When Dick Clark died two weeks ago, one fact revealed was that he never had Elvis on American Bandstand. This actually is not too surprising. Until August 1957, Bandstand had been just a local show on a Philadelphia TV station. When ABC picked it up and broadcast it nationally as American Bandstand, Elvis was already in a situation where Col. Parker refused to let Elvis appear on TV. Parker’s reasoning was that the fans should not get free looks at Elvis on television. If they wanted to see him, they had to go to his concerts or watch his movies.
However, Elvis was soon drafted into the Army. Once he got shipped off to Germany, Dick Clark used his well documented business savvy and set up phone calls to Elvis. The audio from these calls were rebroadcast on American Bandstand, and they were a good PR move for both the show and Elvis. Here are the transcripts, with a few minor sentences deleted.
Phone Call # 1 — from Dick Clark to Elvis in Germany – February 1959
Clark: Hello, Elvis.
Elvis: Hello, Dick, How are you?
Clark: Fine, thank you. Where on earth are you at this minute?
Elvis: The town I’m in is Freidberg, Germany; however, I live in a place called Bad Nauheim, just north of Freidberg.
Clark: Tell me a little bit about your activities. What did you do, say, today?
Elvis: Mostly classroom work.
Clark: What are you studying?
Elvis: Map reading and then how to grease my Jeep. Just the regular things.
Clark; Do you have time for music anymore?
Elvis: Only at night. You see, I get off work at five o’clock in the afternoon, and I have a guitar up here in the room… I don’t want to get out of practice, if I can help it.
Clark: I should hope not. Let me tell you some good news. In the annual American Bandstand Popularity Poll you walked away with a couple of honors this year. The Favorite Male Vocalist Award and the Favorite Record of 1958 Award. The kids voted you top man all around.
Elvis: Well that’s sure tremendous, Dick. It’s really great, boy.
Clark: Do you have any idea when you’ll be travelling back home?
Elvis: No, I don’t, Dick. I wish I really did know.
Clark: How about it, do you miss home?
Elvis: Oh, boy, I can’t hardly talk… I mean, I’m glad that I could come in the Army and do my part, but you’ll never know how happy I’ll be, boy, when I can return to the entertainment world, because once you get a taste of show business, there’s nothing like it.
Clark: You know it. Elvis, thank you ever so much for talking to us. We look forward to your return.
Elvis: Well thank you very much. I’d just like to tell all those wonderful kids that they’ll never know how happy they made me, and I’m longing for the time I can come back out and entertain them again, travel around and make movies, records, and things like that.
Phone Call # 2 — from Elvis in Germany to Dick Clark – August 1959 (2nd Anniversary of American Bandstand)
One of Dick Clark’s questions below makes it sound like Elvis called him, but that seems improbable. Surely, Elvis didn’t just happen to call on the 2nd anniversary of American Bandstand, so Clark’s staff probably set it up. Plus, why would Elvis’ gold record for “A Big Hunk of Love” be in Clark’s hands before Col. Parker’s?
Clark: Hello, Elvis.
Elvis: Hello Dick, how are you.
Clark: I would imagine they’ve got you kind of busy these days, don’t they?
Elvis: Oh yeah, well we’re getting’ ready for a big inspection. A new inspection, so we’ve been workin’ pretty hard for that.
Clark: Elvis, so many of us here are interested in your activities and I think probably the big question on most people’s minds these days are when and if everything goes right, you’re out in February, what will be your plans?
Elvis: Well, as you know, I have a contract with ABC… for some television. I don’t know what Colonel Parker has arranged… And then I have the three pictures to make; one for Mr (Hal) Wallis, and then the other two for Twentieth Century-Fox
Clark: Elvis, I’ve got some good news. I imagine by now they’ve passed the word along to you. With the latest RCA Victor recording out, “A Big Hunk of Love” and “My Wish Came True,” you got yourself another Gold Record to add to the collection.
Elvis: That’s great, Dick. That sure is nice. I was surprised to hear it, really.
Clark: I’ll tell you what. We’re gonna show it to the folks here on American Bandstand, and then I’ll forward it down to Colonel Parker, and he can save it for you when you come back.
Elvis: Okay, that’ll be fine.
Clark: Elvis, do you have any idea of how many Gold Records you have now in your collection?
Elvis: To my knowledge, Dick…this one will make thirty-one, I think.
Clark; Boy, that is a fantastic record. There’s no getting away from it.
Elvis: I’ll ask my daddy to go down and (laughs) and count them.
Clark: Elvis, one more quick question that might interest the gals in this country. I know probably you don’t have much time to yourself but when you go out amongst the German people, what is the thing that strikes you as most interesting? Are they very different than the people back home?
Elvis: The main difference is naturally the language barrier. It’s kinda hard to talk to most of ‘em, especially older ones because a lot of ‘em don’t speak English at all and I don’t speak any German.
Clark: How do you find the reaction of young people toward you, mainly the girls,,, [Do] they go crazy for you? Do you get along well with them?
Elvis: Yeah, I get along real well. Every day when I finish work and come in, well there’s always a crowd at the gate from all over Germany… And they bring their families. Especially on weekends, I have a lot of visitors here from all over Germany, all over Europe in fact. They come here and bring pictures and take pictures and everything.
Clark: You’re kind of a man torn between two careers, both of which are very, very important. Elvis, I did want to thank you very much for calling this day. As you probably know, this is our special anniversary day.
Elvis: Oh, well, congratulations.
Clark: And many, many thanks and we all look forward to your return.
Elvis: Thank you very much… Bye-bye, Dick
Call # 3 – From Dick Clark to Elvis in Germany, January 8, 1960 (Elvis’ 25th birthday)
As the year 1960 began, there was much speculation in the press that Elvis would soon return to the United States. Dick Clark certainly realized that if he wanted one more phone conversation with Elvis, he’d better hurry up. What better time than on Elvis’ birthday?
Clark: Hello, Elvis.
Clark: Hi. We had no idea we could catch a-hold of you today.
Elvis: Oh, yeah, well I just came in the door, Dick.
Clark: What were you doing?
Elvis: Well, I just came in from the day’s work. It’s about five-thirty here.
Clark: You know, Elvis, I called Colonel Tom and had words with his assistant and say, gee, do you suppose there’s any chance we could talk to Elvis on his birthday, and they seemed to think you ought to be off on maneuvers. Have you been pretty busy?
Elvis: Yeah, we’ve been pretty busy. I don’t go on maneuvers until the twenty-second.
Clark: Oh, I see. What is the situation regarding your release from the army? Do you have any word on it?
Elvis: The only thing definite, Dick, as far as the way it stands now, I leave Germany somewhere between the twentieth of February and the second of March.
Clark: When you come back, I understand you’ve got a television show with Frank Sinatra and a few movies to make. How are you gonna squeeze ‘em all in?
Elvis: Well (laughs), I’m told Colonel Parker will have everything arranged. I know the first picture is for Mr. Wallis. It’s called G.I. Blues, I think. The other two’s at Twentieth Century-Fox, and I don’t know exactly when the television show will be. In fact, I don’t even know what’s gonna happen, really.
Clark: Elvis, what is your general feeling about doing your first television show upon your return with Frank Sinatra? You two fellows have sort of different musical stylings. Do you have any thoughts on that?
Elvis: Well, I really do. I consider it an honor, really, Dick, because this man…he’s really proven himself.
Clark: He’s somewhat of a legend, I guess.
Elvis: He is, and I admire him very much, and I really am honored.
Clark: Let me ask you about your Christmas and New Year’s. How did you celebrate the holidays?
Elvis: We had a Christmas party here. I had a lot guys from all over the post. I had as many of the boys here as possible at my house…try to make ‘em feel at home around Christmastime. Then on New year’s night we had another little party. This one was pretty nice, but it was better last year.
Clark: Elvis, I want to thank you very, very much for taking the time out from your busy schedule, to reassure you once again that we’re all awaiting your arrival back home, and on this day to wish you a happy birthday.
Elvis: Thank you very much, Dick, and I’m kinda lookin’ forward to it. Yeah, there’s still a lot of stuff in print about my getting out early and all that stuff.
Clark: It’s not true, as far as you know, uh?
Elvis: Well it’s been in print and I had a lot of people ask me about it. The only time I heard about it is when I read it.
Clark: Elvis, all the best. We’ll see you on your return.
Elvis: Okay, thanks a lot, Dick, and tell everybody hello from me.
Elvis’ service in Germany officially ended on March 2, 1960. He resumed his recording and movie careers, and never did appear on American Bandstand. The photos above are stock images, not the actual shots taken during the Elvis/Dick Clark phone interviews for American Bandstand.
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