Monthly Archives: July 2012

Scotty Moore Returns to Live Performances After 24 Year Absence

When Scotty Moore returned to Nashville after appearing in the ‘68 Comeback Special, he never dreamed it was the last time he would perform on stage for 24 years.

Elvis and Scotty Moore in the famous “Pit Session” of the the ’68 Comeback Special

 

In fact, Elvis had talked about wanting to do a tour in Europe.  Now that he was essentially finished with movies, Elvis was energized to perform live again, and Scotty was excited about getting back on stage with him.  Scotty went home to Nashville and waited for a call from Elvis to say the European tour was on.

Of course, Col. Parker put a quick end to such an idea.  He was an illegal alien from Holland and knew he couldn’t get a US passport, so he could never accompany Elvis to Europe.  And, Parker was not about to allow Elvis to tour over there without the constant presence of his manager.  So the tour idea died.

Scotty went on with his life as a studio sound engineer, work that kept him associated with the music business, without ever performing.  Years later he owned a cassette duplicating company, and followed that by opening a printing shop that made the label inserts for the tapes.

Scotty’s guitars sat essentially untouched for years.  He actually thought of himself as a ‘former guitar player,’ and was comfortable with it.  He did, however, maintain contact with many dozens of folks in the music business – including Carl Perkins.

Perkins underwent cancer surgery in 1991, but in early 1992 it was in remission.  He felt strong enough to record a new album, and wanted to do it in the old Sun Studios in Memphis.  So, Perkins called Scotty and asked him to join the project.  Scotty resisted, repeatedly saying, “I can’t do this.”  However, Perkins persisted, and soon he, Scotty, DJ Fontana and a group of their studio musician friends completed the recording session that resulted in 706 ReUnion.

Cover of CD Re-release, Not Original Album

 

Two years earlier, Carl Perkins had been the headliner at the first “Good Rockin’ Tonight” concert, presented during Elvis Week by Darwin Lamm, editor and publisher of Elvis International magazine.  Perkins was unable to sing at the second annual concert in 1991 because of his cancer surgery, but he was back as headliner again for “Good Rockin’ Tonight 3” in 1992.

Again, Carl Perkins worked on Scotty to join him – this time, on stage playing the guitar. Scotty agreed, and became part of the most exciting line-up in the history of Elvis Week concerts.  Not only did the fans get to see Elvis’ first guitar player, they also got to see his last one, James Burton.

James Burton and Scotty Moore Rehearsing

 

The Sun Rhythm Section, featuring Sunny Burgess and DJ Fontana opened the show and wowed the audience with an excellent Rockabilly set.  Also on the bill were the Jordanaires who backed Elvis on too many records to count and Ronnie McDowell who sang the songs on several Elvis movies and TV biographies.

From left – James Burton, DJ Fontana, Scotty Moore. Behind Carl perkins on stool — Jardanaires, Ronnie McDowell (in black, white belt), and others.

 

Scotty’s long-time friend, Gail Pollock, summarized the show, “It was electric.”  Especially, when Carl Perkins and Scotty Moore were on stage together.

 

After that, Scotty was hooked.  A week after the concert in Memphis, he went to England to perform with the Jordanaires.  He had been away from performing for 24 years, but at age 61, Scotty Moore was back.  Thousands of fans have seen him at concerts in the years since, and Scotty Moore has brought tears of happiness to more than a few of them.

 

Many thanks to James Roy, webmaster for www.scottymoore.net, and to Gail Pollock for their help in supplying the photographs and historical reference material for this article.

 

©  2012    Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister    All Rights Reserved    www.ElvisBlog.net

 

Elvis, Elvis Presley, and Graceland are registered trademarks of Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc.

Making the Most of a Bit Part in Jailhouse Rock

Do you remember the scene in Jailhouse Rock when Elvis tries to convince a club owner to hire him as a singer?  Elvis jumps on stage and starts singing, but a drunk keeps laughing and talking very loud.  When Elvis can’t get the jerk to quiet down, he slams his guitar on their table and storms out.

Well, the pretty young thing at the table with the much older drunk was an aspiring actress named Tracy Morgan.  Her part was so small, you wouldn’t think she had much of a story to tell, but she does.

 

Her agent set up a meeting with the movie’s casting man, whose first impression was that she was too young for the part.  They had already cast the actor to be opposite her, and he was old enough to be her father.  The casting man said he would let the director decide, so he sent her from the casting office to the set on the MGM back lot.

 

It was a long walk, and she had on high heels.  Then, a limousine pulled up and Elvis stepped out.  “Where are you goin’ little lady?”

Tracy was a huge fan and she thought her heart would stop.  “I’m going down to the set.”

Elvis said, “Oh, you mean where they’re doin’ my movie?”  When she said yes, he asked, “Are you gonna be in my movie?”

“I don’t know, it depends on the director.”

“Here, let me give you a ride.”

Tracy got in the limousine, and Elvis put his arm on the back of the seat and chatted with her during the several block ride to the set.  The director, Richard Thorpe, was standing there and noticed who was riding with Elvis.  Later, Tracy reminisced that Thorpe probably assumed she and Elvis were friends, or were dating.

When they walked over to the director, she introduced herself and said, “I’m here to see if you like me for the part in the bar scene.”

Thorpe looked at Elvis and said, “Well, Elvis, I assume you like her.”

Elvis replied, “Oh, yeah, she’s really nice.”

That must have been enough for the director, because he said, “OK, you’ve got the part.”

What could be a better start for a young actress trying to break into the movies?  She not only met the hottest entertainer in the world, but also rode with him in a limo, and then his presence got her the part in Elvis’ third movie.

 

However, that was not the end of Tracy Morgan’s unusual experiences with Elvis during the filming of Jailhouse Rock.  There were problems during her scene which resulted in one of the continuity bloopers some Elvis fans love to look for in his movies.  (Count me in that group.  When I watch an Elvis movie for the sixth or seventh time, I start looking for little things to keep it interesting.)

In her scene, Elvis was singing a “Young and Beautiful” on the Club La Florita stage. when the man with Tracy kept talking and laughing.

 

Elvis told him to shut up, but the guy mocked him and did it more.  This enraged Elvis, so he jumped off the stage and ran over to their booth and smashed his guitar on their table.  Unfortunately, on the first take, the guitar didn’t break as desired, and the drinks spilled on to Tracy’s blouse and skirt.

So, a second take was necessary.  First, they had to have the wardrobe people take Tracy back where they had a matching back-up outfit.  She put it on and they tried filming again.  The second attempt worked better as the guitar smashed somewhat.  A third take was considered, but that would have required her clothes be dry-cleaned first.  Elvis said, “Maybe if I keep doing this, you’ll have some more time on the film.”

Now for the blooper.  Take a look at these back-to-back shots from the movie:

Elvis Swings the Guitar, Glasses on Table

 

Elvis Slams Guitar on Table, Glasses Flying

 

Elvis Storms Off, Glasses Back on Table

Elvis throws the guitar on the floor and storms off.  Tracy’s gentlemen friend is now bent over in front of her.  The angle has changed, so none of Tracy shows except her head.  Was this a clever way to continue the scene filming without showing her wet blouse?   And how about those glasses magically reappearing on the table?

Tracy had more memories of her experience with Elvis in Jailhouse Rock.  Here they are as told to Stu Olson and published in a 1990 issue of Elvis International magazine.

On the movie sets there are prop people who bring you hand props, a drink or a cigarette, or whatever you need in the scene.  Whenever they handed Elvis a prop, fixed his hair, or touched up his makeup, he always turned and said, “Thank you, sir,” or “Thank you, ma’am.”  The whole set was buzzing.  Here was a superstar who could have acted like a real idiot about everything, but he didn’t.

He always knew his lines, not just the scene, or the day’s shooting, but the whole script, and everyone else’s part, too.  He was always helpful and not temperamental.

The first day, when we were all breaking for lunch, he came over and said, “Would you like go to lunch with me at the commissary?”  Well I was excited.  Unfortunately, when we went, his entire entourage went with us, which, for a young girl, was a lot of people to go to lunch with.

Now I had taken a lot of ribbing in my drama class about being such a fan of his, because I played his records all the time.  I knew I was going to class the following night, so I asked Elvis at lunch if he could stop by my class, and I thought to myself, “That’ll show ‘em.”  Elvis graciously said, “Yes.”  But later in the day he came over and said that the Colonel told him he couldn’t, because everyone would be asking him to stop by their group or whatever.  I felt bad, but I understood.  Then he asked me where my class was, and I told him the address.

I went on to class that night and everybody was teasing me.  “So, you got to work with your hero, “Elvis Pelvis,” and so forth.  All of a sudden, the door opened and there stood Elvis!  The whole class stopped and stared.

Elvis looked at me and smiled.  “Hi, Tracy, how are you?  I just thought I’d stop by and say hello.”

I answered, “Hello,” but he quickly left and got back in his car and drove off.

I thought to myself, Well, wasn’t that a sweet thing to do?”

I was a celebrity for months because I had gotten Elvis Presley to come to class.  But, I really hadn’t.  Elvis… made sure he was riding around in the drama class neighborhood.  That’s what I remember most about him, he was always kind, he was always polite, and he never acted like the “star.”

He was just a very sweet, talented, gorgeous man.  I’ll always love him.

©  2012    Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister    All Rights Reserved    www.ElvisBlog.net

 

Elvis, Elvis Presley, and Graceland are registered trademarks of Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc.

 

Memories of Elvis — By His High School Classmates, Part 4

When I did the third installment of high school memories of Elvis, I thought it was finished.  However, I recently discovered an article in a 1989 issue of Elvis International magazine titled “Memories of Elvis.”   It was written by a former Humes High School student named Earl Green.  Research indicates he was not in Elvis’ 1953 graduating class, perhaps a year ahead, but he did live in Lauderdale Courts and seems to have known Elvis pretty well.  Here is what he remembered.

As a student at L.C. Humes High school in Memphis, Elvis Presley was very nervous and shy at first.  When he first reported to school he admitted, “The hair on my head felt like it was standing straight up.”

He was a tall handsome boy with long sideburns (which he said he grew to make himself look older).  He also suffered from acne, the skin inflammation that is so often a difficulty for teenagers.  He had a healthy appetite for girls and enjoyed dating, and girls liked being his date.

Rosemary Barracco at Class Swim Party the Day Before Graduation

 

He was a member of R.O.T.C., a required course in Memphis city schools.  It was one of his favorite subjects and he wore his uniform proudly, unaware at the time that in a few years he would be wearing a very similar uniform… that of the U.S. Army.

 

Elvis tried out for and made the football team, the Humes High Tigers.  He played end for one season but didn’t play in many games and he never scored a touchdown.  It was said that the coach told him to cut his long hair, so he dropped football.

 

 

While other guys at Humes wore plain colored or plaid shirts, Elvis often wore loud shirts.  He came to school one day wearing a purple, satin shirt.  “They’re snickering at me,” he said.  “They don’t like it.”

“You like it, don’t you?” I said.  “That’s all that counts.”

Elvis was very shy in school at first, and when it came to music, he was even more shy.  Occasionally, he would bring his guitar to school and sit in home room strumming it before classes started.  Students would gather around him and ask him to sing, but he usually refused because he had a severe case of stage fright.  He seemed to want to run away and yet he wanted to stay and see it through.  On one occasion, after much coaxing from the students, Elvis finally sang a few bars of a country and western song interspersed with a few shy chuckles.  You could feel the magnetism of the singer’s personality as students gathered around him to listen.

At one time during his Humes High days, Elvis lived in a federally funded housing project, Lauderdale Courts, in a ground-floor apartment at 185 Winchester Street.  My family lived at the same address on the third floor.  Elvis’ mother, Gladys, walked Elvis to school … until he was in the ninth grade.

Lauderdale Courts

 

As the school days and years went by, Elvis slowly developed confidence.  When one of his teachers was chosen to be the producer of the senior variety show, she put Elvis in it.  This was his first performance on stage.  This act alone was instrumental in helping Elvis cast off much of his shyness and stage fright.  Years later, he said, “I wasn’t nervous.  I was petrified.”

Elvis wore a loud shirt in the variety show.  His long sideburns and loud clothes helped him establish an identity and thereby added to his confidence.  There was not enough time for all the acts to have an encore, so it was decided that the act that drew the most applause would get the encore.  The audience really liked him.

Humes Talent Show Program

 

While attending Humes High, I was an usher at the old Malco Theater at the corner of Main and Beale.  At the same time, Elvis was an usher at Loew’s State Theater in downtown Memphis.  His salary was $12.75 per week.

 

Elvis had a penchant for loud apparel.  When he could afford it, he would buy clothes at Lansky Brothers, a clothing store on Beale Street, the street made famous by W.C. Handy, the black composer of blues songs.

 

This young, mad, Elvis Aaron Presley, who lived only a few miles from legendary Beale Street, would soon explode on the music world with unequaled success.  Thank God he left us all a legacy of records and films we can treasure and enjoy for years to come.

 

©  2012    Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister    All Rights Reserved    www.ElvisBlog.net

 

Elvis, Elvis Presley, and Graceland are registered trademarks of Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc.

 

Andy Griffith and Elvis

Andy Griffith died on Tuesday, July 3 at age 86.  Like all good Elvis fans, when I heard the news, I remembered that Elvis had appeared with him on The Steve Allen Show in 1956.

 

They were in a silly skit called “Range Roundup,” and Elvis got to shoot the dreaded Tonto Bar.

Photo by Alfred Wertheimer — used by permission

 

But, how many fans know that Elvis worked with Griffith a year before they appeared together on the Steve Allen Show?  Early in his career, Griffith had some success as a singer.  He took his singing and comedic talents on the road headlining his own show.  Starting on July 25, 1955, Elvis joined Griffith and other performers for a series of nine concerts in Ft. Myers, Orlando, Jacksonville, Daytona Beach, and Tampa, Florida.  Look at the line-up for these two July 31, 1955 shows at the Ft. Homer Westerly Armory in Tampa.

Here is the cover of the souvenir photobook that was sold at these concerts.

 

And here is the Elvis page in the souvenir photobook.

 

The bio info about Elvis is print to tiny to read, so here is a blow-up.

 

There are numerous reports that say the cover photo for Elvis’ first album was taken at one of the July 31, 1955, Andy Griffith shows in Tampa.  However, the website For Elvis CD Collectors credits it to William V (Red) Robertson, but the book Elvis, Day By Day claims it was taken by famous celebrity photographer Popsie (William S, Randolph).

 

If you wish to read more about Elvis and Andy Griffith, please check out the Andy and Elvis Connection.   Believe it or not, the creator of this website found over 80 actors and actresses that appeared in both Elvis movies and Andy Griffith TV shows and movies.

 

©  2012    Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister    All Rights Reserved    www.ElvisBlog.net

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Elvis, Elvis Presley, and Graceland are registered trademarks of Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc.

 

Happy 4th of July, Elvis

 

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