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

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