Category Archives: ELVIS and OTHER SINGERS

Remembering Chuck Berry

Chuck Berry Photo and Record

I know I’m a little late doing this tribute to Chuck Berry, but I’ve spent the past two weeks in computer hell. It was so bad I had to skip the regular post two weekends ago, and I hate doing that. Anyway, I have loved Chuck Berry’s music for over 60 years, so his passing will get a well-deserved mention on ElvisBlog.

Chuck Berry's One Dozen Berries

This is the very first album I owned in my life. Not an image off the internet – this is my album, purchased in 1958 and in my possession ever since. It contained three of Chuck Berry’s hits – “Rock and Roll Music,” “Reelin’ and Rockin’,” and “Sweet Little Sixteen.” Surprisingly, the album disc is still in pretty good shape, but the cover is split along the top and bottom seams.

I bought my first 45 singles in the summer of 1956, and the collection grew until I went off to college. There were several Chuck Berry records in there, but when my son went to college, he “borrowed” my collection. He and his buddies loved this treasure trove of 50s rock and roll, and they played the heck out of them. Somehow, I never got that collection of 45s back, but the records were probably so beat up by then that they weren’t worth having.

 

Elvis-Presley-Chuck-Berry Together

Normally, when I do one of these Remembering… posts, it’s about someone who had a substantial connection with Elvis. Truth is, there is very little connection between Chuck Berry and Elvis. The main tie is their roles in the birth and explosion of Rock and Roll. I like the opening of Berry’s biography on the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame website:

“If Elvis Presley cracked open the door for rock & roll, Chuck Berry kicked it wide open.”

Click here to see everything the Rock Hall had to say about Chuck Berry. Both he and Elvis were members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s inaugural induction class in 1986.

Rock & Roll Hall of Fame - Class of 1986

What an outstanding group! I can’t believe the RockHall’s webmaster cropped the pictures of the thumbnail images so severely that parts of the heads of most are cut off. When you click on the thumbnail to go to the artist’s biography, the photos show everybody’s head.

Kieth Richars intorducing Chuck Berry at Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Ceremony

This is a shot of Chuck Berry’s induction ceremony into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.   None other than the Rolling Stone’s Keith Richards introduced him. Then they jammed together on “Roll over Beethoven.”

 

Chuck Berry at Chicago Show 2011

This is a picture of Chuck Berry performing in Chicago in 2011. Can you believe people were still paying to see him doing his thing at 84. Think what it might have been like if Elvis had kept on performing to that age.

 

Nine Chuck Berry Albums

Here are nine other Chuck Berry albums that are in my collection. He wrote so many songs. Did you know that Elvis covered four of Chuck Berry’s songs: “Memphis,” “Promised Land,” Johnny B. Goode,” and “Two Much Monkey Business.” If you’d like to read a great article on this subject, click here for my friend Alan Hanson’s post on Elvis-History-Blog back in 2011.’’

Here’s an interesting trivia thing about Chuck Berry’s songs. In addition to the four Elvis covered, the Beatles covered two and the Rolling Stones eight. But they all chose different songs. No duplication.

 

Three Later Chuck berry CDs

These are the three Chuck Berry CDs I own. The CD on the left is titled Chuck Berry – You Never Can Tell. It contains 108 songs he recorded for Chess Records from 1960-1966. When I got it out to take the picture, I realized I had never finished listening to all four discs. That will be corrected very soon. The CD at top right is the one album Chuck Berry did on Atlantic Records in 1979. He recorded and produced it in his home studio. The CD liner notes say it is his little-known and most under-appreciated recording. Not by me.

In between Chuck’s time with Chess Records and this Atlantic release, he also recorded five albums for Mercury Records between 1966 and 1969. His legacy of recorded songs is not as large as Elvis’, but Chuck Berry wrote the music and lyrics for every one of his.

I guess by now I have established my bonafides as a Chuck berry fan, so let’s move on to other stuff.

 

The King of Rock and Roll

This is an interesting website that supposedly determines who is the “King of Rock ‘N Roll.”  Chuck Berry won in categories like Song Writer, and Guitar Player, but Elvis prevailed at the end.

 

Marty McFly doing Duck Walk

Remember Marty McFly singing “Johnny B. Goode” and doing Chuck Berry’s famous duck walk in Back to the Future? Here is Chuck doing the real thing:

Chuck Berry Duck Walk 2

And he was still doing it at age 84:

84 year-old Chuck Berry Duck Walk

 

Chuck seemed to favor that Captain’s hat in his later years. Here’s a rare image of grey-haired Chuck Berry performing without it.

Older Chuck berry

 

Chuck Berry was honored with a star on the world-famous Hollywood Walk of Fame on October 8, 1987. Here he is at the ceremony when his star was added.

Chuck Berry Star on Walk of Fame Ceremony

I’ve never seen the Hollywood Walk of Fame, but it must be really long. Chuck Berry was the 1,857th person honored, and that was thirty years ago. If you want to see Chuck’s star, it is on the west side of the 1700 block of Vine Street.

 

Rock. Rock. Rock. 1956

Did you know that Chuck Berry appeared in three movies? All of them came about because he was the lead act in famed DJ Alan Freed’s traveling rock ’n’ roll troupes for years.

This is Rock, Rock, Rock! from 1956. Alan Freed starred as himself, and there was a bit of a plot. But the film served mainly to high-light the performance of 21 songs by a long list of artists. Chuck Berry lip-synced “You Can’t Catch Me.” Although Chuck already had hits with “Maybelline” and “Roll Over Beethoven,” I guess the song choice for the movie was to promote his latest release.

Mister Rock and Roll 1957

Alan Freed was the title subject of this 1957 film. Chuck Lip-synched two of his lesser recordings, “Oh Baby Doll” and La Juanda.” Strange choices.

Go, Johnny, Go! 1959

This is the one movie with Chuck Berry in it you might want to check out. The music of Johnny B. Goode plays over the opening credits. Chuck performs “Little Queenie” and “Memphis.” But he also has a good, low-key acting part as Alan Freed’s partner.

 

The following picture needs a little explaining. It comes from the popular movie and TV data base IMDb.

IMBd Elvis Movie RankingsChuck Berry Songs in Movies 2015-16

This is a list of Chuck Berry songs that have been heard on movies and TV in just 2015 and 2016 alone. The total list comes to over 235, dating back to 1956. I wonder what kind of royalty income Chuck Berry has received from the use of his songs. It has to be a lot.

And he got money when other artists covered his songs on their recordings. According to USA Today, “more than 75 artists have done Chuck Berry songs. ‘Johnny B. Goode’ alone has seen at least two dozen versions.”

 

Rise of the Teenage Culture

This tribute to Chuck Berry has jumped around a bit, and it hasn’t told the whole biography as so much other media has done this past week. You’ve probably already read it, but if you’d like some more, please check out my friend Alan Hanson’s excellent article “Elvis Presley and Chuck Berry – Connections and Disconnects.”

 

Chuck Berry Close-up

 

Good bye, Chuck Berry. We’ll miss you. Say Hi to Elvis for us.

 

 

© 2017  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.

 

An Elvis Fan’s Farewell to Merle Haggard

Merle Haggard's Farewell to Elvis Album

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

Here is the list of songs:

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

 

Merle Haggard's Farewell to Elvis CD

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

Elvis and David Bowie

David Bowie and Elvis

David Bowie passed away yesterday at age 69 after an 18-month battle with cancer.

Back in 2009, I read that Bowie and Elvis shared the same birthday – January 8.  So, I Googled both names together to see if there were any other connections.  What came up was a website called The Ziggy Stardust Companion.  They listed a number of things connecting Elvis and David Bowie, and I decided to do an ElvisBlog article commenting on their points.  That article is reprinted below.

 

Elvisblog strives to bring you articles you won’t find on any other Elvis websites or blogs.  Certainly, that is accomplished with this topic discussing a connection between Elvis and David Bowie.  That can’t be possible, you say.  Well, there is one website that thinks there is a case to be made.  According to The Ziggy Stardust Companion, “David Bowie and Elvis Presley have many similarities, and Presley also served as inspiration for some aspects of the Ziggy Stardust phenomenon.”

For those of you who don’t know, Ziggy Stardust was a stage persona David Bowie assumed during concerts in the 70s.  I linked to the Ziggy website from Google Images, where I found this picture:

         

               

This is both sides of a 45RPM record (inside the paper sleeve) that RCA released in Thailand in the mid-70s.  “Space Oddity” was Bowie’s first hit, reaching #15 in the US, and who knows why RCA didn’t just use the original “B” side for its Thailand release.  Instead, they picked “Fool,” which was already an obscure Elvis “B” side on “Steamroller Blues,” his #17 hit in 1973. 

Elvis recorded with RCA from 1956 to 1977, and David Bowie was with RCA from 1973 to 1980.  Besides recording for the same company, here are some of the other similarities between Bowie and Elvis as stated on “The Ziggy Stardust Companion.”

They share the same birthday.  Elvis was born on January 8, 1935, and David Bowie was born on January 8, 1947.  This is an easily verified connection between the two performers.

Elvis and Bowie experimented and got into trouble with their hair styles in high school.  Well, we know Elvis wore his hair differently than his classmates, and if Bowie’s later preference in hair styles is any indication, he was a rebel in high school, too.

         

              

Bowie says that he first discovered the power of music when he saw his cousin get up and dance to Elvis’ “Hound Dog.”  Excuse me, but this hardly seems like a major connection between Elvis and David Bowie.

Bowie had his clothes designer Freddi Burretti copy Elvis’ jumpsuits for Bowie’s own use at Ziggy Stardust concerts.  Well, “copy” would be a stretch.  Perhaps “inspire” might be a better word.  Bill Belew and Gene Doucett never designed anything for Elvis like these Bowie/Ziggy jumpsuits.

                              

Bowie’s manager – Tony DeFries – was a big fan of Elvis’ manager Colonel Tom Parker and would quote from Parker’s book to anyone who would listen.  This is another pretty weak connection between Elvis and Bowie.  If it is true, I wonder if DeFries took a 50% cut of Bowie’s earnings, like the Colonel did with Elvis.

Tony DeFries used the announcement “David Bowie has left the building,” as was done for Elvis Presley concerts.  I have been unable to verify this, so I am skeptical.

The lightning bolt motif Bowie wore for the Aladdin Sane album cover was partly inspired by a ring that Elvis wore – which had a lightning bolt emblem along with the letters TCB.  Of course, Elvis was more famous for his TCB pendants than his ring, but that’s beside the point.  Do you really think Elvis’ lightning bolt inspired this?

         

                 

David Bowie was a big fan of Elvis.  At short notice, he crossed the Atlantic on a plane to attend an Elvis concert in New York in 1972, even though he had a strong fear of flying.  “The Ziggy Stardust Companion” printed this quote that Bowie made in 1996 concerning the Elvis concert he attended.

“[Elvis] was a major hero of mine. And I was probably stupid enough to believe that having the same birthday as him actually meant something. I came over for a long weekend. I remember coming straight from the airport and walking into Madison Square Garden very late. I was wearing all my clobber from the Ziggy period and had great seats near the front. The whole place just turned to look at me and I felt like a right idiot. I had brilliant red hair, some huge padded space suit and those red boots with big black soles. I wished I’d gone for something quiet, because I must have registered with him. He was well into his set.”

As he looked out from the stage and saw this freaky-looking character take his seat up front, I’m sure Elvis thought to himself, “Man, I’ve got a lot in common with this guy.”

 

©  2009    Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister    All Rights Reserved    

 

Elvis-David Bowie Morphed

Elvis and David Bowie Morphed

One news report on Bowie’s death mentioned that he kept changing his appearance and personna and had several distinct successful careers.  In that reguard, he and Elvis had a direct parallel.  There was Elvis the young brash rocker in the 50s, Elvis the movie star in the 60s, and Elvis the record-breaking concert performer in the 70s.  I wonder why The Ziggy Stardust Companion missed that connection.

 

David Bowie in Costume

David Bowie was a unique entertainer.  He will be missed.  Goodbye David.  Say hi to Elvis for us.

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© 2016 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

 

B.B. King and Elvis

BB King at 86

By now you surely know that blues legend B.B. King died last week at age 89. I did a lot of deep Google searching to find things connecting B.B. and Elvis, and I found a few to use in this post celebrating the blues master’s life and career. Most interesting were the quotes B.B King said about Elvis over the years, interspersed here between a few photos.

 

Elvis and BB King -2

An early photo of Elvis and B.B. King – occasion and place unknown.

 

“He used to come around and be around us a lot. There was a place we used to go and hang out at on Beale Street. People had little pawn shops there and a lot of us used to hang around in certain of these places, and this is where I met him.”

From: ELVIS – His Life from A to Z by Fred W. Worth and Steve D. Tamerius

 

 

Elvis, Claudia Ivy and BB King

Photo taken of Elvis, Claudia Ivy, and B.B. King at the WDIA Goodwill Review on December 7, 1956. Elvis and George Klein hung out backstage. Elvis made a brief emergence from behind the curtain, and received rousing applause from the audience. Also on the program were Ray Charles, the Moonglows, and Rufus Thomas.

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“When I first met Elvis, I didn’t think too much of Elvis Presley. I thought he was a handsome young man, but he wasn’t singing as he started to sing later. So I didn’t think too much about him – his guitar or his singing – at the time. But I thought he was a nice person – it wasn’t that I disliked him.”

From: http://www.pbs.org/americanrootsmusic

 

 

Elvis Wearing Jacket like BB Kings Jacket

Elvis must have like the plaid coat B.B. wore in the above photo. Check out the jacket Elvis wore on the day of his induction into the Army.

 

“Finally I heard him do some Arthur Big Boy Crudup. I heard him do some of those songs, and then I started to turn my head a little bit. That ain’t the same Elvis Presley that I been hearing. And he went on from there doing some other things that sound black to me. That’s when I started having respect, respect, respect. And he sorta earned it, earned that respect from me at that time.”

From: http://www.pbs.org/americanrootsmusic

 

 

Bobby Blue Bland and BB King

This is B.B. King in concert with Bobby Blue Bland, who got his start as B.B.’s limo driver. They were together back in 1999, the only time I ever saw B.B. perform.

BB King Concert Ticket

It was such a wonderful concert, even though B.B. performed while sitting on a chair for most of the show.

 

Bobby Blue Bland and Elvis

Elvis also had contact with Bobby Blue Bland back in the early days of their careers.

 

“I remember Elvis as a young man hanging around the Sun Studio. Even then, I knew this kid had a tremendous talent. He was a dynamic young boy. His phraseology, his way of looking at a song, was as unique as Sinatra’s. I was a tremendous fan, and had Elvis lived, there would have been no end to his inventiveness.”

From: http://www.elvis.net/whattheysay

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B.B. King's Blues Club, Memphis

This is B.B. King’s Blues Club in Memphis. During Elvis Week 2002, two fine ladies and I drank and danced there for hours. We closed the place down and then went to the Candlelight Vigil. My knees killed me the next day.

BB King's Blues-Club, Memphis

This isn’t the band we had that night, but you get the idea. The girls were from Japan and Canada, which illustrates a fact about Elvis Week. People come from all over, and it’s so easy to make new friends. Elvis fans are just good people.

 

B.B. King and Elvis Presley Welcome Center - Memphis

Here is an Elvis/B.B. connection you may not be aware of. The white sign says “B.B. King and Elvis Presley Welcome Center.” The huge mosaic egg says, “MEMPHIS – Home of the Blues, Birthplace of Rock ‘n Roll.”

B. B. King and Elvis Presley Welcome Center Map

If you’ve got enough time during your next visit to Memphis, you can check it out. While you are down on the banks of the Mississippi, be sure to take in Mud Island Park, too.

 

“Finally I had a chance to meet him and I found out that he really was something else. He started to be more and more and more. And he was still like that to me, Elvis was, until he died. As far as I was concerned, he was growing all the time.”

From: http://www.pbs.org/americanrootsmusic

 

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Elvis and B.B. King

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“He was unique. And he loved the blues, it’s a pity he didn’t do more.”

From: http://www.elvis.net/whattheysay

 

 

B.B. King

 

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

 

 

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

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Happy 10th Birthday ElvisBlog


Happy 10th Birthday Banner

I don’t know exactly when blogs got started, but I read an article in late 2004 about how popular they had become.  So, I thought I’d like to check out whatever Elvis blogs there were out there.  Guess what? There were none.

Then I looked into it and found out how to set one up.  I bought the URL www.elvisblog.net for $11, and on January 30, 2005, ElvisBlog was born.  To celebrate its 10th birthday, this post will be a retrospective of articles published on (or very close to) the anniversary date each of these ten years.

 

Year 1, The First Article:    Elvis Jukebox Rankings – 1/30/05:

Guess what is Elvis’ most successful record in terms of jukebox play?

According to the Amusement & Music Operators Association, it is HoundDog/Don’t Be Cruel from 1956, the 3rd biggest jukebox hit of all time.  This trade association of jukebox owners, operators, and suppliers compiled their list back in 1989 (100th anniversary of the jukebox).  They updated it again in 1996, and there were no changes in the top of the rankings.

So,Hound Dog/Don’t Be Cruel seems to be permanently locked into the #3 position.  It’s no surprise that this double-sided hit got the most play of all the Elvis records featured on jukeboxes.  Hound Dog stayed at the top of the record charts for twelve weeks, and then Don’t Be Cruel took over the next week.   That’s a long run of popularity during an age when jukeboxes were really big.

What two songs could possibly beat Elvis?  #2 is the 1979 Bob Seger hit. Old Time Rock & Roll, no doubt helped by Tom Cruise singing it in his underwear in the movie, “Risky Business.”  #1 is Crazy by Patsy Cline.  That song came out in 1962, but I’ll bet you can still find it on some jukeboxes in 2005.  Talk about staying power.  Elvis’ next best finish in the jukebox rankings is All Shook Up at #38.  Seems like it should be higher.

(Editor’s note: This premier ElvisBlog article racked up a grand total of six hits during the entire first month of the blog’s history.)

 

1st Birthday:    OK, I Finally Visited Elvis-A-Rama — February 5, 2006

Elvis-A-Rama

Thanks to my company’s annual trade show in Las Vegas, I finally got to see ELVIS-A-RAMA.  None too soon, either.  The museum will shut down for good on August 15 this year.  Do you think there’s any significance that the death of ELVIS-A-RAMA will come one day before the anniversary of Elvis’ death?  The good news is that the memorabilia will not be permanently lost to us fans.  It will be sent to Memphis, added to the extensive EPE collection, and ultimately will be part of Elvis-themed attractions in Las Vegas and other major cities.

 Elvis-A Rama Jumpsuits

I’m glad I took in ELVIS-A-RAMA, and I got my money’s worth for the $13 admission cost.  Visitors with only a casual interest in Elvis could probably blow through the exhibits in 30 minutes, but I stayed there for over two hours.  The 4 cars, 3 rings, 9 pendants, 4 guitars, 9 layman badges, 4 guns, 2 jumpsuits, and dozens of other clothes items catch every visitor’s eyes.  Plus, there were brass plaques that gave the history of nearly every significant item.

Elvis-A-Rama Wall Mural

Some folks barely noticed the wall covered with every Elvis 45 and album released during his lifetime.  Not me.  I loved the year-by-year approach, each with a plaque telling that year’s highlights in record rankings and sales figures.  Below the plaques were the releases.  I learned that Elvis’ five Sun Records singles came with printed picture sleeves.  I had never seen them before.

Blue Suede Shoes at Elvis-A-Rama 

I spent a lot of time with all the paper documents contained in eleven, tall, freestanding, two-sided display panels.  There were tickets, contracts, letters, receipts, photos and all kinds of other stuff.  I took time to read all the descriptive plaques and really studied the items on display.  Now I know that Elvis’ phone bill for the entire month of May 1963 was only $6.84, for example.  I do have one complaint.  Each side of the displays had three framed sections.  The top one was a little high for comfortable reading.  The middle one was perfect, but the bottom one was only 6 inches off the ground.  My knees were so sore after squatting up-and-down to read everything.  Several times I wished I had a flashlight, because it was tough to read the plaques when they were at the very bottom.

Elvis-A-Rama Elvis Bentley

The sources for much of the museum’s collection were revealed in the various plaques.  As mentioned in a previous Elvisbog article, some key items came form Jimmy Velvet.  Norman Taurog, who directed eight Elvis movies, provided much of the movie memorabilia.  A lot of Elvis’ personal items were purchased from Trish Henley, who was his nurse for eleven years and lived behind Graceland with husband, a guard for the mansion.

Elvis-A-Rama Elvis Pistol

Of course, there is a gift shop as part of the ELVIS-A-RAMA experience, but it’s pretty cool.  In addition to the usual coffee mugs, pocketbooks, and T-shirts, there is actual memorabilia for sale.  One of the most expensive was a shirt owned by Elvis going for $4,000.  The price includes two 1973 photos of him wearing the shirt.  I was impressed with the presentation of a ticket from Elvis’ 1956 concert in Tupelo ($1.50 face value).   For $99 you can buy it in a large framed and matted collection of photos and other mementos of the event.  A similar framed presentation was used to offer a set of five Sun Records colored-vinyl 45’s.  It is an impressive sight, but the price was $875.  That seems pretty steep for bootlegs.

Red Vinyl Elvis Sun 45

All in all, I’m glad I finally got to visit ELVIS-A-RAMA.  If you travel to Las Vegas in the next seven months, be sure to see it.

(Editor’s note:  All these pictures were just added.  ElvisBlog didn’t post photos back in 2006)

 

2nd Birthday:   Visitors to Graceland — January 28, 2007

In addition to politicians and TV stars, the list of famous visitors to Graceland includes movie stars, sports figures, models, country singers, pop music singers, and rock groups – lots of rock groups.  It seems like every music act that ever performed in Memphis also made a visit to the home of Elvis Presley.  I was especially impressed with all the heavy metal bands that came to Graceland.  You know that the music of groups like Ratt and Poison is about as far from “Hound Dog” or “Suspicious Minds” as you can get, but they still paid their respects to rock music’s seminal pioneer.  Here’s some of the bigger names in heavy metal music that checked out the Jungle Room and the rest of Graceland:

Metallica

Metallica
Judas Priest
Motley Crue
Kiss
Robert Plant and Jimmy Page (Led Zepellin)
Axl Rose (Guns and Roses)

And check out this line-up of classic rock bands who made the pilgrimage to Elvis’ home:

Aerosmith

Aerosmith
Bad Company
Bon Jovi
Cheap Trick
Crosby, Stills, & Nash
Doobie Brothers
Duran, Duran
Van Halen
38 Special
Styx
Keith Richards & Ronnie Woods (Rolling Stones)
REO Speedwagon
Pink Floyd
Tom Petty
Moody Blues
Meat Loaf
Journey
Don Henley (Eagles)
John Fogerty (Credence Clearwater Revival)
Fleetwood Mac

Bruce Springsteen is listed just like everybody else on the list, but his visit to Graceland has an interesting story.  He jumped the fence and tried to get into the house before the security guards escorted him off the premises.  This was back in 1976, just after Springsteen had blasted to the top of the music scene.  His picture had recently appeared on the covers of both Time and Newsweek.   Memphis was a stop on his Born To Run tour, and after the concert, Springsteen took a cab to Graceland.  He noticed a light on up at the house, so he climbed the wall and ran up to the front door.  When security nabbed him, he asked, “Is Elvis home?”  They informed him Elvis was in Lake Tahoe (true).  Springsteen tried to explain who he was, but the guards apparently hadn’t heard of him yet.

Bruce Springsteen and flashing Born to Run Elvis Button 1975

If Bruce Springsteen ever decides to visit Graceland again, it’s a good bet the security guys will recognize him.

(Editor’s note: Portions of the original article have been deleted because of links to URLs that no longer work.  Also, the photos have just been added.)

 

3rd Birthday:   Fun with Elvis on Photoshop — February 3, 2008

Now that I’m retired, I spend even more time on the Internet searching for Elvis stuff.  Not just the big Elvis sites that come up on the first two Google search pages.  What I really like to find are sites where Elvis isn’t the whole deal – other kinds of sites that happen to contain some obscure Elvis content.  You find strange and wonderful stuff that way.

Like altered photos of Elvis.  I guess these are done on Photoshop or something similar, and some of them are so clever.  Like this one where Elvis looks like an Arab.  It’s pretty dark, but you can see that somebody did a great job of putting Elvis’ face inside that headdress.

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For the past two years, every time I find a really good one of these altered Elvis photos, I copy it to a file.  There’s enough in there now to do a couple of blog articles.  Here’s another picture with a different twist.  In my photo file, I label it Melting Elvis, and you can see why.

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Another way of doing this is to put someone else’s face on Elvis body.  Bill Clinton is a natural for this, because his election staff in 1992 called him Elvis.  Here’s what he looks like in a jumpsuit.

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While we are on Presidents, here are Bush’s that served before and after Clinton.

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Of the three presidents, I think Clinton looks the best, probably because he’s wearing a jumpsuit.  However, there is one other president who gets my prize for the best President in a jumpsuit.  Does Ronald Reagan look cool, or what?

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Here’s one more of Reagan, but on this one he’s doing the Richard Nixon thing, and George W gets to be Elvis.  How do people come up with these ideas?

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I wish the quality on this next one were a little better, because the concept is great:  Elvis in a gift box.  I sent e-mail birthday greetings to two female friends and asked them how they would like to open up that present.

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Did you ever wonder what Elvis might have looked like if he had been born twenty or thirty years later and sang heavy metal Rock & Roll?  Here’s your answer.

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I labeled the next one “Shiny Elvis” for obvious reasons.  If I knew anything about Photoshop, I put some clever phrase in that bottom right turned-up corner and send it out to my Elvis friends.

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I wish I had kept track of where I found all these photos.  Talented folks made artful creations and should be credited.  The best I can do is say thanks to all of them for having fun with Elvis while still respecting his legacy.  Well, with the possible exception of this last one.

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(Editor’s note:  Photos became a regular part of ElvisBlog posts in 2008)

 

4th Birthday:   Elvis and Buddy Holly, February 1, 2009

Tuesday, February 3 will be the 50th anniversary of the plane crash that killed Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper. This story will be covered thoroughly by all the entertainment media, so I won’t repeat it here. What I want to look at is the connection between Buddy Holly and Elvis Presley.

Young Buddy Holly was a nineteen-year-old aspiring musician in Lubbock Texas when he first met Elvis in 1955. Buddy and his friend Bob Montgomery opened the show as Buddy and Bob, before Elvis came out and took over.

Buddy Holly and Bob Montgomery Looking at Elvis

Buddy Holly also opened for Elvis later in 1955 at the Fair Park Coliseum.

Here is an interesting legend to come out of these meetings, according to Elvis – His Life from A to Z by Fred L. Worth and Steve D. Tamerius:

“According to legend, Elvis told Holly and Montgomery that if they came down to the ‘Louisiana Hayride,’ he’d get them on the show, but when they did show up, Horace Logan [ed. note: station manager at KWKH, which produced the Louisiana Hayride] turned them away, and Elvis wasn’t there.”

In spite of this, Holly has been quoted, “Without Elvis, none of us would have made it.

  

Here’s a little-known nugget. Elvis’ band, Scottie Moore, Bill Black and DJ Fontana, caused almost all West Texas Rockabilly bands to change their style, including the Crickets playing behind Buddy Holly, and Roy Orbison’s band.

Elvis and Buddy Holly must have liked a lot of the same songs, because they both recorded these songs by other popular singers:

Good Rockin’ Tonight (Roy Hamilton)
Reddy Teddy (Little Richard)
Blue Suede Shoes (Carl Perkins)
Shake, Rattle and Roll (Joe Turner / Bill Haley)
Rip It Up (Little Richard)

Elvis never recorded any songs released by Buddy Holly, and Holly never recorded any Elvis songs except one. He once said, “(You’re So Square) Baby, I Don’t Care” was his favorite Elvis song. He recorded it as a demo during a visit to a radio station in 1956. To my knowledge, it was never released during his life.

After his death, all sort of rare Buddy Holly music was released. Because Holly’s career was cut so short, the total number of songs he recorded was much less than Elvis accumulated. But that didn’t prevent historians and record producers from finding every scrap of tape with Holly playing and singing on them. Then they put out albums like this. He was the undisputed king of the lost-basement-tapes, until they started digging for Jimi Hendrix material a decade later..

It is generally known that Waylon Jennings was part of the Crickets on that fateful night fifty years ago. He was supposed to be on the charter plane with Holly, but gave up his seat to the Big Bopper. There are few photos of Jennings with Holly, but here is one:

There is one last Elvis and Buddy Holly connection. Both Elvis and Holly are charter members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In 1986, when the first ten inductees to the Hall were named, Elvis Presley and Buddy Holly were chosen. Two rock icons, for sure.

 

Happy 10th Birthday Balloons 2

That concludes the first five articles from the archives to celebrate ElvisBlog‘s 10th birthday.   Next week we will look at the five articles that were posted at the time of ElvisBlog birthdays in 2010-2014.

 

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

 

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Remembering Millie Kirkham

Millie Kirkham

Just as I started to work on this year’s “Merry Christmas Elvis” post, I got the news that Millie Kirkham had passed away at age 91, after suffering a stroke last week. Hopefully, you fans all know her as the back-up singer with the sweet soprano voice that recorded and toured with Elvis for fifteen years.

Most tributes to Millie will feature later-day photos of her like the one above. But it didn’t take much looking to find some younger pictures from the period when she worked with Elvis.

 Millie-Kirkham-and-Five-Jordanaires-in-1958

Here she is with the Jordanaires in 1958. I’m not sure why there are five Jordanaires in the photo. Her first recording session with them and Elvis was for the Elvis Christmas Album on September 5-7, 1957.

 

Millie Kirkham, Elvis and Jordanaires

In this shot, the fifth Jordanaire is gone, replaced by some good-looking guy next to Millie.

 

Millie and the Jordanaires

Another one with the Jordanaires. Too bad the mic blocked out part of her face, because this is the most attractive photo of her in circulation.

 

Elvis with Millie Kirkham in Mini-skirt

This is my favorite picture of Millie Kirkham during the days when she worked with Elvis. It is from the movie That’s the Way It Is, filmed in 1970. Check out Millie wearing a white mini-skirt at age forty-seven. She, Elvis and the group are walking from the dressing rooms to the stage at the International Hotel in Las Vegas.

Back in 2007, I was a contributing editor to Elvis International magazine. The editor, Darwin Lamm, was promoting two concerts at Elvis Week that year, and he arranged for me to have a backstage pass for both nights. The line-ups for both shows were great: TCB Band, Scotty Moore, DJ Fontana, the Jordanaires, Millie Kirkham, and much more.

 

Backstage at the Legends Concert - 8-15-04

Sorry for the poor quality of this photo I took during the sound check for another concert back in 2004. Darwin Lamm is second from the right wearing an Elvis T-shirt. Millie is on the left, and behind her to her left are Gordon Stoker and the Jordanaires.

When Darwin told me I would have a backstage pass for the 2007 concerts, I knew I would be rubbing elbows with the performers. I wanted to be able to make conversation with all of them, so I did research and came prepared with stuff to ask them about.

 

Phil Arnold and Millie Kirkham

This is me and Millie in a room backstage that everybody seemed to hang out in. (note my pass) I got there early before the performers arrived and made like a fly on the wall for a while before going after everybody’s autographs. A number of people connected with Elvis popped in and out. It was like a big reunion. Ultimately, I got up enough nerve to ask everybody to pose in pictures with me.

I never had any private time with Millie in that gathering room, but she left and walked over to an area where folded tables and chairs were stacked up. So, I wandered into the area and asked if I could join her. She was very friendly, but to my big surprise Millie was a smoker. Here was an eighty-three year old woman whose career was singing, and she smoked. I couldn’t figure that one out, but I didn’t say anything. In fact, she offered me one and I accepted. Luckily I was a former smoker who could handle an occasional cigarette without going back to the habit.

So, Millie and I shared our smokes and chatted. This is where my research paid off. I told her I had recently watched That’s the Way It Is, and noticed the white mini-skirt she had worn. She laughed and said something like, “Oh, I can’t believe I did that. I didn’t have the legs for mini-skirts.” That opened the floodgates of conversation, and we had a delightful chat that lasted long after we snuffed out our cigarettes.

 

Millie Kirkham Ray Walker, Gordon Stoker

So, that’s my little Millie Kirkham story. I’m glad I have that memory. In this photo, she is with Ray Walker and Gordon Stoker of the Jordanaires. Unfortunately, I had to write about my 2007 Elvis Week experience with Gordon after he passed away last year. It’s disturbing every time we lose another person who was part of Elvis’ world.

So, goodbye, Millie. We will miss you. Say hi to Elvis for us.

 

© 2014 Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister All Rights Reserved www.ElvisBlog.net

 

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Postal Service Skips Five Rockers with their Music Icons Stamps

This is the new Jimi Hendrix stamp, issued on March 13 as part of the USPS Music Icons series.

 Jimi Hendrix Stamo 2014

Later this year, Janis Joplin will also be honored with a stamp.

Janis Joplin

It’s interesting to note the Postal Service chose to introduce Hendrix and Joplin stamps in the same year. They both died of drug overdoses within sixteen days of each other in 1970.

 

The Music Icons series debuted in 2013 with Ray Charles and Johnny Cash stamps.

Ray Charles Stamp

 Johnny Cash Stamp

 

As mentioned on ElvisBlog two weeks ago, Elvis will be honored with a Music Icon stamp in 2015, as will James Brown.

James Brown

Also chosen for future Music Icon stamps (year-to-be-determined) are Sam Cooke and Roy Orbison.

 Sam Cooke

Roy Orbison

 

So, you have to acknowledge that the Postal Service has made some good picks as Music Icons:

Elvis Presley
Jimi Hendrix
Janis Joplin
Ray Charles
Johnny Cash
Sam Cooke
Roy Orbison

 

However, it’s a mystery to me why they never continued with their Legends of American Music collection that came out in 1993. In addition to Elvis, this set included:

Bill Haley Stamp

Clyde McPhatter Stamp

Buddy Holly Stamp

Otis Redding Stamp

Ritchie Valens Stamp

 

For twenty years, no additional Legends of American Music stamps were issued. No more rockers honored. Now, two decades later, this omission is being rectified with the new Music Icon series.

But, what mystified me the most was why five charter members of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame are not included in either series. Why are they ignoring the following inductees from the 1986 inaugural class?

 

Chuck Berry

Fats Domino

Jerry Lee Lewis

The Everly Brothers

Little Richard

 

I’m fine with Hendrix, Joplin, Cash, Charles, Brown, Cooke and Orbison getting new stamps.

But, why would the Postal Service skip over five of the most important figures in the birth of rock and roll? It took me a while to figure it out. Every person honored or scheduled to be honored in the Music Icon series is deceased. The same thing was true for the Legends of American Music set when it came out.

So, the answer to my quandary seems to be that the five Hall of Fame pioneers (except for Phil Everly) are still alive. For some reason, the Postal Service chooses to create stamps only for dead rock stars. I’m not sure this makes good sense. The omitted early rockers are now all over eighty years old. What’s wrong with exalting them on a stamp while they are still around to appreciate it?

So, Postal Service, how about honoring these originators of rock and roll in the Music Icon stamp series as soon as possible:

Chuck Berry
Fats Domino
Jerry Lee Lewis
Everly Brothers
Little Richard

You can’t get more iconic than these guys.

 

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

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Elvis is Dead, Long Live the Beatles

 Elvis is Dead Long Live the Beatles

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

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

 Beatles on Ed Sullivan

 

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

 

Hit Singles:

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

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

Hit Albums:

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

Elvis' Golden Records, Volume 3

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

 

Elvis Movies:

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

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

 

What Elvis Did While the Beatles Ruled:

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

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

Elvis Congratulates the Beatles.

 

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

Elvis at the International Hotel 1969

 

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

Long Live the King

 

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

 

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One Old Rocker Who Deserves to be in the Hall of Fame

Link Ray - RockHall Picture

Do you know who this guy is?  Last week, he was nominated for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and this is the photo the Hall website shows above his biography.  During his long career, this man changed his appearance many times, but I can’t figure out why the Hall used this shot.  He looks like some folk singer who lived up on a mountain in Colorado, which he definitely was not.

Let’s try another photo.

Link Wray - Old Dude Bad-Ass Rocker 2005

Now, you are even more confused.  This is a photo snapped toward the end of his life in 2005 at age 76.  Even for an old dude, the guy looks like a bad-ass rocker.  He’s got the black leather jacket and the shades, and you can see he is really into slamming that chord on his guitar.

Guessing this man’s identity would be easier if we showed photos of him during the time when he had his only two Top 40 hits in the late-fifties.  Not yet, but here’s another hint: those two hits were both instrumentals.

Let’s see some other times and other looks in his life.

 Link Wray - King of the Wild Guitar

Hey, isn’t that one of the Rolling Stones?  Or Deep Purple?  Or Black Sabbath?  Sure looks like a heavy metal guitar slinger.   The RockHall biography called his first and biggest hit, “a dangerous slab of reverberating power chords and raw distortion.”  (Wow, I wish I had written that.)

 Link Wray Album

Here’s the cover of one of his albums (with his name whited out).  Another hint, he is three-quarters Shawnee Indian.

 Link Looking Like Elvis

Aw, man, now he is doing the Elvis thing.  Looks a little like the ’68 Comeback Special, doesn’t it?

 Link at 69 in 1998

Here he is in 1998 at age 69, now with the pony-tail look.  He had the tail in that old dude bad-ass rocker picture at the beginning, but you couldn’t see it because of the angle.

 Link Wray - Pink Ponytail Band 2005

You can see the tail in this shot – with a pink band around it.

Are you thinking we’ve had enough pictures and hints?  Just tell us who this guy is!

 Link Wray Album Cover

Link Wray!  Certainly, some of you readers know who Link Wray is.  Perhaps you are old like me and lived during the time his two hits got lots of airplay.  There was “Rumble,” a number 16 hit in 1958, and “Raw-Hide,” a number 23 hit in 1959.  Think about it, with only two hits, Link Wray has been nominated for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  And he never had a Top 40 album. There has to be more to the story.

And there is.

Early History:

Lucky Wray and the Palomino Ranch Gang

Fred Lincoln Wray started out in a country group – Lucky Wray and the Palomino Ranch Gang.  That’s Link in the cowboy hat backing his brother Vernon who sang as Lucky Wray.

Link Wray in his Country Music Days

Another photo of Link Wray during his country music days

In 1957, the group got a gig as the house band on Milt Grant’s House Party, a local teen dance show in Washington, DC.

Milt Grant's House Party

Link improvised an instrumental to cover the intro and outgo of the show’s commercial breaks.   It became known as “Rumble.”   The band played other local gigs and “Rumble” turned out to be a fan favorite.  Milt Grant, who was acting as their de facto manager, shopped the song around to various record labels, and finally got Cadence Records (the Everly Brothers label) to bite.

Link Wray's First Hit - Rumble - 1958

However, because it was an instrumental featuring Link, not Lucky, Cadence released it in 1958 by Link Wray and His Ray Men.  (We can assume the record company executives thought the name Palomino Ranch Gang would be a deterrent to sales of a rock record.)

 Link Wray and His Ray Men

That’s Link on the left.  The clean-cut all-American boy look didn’t last long.

 

Link’s music and stage persona grew wilder

Link’s music and stage persona grew wilder

 

The brooding, ominous blitzkrieg of “Rumble” caused it to be banned from the radio in several markets (including New York City).  Cadence Records tried to get Link to clean up his act, but he wanted no part of that, so he signed with Epic Records and released “Raw-Hide.”

Link Wray's Second Hit - Raw-Hide  1959

 

Link Wray continued to record, but subsequent releases failed to chart.  For a while, he recorded for his own label, Rumble Records, then had a longer tenure with Swan Records.  Many songs were instrumentals, but Link now incorporated singing into his act.  During the late 60s and 70s, Link and the boys honed their particular brand of rockin’ mayhem working some of the grimiest joints on the face of the planet.

Link’s Rockabilly Phase:

Robert Gordon and Link Wray

During the late 70s, Link had a stint backing ’70s rockabilly revivalist Robert Gordon.

Robert Gordon With Link Wray

According to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame bio, Link’s “collaboration with Robert Gordon left every retro-rockabilly guitar slinger in the dust.”

Link Moves to Denmark:

In 1980, at age 51, Link Wray moved to Denmark after marrying his wife Olive, a Danish student who had been studying Native American culture.  He continued to tour in Europe, while travelling to America occasionally to perform for the fans who knew him as an underappreciated rock hero.  Here are just a few of the hundreds of small venues where he worked:

 Link Wray - Gig 1

 Link Wray - Gig 2

Link Wray - Gig 3

Link Wray - Gig 4

Link Wray - Gig 5

 

Link Wray in 1993

Link Wray in 1993

 

Link Wray and Elvis:

I couldn’t find much to connect these rock legends.  The website Something Old, Something New said, “Link worshipped Presley, who invited him to dinner at Graceland.  Wray’s ultimate compliment consisted of naming one of his sons Link Elvis Wray.”  Link also recorded three Elvis songs:  “Hound Dog”, “Heartbreak Hotel” and “Love Me Tender.”

Older Link Wray, Looking Like Elvis

Link’s sunglasses sure look like those Elvis wore.

 Link Wray - Album Cover Pink Coat

Check out the pink sports coat.  Elvis loved pink clothes, but never had a pink coat as far as I know.  Maybe Link was trying to do him one better.

Elvis T-Shirt -  Link Wray Playing in Memphis 1998

Look who is on Link’s T-shirt during a performance in a 1998 Memphis concert.

Link Wray and Scotty Moore - Signing at Ponderosa Stomp

Remember that Ponderosa Stomp poster above.  Here are Link and Scotty Moore signing autographs at this event in April 2005.  Link died in November that year.

 

The Link Wray Legacy:

You may be thinking that everything presented in this article doesn’t sound like enough to qualify Link Wray for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  Well, here are several quotes from the Hall’s bio on Link:

”… the rebellious sonic onslaught of “Rumble” cut through Top 40 radio like a steamroller. This was more than a decade before power chords even had a name…The impact of Link Wray, one of Rolling Stone’s “Top 100 Guitarists of All Time,” can be heard in generations of American and British metal, punk, grunge, thrash and psychobilly rockers, all of whom have claimed him and “Rumble” (and follow-ups “Raw-Hide” and “Jack The Ripper”) as their own.”

However, they also note that major mainstream rockers have a deep appreciation for Link:

“Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix and Bruce Springsteen head the A-list of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductees who bow to Link Wray’s abiding influence.”

Robert Gordon, Bruce Springsteen and Link Wray

“Pete Townshend simply calls him the King: “If it hadn’t been for Link Wray and ‘Rumble,’ I would never have picked up a guitar.” Even Iggy Pop is an acolyte: “I left school emotionally after hearing ‘Rumble.”

The Hall could have added a few other prime testimonials.  Neil Young once said: “If I could go back in time and see any band, it would be Link Wray and the Raymen.”  The Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll adds Bob Dylan to those who have given acclaim to Link Wray.  A bootleg CD cover has this quote from John Lennon: “Gene Vincent and Link Wray and are the two great unknowns of rock ‘n roll.”

Two Link Wray Songs in Pulp Fiction

You can also count Quentin Tarentino as a Link Wray fan.  He used two of Link’s songs in the movie, Pulp Fiction.

This article turned out to be three times longer than I originally intended.  But what the heck,  I’ve been a Link Wray fan since I was 16.  I bought the “Rumble” and “Raw-Hide” 45s and played them a million times.  Thirty years later, when I got into the record collecting hobby, I bought seven Link Wray albums.  Four were original releases and prized collectibles.  The other three were newer compilations of rare instrumental tracks that cost so much they might as well have been collectibles (maybe they are now).

In 2002, Link performed at a small, but unique, music venue in our city, and I was privileged to see him perform.  He came out on the stage in the black leather jacket and the shades, but he seemed old and a little frail.  His wife helped him put on the guitar and get his ponytail out of the way of the strap.  Then he turned on the guitar and blew everybody’s mind.  Boy, I was so glad I brought earplugs that night.

So, now we must wait to see if the RockHall selection committee picks Link Wray for the Class of 2014.  If they don’t, they just might get serious complaints from that heavy-weight group of Hall members mentioned above.  Link Wray fans are a dedicated bunch.

Link Wray belongs in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame!

Link Wray belongs in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame!

Link Wray - I'll Blow Your Eardrums Out

“If you don’t vote me in, I’ll come back and blast your eardrums out”

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ElvisBlog has covered other musicians with connections to Elvis as they were selected (or should have been) for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  Click below to read about them.

DJ Fontana

Bill Black

Wanda Jackson

The Other TCB Band Members (James Burton has been in the Hall since 2001)

 

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

 

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Conan O’Brien Sings Elvis

Two weeks ago we learned that Conan O’Brien is a huge Elvis fan.  Because of his fame and media presence, Conan has been able to manifest this more than the average fan. In his interview with Peter Guralnick, he stated:

“[In] 1983, I listened for the first time to the Sun Sessions, Elvis’ earliest work that he did with Sam Phillips.  It blew my mind.  It was like a drug.  I couldn’t get enough.  It made me go out and buy a guitar.  It made me try and play that music.”

Conan 7

 

Now, thirty years later, we know Conan was successful in his effort to play Elvis music.  Thanks to Google and YouTube, there are examples of Conan performing three Elvis original hits and two of his famous cover songs from albums or live shows.

When Conan left the Tonight Show in 2010 after NBC’s sorry late-night scheduling snafu, he was contractually prohibited from other TV work for six months.  He had often spoken of his fantasy to be a traveling rock musician, and he decided this would be the perfect time to do it.  With the remnants of the Tonight Show Band, re-christened The Legal Prohibited Band, backing him up, Conan created a comedy/music variety show and took it on the road.

Conan Tour Poster

 

Most of the songs he sang were from the genre he had loved for thirty years – Rockabilly.  However, each song was retooled with humorous lyrics reflecting Conan’s own life story.  “Polk Salad Annie” is a great example. You remember the spoken part in the beginning where Elvis explains what polk salad is and tells about a poor girl down South who cooked it all the time because they were so poor and had nothing else to eat.  Conan changed the story to being upper-middle class in Brookline, Massachusetts and goes on with some really funny stuff.

On June 10, 2010, his concert was recorded for a vinyl album.  No CD – Conan played homage to a music format of the past, just as he did with his choice of songs.

Conan Album - Side One

 

In addition to “Polk Salad Annie,” you will note two other Elvis songs on Side One of the album: “Blue Moon of Kentucky” from Elvis’ Sun Records days, and “Too Much Monkey Business” from the Guitar Man album.

To hear Conan sing “Polk Salad Annie,” click here.

To hear Conan sing “Blue Moon of Kentucky,” click here.

To hear Conan sing “Too Much Monkey Business” click here.

In his introduction, Conan knowingly gave due credit to Chuck Berry who wrote and originally recorded the song.

 

Conan Album - Side Two

Side 2 opens with another Elvis classic, “King Creole.”

To hear Conan sing “King Creole,” click here.

I looked up some of the other songs. “Twenty Flight Rock” was a song Eddy Cochran sang in the 1956 movie, The Girl Can’t Help It.  Another example of Conan’s deep involvement in Rockabilly music.

Conan and the Legally Prohibited Band

 

All of the links above take you to YouTube, but the videos are just a static pictures of the album labels.  We can hear but not see the performances. I guess they recorded the show, but didn’t film it.  Too bad.

However, there is one Elvis song that Conan preformed that was captured on film. On April 30 of this year, Conan and the band did “Hardheaded Woman” on his TV show.

Hard Headed Woman

 

Conan gave a wild and exuberant performance. He even did a move that would have made Elvis proud. While still playing guitar, Conan danced around behind the mic stand.

Hard Headed Woman 2

 

If you would like to see Conan sing “Hardheaded Woman,” click here.

I don’t think we’ve seen the last of Conan O’Brien’s tribute to Elvis.  Don’t be surprised if he shows up wearing a jumpsuit one of these days and sings more Elvis hits.  I can’t wait.

Conan 8

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