Monthly Archives: October 2008

HAPPY HALLOWEEN ELVIS

 

 

 

 

ELVIS COMMENTARY MINI-NUGGETS — # 12

Colonel Tom Parker’s Dancing Chickens:  Many Elvis fans know that Col. Parker managed Eddie Arnold and Hank Snow before taking over Elvis’ career.  However, I’ll bet you didn’t know this.  According to www.leftlion.com, Colonel Parker once had a carnival act with dancing chickens.  He got them to dance by putting them on an electric hotplate covered with sawdust, accompanied by a record player.  Lucky for him, PETA wasn’t around back then.

Another Chicken Story:  This comes from the caption under an Elvis picture on Flickr.  “In January 1961, Elvis signed a 5 year contract with Hal Wallis.  To celebrate, he went out and bought a Rolls Royce Phantom V from a Beverly Hills dealer, only to bring it home and have his mother’s chickens pick away at their reflections in the elegant finish.”  Well, Gladys died in 1958, so we know this is a fabrication.  But if you are going to tell a fib, you might as well go for a big one.  Chickens at Elvis’ home in exclusive Bel Air while he’s filming movies in 1961?  Yeah, sure.  There’s a lot of bogus stuff about Elvis floating around on the Internet, but this takes the cake.

Elvis Ultrasound:  Do you like the comic strip “Baby Blues”?  I love those kids Zoe, Hammie and Wren.  The authors of the strip have published their work in a number of books.  One of the compilations is titled, “I Saw Elvis In My Ultrasound.”  Why not?  Elvis has been sighted everywhere else.

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A Bidding War For Elvis:  The website Elvis Presley From Poland has a story about the Army and the Navy fighting over which service would get Elvis.  Supposedly the Navy offered him the opportunity to form an “Elvis Presley Company” comprised of sailors from Memphis, and he could personally pick his friends to be part of this special company.  Well, if Elvis’ Memphis buddies had escaped the draft so far, I bet they were glad he didn’t agree to that one.  The Army supposedly offered Elvis the chance to perform on a worldwide tour of all the Army’s prestige posts, with first-class travel to them.  However, Colonel Parker decided that “a front-line combat unit was where he should do his soldiering.”  Front-line combat?  What fighting was the Army doing in Germany in 1958?

That’s A Big Velvet Elvis:  According to www.canada.com, the largest velvet Elvis is on display at the Tattoo Factory in Chicago.  It measures 12 ft by 12 ft, and depicts Elvis with a tear in his eye.  Put that on your list of stops for your next visit to the windy city.

The Man From Psycho Scores Higher Than Elvis:  This story tickles me for a couple of reasons.  One of Elvis’ soundtrack songs from the movie Blue Hawaii is “Moonlight Swim.”  So, where was the scene?  On a beach at midnight?  No, Elvis sang the song in the daylight while cruising in a convertible filled with lovely young babes.  Elvis never released the song as a single, but Tony Perkins did.  Before becoming famous for his role in Psycho, Perkins sang in a few Broadway plays.  His version of “Moonlight Swim” reached #24 on the charts in 1957.

Metal Elvis:  The website for Talent Booking USA has a promo for an Elvis tribute band (not a tribute artist – a whole band).  The singer looks and sounds like Elvis, and the musicians are look-a-likes of famous members of heavy metal groups Guns N' Roses, Motley Crue, etc.  If these guys ever show up in Memphis during Elvis Week, I might just take in their show.

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Elvis Bootleg Songs In Russia:  Back in 1957, the Los Angeles Daily Mirror reported that bootlegs of Elvis’ hit singles were selling for 50 rubles ($12.50 US dollars).  What does that equal in dollars today?  $200?  $500?  Where did Russian kids get that kind of money?  Guess what the songs were recorded on.  Used X-ray film.  Pretty clever, but how did they play them on their turntables?

Fired For Playing An Elvis Presley Song:  There once was a disc jockey at radio station KEX in Portland, Oregon who got fired because he played Elvis’ recording of “White Christmas.”  The station manager banned the song and fired Al Priddy because the song “is not in the good taste we ascribe to Christmas music.  Presley gives it a rhythm and blues interpretation.”  If an R&B interpretation of Christmas music gets you fired, it’s a good thing the DJ didn’t play “Santa Claus Is Back In Town.”  That could have gotten him banned from the city.

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©  2008   Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister   All Rights Reserved   www.ElvisBlog.net

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BENJAMIN KEOUGH

Elvis' only grandson, Benjamin Keough, was born on Ocyober 21, 1992, so he turned 16 today.  He has an older sister, Danielle Riley, and twin baby sisters born ten days ago.  To see photos of Ben, please click on this ElvisBlog column from Last December.

Happy Birthday Ben

An Elvis Bootleg CD I Really Want

A while back I checked in with Darwin Lamm, Publisher of Elvis…The Magazine, to see what the theme would be for the next issue.  Although it gets mailed to subscribers in December, it will be the January 2009 Birthday Issue.  For his themes, Darwin likes to commemorate the anniversaries of important events in Elvis’ history, such as Elvis’ first recording, first hit, going into the Army, ’68 Comeback Special, Aloha From Hawaii, and so on.  This time, it is going to be “Back To Vegas” – the 40th anniversary of Elvis’ return to live performances in 1969.  Elvis had a four-week run from July 31 to August 26 at the very new International Hotel (now called The Las Vegas Hilton).

So, I needed to come up with an angle to write about.  Then it came to me.  I could write about the songs that Elvis chose for this milestone event.  The playlist had to be an important concern for him, because he wanted this to be a special show.  He had not performed in front of a live audience for nine years, and his only previous appearance in Las Vegas in 1956 was mostly a bust.

I started checking out references to find the playlist for Elvis’ first night concert on July 31, 1969.  My books were no help, so I turned to the internet.  I knew the FTD label had released CDs of many Elvis concerts in Las Vegas, so that seemed promising.  I found two from shows in 1969: Elvis All Shook Up and Elvis Live at the International.  Unfortunately, the first covered his concert on August 23, and the latter featured his August 26 show.  Because Elvis frequently changed his playlists, these wouldn’t do.  I wanted to find out what he sang at the start of his run, not at the end.

Next, I checked out original RCA albums and found In Person At The International Hotel, released three months after the finish of Elvis’ run in 1969.  That didn’t suit my needs either, because it was a selection of songs from the last three nights, August 24, 25, and 26.

The final option I could think of was bootleg albums and CDs, and a quick Google search brought up a wealth of resources.  I found soundboard recordings from August 14, August 12, August 6, and best of all, a CD titled Opening Night 1969.  The title was something of a misnomer, because it is not a recording of Elvis’ July 31 performance.  However, it was either August 1 or August 3, according to different reviews I uncovered. Close enough.  I had found the reference I needed for my magazine article.

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However, my research had an unexpected result.  After reading several extremely positive reviews, I decided that Opening Night 1969 was a CD I needed to own.  I had to hear these great performances that the reviewers raved about.  Keep in mind that years ago I decided I had enough Elvis music and wasn’t going to spend money on any more.  Also, my least favorite period for Elvis music is what is generally called the Las Vegas Years.  Most important, I don’t like all the pretentious sound of the overblown orchestration in the later Vegas concerts, and there are too many ballads.  So, it took a lot for me to want to own this CD.

Here are some highlights from the review at www.elvis-collectors.com that convinced me:  “This is the jewel of all Elvis’ CDs and recordings… his incredible voice was more richer and vibrant than it had ever been.  This CD is a must for everyone.”

Equally positive remarks on http://home.online.no included: “…powerful and dynamic… an unbelievably good concert… excellent sound quality”

Of course, these praises could me made about other recorded live concert performances by Elvis.  What made Opening Night 1969 so appealing to me was the fact that Elvis was still thinking like a rock & roller, not an accomplished Vegas showman, as he would later.  He loaded up the show with nine of his biggest rock hits of the fifties.  They were all fresh to him and he put maximum soul and energy in them.  Look at this list songs followed by the appraisals by home.online.no:

Blue Suede Shoes                           Very good 

I Got A Woman                                 Superb

All Shook Up                                     Pure rock 

Jailhouse Rock                                Just great

Don’t Be Cruel                                 Excellent 

Heartbreak Hotel                              Incredible

Hound Dog                                      Wild

Mystery Train                                   Superb

Baby What You Want Me To Do     Great

What’d I Say                                    Full of energy

Of course, the concert wasn’t just these terrific fast songs. It also included several ballads to slow down the pace, plus “Suspicious Minds” and two Beatles songs.  But, it was all those classic rockers performed by Elvis at his peak that made me decide I need to own Opening Night 1969.

I must admit that fulfilling this desire has proven to be something of a challenge.  It’s not like you can go to Amazon.com to buy bootleg albums.  I looked it up on eBay, and found three completed auctions.  The CDs sold for $18, $20 and 10 Euros (whatever that is in American money).  But I’ll keep looking.  It will either show up on eBay again, or I’ll find it somewhere else on the web.  And when I get it, the first thing I will do is burn my own CD with just those above songs on it.  Now that is going to be a really great CD.

©   2005   Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister   All Rights reserved   www.ElvisBlog.net

 

Postscripts to Earlier Elvisblog Columns

Recently, I have accumulated additional information or photos related to past articles on ElvisBlog.  Here are some updates you may find interesting:

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Benjamin Keough Photos:  This is the title of a blog I posted on December 23, 2007.  It contained three photos of Elvis’ grandson Benjamin Keough, and it has been a consistent source of traffic to ElvisBlog ever since.  Whenever his mother Lisa Marie is in the news, there is always a big spike in hits.  News accounts that she married Michael Lockwood, that she was pregnant, and that she would be having twins, all mentioned she had a daughter Riley and son Benjamin from her first marriage to Danny Keough.  And when people started Googling Benjamin Keough, the search results brought many of them to ElvisBlog.  Well, Lisa Marie gave birth to twin girls by Caesarian section yesterday, and it happened again.  So far, 1115 visitors have linked to this site to learn more about Elvis’ grandson.  He turns 16 this month, and his sister Danielle started her modeling career at that age.  Do you think we might see Benjamin doing anything in the music business soon?  I sure hope so.

 

Elvis’ Frantic Sex Show:  Back in May, I wrote a blog to debunk the assertion printed in the LA Mirror-News that Elvis was a sexibitionist at his October 28, 1957 concert in Los Angeles.  I quoted two lines from competing columnist Wally George in the LA Times as verification.  Recently, I discovered another quote from Mr. George’s column when he discussed Elvis’ pre-concert interview:

“All in all, he was a pleasant, mild-mannered person who might have been any other 22-year-old young man, were it not for the high gleaming pompadour, the rhinestone belt, and the gold jacket.”

Yeah, that might give you a clue.  Hedda Hopper also had a favorable report on the concert, and I love her assessment of Elvis’ psyche as he performed.

“He knew what he was doing… You felt he was mentally saying to himself: ’Do you know an easier way of making a million a year.’”

 

Elvis & Johnny Cash Concert Poster:  Back in an August ElvisBlog column, we discussed the unique concert on December 12, 1955, that featured Elvis, Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins.  One illustration was a photo of a poster supposedly advertising the event, but the wrong date on it proved it to be a fake.  Alert reader Paul MacPhail sent a Comment concerning where the photograph on the poster came from.  I’m not sure where he gets his information, but he states:  The photo was taken backstage at the Grand Ole Opry December 13, 1957. Elvis was visiting the Opry and Cash was appearing on it at the time.” 

A little research in the great book “Elvis: Day By Day” shows that Elvis did in fact visit the Grand Ole Opry eight days later, and he bought a tux for his brief appearance on stage to wave at the audience.  Note that the bogus concert photo shows Elvis wearing a tux.  So, Mr. MacPhail certainly has the loctation and circumstances right, but he might want to change that date to December 21, 1957.  Either way, the photo was taken two years after the concert supposedly promoted in the poster.

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Rock Around The Dock:  This June blog covered Elvis’ 1956 concert aboard the SS Mount Vernon, docked on the Potomac River in Washington, CD.  I mentioned the promoter of the concert was Connie B. Gay, and I referred to her.  Well, it turns out that Connie is a he.  Hopefully, I can be excused for the error, because there aren’t many male Connie’s around (I do remember famous baseball manager Connie Mack).  Anyway, I received a nice e-mail from Jack Burnish setting me straight.  He knows what he’s saying; Connie B. Gay is his wife’s uncle.  Jack also said I do a great column, so I thank you, sir.

 

A Look at Elvis Websites, Circa 1997:  Last month, we took a look at a list of Elvis websites in existence back in 1997 and noted which ones thrived until 2008 and which ones went away.  Of course, www.elvis.com, the official site of Elvis Presley Enterprises, still continues to this day.  In the column, I said, “I wish I could go back and see what the site was like in 1997.”  Thanks to my buddy Ty, head blogger honcho at www.thefilmfrontier.com, I learned this is possible.  In fact, we can go back to December 21, 1996, by clicking here.  It appears that it was called Elvis Presley’s Graceland back then and had a slightly different URL, but this is the official EPE site that evolved into today’s Elvis.com.  The Homepage sure isn’t much, and when you click to enter, you are taken to a page of links.  “Elvisology” is the best one, particularly the “Trivia” and “Elvis on The Screen” features.  I also liked “News from Graceland,” because it gives you a historical perspective of the state of Elvisworld in 1956.  It announced a substantial volume of Elvis movie, concerts, and specials coming up on VH1.  I gave up on that channel a long time ago, but I’ll bet you won’t see much Elvis on VH1 now.

Anyone who would like to check out archived versions of your favorite websites through the years, go to http://www.archive.org/web/web.php and kill a few hours.  As my friend Ty said, “Have a ball surfing in the past.”

 

Pappy and Elvis (Elvis Commentary Mini-Nuggets -11):  This Mini-Nugget covered a 1966 Foghorn Leghorn cartoon with two chicken hawk characters named Pappy and Elvis.  I was not too pleased to report that both were depicted as ignorant rednecks, and Elvis was a total air-head.  Well, it turns out that the cartoon’s producer smeared The King the same way years earlier.  In “Backwoods Bunny,” his 1959 Bugs Bunny cartoon, two hungry vultures chase after Bugs while he tries to vacation in the Ozarks.   The buzzards where just as stupid as the chicken hawks, and their names were Pappy and Elvis.  I hope I don’t discover any more offensive portrayals like these two.

 

Fun With Gold Lame:   If you surf the internet as much as I do looking for interesting Elvis stuff, you will constantly run into variations on famous photo of Elvis in the gold lamé suit.  I showed eight of them in a column a month ago.  Now, I have found one more that must be shown.  The British music magazine Mojo included a free bonus CD with their May 2006 issue.  It is titled Hail To The King, and it contains 15 versions of Elvis songs done by other rockers.

 

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The artists in gold lamé above are, from left to right, Roy Orbison, Link Wray, Jeff Beck, Johnny Cash, and Jerry Lee Lewis.

 

©  2008   Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister   All Rights Reserved   www.ElvisBlog.net

Variations on an Iconic Photo: Elvis Meets Nixon

I assume all readers of ElvisBlog have seen the famous photo of Elvis and President Richard Nixon.  It was one of twenty-eight photos taken on April 21, 1970 when Elvis made a surprise visit to the White House (and Elvis wore his trademark sunglasses in the first eleven).  You can see the other twenty-seven at the National Archives website, but they are easier to access at this site by George Washington University.  There is an interesting story to tell about this event, but that will have to wait for another column.  Today we are going to have some fun with the iconic picture.

You may already know it is the best selling souvenir at the Nixon Presidential Library, and it is the most popular reproduction sold by the National Archives (even more than the Constitution or the Bill of Rights).  It may also be the most Photoshopped picture in the world.

 

 

 

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As a work of the United States government, the image is in the public domain.  So, clever folks have put their imaginations to work and used computer photo manipulation software to come up with interesting variations.  For example, suppose the heads were reversed.  We would have President Presley receives rocker Dickie Nixon at the White House.  Nixon doesn’t make much of a rock idol, does he?

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Because the men’s heads were simply cut and pasted on the picture above, that switch seems like it was probably fairly easy.  A greater challenge would be to switch the nose, mouth and chin, but not the hair of the two men.  Nixon looks pretty good with Elvis’ hair, but Elvis with Nixon’s hair is bad news.

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If you don’t like Richard Nixon, why not try two other presidents:  Ronald Regan and George W. Bush.  I used this photo in the February 3, 2008 ElvisBlog article titled “Fun With Elvis In Photoshop,” where both of these men are shown in individual variations of Elvis, as well.

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If you don’t like American presidents, let’s have two Elvises.  Personally, I would have switched the roles:  young Elvis face with the cool outfit, and the thirty-five year old Elvis as the President.

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Suppose you don’t like Elvis.  What better than to show Bubba Ho-Tep going after him?  (How did Bubba get past the Secret Service?)  When he puts his boney hand the King’s shoulder, can’t you see Elvis spin around and say that great line from the movie:  “Come on and get it, you undead sack of shit.”   Could somebody do that and put it on U-Tube, please.

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If you don’t like either Elvis or Nixon, I guess you could replace them with two cats.  Looks like the Nixon cat sort of kept his hairline, doesn’t it?

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A couple of months ago, I did an ElvisBlog column that showed two fake Elvis concert posters.  It appears that this concept works for political posters as well.  Notice who is at the top of the ticket.

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And finally, here we have a bogus photo that supposedly came from the Richard M. Nixon Presidential Library.  This is so clever, and I wish I could give it proper attribution, but I copied it to my computer a long time ago and don’t have an Idea where I found it.  If its creator contacts me, I will either give credit or remove the picture, whatever preference is expressed.  Same on the other pictures.  Anyway, here is a great reworking of one of the other photos taken during Elvis’ visit to the White House .  Bill Clinton’s head is on Red West’s body, and Rush Limbaugh’s (Rusty Limbo?) head is on Jerry Schilling’s body.  If you have any trouble reading the handwritten sentence on the photo, it is:  “Elvis tells President about Billy Clinton’s Watergate Break-in idea.”  What a hoot.

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©  2008   Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister   All Rights Reserved   www.ElvisBlog.net