Monthly Archives: May 2005

ELVIS PRESLEY AND ROCKABILLY MUSIC

The entertainment section of our daily paper listed an unusual act playing in town this past weekend.  It was a band called Black Lung, and their musical style was listed as Punkabilly.  That would be punk rockabilly, I guess.  Intrigued by this combination, I decided to see if Black Lung was listed in the Rockabilly Hall of Fame.

 

That is not as unlikely as it might seem.  The Rockabilly Hall of Fame has over 5,000 members, including such incongruous selections as Little Richard and Fats Domino.  It turns out that Black Lung is not on the list, but don’t rule them out for future inclusion.

 

While I was in the Rockabilly Hall’s website, I decided to re-read what they had to say about Elvis.  They referred to him as “The Hillbilly Cat,” which you don’t see too often.  Another interesting thing was their comparison of Elvis’ success on the Louisiana Hayride versus his lack of it at the Grand Ole Opry.  The Hayride Talent Manager’s enthusiastic praise of the different sound Elvis brought to the show in 1955 was followed by this un-attributed text, “That different sound came to be known as ROCKABILLY, a true mutt of music – a blend of everything from bluegrass to western swing to pop crooning.  Rockabilly meant working-class boys ready to rock, decked out in checkered suits and bow ties, juiced on rhythm and blues.  Rockabilly and “The Hillbilly Cat” were among the central influences of early rock ‘n roll.”

 

Now, fifty years later we have Punkabilly.  It may still be performed by working-class boys ready to rock, but you know they aren’t wearing checkered suits and bow ties.

 

© 2005  Philip R Arnold

CBS SCORES BIG WITH IT'S WEEK OF ELVIS SHOWS

The folks at Graceland and the suits at CBS have to be pleased with the way things went last week.  Their six hours of Elvis TV programming from Sunday to Friday paid off big time.  Even better, we fans got to watch some pretty good new Elvis shows.

 

On Sunday night, May 8, Part 1 of the “Elvis” miniseries went head-to-head with “Desperate Housewives.”   According to tv.yahoo.com, this notable powerhouse took third best for the whole week with 27 million viewers, but “Elvis” hung in there at nearly 15 million, second best for the night, and # 17 for the week (5/2 –5/8).

 

Part 2 of “Elvis” started against ABC’s “Lost” at 8PM Wednesday, May 11, and came in with about 10 million viewers.  At 9PM, the competition got tougher, as huge hit “American Idol” grabbed 26 million viewers, enough to rank third for the week (5/9 – 5/16).  The funny thing is that, in spite of this, the “Elvis” audience increased to over 11 million for the last hour, pushing the show into second place for the night and #27 for the week.

 

Did anyone notice that “Elvis By The Presleys” aired on Friday the 13th?  Fortunately, there was good luck, not bad, for the King’s home movies, as the competition was rather weak:  America’s Funniest Home Videos” and “Dateline.”  “Elvis By The Presleys” pulled in 12 million viewers to rank top show for the night.  Chalk all this up as more proof that Elvis is the most enduring celebrity in American history.  Dead for 28 years, he can go up against some of the strongest shows on television and still pull in 12-15 million viewers.

 

All in all, I’m glad I invested 6 hours in watching Elvis last week.  I will mention the DVD of “Elvis By The Presleys” to my brother-in –law, and I will be glad when he gives it to me at Christmas.  If “Elvis” the miniseries comes back on cable in a year or so, I will watch the first half again, but probably not the second.  I like my Elvis happy.

© 2005  Philip R Arnold

AN OLD TALE REKINDLED BY THE 'ELVIS' MINISERIES

The first half of the CBS special Sunday night was pretty good.  Jonathan Rhys Meyers did a creditable job as Elvis, and Randy Quaid was an inspired choice to be Col Parker, except he could have played him even darker.  I also liked the performances by the actors playing Vernon and Gladys.

 

Did you notice the short scene in the backyard of the Audubon Dr. house where we could clearly see clothes hanging on a line?  A few minutes later, Elvis said something like this to Gladys, “Those neighbors nearly drove us out because of the clothes you hung in the yard.”  Here’s a good story about the hostile attitude of these neighbors toward Elvis and family.

 

There were several reasons why Elvis lived at the Audubon Dr. house for only eleven months before moving to Graceland.  For one thing, the house was too small, with one bedroom completely full of stuffed animals from the fans.  But the big reason was the snooty treatment the neighbors gave Elvis and his family. 

 

After the move to Graceland, a Memphis candy and gum manufacturer offered a premium price for the Audubon Dr. house, but his plan was to chop it into little pieces and give them to anyone who mailed in five wrappers for his gum.  According to author, Karal Ann Marling, Vernon was in favor of this because it would serve the hostile neighbors right.  But, here's the kicker.  They couldn't do the deal because Colonel Parker had already sold the candy rights for Elvis products to another manufacturer.  You've got to love these old Elvis stories.

 

©  2005   Philip R Arnold   All Rights Reserved   www.elvisblog.net

PAT BOONE AND ELVIS

Two days before the mini-series “Elvis” aired on CBS, Bill O’Riley did a segment about Elvis Presley on his Fox News Channel show “The O’Riley Factor.”  He was most intrigued by the fact that Elvis still earned $40 million a year, twenty-eight years after his death. O’Riley explored why Elvis is the most enduring celebrity in American history with two guests, one of whom was Pat Boone.  I half expected Boone to say something derogatory about Elvis.  After all, he had been the singer all the Elvis critics wanted the teenage fans to like.  He had that squeaky-clean, good-boy image, with the white buck shoes and all. 

 

However, Boone was quite complimentary about Elvis.  He said Elvis looked like a Greek god.  Boone also explained how Elvis had such a clearly defined image of himself, and stayed within it for so many years.  Boone was still being complimentary when he advanced the idea that Elvis had evolved into something of a comic book fantasy image, that he had entered a category with Superman and Batman.  Boone made the quote, “ He is now Elvisman.”  I like that.  ELVISMAN!  Well said, Pat Boone.

 

With Pat Boone still on my mind, I looked him up in several Elvis references to see if there was much connection between the two.  Elvis, His Life From A To Z states they were good friends who first crossed paths at a try-out for “Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts.”  They also appeared together in a show in Cleveland in 1955.  In the 60’s, Boone sometimes joined in touch football games in Bel Air, CA with Elvis and friends. 

 

One other note on Pat Boone.  Despite the fact that he had 38 Top Forty hits, Boone is not in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.  The rap against him is that many of his hits were cover versions of songs done better by the original black artists (”Long Tall Sally” by Little Richard for example).  Also, that his biggest hits were all ballads.  That’s stupid.  It didn’t keep the Platters out of the Hall.  He will never evolve into PATBOONEMAN, but he deserves to be in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

 

© 2005  Philip R Arnold