Category Archives: ELVIS and OTHER SINGERS

Graceland Introduces Elvis Unplugged

It’s hard to believe that Elvis Week starts next Friday. Festivities kick off on August 9 and continue until Sunday, August 18. That’s a long 10-day week, and I’m always interested to see what EPE comes up with to lure fans to come to that early first weekend.

 

The Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest semis and finals in the Graceland Soundstage now seem to be a permanent early fixture of Elvis Week. And last year, Graceland made them even better with the addition of After-Parties on the streets of Elvis Presley’s Memphis.

So, this year, the challenge apparently was to schedule something new and appealing during those afternoons. I think they have come up with a winner… ELVIS UNPLUGGED. I saw a long-haired hippy-looking guy named Julio at Elvis Week 2002 do this, and it was a nice change from the full band treatment.

 

2002 was the 25th anniversary of Elvis’ death, so Graceland planned some big-time stuff for the celebration. Including an incredible concert experience in the Pyramid.

 

The first Elvis in Concert was amazing and a fitting end to the week. I have no idea what they had at the beginning because I came for all the late stuff.

But now EPE has made it worthwhile for the fans to come earlier, which brings us back to:

ELVIS UNPLUGGED

 

In 2002, Graceland had little use for Elvis Impersonators. This year, there is hardly a day that doesn’t have one or two events starring ETA’s. And Graceland presents only the best of them during Elvis Week.

Here is the list of winners of the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest.

2007 Shaun Klush
2008 Brandon Bennett
2009 Bill Cherry
2010 Justin Shandor
2011 Cody Ray Slaughter
2012 Ben Portsmouth
2013 Dean Z
2014 Jay Dupuis
2015 David Lee
2016 Dwight Icenhower
2017 Gordon Hendricks
2018 Ben Thompson

The names in bold are the six champions who will participate in the Elvis Unplugged shows this year. Both nights will be hosted by Dean Z, who has been called “the best entertainer in our business,” by Jeff Lewis, originator of the After-Parties and a man who has seen them all.

Dean Z in Jailhouse Rock Prison Uniform

 

Dean Z working out on stage

 

Dean Z will be joined on Saturday night by Jay Dupuis and Shawn Klush.

Four shots of Jay Dupuis as Elvis

 

Shawn Klush off stage

I have written about Shawn Klush a few times in ElvisBlog. I saw his act at Elvis Week 2002 in the funky New Daisy Theater. It was the last event of a long day and it was called the Elvis Midnight Blues Jam. It is where I saw that fellow Julio do the Elvis unplugged act I mentioned earlier. I don’t know where his career went, but Shawn Klush certainly moved on to better things. Five years later he was crowned the first Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist winner, and his career has been on a roll ever since.

For the Sunday night Elvis Unplugged concert there will be four Ultimate ETAs on stage. Dean Z will be joined by Ben Thompson, Cody Ray Slaughter and Dwight Icenhower.

Dwight Icenhower

 

Cody ray Slaughter also has his own show on the first night, Friday August 9. He will be backed by the David Fontana Band.

 

David Fontana is DJ’s son, and of course, that’s him on the drums.

 

Ben Thompson

 

Here is Ben Thompson on stage with Jeff Lewis (right), the MC of the After-Parties. Jeff expressed this sentiment about the After-Parties being moved to the Graceland Exhibition Center this year, “Thank God we’ll have air conditioning!” Other benefits may be a lot more table seating for the party-goers, and a better dance floor surface. It sounds like it will be a wonderful night-club set-up to me.

The Elvis Unplugged shows will also have air conditioned comfort inside the Guest House Theater. This seems the perfect small venue for a show billed as:

Live Elvis music and personal stories. An intimate acoustic experience among friends sharing music, laughter and fun.

 

The price of these unplugged concerts is just $25, which seems a bargain for Elvis Tribute Artists of this caliber. The Saturday, August 10 show sold out early, and the Sunday, August 11 will probably be by the time you read this.

If I could pull it off, I would love to be in Memphis on that Saturday night, and go to the Elvis Unplugged concert at 2:00 at the Guest House Theater, The Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist finals at 7:00 at the Graceland Soundstage, and the After-Party at 9:00 in the Exhibition Center. What a nice dream, but for some lucky Elvis fans, it will be a reality.

 

 

 

© 2019 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.

 

What Do Chubby Checker and George Thorogood Have in Common?

They’re coming to Graceland.

More precisely, they’re coming to the Graceland Soundstage in Elvis Presley’s Memphis.

SoundStage A ( Now Graceland Soundstage)

Since renamed Graceland Soundstage

Perhaps EPE’s plan in the beginning was to show Elvis movies at the Soundstage, and to have events there during Elvis Week and the Elvis Birthday Celebration.

But now they are going after more than just Elvis fans to fill the seats. After all, they do have a concert venue holding up to 1,500 people, and there are a lot of good touring acts out there who perfume in front of crowds like that.

 

I’m not sure about this, but I think the only Memphis concert venue of similar size is the New Daisy Theater on Beale Street.

New Daisy Theater

I went to a midnight concert at the New Daisy Theater during Elvis Week 2002. It featured two young tribute artists named Shawn Klush and Ryan Pelton. Klush went on to win the first Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Competition in 2007, but he still came back to the New Daisy years after that.

 

Shawn Klush at the New Daisy Theater

 

So, the Memphis roster of concert venues has improved with the addition of the Graceland Soundstage. It’s got state-of-the art sound and graphics, lots of parking, and a bonus perk that’s pretty cool. Concert ticket holders get free admission to Elvis Presley’s Memphis from 3pm on, so they can spend 4 or 5 hours in there before going into the concert.

A dozen artists are lined up so far to perform at the Soundstage this spring and summer. But Chubby Checker.is the one I want to write about.

Young Chubby Checker

I have always liked Chubby Checker. He is originally from Philadelphia, and so am I. I saw him once back in 1959 before he became a huge star with his hit, “The Twist.” He was one of several local singers that performed in an open pavilion at Willow Grove Park. At that time he had a minor novelty hit called “The Class.” In it, the students were supposedly Elvis, Fats Domino, the Coasters, and the Chipmunks, and Chubby sang a few lines in each of their voices.

He is 78 years old and still performing. Here he is in 2014.

Chubby Checker in 2014

 

While searching for a current photo of him, I found something that made me laugh.

Chubby Checker Penis Measuring App

Chubby Checker had sued the makers of an app that estimated the size of a man’s penis, called The Chubby Checker, for $500 million over “irreversible damage and harm”. He claimed that the app tarnished his name.

I wonder how much he got in the settlement. Not so much for him to finally hang up those twisting shoes for good. No, he’s coming to Graceland on June 22. The top tickets go for $99.50.

Chubby Checker’s act has always included lots of dancing with the fans, not just on the stage, but also down in the aisles sometimes. I’ll bet he puts on a great show at Graceland.

 

 

And I like the new option we fans now have. Elvis wasn’t the only music we liked. We had other favorite singers and bands over the years. If one of these gets booked at the Soundstage, it could spark a trip to Graceland for a connection with two of your favorites. A Chubby Checker/Elvis Presley weekend at Graceland sounds like a fine idea to this old fan.

 

Here’s the rest of the lineup coming to this concert series now named Graceland Live.

Graceland Live

These artists are listed without comment for now. Click here to see a wonderful website that tells you everything about them.

Bret Michaels – Saturday March 23 – All tickets are Standing $49.50

George Thorogood  – Saturday, April 13  – Top ticket is $101.50

Buckcherry –  Friday, April 19 – All tickets are Standing $25

Frank Turner – Saturday, April 27 – All tickets are Standing $27.50

Allman Betts Band – Friday, May 3                 ditto

Violent Femmes and X – Thursday May 16 – All tickets are Standing $39.50

Stryper  – Sunday, June 2 – All tickets are Standing $25

Boz Scaggs – Sunday, June 16 – Top ticket is $124.50

Chubby Checker – Saturday, June 22 – Top ticket is $99.50

Pat Benetar,  Saturday July 26 – Top ticket is $124.50

Brian Setzer,  Wednesday, Aug 21 – Top ticket is $99.50

Hot Tuna – Sunday, Sept 1                        ditto

 

That’s an interesting variety of performers. And there’s lots of room for more additions.

Here’s some stuff off that website I told you about

Graceland Soundstage State of the Art

Premium Bars

 

I also want to write about another performer that I’d love to combine with Elvis on a weekend at Graceland: George Thorogood and the Destroyers.

George Thorogood

 

George Thorogood’s current tour is named the “Good To Be Bad Tour – 45 Years of Rock”

He started his career in 1974, back when music was on records. I bought four of his albums, and I picked up a couple of his cassettes at garage sales. Now I’ve got 16 George Thorogood songs on my playlist.

Here’s what the Graceland Live website says about him.

George Thorogood Gut-busting Music

That’s quite a list of adjectives they used to describe George Thorogood’s music. To me, It’s just really good blues-rock. Nothing like Chubby Checker or Elvis music, but I like all three.

 

Here’s another connection I have with George Thorogood. One of his songs is the ringtone on my cel phone, and it’s not any of those listed above. It’s called “If You Don’t Start Drinkin’ (I’m Gonna Leave)”. I picked it because it starts with a very loud repetitive guitar lick. I need it loud if I’m going to hear the phone ring in my pocket with my crummy hearing.

 

Graceland Live Alt Logo

This is a nice image, but unfortunately, Elvis won’t be performing at Graceland Live.

 

Remember when Dorothy said to Toto, “We’re not in Kansas anymore.”

Well, “Graceland isn’t just Elvis anymore.”

 

Two Giant Screens at Graceland Soundstage

 

 

© 2019 Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister All Rights Reserved www.ElvisBlog.net

 

 

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My Picks for Best and Worst at the Elvis All-Star Tribute

Elvis All-Star Tribute

I thought three performances shined above the others Sunday night on the tribute to Elvis’ 68 Special.

Keith Urban and Post Malone — “Baby, What You Want Me to Do

Keith Urban and Post Malone

Urban nailed this song with a little help from Post Malone. I had no idea Keith Urban was such a great guitar slinger. Just a wonderful job on one of my favorite Elvis songs.

 

JENNIFER LOPEZ — “HEARTBREAK HOTEL

Jennifer Lopez

Wow, what a performance. Jennifer Lopez had that skin tight body suite, the wind machine blowing her hair, and just the right amount of attitude. I loved the lip curls, and I could have watched a whole lot more of her shaking her booty. Very hot.

 

Darius Rucker — “One Night”

Darius Rucker

This man started out in rock ‘n roll with Hootie and the Blowfish, now he is a country star, and if he wanted to, he could be a blues master. He did just a perfect amount of howlin’ on “One Night.”

 

I also like the production they put together for the opening number TROUBLE/Guitar Man. The way they started with the original footage of Elvis, then seamlessly switched to Blake Shelton, and back again several times. Very well done.

Blake Shelton

 

And I like the Elvis photo montage they showed while Mac Davis sang “Memories.”

I did not like Shawn Mendes’ version of “Hound Dog.”

And I was disappointed with the version of “Love Me” done by Miranda Lambert and the other two ladies introduced as the Pistol Annies.

Pistol Annies

“Love Me” is another of my favorite Elvis songs, and he set a high standard. I’m sorry, but they just didn’t measure up.

 

Elvis All-Star Tribute Sign

All in all, I enjoyed the concert and look forward to watching it again when it shows up on YouTube.

If you have different favorites, please put them on comments.

 

 

© 2019 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.

 

Some Elvis Pictures I’ve Never Seen Before – Part 9

Elvis Backstage at Maple Leaf Gardens ~ Toronto ~ April 2, 1957

This shot shows Elvis’ disdain for the pants of the famous Gold Lamé Suit. He is clowning around in them (and the gold shoes) on a prop dolly backstage at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto on April 2, 1957.

Look how baggy and stiff they are. No wonder Elvis didn’t like them.

 

Elvis at Arcade 1956

This is Elvis and his cousin Junior Smith at an arcade in 1956. He had an entourage of one back in the early days. In the later years, this room couldn’t have held all the guys hanging around Elvis.

 

Elvis wiith Diana Goodman in the back of his limo July 19, 1975

This is Elvis with Diana Goodman in the back of his limo on July 19, 1975. We can’t see any of the rings he surely was wearing, but check out the gold bracelet and the gold chain around his neck. That is some serious weight of gold. On the downside, it was time for Elvis to give this coat away to Charlie Hodge, or one of the other guys. He had definitely outgrown it.

 

 

Long White Fringe Suit...Elvis only wore one time. The fringe got all tangled up when he danced.

This is a jumpsuit Elvis wore only one time. His jumpsuits all had cool names like Black Butterfly, Inca Gold, or King of Spades. This one is simply referred to as ”the Long White Fringe Suit.” Elvis wouldn’t wear it again after the fringe got all tangled up when he danced.

I think the whole thing is pretty ugly, and I’m surprised Elvis even put it on. Anyway, the Long White Fringe Suit joined the baggy gold pants in the Elvis wardrobe rejects hall of fame.

 

oks like Charlie Hodge and Elvis are Dancing

All you good fans recognize this as Charlie Hodge on stage with Elvis. At first glance, they seem to be dancing together.

 

February 12, 1977 - Elvis Presley Palm Beach International Airport 3

This is Elvis during his best interpretation of Bo Diddley.

 

Bo Diddley

If you are too young to know about Bo Diddley, look him up. There’s a lot more to the Bo Diddley story than that square guitar.

 

Elvis Presley & Gene Vincent

Here’s Elvis with Gene Vincent. I loved all three of his hits, and wish he had made more. Gene Vincent is another early rocker with an interesting story. Look him up, too.

 

Elvis On stage at 68 Comeback Special

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the main three outfits Elvis wore in the ’68 Comeback Special. Here is a fourth one. It’s not up to the brilliance of the white (If I Can Dream) suit, the black leather outfit, and the burgundy gospel suit.

 

Young Lisa and Elton John

This is an interesting photo of young Lisa and Elton John. Compare it to one many years later.

 

Lisa and Elton John - Later

 

This is from Stay Away Joe, and there’s a lot of girls in that car with Elvis.

Elvis and Girls in Car in Stay Away Joe

 

But this is from real life.

Elvis in a Car with Three Girls

How about that look on his face? Elvis, you lucky dog.

 

 

© 2018 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.

 

Hallmark Channel Movie — Christmas at Graceland

Hallmark Countdown to Christmas

My wife is a dedicated viewer of the movies on the Hallmark Channel. A few days ago, they ran a promotion for their Countdown to Christmas series of new holiday-themed movies. I was in the kitchen making a snack when it came on, and I paid little attention to the sound coming out of the TV. Then they said one of their new movies was Christmas at Graceland and my interest perked up.

 

Christmas at Graceland poster

 

I said to myself, “I don’t remember reading anything about this on Graceland.com/news that I check out regularly. So, I did a little search on the site for “Hallmark Movie.” This is what came up:

 

Graceland.com.news Article on Hallmark Movie

 

No wonder I didn’t remember it. This news spot posted three and a half months ago, and there hasn’t been another feature about it since. There surely is a big one coming, but ElvisBlog will share with you now as much as I have been able to find.

 

Kellie Pickler

This is a glamour shot of country singer Kellie Pickler who stars in the movie. Of course, this is not exactly the image Hallmark would want for their movie heroine, so she has a much different look in the film.

 

Kellie Pickler in Christmas at Graceland

 

Actually, Kellie Pickler is much more than a country singer. She got her start on the fifth season of American Idol in 2006. That was one of the strongest groups of contestants ever, with Taylor Hicks winning, Katharine McPhee placing second, and Chris Daughtry coming in fourth. Despite finishing sixth, Kellie Pickler got a major record deal, and forged ahead with her singing career.

 

KELLIE PICKLER AND DEREK HOUGH Season 16 of Dancing with the Stars

In 2013, Pickler and her partner, Derek Hough, were declared the winners of the 16th season of Dancing with the Stars.

 

Pickler and Ben Talk Show

She is also the co-host of the Pickler & Ben talk show on CMT, for which she earned a Daytime Emmy nomination.

 

Wes Brown in Christmas in Graceland

And this is Wes Brown, her co-star in Christmas at Graceland. He has starred in many Hallmark Channel movies, including “June in January,” “Love Begins,” “Love’s Resounding Courage,” “Christmas Cookies,” and “Love Under the Stars.”

 

Here is a brief synopsis of the movie that appeared on the Memphis Commercial-Appeal website on September 20:

“Country singer Kellie Pickler stars as Laurel, a native Memphian turned Chicago finance executive who returns to her hometown for a bank deal. While in Memphis, Laurel reunites with old flame Clay (Wes Brown), a local music promoter with loftier aspirations.

“Though Laurel tries to keep her eye on the prize of the business acquisition, Clay is very persuasive reminding her of the days when they were a performing duo on the brink of stardom.”

And the audience stays glued to find out if she stays in the business world or falls in love with Clay and reunites with him to pursue that old dream. I think you can guess which way it goes.

 

Graceland Guesthouse Lobby

There is a 22 second teaser video on the Hallmark Chanel website that opens with this shot of the lobby of the Graceland Guesthouse.

 

Kellie Pickler Walking into the Graceland Guesthouse

Then there is a clip of Kellie/Laurel walking into the lobby. No explanation about the young girl.

 

Outside Graceland

Then, as the action presumably shifts to Graceland, this shot is shown briefly.

 

Kellie Pickler in Scene from the Christmas in Graceland

And this clip is when Kellie/Laurel sings in front of Graceland.

 

I searched the web looking for a more complete synopsis of the plot. I did find these pictures of Graceland in July being turned into a winter wonderland with artificial snow (tiny bio-degradable flakes of recycled paper).

 

Trucks of Snow Blowing Equipment at Graceland

 

Fake Snow Machines at Graceland

 

Blowing Fake Snow at Graceland

Notice the guy is wearing shorts.

 

Guy in Shorts Blowing Fake Snow at Graceland

This guy is, too. They even put up the famous Graceland Merry Christmas display.

 

Graceland Drive with fake Snow

On this shot down the drive from Graceland, you can see where the fake snow stops. That’s Elvis Presley’s Memphis across the street.

 

And here’s the final result:

Snow-Covered Graceland

 

Christmas at Graceland will premiere at 8 p.m. (Eastern Time) on Nov. 17, and be repeated during the same prime time slot several times over the following weeks. It probably will be at a different time when it is repeated on Christmas Day as part of a marathon of new Hallmark holiday movies.

 

I have a history of watching Elvis movies over and over.  My wife does the same thing with those Hallmark Channel movies.  So, I guess we’ll be watching Christmas at Graceland several times together.  I’ll bet that many of you will watch it multiple times, too.

 

 

© 2018 Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister All Rights Reserved www.ElvisBlog.net

 

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Fats Domino and Elvis

Fats Domino and Elvis Presley at Table

As you know by now, Antoine “Fats” Domino has passed away due to natural causes at age 89. I won’t repeat all biography and statistical facts you have seen on TV and other websites. Let me just say he was one of the greatest early rock and rollers, and I grew up with his music. I bought his 45s and danced to his songs at parties and sock hops at school. I have 53 Fats Domino songs on my playlist and will listen to them while I write this blog post. I’m going to hear every one of those songs today and appreciate again just how great he was.

 

Now, about Fats Domino and Elvis Presley.

Rock-Hall-Inaugural-Induction

You probably know they were both Charter members of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, inducted together in the first class in 1986. We lost Chuck Berry in March this year, and now Fats Domino. Hang in there Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis. I really don’t look forward to writing one of these posts about either of you, but let’s face it, it’s going to happen sooner rather than later.

Rock & Roll Hall of Fame 1986 Inductees

 

Elvis was a big fan of Fats Domino and had great respect for him. On more than one occasion, Elvis called Fats the real king of rock and roll.

 

Fats Domino and Elvis Presley

It appears that their friendship flourished because they got together when they both were working at the same times in Las Vegas. The picture above was taken around 12.30am on August 1, 1969 at a press conference for Elvis’ return to live performing at the International Hotel.

Las Vegas Press Conference

 

In a June 2004 interview, Fats Domino had this to say about Elvis’ return to Las Vegas:

“[I] first met Elvis Presley in Las Vegas. When I was playing at the Flamingo Hotel. I went to his room and played for him. He used to call me ‘Mr. Blueberry Hill.’ I remember him telling me, ‘You know, Fats, I’m opening up tomorrow, but when I first came here I flopped.’

“But after he got back there, it was all gold… and every night it was sold out. Boy, he could sing. He could sing spirituals, country and western, everything he sang I liked.

“Elvis Presley did a lot before he passed. He made movies, he was traveling, everything. I don’t see how he did it; you’d have to stay up day and night.”

 

Fats Domino and Elvis in color

When a reporter at this press conference referred to Elvis as the ‘King of Rock ’n’ Roll’, he rejected the title, as he always did, calling attention to the presence in the room of his friend Fats Domino, calling him “one of my influences from way back. No one could sing those songs like he did.”

 

[My wife just yelled at me to turn it down. When “I’m Ready” came on, I cranked it up. I just love that song.]

 

Fats Domino had a long-time collaboration with Dave Bartholomew, a song writer/bandleader/producer who is also in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in the same category as Sam Phillips. His son Don Bartholomew once said:

“The way Fats sang was all original… It’s hard to copy, but if you listen to some of Elvis’ records, where words are kind of shortened — that’s from Fats, I think. Elvis often commented that Fats and Dave were making Rock n’ Roll music before the term was ever coined.”

 

Elvis Talking on Stage

Elvis was famous for clowning around on stage, especially during his introductions of the band members. On February 23, 1970, he introduced his guitar player James Burton as Chuck Berry, piano player Glenn D. Harding as Steve Allen, and his band conductor Joe Cuercio as Leonard Bernstein. Then, Elvis said, “I used to be known as Fats Domino… until I lost weight.”

 

[My wife is yelling at me again. “The Fat Man” is another song I like loud.]

The Fat Man by Fats Domino

Speaking of “The Fat Man,” it was Fats Domino’s first record release in 1949. Many rock historians consider it to be the first rock and roll record. Nearly seventy years later, it sure holds up well.

 

Now I would like to tell a personal story about the time I got up close and personal with Fats Domino. The company I worked for held a huge convention in one of the big New Orleans hotels in the late 80s. The last night of the convention, we threw a big party in the ballroom, and to everybody’s delight, our entertainment for the night was Fats Domino and his band.

Fats Domino and the Band

This photo looks very much like the set-up that night. The stage was only about twenty inches high. There were no seats in front of it, just dance floor. So all us big Fats Domino fans could stand in front of the velvet ropes barely four feet away from him. He played for about two hours and did dozens of his hits.

It was an awesome night, and there are some things that still live in my memory all these years later.

The band had four, yes four, sax players. Their contribution to the music was much greater in concert than on the records. They really wailed.

The drummer was either on drugs or drunk, or both, because he fell off his stool right in the middle of a song. He was out cold, so a bald white guy sat in for the rest of the show. I think he was Fats’ road manager or something, and he did a passable job.

The unannounced opening act was another New Orleans resident and performer named Clarence “Frogman” Henry. If you are old enough you will remember his hits “Ain’t Got No Home,” and “Troubles, Troubles.”

A middle-aged black groupie somehow worked her way through the crowd and up to the stage. She had her eye on Fats big time. She had orange-colored hair piled on her head, heavy eye make-up, bright red lipstick, tons of jewelry, and lots of cleavage showing. It was pretty obvious she wasn’t associated with our convention, and pretty soon, the security guys assisted her out of the ballroom.

Fats was impeccably dressed that night. His suit looked like it was made out of sharkskin. It absolutely shimmered. Very classy.

He wore several huge rings on the fingers of both hands.

Fats Domino Wearing Lots of Rings

 

Fats Domino was in the news when Hurricane Katrina flooded New Orleans’ Ninth Ward where he lived. Somehow, a rumor came out that he had died. Look what somebody painted on his home.

R.I.P. Fats Domino

That message was premature back then, but unfortunately, now it is true.

 

Fats Domino at the Piano

 

Good bye Fats Domino. You certainly will be missed. Say hi to Elvis for us.

 

 

©  2017    Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister    All Rights Reserved    www.ElvisBlog.net

 

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Glen Campbell and Elvis

Elvis and Glen Campbell

Glen Campbell died yesterday, August 8, from complications of Alzheimer’s disease. He was 81.

Elvis and Glen Campbell had been friends for over a decade before Campbell became a star in 1967 with songs like “Gentle on my Mind,” and “By the Time I get to Phoenix.”

Glen Campbell first met Elvis on April 12, 1956 when Elvis performed at the Armory in Albuquerque, NM.

Elvis in Albuquerque

Campbell later recalled, “I saw him in the rough. He was so electrifying.”

They remained friends over the years. When Campbell moved to Los Angeles in 1960, he started playing at a little club called the Crossbow. They had a private room upstairs seating 15 to 20 people, and Elvis would bring the guys and watch Campbell perform.

In 1963, Glen Campbell was in the group of studio musicians that backed Elvis on the soundtrack songs for Viva Las Vegas.

Elvis Presley, Red West, Glen Campbell at George Klein's wedding, 1970

Elvis Presley, Red West, and Glen Campbell at George Klein’s wedding, 1970

 

There is a video on YouTube where Campbell tells a wonderful story about Elvis. In March 1975, Campbell had just finished a run at the Las Vegas Hilton. Elvis was the next headliner, so Campbell stayed around to catch his first show. With Campbell sitting in the audience, Elvis said:

“I’d like to introduce you to a good friend of mine. He just closed here last night…and he should have. I’m only kidding‘, ladies and gentlemen, he’s one of the finest voices around. He plays a fair guitar, his hair never moves, Jack, no matter what he does. Naw, he’s a great friend, Glen Campbell.”

The good natured ribbing continued:

Elvis — Hey, Campbell. I understand you’re trying to do me on stage.

Glen — I am doing you. (Audience laughs)

Elvis — If you don’t stop doing me, me and the boys will sit in the front row and read newspapers during your show.

Glen — If I’m going to do you in the future, I’m gonna have to gain some weight.

With that line, the audience booed Glen Campbell. He and Elvis got together later and had a good laugh about it. Elvis gave him some good-natured grief: “You smart ass.”

 

Glen Campbell Wearing Elvis Jumpsuit - 1975

This is Glen Campbell wearing a jump suit and “doing Elvis” in 1975.

 

Good bye, Glen Campbell. We’ll miss you. Say hi to Elvis for us.

 

 

© 2017 Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister All Rights Reserved www.ElvisBlog.net

 

 

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Celebrating the 50th Birthday of Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band — Elvis Style

Sgt. Pepper Cover With Elvis

Can it really be a half century since the Beatles released their landmark album Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band? Yes, it hit the stores on June 2, 1967.

Much of the print, TV and internet media is now covering this milestone, so ElvisBlog will, too – with an Elvis slant, of course. In the picture above, Elvis fits in nicely with the Fab Four. Carol Stephens, who did the fine cover for my book, Big E and the Santa Man, added Elvis wearing a costume from his film Frankie and Johnny.

Sgt. Elvis' Lonely Hearts Club Band

I found this picture on the internet. It must have taken somebody a long time to replace three-dozen people with Elvis shots. It’s fun to pick out the photos from his movies and the notable events in his career. See those two concrete busts at the bottom of the picture? I have one of those out on my back deck. The squirrels often sit on his head and eat acorns.

 

Monkees Lonely Hearts Club band

Sgt. Peppers is one of the most photoshopped album covers ever. This one featuring the Monkees has lot of recognizable faces.

 

Brexit Lonely Hearts Club Band

This is an interesting composite.  It pays homage to all the celebrities who died in 2016, plus Brexit.  David Bowie and Prince are easy to spot, but can you find Glenn Frey?

 

Phish Lonely hearts Club Band

Back to rock bands again. Is that four Elvises in white jumpsuits and shades on the top right?

 

Lego Lonely Hearts Club Band

How do you like the Lego figures replacing the Beatles in this one? They also replaced Elvis in another of the most altered album covers.

50,000,000 Lego Fans Can't Be Wrong

 

Let’s take a look at some more variations of Elvis’ album 50,000,000 Elvis Fans Can’t be Wrong.

9,000,000 Facebook Fans Can't Be Wrong

Only 9,000,000?

 

50,000,000 Elvis Costello Fans Can't Be Wrong

Uh, oh. The wrong Elvis.

 

Rod Stewart - Body Wishes

Red leather(?). Not as cool as gold lame.

 

Hail to the King All star Tribute

They put Roy Orbison, Link Wray, Jeff Beck, Johnny Cash, and Jerry Lee Lewis in gold lame suits. I wish they had done Little Richard, too.

 

50,000,000 Santa fans Can't be Wrong

There are Santa fans.

50,000,000 Elves Fans Can't Be Wrong

And even Elves fans,  Don’t you like Santa in gold lame?

 

100,000,000 Bon Jovi Fans Can't Be Wrong

Bon Jovi upped the ante to 100,000,000 fans.

 

I guess this post got a little off subject. Let’s get back to the Beatles.

300,000 Beatles Fans Can't Be Wrong

Yeah, I paired up the Beatles and Elvis again. Here is the last time.

Elvis Looking Over The Beatles

I really like this image.

 

Happy 50th birthday, Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band.

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© 2017 Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister All Rights Reserved www.ElvisBlog.net

 

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Concerts at the Graceland Guest House Theater – Part 2

Concert in Graceland Guest House Theater

Last week we took a look at the first big concert in the new Graceland Guest House Theater. Actually, big does not adequately describe the Joe Walsh “All Shook Up at Graceland” event.

Joe Walsh at Guest House Theater 2

It’s a package deal including two nights in the hotel, two parties, Graceland tour, a combination concert/ Q&A session/slide show by Joe Walsh, and much more. And it cost $1,795 per person.

There have been other concerts in the Guest House, and they have been on a more modest scale. For example:

Gospel Weekend at the Guest House Theater

This was a two-night package back in February, with Mark209 in concert on Friday, February, 24th, and Memphis Soul City performing on Saturday, February 25th. Anyone booked in a two-double bed room with a view of the central courtyard ($219 per night, double occupancy, plus 21% taxes and fees) could go to the concerts for free.

 

TG Sheppard and Kelly Lang

This is a straight concert, with no hotel room tie-in. You can be staying at any hotel or motel in town and come see this show for $25. T.G Sheppard had dozens of top 40 country hits, but his last was in 1988. He is 73 but maintains a busy touring schedule along with his wife Kelly Lang. I suspect that the Guest House will present more concerts of this nature than the extravaganza packages like Joe Walsh.

 

That being said, I would like to suggest three performers I think Graceland would be wise to schedule. While they are all up in age, they are still performing. And best of all, they all have a connection to Elvis, and I would love to see any of them in a concert.

Wanda Jackson

Wanda Jackson Smiling and Elvis

In 1955, Wanda Jackson was a seventeen-year-old aspiring country singer, with some minor hits to her credit and a half-hour radio show on KLPR in Oklahoma City. In July, she was booked on one of those packaged touring country music shows that were popular in the fifties. It was here that she met Elvis Presley, and they became fast friends. Wanda and Elvis performed in other touring shows in August and October, 1955, and again in early 1956.

Elvis Presley and Wanda Jackson April 15, 1956 San Antonio

April 15, 1956, San Antonio

Elvis and Wanda dated a bit, but her dad was her manager on the road, so things never got hot and heavy between the young singers. In an interview in Rolling Stone magazine, she said, “Our dating amounted to what we could do on the road. If we got in town early, we might take in a matinee movie. Then, after the shows, we could go places with his band — and my dad, of course… It was very important, a girl’s reputation, in those days. There were things you could and couldn’t do, and my daddy made sure I never crossed the line.”

Wanda Jackson and Elvis

Elvis urged Wanda Jackson to branch out and try rockabilly music. He said, “It’s the next big thing, and you need to be singing it.” She took his advice and decided to try her hand in this wild new world of rockabilly. “He broke my train of thought and made me realize I could stretch myself.” Rockabilly songs are what made her mark in music history. As Rolling Stone said, “Her songs were full of vinegar. She sang them all with gravel-throated gusto.” The Smithsonian Institution would later refer to her as the sweet lady with the nasty voice. Her first national hit was “Let’s Have A Party,” which Elvis fans know he originally recorded for the movie Loving You in 1957. Jackson liked the song and recorded it in 1958 for her self-titled first album.

 

Later Wanda Jackson

Wanda Jackson went on to have great success in other four different genres – rockabilly, country, gospel, and rock and roll. She had huge popular success in Europe and Japan. In 2009, Wanda Jackson was elected to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

 

In 2007, she recorded an album in tribute to her old friend titled I Remember Elvis. “[Elvis] has been a big part of my life. I worked with him and loved him very much for the person that he was, so it only seemed right that I should do a special tribute to him. I chose the songs he was singing when I was working with him in the fifties, and that gave it purpose. At the end of the CD, I also tell stories about my remembrances of the first time I met him, the first night I worked with him, and the last time I saw him.”

 

Wanda Jackson Concert Schedule

Although Wanda Jackson will turn 80 this year, she still does the occasional concert. I would be thrilled to see her perform at the Graceland Guest House Theater, and I’d bet she would pack the place. How about it, EPE? Please schedule Wanda Jackson while you still can.

Wanda Jackson in 2014

 

 

 

Johnny Rivers

Elvis & Johnny Rivers were friends in Hollywood in the early 60´s.

Johnny Rivers’ connection to Elvis started the same year as Wanda Jackson – 1955. At that time, he was Brooklyn-born John Ramistella, a twelve-year-old growing up in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Young John and a buddy went to the local high school to see a country concert starring Minnie Pearl and Little Jimmy Dickens. Opening the show was an unknown singer named Elvis Presley. Minnie Pearl introduced him as “The Hillbilly Cat,” and he came out wearing a pink suit and white buck shoes. Elvis sang only two songs, “That’s All Right” and “Blue Moon of Kentucky.” Rivers recalled, “All that sexual energy up there on stage, people didn’t know what to make of it.” He said to his buddy, “Wow. This guy’s really cool.”

Johnny got a second look at Elvis after that high school concert. He went around behind the auditorium and saw Elvis, Scotty Moore, and Bill Black loading their gear in a trailer. Actually, Scotty and Bill were doing the loading. Elvis was talking to some of the country acts. Johnny remembers this about Elvis: “He was bouncing around, he couldn’t stand still. I’m thinking this is the coolest guy I ever seen.”

Within a year, Johnny was playing guitar in local groups, and by age fourteen, he was fronting the band “Johnny and the Spades.” In 1958 he performed at the Lousiana Hayride in Shreveport. Later that year, Johnny traveled to New York to seek work in recording studios. It was there he met legendary disc jockey Allen Freed, who convinced him to change his name to Johnny Rivers.

The next stop was Nashville, then back to New York City, and finally Los Angeles. In 1963 Rivers and his group began an extended stay as the house band at a local nightclub. This led to a lucrative offer to open the new discotheque Whiskey A-Go-Go on the Sunset Strip. Soon, his first album Johnny Rivers at the Whiskey A-Go-Go was released, and it quickly sold a million copies. Johnny Rivers’ career was on a roll.

With his newfound wealth, Johnny Rivers moved into a mansion in exclusive Trousdale Estates, and regularly drove his maroon Jaguar over to Elvis’ place in Bel Air for weekend football games, with other stars like Pat Boone and Jan and Dean.

 

Elvis on his 1966 Harley-Davidson Electra-Glide and Johnny Rivers on a Triumph

Johnny Rivers and Elvis had one other interesting connection – the song “Memphis” written by Chuck Berry. Elvis recorded it during a two-day session in Nashville in May 1963 that produced fourteen songs. Time constraints limited “Memphis” to just two takes, and Elvis was not happy with either one. So, on January 12, 1964, Elvis went back in the studio to re-record “Memphis” and one other song. He wanted a more exciting, modern sound, because he planned to release “Memphis” as his next single. Elvis was dedicated and focused. He was in good voice, and he loaded up the studio with three guitar players and two drummers.

Elvis - Memphis Single

Elvis left the studio very pleased with the results, but “Memphis” was never released as a single – and Johnny Rivers was the reason. He and Elvis had jammed together on the song back in Bel Air. Rivers liked it so much he incorporated it into his repertoire at the Whiskey. In May 1964 a live version of the song hit the market and quickly went to #2 on the charts. That killed any chance of “Memphis” ever being an Elvis single.

Johnny Rivers- Memphis Single

 

There is one last Elvis/Johnny Rivers connection. I would strongly recommend his 1991 CD The Memphis Sun Recordings. Rivers recorded it at Sun Studios, with James Burton and Carl Perkins as special guests. It contains cover versions of four Elvis songs and three Perkins hits, plus others by Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Charlie Rich. It’s a terrific CD, and I play it a lot.

Johnny Rivers -- The Memphis Sun Recordings

 

I find it hard to believe, but Johnny Rivers has not been inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. How can they ignore an artist with 17 Top 40 hits, 9 Top 10 hits, and a Number 1 hit “The Poor Side of Town.” His most notable song over the years has been “Secret Agent Man,” which peaked at #3 in 1966.

 

Older Johnny Rivers

 

Johnny Rivers will turn 75 this year, but he still performs regularly.

Johnny Rivers Appearances

 

So, my second suggestion for an artist to appear at the Guest House Theater is Johnny Rivers. He could certainly wow the audience by performing the four Elvis songs on the Memphis Sun Recordings CD: “Mystery Train,” “Tryin’ To Get To You,” “That’s Alright, Mama,” and “I Forgot to Remember to Forget.” Plus there is “Memphis.” Rivers also released an album Blue Suede Shoes, and the title song is the best version I’ve ever heard. If Graceland books Johnny Rivers, I guarantee there will be dancing in the aisles.

 

 

Jerry Lee Lewis

Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis Presley

Yes, I know this is a Photoshopped photo

Did you see this choice coming? How absolutely cool would it be to have Jerry Lee Lewis perform at the Graceland Guest House Theater?

I presume it isn’t necessary to detail the connection between Elvis and Jerry Lee. However, stories about their rivalry persist, so that’s worth mentioning. Elvis had been gone from Sun Records for over a year before Jerry Lee burst on the scene. In some ways The Killer had the better of it in this presumed competition. For one thing, Jerry Lee had much bigger hits at Sun Records than Elvis did. The sales of “Whole Lot of Shakin’ Going On” and “Great Balls of Fire” absolutely dwarfed anything achieved by Elvis’ five Sun releases. “Breathless” and “High School Confidential” also made the Top 40, something not achieved by an Elvis song until he went to RCA. Jerry Lee’s career also shot out of the gates quicker than Elvis’. His first release “Crazy Arms” went nowhere, but the second, “Whole Lot of Shakin’,” instantly made him a national star.

 

Million Dollar Quartet

The supposed feud between Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis Presley is on pretty shaky ground. Consider what Elvis said after the famed “Million Dollar Quartet” session, his first musical interaction with Jerry Lee:

“That boy can go. I think he has a great future ahead of him. He has a different style, and the way he plays piano just gets inside me.”

Jerry Lee wasn’t afraid to put his stamp on Elvis songs. He has recorded “Good Rockin’ Tonight,” “Jailhouse Rock,” “Hound Dog,” and “Don’t Be Cruel.” Elvis covered Jerry Lee’s’ “Whole Lot of Shakin,” and a few lesser-known Lewis songs.

 

Jerry Lee Lewis RockHall of Fame Photo

Both men are charter members of the Rock& Roll Hall of Fame, inducted together in the inaugural class of 1986. Check out the picture the RockHall uses as their stock Jerry Lee Lewis photo.

These days, Jerry Lee doesn’t climb up on the piano. He will turn 82 this year and his performance schedule is pretty skimpy.

Jerry Lee Lewis New Years Eve 2016

Jerry Lee Lewis New Years Eve 2016

He performed at his own club in Memphis this past New Year’s Eve, and then at a Country Music Festival in late February in Indio, California. His website does not list any upcoming appearances.

Jerry Lee Lewis On Stage - May 4, 2013

Hopefully, there is still enough time for EPE to book Jerry Lee Lewis for the Graceland Guest House Theater, but they better hurry.

 

Nesbit, Missippi

He lives on his ranch just south of Memphis in Nesbit, Mississippi.  They could send a stretch-limo down there and transport him to the Guest House in style. They could put him up in the Vernon and Gladys Suite.

Vernon and Gladys Suite

 

All that would probably run up the price of tickets, but I don’t think they’d have any problem filling up the place.

 

Jerry Lee Lewis is a Rock and Roll legend.

Come on EPE. Bring him to Graceland.

 

Older Jerry Lee Lewis

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©  2017    Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister    All Rights Reserved    www.ElvisBlog.net

 

 

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Concerts at the Graceland Guest House Theater — Part 1

Joe Walsh at Guest House Theater

Did you see this announcement on Graceland.com the other day? When I saw it, my initial reaction was positive, because I’ve been a Joe Walsh fan for over forty years. I have three of his solo albums in my record collection, plus the Eagles albums from his time with the band.

I also saw him in concert back in the early 80s. It was at a big nightclub and there was a cover charge of something like $20 or $25. He had a tight back-up band and did a great show. My best memory is Joe coming out on stage wearing fake rabbit ears and fluffy slippers, and banging on a bass drum strapped in front of him, like the Energizer Bunny. I think the idea was that in spite of the Eagles break-up, Joe Walsh was still plugging along.

Well, obviously, he is still plugging along thirty something years later, because he is going to appear at the theater in the Graceland Guest House. I thought to myself, Man, if I was in Memphis the first weekend in May, I would definitely take in the show. Then I saw this:

Price for Joe Walsh at Graceland Guest House Theater

WHAT???

 

$3.600 for you and your sweetie to take in this event. My wife and I took a five day vacation to Key West that cost less than that. But the promo picture said it was a three day deal, so I dug deeper to see what could be worth that much money.

Joe Walsh Graceland Package Includes

 

The two nights at the Graceland Guest House are in rooms with two queen beds and a view of the pool and central courtyard. Looks like a pretty nice room.

Graceland Guest House Two Bed Basic Room

The rate for these rooms on May 6 is $299/night plus 21% taxes and fees. So that accounts for $723 dollars’ worth of the package cost.

 

Then, there are two parties with a disc jockey playing the tunes, plus food and drinks. That sounds like fun, especially if there is a dance floor. The free food takes care of a couple of meals during your stay. If you want an alcoholic beverage, that probably costs extra.

 

Elvis Entourage VIP Tour

The package includes a tour of Graceland. It is hard to imagine this would be anything less than the Elvis Entourage VIP Tour. You can see all the stuff the regular price of $99 covers. Every one of them are things on my must-see list.

 

I don’t see any real value in the custom lanyard or the trip lamination, and what hotel room doesn’t have free internet access these days?

So that leaves the three items connected with Joe Walsh on the list. It doesn’t go into details on the autographed photo, but it better be where he does them on site and inscribes them as the guests request. It would be lame if they just pass out pre-signed pictures.

 

How ya Doin' Steve

 

The photo-op with Joe Walsh is another chance to get up close and personal with him.

 

So, that brings us to the performance. I could find nothing on Graceland.com that said whether it was on Saturday night, May 6, or Sunday night, May 7. So I went Joe Walsh’s website and found this.

Joe Walsh Concerts

Hey, there’s something wrong here. Joe Walsh can’t be in both Tampa and Memphis for evening performances on May 6. We can assume that the All Shook Up at Graceland show is actually on Sunday May 7, the second night of the package.

This is just a portion of a schedule showing a long series of concerts with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers joining Joe Walsh. Note that the next night after Joe’s gig at Graceland, they will be playing a Memphis show at the FedEx Forum. Just for kicks, I looked up the prices for this, and they go from $33 for nosebleeds to $645 for right up in front of the stage.

 

There are no nosebleed seats at the Graceland Guest House Theater. With a capacity of just 464, it is an intimate venue, and there are no bad seats

Guesthouse at Graceland Theater

This seems the perfect size setting for the advertised “private acoustic storytellers performance.” It sounds like Joe will perform without a backing band, but his acoustic versions of his old hits and the ones he sung with the Eagles could be quite enjoyable. It is all the other stuff he says he will do that will make the evening special.

This is something I’ve always wanted to do: Take an evening, invite an audience and just be me.

Answering almost all questions anyone would ask (except the ones that may incriminate me).

A big screen power point presentation put together and narrated by me.

Guitar shop talk, slide guitar 101.

I’m particularly excited to talk about my Elvis experiences—what he meant to me and what I meant to him.

True stories of road craziness and of course playing more music.

We’ll conclude with a Town Hall Meeting, including a strategy and platform discussion for my candidacy to run for President of the United States in 2020 and sing ‘God Bless America’ or something else (Elvis would want that).”

The show is going to have to be a long one to get in all that. And you have to admit that it is totally unique in the world of entertainment.

BUT… is it worth $3,600?

 

Unmatched Luxury at Graceland Guest House

If you’ve seen the photos of the lobby, restaurants, and bars at the Graceland Guest House, you know they’ve built a hotel that projects a sense of opulence. Look at the following shots and it’s hard to argue with their claim of unmatched luxury.

Graceland Guest House Founders Room

Graceland Guest House Lobby-3

Graceland Guest House Ballroom

 

The Graceland Guest House is certainly designed to attract a well-healed clientele, so I guess they will have no trouble getting two hundred or so couples to pony up $3,600 and take in this unique Joe Walsh experience.

But, it is way out of reach for fans of modest means like me and probably most of you, too. When I first visited Graceland in 1993, I stayed at the Days Inn across the street and down a block. It didn’t detract from my Elvis pilgrimage one bit. In fact, the area around the little pool was a great gathering place at night for us fans, and we had a wonderful time together swapping stories. I’ve been to Elvis Week four times, and never once was Unmatched Luxury something I looked forward to.

I hope EPE will remember the little people and find more reasonably priced ways for us to enjoy our visit to Graceland.

Graceland RV Park & Campground

That last thought caused me to check and see if this was still open, and it is. Did you know there was a RV park and campground behind Heartbreak Hotel? Now that the Guest House and Elvis Presley’s Memphis have been built, I hope EPE doesn’t have plans for any more big construction projects. If they do, the nice piece of land above may get snapped up to build something else with Unmatched Luxury.

 

Computers are from Hell

I have been in computer hell since March 7. I’ve taken my laptop to Geek Squad three times, utilized their Remote Service via the internet twice, and had one of their field tech guys come to the house twice. I bought a new hard drive, modem, and router, and it took until April 13 to get everything back running right.

Because of these problems, I have missed new posts three times in the past six weeks. This is totally unacceptable, and I apologize for it.

 

Stay tuned for Part 2 of “Concerts at the Graceland Guest House Theater.”

 

 

© 2017 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.