Category Archives: ELVIS WEEK

The Movie Theater: One Building Elvis Will Never Leave — Part 6

 Beifuss on Movies

There are several things I look forward to every Elvis Week – watching lots of Elvis movies, having the number of visitors to ElvisBlog spike, and reading a special column written by John Beifuss, Memphis Commercial Appeal Movie Critic.  It is his annual survey of Elvis references in movies.

Here is how Beifuss explains it:

“Every year, as I watch movies in my capacity as film reviewer for the Commercial Appeal, I take note of each reference I see or hear to Memphis’ favorite son, Elvis Presley.  In most cases, the Elvis allusion was brief: a photo of the famous face, a snippet of a song. But in some cases, the King made an impact — especially in “The Identical,” a film entirely inspired by the Elvis story.”

Let’s take a look at what Beifuss discovered.

The Identical:

The Identical Movie Poster

The inspiration for this movie’s plot was actually Elvis’ stillborn twin brother, Jesse Garon.  However, in the movie, both twins live but are separated.  One grows up to be a superstar singer known as “Drexel the Dream.” The other brother succumbs to his adopted father’s pressure to enter the ministry.  As the years pass, he is pulled by the urge entertain, and he begins to tour as a professional impersonator of “The Dream” (who he doesn’t know is his brother).  So, in the movie we have “The Dream” and “The Identical,” certainly an allusion to ”The King” and the Elvis Tribute Artists.

 

Big Eyes:

Big Eyes Movie Poster

The central characters of this film are Margaret Keane, the artist who created the popular portraits of strange big-eyed waifs, and her husband Walter, who took credit for them.  When Margaret walks into a Honolulu radio station, we see a copy of Elvis album “Blue Hawaii.”

 

Good Ol’ Freda:

Good Ol Freda Movie Poster

This is a biographical documentary that made the rounds of the independent movie festivals.  The title character is Freda Kelly, a teenager who in 1963became the Beatles’ first fan-club secretary in in Liverpool.  The office where she worked had pictures of Elvis on the walls, but she stressed that she “didn’t like” Elvis. Only the Beatles for her.

 

Wild:

Wild Movie Poster

If you’ve seen this Reese Witherspoon movie, perhaps you noticed the soundtrack included “Don’t Be Cruel.”  Did you notice that the vocal wasn’t Elvis’?  In fact, it was Billy Swan’s cover version from his album Like Elvis Used to Do.  I have the CD, and Billy does a great job on all 14 Elvis songs.

 

Selma:

Selma Movie Poster

In this film about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s voting rights campaign in Alabama, the Elvis reference is a strange one.  Army troops had been sent in to keep order, and one officer commented on the extremely mean local sheriff:  “If the Lord Jesus himself and Elvis Presley both came to him together and told him to go easy on the Negroes, he would beat the (crap) out of the two of them and throw them in jail.”

 

The Book of Life:

The Book Of Life Movie Poster

You can see the Elvis-inspired character right next to the big guitar in the poster above.  It is a Mexican matador-turned-mariachi named Manolo with Elvis hair and sideburns.  His love interest is there, too, holding a pig.  He serenades her with a version of “Can’t Help Falling in Love with You.”

 

Horrible Bosses 2:Horrible Bosses 2 Movie Poster

Christoph Waltz plays a crooked, double-dealing entrepreneur who offers to bankroll production of the invention by the three guys in the photo.  Of course, he tries to squeeze them out.  We get a glimpse of his trophy room full of souvenirs, probably obtained illegally.  In addition to a Jimi Hendricks guitar, a Picasso painting, and a dinosaur skull, he was an Elvis jumpsuit.

 

Gone Girl:

Gone Girl Movie Poster 

In spite of its serious theme, this movie injects some perverse comedy, including a couple of flippant Elvis references in the dialogue. A good example is when the high-powered lawyer departs on an out-of-state mission, and Ben Affleck’s sister cracks, “Elvis has left Missouri.”

 

Strange Magic:

Strange Magic Movie Poster

A mysterious potion prompts a group of elves, goblins, imps, and fairies on an incredible adventure in this fantasy.  Believe it or not, the story was inspired by William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  From the picture above, it’s hard to believe the movie is filled with several renditions of love-themed pop songs, including a duet on “Can’t Help Falling in Love.”  The Elvis ballad was a popular choice for movies in the past year.

 

Love and Mercy:

Love and Mercy Movie Poster 

This story about the Beachboys’ Brian Wilson has a brief mention about Elvis.  Hal Blaine, a famous Southern California session drummer, is outside the studio in one scene talking to Wilson.  He says, “We’ve played with everyone, Sinatra, Dean Martin, Elvis, Phil Spector … Sam Cooke … everyone.  But you — you gotta know that you’re touched, kid, and it’s blowing our minds.”

 

I look forward to Elvis Week 2016 when John Beifuss will again report on all the Elvis allusions he found in the year’s movies.

 

To read all of the articles in this series, click here.

 

 

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

 

ElvisBlog Lip Logo

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

 

Elvis Week’s Best Kept Secret — 2015

Elvis '56

Last year, ElvisBlog shined a little light on a wonderful Elvis Week event that didn’t seem to be getting much promotional push. It was the Fan Reception at the Elvis Presley Memorial Trauma Center. Click here to read about that event and here to see what they have going on this year.

If you are going to Elvis Week 2015, there’s a good chance you’ll be there on the 14th. It’s a Friday night – party time. So, what are you going to do?

Elvis Week Main Stage

Well, you could take in the Elvis in Vegas Tribute Concert at the Graceland Main Stage Pavilion. It stars Terry Mike Jeffrey. I’ve seen him at three Elvis Week shows over the years, and he is great. But, if you’re interested, you better hurry up. All the VIP seating is sold out, but as of now there are still $45 seats available.

 

Beale St. Memphis

But perhaps you would like to head down to Beale Street. Lots of bars, shops, and restaurants.

And right in the middle of everything on Beale Street is the New Daisy Theater.

New Daisy Theater at Night

I took in the Midnight Blues Concert at the Daisy back at Elvis Week 2002. When I walked in, I said, “This place is a dive,” but when I walked out, I said, “I love this place.” Old, funky, intimate, it was such a fun venue for a concert. Well, this 1941 theater is still alive and well today, a down-and-dirty honky tonk of the first order.

 

Inside the New Daisy Theater

The New Daisy Theater has been under new ownership since last year, and they have sunk some money into the place. Here you can see that theater seats have been replaced by platforms to accommodate table seating.

 

Lighting System at the New Daisy Theater

Even more important, they put in new sound and light systems. Of course, there is an open bar. Are you starting to get the idea the Daisy might be a terrific place for an Elvis Week concert? Especially on Friday night. May I suggest:

World Premier -- Elvis'56

If your interest in Elvis is primarily the 70s jumpsuit period, this show isn’t for you. But if you like the young, raw and wild performer of the early years, Elvis ’56 is perfect for you. And ElvisFestival.com has picked the right tribute artist to headline the show.

Cody Slaughter Rocking Out

Cody Ray Slaughter has an impressive resumé. Although he is one of the youngest top-drawer Elvis Tribute Artists, he has been perfecting his act since he was thirteen. When Cody was just seventeen, he was the featured entertainer for a year at The Tennessee Shindig in Pigeon Forge, TN. In 2008, Cody won the People’s Choice Award at Elvis Week.

Three years later at Elvis Week, EPE named him the winner of the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist competition.

Cody Slaughter Winning 2011 Ultimate Elvis Competition

In October 2011, Cody took on the roll of Elvis Presley in the road tour of the hit theatrical production The Million Dollar Quartet. It was here that Cody developed his acting chops to go with his uncanny ability to sing like Elvis. All of these talents will be on display in Elvis ’56. It’s a show, not just a concert, that tells the story of Elvis’ rise in 1956 from Hillbilly Cat to the King of Rock and Roll.

Million Dollar Quartet

As the poster above states, Cody will be backed by a period appropriate three-piece band called the Hillbilly Katz. You get a little bonus here, because the drummer is David Fontana, DJ’s son. I checked DJ’s touring schedule to see if he would be in town and might drop by to sit in and drum with David. Unfortunately, DJ won’t be at Elvis Week this year. What a shame.

 

Samantha Arrowood Chamblis

If you remember Elvis’ concerts in the 50s, they all opened with a comedian. So, Elvis ’56 will feature Samantha Arrowood Chambliss. She does a comedic song and dance routine reminiscent of the Louisiana Hayride days. She and David Fontana will share the MC duties.
If you are thinking this all sounds like a show you’d like to take in, here’s the seating arrangement and prices.

Daisy Seating and Ticket Prices for Elvis 56

These six-people tables come at three different price levels depending on location. I can assure you that you will feel close to the action even in the $49 gold area (including the rows of chairs in front of the bar). I never sat in the balcony, but I bet it’s a very satisfactory experience up there, too. Click here to go to the website for availability and purchasing of tickets.

Cody Slaughter

If I were going to Elvis Week this year, I would definitely get down to the New Daisy Theater and take in Cody Slaughter’s performance in Elvis ’56. His website say his fans have crowned him the new “Prince of Rock and Roll”. What a fine way to highlight your trip to Memphis to honor the “King of Rock and Roll.”

 

 

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

 

ElvisBlog Lip Logo

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

.

ElvisFestival.com also has a whole week of interesting shows lined up at the New Daisy Theater. For five hours each afternoon, Monday the 10th and Wednesday the 12th, you can see the Images of the King competitions. For six hours on Friday, you can watch the finals plus a showcase of past champions. Other afternoon shows are Ben Portsmouth: Acoustic Elvis on Tuesday, and Jukebox LIVE: A tribute to Rock and Roll History on Thursday. If you remember how blistering hot it has been at past Elvis Weeks, a nice long show in air-conditioned comfort might be a good idea.

Sunday and Monday nights have concerts featuring outstanding ETAs Shawn Klush, Cody Slaughter, Dean Z, Ben Portsmouth, and Jay Dupuis. And Wednesday night, Elvis Meets the Beatles sounds like a really fun show. For ticket information, click here.

ElvisFestivals

The Second Auction at Graceland — Part 3

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

Viva Las Vegas Movie Poster:

lvis Viva Las Vegas Movie Poster, 1964

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

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

.

Tickle Me Movie Poster:

Elvis Tickle Me  Movie Poster, 1965

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

 

Special Shelby County Deputy Sheriff Badge:

Elvis' Special Shelby County Deputy Sheriff Badge

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

Elvis' Law  Enforcement  Badge Collection

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

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

 

Elvis Presley’s Personal Checkbook Register:

Elvis Presley’s Personal Checkbook Register

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

 

Elvis Tour Jacket, 1975:

Elvis Tour Jacket, 1975

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

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

 

Used Guitar Pick:

Elvis Used Guitar Pick

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

 

“That’s All Right” 45 Record:

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

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

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

 

Flashing Blue Police Light:

Elvis-Owned Blue Police Light

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

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

 

Red and White 7-Button Shirt:

Elvis' Red and White Shirt From Homer Gilleland

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

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

 

Four of Elvis’ Personal Telephone/Address Books:

nside pages Elvis Presley’s Personal Address Books

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

Elvis Address Book

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

 

Army First Aid Kit:

Elvis Presley’s Army First Aid Kit

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

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

 

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

Solicitation for next year's Auction at Graceland

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

Heritage Auctions Ad Solicitation

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

Gotta Have It Ad Solicitation

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

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

Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest

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

 

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

 

ElvisBlog Thumbnail Icon

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

 

Elvis Week’s Best Kept Secret

Elvis-Presley-Memorial-Trauma-Center-Sign

Have you ever heard of the Elvis Presley Memorial Trauma Center in Memphis? If you a member of an Elvis fan club, you probably have. If you are just an Elvis fan with no club affiliation, perhaps not. I’ve been to Elvis Week four times, but I never knew about this trauma center until a few weeks ago.

 Outside View of Elvis Presley Memorial Trauma Center

 

So, I also didn’t know they had an annual fan reception during Elvis Week. This year, it is one of the 45 events listed in the official schedule of events on Graceland.com.

Announcement of Trauma Center  Fan Donor Reception

Maybe the receptions were not listed in the schedule of events for those four years when I was there, or if they were, I just skimmed past looking for something more interested to do. That was very short sighted of me.

.
First a little background. The Elvis Presley Memorial Trauma Center is part of a huge hospital system called Regional One Health.

Regional One Health

Regional One Health Entrance

A scene from the 1997 movie The Rainmaker was filmed here with Matt Damon and Danny DeVito going up the steps and into the hospital

Established in 1983, the Elvis Presley Memorial Trauma Center was named in honor of Elvis by then Memphis Mayor Bill Morris, a personal friend of his. When it was dedicated, many loyal Elvis fans conducted a fundraising campaign and donated $50,000 to the hospital. The Trauma Center is the only free-standing building that bears Elvis’ name and the only healthcare institution named in his honor.

Elvis fans and fan clubs have continued to contribute to the Elvis Presley Memorial Trauma Center for the past thirty years. To express its appreciation for this generosity, the center holds a fan reception each year during Elvis Week. If you are heading to Memphis in the next four days, you should definitely take in this event.

 

Elvis Presley Memorial Trauma Center Fan Reception

As you can see, the guest speaker this year is George Klein, one of Elvis’ closest friends, and someone who knows a treasure trove of great stories about Elvis. Klein’s book Elvis: My Best Man is full of them. Klein does several events during Elvis Week each year, but the Trauma Center fan reception has one difference. It is free.

Plus they are serving “Elvis-style” refreshments.  I have it on good authority that this includes fried peanut butter and ‘nanner sandwiches done the way Elvis liked them.

The notice in the official Elvis Week schedule of events says that tours of the facility will be conducted. This includes the lobby and the Elvis family waiting room, full of large photographs of Elvis engaging with various charitable organizations he supported during his life.

Waiting Room at Elvis Presley Memorial Trauma Center

Next up would be the shock trauma rooms (if they aren’t in use) and the ambulance bay.

Inside Elvis Presley Memorial Trauma Center

Two interesting walls complete the tour. The Mural Wall is covered with huge reproductions of Elvis photos showing him in various stages of his life and arranged in chronological order.

Mural Wall 1

Photo credit — Andrea Zucker Photography

Mural Wall 2

Mural Wall 3

Photo Credit — Andrea Zucker Photography

The last part of the tour is officially called the Donor Recognition Wall, but fans know it as the Wall of Honor. It is covered by more than 300 brass plaques honoring those who have made a donation of $1,000 or more to the Regional One Health Foundation for the Elvis Presley Memorial Trauma Center.

 

Elvis Presley Memorial Trauma Center Wall of Honor

Pamela Castleman, Regional One Health’s Nursing Director, in front of fan plaques in this 2009 photo

Some of the $1,000 donors are individuals, a few are corporations, but most are fan clubs. And many of these fan clubs are based in other countries.

Fan Plaques at Wall of Honor

The Wall of Honor is anchored by a bust relief of Elvis in the middle. Note the size of this in the photo above.

Brass Plaque of Elvis at Trauma Center Wall of Honor

 

The Elvis Presley Memorial Trauma Center maintains an email list of all donors, not just those who gave over $1,000, but also those who have contributed any amount. These folks get updates each year about the date of the Fan Donor Reception and who will be the featured speaker. However, the event is open to all fans, so if you are at Elvis Week this year, consider attending.

We all know how generous Elvis was giving to charities. Now you can see how his fans are following in his footsteps. Elvis has reached people all over the world, and they still love him and do generous things in his name. Don’t be surprised if you come away motivated to join that list of donors.

 

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

 

ElvisBlog Thumbnail Icon

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

 

Check out the Facebook page for the Regional One Health Foundation. If you “Like” them, you can keep up on any news regarding the Trauma Center.

In case you don’t know what trauma center means, it is a multidisciplinary team of highly trained specialists: surgeons, anesthesiologists, trauma nurse practitioners, certified registered nurses, anesthetists, nurses, respiratory therapists, orderlies, x-ray techs, and lab techs. They care for injuries caused by motor vehicle collisions, falls, poisonings, burns, suffocation, and drowning. Injured patients treated at trauma centers have a 25% greater chance of surviving 30 days than patients treated at non-trauma centers. The Elvis Presley Memorial Trauma Center serves over 6,000 patients a year.

Many thanks to Joe Brandenburg, Director of Development, Regional One Health Foundation for much of the information and some of the photos used in this article.  The two professional photographs of the Mural Wall are provided by Audrea Zucker Photography.

 

We Miss You, Elvis

E

.

Candlelight Vigil 3

.

Candle Light Vigil

.

Vigil 2012

.

Vigil 1

.

Candlelight Vigil 4

.

Candlelight Vigil 10

.

Vigil 6

.

Candlelight Vigil 6

We Miss You, Elvis

 

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

 .

Thumbnail Icon

 

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

 

Scotty Moore Returns to Live Performances After 24 Year Absence

When Scotty Moore returned to Nashville after appearing in the ‘68 Comeback Special, he never dreamed it was the last time he would perform on stage for 24 years.

Elvis and Scotty Moore in the famous “Pit Session” of the the ’68 Comeback Special

 

In fact, Elvis had talked about wanting to do a tour in Europe.  Now that he was essentially finished with movies, Elvis was energized to perform live again, and Scotty was excited about getting back on stage with him.  Scotty went home to Nashville and waited for a call from Elvis to say the European tour was on.

Of course, Col. Parker put a quick end to such an idea.  He was an illegal alien from Holland and knew he couldn’t get a US passport, so he could never accompany Elvis to Europe.  And, Parker was not about to allow Elvis to tour over there without the constant presence of his manager.  So the tour idea died.

Scotty went on with his life as a studio sound engineer, work that kept him associated with the music business, without ever performing.  Years later he owned a cassette duplicating company, and followed that by opening a printing shop that made the label inserts for the tapes.

Scotty’s guitars sat essentially untouched for years.  He actually thought of himself as a ‘former guitar player,’ and was comfortable with it.  He did, however, maintain contact with many dozens of folks in the music business – including Carl Perkins.

Perkins underwent cancer surgery in 1991, but in early 1992 it was in remission.  He felt strong enough to record a new album, and wanted to do it in the old Sun Studios in Memphis.  So, Perkins called Scotty and asked him to join the project.  Scotty resisted, repeatedly saying, “I can’t do this.”  However, Perkins persisted, and soon he, Scotty, DJ Fontana and a group of their studio musician friends completed the recording session that resulted in 706 ReUnion.

Cover of CD Re-release, Not Original Album

 

Two years earlier, Carl Perkins had been the headliner at the first “Good Rockin’ Tonight” concert, presented during Elvis Week by Darwin Lamm, editor and publisher of Elvis International magazine.  Perkins was unable to sing at the second annual concert in 1991 because of his cancer surgery, but he was back as headliner again for “Good Rockin’ Tonight 3” in 1992.

Again, Carl Perkins worked on Scotty to join him – this time, on stage playing the guitar. Scotty agreed, and became part of the most exciting line-up in the history of Elvis Week concerts.  Not only did the fans get to see Elvis’ first guitar player, they also got to see his last one, James Burton.

James Burton and Scotty Moore Rehearsing

 

The Sun Rhythm Section, featuring Sunny Burgess and DJ Fontana opened the show and wowed the audience with an excellent Rockabilly set.  Also on the bill were the Jordanaires who backed Elvis on too many records to count and Ronnie McDowell who sang the songs on several Elvis movies and TV biographies.

From left – James Burton, DJ Fontana, Scotty Moore. Behind Carl perkins on stool — Jardanaires, Ronnie McDowell (in black, white belt), and others.

 

Scotty’s long-time friend, Gail Pollock, summarized the show, “It was electric.”  Especially, when Carl Perkins and Scotty Moore were on stage together.

 

After that, Scotty was hooked.  A week after the concert in Memphis, he went to England to perform with the Jordanaires.  He had been away from performing for 24 years, but at age 61, Scotty Moore was back.  Thousands of fans have seen him at concerts in the years since, and Scotty Moore has brought tears of happiness to more than a few of them.

 

Many thanks to James Roy, webmaster for www.scottymoore.net, and to Gail Pollock for their help in supplying the photographs and historical reference material for this article.

 

©  2012    Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister    All Rights Reserved    www.ElvisBlog.net

 

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

The Last Photograph of Elvis Alive

The celebration of Elvis Week is going on right now in Memphis.  I’ve been to four of these so far, and plan to be back next year for the 35th Anniversary.   Elvis fans are quite content to refer to these yearly anniversaries without also including the qualifying phrase of the death of Elvis.   Elvis Week is a certainly a celebration of Elvis’ life, but his passing was the genesis of thousands of fans making the pilgrimage to Graceland every August.

I start early each year trying to figure out a new way to blog about the anniversary of Elvis’ death.  A few weeks ago, when I researched the ElvisBlog article about Elvis on the covers on the tabloid The Sun, I came across my copy of the September 20, 1977, issue of the National Enquirer.   On the cover was a photo of Elvis in a car, and the tag was “Hours Before He Died.”   The caption under the picture was, “The Last Photo of Elvis Alive.”

image

 

This photo, in both color and black-and-white, has been all over the internet for years.  However, I have never read anything about who took it and the circumstance around the event.  Then, I opened up that old National Enquirer, and there was the whole story. 

On Page 57, Enquirer writer Chris Fuller had a two-column article, including a photo of the folks who took the picture. 

image          image
         

So, in celebration of the 34th anniversary of Elvis’ passing, here is that article, edited slightly for brevity and emphasis.

 Story Behind the Last Picture of Elvis Alive

Robert Call was ready with his camera when the car stopped at the front gate of Graceland in Memphis.  People were shouting – “Elvis!  Elvis!”  Suddenly, inside the car, the King of Rock smiled and waved at Call’s four-year-old daughter Abby.

And that’s when Call took the picture…the last photograph of Elvis alive.

The time was 12:28 on the morning of August 16.  Just a few hours later, Elvis would be found dead.

“We were excited when my husband took the picture,” said Call’s wife Nancy, “but we didn’t realize it would be the last one ever taken of Elvis.

“I’ll never forget the way it happened.  Elvis was driving the car.  There was a lady sitting in front with him and two men in the back.  I had Abby in my arms almost right up against the car window.

“She was hollering – ‘Hi!” – and grinning from ear to ear.  Elvis smiled really big, then he put on the brakes for a second, pointed to Abby and waived to her.  That’s when my husband took the picture.

“Later that day we heard on TV that Elvis had died.  We had just seen this man laughing, smiling and waving.”

The Calls, who live in Pierceton, Indiana, had gone to Memphis “because I was determined to get pictures of Abby and the other children at the Elvis home for my scrapbook,” Mrs. Call said.

Mrs. Call said little Abby…reacted to Elvis’ death with a touching remark.  She said,

“I bet he’s going to be an angel.”

 

image

image

 

Maybe we should say we are celebrating the 34th annivesary of Elvis' ascendancy to Heaven.

 

©  2011    Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister    All Rights Reserved    www.ElvisBlog.net

<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office” />image


<?xml:namespace prefix = v ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:vml” />

 

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

 

MORE STORIES FROM ELVIS WEEK 2007

image

If you were willing to allocate a bunch of time and money for Elvis Week, you came back from Memphis with one terrific experience.  Over the course of ten days, there was a wonderful array of Elvis stuff for you to do and see, and most people tried to cram in several every day.

 

Good for them.  I didn’t get to do many, but what I did was a super intense Elvis experience, so I’m happy.  And, I did pick up a few stories that will be fun to pass on. 

 

While talking with Millie Kirkham backstage, I asked her about once wearing a mini-skirt on stage with Elvis, and she brightened up and got very talkative.  Here’s the story.  Back in 1970, Elvis, along with the TCB Band, The Imperials, The Sweet Inspirations and Millie traveled to Las Vegas for the filming of Elvis, That’s The Way It Is.  Millie went to one of the better clothing stores on the strip and bought an evening gown to wear during the concert filming.  When everybody showed up, Millie saw the Sweet Inspirations were all wearing mini-skirts.  Millie thought she would look out of sync with them, so she hurried out and bought a mini-skirt.

 

In the film, they show Elvis and everybody walking briskly from backstage toward the International Hotel concert stage.  The clip lasts a few seconds, and you can clearly see Millie moving along on the outside of the group.  The mini-shirt is plainly visible. 

 

Millie says she didn’t have mini-skirt legs, and she cringes every time she sees that footage.  What really bugs her is that so many new Elvis DVDs have come out in the past twenty years, and they all seem to include that clip.

 

Another story is about a rumor that floated around the mezzanine level of the Peabody Hotel.  Two days before the finals of the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest, the word was that Shawn Klush already had it wrapped up.  One reason offered was that he was already signed up to perform on The Elvis Cruise in September.  But the big reason was supposed to be that Shawn had done the Elvis part in the filmed helicopter trip that would be the lead-in for Elvis, The 30th Anniversary Concert.

 

Well, it turned out that Shawn Klush was crowned the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist.  I don’t have a clue if there is anything to the rumor, and I don’t care.  I were a judge, he’d get my vote.  Shawn Klush is a terrific talent and the ideal package of Elvis looks, voice and moves.  I don’t know what Darwin Lamm paid him this year to perform in his Spirit of The King concerts, but he’ll never get Shawn for that price again.

 

If you went to Scotty Moore’s tribute concert, The Last Man Standing, you were treated to a fine vocal performance by Billy Swan.  Billy is good.  He was very approachable, and autographed my mint-condition 45 record of his hit “I Can Help.”  He also gave me a copy of his 1990 CD, Billy Swan’s Best.  It is excellent, and I just love his cover of “Don’t Be Cruel.”  Billy does it real slow, and it’s like a different song. 

 

Billy has done this sort of thing before — his 2000 CD of Elvis covers called Like Elvis Used To Do.  That’s a strange title, considering that Billy doesn’t do any of them the way Elvis did.   “Mystery Train” gets speeded up and gets some heavy guitar work,   “Viva Las Vegas” is done as a gospel number,  “Too Much” become a blues song, “That’s All Right” is done as reggae, and  “Jailhouse Rock” and “King Creole” are combined into a speeded-up medley.  It is a very clever and most refreshing change from the usual.  If you can’t top Elvis, you might as well put a new spin on his songs.  The CD is available on Amazon, and I recommend it highly.

 

When Joe Esposito came to our sales tables to sign books and photos, he quickly drew a crowd.  Part of the security staff was unavailable then, so I was asked to put on a security shirt and fill in.  The photo above shows me ‘guarding’ Joe and DJ.  When I showed it to a real security man, he said one thing was wrong: “Security guys never smile.”  Sorry, I couldn’t help it.

 

The last Elvis Week story is about Scotty Moore.  There was also a rumor about him.  His traveling group showed up at the sales tables with 1000 CDs autographed by everybody in The Mighty Handful band.  Everybody, including Scotty Moore.  Well, we wondered how Scotty could have signed all of them, considering his arthritis problem.  The rumor was that he was OK with the repetitive motion of signing his name.  It was the salutations, like “To Rosemary,” or “To Katherine” that were the problem.  The 1000 CDs had just his name, so it sounded pretty logical.

 

My wife’s name is Bev, and she admonished me to bring back some autographed pictures of Scotty and DJ addressed to her.  I probably broke protocol when I asked Scotty to sign for Bev.  I provided an article I wrote in the Birthday Tribute ’07 issue of Elvis…The Magazine.  It contained a sharp color photo of Scotty, in his mid-forties, holding his beloved Gibson Super 400 guitar.  Scotty had absolutely no trouble signing “To Bev,   Scotty Moore.”  I have to admit, I kind of wish that one said “To Phil.”

 

©  2007   Philip R Arnold   All Rights Reserved   www.elvisblog.net

 

SO, HOW WAS ELVIS WEEK?

image

If it is possible for an experience to be both a letdown and an exhilarating success at the same time, then that is the summary of my Elvis Week 2007.  I’m not real happy about never getting over to Elvis Presley Boulevard and soaking in some of the Graceland aura.   It’s hard to believe I never got down to Beale Street to party… and it was only two blocks away.  But the worst thing was that I never left the Peabody Hotel for four days, except to walk across the street to restaurants each night.

 

Wow.  Sounds like a bad Elvis Week for sure.  On the other hand, I don’t know how anyone else in Memphis could have had a more Elvis-connected experience than I had.  Over a three-day period, I had breakfast with Joe Esposito, sat ten feet away from Priscilla at the restaurant in the Peabody, and hung around in the Grand Ballroom backstage area with Scotty Moore, DJ Fontana, the Jordanaires, and the TCB Band.  Nobody else did that.

 

I got people to take 30 photos of me with these music legends, and I got dozens of autographs from them, signed on articles I had written about them in Elvis…The Magazine.  My mission had been to use this probable last opportunity to gather a treasure trove of memorabilia, and it worked out perfectly.

 

Darwin Lamm, Publisher of Elvis…The Magazine certainly got plenty of work out of me at the tables selling concert tickets, magazines, books, DVDs and T-shirts.

I’m not used to standing on my feet for eight hours a day, so my legs got plenty sore.  For some reason, the sales group had the same club sandwiches and fries brought in for lunch all four days, and that was pretty lame.

 

The trade-off for the other workers was free tickets to three great concerts.  The trade-off for me was unlimited backstage access.  The reason I got the better deal is because of all the articles I had provided Darwin for the magazine and various promotional pieces. 

 

The TCB guys got their performer badges from me, so they were comfortable around me from the start.  When everybody got backstage, they seemed fine with me sitting around the table with them in one of the two rooms.  I mostly just listened and laughed at their stories.  They all seem to genuinely like each other, and backstage is fun for them.  When the subject of Elvis impersonators came up, they called them “impersonators,” not “tribute artists.”  As you might expect, the TCB guys are not too fond of Elvis impersonators.  That figures; they were around the real thing and have the best possible basis for comparison. 

 

Jerry Scheff got some grief about thinning hair, but James Burton avoided the same fate.  He wore a black TCB baseball cap all week.  In 2004, he had very little hair left, so the hat is a good look for him.  Ronnie Tutt has been wearing a ball cap for years, but I’m betting he’s got plenty of hair.  He certainly has plenty of beard.

 

DJ Fontana looked so smart in his shiny grey suit and red shirt and tie.  He complained about his favorite men’s store in Nashville closing down.  We spoke about his upcoming performing schedule.  He has a continuing tour with Shaun Klush, who is probably the top ETA right now.  (I have no trouble calling them Tribute Artists.)  We spoke about his new podcasting venture.  I want to follow up on that, because it sounds like some interesting stuff he talks about.  And, all his recorded conversations so far have been with special Elvis people.  There will definitely be a future Elvisblog story on DJ’s podcasting.

 

I have enough stories from Elvis Week to fill up several articles, so I’ll save some stuff for future posts.  One thing I have to write about now is my wonderful experience with Scotty Moore.  Everybody loves this man, and I got to experience hanging out with him for almost half-an-hour.  Again, I mostly listened to Scotty and the other guys in the Mighty Handful band talk around the table.   But every three minutes or so, I slid something over to him, along with an open Sharpie pen.  I knew his arthritis problem was the reason he wouldn’t be signing autographs after the show, so I didn’t want to be a pest.  But after a three-minute rest, I figured his hand was OK for another one. 

 

I ended up with five Scotty Moore autographs: two on photographs, two on my magazine articles, and one on a reprint of an article I wrote that is posted on Scotty's website.  He is always graceous and accomodating to fans, but this was something special he did for me.

 

The photo above is Scotty Moore as he exited the stage after “The Last Man Standing” concert.  The future will determine if Scotty ever chooses to do another live performance.  If not, maybe I caught Scotty’s last two seconds on a concert stage.

 

I guess I can give up Graceland and Beale Street for one year.  Not a bad trade.

 

 

© 2007  Philip R Arnold   All Rights Reserved   www.elvisblog.net

 

I'M GOING TO ELVIS WEEK

There’s a stupid TV commercial where the woman bounces around saying, “I’m cleaning the litter box.”   I’m like that now, except that it’s, “I’m going to Elvis Week.”  I’d better cut it out, or my wife is going to get mad.  Being gone for four days is problematic enough, so there is no point in broadcasting how much fun I’m going to have.

 

This will be my fourth Elvis Week, and it may be a while until I take in another.  After this year, there won’t be any more “Good Rockin’ Tonight” concerts from Darwin Lamm, Editor of Elvis… The Magazine.  That’s been the connection that brought me to Memphis each time, but he says this is it.  He has been host to concerts in most years from 1992 on, but 2007 will be the last in a run of great Elvis Week shows for Darwin Lamm.

 

Elvis fans from all over the world have regularly supported his concerts, and they’ll be glad they made the trip this year.  For his grand finale, Darwin is presenting a incredible six shows. I’m excited; being a ‘gofer’ backstage is a great job.

 

I also have a sad, personal story about this Elvis Week.  Five months ago, I bought a bunch of albums and 45s from an old guy, and it included a near-mint copy of Boots Randolph’s Christmas promo release “Sleigh Ride/White Christmas.”  I was planning on taking it to Memphis and getting Boots to autograph it.  That won’t happen now.  We’ll miss you, Boots.  But, we’ll carry on.

 

I recently sent e-mails to eight people I expect to see during Elvis Week.  One of them is a musician coming in from Nashville to perform during the festivities.  The thing that struck me was his enthusiasm.  He is as excited as a fan.

 

Who wouldn’t be, in his situation?  Check this:  “It will be nice to see many old friends, including many of Elvis’ friends we have become close to over the years.” 

 

How would you like to have that going for you next week?  The quote comes from Steve Shepherd, who will be playing keyboard at two Scotty Moore tribute concerts.  The last time I saw Steve play behind Scotty, Steve also served as stage manager and ran rehearsals, so he will probably do that again this year.

 

The concerts where Steve will appear are called Scotty Moore: The Last Man Standing.  There’s a code word in the title.  If you can find a Las Vegas bookie who will give you odds that this will not be the last time Scotty Moore is up on stage, it might be smart to put a little money on the bet. 

 

I know another person who is going to Elvis Week and is super happy about it.  She gets to celebrate her 50th birthday in a bar across the street from the Peabody Hotel.  Kathy DeNike booked the “Big Foot Lodge” for the blast, and it is shaping up to be great fun.  I’m going with two lovely ladies, Judy and Shirley, wonderful friends from near Toronto. 

 

Kathy DeNike is a talent manager for a gang of Elvis Tribute Artists, and several will perform in Memphis.  She has a huge e-mail list of contacts and Elvis fans, so it must have been a chore to pare it down to the short list of the people who got invitations.  The invitations were e-mailed, and must be printed out and presented at the door.  What a great touch.  It will be fun to come up to the door with my invitation clutched tightly in my hand.  I even printed it in color.

 

For a lot of reasons, I’m pumped to be going to this Elvis Week.  I’m prepared to experience some bittersweet moments as I get an up-close view of aging artists performing.  Maybe, that will make it more special. 

 

Any way, “I’m Going To Elvis Week.  I’m Going To Elvis Week.”

 

©  2007   Philip R Arnold   All Rights Reserved   www.elvisblog.net