Monthly Archives: April 2013

George Jones and Elvis

I was saddened to learn that country music icon George Jones died yesterday at age 81.  Although I am not a huge country fan, over the years I’ve heard plenty of George Jones songs, and it’s easy to appreciate his great talent.  So, I hoped there had been some sort of connection between Elvis and George Jones, because I really wanted to write an ElvisBlog article about him.  Guess what – there were several connections.

George Jones as a youngster and during his days on the Louisiana Hayride

George Jones as a youngster and during his days on the Louisiana Hayride

 

Jones was born in 1931, and by his twelfth birthday, he was playing his guitar and singing for tips on the streets of Beaumont, Texas.  Although he and Elvis got their starts at almost exactly the same time, Jones was three years older due to serving a stint in Korea with the marines.

Elvis began recording at Sun Records in 1954, the same year Jones signed with Starday Records.  By the end of the year, Elvis had regional success with the Rock-a-Billy songs “That’s All Right” and “Good Rockin’ Tonight.”  Jones had less success with his first two honky-tonk releases “No Money in This Deal,” and “You’re in My Heart.”

In November 1954, Elvis signed a contract with the Louisiana Hayride to perform every Saturday night for a year.  In addition, the Hayride took performers out on tour to cities not too distant from Shreveport. Louisiana.  In August 1955, Elvis was on the bill of one of these shows in Conroe, Texas.  George Jones drove over from Beaumont and managed to get in to see Horace Logan, the director of the Hayride.  Logan later described Jones as kind of skinny, with a crew cut, and looking like a teenager (he was actually 24).  Jones sang his latest Starday release “Why Baby Why,” and impressed Logan so much he was allowed to open the show as an unannounced act.

 George Jones 8

After the Conroe show, Logan signed George Jones to a contract, and he became a regular Hayride performer, sometimes appearing on the bill with Elvis.

Elvis and George Jones on Louisiana Hayride show

 

Then “Why Baby Why” quickly became a national country hit for George Jones, and his career took off.   He became the headliner at the Louisiana Hayride.  Notice the playbill below with Jones at the top and Elvis as a special guest.

George Jones  Headlines 1955 show

 

Jones has been quoted saying this about that show, “I still have a copy of one of those posters – well Elvis made it really, really big, but I had one up on him for that one night.”  However, as the hits piled up for Elvis and his fame exploded, he leapfrogged back ahead of Jones as the headliner.

 

One of the most interesting things I found on the internet was a song Jones wrote and recorded titled, “The King is Gone (So Are You).”   As best I can find out, it is autobiographical.  Here’s the scenario.  George Jones was an alcoholic for most of his career, and he had four divorces.  After one of those divorces, Jones was alone in his home, and the ex-wife had cleared out everything – all the furniture and all the china and glassware.  Among the few things she didn’t take was a small table, an Elvis Jim Beam whiskey decanter, and a jar of Flintstones jelly beans..

One of the Jim Beam Elvis decanter collection.  Note tax stamp seal on Elvis’ head.

One of the Jim Beam Elvis decanter collection. Note tax stamp seal on Elvis’ head.

Jones dumped out the jellybeans and used the jar as a glass to drink the Jim Beam, all of it.  As he got good and drunk, he had imaginary conversations with Elvis and Fred Flintstone.  Soon after that, he wrote this song.

Elvis has left the Building (So Have You)

The kicker to this story is that Hanna-Barbera Productions sued George Jones for unauthorized use of their trademarked Yabba Dabba Doo.  Poor Jones couldn’t catch a break.

 

Let’s end with one last story about George Jones.  It has nothing to do with Elvis, but it is classic George Jones lore.

One of the best known stories of Jones’ drinking days happened when he was married to his second wife, Shirley Ann Corley.  She tried to make it physically impossible for him to travel to Beaumont, located eight miles away, and buy liquor.  Because Jones would not walk that far, she would hide the keys to each of their cars before she left the house.  On night, Jones was upset at not being able to find any car keys, but he happened to look out the window.  The light that shone over their property spotlighted their large riding lawn mower.  He is quoted saying, “There, gleaming in the glow, was that ten-horsepower rotary engine under a seat.  A key glistening in the ignition.  I imagined the top speed for that old mower was five miles per hour.  It might have taken an hour and a half or more for me to get to the liquor store, but get there I did.”

 

George Jones

Good bye, George Jones.  You were a classic.

 

©  2013    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.

Elvis Movie 50th Anniversary Pictorials — It Happened at the World’s Fair, 1963

It Happened at the World’s Fair, Elvis’ twelfth film, opened nationally on April 10, 1963.  By this time, Col. Parker and the producers had given up any pretense of putting Elvis into quality movies, and this one was a real stinkeroo, in my opinion.  The plot was very thin, there was way too much of five-year-old Sue-Lin, and the songs were weak (especially the four Elvis sang to Sue-Lin).  However, this is supposed to be a pictorial, not a review, so let’s look at some pictures.

Movie Posters:

World's Fair 5

World's Fair 6

 

Shots from the Movie:

Water Works Fountain in the Central Courtyard.

The movie could have been a virtual advertisement for the Seattle World’s Fair, because it featured glamorous shots of nine different venues, including the Water Works Fountain in the Central Courtyard shown here.  However, the film premiered several months after the fair closed.

 Space needle 1

Here we have Elvis and co-star Joan O’Brien in the famous Space Needle with its 360 degree rotation that provided stunning views.  Actual filming was done on a set in Hollywood, and the floor didn’t rotate, just the section of windows behind them.  Next time you watch the movie, note how the view never changes.

Singing to Sue-Lin

Elvis spent more time with Sue-Lin than he did with Joan O’Brien, and he sang more songs to the precocious child.  However, the two songs he sang to O’Brien made her melt yieldingly into his arms.

 

Lobby Cards:

Lobby Card 1a

Lobby Card 2

Lobby Card 3

Lobby Card 4

Lobby Card 5

Lobby Card 6 Better

Lobby Card 7

 

The One Scene I Can Watch Over and Over:

First Yvonne Craig Kiss

Early in the movie, there is a short scene that has nothing to do with the plot.  Elvis shows up at the house where Yvonne Craig lives, and in no time they are doing this.  Then, she decides things are getting too hot and pulls away.  Elvis chases her all over the living room like a hound dog on the scent.

Mutting on his Moves

Elvis the Hairdresser

More Moves

Moves 4

Moves 3

Finally

Finally

Believe it or not, Elvis had time to sing a song during all that.  It is said that Elvis dated Yvonne Craig during the filming of the movie.  And, he must have liked her acting skills so much that he elevated her to co-star status a year later in Kissin’ Cousins.

 

Promotional Photos:

Pretty Girls from Hitch Kiking Scene

Elvis and two young girls who had about five seconds of film time in the scene depicted in the first lobby card – but they sure are pretty.

 

Elvis in his pilot outfit

Elvis in his pilot outfit

 

Promo Shot

In the movies, Elvis has sung on trains, trucks, cars, helicopters, and boats.  Why not a rickshaw?

Foreign Posters:

French Poster

French Poster

Italian Poster

Italian Poster

Note what they feature on the Italian poster — Elvis in three fight scenes and putting the make on the girl who is not his co-star.

 

Behind the Scenes Shots:

Elvis the Hairdresser

Elvis the Hairdresser

Poker game.  Gary Lockwood, Joan O’Brien, and cousin Billy Smith join in.

Poker game. Gary Lockwood, Joan O’Brien, and cousin Billy Smith join in.

Kissing the Co-Star:

Kiss in Space Needle

Kiss in Space Needle

This is about mid-way through the movie before Elvis messes up and she gets all mad at him.

Kissing at End of Movie

Kissing at end of movie – after he wins her back.

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©  2013    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.

Results of the First 2013 Elvis Auction

Bidding on the first significant assortment of Elvis memorabilia this year closed on March 30.  The Heritage Auctions “Entertainment and Music Memorabilia Auction” held in Dallas contained forty varied items for Elvis collectors.  Here are some I liked.

Personal Rotary Phone in Wooden Box:

Portable Phone

This rotary phone attracted eleven bidders, the most of any Elvis item in the auction, and they bid the price up to $16,250, nearly eight times the pre-bid estimate.  Elvis used the phone in his Beverly Hills home in the early 1970s.  Apparently, there were lots of Memphis Mafia buddies around, because he printed a warning inside the cover for them not to use the phone.

Close up of personal note on phone box

Elvis had his Kenpo Karate decal put on top of the wooden box.  He also had it put on one of his guitars.

Portable Phone Box

This item did not come with any photos of Elvis using the phone, but it did come with a letter of authenticity from Charlie Hodge.

 

Elvis Presley Signed High School Yearbook The Herald 1953:

Yearbook

Copies of the 1953 The Herald yearbook from Elvis’ senior year at Humes High School show up at auction fairly regularly.  The last copy to surface was sold in August 2010 at the Ultimate Elvis Auction held in Memphis by Heritage Auction Galleries.  The top bid was $7,170.

Heritage offered another Elvis yearbook this year, and they hyped it up because the original owner was by all accounts the most popular girl in Elvis’ class, Gloria Carmeen.  The auction website description stated she was Miss Humes, Captain of the Cheerleaders, and a member of the National Honor Society, Student Council, and several other organizations.  Elvis wrote “best of luck to a very pretty girl – remember me.”

Unfortunately, this copy of The Herald shows some wear at the top and bottom of the spine, and at the tips of the covers’ corners, and the pages are partially loose from the cover.  Quality counts for Elvis collectors and this yearbook sold for $4,375, well below the pre-auction estimate.

 

Tan Suede Coat:

Tan Suede Coat

Based on the amount of wear it had, this coat was probably one of Elvis’ favorites.  In addition to some worn areas and minor stains, is missing its label, and the inner lining is torn in one small area.  On top of that, there is no photo of Elvis wearing it, so it’s no surprise it brought only $2,500, about half of the pre-auction estimate.  Elvis gave this well-worn suede coat to Sunny West, who supplied a LOA.

 

Elvis Presley Complete Sun Singles Set:

Five Sun 45s

It’s fairly easy to find a copy of an Elvis record on the Sun label, but a complete set of all five is a rare find.    Especially if they all grade out from VG-EX 6 (very good- excellent) to NM 8 (near mint).  Collectors of Elvis records bid this top quality set up to $4,687, including the auction’s buyer’s fee.   As the auction website proclaimed, “This is the stuff of legend.”

 

Gold and Diamond Ring:

Gold and Diamond Ring

We’ve watched the prices for Elvis’ rings drop since the economic shutdown started in 2008, but it appears that things are coming back pretty good.  This 14k gold ring with a seven-diamond cluster sold for $15,000.  The price was certainly boosted by the inclusion of a photo of Elvis wearing it on stage.

Gold and Diamond Ring - Wearing

The auction website said Elvis wore the ring before giving it to his cousin Patsy Presley in 1974.  At some point, it seems she would rather have the cash, because she prepared the LOA that accompanied the ring at this auction.

 

Star Ruby and Diamond Ring:

Star Ruby and Diamond Ring

Here’s the second Elvis ring in the auction.  This one is understated, but the10K yellow gold band is crowned by a star ruby, accented on either side by small diamonds.  The ring went for $9,062.  In December, 1976, while a guest of Sam Thompson (the brother of Elvis’ girlfriend Linda) Elvis took the ring from his own middle finger and gave it to Sam as a bonus following a ten-day engagement at the Las Vegas Hilton. According to Thompson, Elvis claimed to have gotten the ring when he visited a spiritual center in Los Angeles which had been founded by Hindu holy man Paramahansa Yogananda.  Sam Thompson provided a Letter of Authenticity.

 

Motorcycle Belt:

Motorcycle Belt

If you ever wondered where Elvis got the inspiration for his huge, ornate jumpsuit belts, maybe this is it.  The 32″ waist identifies this black leather motorcycle belt as probably from the early to mid-1960s.  The triple-buckle side is 5.5 inches high, and the decorated part is over seven inches high.  If you thought the decorated side would be the front, the low-res photograph of Elvis wearing the belt shows the buckles in front.

Motorcycle Belt - wearing

Elvis gave the belt to his longtime hairdresser Homer Gilleland, who supplied a LOA for the auction.  Bidding topped at $4,375.

 

Suede Jacket:

Suede Jacket

The three-part ElvisBlog series on Elvis’ Circle G Ranch showed him wearing several western jackets, but not this one.  And, although this suede jacket wasn’t pictured in those articles, it was worn by Elvis during the colder months after he first bought the ranch.  Believe it or not, it actually came from Sears.  This might seem strange for someone who purchased custom made clothes from big-name stores in Las Vegas, Palm Springs, and Hollywood.  However, when Elvis bought the ranch, he set out on shopping sprees to a nearby Sears store to buy ranch equipment.  While there, this jacket must have caught his eye.

Elvis Wearing Suede Jacket

This photo shows Elvis wearing the jacket while doing something strange – maybe playing with a Roman candle.  He later gave the jacket to close friend Charlie Hodge, who provided a Letter of Authenticity.  The jacket went for $13,125, nearly five times the pre-auction estimate.

 

Long Sleeved Sport Shirt:

Long Sleeved Sport Shirt

Here’s quite a distinctive but strange shirt. It bears a Nik-Nik label, and is a size Large.  As was the case with much clothing in the wild ’60s-’70s era, the shirt had an unusual color scheme, gray toward the top and cream below, a vivid rainbow stripe, and the image of a striking woman on the upper right side. This is the second item of clothing Elvis gave to Sonny West that showed up in this auction.  In his LOA, West stated that the woman’s face bore a striking resemblance to Judy Garland.  Unfortunately, the auction photo has the collar covering most of the face.  Although the shirt is in very fine shape, it topped out at $1,625, about two-thirds of the pre-auction estimate.

Long Sleeve Shirt image close-up

 

Patent Leather Boots:

Patent Leather Boots

Not only did Elvis give away his shirts, coats and rings to Memphis mafia buddies, he apparently gave away his footwear to them, as well.  Charlie Hodge was the recipient of these black patent leather boots with soft leather inside.  Neither man must have worn them much, because the quality was listed as Fine to Very Fine.

Patent Leather Boots - wearing

A photo of Elvis wearing the boots and a Letter of Authenticity from Hodge attracted spirited bidding, and the bid went to $10,000 compared to an estimate of $1,000 – up.

 

Army Fatigue Shirt:

Army Fatigue Shirt

Back in July 2011, an Elvis Army fatigue shirt sold for $5,069 at a Gotta-Have-It auction, so I can’t figure out why this one went for $27,500, more than double the pre-auction estimate.  Admittedly, it is in better shape and has the Sergeant stripes and “Presley” name patch sewn in (the other had only the company patch and Elvis’ name stamped inside below the collar.  To the successful bidder here (out of just three) that must have made it worth an additional $21,000.  As with the diamond-cluster ring, Elvis gave the shirt to cousin Patsy Presley, and her LOA accompanied it at the auction.

 

©  2013    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.

Remembering Annette

Within a 24-hour period this week, we got the news that both Margaret Thatcher and Annette Funicello died.  The Iron Lady and the original Mickey Mouse Club Mousketeer.  I was certain there was no connection between Elvis and Mrs. Thatcher, but I did some digging to see if there might be one between him and Annette.

Not much, really.  Just a few magazine covers they appeared on together.

Movie Life

TV Movie Screen

 

There were also a number of magazine covers that had a photo of Annette and a cover story about Elvis, or vice versa.

Annette Magazine Cover

 Elvis and Annette Mag Cover

 

 

There was one photo on the internet featuring Annette along with several early rockers who weren’t Elvis.

Annette and Singers

Back in 1960, Pat Boone hosted a TV show on ABC called “Coke Time.”  Here is a photo taken June 27, 1960, showing Pat and his guests Annette, Paul Anka, Bobby Darrin, and Frankie Avalon.  Pretty good line-up.

The best thing I found was the lyrics in a song from the movie Grease.  It is titled “Look at Me, I’m Sandra Dee,” sung by Stockard Channing’s character Rizzo at a slumber party.

Elvis, Elvis, let me be, keep that pelvis far from me. Just keep your cool, now you’re starting to drool.

I don’t drink or swear, I won’t rat my hair, I get ill from one cigarette. Keep your filthy paws off my silky drawers.  Would you pull that crap with Annette?

Well, if Elvis had met Annette the day the photo for this album cover was snapped, he might have thought about it.

WOW!

WOW!

 

We miss you, Annette.

Annette Montage

Annette Funicello

 Missing Annette

 

©  2013    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.

More Gordon Stoker Stories

In the ElvisBlog tribute to Gordon Stoker last week, not much biographical material was given for this legendary musician.  So, here’s a little history.  Gordon was not a charter member of the Jordanaires vocal group when it formed in 1948, but he joined soon after and became the leader for the next six decades.  Gordon backed Elvis on his first RCA recording, “Heartbreak Hotel,” and the Jordanaires sang on almost every song Elvis recorded for the next thirteen years.

 

On Stage in Jailhouse Rock

Here is Gordon (right) doing a little dance move in Jailhouse Rock.  The Jordanaires also appeared in King Creole and G.I. Blues.

 

Gold Jacket - Gordon and Jarret

In addition to recording with Elvis and appearing in movies with him, the Jordanaires also backed him in concert.  Here are Gordon Stoker and Hugh Jarrett behind Elvis in his famous gold lamé jacket.

The Jordanaires did backing vocals for many other singers, including Marty Robbins, Patsy Cline, Jim Reeves, George Jones, Loretta Lynn, Tammy Wynette, Dolly Parton, K. D. Lang, Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, Ricky Nelson, Ringo Starr, Chicago, Neil Young, Jimmy Buffett, Connie Francis, the Judds, and Vince Gill.  It has been estimated that songs with their backing vocals have sold over 2.6 billion records.

 

During my meatloaf meal with Gordon Stoker, he took my phone number and e-mail address, but I never thought I would actually hear from him.  Well, a few years later he called me to correct a mistake I had made.  The story is a little involved but here it is.

For years, I liked to make CD music compilations and send them to friends at Christmas.  One was called “Elvis Songs by Other Artists,” and it contained two covers each by Jerry Lee Lewis, Bill Blacks Combo, Scotty Moore, the Jordanaires, and others.  However, four of the songs came from Scotty Moore’s 1968 album, The Guitar That Changed the World.

The Guitar that Changed the World

Scotty had called upon old buddies like DJ Fontana and the Jordanaires to help him out with the album.  You would consider most of the songs instrumentals, even though the Jordanaires repeated their original vocal backing parts.  However, on two songs, Gordon and the boys replaced Elvis doing the vocal lead.  These sounded more like Jordanaires’ songs, so I labelled them on my CD that way.

I thought Gordon Stoker would enjoy hearing the compillation and I sent him a copy.  A few weeks later, he called me and said I had it wrong.  He insisted those two songs were not sung by the Jordanaires; it had to be someone else.  So, I explained about them coming from Scotty’s album, and he thought about it and finally said, “Yeah, you’re right.”  After that forty-year-old memory came back to him, he was happy and we had a nice conversation.

 

Over His Shoulder

The last Gordon Stoker story is a little tricky, but I’ll try to write it so it doesn’t offend anyone.  See this picture of Elvis at the piano with the Jordanaires around him.  Knowledgeable fans know Elvis liked to wind down after concerts by singing Gospel music for hours.  Gordon told me a story about one of these sessions.

Bill Black was hanging out with everybody one night while the Gospel singing went on.  He was something of a prankster, and he noticed Gordon was leaning against the side of the piano with his hands behind his back.  One hand held the other, and the upper hand was in a cupped position.  Bill Black moved behind Gordon, who was really focused on the singing.  Black quietly opened his fly and gently placed his penis on Gordon’s cupped hand.  Gordon was so into the singing that he didn’t notice.  Of course, the giggles from everyone else finally gave him a clue and he saw what was going on.  Gordon said everybody broke into raucous laughter.

 

Inducted into Country Music HOF 2001

All of the photos so far have been of Gordon Stoker as a young man.  Let’s look at some more recent shots, starting with the one above from 2001 when the Jordanaires were inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.  The fellow in the center next to Gordon is Ray Walker, who replaced Hugh Jarrett as the bass singer in 1958.

 

Phil and the Jordanaires  2007

This photo was shot before the Elvis Week 2007 concert, “The Last Man Standing.”  It was a tribute to Scotty Moore, the last man remaining from the Sun Records recording session on July 5, 1954, that started Elvis on his way.  The concert was also the last time Scotty ever performed on stage.  That’s me wearing my all-access pass and standing behind Gordon.  In 2004, I got autographs from all the performers, but in 2007, I was smarter and got photos with everybody.

That was the last time I ever saw Gordon Stoker.  I was unable to attend Elvis Week 2012, but once again he was part of another concert promoted by Darwin Lamm.  Declining health made it necessary for Gordon to be brought on stage in a wheelchair, and I am told the audience reception was emotional and huge.   Boy, I wish I could have been there.

The last photo comes from 2008 and features Ray Walker and Millie Kirkham along with Gordon Stoker.  Millie was the high soprano voice behind Elvis for fifteen years, starting with the 1957 Christmas album.

 

Gordon, Millie and Ray 2008

I have some concert stories about Ray and Millie, too.  They are not as old as Gordon, but in the back of my mind, I know I will be writing tributes to them as well someday.  It saddens me how we keep losing folks from Elvis’ world.

 

©  2013    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.