The Second Auction at Graceland — Part 2

Last week, I promised we would look at the items that failed to receive the minimum bid established by the auction — overly optimistic minimums in most cases:

Gold Nugget and Diamond Ring:

Elvis' Gold Nugget-Style Diamond Ring

Dozens of Elvis’ rings have been covered in the four ElvisBlog special reports on Elvis’ Fabulous Rings (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4), but only ten have sold for over $15,000. The minimum bid on this ring was $12,000, which means the buyer would have to shell out $15,000 when the 25% auction premium is added in. It’s a fine ring, with 14-karat gold weighing approximately 16 grams and four diamonds measuring approximately 0.5 carats. The problem is that no photo of Elvis wearing the ring was offered. Letters of authenticity from two previous owners of the ring just didn’t cut it.

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Crown Cake Topper:

Crown Cake Topper Gifted to Elvis

It was easy to see this wasn’t going to reach the estimate of $1,200-1,500, let alone the minimum of $500. It is just a 4 inch-wide decoration to put on top of a cake. A fan handed it to Elvis at a concert and had someone take a photo with the cake topper in front of Elvis. This is one time a photo didn’t seem to help create demand. Elvis has to do more than touch something for a few seconds to make it serious memorabilia.

 

Teddy Bear Gifted by Elvis:

Teddy Bear Gifted by Elvis

I laughed out loud when I saw what they wanted for this. As you know, lots of fans sent Teddy Bears to Elvis, even while he was stationed in Germany during his Army days. Elvis had a table full of them when an Army buddy and his expectant wife visited him. He wanted to give them a gift for their baby and asked the wife to choose a teddy bear from the table. This is the one she choose. There was not enough of an Elvis connection to make anybody cough up the minimum bid of $4,000, and the expected range of $7-9,000 was just ridiculous.

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Application for Credit for a 1964 Rolls Royce Signed by Elvis:

Application for Credit for a 1964 Rolls Royce Signed by Elvis

The auction website description tried to present this as a great glimpse at the day-to-day business dealings in the lives of Elvis and Vernon Presley. But the truth is that most of the value comes from Elvis’ signature at the bottom of the left document. But Elvis autographs sell frequently at much less than the estimate of $3,500-$5,000. And they are on more interesting items, as can be seen in the earlier ElvisBlog series So What Is an Elvis Autograph Worth? (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4)

 

Gold and Diamond TCB and TLC Necklaces:

Elvis' Gold and Diamond TCB and TLC Necklaces

I’m actually surprised this set didn’t sell. Sure, the minimum bid was high at $25.000, which meant the buyer would have to part with $31,250, but the tone of the auction indicated the buyers were willing to spend big bucks on the top items. Plus, a single TLC necklace with no diamonds went for $12,500 at this auction. Both pendants have twelve imbedded diamonds totaling 0.25 carats. The lightning bolts are 14k gold weighing 13 grams, and the chains are 14k gold approximately thirty inches long. I expect we’ll see these at auction again, probably with a bit lower minimum bid.

 

U.S.S. Arizona Memorial Fund Original Flyer, 1961:

Elvis - U.S.S. Arizona Memorial Fund Original Flyer

While this 9-1/4 x 12-3/8 inch promotional flyer did not bring the minimum bid of $2,000, it did have the most fact-filled description on the auction website:

“Perhaps what endears Elvis Presley to his fans so much is the fact that it seemed like there was no end to his willingness to give. In December of 1960 an editorial ran in an L.A. paper about the stalled efforts to complete the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial. This article was spotted by the Colonel and Elvis answered the call to duty. On January 11th, 1961, a press conference was held and it was announced that Elvis would perform a benefit concert on the condition that every penny from the concert must go to the fund. Elvis had just turned 26 and the fact that the average age of the 1,102 American seamen that died aboard the U.S.S. Arizona during the Pearl Harbor attack was about that same age was not lost on him. It was stated during the press conference that not only was everyone expected to pay for entry to the event but that Elvis wanted to be the one to buy the first ticket. Ticket prices ranged from $3.00 to $10.00 for reserved section seats and $100.00 for the 100 reserved “ringside” seats. The goal was set at raising $50,000 towards the effort. The concert date was set for March 25th, 1961 and 4,000 screaming fans, 15 songs and $54,000 later, Elvis left the building. As a result of the concert and the huge amount of media attention it garnered, public and private donations flooded in from all over the country and on May 30th, 1962 (Memorial Day) the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial was dedicated.”

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“Louisiana Hayride” Contract Signed by Elvis, Gladys and Vernon, 1955:

Louisiana Hayride Contract Signed by Elvis, Gladys and Vernon, 1955

The auction description of this contract correctly stated that “The significance of this contract cannot be overstated… Elvis’ weekly “Hayride” shows were instrumental in the development of his early stage presence, and were where Colonel Parker first saw Elvis perform. Producer and contract signer H.L. “Hoss” Logan coined the phrase ‘Elvis has left the building’ during this time period as well.”

But bidders must have considered the value of Elvis’ signature on the last of four pages of legalese to be less that the minimum bid of $15,000.

 

One other element of this second Auction at Graceland that was kind of interesting:

Chatroom-at-Auction-at-Graceland

Graceland.com had a link so we fans could watch a live stream of the event. In addition the screen had a column on the right for viewers to chat.

At first, it was all one big happy family:

Samantha – Hello fellow fans, hope everyone one has had a lovely Elvis day
Jill – I wish I had the money for this stuff
Kitten – If I had anything from Elvis, I would sleep with it every night and then I would be buried with it when I die.
Gayleen — “He was a man, take him for all in all, I shall not look upon his like again.” A quote from Hamlet that certainly applies to Elvis.

Then, as often happens in chat rooms, there was occasional sniping back and forth:

Sue – He died from a heart attack because he was so out of shape. He had an enlarged heart and liver.. He was an accident waiting to happen
Kathy – Debbie Downer, don’t ruin this for us fans
Soul Reactivator – Why is Elvis birthday being celebrated after he died from Drugs ?
Daniel – Soul reactivator, don’t be so ignorant
Jamie – Go away Troll Trash

Auction at Graceland Live Feed - Loading

About half-way through, the live stream started having problems. Those who were still getting it okay were nice to the rest of us and gave us a running play-by-play of the results (the chat room kept going just fine):

Ellen – 8,500 for the scarf and ticket stub. omg!

Then the auction live stream seemed to go into permanent buffering mode for everybody.

Auction at Graceland Live Feed - Buffering

Nanlyn – Does anyone know how I can stop it from buffering so much. get tired of refreshing
Sherrie – Mine is still frozen. won’t even let me log out
Wayne – Yep, I’m crashed here too…at least I’ve got an excuse. I’m in Australia!!

 

At that point, I gave up and went to bed.

 

Next week we will look at the auction’s big surprises and a few other items that caught my fancy.

 

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

 

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Captain Contest #29 — Winner

Previous winner Jean Pyle of Hawthorne, NJ came through again. Her approach is unique. Instead of just a caption, Jean takes on the challenge of reworking lyrics of an Elvis song to fit the image. She picked “Suspicious Minds” for this one.

Elvis - Hey, Look

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“Suspicious Minds”

I’m caught in a speed trap.
I can’t walk out,
Because I drove too fast, baby.

Why can’t they see
What they’re doing to me
When they don’t believe a word I say?

“We can’t go to the police station together
With your suspicious mind.
It was just peanut butter and bananas
I was racing off to find.”

Jean also worked peanut butter and bananas into this, which is appropriate since her prize is a $31 gift card from Baskin-Robbins. Their flavor of the month for January is “Peanut Butter ‘N Banana” in honor of Elvis’ 80th birthday.

Elvis Ice Cream in Cone

I’ve tried it and it’s pretty good. I even brought a hand-packed quart home.

 

I usually share a little of my ice cream cones with my golden retriever, Molly. No, she doesn’t lick it. I scoop a little into a cup for her. Well, with Baskin-Robbins’ Elvis flavor, I was able to do it a little differently. The peanut butter swirls are more like 1-1/2 inch long semi-frozen sticks. If you grab one end by two fingers, they pull out easily. I gave them to Molly and she loved them. By the way, Molly is a big Elvis fan, too.

Elvis - You Ain't Nothin' But A ... Golden Retriever

 

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The Second Auction at Graceland — The Big Winners

2015 Elvis Auction at Graceland

As part of the activities for Elvis’ 80th birthday celebration, EPE promoted a large auction of his memorabilia. You have to give them credit for coming up with another reason for folks to brave the harsh winter weather in Memphis that week.

Elvis Wearing Necklace, 1957

There were 67 items up for auction, and eight were pieces of jewelry, including the necklace above. I’ve followed auctions of Elvis memorabilia for years, and this one has to be called the big daddy winner. Many items sold for much more than the pre-event estimates. Let’s look at the most expensive items in descending order.

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Elvis’ First Recording Acetate:

Elvis Presley’s First Recording Acetate, 1953

According to the description on the auction website, this is likely the most important 78 mm record ever offered. It had a pre-auction estimate of $75-100,000, but twenty-one serious record-collector bids ran it up to $300,000. One note, the winning bid was $240,000, but a 25% “Buyer’s Premium” was added to cover the cut for the auctioneer (and probably EPE, too).

The auction website had a very complete description of this item and its history.

“Elvis walked into Sam Phillips’ Memphis Recording Service, home of Sun Records, [in August 1953] and paid the sum of $4 to record a belated birthday gift for his mother — his first ever recording. Elvis sang two songs: “My Happiness” (Side A), which is the only Elvis recording that exists of this song, and “That’s When Your Heartaches Begin” (Side B). Legend has it that Elvis’ friend Ed Leek convinced and accompanied Elvis to the recording studio that fateful day. Elvis was greeted by Marion Keisker, assistant to Sam Philips, who asked Elvis who he sounded like and Elvis responded, “I don’t sound like nobody.” Little did she know at the time that he was absolutely right. In these two songs that Elvis chose to sing, Marion heard something different, enough to note Elvis’ name and telephone number [on a 3×5 card] and add that he was a good ballad singer. When Elvis left the studio that day, he and Ed stopped at Ed’s parents’ house to listen to the fresh recording, as they had a modern phonograph and Elvis wanted to hear how it sounded. Elvis left his friend’s house that day without the record and this acetate is being offered directly from a descendant of Ed Leek.”

Elvis -- My Happiness Label

I can add two more things about the legend of this record. Supposedly, Elvis had no money with him this day, so Ed Leek paid the $4, and this is why the record stayed at Ed’s house. He also made some money from this record back in 1992, when RCA purchased the rights to include it in their compilation titled ELVIS The King of Rock ’N’ Roll – The Complete 50’s Masters.

ELVIS The King of Rock 'n Roll -- The Complete 50s Masters

 

Treble Clef Gold and Diamond Ring:

Elvis' Treble Clef Gold and Diamond Ring Gifted to Sammy Davis, Jr.

Elvis’ rings are always popular at the auctions, and this one is certainly fabulous. The pre-auction estimate was $20-25,000, and it hit the high end of that range. With the 25% buyer’s premium added, the total tab was $32,500. Let’s look at what the item description said about this ring:

“Elvis’ close friends were without a doubt very important to him, and one of those friends was Sammy Davis, Jr. This ring was treasured by “The Candyman” as it was one of several gifts given to him by Elvis that he kept in his possession for the remainder of his life. The offered 14-karat gold and diamond ring is designed as a bar of music with a diamond-encrusted treble clef on one side and a stacked but offset “EP” at the other end. The size 10 ring contains 11 diamonds weighing approximately 2.5 carats, with the gold weighing approximately 12.8 g. The design is reminiscent of the gates at Graceland.”

 

Elvis Presley’s First Sun Record, Signed:

Elvis Presley’s First Sun Record, 78 RPM Signed

The heirs of Ed Leek did well on another Elvis record. A year after the “My Happiness” acetate, Leek ended up with what is probably the first autographed Elvis Sun Records single. The estimate was woefully low at $10-15,000. It cost somebody $32,500 to take this prize home. Again, here is the auction description.

“This 78 RPM record of “That’s All Right” (#209) is the first Elvis song recorded at Sun Records. Elvis’ friend Ed Leek was with Elvis to witness the initial production of Elvis’ first Sun Studio record and grabbed one of the records, which Elvis signed to Ed, writing “To a good pal, Elvis Presley” on the label. Likely the first record signed by Elvis, this record has been in the same private collection as the 1953 acetate Elvis recorded for his mother. Considered by some to be the rock and roll equivalent of the “Shot Heard Round the World,” this record jump-started the unprecedented craze over this young star. The Sun label is signed in blue ink.”

 

1914 Indian Head Gold 2½-Dollar Coin and Diamond Ring:

Elvis' 1914 Indian Head Gold 2½-Dollar Coin and Diamond Ring

Records and rings dominate the list of top Elvis items at this auction. This beauty didn’t quite meet the estimate, but it still brought a winning bid of $18,750.

“Elvis had a great appreciation for jewelry and a particular like for jewelry that contained gold coins. He is known to have owned several rings with 2½ and 5 dollar gold pieces. The offered ring, with a U.S. 1914 2½ dollar Indian Head gold coin, was given to Tom Hulett, co-founder of Concerts West, in the 1969/1970 era. Tom was very instrumental in managing Elvis’ live performances in the last eight years of his concerts. Tom had great attention to detail and a knack for working well with Colonel Parker and as a result managed all of the Elvis concerts during this period. This fine example is surrounded by 26 round diamonds weighing approximately 1 carat total. The gold ring weighs approximately 18.6 g and measures a size 8 1/2.”

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RCA Award to Colonel Parker for “In The Ghetto”:

RCA Award to Colonel Parker for In The Ghetto

I’m afraid some of the bidders didn’t read the fine print on this one. Note the title above. It says “RCA Award to Colonel Parker,” not “RCA Gold Record Award to Elvis.” Here’s what the gold records at Graceland look like:

Elvis' Gold Records at Graceland

I thought the estimate of $6-8,000 sounded high, so I was blown away when it went for $16,250.

“This framed RCA Victor 45 award for “In The Ghetto” is dedicated “To Col. Tom Parker In appreciation of his contribution toward making IN THE GHETTO 47-9741 A Million Seller 1969.” The song, about a boy born and raised in the ghetto of Chicago, was written by Mac Davis and originally titled “The Vicious Circle.” The song describes the rough life of the boy and how, just as he is killed, another child is born, implying that the vicious cycle of poverty and violence will continue. Elvis made the song famous in 1969 and the song hit number 3 in the U.S. charts and number 2 in the U.K. This framed display features a 45 single above a silver colored plaque, both mounted on a black velvet background. The framed display measures 14 1/8 by 12 1/8 inches.”

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Neo Nautic Prescription Sunglasses Made for Elvis:

Neo Nautic Prescription Sunglasses Made for Elvis

This is the second time I’ve seen so-called “Neo-Nautic” style Elvis sunglasses at auction. The other one was less ornate and sold for $6,853 in 2011. Here is a photo of Elvis wearing the other pair.

Elvis Wearing Neo-Nautic Sunglasses

You don’t see many photos of Elvis wearing his shades in concert. Anyway, this better pair went for $15,000.

“These Neo Nautic style sunglasses with TCB custom embellishments on both arms were made for Elvis to wear for his concerts at Madison Square Garden by Dennis Roberts of Optique Boutique. Elvis often sent his sunglasses to Dennis for repairs and these glasses were sent in and never collected. The prescription sunglasses have three holes on each arm underneath the TCB embellishment. The arms show evidence of having been replaced, likely the reason they were sent to Optique Boutique for repair.”

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Red Velour Shirt Worn by Elvis in “Girl Happy”:

Red Velour Shirt Worn by Elvis in Girl Happy

This shirt sold previously at a Gotta’ Have It auction in 2011, and it brought in $8.216. This year it went for $12,500. However, here is a shot from the Girl Happy DVD. Seems like maybe blue should be the color to pull in this kind of money.

Elvis in Girl Happy Wearing Blue Velour

“The offered red velour pullover shirt with zippered collar opening has an orange MGM tag and an interior tag that reads “Sy Devore of Palm Springs Hollywood Las Vegas.” “E. Presley” has been written at the top of the tag. It comes from the MGM wardrobe collection and was worn by Elvis in the movie Girl Happy. Elvis can also be seen in various publicity photos wearing this red velour shirt. In his role, Elvis plays a band member hired by a Chicago mobster and club owner to watch over his daughter on spring break in Florida. This well documented shirt, worn by the man that has made many a girl happy.”

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Elvis Necklace from 1957:

Elvis-Worn Necklace, 1957

We will look at two necklaces in a row. This one is not made of a precious metal, and it has no diamonds or other jewels. However, it had 22 bids and went for $12,500.

“JD Sumner was Elvis’ bass singer in the 1970s. During performances at that time, fans would often throw tokens of their admiration for Elvis on stage at the end of each concert. Elvis would often give many of these items to JD Sumner. The offered religious pendant necklace was one such token that a fan gave Elvis. Before gifting it to JD Sumner, Elvis wore this necklace. It can be seen in images of Elvis from March 28, 1957 in Chicago meeting the press before a show [see second photo above]. The pendant with Catholic symbols on a clover-shaped design is suspended from a white metal chain and reads on the reverse ‘I am Catholic please call a priest.’”

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Gold “TLC” Necklace:

Elvis' Gold “TLC” Necklace
This necklace also went for $12,500, and there is no doubt that it is the one I’d spend my money on. It is 14K gold, historically significant, and rare.

“Elvis was known for gifting TCB (“Taking Care of Business”) necklaces to the men of his entourage and TLC (“Tender Loving Care”) to the women in his life. The offered necklace was one of only two of these necklaces made by a Beverly Hills jeweler for Elvis and this example was gifted by Elvis to Barbara Klein, wife of George, who was a member of Elvis’ entourage. The lightning bolt affixed to the TLC is marked “14k” on the reverse and the pendant is connected to a gold rope chain. The necklace measures approximately 18 inches long and the TLC pendant measures approximately 1 3/4 inches long.”

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16MM Film of Elvis Presley in Chicago, 1957:

16MM Film of Elvis Presley in Chicago, 1957

The pre-auction estimate sounded like a bargain at $1,500-2,000, but it turned out to be embarrassingly low. This film had 36 bids, more than any other item, and it topped out at $11,875. I hope the buyer puts it on a DVD and markets it, because that means someday it will be on YouTube. I would love to see footage of Elvis performing in 1957. And all those screaming fans.

Elvis on stage 1957

“Offered is a 16MM reel of Elvis Presley in Chicago in 1957. The film contains black-and-white footage of the end of Elvis’ concert in Chicago and is 5 minutes 15 seconds in length. Elvis, wearing a gold lamé suit, is singing to a packed house in the first 15 seconds of the film and then again for an additional 23 seconds around minute 1. The remainder of the film documents the phenomena of the physical reactions of fans to the King of Rock and Roll. The film pans to the first aid area of the arena and features a girl who fainted being whisked to first aid and revived by police. The film continues to feature female fans overcome with emotion, some crying, some waving, and many smiling and joyful. Several seconds of the film show the Colonel smoking a cigar and signing autographs. Many of the fans can be seen wearing large “I Like Elvis” buttons on their lapels. A fantastic peek into the raw emotions of fans after an Elvis concert. The film has no sound track and is contained in a period round metal container with a fabric tape label.”

 

Elvis’ First Driver’s License, 1952

Elvis' Driver's License

I knew this would bring big bucks, but it came in lower than I expected, and less than the $15-20,000 estimate. Still, $11,875 is nothing to sneeze at. I’ll bet the new owner puts it in a proper display frame. Wonder why the previous owner didn’t. He could have gotten more money for it.

“This significant document is the Tennessee operator’s (driver’s) license that Elvis obtained on March 24, 1952. It is accompanied by a completed form listing the same information. Both documents are signed by Elvis Presley. The license number is 1688827, with No 0197445 on the reverse, which lists no violations. The paper license (with no photo) was issued by the State of Tennessee and expired July 1, 1953. Both documents list his date of birth as 1-8-35, eye color as blue, weight as 153, occupation as student, hair color as “Bro” and height as 5’11 1/2”. The name is printed on the form and typed on the license as “Elvis Aron Presley.” The original typed address on the driver’s license is 185 Winchester, at the Lauderdale Courts public housing development in Memphis where the Presley family once lived. Penciled in next to that is an updated address of 698 Saffarans Avenue in downtown Memphis.  The operator’s license measures approximately 3 1/2 by 2 1/4 inches.

“Condition: The operator’s license is in fair condition with several tears expected from a paper document likely carried in a teenager’s wallet. The license also exhibits paper loss at edges, most notably under the “Presley” portion of the signature (leaving approximately 60% of the signature intact). The license has been covered in tape, which has caused the document to discolor severely.”

 

Next week we will look at the few losers that didn’t receive the minimum bid.

 

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

 

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ElvisBlog Mini-Nuggets #19

We haven’t done Mini-Nuggets since March 2014, but Elvis’ 80th birthday has provided some short subjects to report.

Record Number of Hits for ElvisBlog:

ElvisBlog Results on Google Analytics

On January 1, I checked Google Analytics to see how well ElvisBlog did for the year. 147,000 people (users) visited the site, resulting in 279,991 pageviews (hits). That’s an average of 2,800 users a week, a gain of 30% over the 2013 results. Definitely a good year.

Which makes the results in the graphic above even more remarkable. Yesterday, on what would have been Elvis’ 80th birthday, ElvisBlog had nearly 2,600 people visit the site. Wow. I hope I’m still around to see the results on Elvis’ 100th birthday.

 

Elvis’ Movie Costars Pass Away:

Mary Ann Mobley with Elvis in Girl Happy

When time permits, we will take a deeper look at two late actresses who appeared with films with Elvis. Mary Ann Mobley (Girl Happy, Harum Scarum) died on December 19, 2014.

Donna Douglas and Elvis in Frankie and Johnny

Donna Douglas (Frankie and Johnny) passed away on New Year’s Day, 2015.

Elvis’ leading ladies have been a staple for print and video interviews about him for decades. Has there ever been an Elvis Week without one or two of them being “Special Guests” for talks, panel discussions, and autograph sessions?

Donna Butterworth with Elvis Presley in Paradise, Hawaiian Style

Well, the list is getting short, and you have to wonder what authors, journalists and EPE will do when Elvis’ female costars are all gone. Now we have a hint. In celebration of Elvis 80th birthday, an article in the Boone, NC Mountain Times featured an interview with Donna Butterworth who was ten-years-old when she appeared with Elvis in Paradise, Hawaiian Style. You are going to see more of this.

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Peanut Butter ‘N Banana Ice Cream:

Baskin-Robbins Peanut Butter 'N Bananna Ice Cream

I received an email from the PR firm representing Baskin-Robbins telling me about their new flavor to celebrate Elvis’ 80th Birthday. It will be available for the entire month of January, and it is described as banana-flavored ice cream with a chunky peanut butter ribbon. They are sending me two $31 gift cards – one to use to sample it and write a review. I expect to like it, but I did have a bad experience at Elvis Week 2007 when I tried peanut butter and banana coffee, and it was lame.

The other gift card will be offered as the prize in an Elvis Caption Contest which I will post in a couple of days.

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The Elvis Auction at Graceland:

Auction at Graceland

The auction last night was a huge success, highlighted by the 1953 acetate of Elvis’ first recorded songs “My Happiness”/”That’s When Your Heartaches Begin.” The pre-auction estimate was for $75-100,000, but it went for $300,000! That’s got to be the highest priced record ever. Let’s see a record by Michael Jackson, or the Beatles, or Mariah Carey top that.

There were 67 items up for auction, so it will take two or three blogs to cover all the interesting elements of this Elvis 80th birthday event, and I’ll get them posted as soon as possible.

 

 

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

 

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Happy Birthday, Elvis

Elvis Birthday Celebration

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I Need a Birthday Kiss

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Elvis Receiving Presents at Graceland Gate

If Elvis could show up at the gates of Graceland on his 80th birthday, he’d get a ton of presents.

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Multi-color Happy Birthday Elvis

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

 

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Crummy Elvis Shit

Crummy Elvis Shit -- Elvis Blog

Back in 2007, I wrote an ElvisBlog post about Elvis’ 1964 movie, Live A Little, Love A Little. In the text, I used the words Elvis, crummy, and shit. They were in three different sentences in three different paragraphs.

Then in 2008, somebody Googled “Crummy Elvis Shit.” The Google algorithm went searching out in the internet for those three words, and it found my little blog article. Out of 6,330 results. ElvisBlog ranked #7 in Crummy Elvis Shit. I mentioned this strong performance in a subsequent Mini-Nuggets post. I didn’t know it at the time, but that section’s subtitle, “Crummy Elvis Shit,” would have consequences.

In 2012, I Googled it again. Wow, what a change. They now had over one million results for Crummy Elvis Shit. I wrote a post about this sizable jump, noting, “It would appear the worldwide supply of Crummy Elvis Shit had grown appreciably in four years.” I also bragged because ElvisBlog had moved into the highly coveted #1 position, probably because of that 2008 section subtitle named “Crummy Elvis Shit.”

2012 Mini-Nuggets Post

 

Well, curiosity got the best of me in March, 2014, so I Googled it again. The total results dropped a little, but were still over a million. The big change was that Google now had ElvisBlog #1 and #2 in “Crummy Elvis Shit.” Hey, we’re on a roll. Up we go. That old 2012 post (under two different URLs) had moved to the top of the list. So, of course I had to write another Mini-Nugget section to tell the news, and it too was titled “Crummy Elvis Shit.” I said to myself, “OK, Google, here’s another one for you.”

It worked. On New Year’s Eve, 2014, I Googled it again. Would you believe ElvisBlog now occupies the top three spots on their results for Crummy Elvis Shit? Did you notice that is also the title of this post? I’m not leaving anything to chance. Next time I check, I want ElvisBlog to fill up an entire first page of Google results for “Crummy Elvis Shit.”

Google Top 3 for Crummy Elvis Shit

 

Oh, by the way, Bing now has 7,350,000 results for “Crummy Elvis Shit.” And ElvisBlog has the top three spots over there, too.

What a great year.

 

Happy New Year from ElvisBlog.

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

Merry Christmas, Elvis

Christmas Ornament Elvis Santa

Perhaps you’ll be taking a break from the presents and music and food, and check in to see the annual ElvisBlog Christmas post. This time of the year you are probably thinking more about Santa Claus than you are about Elvis, but here’s a look at something combines them both – Elvis wearing a Santa hat.

White Jumpsuit Elvis Santa

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Pucker Up Elvis Santa

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Soldier Elvis Santa

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Elvis Santa On Stage

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Elvis Santa Checking List

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Elvis Santa 1

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Black and White Elvis Santa

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Cartoon Elvis Santa

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Guitar Elvis Santa

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Elvis Santa with Mic

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Elvis Santa 4

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Elvis Santa and Hound Dog

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Elvis Santa and Hot Elves

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Elvis Santa 2

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Elvis Santa and Lisa

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Elvis Santa 3

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Blue Elvis Santa

 

 

Merry Christmas from ElvisBlog

ElvisBlog Christmas Wreath

 

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

Millie Kirkham

Just as I started to work on this year’s “Merry Christmas Elvis” post, I got the news that Millie Kirkham had passed away at age 91, after suffering a stroke last week. Hopefully, you fans all know her as the back-up singer with the sweet soprano voice that recorded and toured with Elvis for fifteen years.

Most tributes to Millie will feature later-day photos of her like the one above. But it didn’t take much looking to find some younger pictures from the period when she worked with Elvis.

 Millie-Kirkham-and-Five-Jordanaires-in-1958

Here she is with the Jordanaires in 1958. I’m not sure why there are five Jordanaires in the photo. Her first recording session with them and Elvis was for the Elvis Christmas Album on September 5-7, 1957.

 

Millie Kirkham, Elvis and Jordanaires

In this shot, the fifth Jordanaire is gone, replaced by some good-looking guy next to Millie.

 

Millie and the Jordanaires

Another one with the Jordanaires. Too bad the mic blocked out part of her face, because this is the most attractive photo of her in circulation.

 

Elvis with Millie Kirkham in Mini-skirt

This is my favorite picture of Millie Kirkham during the days when she worked with Elvis. It is from the movie That’s the Way It Is, filmed in 1970. Check out Millie wearing a white mini-skirt at age forty-seven. She, Elvis and the group are walking from the dressing rooms to the stage at the International Hotel in Las Vegas.

Back in 2007, I was a contributing editor to Elvis International magazine. The editor, Darwin Lamm, was promoting two concerts at Elvis Week that year, and he arranged for me to have a backstage pass for both nights. The line-ups for both shows were great: TCB Band, Scotty Moore, DJ Fontana, the Jordanaires, Millie Kirkham, and much more.

 

Backstage at the Legends Concert - 8-15-04

Sorry for the poor quality of this photo I took during the sound check for another concert back in 2004. Darwin Lamm is second from the right wearing an Elvis T-shirt. Millie is on the left, and behind her to her left are Gordon Stoker and the Jordanaires.

When Darwin told me I would have a backstage pass for the 2007 concerts, I knew I would be rubbing elbows with the performers. I wanted to be able to make conversation with all of them, so I did research and came prepared with stuff to ask them about.

 

Phil Arnold and Millie Kirkham

This is me and Millie in a room backstage that everybody seemed to hang out in. (note my pass) I got there early before the performers arrived and made like a fly on the wall for a while before going after everybody’s autographs. A number of people connected with Elvis popped in and out. It was like a big reunion. Ultimately, I got up enough nerve to ask everybody to pose in pictures with me.

I never had any private time with Millie in that gathering room, but she left and walked over to an area where folded tables and chairs were stacked up. So, I wandered into the area and asked if I could join her. She was very friendly, but to my big surprise Millie was a smoker. Here was an eighty-three year old woman whose career was singing, and she smoked. I couldn’t figure that one out, but I didn’t say anything. In fact, she offered me one and I accepted. Luckily I was a former smoker who could handle an occasional cigarette without going back to the habit.

So, Millie and I shared our smokes and chatted. This is where my research paid off. I told her I had recently watched That’s the Way It Is, and noticed the white mini-skirt she had worn. She laughed and said something like, “Oh, I can’t believe I did that. I didn’t have the legs for mini-skirts.” That opened the floodgates of conversation, and we had a delightful chat that lasted long after we snuffed out our cigarettes.

 

Millie Kirkham Ray Walker, Gordon Stoker

So, that’s my little Millie Kirkham story. I’m glad I have that memory. In this photo, she is with Ray Walker and Gordon Stoker of the Jordanaires. Unfortunately, I had to write about my 2007 Elvis Week experience with Gordon after he passed away last year. It’s disturbing every time we lose another person who was part of Elvis’ world.

So, goodbye, Millie. We will miss you. Say hi to Elvis for us.

 

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

 

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Keep Those Links Coming In

Elvis Singing Unchained Melody 2

My family and friends all know I am a big Elvis fan and have been doing ElvisBlog for ten years. So, when they come across something Elvis-related on the internet, they send me a link by email. Sometimes one of these will result in enough good stuff to turn into a blog post. Most don’t. However, the four links I’ve received over the past month are interesting, so here they are all together in one post.

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Unchained Melody:

Elvis Singing Unchained Melody 3

How many of you have seen this footage of Elvis singing “Unchained Melody” on April 24, 1977, barely four months before he died? If you have, you’ll never forget it. Elvis was bloated, sweating profusely, and performing through a cloud of painkillers. And yet, he gave an utterly moving rendition of the song. A great triumph for Elvis.

Elvis Singing Unchained Melody

I’ve seen it several times over the years, so it seemed like old news when both my son and an old high school friend sent me links to it recently. However, there was something new. Instead of just the film of Elvis singing to his own piano accompaniment, the new video included two minutes of Elvis getting ready to sing. He and Charlie Hodge talked, got the coke cup put where Elvis wanted, fiddled with the mike, and other little stuff. Realizing the delay, Elvis asked the audience, “How do you like it so far?”

So, the plan was to give you readers a link to see this very rare video. Sorry, look what comes up now:

Elvis Video No Longer Available

Come on Graceland. Give the fans a break. We know Elvis wasn’t well when this was filmed, but seeing it won’t diminish him in our minds one bit.

At least they haven’t removed the shorter video of Elvis’ performance. Click here to see a video that has been viewed over 1,300,000 times. (However, I believe they show the wrong date)

 

CMT All Time Top 40:

CMT All Time Top 40

Country Music Television conducted a poll among the biggest stars in country music to find out what artists influenced them the most. The top influence was Merle Haggard, followed by Hank Williams and Elvis. Then CMT interviewed some of the country stars that voted for each of the winners. In addition to Lisa Marie, the artists who spoke about their personal Elvis connection were Wanda Jackson, Trace Adkins, Brenda Lee, Charlie Daniels, and a pretty young lady I’m not familiar with named Ashley Monroe. However, when she said she has “Elvis” tattooed on her hip and “Love Me Tender” tattooed on her back, I became a big fan. Click here to view the Elvis video.

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Could Elvis Be Alive in a Parallel Universe?

Sounds like a cover story on the National Enquirer, doesn’t it? Believe it or not, this is the title of an article on BBC online.

Elvis Alive in Parallel Universe

Instead of the article being an absurd tabloid story, this is actually a highly scientific tome talking about fast-moving protons and other boring stuff. They could have used anybody’s name in the title, but there’s nothing like another “Elvis is alive” theme to suck in unsuspecting readers. I’m not going to bother putting a link here.

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Your 10 Favorite Rock ‘n’ Roll Stars of All Time:

AARP  - Ten Favorite Rock and Roll Stars

Over the years, I’ve studied many varied Rock and Roll polls and even posted some articles about a few. One thing, I’ve noticed in that Elvis’ popularity (or his songs or albums) drops lower as the newer voters or selection committees are folks farther and farther removed from Elvis’ heyday. So, I was tickled when my neighbor sent me a link to a poll by AARP members selecting their Top 10 Favorite Rock ’n’ Roll Stars of All Time. I knew there would be no Lady Gaga or Foo Fighters in this poll.

Elvis Seated

I wish I could say that Elvis came in Number 1, but that honor went to the Beatles. It’s hard to see much in the little thumbnail strip above, but it shows the top eight (the first box shows screaming fans). The ten winners are:

Beatles
Elvis
Rolling Stones
Bill Haley and the Comets (obviously some real old-timers voted in this poll)
Little Richard
Chuck Berry
Jerry Lee Lewis
Beachboys
Buddy Holly
Everly Brothers

We can wonder what the list will look like when today’s twenty-somethings grow old and join AARP. I think maybe Elvis and the Beatles will still be on it.

 

I love discovering fun things about Elvis on the internet. Keep those links coming in.

 

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

 

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History Repeats — Geraldo Trashes Elvis Again

Geraldo Rivera Reports Elvis at 80

The night after Thanksgiving, I had the misfortune to watch this TV show. I had only modest expectations, thinking it would probably cover all the stuff we fans know so well already. However, after ten minutes, I realized this was a piece of trash journalism of the first order. After some research, I now know that Geraldo Rivera has a history of slamming Elvis going back to 1979.

The Elvis Cover up 1979

This was a September 13, 1979 episode of the ABC network show 20/20. The supposed cover-up was about Elvis’ abuse of prescription drugs.

The Elvis Cover-Up 20-20 Sept 1979

This is footage of Geraldo doing the Elvis Cover-Up. He seems pretty happy dragging Elvis through the muck, doesn’t he? Because that show scored huge ratings, Geraldo apparently couldn’t resist reusing significant portions of it in his new Elvis at 80.

Geraldo Announcing Elvis' Death 1977

He didn’t waste any time getting into old footage. He opened the show with a clip of himself announcing Elvis’ death in 1977.

In Elvis at 80, Geraldo’s first reference to Elvis and drugs came just two minutes into the program. At the thirty minute mark, Geraldo was still talking about Elvis and drugs. By this point, I was screaming at the TV, “Geraldo, you worthless piece of s**t. That’s enough. This show sucks!”

Another evidence of his lack of taste in Elvis at 80 was the eight minutes he spent on tribute artists rather than on Elvis himself.

17 year old ETA

Believe it or not, two minutes of the show were wasted interviewing this guy and having him sing a few lines of “Hurt.” No wonder some folks have a negative image of Elvis impersonators

If Geraldo hadn’t given so much time to the prescriptions and ETAs, he would have had plenty of time to cover all the things he never mentioned or gave only passing mention to, like:

Tupelo birthplace (didn’t even show the house)
Gladys and Vernon
Humes High School
Girlfriends June Jaunico and Anita Wood (but we did get an interview with Tori Petty. Ever heard of her?)
Sun Records (no inside of outside shots, no archival Sam Phillips footage)
Scotty, Bill and D.J. (totally unforgivable)
Dorsey Brothers, Milton Berle, and Steve Allen TV shows.
Significant movies (Jailhouse Rock, King Creole, Viva Las Vegas, Blue Hawaii, etc)
Circle G Ranch
Jaycees’ Outstanding Young American Award
’68 Comeback Special (far too little, considering the impact on Elvis career)
Elvis’ love for Gospel music
Aloha From Hawaii
Linda Thompson
Elvis’ charitable giving (no specifics, just a quick reference to his legendary generosity)

This is probably an incomplete list because just wrote down what came to me. If you spot a big omission, mention it on Comments and I’ll add it.

So what did we get on the show if they left out all these significant parts of his life and career? In addition to Geraldo’s favorite topics, drugs and tribute artists, we got a lot of face time of Geraldo himself.

Geraldo in Jumpsuit on Elvis Mania

He couldn’t resist showing himself in an Elvis jumpsuit. This old clip came from an August 14, 1992 show called Elvismania.”

We also got tiresome sound bites from a strange assortment of people: Gene Simmons (from KISS), Ray Stevens, Chubby Checker, Larry Gatlin, Neil Sedaca, and Tommy Roe. There was a little recycled footage of Priscilla (looked like something from an old Elvis Week interview.

On the other hand, Brenda Lee was good, because she had actual connections to Elvis to talk about. Best of all were Jerry Schilling and George Klein, both of whom I consider to be good guys among Elvis circle of friends.

Geraldo and Jerry Schilling

George Klein

Yes, there were short segments on Col. Parker, Graceland, Army life (including mention of Elvis’ introduction to GI Speed), Priscilla, and Lisa Marie. Near the end of the show, Geraldo stated that he would have loved to interview Priscilla and Lisa Marie, but they were unavailable. Yeah, right. They probably wouldn’t be caught dead appearing on a hatchet job like this show.

 

Geraldo had plenty of negative slams about Elvis in his narrative, but he did mix in some praise as well.

Slams

Fading King of Rock and Roll
Fat at forty, strained and swollen
The decline and fall of the king
Almost became a joke in the 60s
Enough dope from enough doctors to kill a horse
Worth more dead than alive

Praises

An idol to millions of us growing up in the 50s and 60s
He revolutionized the music business
In one way of another he touched most of us
His music will live forever
Enriched America’s cultural heritage

Geraldo Rivera’s website has its own Elvis Page, on which it says, “over the years, Geraldo has had some great insights on his (Elvis’) character, culture and place in the American sphere.

Did Elvis Committ Suicide

Give me a break. Do you call it insights or trash journalism when you do shows like The King’s Deep Dark Secret (1982) or Did Elvis Commit Suicide? (1990)?

Geraldo ended Elvis at 80 with this: “Elvis, thanks for the memories.”

I say, “Geraldo, this show is a memory I want to forget.”

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

 

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