Category Archives: ELVIS WEEK

We Miss You, Elvis

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We Miss You, Elvis

 

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

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

 

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.”

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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. 

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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.”

 

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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

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

 

MORE STORIES FROM ELVIS WEEK 2007

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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?

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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

EPE GIVES OK to ETA's

I just read the news that Elvis Presley Enterprises is finally going to embrace Elvis tribute artists next summer in Memphis.  They will stage The Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest on August 17th at the end of Elvis Week 2007.  I think this is a great move, both for Graceland and for the fans.  This is outstanding news.

 

I regularly check out www.elvisnews.com to look for story ideas, and this announcement was posted on November 16.  It received a massive number of Comments, and most of them were negative.  People were saying the tribute artists had no talent and were tarnishing Elvis’ image.  Wrong!  These naysayers are so wrong. 

 

Sure, there are some fat, no-talent imitators around, but that’s not what you’ll see at the final stages of this competition.   At this level, the ETA’s are entertainers of the first order who know how to give outstanding performances.  I can’t wait to see this show.

 

I have qualifications to say stuff like this.  I went to the Collingwood Elvis Festival in 2003 and 2005, and took in the final competitions there.  The best seats went for $75 (Canadian), the cheapest cost $25, and the arena was packed both times.  People would not pay that kind of money unless the shows were great, and they all left the arena happy.

 

Well, now the Collingwood competition in July will be a preliminary round for The Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest in Memphis.  With the EPE stamp of approval, the level of competition in Elvis tribute will go up even more.  The other announced preliminary round will be Tupelo’s Elvis Presley Festival Tribute Artist Competition in June.  Don’t be surprised if other Elvis festivals come on board, too.

 

There are a number of ETA’s who have full time careers with their traveling shows and no longer appear in contests.  I’m hoping some of them will want to get back into competition for this one.  I worked a Darwin Lamm concert at Elvis Week 2005, and saw five of these guys battling, trying to top each other, even though it wasn’t a competition.  If I was a judge, I’d pick them all as first place.

 

Sure, it’s not Elvis.  It’s 30 years too late for him to make the show in Memphis next year, but lets be happy with what we’ve got:  a couple of dozen or so of the top Elvis tribute artists in the world battling it out for the title.  If a fan wants to see what the live Elvis show was like, these guys can take you there.  When the lady fans run up to the stage to get a scarf and a kiss and come back to their seats in radiant happiness, you know these guys have nailed it pretty good.

 

They were backed at Collingwood by a live band, a very good one called “The Expense Account Band.”  Six or seven musicians and two female back-up singers.  They brag about knowing over 400 Elvis songs.  You can bet there will be a top-level band for the Ultimate Elvis competition.  Also, it will be held at the beautiful Cannon Center.  This is where the Memphis Opera performs, so you know the acoustics are wonderful.

 

I hope the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest uses the same divisions as Collingwood, because I really like The Early Years competition.  These performers put a lot of the Elvis body action into it, and that adds to the show.  Plus, they sing the music of my teenage years, so I love the songs they do.  Lot’s of folks said the Inspirational Elvis competition at Collingwood was outstanding, so we can look forward to a Gospel category in Memphis.  The Concert Vegas Years competition is very popular, but it usually gets down to a battle of ballads, including “If I Can Dream,” “American Trilogy,” and “Hurt.” Sorry, I want to see my Elvis move.  The Youth Division is cute and enjoyable, and it’s cheaper to watch.

 

If you are attending Elvis Week 2007, you should take in The Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest at some level.  As soon as I post this, I’m sending off an e-mail to see about getting a comp ticket to The Early Years finals.

 

©   2006   Philip R Arnold   All Rights Reserved   www.elvisblog.net

FIVE CONCERTS AT ELVIS WEEK 2007

Darwin Lamm has announced his schedule of Elvis Week concerts for next year — and he will be going out in style.  Since 1988, Lamm has entertained close to fifty thousand Elvis fans in Memphis with his series of Good Rockin’ Tonight concerts.  In all likelihood, 2007 will be the last blast from Darwin.  It could also be close to the end of the performing careers for some of the musicians.  So, this will be the year to go to Elvis Week and take in great concerts.  Here’s what Darwin has lined up. 

 

On August 14, the TCB Band does two “Good Rockin’ Tonight” shows.  Fronting them will be Terry Mike Jeffrey.  I’ve seen Terry Mike perform with the TCB boys twice, and he does a great job on Elvis songs.  The previous Elvis Week concerts with TCB Band and Terry Mike Jeffrey have been great successes.

 

On August 15, Scotty Moore will be honored at “The Last Man Standing” double-concert.  See last week’s blog article on this exciting event.

 

Finally, on August 16, there will be two “Spirit of The King” shows featuring a dozen or more of the best Elvis Tribute Artists.  This will be similar to the terrific show Darwin presented in 2005, and it was the entertainment bargain of the week.  These are not guys who perform at retirement homes or shopping center openings.  These tribute artists all make a nice living touring North America with their individual shows, and now they all will be assembled on one stage.  These are going to be fun concerts.

 

©  2006   Philip R Arnold   All Rights Reserved   www.elvisblog.net

ELVIS WEEK NEEDS SCOTTY, DJ, AND THE JORDANAIRES

The current issue of Elvis International, The Magazine has an article titled “Elvis… Where Are You?”  It is by a man I haven’t met but would like to.  Robert Alaniz owns Soundz Good Records, and he organizes huge memorabilia shows at each Elvis Week.  He also writes good articles.

 

Robert’s title question, “Elvis… Where Are You?” refers to his concern that Elvis’ spirit in Memphis was fading this year.  Robert noted that many of Elvis’ original entourage were absent from the festivities in 2005, and said, “Elvis’ spirit is strong with them and when they’re not there, his presence is weakened.”

 

I agree completely.  Scotty Moore, DJ Fontana, and The Jordanaires were not at the last Elvis Week, and it just didn’t feel right without them.  These guys give off oodles of great Elvis Karma, because they were there in ’54, ‘55, & ‘56 when it all began.  Scotty helped shape the sound of Elvis’ music from the very first second it existed.  DJ came on board in 1955, and Gordon Stoker was one of the four men in the Jordanaires in 1956 who provided vocal accompaniment for Elvis.  Ray Walker joined the group in 1958, so his connection with Elvis is long and deep.

 

These four men — Scotty Moore, DJ Fontana, Gordon Stoker, and Ray Walker — are the real deal.  And we are lucky to still have them with us.  Scotty is 74, DJ is 71, Gordon is 76, and Ray is 71.  To me, these four men are national treasures, which makes it all the more sad they weren’t at Elvis Week this year.  Robert Alaniz presumed they were likely in Europe, where the international fans wanted them.  He said he understood that everyone has to make a living, but “you’d think that Elvis Week in Memphis would be the place for them to be.”

 

Boy, do I agree with that.  It would be terrific if somehow they are all at Elvis Week 2006.  If so, you should plan to go and soak up some of that genuine Elvis spirit, while it is still strong.

 

Here’s some good news.  The odds are great that Scotty, DJ, Gordon, and Ray will be at Elvis Week 2007, because Darwin Lamm, Editor of Elvis International, will present a two-day, 30th Anniversary Tribute and Concert.  Darwin has done similar Elvis Week events since 1988, and he always has Scotty, DJ and The Jordanaires at his concerts.  This one will probably be called something like The Last of The Legends, and it will be the one absolutely-don’t-miss event of Elvis Week 2007.  I will be backstage.

 

© 2005   Philip R Arnold

MUSINGS ON ELVIS WEEK 2005

Memphis was very hot during Elvis week this year, but it didn’t seem to slow down any of the hardy folks in town to celebrate.  In spite of there being no significant event to honor (like the 50th anniversary of “That’s All Right” last year), we had dozens of cool events to choose from.

 

One I visited was the “Images of Elvis” tribute artist competition, and there just seems to be a new crop of these talented guys every year – they’re fun to watch.  I tagged along with the manager of one of the ETA’s (not called impersonators any more).  The venue’s refreshment area included Scotch and water, and their hot dogs were surprisingly good, so we had a great meal and a great show.

 

The Elvis Art Competition winners on display at Graceland Center included some beautiful work, but I was tickled by several of the non-winners.  One person had taken a familiar picture of Elvis and created a paint-by-numbers canvas.  Somebody ought to market those.  My favorite was a large display, with a Swinging-Legs Elvis Clock mounted just above a stage like setting.  In front of that, at a lower level, were 16 Barbie Dolls.  They faced Elvis and had their arms raised, like real fans.  Pretty clever.

 

The “Good Rockin’ Elvis Day Festival” turned out to be the bargain of the week.  For $28 you got 2 hours of “Conversations On Elvis,” seven hours of the best professional tribute artists, a silent auction of very cool Elvis items, and access to a memorabilia market.  The biggest item at the auction was a Gibson guitar that sold for $3100.  It was autographed by Scotty Moore, DJ Fontana, the Jordanaires, all four members of the TCB Band, Boots Randolph and others.  I have all these same autographs in a copy of the 27th Anniversary issue of Elvis International, The Magazine.  I wonder what I could get for that?

 

The memorabilia market even included a vendor selling trees that are direct descendants of the ones at Graceland.  They were about three feet high.  One lady bought a weeping willow early in the morning, and she carried the tree in and out of the ballroom all day.

 

Tours of Graceland now come in three options.  The new big tour includes some areas never before opened, and there is no waiting in any lines.  It costs $55, but you can get 10% off if you turn in an official Elvis Week Pepsi can.

 

So, I experienced several new sights and sounds at Elvis Week.  I also learned something else.  If you go to Elvis festivals in Collingwood, Ontario and Memphis in the same month, you can expect the wife to go out and do a lot of shopping while you are gone (and feel no guilt whatsoever).

 

© 2005  Philip R Arnold