Category Archives: CDs / RECORDS

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

 

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.

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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

© 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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Top 10 Elvis Songs — A Contrarian View

This is a repeat of a post from 2012.

A few years ago, my friend Alan Hanson listed Elvis Presley’s 20 Greatest Recordings on his Elvis-History-Blog   (Editor’s note.  This blog is now inactive.)  This past August, another Elvis-blogger-buddy Troy Yeary presented his picks for the top 100 Elvis songs on his Mystery Train Elvis blog (also now inactive).   I noticed only two songs were on both of their top 10 – “Jailhouse Rock” and “Reconsider Baby.”  These two guys are genuine Elvis fans and they really know their stuff, but their opinions differed greatly.

So, I thought about what songs would be on my Elvis Top 10 list.  Rather than trying to make a subjective analysis, my list would just be my favorites.  My personal prejudices would certainly show up.  I grew up in the late fifties and strongly believe Elvis made his best music in the years before going in the Army.  I really don’t care for much of Elvis’ music from the seventies – not really rock and roll, too many horns and fancy arrangements.  And, I have become a great blues fan for the past twenty years, so I have sought out Elvis’ blues offerings over his career and made a playlist out of them.  And finally, I have listened to some Elvis hits so many times that I’ve grown tired of them.

With all that explained, here are the selections for my personal Top 10 Elvis songs

#10:    I Was The One

This song has been a favorite since I was a teenager in the late 50s.  We had lots of parties, and we played records and danced to them for hours.  We’d stack up seven or eight 45s on those little record players.  When the last 45 dropped down and finished playing, we would pick up the whole stack and flip them over.  So, in addition to listening “Heartbreak Hotel,” we would also slow dance to the flip side, “I Was The One.”  I remember getting close and lovey with girls while dancing to this song, an important prequel to the make-out sessions that followed later.  To this day, whenever I hear ‘I Was The One,” I get all warm and fuzzy.

#9:    Santa Claus Is Back In Town

Like most fans, I pull out the CDs of Elvis Christmas songs every December.  There is one song that always stands out for me, “Santa Claus is Back in Town.”  I’m so glad the Christmas season gives me a chance each year to reconnect with this song.  I just love it.

 

#8:    Reconsider Baby

Elvis and Boots Randolph performing “Reconsider Baby” at Pearle Harbor, Hawaii, March 25, 1961

I have always liked this song no matter which artist was singing it.  But my special affection for it began in 2004 during the “Good Rockin’ Tonight” concert at Elvis Week.  I was a gofer for all the singers and players that night, and I got to sit off to stage right with Boots Randolph before he went on for his segment of the show.  He was so nice and friendly, and I couldn’t believe he talked so much to a nobody like me.  Then he went on stage to perform three songs, including “Reconsider Baby.”  Although he was 77 years old, Boots absolutely knocked out the audience with his soulful sax wailing, and he was rewarded with a huge standing ovation.  It was electrifying.  Boots died three years later, but Elvis’ version of the song carries on.  Now, whenever I hear “Reconsider Baby” by Elvis, I flash back to that wonderful evening.

 

#7:    I Want To Be Free

I have admitted that I’ve loved blues music over the last twenty years, so my Elvis top ten list is slanted toward his blues offerings.  The next time you watch Jailhouse Rock , really listen to “I Want To Be Free.”  Maybe it will grow on you like it has on me. Normally, I would never think of the Jordanaires as a group that would fit in a blues song, but they did a great job here.  Of course, Elvis did too, showing off that wonderful vocal range he had.

 

#6:    Steamroller Blues:

Like I said, I don’t care for much of the Elvis’ music from the 70s, but this song from 1972 is an exception.  Elvis never recorded “Steamroller Blues” in the studio, but who can forget him singing it in Aloha From Hawaii?   You’ve got to love a song with lyrics like, “Well, I’m a cement mixer, a churning urn of burning funk,” and “I’m gonna’ inject your soul with some sweet rock ‘n roll and shoot you full of rhythm and blues.”  Elvis at his baaadest.

 

#5:    I Washed My Hands In Muddy Water

This is the other exception to my indifference for Elvis’s 70s music.  Elvis recorded “I Washed My Hands In Muddy Water” in 1970, and a short version of it was included on the album Elvis Country.  But, the version I like is on the 1996 CD A Hundred Years From Now.  It goes on for five minutes and sounds just like what it is – a free-wheeling jam session.  You can’t possibly listen to this song without getting revved up.

 

#4:    Lawdy Miss Clawdy

I have been a fan of this song ever since Lloyd Price released it in the mid-fifties.  I liked Elvis’ version on his first album, Elvis Presley, and I liked his unplugged version during the ’68 Comeback Special even more.  But what really turned me on was watching Elvis nail “Lawdy Miss Clawdy” on the theatrical showing of the restored Elvis On Tour.  In fact, when the song began, there was a noticeable stirring among the theater audience, so I wasn’t the only one it got to.  Kudos to Glen D. Hardin for an outstanding piano part on the song.

#3:    Tryin’ To Get To You

Elvis recorded this song at Sun Records in 1955, but it was first released on the RCA album Elvis Presley in 1956.  Later that year, it was released as a single, but it did not chart.  However, it must have been a favorite of Elvis’ because he sang it during the filming of the ’68 Comeback Special.  Unfortunately, it was left on the cutting-room floor.  Only a few lucky folks like me who own the bootleg album The Burbank Sessions have heard this terrific raw version of “Tryin’ To Get To You.”  I can’t believe they edited it out of the special.

 

#2:    (You’re So Square) Baby, I Don’t Care

I have mentioned this song numerous times on ElvisBlog as a big favorite.  Why it was never released as a single is a mystery to me.  You will remember “Baby, I Don’t Care” as the song Elvis sang during the swimming pool scene in Jailhouse Rock.  Some people consider the dance sequence with the movie’s title song as the forerunner to the modern music video, but I think it’s a tie.  Same thing goes for “Baby, I Don’t Care.”

#1: Like A Baby

 

If you thought my other selections were a little strange, this one should blow your mind.    Do you even know this song?  You should if you listen to the 1960 album Elvis Is Back.  This album is on just about everybody’s top 5 Elvis album list.  It is rated his best album by many, including me.  The reason it’s so good is because it contains a number of blues songs (including “Reconsider Baby” mentioned above).  For many years “Like A Baby” was my favorite Elvis blues song, but after thinking about it for this article, I’ve decided it really is my favorite Elvis song, period.

Like they say, opinions are like a** holes; everybody’s got one.  I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about my choices.  If you strongly disagree, please comment below.

 

©  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.

 

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.

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.

 

Picture Disc Rarities

Back in the heyday of vinyl LP albums, the picture disc was a unique variation highly sought by some collectors.  Instead of a plain old black disc, you get a record with a picture of the singer in vibrant color.  I have several picture discs in my record collection, but I’ve never played them.  I want to keep the images as pristine as possible.

Of course, with Elvis Presley, things often went to extremes, and such is the case with three of his picture discs.  Would you believe there exists an Elvis picture disc with songs on it by KC and the Sunshine Band?  Or, how about a Dolly Parton picture disc with songs on it by Elvis?  Here is the story on these strange items.

          

This is the front and back of a picture disc with Dolly Parton showing a big smile and a lot of leg, but partially covering up her other big assets.  Back in 1979, at the RCA pressing plant in Indianapolis, Indiana, workers were experimenting.  They pressed the songs from Elvis — A Legendary Performance Vol. 3 on to several different discs.  One was plain yellow, another had the picture of a pretty model from an Avon catalog, and another had the picture of an Elvis LP cover.  Then they got creative and pressed the Elvis songs on a Dolly Parton picture disc.  Can you imagine putting this album on the turntable and hearing these songs?

This is the back cover of Elvis – A Legendary Performer, Vol. 3.  It was part of a series released after his death, foreshadowing the relentless effort to offer previously unreleased alternate versions of Elvis songs on CDs.

 

This the Elvis album the songs came from.  Although this looks like a picture disc, it is not.  There is no hole in the middle of Elvis’ face, because it is printed on the cover.  However, there was a limited edition of Elvis – A Legendary Performer, Vol. 3 on picture disc that used a larger uncropped version of the same picture.  This was the second commercially-issued Elvis picture disc, but there were many more to follow.

 

I did a little research to see if the Dolly Parton images on the picture disc above had ever been used on one of her own picture discs.  Although she has had several, I could not find one with either of the two images.  However, I did find this one which definitely shows those big assets we were talking about.

 

Take a look at this next picture disc (inside the cover sleeve).  To Elvis:  Love Still Burning features a reasonably accurate painting of Elvis, but look closely at the top of the sleeve.  Inside a box it says KC & The Sunshine Band.   That’s because the music is from their album KC & The Sunshine Band – Part 3, which came out in 1976.
 

So, we have an Elvis picture disc that plays songs by KC & The Sunshine Band.  How weird is that?  It is probably another case of the workers messing around in the record pressing plant, but they even went to the trouble to print a special cover for this one-of-a-kind item..

The cover they modified was actually designed for an Elvis tribute album with eleven songs by various artists.  After Elvis’ death, many artists wrote and recorded their own tributes to the King of Rock & Roll.  The songs were sought out and assembled by Jerry Osborne, the famous writer, collector, and Elvis expert,  I am not aware of any other collection of Elvis tribute songs on one album, so this is a special compilation.

In addition to the standard black cover, there was a rarer white cover edition.

To Elvis:  Love Still Burning is significant historically, because it was the first commercially issued picture disc LP.  Who but Elvis would be featured on the first album to have a full color image of the artist on the record?
 
Here is the back cover showing the song list and the eleven singers paying tribute to Elvis almost immediately after his death.

 

 

On the back cover is a message to the fans from Jerry Osborne, who conceived and produced the album.  Of all the words written about Elvis after his death, I think this is the most special praise I have ever read.  Here is Jerry’s message:

To Elvis:  Love Still Burning

The brightest star on earth has now become the brightest star in Heaven, and left us with a love… still burning.

Elvis actually drew his love from us, his fans and friends.  But then he turned right around and let that love flow like a waterfall, back to us, through his music and his personal appearance.  In fact, through his mere presence, we felt more love and magic than words can describe.

                                                                                                 Jerry Osborne

Nice sentiment, Jerry.  You folks out there who had a chance to experience Elvis’ presence know it is true.

©  2010    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.

Two Very Rare, Weird, and Valuable Elvis Records

I started collecting record albums back in the 80s when CDs took over as the dominant music format. When people bought CD players and started building CD libraries, their old LPs and 45s languished in disinterest.  Ultimately, many people sold their record collections at garage sales.  For years, I was a regular Saturday morning scavenger, hitting as many garage sales as possible, looking for records.  Sometimes I would buy selectively, and sometimes I would make an offer on everything they had.

Ultimately, I ended up selling my doubles and other unwanted albums at record shows in Atlanta, Charlotte, Ashville, and my hometown of Greenville, SC.  I had a partner in these ventures, and sometimes I would leave her minding our tables while I roamed the floor looking for deals on Elvis albums and 45s.  I built up a substantial collection I am quite proud of.

To learn more about the hobby, I subscribed to a record collecting magazine called Discoveries.  For twenty-five years I have read hundreds of articles and learned of several super Elvis rarities worth big bucks.  Despite all the record shows I attended, I have never seen anything that rare or that valuable.  They seemed to be the exclusive providence of the big collectors, who scooped them up whenever they appear on the market.  I’ve thought about doing blogs on some of these Elvis rarities, but it would be a real chore to go back through 600 old issues of Discoveries to find the background information I’d need.  Plus, the lack of quality color photos to illustrate any articles cooled my enthusiasm.

Now, two of these very rare, very weird, and very valuable Elvis records have come up for auction in Memphis during Elvis Week.  Heritage Auction Galleries calls 2010 the Year of The King, and to celebrate his 75th birthday, they are conducting the Ultimate Elvis Auction live at The Peabody Hotel.  The final bids will go in on August 14.

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Here’s what Heritage has to say about their Ultimate Elvis Auction:

Every year, [we] present selections of Elvis memorabilia as unique and superior as the legacy of The King himself.  Now, in this milestone year, we're taking it to another level.

Indeed, Heritage has put excellent hi-def photos of all items in their on-line catalog, so let’s take a look at two really cool Elvis records.


Elvis Shares an Album with Jaye P. Morgan —  What?

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Elvis Presley and Jaye P. Morgan Promo Double Disc EP 1956

The picture above is not two albums photographed side-by-side.  Rather it is what is called a gatefold double album that has been opened up to show the back and front covers.  Think of it as a skinny book with Elvis on the front cover and lounge singer Jaye P. Morgan on the back cover.  Inside each cover is a pocket containing a 45 RPM record.  However, each disc is an EP (Extended Play) record with two songs on each side.  Elvis released several dozen EPs in the 50s and early 60s, and I own copies of almost all.  They were like mini-albums kids could play on their personal 45 RPM record players (usually found in their bedrooms.)

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Personal 45 RPM Record Player, Usually Found in Teens’ Bedrooms



Here is the original Elvis EP with the four song titles across the top: “Rip It Up,” “Love Me,” “When My Blue Moon Turns to Gold Again,” and “Paralyzed.”  There is an interesting bit of trivia about “Love Me.”   Although it was never released on a regular two-song record, “Love Me” reached # 2 on the Billboard chart.  Jukebox and disc jockey play clearly showed which of the four songs was the big winner.

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1956 Four-Song Elvis EP Album

So, why did RCA combine eight songs from two different artists on this strange product?  Like many other rarities, it was a promotional item.  RCA was trying to do two things.  Mostly, they wanted to convince retailers to carry Rock and Roll records in addition to those of crooners like Bing Crosby and Dinah Shore.  This double disc promo was wrapped horizontally with a 1.25″ wide paper band which contained a multiple choice question (with check-off boxes):

“One of these albums sold… two, four, ten, twenty, hundred, or thousand… times better than the other… which one?”

The album contained an insert with the answer:

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To facilitate their other goal, RCA also listed some facts inside intended to convince retailers that did not already sell records that they should:

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So, what is this rare Elvis promo record worth?  Heritage Auction Galleries has listed the minimum starting bid at $6,000, and they estimate it will bring $12,000 or more.  Based on the prices of those other Elvis rarities I read about, I think it will do that easily.

Elvis in the Grooves, The Whispers on the Label:

Once or twice before, I have commented on ElvisBlog about how auctioneers have made really low estimates about what certain Elvis memorabilia will bring.  Well, this is another one.

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“Doncha’ Think It’s Time” by Elvis – pressed on disc with The Whispers label.

This is a picture of a 45 RPM record.  You can see that the label clearly says the song is “One For The Money” by The Whispers.  However, the song pressed in the grooves is Elvis’ minor hit “Doncha’ Think It’s Time.”   Screw ups like this create valuable collectibles, especially if Elvis is involved… and, especially if there are only two of them in existence.

We are talking about a very rare, very desirable record here.  The auction minimum bid is $1,500 and the estimate is $3,000 and up.  I’m betting it will be way up.

So, what’s the story on this Elvis record anomaly?  It dates back to 1976 when RCA’s Indianapolis plant wanted to test a new process whereby all label information was actually stamped, or embossed, right into the vinyl itself, rather than printed on paper which was glued to the disc.  The result of this stamping process was slightly raised lettering, similar to Braille.  Somehow, they had the technology to incorporate different shades of gray into the embossing process, so all the printing you see above is right on the disc.  Because RCA’s record labels were basically black and white, unlike the multi-colored labels of most other record companies, they could be simulated in the embossing.

This experiment did not give the intended result and the idea was scrapped, but three test copies were kept to substantiate the results.

The description of the record on the Heritage Auction website is about two of these.  The other information they reveal does not fully explain how we got Elvis songs on Whispers records.  Here is what they say, for what it’s worth.

Both sides of the disc play the original 1958 Elvis hit, “Doncha’ Think It’s Time.”
However, the “label” imprint is for “One For the Money,” a 1976 soul single by the Whispers — a convenient hit record being produced at that same time.

Obviously, there is more to the story.  Why would the flip side of Elvis big 1958 hit “Wear My Ring Around Your Neck” be on a record produced in 1976?

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I spoke with Jerry Osborne, famous music historian, writer, Elvis collector and memorabilia marketer.  At one time he owned all three of these strange records.  The third one had Elvis’ song “What’d I Say” on it, with the same Whispers song information on the disc.  Osborne sold it and one copy of the “Doncha’ Think It’s Time” record to a major private collector, and so far, they haven’t come back on the market.

All I know is – this is one very rare, unique Elvis record, and it should bring well over $3,000. 

©  2010    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.

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Music: The Year in Review — 40th Anniversary Edition

I was mulling over possibilities for a good year-end review to write about, and for a second, I thought of reviewing the year’s music.  But, that would be ridiculous.  I have no idea what’s going on in popular music today.

I Googled the Billboard Top 10, and I never heard of seven of those singers.  And, for the other three, whose names were vaguely familiar, I haven’t heard any of the music they put out.  So, I can’t review 2009.

However, I can do a bang-up job on one year I remember very well:  1969.  I doubt seriously there has ever been another year with so much going on in rock music.  And, that includes Elvis, of course.  Fortunately, I have something that helps me reminisce about what happened in 1969.  Time magazine published TIME 1969 – 40th Anniversary Special, and a friend gave me a copy.  Here is a list of the music-related themes they cover in the book:

Beatles’ break-up, and their last concert from a rooftop.
The Doors’ Jim Morrison arrested for exposing himself during a concert.
John Lennon and Yoko in the public eye doing weird stuff.
A stabbing death at the Rolling Stones’ Altamont Concert.
Elvis returns to live performances in Las Vegas.

That would be enough for any year, but there was also the biggest event of all:

 

TIME 1969 devoted ten pages to Woodstock, included color photos of Santana, Jimi Hendrix, The Who, Crosby, Stills & Nash, and others.  I had three close friends who went to Woodstock. I had a chance to join them, but, for unavoidable reasons, it just couldn’t happen.  Missing my chance to go with them to Woodstock has stayed a big disappointment to me all these years.  When I looked at those old crowd pictures in Time 1969, it made me sigh.  Oh, well.

The Beatles incredible album Abbey Road was praised in a one-page article.  Three times as much space was spent on another story about the Beatles’ demise, including that last unsuccessful recording session and their strange last concert on the Abbey Road Studio rooftop.  It was their first live performance in three years, and the fans couldn’t see them.

John Lennon was in the book two more times.  The first was the famous Bed-In in a hotel suite, where he introduced the song “Give Peace A Chance.”   (Remember, 1969 was a big year for the Vietnam War, too.)

John and Yoko also appeared in another section of the book, with all the juicy tid-bits on his divorce and almost immediate marriage to Yoko.  They put out their first single, modestly titled “The Ballad of John and Yoko.”

A black-and-white photograph and the text about Jim Morrison’s public exposure problem used up half a page.  Morrison was all in black leather, so they didn’t need color.

Three other rockers shared a page:  Sly and the Family Stone, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and the Jackson 5.  They all enjoyed huge career successes that year.

TIME 1969 does a good job describing the Rolling Stones’ deadly concert at Altamont in California.  The photo they show has Mick Jagger staring at the man down on the stage with a bunch of Hell’s Angels glowering over him.  That was the last time anybody used the Angels for concert security.
 

So, how did Elvis do?  He got just one page, but it does have a terrific color picture of him and Priscilla.  The text mentions his ‘68 Comeback Special and their marriage a bit, but mostly it covers his return to the stage in Las Vegas.  Here is an original quote from Time magazine:

 “He stepped onstage in front of a gold lamé curtain at Las Vegas’ new International Hotel, coordinated his pelvic girdle and his phallic guitar, closed his eyes, tossed his head and sent a solar wind of nostalgia over the 2000… folks assembled for opening night.”

 

 

Music was a big part of my life in 1969, and I connected with the events in the Time 1969 review.  I owned the magnificent Abbey Road and played it until it almost wore out.  I had several Doors albums and was saddened two years later when Jim Morrison’s death meant no more music from them.  I loved all three block-buster albums CCR released in their debut year.  I watched TV with amusement when John Lennon did interviews and sang songs from his hotel bed.

I didn’t have the money for a Las Vegas trip, so I never saw Elvis perform in 1969, and I miss that.  However, that’s nothing compared to the deep regret I have for my near-miss of going to Woodstock.  Forty years later, it’s still a bummer, man.

©  2010    Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister    All Rights Reserved    www.ElvisBlog.net

A Look at Elvis' Christmas Albums

You’ve probably been listening to Elvis Christmas songs for the past three weeks or so.   Do you know how many he recorded?  The answer is twenty.  Eight were for Elvis’ Christmas Album back in 1957 and are shown below.  The other four songs on the LP were gospel standards recorded at the same session on September 5-7 in Hollywood.

              
                        

Nine years later, Elvis recorded a single titled, “If Every Day was Like Christmas.”  It was written by his friend and bodyguard Red West and was recorded on June 10, 1966 in Nashville.

 
1966 45 RPM Single

 

Elvis recorded his second Christmas album on May 15-16, 1971 in Nashville.  ELVIS sings The Wonderful World of Christmas contained the eleven holiday songs listed below. 

         
               

Did you know that nine of Elvis’ Christmas recordings had never been released by any other artist previously?  The songs that were written just for him include the 1966 single and two from Elvis’ Christmas Album: “Santa Claus is Back in Town” and “Santa Bring My Baby Back to Me.”   The Elvis original Christmas songs on his second album were all but the first two and last two and “Winter Wonderland” on the list above.

When CDs became the dominant format for recorded music in the 70s, RCA started a steady string of repackaging of Elvis’ Christmas songs.  The following is probably not the complete catalog, but it’s got most of them.

 

           

1982                                  1990                                    1992

 

               

1992                                  1994                                       1997

 

             

2000                                   2000                                    2001

 

                 

2003                                   2006                                    2007

 

         

2007                                            2008

So, hopefully you own one or more of these Elvis Christmas albums and have played them a lot this season.

Have a Merry Christmas everybody.

      Phil Arnold
      Original Elvis Blogmeister,
      ElvisBlog

©  2009    Philip R Arnold    All Rights Reserved    www.ElvisBlog.net