss’ collection includes another famous Elvis jacket — the one he wore during the Jailhouse Rock dance sequence.

Elvis Presley Jailhouse Rock Dance Outfit

Elvis Presley Jailhouse Rock Dance Outfit Placard

 

Do you know what was Elvis’ first jumpsuit to have a cape? It is called the White Fireworks Suit, and Elvis wore it in 1971 and 1972. It now is a star in Larry Moss’ collection.

Elvis Presley's First Jumpsuit with a Cape - Front

Elvis Presley's First Jumpsuit with a Cape - Back

 

As stated earlier, ElvisBlog will soon do a feature on the Elvis rings in Larry Moss’ collection. There are great stories to tell about some of these rings. There will also be a post about Elvis’ third cape for his American Eagle jumpsuit. Yes, the third. There’s a great story here, too.

Elvis Presley's American Eagle Cape

 

 

Like I said at the start of this article, I had no idea what last week’s post on Elvis’ first guitar would lead to.

Elvis Presley's First Guitar in Case

Photo by James V Roy

 

Now, thanks to Larry Moss, I have a treasure trove of stories and pictures to share with you.

 

The photos above credited to James V Roy appeared on www.scottymoore.net. If you want to see more photos, go to Scotty’s site.  Scroll to the bottom of the home page and type these into the search box: Elvis’ First Guitar, The Moss Collection, and The George Klein Interviews.

 

© 2017 Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister All Rights Reserved www.ElvisBlog.net

 

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Elvis’ First Guitar — A New Twist on a Old Story

Two new Elvis Statues in Tupelo

Every ElvisBlog article involves research on Google/Images. Sometimes I will scroll down well below the pertinent pictures just to see what new-to-me Elvis photos might show up. That’s how I found the one above.

The two statues are part of the several attractions added to make the visit to Elvis boyhood home in Tupelo a bigger experience. They were unveiled in 2012 as part of the 35th anniversary of Elvis’ passing. I like the contrast of young Elvis with his simple acoustic guitar in front of adult Elvis in all his jumpsuit and cape splendor.

Elvis at 13 Statue in Tupelo

There is another statue of young Elvis in the complex now known as the Elvis Presley Birthplace Museum and Chapel. I’ve never visited it, but by the time I do, I’ll bet even more stuff is added.

Elvis Presley Birthplace Museum

 

Let’s go back to the statues for a minute. Both young Elvis statues have him holding a guitar.  Tupelo is not only where Elvis was born, it is also where he got his first guitar. Just about every fan knows he bought it at the Tupelo Hardware Store.

Tupelo Hardware

Tupelo Hardware Inside

 

The story most people know about Elvis’ first guitar runs pretty close to the one in Elvis Day by Day.

Elvis Day by Day

The book’s authors, Peter Guralnick and Ernst Jorgensen, are two highly esteemed Elvis historians. Guralnick is a guest speaker at Elvis Week this year, and Jorgensen has had the same honor previously. They have done decades of research on Elvis and written several other books about him. So, what you read about Elvis in their books can be trusted as factual. Or at least factual according to their research documents as of 1999 when Elvis Day by Day was published. Here is the entry for January 8, 1946:

“On Elvis’ eleventh birthday, his parents buy him a guitar at the Tupelo Hardware Store. As Gladys Presley later tells the story, Elvis wanted a bicycle, but she was put off both by the cost and by her fears that he might get hurt.”

Color Picture of Elvis' First Guitar

Last year, a fellow Elvis fan named Carol Austin sent me a copy of a book written nine years after Elvis Day by Day. It states two things that differ from the earlier book – he did not go into the store wanting a bicycle, and it was not on his eleventh birthday. Why should we believe this different version of the story?

Book We Remember Elvis

Because the book, We Remember Elvis, was written by four people who were boyhood chums or relatives of young Elvis in Tupelo. If you want to fully understand the hardships that Gladys, Vernon, and Elvis went through prior to moving to Memphis, you can’t do better than this book. These four authors lived that life too. But, there were many happy moments as well. Chapter 33 – Elvis’s Christmas Wagon begins:

“Christmas of 1945 was great…. Elvis had gotten a glossy wooden Wagon Master…. That wagon was a spectacular model. The frames on the side slid in and out of metal holders.”

Elvis 1945 Christmas Present -- Wagon Master

Image from book – similar to Elvis’

Elvis took almost every child in his playgroup for rides in the first days after Christmas. On the last Saturday of the year, Elvis and his two best buddies, Odell Clark and Guy Thomas Harris, took turns pushing the wagon up the hill on Kelly Street and riding it down. They would give the passenger a huge shove and watch their friend take a roller coaster ride and hear the squeals of laughter.

When the boys tired, they rode the wagon down Kelly Street to the Assembly of God Church (since moved to the Elvis birthplace complex).

Elvis - Assembly of God Church Tupelo

In 1945, there were wide sandy ditches of the sides of the road, and the three boys parked the wagon and played in the sand with toy metal trucks carrying on a make-believe construction job. Then disaster hit, as described in the book:

“Coming along the road was a big dump truck filled with scrap metal driven by a neighbor named ‘Peanut’ Gamble.’ … He and some of the Randle boys pulled big pieces of metal out of grown up weeds on the back property lines. … [Gamble] then backed his big truck back onto the roadway. Unfortunately, Elvis’ new wagon was right behind the truck’s big wheels.”

The boys screamed “stop,” but it was too late and the wagon got crunched. Elvis picked up several broken pieces and stared in disbelief. Then he began hysterical crying and ran toward home.

“’Mama, Mama, Mama,’ he cried….Mama could fix anything! Gladys had heard his cry and was running toward her son. Her face was blood red and her breath was sporadic as she rushed to her child….Gladys grabbed Elvis into her arms, pulled him tight to her chest, but she trembled with the power of her emotions.”

Peanut Gamble caught up with them and apologized over and over. He took out his wallet and gave Elvis every bill he had. “I’m so sorry. I didn’t see it.”

Gladys carried Elvis all the way home as he clutched the money tightly. He had his chin resting on her shoulder and his arms and legs wrapped around her body. He was thinking of getting a new wagon, but another thought seeped in – maybe buying new rifle instead.

 

Let’s look at two calendars to get a sense of the timing of this story.

December 1945

The two dates circled are when Elvis got the wagon and when it got crushed.

January 1946

You all recognize January 8 as Elvis’ birthday. But the 5th of January is when Elvis went to Tupelo Hardware. As the book says, “The next Saturday was the day to go to Tupelo to replace the broken toy.” (The Presleys actually lived in the village of East Tupelo, now annexed into the city of Tupelo.)

By then, Elvis was committed to try to buy a 22 rifle with his money. Gladys wouldn’t hear of it, and doggedly maintained they were going to buy a wagon. Once in the store, Elvis took her hand and dragged her in the direction of the rifles. She continued past them and pulled him toward the wagons. Then something caught her eye and she looked up. Elvis’ eyes turned to see what she was looking at. It was a display of guitars.

The salesman saw the interest and asked, “Do you play the guitar, Mam?” Elvis made a quick glance back to the rifles before giving his full attention to the glistening guitar.

“The smart salesman immediately climbed the sliding ladder to take down the smallest of the instruments [it was a 1940s Kay model]. He slid the strap over Elvis’ head and adjusted the guitar at the perfect angle to fit Elvis’ young body. He handed him a small ivory pick. The child immediately placed his slender fingers on the proper frets as his Uncle Vester had taught him. When he strummed the strings with the pick, there was just enough harmony for the salesman to brag generously on the child’s talent.”

Elvis placed his money on the counter and got two one-dollar bills back. He strolled out of the store with the guitar still hanging over his shoulder. We can assume both he and his mother had big smiles on their faces. Gladys had to be happy that Elvis wasn’t carrying a rifle, and Elvis had to be thrilled with his new guitar.

January 1946

So, that’s how it all started. I am absolutely confident that Elvis told the story of his trip to Tupelo Hardware to his buddies numerous times, and they have recounted it in the book We Remember Elvis. This is the real story of Elvis’ first guitar.

 

Guernsey's Auction Sept 14, 2011

Elvis’ first guitar went up for auction at Guernsey’s on September 14, 2011 in New York City. I have spent entirely too much time on Google trying to find out what it went for, or if it even sold at all. If anyone knows, please put a message on Comments.

 

© 2017 Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister All Rights Reserved www.ElvisBlog.net

 

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Surfing the Graceland Guest House Website and Facebook Page

Soundstage Aat Elvis Presley's Graceland

Two months ago, ElvisBlog looked at the Elvis Week events scheduled at Soundstage A at Elvis Presley’s Memphis. This includes six nightly concerts. In addition, there will be musical events at the Fedex Forum and the Elvis Week Entertainment Tent.

 

Guesthouse at Graceland Theater

Three months ago, we looked at some musical acts presented at the Graceland Guest House Theater. But a few days ago, I realized that all the Graceland Insider emails made no mention of any Elvis Week shows at the theater.

I couldn’t believe they would leave that beautiful new theater unused during Elvis Week, so I did some digging on www.guesthousegraceland.com.

Graceland Guest House Website

Then I clicked on EVENTS in the upper right, which brought me to this:

What's happening at Graceland

So, I clicked on DOWNLOAD MONTHLY ACTIVITIES CALENDAR.

Ongoing Events at Graceland Guest House

This is the top half of the July calendar with two musical events highlighted in yellow. The July 1 show was T.G. Shepherd, which we covered in the April blog post. The show on July 3 was the Memphis Ukulele Band.

Memphis Ukulele Band

 

Here is the bottom half of the July events calendar along with the image that follows — a promotional graphic of other diversions happening at the hotel.

Guest House Event Schedule - bottom

You will note there are no music events highlighted on the theater calendar for the rest of July.

However, you can play these lawn games: ping pong, cornhole, shuffleboard & foosball. There’s a catch -– you need to have a valid ID and credit card to rent the stuff you need from the Guest House Gift Shop. I wonder what they charge for the beanbags you use for cornhole.

 

Guest House Live Music

Depending on when you stay at the hotel, you can listen to one of these two acts in the Lobby Lounge. Something tells me they don’t play much Elvis music.  If anyone knows, please let us know in Comments.

 

EP's Happy Hour

EP’s Bar & Grill was advertised in the graphic. So, a draft beer costs $4.00 at Happy Hour. What do you think it is the rest of the night? I hadn’t seen much about EP’s in the emails from Graceland, so I looked elsewhere for pictures.

EP's Bar & Grill

EP's Bar & Grill at Graceland Guest House

If I stayed at the hotel, I would probably eat here. Photos of the other restaurants make them look really, really pricey.

 

Then I got back to my hunt for Elvis Week concerts at the Guest House Theater. I found a little calendar icon showing July, but with an arrow to click on for the next month. Look what I got.

No Upcoming Events at Graceland Guest House Theater

I added the circle around the news that there are no events in August. This was just too hard for me to accept, so I searched elsewhere and found two daytime concerts.

Bourke Performing at Graceland

Ultimate Tribute Artist Contest Showcase

This tribute artist showcase is interesting. If you bought tickets in the $209 section of the Ultimate ETA contest, you get a bonus of free tickets to a concert by the semifinalists.

Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest

So, there are two daytime music events at the hotel theater during Elvis Week, but nothing at night. I don’t get it. Maybe they want everyone to head over to Elvis Presley’s Memphis and spend more money.

 

Find us on Facebook

There was something at the bottom of that promotional graphic we looked at earlier. I didn’t know the Guest House had a Facebook page, but I figured it had some different pictures than the website, so I clicked on it. I was right, so here are a few.

Karaoke Night at EP's Bar at Graceland Guest House

This must be popular with the fans. I wonder if the song list on the karaoke machine is 100% Elvis hits.

 

These dramatic drapes at the Guest House at Graceland are a favorite spot for selfies

The caption under this picture is, “These dramatic drapes at the Guest House at Graceland are a favorite spot for selfies.”  It seems like there would be dozens of more interesting backgrounds for selfies to mark your trip to Graceland.

 

Inside Portico at Graceland Guest House

This is a nice shot from the front door out through the portico.

 

The deviled egg appetizer at EP’s Bar & Grill

They even show a photo of the deviled egg appetizer at EP’s Bar & Grill.

 

Above the pool table at Graceland Guest House.

The caption under this picture says, “If you’re playing billiards at The Guest House at Graceland, be sure to look up.” The pool table is located in EP’s Bar and Grill.

Guest House Pool Table at EP's Bar

 

Pool at Graceland Guesthouse

It looks like it would be cold if you tried to take a swim. Notice there are no leaves on the trees.

 

Heart-Shaped Fireplace at Graceland Guest House

Great caption: “Stop by for a little burning love by our heart-shaped fireplace.” I guess it is outside on the grounds somewhere.

 

This last photo from the Graceland Guest House Facebook page was obviously posed, but it’s very well done.

Happy National Martini Day at EP's Lounge

It promoted National Martini Day at EP’s Bar & Grill. That place is really starting to sound good to me. I wonder why they don’t give it more mention on the website.

 

 

© 2017 Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister All Rights Reserved www.ElvisBlog.net

 

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Elvis, Elvis Presley, and Graceland are registered trademarks of Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc.

Elvis T-Shirt Review — Summer 2017

Girl wearing Elvis T-Shirt

It’s summer, so it’s time for my eighth annual Elvis T-Shirt Review. As usual, it features shirts from Shop.Graceland.com. However, there was not an abundance of good new designs this year, so I decided to check out the offerings from AllPosters.com. Believe it or not, they had 30 pages of Elvis T-shirts and 36 on each page. That’s over a thousand options. Amazing.

Let’s start with the Shop.Elvis.com T-shirts.

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Graceland Aloha Eagle Jumpsuit Flag:

Elvis Presley T-shirt Graceland Aloha Eagle Jumpsuit Flag

I wish I had seen this shirt when I was working on the 4th of July post last week. I love the faded American flag hanging vertically, and Elvis in his famous American Eagle Jumpsuit is a nice compliment. I could have done without the barely discernable Graceland in the background which muddies up the image. Of course, they just had to stick in the word Graceland, but you don’t find many T-shirts on Shop.Graceland.com without it. Overall, it’s a great shirt, perfect to wear on the patriotic holidays. $24.99

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40th Anniversary Graceland Collage:

Elvis Presley T-shirt 40th Anniversary Graceland Collage

I liked the image on this shirt so much I used it as the featured picture on the post three weeks ago (but with a black background). The Graceland mansion looks okay on this shirt with the spotlights shining on it that seem to radiate out of the back of Elvis’ head. One of the few shirts that come in a selection of colors. $24.99.

 

Tupelo Crowd Surf Women’s T-Shirt:

Elvis Presley T-shirt Tupelo Crowd Surf

As you can see from the shape, this shirt comes from the women’s selections. I wish it came in a men’s T-shirt. I can see the “Tupelo Crowd” in the name, but I don’t get the “Surf” designation. It looks like the designers realized that the inclusion of GRACELAND in the design would ruin it, so they omitted it. Thank you. $24.99

 

The King Guitar Wings:

Elvis Presley T-shirt The King Guitar Wings

I studied this shirt for a while before deciding I do like it. Although I don’t understand the concept with wings and opposing lions, the funky design of ELVIS is certainly unique. What finally tipped the scale for me was the back of the shirt.

Elvis Presley T-shirt The King Guitar Wings - Back

You don’t find many Elvis T-shirts with front and back designs. Plus, it’s also available in red. $24.99.

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Graceland – Home of Elvis:

Elvis Presley T-shirt Graceland Home of Elvis

Just kidding. This is not a T-shirt I’d spend my money on. I want Elvis T-shirts, not Graceland shirts. Perhaps most folks feel the same way. The price on this is only $14.99, probably marked down because it isn’t selling. Duh.

 

Street Sign Belt Print:

Elvis Presley T-shirt Street Sign Belt Print

I had to look up “Belt Print” to see what that meant. According to Wikipedia, “A belt screen printing press is a very expensive and highly specialized piece of equipment that allows screen printers to print all over a t-shirt. There will be some more belt print T-shirts coming up in this post. The shirt has kind of a split personality – half Elvis and half Graceland. $24.99

 

Love Me Tender Heart Women’s T-Shirt:

Elvis Presley T-shirt Love Me Tender Heart Women's T-Shirt

This is an excellent deal for the female Elvis fan. The price is only $12.50 which normally would mean that only sizes XS or XXL are available, but I checked and all sizes are in stock. I like the red heart with the scroll design. A great gift idea for husbands to give to their Elvis-fan wives.

 

Aloha Shaka T-Shirt:

Elvis Presley T-shirt Aloha Shaka

See Elvis’ hand? This is called the the “shaka” sign, a common greeting in the Hawaiian culture and is meant to convey “Aloha spirit” which is a concept of friendship, understanding, and solidarity. The website refers to the vivid photo depicting Elvis during the “Aloha from Hawaii” concert. The picture looks a little fuzzy, but probably it is sharp on the shirt. $27.99

 

Now, let’s look at some nifty designs from AllPosters.com.

 

Jubilant Felons:

Elvis Presley T-shirt Jubilant Felons

This is another of those belt print designs mentioned earlier. There have been so many Jailhouse Rock T-shirts over the years, but I really like this one. And the name ‘Jubilant Felons’ is so strange it’s funny. The image seems to be Photoshopped, because there is a second Elvis at the top right. I don’t know if being 100% polyester is a good thing or not. $24.99

 

Dream State:

Elvis Presley T-shirt Dream State - Womens

Another cool name and a simple but effective design in a woman’s T-shirt. Also available in men’s and junior’s, and in tank top, long sleeve, V-neck, and hooded varieties. Prices vary a little, but the one shown here is $24.99.

 

Now Playing:

Elvis Presley T-shirt Now Playing - Front and Back

Now this is belt print taken to the extreme. Every square inch of this shirt has Elvis on it. It is also 100% polyester, which I guess works better with this screening process than cotton. It’s more expensive, but a front-and-back shirt design seems worth $29.99.

 

Tender Eyes:

Elvis Presley T-shirt Tender Eyes Youth

This is the Men’s version of this shirt, but Women’s and Youth sizes are available, too. I guess it would be more popular with the female Elvis fans. I think the eye design is spectacular. $24.99

Now that I’ve discovered there are so many Elvis T-shirts on AllPosters.com (and none say Graceland on them), I need to check out all 30 pages and do a bonus T-shirt review later as a Christmas gift suggestion feature.

 

 

© 2017 Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister All Rights Reserved www.ElvisBlog.net

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Elvis, Elvis Presley, and Graceland are registered trademarks of Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc.

 

4th of July, Bald Eagles, and Elvis

Happy 4th of July - Fireworks

If you Google 4th of July and click on Images, you will find some wonderful stuff. Talented folks have used Photoshop and other software to create hundreds of patriotic images to celebrate Independence Day.

4th of July - Flag

Not surprisingly, the American flag is the symbol used most often in these 4th of July images.

 

4th of July - Statue of Liberty

The Statue of Liberty shows up quite often as well.

 

4th of July - Eagle

The Bald Eagle is a natural for patriotic designs. It is our country’s national bird and appears on the Great Seal of the United States of America. The one in this image must be a young eagle, because their head feathers don’t turn white until they are four or five years old and reach sexual maturity.

Great_Seal_of_the_United_States

 

Another very popular feature on these holiday images is fireworks.

4th of July - Fireworks

 

Of course, most of the 4th of July images have several of these elements combined to make a bigger splash.

4th of July - Flag, Fireworks, Statue of Liberty

Here we have fireworks, the American flag, and the Statue of Liberty.

 

4th of July - Eagle, Statue of Liberty, White House, Flags, Iwo Jima

Look at all the stuff on this one: flags, bald eagle, Statue of Liberty, fireworks, the White House, Iwo Jima, and a jet plane. Wow.

 

Sometimes creative people have found other ways to celebrate the 4th of July.

4th of July - WWII Memorial

Incorporating the World War II Memorial is a nice touch.

 

4th-July-American-Map

So is a map of the United States and the use of Independence Day, the real name of the holiday.

 

4th of July-Patriotic Mouth

This one might have been made by a Rocky Horror fan.

Rocky Horror Lips

 

Some ideas for 4th of July images just don’t cut it.

4th of July - Inappropriate

 

But, let’s go back to the American Eagle designs for some special ones.

4th of July - Four Eagles

Note the US Constitution and flag–wrapped candle. Plus there are four bald Eagles in the design.

 

4th of July -Eagle with Flag Sunglasses

I really like this one. It reminds me of an interesting Photoshopped Elvis picture in my files.

Lisa Reflections

 

Speaking of Elvis, I got the idea for this post while looking through my collection of patriotic images featuring him. I was surprised to find there were so many of them incorporating an American Eagle. Here are a few.

 

Elvis with Eagle Head - 4th of July

This one has it all. Bald Eagle, fireworks, Statue of liberty, American flag, and Elvis. Plus apple pie. I would prefer see Elvis wearing his Army uniform in these kind of images, rather than a jumpsuit, but at least this is his famous American Eagle jumpsuit.

Elvis American Eagle Jumpsuit - Back

 

 

Elvis, Flag, and Eagles - 4th of July

I can’t say I real crazy about the red stripes coming down the eagle’s heads. Kind of looks like streaks of blood. Elvis looks good, though.

 

Bald Eacle and Elvis Heads

This is interesting. The red stripes of the flag are used to better advantage on this eagle, and they aren’t bad on Elvis either.

 

Elvis and Bald Eagle 4th of July

Good use of Elvis in his Army uniform.

 

King Elvis Presley - 4th of July

A missed opportunity to present Elvis in both an Army uniform and a jumpsuit. Don’t need two jumpsuits.

 

King Elvis Presley - 4th of July

Simple, but effective. I could do a whole post on just Bald Eagles with the American flag morphed into their feathers.

 

How about eight Elvises incorporated into the wings of a Bald Eagle?

Eagle pin with Elvis Images

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Somebody even used Elvis in his ’68 black leather outfit for a patriotic image.

Elvis God Bless America 4th of July

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I guess the message is the most important thing.

 

Have a Safe and Happy 4th of July

 

 

© 2017 Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister All Rights Reserved www.ElvisBlog.net

 

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Elvis, Elvis Presley, and Graceland are registered trademarks of Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc.

 

Celebrating National Selfie Day with Elvis

National Selfie Day

Elvis did not live during the age of smart phones with cameras, but it’s fun to think of the selfies he might have taken if he’d had that opportunity back then. In a slightly late homage to National Selfie Day on June 21, here are some ideas I’ve come up with.

 

Elvis Selfie 1

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Elvis Selfie 2

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Elvis Selfie 3

 

Elvis Selfie 7

 

Elvis Selfie 5

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Elvis selfie 4

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Elvis Selfie 8

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Elvis Selfie 9

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Elvis Selfie 10

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Elvis Selfie 12

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Elvis Selfie 11

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Elvis Selfie 13

 

Don’t you wish you could have taken a selfie with Elvis?

 

 

© 2017 Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister All Rights Reserved www.ElvisBlog.net

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Elvis, Elvis Presley, and Graceland are registered trademarks of Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc.

 

A Summer of 40th Anniversaries

Elvis 40

Elvis Week 2017 will mark the 40th anniversary of Elvis’ passing, and EPE has a great event planned for the fans. There is so much quality stuff to do and see, enhanced by the new Graceland Guest House and Elvis Presley’ Memphis. I wish I was going.

Another 40th anniversary coming up is Elvis’ last concert performance on June 26 at the Haymarket Arena in Indianapolis. I had the privilege of contributing to an upcoming special on local radio station WIBC. Programmer Chris Davis interviewed me to get soundbites for the broadcast.

Elvis' last Concert - Indianapolis 1977

Not that I had attended the concert. He had already found some Hoosiers who had been there. He asked me general stuff like the difference between Elvis’ 1950s music and his 70s music, and what was it like to be a teenager when Elvis burst on the scene and changed everything. He also asked me my opinion of Col. Parker, but I’m pretty sure he won’t use my answer. I didn’t mince words about my disdain for Parker. If you’d like to read a 2009 blog post I did on Elvis’ final concert, click here.

 

Another 40th anniversary is the Elvis in Concert TV special on CBS. It aired on Oct 3, 1967, just a few weeks after Elvis died. However, it was conceived well before his death and was supposed to join the ranks of the ’68 Comeback Special and Aloha from Hawaii to create a trio of historic Elvis TV specials. The results did not live up to expectations, and Elvis in Concert has been mostly just a historical footnote.

TV ad for Elvis in Concert Special

This is a screen grab of the commercial CBS used to promote the program.

CBS advertisement for Elvis In Concert in 1977

 

Filming for the special was done on June 19 at the Omaha Civic Center and June 21 at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center in Rapid City, South Dakota.

 

Start of CBS Special Elvis in Concert.

This is the opening shot from the one-hour broadcast.

Omaha Civic Auditorium

Elvis in Concert contained fourteen songs, but only three were included form the Omaha show. According to Peter Guralnick and Earnst Jorgensen, the authors of ELVIS – Day by Day, “it is one of the poorest shows Elvis has given to date, a sad and incoherent performance for the most part.”

 

Rushmore Civic Auditorium

Elvis was in much better two nights later in Rapid City. He performed memorable versions two songs, but one was not included in the special. Again, quoting ELVIS – Day by Day,

“Perhaps the highlight of the show (although it is neither easy viewing nor listening) is Elvis’ version of “Unchained Melody,” which will not be included in the television broadcast, though Elvis performs it in bravura fashion, alone at the piano.”

Elvis Singing Unchained Melody

 

I would like to disagree. There is footage on YouTube of Elvis performing “Unchained Melody” the same manner on April 24, 1977, two months earlier. If you have seen it, you’ll never forget it. Elvis was bloated, sweating profusely, and performing through a cloud of painkillers.

Elvis Singing Unchained Melody - Close Up

And yet, he gave an utterly moving rendition of the song. Maybe it wasn’t easy viewing, but it was compelling. It gave me the chills and a lump in my throat. It was a great triumph for Elvis to pull it off. I was so proud of him.

 

Are You Lonesome Tonight Laughing Version

The other memorable song in Elvis in Concert was “Are You Lonesome Tonight?” Starting in 1969, when Elvis performed it onstage, he regularly played around with the words during the talking part part of the song. Often, this caused him to break into fits of laughter. If you’ve never seen a video of this, just go to YouTube and type in Are You Lonesome Tonight Laughing Version.

However in the Elvis in Concert broadcast, just before Elvis went into the recitation part of the song, the music was faded down and a devoted female fan is shown talking about her determination to see Elvis live in concert, then it switches back to Elvis after the talking part was finished. This may have been done so that viewers would not have to see Elvis fumbling through the recitation.

 

1977 Elvis in Concert double record set

Shortly after the broadcast, RCA released a double album also called Elvis in Concert.  Although it contained all the songs from the TV special, it also contained “Fans’ Comments,” “Elvis Talks,” a “Special Message from Elvis’ Father,” and a bunch of songs recorded at other concerts in June 1977.

 

The Elvis in Concert TV Special has never been officially released on VHS or DVD, and Elvis’ estate has issued a statement saying that they have “no plans” to release the special, due to the fact that Elvis was visibly “far from his best in the way he looked and the way he performed.”

However, the bootleggers have been busy putting out unofficial DVDs. Here are just a few.

ELVIS PRESLEY IN CONCERT 1977 DVD

 

And like everything else ever filmed, Elvis in Concert has shown up on YouTube – numerous times. Click here and take your pick.

 

 

© 2014 Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister All Rights Reserved www.ElvisBlog.net

 

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Elvis, Elvis Presley, and Graceland are registered trademarks of Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc.