Monthly Archives: June 2007

ELVIS, KING OF THE #2 HITS

The upcoming 30th Anniversary celebration will generate stories about Elvis in all sorts of media.  Many of these feature articles will mention the fact that Elvis had eighteen #1 hits.  What they won’t mention is that Elvis also had a record six #2 hits.  These songs sold over a million copies each and spent many weeks on the Top 40 charts, but they had unfortunate timing for their release and got stalled behind some of Rock & Roll’s monster hits.  Let’s take a look at the six Elvis songs in reverse chronological order.  All statistical information comes from a reference I have used for over twenty years: “The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits.”

 

Burning Love:  This was Elvis’ highest-ranking song during the last seven years of his career, but it was kept from the top spot by the only #1 hit for another legend, Chuck Berry.  It’s hard to believe Berry’s songs like “School Day,” “Sweet Little Sixteen” and “Johnny B. Goode” never reached #1, but his 1972 novelty song “My Ding-A-Ling” did.  It stayed on top for two weeks and effectively blocked Elvis.  However, “Burning Love” is a classic that became a staple of his concerts, and it stayed in the Top 40 for twelve weeks.

 

Return To Sender:  In 1962 this song stayed at #2 for an unbelievable five weeks, and it was blocked from the top by the same song for the entire period.  So what was the powerhouse single that denied Elvis #1?  It was “Big Girls Don’t Cry” by the Four Seasons.  1962 was the year they blasted onto the music scene, and their first three releases (not counting a Christmas song) spent a combined thirteen weeks at #1.  It was a pretty good year for Elvis, too, with “Good Luck Charm” going to #1 and six other singles ranking on the charts.  “Return To Sender” stayed in the Top 40 for a total of fourteen weeks.

 

Can’t Help Falling In Love:  This was one of those six other hits in 1962, making it a year of double frustration for Elvis.  “Can’t Help Falling In Love” had the misfortune of trying to buck the early 60s twist fad.  During the one week it reached #2, it was sandwiched between two twist songs.  “The Twist” by Chubby Checker was #3 and dropping after it’s second reign as #1 (the other was in the Fall of 1960).  No other song has ever gone to #1 twice in different years.  The song that kept Elvis from the top was “Peppermint Twist” by Joey Dee and The Starlighters.  “Can’t Help Falling In Love” stayed in the Top 40 for twelve weeks.

 

A Fool Such As I:  Elvis was still in the Army in 1959, but the vault of songs he recorded before going to Germany produced four hits, including “A Big Hunk of Love” at #1.  Next best was “A Fool Such As I,” and it stalled at #2 behind “Come Softly To Me” by the Fleetwoods, which claimed the top spot for four weeks.  “A Fool Such As I” spent eleven weeks in the Top 40.  However, it fared better in England, where it was #1 for five weeks.

 

Wear My Ring Around Your Neck:  In April 1958, this song entered the Billboard charts at #7 – the highest entry position of any Elvis single.  It was certified a million seller based on advance orders alone.  With momentum like that, how could “Wear My Ring Around Your Neck” not make it to #1?  It was blocked blocked by the novelty song “Witch Doctor” by David Seville, who later created Alvin and the Chipmunks.  “Wear My Ring Around your Neck” stayed in the Top 40 for thirteen weeks.

 

Love Me:  Elvis entered 1957 with five #1 hits already to his credit (“Jailhouse Rock,” “I Want You, I Need You, I Love You,” “Don’t Be Cruel,” “Hound Dog,” and “Love Me Tender”).  He would achieve four more in 1957 (“Too Much,” “All Shook Up,” “Teddy Bear,” and “Jailhouse Rock).  ”Love Me” stalled at #2 for two weeks, but this is quite an achievement for a song that was not released as a single.  It was one of four songs on the EP Elvis, Volume 1.  EPs (Extended Play) were in essence 45-RPM mini-albums.  Elvis, Volume 1 was released on the same day as Elvis’ first album Elvis.  The four songs were also in the album, and the EP cover had the same picture.  “Love Me” was blocked by a huge hit “Singing The Blues” by Guy Mitchell.  “Singing The Blues” stayed at #1 for ten straight weeks.  If that sounds like it ought to be a record, it is not.  The longest stay at # 1 belongs to Elvis.  “Don’t Be Cruel” sat at #1 for 11 weeks, and the next week, the flip-side “Hound Dog” moved into the top spot.

 

For what it’s worth, Elvis also had three songs stalled at 3#.  “Devil In Disguise” and “Crying in the Chapel” in 1963, and “In The Ghetto” in 1969.

 

©  2007   Philip R Arnold   All Rights Reserved   www.elvisblog.net.

ELVIS AND WAYLON JENNINGS

 

Earlier this week, I read that Waylon Jennings was born on June 15, 1937, so we would be celebrating his 70th birthday had he not passed away five years ago.  That was a good enough reason for me to Google Elvis and Waylon Jennings to see what connection there was between the two.  There was some, not as much as usually makes a good Elvisblog article, but here’s what I found.

 

Jennings was born in the small West Texas town of Littlefield.  He dropped out of high school and got a job as a radio disc jockey while still a teenager.  When a copy of Elvis’ first Sun Records’ single came into the radio studio, Jennings was impressed. “I looked at that yellow Sun label from Memphis as if it was from Mars.”  He was even more impressed with the music. “I thought, what a wild, strange sound… They didn’t know what to call Elvis yet on the radio, though they thought of him as a country artist.”

 

However, when Elvis later performed in nearby Lubbock for the first time on January 6, 1955, he was billed as the “King of Hillbilly Bop.”  Jennings did not make it to that show, but he didn’t miss Elvis’ next appearance in Lubbock on February 13 (now billed as the “Be-Bop Western Star of the Louisiana Hayride”).  Jennings used his DJ connections to get free tickets and to go backstage and meet Elvis.  He remembers, “[Elvis] was about the hottest thing to hit West Texas… He and Scotty Moore were standing over by the stage, and Elvis was just jumping around everywhere, bouncing and bubbling over with enthusiasm, full of more energy than anybody I ever saw.  He was talking to me like he’d known me for a thousand years.”

 

Waylon Jennings and Elvis crossed paths a few more times in their lives, mostly in Las Vegas.  RCA invited Jennings to see one of Elvis’ shows and Elvis requested that Jennings visit with him afterwards.  At the time, Jennings wore a leather wristband to aid in the recovery of a fractured arm.  The wristband had a metal peace sign in the middle.  “Elvis really liked that wristband; I think he wanted it.  He kept admiring it – ‘you hillbillies sure know how to dress’ – and calling attention to it.”  Jennings never did part with it, but if he had, Elvis would probably have reciprocated with a Cadillac or something (and added another story to the lore of his legendary generosity).

 

The rest of the Elvis/Waylon connection is in the singing of each other’s songs.  There is an interesting bit of trivia on the one Waylon Jennings song that Elvis recorded.  Jennings wrote and recorded “You Asked Me To” in 1973, and it went to #8 on the Billboard Country Charts.  Elvis recorded it for his 1975 album Promised Land, and it was reworked with different instrumentation for the 1980 album Guitar Man.  That version was released as a single in 1981, and guess how high it went on the charts?  #8 Country, same as Jennings’ version.

 

Jennings did a medley of “That’s All Right”/”My Baby Left Me” on his 1977 album ‘Ol Waylon.  He sang “Suspicious Minds” in a duet with his wife Jesse Coulter on the 1976 album Wanted! The Outlaws.  He also performed it on the DVD Waylon Jennings: Live From Austin TX, a recent release of his 1989 appearance on Austin City Limits.

 

The 1998 CD The Old Dogs featured Jennings, Mel Tillis, Bobby Bare and Jerry Reed.  They did an amusing song titled “Elvis Has Left The Building.”  That was not Jennings first tribute song to Elvis. On the 1994 CD Waymore’s Blues Part 2, he sang the song “Nobody Knows.”  It doesn’t mention Elvis by name, but the message is clear.  Here are some of the lyrics:

 

            Well, I nearly got caught at the Burger King

            And a couple of times on a plane.

            I thought I was safe from detection

With all of the weight I had gained.

            But walking around in a jumpsuit

            That didn’t work worth a damn.

            So, I bought me some Levis and grew a beard,

            And you’ll never guess who I am.

 

Elvisblog hsve noted comments by Pat Boone and Carl Perkins on how handsome Elvis was, but this quote attributed to Waylon Jennings might be the topper:  “Elvis may have been the most beautiful man in the world.  His face was carved like a stone, chiseled out of rock, he was just that good looking.”

 

©  2007   Philip R Arnold   All Rights Reserved   www.elvisblog.net

ELVIS COMMENTARY MINI-NUGGETS — # 5

A Do-Over for Led Zeppelin:  On May 11, 1974, Elvis performed in concert at the Los Angeles Forum, and he was aware that the members of the metal band Led Zeppelin were in the audience.  One of the songs on the set list was “Funny How The Time Slips Away,” but Elvis and the band had a shaky start on it.  So, Elvis stopped the song and jokingly said: “Wait a minute… If we can start this together fellas, because we’ve got Led Zeppelin out there… let’s try to look like we know what we’re doing, whether we do or not.”  This was not a particularly good period for Elvis, but he still had his sense of humor.

 

Hey, You Can’t Do That To Elvis:  Back in March, a neo-Goth band named The Horrors performed in a UK venue called Great Scott. (If you aren’t familiar with neo-Goth bands, the best I can figure out is that their outfits and hairstyles are creepy, they play very loud, and they like to do shocking things.  A good example would be Ozzy Osbourne biting the head off a bird on stage.)  Three-quarters of the way through the show, The Horrors lead singer jumped off the stage and climbed up on a ledge on the opposite end of the venue.  He grabbed a two-foot tall porcelain bust of Elvis and carried it back to the stage.  Then he smashed it into hundres of pieces on the dance floor.  The Great Scott management immediately escorted The Horrors off the stage and shut down the concert.  Good for them.

 

Elvis and Black Jeans:  In the mid-fifties, Levi Strauss & Co. decided to update the image of their denim pants.  Until then, the popularity of blue jeans came from the romantic appeal of the Gold Rush and the rugged image of the cowboy.  However, Levi Strauss realized there was a growing new group of potential customers called teenagers who needed to be targeted.  After the release of Elvis’ hit movie Jailhouse Rock in 1956, they introduced a line of black denim pants called Elvis Presley Jeans.  These black jeans were immensely popular and made previously unheard-of profits for Levi Strauss.  It has been said that Elvis actually disliked denim.  To him, blue jeans were just a reminder of the early days when he was poor.

 

Al Wertheimer Says It Ain’t So:  All of the websites that report Elvis news recently posted the same story: Al Wertheimer would release an updated version of his 1979 soft-cover book  “Elvis ’56 – In The Beginning.”  It would see new life this August as a 224-page hardback from Carlton Books titled “Elvis: A King In The Making.”  The news reports even listed the future ISBN number (184421228).  Well, I e-mailed Al to congratulate him on this wonderful idea, and he responded, “Talk of reissuing the “Elvis ’56” book are just that, they are rumors without any merit.”  So, I e-mailed him back and told him that if the project ever does become a reality, I would be honored to write the Forward – for free.  Al replied, “Only believe one tenth of what you hear.  This is a total fiction, but thanks for the offer.”  Too bad.  That would have made a great coffee table book.

 

The Demise of the Elvis Movie Soundtracks:  Elvis made 31 theatrical films, and for many years, every Elvis soundtrack was an automatic top 20 seller.  However, as the quality of the movies declined, so did the appeal of the soundtrack releases.  In 1967, Double Trouble and Clambake could not get higher that #40 and #42 on the album charts.  That signaled the end of the Elvis soundtracks.  Of Elvis’ last six movies, only Speedway had a soundtrack album, and all it could muster was #82.

 

Elvis Held No Animosity Toward Johnny Rivers:  The Elvisblog article “Elvis and Johnny Rivers” on May 6 told the story of both singers recording the song “Memphis.”  Although Elvis had planned to release “Memphis” as a single, the idea was dropped when Rivers’ release became a huge hit.  I should have continued the article to explain that Elvis never held any ill will toward Rivers over this.  Despite what Peter Guralnick stated in his book “Careless Love: The Unmaking of Elvis Presley,” Elvis was not outraged.  There is an interesting section on www.johnnyrivers.com about all this, with testimonials from Chuck Berry (who wrote the song) and guitarist James Burton.  The best substantiating reference is a February 3, 1999, letter to Rivers from Larry Geller, Elvis’ long-time hairdresser and friend.  Geller stated, “As to the allegations that he was upset or angry that you had recorded 'Memphis' before he had a chance to do so, that’s nonsense.  Elvis was delighted at your success: he considered you a major creative talent in the industry, both as a performer and as a songwriter.”  That sounds more like the Elvis we know.

 

©  2007   Philip R Arnold   All Rights Reserved   www.elvisblog.net

SKIN SHOTS ON ELVIS.COM — PART 1

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When I make my frequent trips into the web looking for ideas for Elvis articles, one of my regular stops is www.elvis.com/news.  This is the news section of Graceland’s official Elvis Presley website, and they do a good job.  With so many Elvis-related things going on these days, several new posts show up almost every week.

 

However, there may be a new trend going on.  Twice in the last three months, Elvis.Com has illustrated an article with a photo of a pretty woman showing lots of skin.  I’m not complaining.  In fact, I like it. 

 

The photo above was shown on February 15 as part of the Sports Illustrated photo shoot for their annual swimsuit edition.  You may recognize the Graceland “Jungle Room” as the background.  Posting photos on Elvisblog is not a regular thing, but it’s necessary here to provide a reference point the rest of this article.  Unfortunately, I can’t figure out how to post two photos on one article, so it has to be split into two.

 

Both photos have reappeared on other Elvis news websites, including www.elvisnews.com, which publishes lengthy lists of reader comments about them.  Let’s take a look at some of the more interesting comments on ElvisNews.Com.

 

Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Layout in the Jungle Room:

 

           Yummy.  Elvis sure would have loved to be there…

 

            No!!! and I do mean no.  This is utterly outrageous.

 

Elvis may be gone but it only gets better.  The King lives and this will show the world who is still #1.

 

I think it’s a sexy and thrilling idea to keep Elvis memories alive … a very handsome man who had lot’s of women adore him all his life.  (Editor’s note:  Interesting argument.  Elvis was handsome, so let’s have more scantily-clad lovelies on his websites.)

 

Like the song says – there’s a pretty little thing, waiting for the King, down in the Jungle Room.

 

This is a terrible temptation for lust and greed.  Actually, everything Elvis did not believe in.  (I’m not so sure you can give Elvis a pass on lust.)

 

I don’t get you people……something associated with Elvis being “risqué”???  Elvis WAS risqué!!!  The swiveling hips, the sneer, the hair, the clothes….that’s what made Elvis “ELVIS”….I think it’s cool as hell these beauties are posing in the Jungle Room….and don’t think for a minute he’s not up there somewhere smirking.

  

©  2007   Philip R Arnold   All Rights Reserved   www.elvisblog.net

 

SKIN SHOTS ON ELVIS.COM — PART 2

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This photo appeared a week ago and is Miss USA competing in an Elvis-themed outfit in the recent Miss Universe competition.  She was styled to represent her home state of Tennessee, and didn’t she display a clever concept – and other stuff.  That’s my kind of news.  Here’s a look at the better comments.

 

Miss Tennessee in Elvis-Style Outfit:

 

            She’s got her mojo workin’ and it works on me.

 

“Holy Frejolis” I’m in love!

 

She’s got the right hairstyle to start with, but that wasn’t the first thing I noticed.

 

I nearly bit my arm off when I first seen this photo, wow!  (No shortage of lust with these readers.)

 

If only all 50,000 “impersonators” looked like this J

 

It’s a pretty girl, dressed in a jumpsuit and showing a bit of flesh in a show in which the ladies are supposed to represent their homestate.  How on earth can that be considered the same as some fat old loser trying to sing and look like the King?  But, if she must be punished, I’d be the first in line to spank her bottom.  (Written by another fat old loser?)

 

I recently wrote that I thought chat rooms were a big waste of time, but I still check out a few when the subject tickles me.  Hopefully, you’ve found Elvisblog’s selection of the best comments an interesting read.  At least, it saved you some time.

 

©  2007   Philip R Arnold   All Rights Reserved   www.elvisblog.net