Category Archives: ALBUMS

Elvis’ Special Christmas Radio Program

Elvis Special Christmas Program Reel-to-reel Tape

Do you know what this is? Until this week, I had never seen it, so it was a surprise to me. Here’s a newspaper clipping that will give you an idea.

 

3,00 Stations Carrying Elvis Special Christmas Radio Program

The year was 1967, and Col. Parker dreamed up the idea for the Elvis Presley Special Christmas Program. A year later, Elvis would present his famous TV special, but this one was for radio. The picture above is a reel-to-reel tape recorded by RCA that Parker had sent to radio stations all over the country.

 

At this point, Elvis had recorded just one album of Christmas music: Elvis’ Christmas Album in 1957:

Elvis' Christmas Album

 

For the special, they used six of the twelve songs on it:

Here Comes Santa Claus
Blue Christmas
O Little Town of Bethlehem
Silent Night
I’ll Be Home for Christmas
I Believe

 

In June 1966, Elvis recorded the single If Every day Was Like Christmas, and it also appeared on the Special Christmas Program:

Elvis Presley - I wish Every Day Could be Christmas

 

The radio special also included the title songs of these two albums:

Elvis Presley - How Great Thou Art

 

Elvis Presley - His Hand in Mine

 

But the special had more than just songs. Here is the sequence as shown on the box came in:

Elvis Special Christmas Program Sequence

Everything was planned out: a five-second musical intro, then the disc jockey talks for 27 seconds, then a song, and so on.

 

Elvis Special Christmas Program Season's Greetings from Elvis

This is the front page of the complete DJ script for the special. Here are the rest.

Elvis Special christmas Programming Script Page 1

Elvis Special Christmas Program Script Page 2

Note that the tape included a long message from actor Dale Robertson for Christmas Seals.

1967 Christmas Seals

 

The script frequently reminds listeners to buy those Elvis Christmas and sacred albums at their local record dealers.

Elvis Special christmas Program Script Page 3
There were no breaks for regular ads, but the DJ script got in plugs for Elvis records and even his current movie Clambake. I believe Col. Parker wrote this script, and he got his name into the text twice. He also was clever to allow one minute at the end of the program for local public-service announcements.

 

Elvis Special Christmas Program Poster

This is a poster that went out to record stores to promote the special. It says “more than 2,000 stations” but the news article above says 3,000. I guess the number was hard to determine because airing the special was up to the stations. However, to help motivate them, Col. Parker sent station managers 100 Elvis Presley Christmas cards, fifty 1968 Elvis Presley calendars, a package of Christmas Seals, and catalogs of Elvis albums and 8-track tape cartridges. That would have motivated me.

Graceland is big on celebrating anniversaries of all things Elvis. Maybe next year they will present a 50th Anniversary edition of this radio special. With today’s technology, they could have George Klein do the DJ part and offer it as a new download available through an app to our smart phones. That would be cool, too.

 

 

© 2016 Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister All Rights Reserved www.ElvisBlog.net

 

 

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A Tribute to Scotty Moore – Part 2

Scotty Moore and Elvis Presley Performing at New Frontier Hotel 1956

This is the way most people think of Scotty Moore – playing guitar on stage while Elvis performs. Scotty will forever be linked with Elvis, and that’s fine, because his guitar skills played a huge part in Elvis’ music starting a revolution.

Scotty Moore died ten days ago at age 84, cause not announced, and ElvisBlog presented a tribute that generated much positive comment. Because there is still more to say about this rock pioneer, here is A Tribute to Scotty Moore, Part 2.

 

Elvis Leaning on Scotty Moore's Wife's 1954 Chevy Bel Air

This photograph has appeared on the web everywhere. The emphasis is always on Elvis’ wild clothes, especially the pink shirt, back in the early days. The thing most people don’t realize is that the car he is leaning on is Scotty’ wife’s 1954 Chevy Bel Air. The group used this car to travel on all their initial road tours. So, not only was Scotty’s guitar work instrumental in creating Elvis’ Rockabilly sound, he also made it possible for the singer to travel to appearances that added to his growing fame.

 

Cartoon of Scotty Moore

I don’t know the story behind this drawing, but I’m glad I found it. However, I’d change the tagline to “The Man that made the King Rock.”

 

Now for a few things about Scotty Moore you may not know.

 

Rolling Stone's 100 Greatest Guitarists -- # 29 Scotty Moore

Scotty Moore's Bio on Rolling Stone

How about that. When Rolling Stone magazine selected the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time, Scotty made the list. His # 29 position put him ahead of many famous names, such as Prince, Stephen Stills, John Lennon, Bruce Springsteen, and Kurt Cobain. Of more interest to me was how Scotty fared against his contemporaries in the early days of Rock & Roll. Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley placed ahead of Scotty, but Duane eddy, Dick Dale, Buddy Holly, and Carl Perkins trailed him. In case you’re curious, Elvis’ guitar player in the 70s, James Burton, placed # 19.

 

Rolling Stone's 100 Greatest Guitarists

I was particularly struck by the praise Rolling Stone magazine heaped on Scotty. In a flip on the widely-accepted notion that Elvis was the first to mix country, gospel, and blues music, Rolling Stone‘s bio on Scotty said:

“Moore’s tight, aggressive runs mixed country picking with blues phrasing into a new instrumental language.”

Think about what that says. Was it the guitar player or the singer in those 1954 Sun recording sessions that deserves the credit for the monumental change in music that followed? Probably both together, but Scotty deserves more credit. I’m glad Rolling Stone got it right.

 

Priscilla Presley, Scotty Moore, and Gail Pollock

There are two women in this picture with Scotty. One you easily recognize as Priscilla Presley, but can you identify the other? She is Gail Pollock, who was the woman in his life since the early 80’s. I met Scotty at four Elvis Weeks, and Gail was with him every time. They were a team.

Gail Pollock passed away in November 2015, and I am only guessing here, but I think her passing may have hastened Scotty’s death. With her gone, Scotty must have had a huge emptiness in his heart.

That's Alright Elvis - Scotty Moore Bio

I remembered there was a cute story about Gail and Scotty in his autobiography, That’s Alright, Elvis. (Side note: The book is out of print, and the prices for used copies on Amazon have zoomed up since Scotty died). I got out my old signed copy and looked up the story. Back in 1973, Scotty lived in Nashville and worked as a free-lance recording engineer, frequently at Monument Records. Gail Pollock worked there, but had no idea of his background. Scotty never talked about it to anyone.

One day a man came into Monument Records to book studio time, and Gail introduced him to Scotty. After Scotty left the room, the man asked, “Is that the real Scotty Moore?” Gail had no idea what he was talking about. He said, “Scotty Moore, the one who played with Elvis?” Gail answered, “No, he’s an engineer.”

Since then, Gail learned everything about Scotty, and the two of them had long friendships with most of Nashville’s ‘A Team’ session players, singers, and producers. She became famous for her “Southern Mother” cooking for countless recording sessions, jam sessions, or any other reason just to have friends get together.

Scotty Moore and Friends on his Back Deck

Here is Scotty (far right) with several friends socializing on the back deck of his Nashville home. We can presume that Gail either snapped the shot or was in the kitchen.

 

Colorized Scotty & Elvis on Stage

Here’s another strong photo of Elvis and Scotty on stage together, one of my favorites. I guess I am jumping around here. Hope you don’t mind.

 

Scotty on Elvis Trading Card

I wish they had used a clearer picture here for the only Elvis trading card that included Scotty.

 

Scotty Moore in Jailhouse Rock

Last week we looked at some photos of Scotty in the movie Loving You. Here he is at a recording session in the movie Jailhouse Rock.

 

Scotty Moore Album - The Guitar that Changed the World

This is an album that Scotty released in 1964, and I own a cassette copy made from it. It has since been released on CD, and Amazon’s Editorial Review says:

“Scotty Moore deserves this album’s title, exclamation point and all. His big, hollow-body Gibson electric provided the architecture that allowed Elvis Presley’s raw talent and charisma to assume its shape on those early Sun and RCA singles.”

Then, Amazon’s Editorial Review goes on to say some less complimentary things about the album itself. This is no surprise to me, because lots worse has been said about it, as related in an article I wrote for Elvis International magazine back in 2000.

“About ten years ago, I came across an interesting book in the music section of a large bookstore. The title was something like The 100 Worst Record Albums of All Time, which spiked my curiosity as an avid record collector. I flipped through it with mild amusement to see what albums the author had selected, but had quite a jolt when I came upon The Guitar That Changed The World by Scotty Moore.

“Wow,” I thought, “I didn’t know Scotty Moore recorded a solo album of Elvis songs.” Although I was pleased to learn of its existence, it bugged me that some jerk author could write such a bad review about the work of a legendary rock guitarist held in high esteem by Elvis fans. His argument was basically that the original songs were so outstanding nobody should have the audacity to record cover versions.”

Well, I got that cassette copy of Scotty’s album. I review each song in the article and had this summary, The Guitar That Changed The World is absolutely not one of the worst record albums of all time, but it sure is hard to find.”

 

Scotty, DJ and George Harrison

Last week, I wrote about how big Scotty Moore fans the Rolling Stones are. Same for the Beatles. Scotty and DJ Fontana hang out with here George Harrison in this shot. Scotty has done the same with Paul McCartney, and he has recorded with Ringo Starr.

 

Elvis and Scotty

Let’s finish up with a few more shots of Scotty and Elvis together. That’s probably the 54 Chevy Bel Air Scotty is sitting in.

 

Scotty and Elvis At New Frontier Hotel

This shot comes from May 1956 when Elvis performed at the New Frontier hotel in Las Vegas. It was nice that Elvis always moved back and let Scotty front the band when he did his guitar solos.

 

Scotty has already been buried in his hometown of Humboldt, Tennessee. However, his webmaster announced on www.scottymoore.net that a memorial celebration will soon be held in Nashville. When we read the media coverage of all the people in attendance, it will confirm that Scotty Moore was a very special person loved by many.

 

Good bye, Scotty Moore. I’m so glad I got to spend some time with you.

 

©  2016    Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister    All Rights Reserved    www.ElvisBlog.net

 

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An Elvis Fan’s Farewell to Merle Haggard

Merle Haggard's Farewell to Elvis Album

By now you all know that country music superstar Merle Haggard died yesterday on his 79th birthday. But did you know the he was so moved by Elvis’ death in 1977 that he paid tribute to the King by recording an album titled My Farewell to Elvis?

Here is the list of songs:

From Graceland To the Promised Land
In the Ghetto
Don’t Be Cruel
Jailhouse Rock
Love Me Tender
That’s All Right (Mama)
Heartbreak Hotel
Blue Christmas
Blue Suede Shoes
Are You Lonesome Tonight
Merle’s Farewell To Elvis

 

Merle Haggard's Farewell to Elvis CD

In 1995, My Farewell to Elvis was released on CD with a different cover. Both vinyl and CD versions are available on Amazon.

 

Goodbye Merle Haggard. You will be missed. Say hi to Elvis for us.

 

 

© 2016 Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister All Rights Reserved www.ElvisBlog.net

 

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Elvis and the Grammy Awards — Revisited

Grammy Awards

Something weird happened on ElvisBlog two days ago. I can’t figure out why, but I’ll sure take it. Thursday, March 17, 2016, will forever rank as the day when the most people came to the blog – 11,370 visitors!!!

 

ElvisBlog March 17,2016 Stats

This chart shows the ElvisBlog visitors for the past month. Look how March 17 dwarfs the others (which represent the normal daily totals of 700-900 visitors).

 

ElvisBlog March 17, 2016 Pages Viewed

My blog software showed that about 95% of the total came from searches for “Elvis won only three Grammy Awards,” which is the exact wording in the first line of a 2006 ElvisBlog article. The search results had the article, Elvis and the Grammy Awards, at the top of the list.

I did some research to see if there was something in the news about Elvis’ Grammies that would have sparked this spike in interest. I found nothing.

Then I realized a lot of todays’ regular readers might not have ever read the post from 2006, so I am reproducing it here. Several formatting changes and new pictures have been added to bring it up to the style used today.

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Elvis and the Grammy Awards

 

Elvis Presley's Three Grammy Awards

Most fans are aware Elvis won only three Grammy Awards, and that they were all for Gospel recordings. There’s a lot more to the story.

How could the King of Rock & Roll not win any Grammys for his rock & roll records? One big reason is that the Grammy awards did not start until 1958. In 1956 and 1957, Elvis changed the sound of popular music and had hit after hit. If there had been Grammy Awards for those years, Elvis surely would have won a cabinet full of trophies. There is no way he could have been denied the award for these categories:

Best Vocal Performance, Male

Best Performance by a Top 40 Artist

The same goes for his hit singles. An Elvis song would have been a shoo-in for Record of the Year in 1956 with choices like:

“Heartbreak Hotel,”
“Love Me Tender,”
“Hound Dog,”
“Don’t Be Cruel.”

The Album of the Year for 1956 would undoubtedly have gone to Elvis’ first RCA album, Elvis Presley.

 

In 1957, there would have had to be a winner in this list for Record of The Year:

“Too Much,”
“All Shook Up,”
“Teddy Bear,”
“Jailhouse Rock”.

Elvis’ Christmas Album was the definitive rock & roll Christmas album of the period and would have been a strong contender for Album of The Year in 1957.

 

Elvis was off in Germany in the Army when the Grammy Awards were created in 1958, and he had no nominations. However, the next year he received three.

 

Elvis Hit - A Fool Such as I

“A Fool Such As I” was a 1959 nominee for Record of The Year, but got beat by Bobby Darin’s “Mack the Knife,” a really huge hit.

 

Elvis Hit - A Big Hunk of Love

“A Big Hunk of Love” received two nominations in 1959. However, Nat King Cole won Best Performance by A Top 40 Artist for “Midnight Flyer” (I can’t say that I even remember the song), and Dinah Washington won Best R&B Performance for “What A Difference A Day Makes.”

 

Elvis Hit - Are You Lonesome Tonight

1960 was Elvis’ best year for Grammy nominations with five, but he was up against Ray Charles who was having a huge year. “Are You Lonesome Tonight” had three nominations: Record of the Year, Best Vocal Performance, Male, and Best Performance by a Pop Singles Artist. “Theme From a Summer Place” by Percy Faith won the Record of the Year, and Georgia On My Mind” by Ray Charles took the other two categories. He won a total of four Grammys in 1960.

 

Elvis presley - G.I. Blues Album

Elvis also had two album nominations in 1960, both for GI Blues. However, Ray Charles beat him again. The Genius of Ray Charles took the award for Best Vocal Performance, Male, Album. The Best Soundtrack Album award went to Ernest Gold for Exodus.

 

Elvis Presley - Blue Hawaii Album

Elvis had another shot at Best Soundtrack Album in 1961 with the nomination of Blue Hawaii. Ray Charles didn’t beat him, but Henry Mancini did with Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

 

For the next five years, Elvis’ priority was making movies, and none of his songs or albums received Grammy nominations

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Elvis Presley - How great thou Art Album

In 1967, he finally won a Grammy for Best Sacred Performance for the album How Great Thou Art, which sold over a million copies and reached #18 in the Top Albums Chart.

In 1968, he was nominated again in the same category for the single “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” but the award went to Jake Hess for “Beautiful Isle of Somewhere.” This was ironic because Hess had been a big influence on Elvis.

As the lead singer for the Statesman Quartet, Jake Hess made an impression on young Elvis at the monthly “All-Night Gospel Singing” at Ellis Auditorium in Memphis. Elvis particularly admired Hess’ powerful voice and unique styling. One year before beating Elvis in the singles category, Hess was part of The Imperials who did backing vocals during the recording session for Elvis’ Grammy winning album How Great Thou Art. In 1977, Jake Hess was part of an elite group of Gospel music stars to sing at Elvis’ funeral service.

 

Elvis Prslet - He Touched Me Album

In 1972 Elvis won his second Grammy when his album He Touched Me took the Best Inspirational Performance award.

 

Elvis Recorded Live on Stage in Memphis

In 1974 Elvis won this category again for his third and last Grammy. But instead of winning for a single or an album, Elvis won for the live version of the song “How Great Thou Art” from the album Elvis Recorded Live on Stage in Memphis.

 

Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award Winners

It should be noted that the Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences partially rectified their earlier snubs of Elvis by granting him their Lifetime Achievement Award in 1971.

 

If you would like to read more about Elvis’ Grammy Awards, you can check out the Elvis Awards section on Graceland.com. or the Graceland Blog article Elvis Presley and the Grammy Awards.

 

 

© 2016 Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister All Rights Reserved www.ElvisBlog.net

 

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The New Elvis Stamp — Let the Merchandising Begin

Elvis Presley Forever CD

At first glance, you might think that’s a picture of the new Elvis stamp above. Nope. It’s the front cover of a CD the US Postal Service is selling online.  New stamps don’t have a price on them anymore, so the word FOREVER appears instead. Because they used the stamp picture on the cover, the Postal Service has cleverly named this CD “Elvis Presley Forever.”

Song List for Elvis Presley Forever CD

This track listing may appeal to new fans, but everybody who owns other Elvis CDs probably has the songs already, except for the last two. These previously unreleased versions may spark some interest, and the $10 price is not prohibitive.

Forever Elvis Collection Inside

The Postal Service used a similar name on another collectible they call the “Forever Elvis Collection.” For $24.95 you get:

-One mint 1993 Elvis Presley stamp pulled from the U.S. Postal Service vault.

-A sheet of 16 new 2015 Elvis Presley stamps.

-A bold 8 x 8-inch cachet [whatever that is] with an affixed 2015 Elvis Presley stamp and exclusive postmark printed in metallic gold and black inks. (I guess this is in the center behind the sheet of stamps))

-The collectibles are housed in a handsome [USPS lingo] six-panel folio with a die-cut slipcase. The folio panels contain photographs of Elvis shot by Alfred Wertheimer during 1956, as well as a narrative on the 1993 stamp, the 2015 stamp, and the life and music of The King himself.

The Forever Elvis Collection - $24.95

This is the front cover of the “Forever Elvis Collection.” In my opinion, a less washed out photo would make it more handsome.

 

One other note. The Forever Elvis Collection can be purchased at USPSstamps.com, same as all the stamp options covered last week. The CD is not listed there, just at store.usps.com.

 

1993 Elvis Stamp Commemorative Album

The idea of a commemorative folio containing Elvis stamp memorabilia was also used in 1993. The folio above was designed to look like a gatefold 33rpm album. Same exact size.

1993 Elvis Stamp Commemorative Album Contents

When you opened it up, you could see part of a wonderful color booklet through the die-cut hole.

1993 Elvis Stamp Commemorative Album Contents

Here’s the cover of the 16 –page booklet.

Inside 1993 E;vis Stamp Booklet

And this is an example of the content. It is very well done. In addition to the booklet, this collection contains:

10 Elvis stamp sheets in original sealed sleeves

Elvis stamp limited edition print

“First Day” ceremony program

I have seen the whole set listed several places on eBay. Used ones go for $25 and still sealed ones are asking $100-125.

 

Elvis Stamp T-Shirt

Back in 1993, to tied in with the 1993 Elvis stamp release, a new ShopElvis.com catalog showed up containing 28 items featuring the image of the stamp. I bought the above T-shirt, which I still have (in pretty good shape, because I seldom wear white T-shirts). Here are the other items I purchased.

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Elvis Stamp Beach Towell

Beach Towel

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Elvis Stamp Baseball Cap

Baseball Cap

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Elvis stamp Refrigerator Magnet

Refrigerator Magnet

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Elvis Stamp Key Chain

Key Chain

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Elvis Stamp Watch.

I didn’t buy the Elvis stamp watch. My wife gave it to me the following Christmas.

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Here are a couple of other items with the stamp picture on it that I did not buy. Not my kind of Elvis collectible.

Elvis Stamp Bear

Gold Lamé Bear

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Elvis Stamp Collectible Plate

Elvis Stamp Plate

1993  Elvis Stamp Mug

And what would a Graceland merchandising theme be without a coffee mug?  They have put out so many different ones over the years.  If I had pictures of them all, I could do a whole blog post on them.

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I’m sure EPE has worked out some kind of deal with the Postal Service to market all kinds of stuff with the new Elvis stamp on it. There will be another Graceland catalog out before Elvis Week, so we will see pretty soon.

Unfortunately, I’m not as enthused about purchasing anything with the new stamp picture on it. It’s a black-and-white photo, dull compared to the 1993 drawing in brilliant color. But I’ll bet lots of folks will still buy them.

 

 

© 2015 Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister All Rights Reserved www.ElvisBlog.net

 

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The Second Auction at Graceland — Part 3

So far, we’ve looked at the big winners and the items with excessive minimum bids that nobody would pay. This post will be about the items that did way better than expected.

Viva Las Vegas Movie Poster:

lvis Viva Las Vegas Movie Poster, 1964

If you have any high-end Elvis memorabilia that you want to sell, the Auction at Graceland has quickly become the place where you want to sell it. There is no doubt in my mind that you can get more money for your stuff there than at any other auction. Maybe it’s the whole vibe associated with Elvis’ birthday celebration and Elvis Week that energizes the bidders and gets them to loosen the purse strings. Here’s an example.

This 27” by 41” poster in Very Fine condition had a minimum bid of $250, and an estimate of $4-500. This is in line with a sale of the same item in a June 2014 Heritage Auction which went for $418.25. However, twenty-two bids at the Auction at Graceland pushed the price up to $1,750, four times as much.

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Tickle Me Movie Poster:

Elvis Tickle Me  Movie Poster, 1965

This one is even harder to believe. Again, same size, condition, minimum bid and estimate as the Viva poster. However, thirty-two bids resulted in a final price of $2,500. On the Heritage Auctions website, a search for Elvis Tickle Me resulted in dozens of these posters selling since 2009, at a top price of $155 for one rated Very Fine. Come on, people. Do your research before blowing away thousands on something.

 

Special Shelby County Deputy Sheriff Badge:

Elvis' Special Shelby County Deputy Sheriff Badge

Although EPE sponsored this auction, they made it clear that all items came from private owners, not the Graceland archives. They did, however, state that they would be bidding on some items to add to their display of Elvis memorabilia.

Elvis' Law  Enforcement  Badge Collection

Part of Elvis’ Law Enforcement Badges Collection on Display at Graceland

When I saw that the badge up for auction had a minimum bid of $1,500 and an estimate of $2,500-3,500, I thought Graceland might go after it to add to their display of Elvis’ collection of law enforcement badges. Well, it went for $8,750, so I’m guessing they dropped out of the bidding.

 

Elvis Presley’s Personal Checkbook Register:

Elvis Presley’s Personal Checkbook Register

This checkbook register from 1975-76 was offered at the first Auction at Graceland last August during Elvis Week. However, nobody thought it was worth the minimum bid price of $6,000. So, what did the owner do? He brought it back this year with the minimum bid dropped down to just $1,000. After eighteen bids, it topped out at $3,750. I think this is a bargain. There are 43 pages with Elvis’ writing (not his signature) on them. The auction says, “This checkbook is a treasure trove of examples of Elvis’ generosity.” The checks totaled $89,000, and many of them went to charities and his friends.

 

Elvis Tour Jacket, 1975:

Elvis Tour Jacket, 1975

This size 46 red wool and black-leather-sleeve, varsity-style jacket had a minimum bid of $2,500, which I thought was a little high because it was not part of Elvis’ personal wardrobe. These jackets were made for his security guys so Elvis could see them from the stage. Even the Letter of Authenticity from his personal nurse, Tish Henley, states that Elvis never wore the jacket. However, it was inside Graceland one night when it was pouring rain outside as she was leaving, and he handed it to her to wear and keep dry getting to her car.

Again, it seems the bidders didn’t read the fine print in the item description, because this jacket’s winning bid was $8,125. Pretty steep price for something that Elvis merely touched.

 

Used Guitar Pick:

Elvis Used Guitar Pick

I can’t believe what this guitar pick went for. Even though it was accompanied by a Letter of Authenticity from Graceland Authenticated, there is no way it would be worth $3,125 to me. I have seen many dozens of Elvis items at auction over the years priced less than this, that I would much prefer to have.

 

“That’s All Right” 45 Record:

Elvis' Sun Record #209 45 RPM That's All Right

This record is characterized as a File Copy. I’m not sure what that means, but the item description says it has never been played and is in pristine condition. The reason is because Cecil Scaife, who worked for Sam Phillips at Sun Records, took it home and stored it safely away.

The top bid is actually not a surprise. The estimate was $7,500-8,500, and the bids stopped at $7,500. Of course, the 25% buyer’s premium meant he had to write a check for $9,375.

 

Flashing Blue Police Light:

Elvis-Owned Blue Police Light

Did you know that Elvis was an accredited Captain on Memphis’ police force? All his other badges were honorary, but the one from Memphis PD was official. Elvis took it seriously and bought these flashing blue lights to keep ready in his cars in case a situation arose where his action was needed.

This item is not a surprise with a high bid compared to the estimates. It’s just a surprise to me that it went for as much as it did without a photo of Elvis sitting in one of his cars with this light sitting on top. It went for $2,000, but if that photo had existed and been offered with it, no telling what the bidders would have forked out.

 

Red and White 7-Button Shirt:

Elvis' Red and White Shirt From Homer Gilleland

Of all the Elvis shirts I have seen sold at auction during the past seven years, this one epitomizes him the absolute least. It rates about a 2 on the Elvisishness scale. And no photo was offered of Elvis ever wearing it. In spite of this, someone shelled out $7,500 for it. I would hate for him to know about all the other cool Elvis shirts (with photos) have sold for less than that.

One other note. The item description listed the longest chain of ownership I have ever seen on an Elvis collectible. It went from Elvis to Homer Gilleland (his personal hairdresser) to Thomas B. Morgan, Jr. to the LeBonheur Children’s Hospital to the seller (unnamed before the auction), and of course, it now has the new owner.

 

Four of Elvis’ Personal Telephone/Address Books:

nside pages Elvis Presley’s Personal Address Books

This is another item that failed to generate its minimum bid ($7,000) at the first Auction at Graceland, but staged a comeback at the recent one. This time they showed samples of the open pages rather than the closed books, and it paid off. Somebody got all four of these books for $7,500. If they had been sold individually, I am sure the total would have been higher.

Elvis Address Book

The item description said, “These books are an encyclopedia of his friends, family and acquaintances — today’s equivalent of having Elvis’ iPhone contacts.” I believe showing the books open to sample listings helped make that point and juiced up the bidding.  On the pages above you can see Priscilla, Col. Parker, and Vernon Presley.  Priscilla must have moved a lot.  Note she had five different phone numbers in Elvis’ book

 

Army First Aid Kit:

Elvis Presley’s Army First Aid Kit

I think this is one of the coolest Elvis collectibles to show up at auction. If you owned it and were showing it off to other folks, you could point to the hand-printed “EP” in blue ink at the top. Then you could turn it upside down and show the stamp with Elvis’ Army service serial number “53310761.” Then you could open it up and see the red stamp on the interior stating “SP1 ELVIS PRESLEY – US53310761, 1st Med Tank Bat. 32nd Armor 3rd Div. APO 33.” If all that wasn’t enough, Elvis also signed near the stamp, “E. A. Presley” in blue ink. The supplied Letter of Authenticity from Graceland Authenticated almost seems superfluous.

Elvis’ Army First Aid Kit had a minimum bid of $3,000, but spirited bidding ran it up to $7,500. Well worth it in my opinion.

 

I had a few more items to present, but something came in the email yesterday that deserves to be noted. It came from info@graceland.com, one of four EPE related mailing lists I seem to be on.

Solicitation for next year's Auction at Graceland

Just three weeks after their successful second Auction at Graceland, they are out soliciting collectibles for the next one. They are trying to prevail against the auction houses that frequently offer Elvis memorabilia, and I believe they will be very successful.

Heritage Auctions Ad Solicitation

Here is an ad in the current issue of the record collector magazine Goldmine showing Heritage Auctions soliciting consignments for their next entertainment memorabilia auction. It shows items from past auctions, including an Elvis standee.

Gotta Have It Ad Solicitation

From the same magazine, here is a solicitation for consignments by Gotta Have Rock and Roll for their next pop culture auction. Notice Elvis’ Peacock jumpsuit at the bottom. Like I said at the top of this post, it seems like people with Elvis collectibles can realize a higher return at the Auction at Graceland. I think EPE made a brilliant move coming up with the idea of auctioning Elvis memorabilia during Elvis Week and the birthday celebrations. They will put a hurtin’ on the competition.

I see this as similar to Graceland’s move into the Elvis Tribute Artist business. For the first two decades after his death, Graceland distanced itself from the hordes of men who performed as Elvis impersonators. Actually, they went farther than that. Ever protective of his ‘image,’ EPE filed a lawsuit against the Legends In Concert in 1983 to prevent the show’s “Elvis” from looking like, dressing like, or moving like the real Elvis.

Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest

But over the years, it became obvious that the fans liked the ETAs. So, in 2009, Graceland changed its tune and started the Ultimate Tribute Artist Contest in Memphis during Elvis Week. It is now an extremely popular, so I’m not complaining. But it and the auction prove if somebody is making a profit off Elvis, EPE will move in and get their share.

 

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Elvis is Dead, Long Live the Beatles

 Elvis is Dead Long Live the Beatles

The above picture shows 13 Year old Irene Katz holding a sign on Feb. 9, 1964, the third day of the Beatles’ blitz of America. She was outside the Plaza Hotel in New York City, along with hundreds of screaming young girls, hoping to catch a glimpse of the Beatles.

Unless you live in a cave, you are well aware the recent media buzz about the 50th anniversary of the Beatles coming to America and appearing on the Ed Sullivan Show.

 Beatles on Ed Sullivan

 

No question about it – the Beatles were hot during their two-week stay in the ‘states’ in February 1964. And, unfortunately, Elvis was not. Let’s take a look at the stature of Elvis’ career fifty years ago during the Beatles’ invasion.

 

Hit Singles:

Elvis had a Top Ten hit, “Bossa Nova Baby,” at the end of 1963, and in March 1964 “Kissin’ Cousins” was released, eventually moving up to # 12. But Elvis had absolutely nothing on the charts in February 1964.

On the other hand, that month was huge for the Beatles, who had three hits going at once: “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” I Saw Her Standing There,” and “She Loves Me.”

Hit Albums:

Elvis fared better here — briefly. Elvis’ Golden Hits, Volume 3 came out in late September 1963. It had a twenty week run on the Billboard Top 40 Album Charts, which carried it into the first two weeks of February 1964.

Elvis' Golden Records, Volume 3

So, technically, that topped the Beatles. Their first US album, Meet the Beatles, was released on their second day in the country, February 8. After that, it probably outsold the Elvis hits album by a about million to one, but it wasn’t until the following week that those sales were reflected in the chart rankings.

 

Elvis Movies:

This was another lull period for Elvis. Fun in Acapulco opened in very late November 1963 and was gone from the theaters by the following February.

It’s too bad Viva Las Vegas didn’t premier two months earlier than it did, or Elvis would have had one big success going for him while the Beatles were here.

 

What Elvis Did While the Beatles Ruled:

He took an extended vacation to Las Vegas, bringing several Memphis Mafia buddies with him: Joe Esposito, Alan Fortas, Richard Davis, Billy Smith and Marty Lacker. Plus wives and girlfriends. Elvis and this large group took in many shows, including Fats Domino, Della Reese, Don Rickles and Tony Martin.

Colonel Parker probably was back in Tennessee, but he had the good sense to send the Beatles a congratulatory telegram signed by Elvis & The Colonel.

Elvis Congratulates the Beatles.

 

So, while the Beatles took America by storm, Elvis laid low. He would continue making movies for four more years, but then he started his famed resurrection. First, the ’68 Comeback Special. Then the landmark recording sessions at American Sound Studios that produced huge hits like “In the Ghetto,” “Suspicious Minds,” and “Don’t Cry Daddy.” And the biggest factor of all, his return to live performance in August 1969 at the Las Vegas International Hotel.

Elvis at the International Hotel 1969

 

A year later, the Beatles broke up, but Elvis continued to set attendance records in Las Vegas and on tours around the country. So, Elvis wasn’t really dead in 1964, and the Beatles didn’t live that long.

Long Live the King

 

© 2013 Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister All Rights Reserved www.ElvisBlog.net

 

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Elvis on the Rolling Stone Lists

Elvis on Rolling Stone  July 12, 1969

Elvis looks pretty good on the cover of this 1969 Rolling Stone issue, doesn’t he? He’s been on four others that I could find, plus several more featuring collages of rock artists. Of course, the magazine didn’t start until 1967, so it missed the years when Elvis ruled the world and was on the cover of all sorts of magazines.

Rolling Stone has also published dozens of articles about Elvis, many of them timed to mark a significant birthday or anniversary of his death. And, Elvis has shown up on ten of the famous Rolling Stone lists, like this one they got completely wrong:

 

100 Greatest Singers of All Time:

Elvis on Rolling Stone - 100 Greatest Singers November 22, 2008

By the looks of this cover, you’d think Elvis was selected #1. Maybe he is #1 for helping sell copies of the magazine, but Rolling Stone actually voted him just the #3 greatest singer of all time.

100 Greatest Singers

Granted, Aretha Franklin and Ray Charles are great singers, but putting them ahead of Elvis is just not right. The thumbnail photos are small, so in case you can’t make out the rest of the top ten, they are:

Sam Cooke
John Lennon
Marvin Gaye
Bob Dylan
Otis Redding
Stevie Wonder
James Brown

 

!00 Greatest Artists of All Time:

100 Greatest Artists

Okay, now the category includes groups as well as singers, so the Beatles move into #1 and the Rolling Stones into #4. Elvis stays at #3, but how does Bob Dylan move from #7 singer to #2 artist? Elvis should be at least #2 on this list, and many folks will argue #1. And what made Aretha Franklin and Ray Charles slide down so far? The only answer I can figure is that the lists were selected a few years apart, and maybe they had different judges.

 Elvis on Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Artists

Look at this cover. Ray Charles has slid completely out of the ten artists shown. Pretty shabby treatment for the guy they voted the second best singer of all time.

 

500 Greatest Albums of All Time:

500 Greatest Albums of All Time

Granted, Elvis had a better track record with singles than albums. Here are the only three Elvis albums they picked in the top 500:

#11 Sun Sessions
#56 Elvis Presley
#190 From Elvis in Memphis

What about Blue Hawaii that stayed at number one on the Top 40 for twenty straight weeks? What about Elvis is Back which is considered Elvis’ best album by many fans and experts?

 

100 Best Debut Albums of All Time:

 100 Best Debut Albums

I guess it all depends on what the criteria for best is. Seems like record-breaking sales dwarfing every other album before it would be a big factor. Seems like the degree of hysteria for the artist when it was released would be another. #79 is ridiculous. Rolling Stone magazine just blew this one. If you care, the top spot went to Licensed to Ill by the Beastie Boys.

 

Bruce Springsteen’s 25 Biggest Heroes:

Bruce Springsteens Biggest Heroes

These aren’t ranked, so there is nothing to quibble about. Rolling Stone did something similar about Elvis’ biggest influences, but it was an article, not a list.

.

500 Greatest Songs of All Time:

500 Greatest Songs of All Time

This list really bothers me. Here are the eleven Elvis songs that made the top 500. No Elvis songs in the top ten, and none higher than #19.

#19 Hound Dog
#45 Heartbreak Hotel
#67 Jailhouse Rock
#77 Mystery Train
#91 Suspicious Minds
#113 That’s All Right
#200 Don’t Be Cruel
#361 All Shook Up
#403 Can’t Help Falling in Love
$430 Blue Suede Shoes
#441 Love Me Tender

Gimme a break. “All Shook Up” at #361. Unbelievably stupid. For what it’s worth, they picked the top 3 songs as:

Like a Rolling Stone — Bob Dylan
Satisfaction – Rolling Stones
Imagine – John Lennon

 

Top 25 Teen Idol Breakout Moments:

500 Greatest Songs of All Time

These weren’t ranked, but if they were, the top spot surely would have to be Elvis or the Beatles. The rest don’t come close.

 

25 Greatest Christmas Albums of All Time:

25 Greatest Christmas Albums of All Time

I think Rolling Stone got this one right. Phil Spector: A Christmas Gift for You is an outstanding album. We graciously accept Elvis in second place.

 

40 Essential Christmas Albums:

40 Essential Christmas Albums

This doesn’t make sense. Elvis’ Christmas Album is the second greatest of all time, but only the fifth most essential Christmas album. Believe it or not, #1 is Ella Wishes you a Swinging Christmas by Ella Fitzgerald.

 

22 Weird Creatures Named after Superstars: 

Preseucoila Imallshookupis

I guess after years of doing so many lists, all of the good topics have been used up. Rolling Stone scraped the bottom of the barrel when they came up this one. Here’s what they had to say about the bug named after Elvis: “Gall wasps never had as much swagger as this one. Scientists created a new genus, Preseucoila, based on the name “Presley” – and just to make things extra clear, they named the species Imallshookupis after one of the King’s signature hits.”

I Googled Preseucoila Imallshookupis to see what it looks like. A few bug pictures came up, but they turned out to be something else. This is the best I could find.

 Imallshookuois

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Elvis on Cassette Tape — A Flashback

Last month, Time magazine published a story celebrating the 50th anniversary of the cassette tape.

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Cassette tapes were invented by the Dutch company Phillips, who introduced them at the 1963 radio exhibition (Funkausstellung) in Berlin.  Can you imagine what it would be like if someone at that show could have time-traveled fifty years to see the electronics shows we have today?  Man, what a change.

As the 60s progressed, cassettes took over the market, putting a big hurt on albums and 8-track tapes.  By 1969, all cars came equipped with cassette tape players.  I accumulated hundreds of tapes, and, I must confess, I still have them all.  The two cars I own have cassette decks, and I hesitate to trade in for a new car, because I’ll lose my ability to play tapes while cruising down the highway.

DSC02368

 

In the late 60s. when cassette tapes started taking over , I was no longer an Elvis fan.  My hero from the 50s was now pushed back to a forgotten corner of my brain, while I listened to Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Moody Blues, and the like.  So, I never bought any of the original Elvis cassettes while he was alive.

But, ten years later, my rediscovery of Elvis occurred, and I hit the record shops and garage sales and record shows.  I bought many old Elvis albums, singles, and EPs, but just a few cassettes.  Here is a look at the seven Elvis cassettes I bought years after he was long gone, and I probably never paid more than $4 for any of them.

 

DSC02372 - Copy (2)

Blue Rhythms:      Released 1984 — A product of Great Britain:

This is my favorite Elvis cassette, because it is a great collection of 24 blues songs spanning his entire career.  Some of my favorites are “I Want to Be Free,” “Reconsider Baby,” “Give Me the Right,” “Baby What You Want me to do,” and my favorite of all Elvis songs, “Like a Baby.”

I took the songs from this tape and added more of my own selection to make a ninety minute tape of Elvis Blues.  That one gets played in the car a lot.

 

DSC02371 - Copy

Elvis Worldwide Gold Award Hits, Parts 1 & 2:      Released 1974

This is another equivalent of a double album – 25 great hits from my high school years.  Pop this into the tape deck in the car, and it is nonstop Deja’ Vu for me.  However, I always wish they would have included “Love Me” and “Baby, I Don’t Care.”  Those two songs would have made it perfect.

 

DSC02371

Elvis: The Beginning:   Released in 1996

I did not buy this for the five songs from Elvis’ Sun Records’ days.  Had them already numerous times on every format.  What I really wanted was Side 2.  It is 18 minutes of Scotty Moore telling “The Story of the First Year.” I’ve met Scotty a few times and hung out backstage with him and DJ once, so he is my favorite.  I like hearing the Elvis story from his perspective and in his voice.

 

DSC02372 - Copy

Elvis Inspirational:    Released 2006

I actually bought this in Egypt during a vacation trip six years ago.  (Good thing we got that trip in well before things went crazy over there.  Sure wouldn’t go there now.)  The tour company took everybody to a Cairo bazaar that dated back to the 1300s.  It went on for blocks, stretching deep into old, ethnic areas.  It had all kinds of authentic clothing, jewelry, food and trinkets, and my wife bought plenty of each.  But, my mission was to see if I could find something – anything – Elvis.

I found a music store.  It was 99.9% Arabic music, but down on a bottom shelf, they had three different Elvis cassettes.  I like this one, but don’t play it while cruising in the car.

 

DSC02373

Elvis – TV Special:    Released 1978

The cover says just ELVIS, but the label spine calls it ELVIS – TV Special.  I guess the name ’68 Comeback Special hadn’t yet caught on in 1978.  I bought this tape primarily because it contains the unplugged pit session.  I like listening to Elvis singing acoustic, stripped-down versions of some great old songs.  When it gets to “Memories” and the songs backed by full orchestra – not so much.

 

DSC02373 - Copy

The Legendary Elvis Presley:    Released in 1987

This tape came from Italy, and I must have bought it because it was unfamiliar to me and it cost only 50¢ or a buck.  It is a mis-mash of songs from several genres and from all over Elvis career – no theme at all.  Probably one of the strangest Elvis compilations ever.

 

DSC02374

Elvis:  Return of the Rocker:    Released 1986

I had to buy this one once I saw its unusual cover lay-out.  It is landscape, rather than the usual portrait.  Have you ever seen another cassette done like that?

The music was a very pleasant surprise.  It was Elvis’ hits from the early 60s, and features some underappreciated goodies like “King of The Whole Wide World” and “Marie’s The Name – His Latest Fame.”  This tape is my second favorite and is a lot of fun to drive to.

 

Here’s a footnote about cassette tapes.  The Time article says they are coming back. 200,000 albums on cassettes sold in 2012, an increase of 645%.  If this strong trend keeps up, I’ll be ahead of the curve with my trove of cassettes.

 

©  2013    Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister    All Rights Reserved    www.ElvisBlog.net

 

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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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