Category Archives: HISTORY

Special Elvis Collectibles at the Last Auction at Graceland

1970 Elvis Presley Black-and-White Souvenir Poster

It’s been five weeks since the last Auction at Graceland, so I want to do a post on three items that interest me because of the stories behind them. We’ll save the rings, clothing, and other goodies until a later time.

 

Dixie Locke and Elvis 1955

You have probably seen this photo before, and you might know the girl with Elvis is Dixie Locke. Five items from her personal collection showed up for sale at the January 6 Auction at Graceland. The auction website does a great job describing the relationship between Elvis and Dixie:

It was January 1954 and Elvis’ family was relatively new to Memphis. Elvis attended the First Assembly of God church to hear the Blackwood Brothers Quartet, who were members of the congregation and of whom Elvis was a fan. It didn’t take long for Elvis to be noticed by a group of girls, among them the lovely Dixie Locke. Unbeknownst to Elvis, they admired him from afar and hatched a plan to discuss their weekend plans within his earshot in hopes he would come to the Rainbow Rollerdome. And in fact, he did not disappoint. When he showed up at the skating rink, Dixie immediately spotted him and skated over to introduce herself. He knew just who she was and the two talked all evening, with Elvis driving her home at the end of the night.

A courtship followed and the two began dating. Elvis was about four years Dixie’s senior so it required some interrogating questions from both sets of parents before they all blessed the relationship. In the summer of 1954, Dixie and Elvis parted company for the first time when Dixie’s family left Memphis for a Florida vacation. While they were away, Elvis began early recordings in Sun Studio, and Dixie returned to him to hear his surprise as he was making radio airtime. The two dated for about two years, with Elvis taking Dixie to her high school prom in 1955 [as pictured above].

Elvis Kissing Dixie Locke - May 6, 1955

Elvis and Dixie smooching on prom night

Dixie and Elvis were like any normal young couple dating in the 1950s: their outings consisted of going to the movies, taking drives, going to the local canteen and visiting each other at their respective homes just to play games or sit on the front porch and chat. It was later that fall that the two drifted their separate ways. Dixie has been quoted describing the departure as, “It was kind of a natural thing. His career was going in one direction, and I didn’t feel that I could be a part of it.”

Okay, now check out this photograph. Please ignore the diagonal text of Graceland Auctions obscuring it. That was put there for reasons that will soon be apparent.

1954 Snapshot of Elvis Presley with Girlfriend Dixie Locke and Her Family

Again, from the auction website:

The charming black-and-white snapshot, emanating directly from Dixie’s personal collection, depicts her large family gathering on the lawn for the going-away party for her sister, who was moving to California to be married.

Elvis is pictured in the front row with argyle socks and slicked back hair. The other people consist of Dixie and her parents, siblings, grandparents, aunt, uncles and lots of cousins. The photo is also notated in pencil with the date “6/54” which would have been just before Dixie left on that Florida vacation and Elvis’ career began heating up. The snapshot measures 3 3/8 by 3 3/16 inches.

1954 Close-up of Elvis Presley in Snapshot with Girlfriend Dixie Locke and Her Family

Blow up of Elvis in the Dixie Locke family photograph.

Here’s why I find this photograph so interesting. It had 60 bids at the auction, running the price up to $8,750. I don’t recall any other item at the Auctions at Graceland having that much spirited bidding. So, what caused this interest? I asked Jeff Marren, the Consignment Director at the auction about this photo plus another one from Dixie Locke, and this was his reply:

“Those two offerings, specifically, were extremely strong prices, obviously, but not total surprises from the standpoint that they turned out to be photos that had never been seen. When we brought them to auction, we were almost certain they had never seen the light of day, coming directly from the Dixie Locke Emmons collection. The market is very strong for unpublished photos of Elvis.”

Whoever the high bidder was, he now owns a photo of Elvis that other fans have never seen. It will not join the millions of Elvis pictures on the internet. Nobody will be downloading copies of it. And think of the timing. It was snapped just a few weeks before his first recording session at Sun Records and the start of his career. No wonder there were 60 bids on it.

 

Elvis Presley Inscribed Snapshot - Given to His Little Sister-in-Law - From the Dixie Locke Collection

This is the other photo Mr. Marren referred to. According to Dixie’s accompanying letter, the image of Elvis on this photo postcard was taken at Blue Light Studio in Memphis.

Blue Light Studio

Look at the words along the top of the building. That is Lansky Bros. Men’s Shop. How natural would it be for Elvis to have a postcard photo made at a studio next to Lansky’s, a place he frequently visited.

Anyway, this Elvis photo had 51 bids and topped out at $9,375.

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Elvis Presley Inscribed Snapshot - Given to His Little Sister-in-Law

Elvis inscribed the back side of the black-and-white photo postcard in pencil to “My (high) tempered little sister-in-law” for Dixie’s sister. Elvis and Dixie had talked seriously of marriage during their relationship, and at the time, the two were sure that marriage was in their future. Thus, the reference to his little sister-in-law.

The photo had at one time been trimmed, cutting off part of Elvis’ inscription. The auction website sums up things nicely: “This early and delightfully playful keepsake captures the youthful star and his adoration for his young love and her family. The photo measures 4 7/8 by 3 1/3 inches.”

Over the years, I have reported on many autographed Elvis photographs at auctions, but I don’t remember another bringing in over $9,000. Looks like it makes a big difference if a photo is one of a kind and has never been reproduced on the internet.

 

The Auction at Graceland website had a quite detailed and interesting background story about a 24” by 36” Elvis concert poster.

Scotty Moore invited Elvis to join his band, The Starlite Wranglers, in July of 1954, and Elvis played just two songs with the group in front of a live audience for the first time at the Bon Air in Memphis on July 17. Just three short weeks later on August 7, Scotty, Bill and Elvis break from The Starlite Wranglers for their first real performance together at the Eagle’s Nest in Memphis. The Eagle’s Nest was a nightclub that was located above the changing room of the restaurant and pool at the Clearpool complex located on Lamar Avenue.

Eagles Nest above Swimming Club

The Clearpool was an entertainment complex that catered to a country and western swing crowd. The house band was led by Memphis DJ “Sleepy-Eyed” John Lepley, and at one time or another, the house band members included Jim Stewart, Stax Records founder, and Jack Clement, producer at Sun. Elvis performed here 16 times in 1954 before the club fell victim to fire in the late 1960s. This venue was one of the first paying gigs for Elvis and his very first consistent venue at the birth of his career. It was at the Eagle’s Nest that Elvis initially gained notoriety among the teen crowd, who would rush in from the pool to hear Elvis sing and then return outside when the next act came on. This is also where Elvis’ own style began to flourish and he was recognized as something out of the ordinary.

1954 Elvis Presley One of the Earliest Known Concert Performance Posters - Eagle’s Nest

Offered is a hand-painted, cardboard poster that hung at the entrance to the Eagle’s Nest and touts “Memphis’ own Elvis Presley with Scotty & Bill.” The poster is signed and inscribed “I spent a week there one night / Scotty Moore / DJ Fontana” in white ink on the black background.

The poster lists three songs: “Heart Breaker,” “That’s All Right,” and “Good Rockin.” Elvis had released “That’s All Right” and “Good Rockin” with Sun by September of 1954, while he had been using “Heart Breaker” in his set before recording it as “You’re a Heartbreaker” in December 1954. As Elvis’ performances on the Louisiana Hayride began in mid-October, taking his career into the direction of concert performances at other venues in various cities, his appearances at the Eagle’s Nest begin to wane. Elvis’ last two shows at the Eagle’s Nest were on November 17 and December 10, when, given the songs advertised, this poster was likely used. Since no specific date is listed, enabling the poster to be used more than once, this custom example may have even been used to advertise the appearances on both of those nights.

The auction website traces the ownership of the posters over the years, and one owner, Brian Beirne, a famed Los Angeles radio personality, purchased it in the late 80s or early 90s. He then got Scotty Moore and DJ Fontana to autograph it, approximately 35 years after they had performed there.

Scotty Moore and DJ Fontana autographs on Eagles Nest poster

Mr. Beirne says, “I consider this poster one of the true Holy Grails of concert posters.” The auction website said, “This amazingly rare survivor from the club where Elvis’ legend was launched perfectly captures the spirit of the scene from one of the most formative years in Elvis’ career. One of the earliest known Elvis concert posters.”

Bidders certainly must have been impressed, as it sold for $18,750. Wow

 

Here is one last auction item that has an interesting story. You can’t tell from this picture or the one at the beginning of this article that they are actually posters. Big ones – 22 inches by 28 inches. Hey, ladies. Wouldn’t you love to have one of these posters of Elvis hanging on a wall in your house?

1970 Elvis Presley Black-and-White Souvenir Poster 2

The auction website describes them:

“The Colonel would create generic posters of Elvis that could be altered with snips and venue information and used to promote stops on Elvis Presley’s 1970 tour. These generic posters are few and far between, especially in such an exemplary state of preservation as this one. In true Colonel style, the larger-than-life, bewitching image of Elvis graces the full size of the entire poster. This unusual and rare example with printed Elvis inscription …. is very difficult to come by.”

These full-face posters were given by Tom Diskin [Col. Parker’s assistant] to a fan(fans ?) after a Sept 1970 St. Louis, MO. concert appearance.

I think some folks got very good deals on these posters. The one with the brooding Elvis face went for $687, and the one with the microphone at his mouth went for $812.

 

It’s less than five months until the next Auction at Graceland. I can’t wait to see what new special things they will come up with.

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

 

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Some Elvis Pictures I’ve Never Seen – Part 2

Elvis Drawing on Bald Head

Last weekend’s ElvisBlog post generated the most immediate comments I’ve ever seen (other than the get well wishes after my wife’s surgery).  It seems that posting Elvis pictures I find on Pinterest can be tricky, especially the ones that don’t have any tags explaining what they are.

 

Playing Football with Glasses on

Like this one.  I assumed it was Elvis playing football, but three different readers informed me it was Johnny Harra.  You may remember he played the role of Elvis at age 42 in the movie “This is Elvis.”  (There were three other actors playing Elvis at different ages.)  I guess this picture is a clip from the movie, but I haven’t seen it in ages and can’t remember.

 

Elvis and Dog

When I posted this one, I said I hoped it wasn’t Photoshopped, because I liked it so much.  Well, my good friend, blogger Troy Yeary, got out the magnifying glass and did some detective work.  He reported, “Unfortunately, as you suspected, the one with the dog has to be a fake because he is wearing a Jeff Gordon #24 NASCAR collar, and Gordon did not start racing until the early 1990s.”  Good catch, Troy.

 

Linda Thompson at Elvis' funeral She wore THAT

Two readers commented on this shot of Linda Thompson at Elvis’ funeral.  Frequent commenter Tracey (aka Fluffy Sprout) wrote this:  “On the picture of Linda at Elvis’ funeral, she said this was a favorite dress that Elvis had bought her, and that he loved her wearing it whenever she was with Elvis.”  So, maybe it’s not as inappropriate as I thought.

Priscilla at Elvis' Funeral

Out of curiosity, I searched for photos to see what Priscilla wore at the funeral.  This hazy shot looks like it was taken by a fan, and it supposedly shows Priscilla being led forward by group of men.

Priscilla and Lisa Marie at Elvis' funeral

This photo was tagged, “Priscilla and Lisa Marie at Elvis’ funeral.”  Does that look like Priscilla’s profile?

For what it’s worth, I scrolled through dozens of Elvis funeral photographs, and I couldn’t find one with Ginger Alden in it.

 

Elvis Making a Face in Blue Hawaii

I mentioned that this picture was tagged as G.I. Blues on Pinterest, and that the Army insignia seemed to verify that.  Two readers knew better, and one pinned down the actual movie scene.

“The one of Elvis  in uniform sticking out his tongue is not from G.I. Blues, it’s from Blue Hawaii. Elvis and Joan went in the water at his old shack on the beach and a little boy came up to them, and Elvis asked him if the cat got his tongue.”

 

Gladys' Father and Mother

This photo generated the longest ElvisBlog comment ever.  It came from Jeanne Kendall, a true Elvis expert and the force behind Pomadour, a wonderful Facebook page celebrating Elvis and Elvis Tribute Artists.

Hi Phil!  Great blog, as usual!

Yes, that is a photo of Gladys’ parents, Bob and Doll Smith.  I post it on Pompadour every year on their Anniversary along with this info that you might find interesting:

Bob Smith (1873-1931) was the son of White Mansell’s sister, Ann.

Ann Mansell was a striking woman of dignity and stature, a commanding presence until her death at eighty-six. Bob Smith and Doll Mansell, Elvis Presley’s maternal grandparents, were first cousins. This was a genetic intensification, a doubling, of the family lineage. The marrying of first cousins, with its intensities and possibility for dysfunction, was common in insulated communities of the agrarian South.

Like Doll, Bob Smith was very handsome, his Indian blood evidenced in a noble brow, good bone structure, even features and dark, deep-set eyes. His black hair was dark as coal. Doll would be bedridden from tuberculosis throughout the marriage. Like his uncle and father-in-law, White Mansell, Bob Smith labored long and hard as a sharecropper, and occasional moonshiner, to support his invalid wife and eight children. The noose of poverty tightened on the family, and on Elvis’ mother, Gladys Love Smith (1912-1958) who was born on April 25, 1912.

In 1931, when Gladys was 19 her father Bob Smith died. It was completely sudden and unexpected. Everyone had expected the sick ‘Doll’ to die first. As was his request he was buried in an unmarked grave.

So Gladys did not have a strong role model in a mother, and Vernon did not have a strong bond with his father. Both these facts would impact heavily on Elvis Presley’s life.

[www.elvis.com.au/presley/biography/elvis_presley_family_history.shtml]

I hope all is going well with Beverly’s recovery.  Take care,

Jeanne (Pompadour: A Tribute to Tribute Artists)

Thank you, Jeanne (and also to the original writer at elvis.com.au.)

 

Hands on Elvis' Butt

Three people wrote to tell me this was not Elvis.  The best came from Merjin, a reader from the Netherlands:  “That last one is an ETA. The suit resembles the first (stone) Arabian suit, but is different.  Belt looks like a fantasy Target suit belt.  No Elvis!”

 

Elvis on Typewriter

Only one person challenged this as a Photoshopped phony.  The specific comment was:  “The one with the cat is a big fake.  I believe the original is of Marlon Brando and his ugly arm (not to be mistaken ever for Elvis’ beautiful one).”  Interesting.  There may be something to that, but I just don’t have time to look for a Marlon Brando original.

 

If anyone has more information on the photos posted last week, please put them on Comments.  Now, let’s look as some more pics that certainly seem to be the real deal.

 

 

 

14-year-old Priscilla and Elvis met while doing his service in Germany

The tag says this is 14-year-old Priscilla Elvis sitting with Elvis in Germany.  No wonder Elvis was attracted to her.  Very pretty.

 

Elvis with His Arms Up

There was no tag on this, and I have no idea what’s going on.  Somebody help us out here.

 

scene where Presley sings Viva Las Vegas is performed in one single unedited shot—the only known example of such a technique in Presley's movie career.

I picked this image partly because of the detailed caption:  “The scene where Elvis Presley sings Viva Las Vegas is performed in one single unedited shot—the only known example of such a technique in Presley’s movie career.”  I wonder who keeps track of this kind of stuff.

 

 

Elvis in Confident Pose

We’ll see two shots back-to-back that show Elvis’ body posture in different situations.  Above he looks super-cool and confident.

 

Elvis and Cop

Here he looks a little gawky.   I guess the policeman was part of security leading to/from a venue.  Anybody know?

 

Handsome Elvis in Fringe Jumpsuit

Now that’s a handsome man.

 

Elvis Making a Face

Oh, well, not every candid shot can be flattering.

 

Elvis and Ann Margtret in Viva Las Vegas

Hey, that’s not Priscilla.  It’s Ann Margret. There was an interesting tag, but I did some detective work myself.  The tag said, “Viva Las Vegas. A week later, Ann Margret married Roger Smith. The following week Elvis married Priscilla in Las Vegas at the MGM Hotel.”

Actually, Elvis and Priscilla married first on May 1, 1967.  Ann Margret and Roger Smith married a week later on May 8, 1967.  But Viva Las Vegas was filmed in 1963 and released the following year.  There sure is a lot of mis-information about Elvis on the internet.

 

Jane Elliot and Elvis Goofing Around Backstage Change of Habit

Here’s a movie-related picture with a tag I can completely believe:  “Jane Elliot and Elvis Goofing Around Backstage During the Filming of Change of Habit.

 

Elvis and Plywood Artwork August 1973

We’ll close with one last shot of Elvis looking really handsome.

Handsome Elvis August 1973

Now look at him with the plywood artwork cropped out and his face resized 20% bigger.

Someday I’ll be cruising through Elvis photos on Google Images or Pinterest, and I’ll find this one.  I’ll enjoy seeing that it came from ElvisBlog.

 

 

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

 

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Elvis Collectibles that Failed to Sell in 1999 Get a Second Chance

Catelog - The Archives of Graceland Auction 1999

This is the 296-page catalog of the 1999 Archives of Graceland auction. It was held in the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas, and the auction lots were open for public viewing for ten days. Admission was $5, or you could buy the catalog for $40 and get in free. I happened to be in Las Vegas at that time for a convention, and I gladly forked out the $5 to spend three hours looking at all the Elvis goodies while my wife played the slots. Years later I bought the catalog for a much reduced price from a vendor at Elvis Week.

Poster for the Archives of Graceland Auction

This is a very rare hotel poster (covered in plastic) announcing the Archives of Graceland auction. It probably has some collectible value of its own now.

It appears that not everything at this auction sold, and now they are back nineteen years later at the January 6, 2018 Auction at Graceland.

The Auction at Graceland Jan 6, 2018

I guess these items have been in storage in the Graceland archives all this time. But, with all the expanded exhibit space now at the Elvis the Entertainer Career Museum and five other exhibits at Elvis Presley’s Memphis, you’d think they would hang on to these items. However, they are for sale at auction again, and we will take a look at most of these repeat items. It’s interesting to compare the original 1999 estimates with those for 2018. Because the current estimates are all lower, we can assume the items were over-evaluated the first time, and nobody would pay that much for them.

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Love Me Tender 16mm Film and Acetates of Movie Songs:

Elvis Presley 16mm Film of Love Me Tender and Acetate

This is Elvis’ personal copy of the film in three metal reels and the original brown-strapped shipping case. The smaller case contains his personal acetates of the four songs in the soundtrack: “We’re Gonna Move,” “Love Me Tender,” “Poor Boy,” and “Let Me.” There were actually three versions of the title track “Love Me Tender.”

Address Label 16mm Film of Love Me Tender and Acetate

Back in 1999, the estimate was $5,000-7,000. Now it is just $1,500-2,500. But what if one of those unused versions of “Love Me Tender” is substantially different and has not already been released? It could be licensed for enough to cover the cost of the whole lot.

There are three other lots containing film reels and song acetates that also carried over from the 1999 auction: G.I. Blues, Kid Gallahad, and Live A Little, Love A Little. Their original estimates were less than Love Me Tender, but today they are the same. It seems unlikely that they will bring in as much as Elvis’ first film.

 

Original Screen Door from Graceland:

Original Screen Door from Gracelsnd

Can you believe it? I guess they figure anything related to Elvis has appeal to collectors, including this screen door from the back entrance to Graceland. It has presumably been in storage since 1967 when Elvis replaced with an ironwork door (still there today).

Back in 1999, the estimate was $3,000-4,000, but today it is $1,500 – $2,500. Sorry, if I had that kind of money to spend on Elvis collectibles, I’d get something besides a screen door.

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Elvis Presley’s Personal Massive Wooden Desk from His Home Office in Palm Springs:

Elvis Presley’s Personal Massive Wooden Desk from His Home Office in Palm Springs - Front

This desk came from Elvis’ home in Palm Springs, not Graceland. Because the Colonel and others took care of all his business dealings, Elvis actually used it for little more than reading or to review his concert arrangements. The desk is 7-1/2 feet long and is an impressive-looking piece of furniture – angular kidney-shaped wooden desk with burl wood trim and brass handles.

Elvis Presley’s Personal Massive Wooden Desk from His Home Office in Palm Springs

Back in 1999, the estimate was $40,000 – $50,000, but today it is $10,000 – $20,000. I think they will get it. If a photo of Elvis sitting at this desk ever surfaces, the value would go way up.

 

Elvis’ Portable Sauna:

Elvis Presley’s “Scandinavian Products” Portable Sauna

This is something I most remember seeing at the 1999 auction exhibit, and I thought it was pretty weird. In the 1970s, the Colonel purchased this steam spa for Elvis’ Chino Canyon, Palm Springs home.

Elvis Presley’s “Scandinavian Products” Portable Sauna - Open

Elvis used this spa to maintain his heath  because the advertised benefits included detoxification, stress relief, weight loss, and improving circulation.

Back in 1999, the estimate was $8,000 – $10,000, but today it is $3,000 – $5,000

 

Elvis Presley’s Personal Globe-Shaped Free-Standing Wooden Bar from His Beverly Hills Home:

Elvis Presley’s Personal Globe-Shaped Free-Standing Wooden Bar from His Beverly Hills Home - Closed

 

In 1967 when Elvis and Priscilla moved to the two-acre, two-story home in the elegant Holmby Hills neighborhood of California, Elvis made sure to furnish his home with only the best stuff. Amenities included a soda fountain, a pool table, a projection room and this stately Italian-style Old World Globe Bar.

Elvis Presley’s Personal Globe-Shaped Free-Standing Wooden Bar from His Beverly Hills Home

Of course, Elvis didn’t drink, and the inside doesn’t have much room to store anything, so my guess us that it was just a conversation piece. The globe/bar was put into storage in Los Angeles in 1975, and presumably has been stored away ever since.

Back in 1999, the estimate was $4,500-$5,000, but today it is $1,500 – $2,500. I think it will sell this time, possibly going for a good bit more than the estimate.

 

VCR from Elvis’ Bedroom:

Elvis Presley VCR from His Bedroom at Graceland

According to the auction website, “Not only was Elvis featured in many films, but he also thoroughly enjoyed watching movies. He often went to the theater as a young man and that habit continued into adulthood when he would rent out an entire theater to watch a film. As technology progressed and the video recording system became a popular format in the mid 1970s for home viewing, Elvis would watch his favorites in the comfort of his bedroom at Graceland.” with his own personal VCR player.

Elvis Presley VCR from His Bedroom - Controls

Elvis was passionate about technology and acquiring the latest and greatest, and this high-tech JVC model CR-6300U video player certainly was that at the time.

Back in 1999, the estimate was $4,000 – $6,000, and it is still pretty close today at $3,000 – $5,000.

 

Elvis Presley’s Leather Rocking Chair from the Jungle Room:

Elvis Presley’s Leather Rocking Chair from the Jungle Room

Although fans call it the Jungle Room today, Elvis referred to it as the den, and the auction website calls it the original man cave. However, during the 70s, the furnishings were not the ones we see in Graceland today. We can be thankful that all the original tiki-inspired furniture was saved and ultimately restored to its iconic domain.

The auction website says this rocking chair was a favorite of Elvis’ in his earlier rendition of the room. They acknowledge that a photo of the wrong chair ended up in the 1999 catalog.

Elvis Presley’s Leather Rocking Chair from the Jungle Room

To my eye, this one looks way more like something from the Jungle Room than that spindly one above. But the one in the new picture is what’s for sale and the estimate is $10,000 – $15,000. Back in 1999 it was $20,000 – 30,000. Without a photo of Elvis sitting on it, I don’t think it will sell.

 

Elvis Presley Original Acetate of Beatles Songs “Hey Jude” and “Something”:

Elvis Presley Original Acetate of Beatles Songs “Hey Jude” and “Something”

In 1969 Elvis recorded The Beatles’ hit “Hey Jude” at the American Studio in Memphis. “Hey Jude” was released by The Beatles in 1968 and topped the charts in Britain and the U.S. and is often cited as one of the greatest songs of all time. Elvis’ rendition of “Hey Jude” was included on his 1972 album Elvis Now.

“Something” was another song written by George Harrison and released on the 1969 Beatles album Abbey Road. Elvis included the song during his third season at the Las Vegas International Hotel in August 1970, and performed it during his Aloha from Hawaii television special in 1973, so the song was included on the namesake album as well.

This rare acetate of Elvis singing both famous tunes is described on the auction website as a historic relic of incomparable significance. I don’t understand why it did not sell at the 1999 auction when the estimate was only $650 – $750. Contrary to everything else we have looked at in this post, the current estimate is even higher at $1,000 – $2,000. I predict it will sell at that or more.

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Signed Title to Elvis’ Circle G Ranch:

The background story of this deed is presented nicely on the auction website:

Elvis was an avid rider and purchased his first horse, Domino, as a Christmas gift for Priscilla. Elvis’ passion grew and soon the barn at Graceland was being cleaned to house the horses Elvis began to acquire. It was during a horse-buying excursion in Mississippi that Elvis spotted a 65-foot white cross overlooking a manmade lake on a beautiful piece of land. At the time, Elvis was reading a lot about spirituality, so the mystique of the property moved him enough to stop and knock on the owner’s door. Elvis didn’t even bother negotiating the price of “Twinkletown Farm” with the owner, Jack Adams, but proceeded to put down an initial payment of $5,000 against the total asking price of $437,000 for the house, cattle, farm equipment and 160 acres of land. Shortly after, Elvis moved nearly 40 horses to the property, eight trailers for his friends and family and spent $100,000 on vehicles for the ranch. Elvis renamed the farm “Circle G Ranch,” with the “G” for Graceland. Much time was spent by Elvis, Priscilla and his entourage at the ranch as it provided a getaway from the pressures of Hollywood and superstardom. Elvis had quickly spent a small fortune on the ranch and the cost of maintaining it became too much of a financial burden, so in May of 1969 Elvis sold the property for $440,000.

Elvis Presley Signed Title to His Circle G Ranch

So, the two-page title from Mid-South Title Company in Memphis, dated February 8, 1967 for the Circle G Ranch is back at auction. The title is signed in blue ink by Elvis.

The new estimate has an unusually wide range: $10,000 – $20,000. This puts it both above and below the 1999 estimate of $13,000 – 15,000. I don’t think they know what this signed deed will bring. I hope it goes high.

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1973 Tennessee Motorcycle License Plate:

Elvis Presley 1973 Tennessee Motorcycle License Plate

Elvis owned a lot of Harley-Davidson motorcycles in his life, and this license plate was on one of them. But the best the auction website can say about it is, “The plate may have been used on a custom-made Harley-Davidson that Elvis bought in 1971.”

What’s strange is that this plate is only one of four offered at the 1999 auction.

Elvis Presley License Plates

That set included two white Tennessee plates and a black one from California. The combination was expected to bring $10,000 – 12,000 in 1999. Now the green Tennessee motorcycle plate alone is estimated at just $1,000 – $1,500. It might bring that.

 

The Auction at Graceland January 6 2018

This is just a taste of the 271 Elvis items that will be auctioned on January 6 in Memphis during the Elvis Birthday Celebration. To see everything, click here.

 

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

 

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Fats Domino and Elvis

Fats Domino and Elvis Presley at Table

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

 

Now, about Fats Domino and Elvis Presley.

Rock-Hall-Inaugural-Induction

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

Rock & Roll Hall of Fame 1986 Inductees

 

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

 

Fats Domino and Elvis Presley

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

Las Vegas Press Conference

 

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

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

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

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

 

Fats Domino and Elvis in color

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

Elvis Talking on Stage

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

 

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

The Fat Man by Fats Domino

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

 

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

Fats Domino and the Band

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fats Domino Wearing Lots of Rings

 

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

R.I.P. Fats Domino

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

 

Fats Domino at the Piano

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

How Elvis Spent the Summer of Love

 

Summer of Love

There have been a few reports in the news this week noting the 50th anniversary on October 6 of the end of Summer of Love. In case you aren’t old enough to remember it, here is what Wikipedia has to say about it:

The Summer of Love was a social phenomenon that occurred during the summer of 1967, when as many as 100,000 people, mostly young people sporting hippie fashions of dress and behavior [Editor’s note – i.e. smoking pot] converged in San Francisco’s neighborhood of Haight-Ashbury.

The Corner of Haight and Ashbury

The hippies, also known as flower children, were mostly college and high-school students that began streaming into the Haight, as the district was known, during the spring break of 1967. The media’s coverage of hippie life in  Haight-Ashbury drew the attention of youth from all over America.

The activities in the area were reported almost daily. Hippies were the subject of a cover story in Time magazine, and the Haight was overrun by teenage runaways, panhandlers, drug dealers, assorted charlatans, and to the chagrin of the hippies, gawking tourists.

In October 6, 1967, a group of hippie ‘elders’ organized a mock funeral procession through the Haight neighborhood called “The Death of the Hippie.” Participants carried a coffin down Haight Street, and the crowd stopped for a “kneel-in” at the corner of Haight and Ashbury.

The End of the Summer of Love

 

One of the organizers, Mary Kasper, explained the intended message:

“We wanted to signal that this was the end of it, to stay where you are, bring the revolution to where you live and don’t come here because it’s over and done with.”

The real reason for this funeral was to convince the media to stop covering the Haight.  The organizers sought to end the commercialization of the hippie lifestyle and the main stream appropriation of their social experiment.

 

So, what does this have to do with Elvis? I got the inspiration for this post when I saw a drawing of some flower children. I couldn’t help adding one more image.

Summer of Love

I know, Elvis doesn’t really fit in, does he? But he did have a number of things going on during the summer of 1967.

For one thing, he was a newlywed, having married Priscilla on May 1. On June 10, Elvis left Memphis to go to California to begin filming Speedway. But he didn’t fly. Instead, Elvis took a big group by bus on sort-of a family vacation. The group included these buddies and their wives: Joe Esposito, Billy Smith, Jerry Schilling, Gee Gee Gambill, and Marty Lacker. Charlie Hodge came along without a female companion.

Elvis Driving His Bus

Here is Elvis driving the bus. Priscilla, Charlie Hodge, and Joe Esposito are also visible.

Many of the flower children also traveled in buses, but the comparison is stark.

Hippy Bus

C

 

One of the stops for Elvis and the gang was two nights in Flagstaff, Arizona, with a side trip to the Grand Canyon.

Elvis and Priscilla at Grad Canyon, 1967

 

When Elvis finally arrived in Los Angeles, he spent the next week recording the soundtrack for Speedway. On June 21, Vernon Presley, along with wife Dee and her three sons, arrived in Los Angeles. Here is a photo taken at MGM Studios of them with Elvis, plus NY Governor Nelson Rockefeller and costar Nancy Sinatra.

Elvis, Vernon, Dee, her kids. Nelson Rockefeller, and Nancy Sinatra at MGM 1957

 

Filming of Speedway started June 26 and continued through the month of July and half of August.

Elvis and Nancy Sinatra in Speedway

 

In late August, Elvis entered the RCA Studio on Sunset Boulevard to record songs for his next non-soundtrack album.

On August 26, Elvis and Priscilla arrived home at Graceland. Within a few days, they returned to his Circle G Ranch in northern Mississippi, but instead of horseback riding every day, Elvis took up a new hobby – target shooting.

Elvis Shooting Rifle

 

On September 10 and 11, Elvis did some studio recording in Nashville.

On September 29, he returned to Nashville. This time he appeared in front of the Tennessee State Legislature for the proclamation of Elvis Presley Day by Governor Buford Ellington.

Tennessee Governor Buford Ellington Announcing Elvis Presley Day

 

And finally, on October 6, 1967, the day the Summer of Love ended, Elvis and some of the guys holed up in Las Vegas prior to the start of filming of Stay Away Joe in Arizona.

 

One of the familiar symbols of the hippie movement was the Peace Sign.

Peace Sign

 

Here is my last lame attempt to connect Elvis with the Summer of Love.

Elvis Peace Sign

 

Later, man.   Peace and love.

 

 

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

 

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

 

 

Tom Petty and Elvis

As you know by now, Tom Petty died yesterday at age 66. He had suffered a cardiac arrest at his home in Malibu CA, and could not be revived at the UCLA Medical center. I’ve been a big Tom Petty fan for years, so I decided to pull out my old albums and cassettes and listen to his music for the next couple of days. It surprised me, but I have no Tom Petty CDs. He has been making music for over forty years, so I guess I prefer his early stuff.

 

Tom Petty’s first and only contact with Elvis took place in early 1961 when he was just eleven years old. He grew up in Gainesville, Florida, not too far from Ocala where Elvis was filming Follow That Dream at that time.

The following is condensed from a 2007 article written in the Gainesville Sun by Entertainment Editor Bill Dean.

 

Petty’s uncle, Earl Jernigan, owned a local film-developing business and worked on location shoots whenever filmmakers came to the area.

So when Jernigan’s wife, Tom’s Aunt Evelyn, rolled into the driveway and asked her nephew if he’d like to “go and see Elvis Presley,” he was licking his chops at what would in a few hours become the adventure of his young life.

“I remember this vividly,” said Petty, who at that point primarily knew Elvis as a character who had caused some controversy, due to those swiveling hips when Tom had been about 5 or 6 years old. “He was known to me as a fellow who wiggled,”

After driving 30 miles, Aunt Evelyn and Tommy, along with his brother Bruce and cousins Sadie and Norma, pulled up near the film set in downtown Ocala – where Elvis was to shoot a scene of him driving up in a car and entering a bank.

 

“There was a huge crowd; the biggest crowd I’ve ever seen in the streets of Ocala,” Tom said. “And then I swear to God, a line of white Cadillacs pulled in. All white. I’d never seen anything like that. And I was standing up on a box to see over everyone’s head, because a big roar started up when the cars pulled in.”

“Guys in mohair suits and pompadours began bounding out of each car – to Tom’s startled cry of “Is that ELVIS?” every time. But when the real Elvis finally appeared, Tom knew… Immediately.

“He stepped out radiant as an angel,” Tom said. “He seemed to glow and walk above the ground. It was like nothing I’d ever seen in my life. At 50 yards, we were stunned by what this guy looked like. And he came walking right towards us.”

Elvis’ hair was so impossibly black that it glistened a deep blue when the sunlight hit it. And that’s when Elvis walked directly over to Uncle Earl, Aunt Evelyn and little Tom Petty.

“We were speechless,” Tom said. As Uncle Earl introduced Elvis to everyone, The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll smiled and nodded to each open-mouthed youngster.

“I don’t know what he said, because I was just too dumbfounded,” Tom said. “And he went into his trailer.”

Then, young Tom got “really excited” as hundreds of girls pressed against the chain-link fence. Many brandished album covers and photos, which one of Elvis’ “Memphis mafia guys,” as Tom described it, dutifully took into the trailer and returned, bearing authentic Elvis autographs.

“Seeing the girls go wild over Elvis only added to the lasting impression on Tommy,” his cousin Sadie said. “My sister and I were excited to watch them film a movie. But Tommy got caught up in the moment. It was like he was mesmerized with an imprint on his brain.”

“And I thought at the time, ‘That is one hell of a job to have. That’s a great gig – being Elvis Presley,'” Tom said.

Young Tom began collecting anything he could find on Elvis. He stayed inside the house and did nothing but listen to Elvis music. “My dad was concerned that I didn’t go outside, that I just played these records all day.”

“I learned all of those early Elvis songs,” Tom said. “And having that kind of background in rock ‘n’ roll, of where it had come from, has served me to this day. It became an invaluable thing to have. So for that, I thank him.”

Although Tom Petty never saw Elvis again, the flames from that fire have never waned.

Sadie Darnell, Tom’s cousin who accompanied him to see Elvis that day, told The Sun that the meeting between The King and Gainesville’s future rock ‘n’ roll son was a “life-altering moment” for young Tom. “He was completely, completely enthralled,” said Darnell. “And Tommy told us as a family that he was going to be a rock star.”

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Tom Petty’s 10 Favorite Elvis Presley Songs:

01.’That’s All Right‘ – 1954
02.’Baby, Let’s Play House’ – 1955
03.’Heartbreak Hotel’ 1956
04.’Hound Dog’ – 1956
05.’Mean Woman Blues’ – 1957
06.’One Night’ 1958
07.’Santa Claus Is Back In Town’ – 1957
08.’Can’t Help Falling In Love’ – 1961
09.’A Mess Of Blues’ – 1960
10.'(Marie’s The Name Of) His Latest Flame’ – 1961

 

Tom Petty had a remarkable career. He had over two dozen Top 40 hits. He played the Super Bowl halftime show in 2008 and entered the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2002. But, until the day when he encountered Elvis Presley, he has said, “I’d never thought much about rock ‘n’ roll until that moment. I caught the fever that day and I never got rid of it. That’s what kicked off my love of music.”

So, how about that. Elvis can be credited with hooking Tom Petty on rock ‘n’ roll.

 

Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers Hypnotic Eye Tour 2014

 

We’ll miss you, Tom Petty. Say hi to Elvis for us.

 

 

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

 

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

 

To read the entire Gainesville Sun article by Bill Dean, click here.

 

Elvis’ Original Graceland Piano Returns to the Music Room

Elvis' Knabe Grand Piano

 

Ten days ago, Graceland.com/news made this announcement:

Most Significant Musical Artifact

“Elvis Presley’s Graceland has announced the acquisition of one of the most significant pieces of Elvis’ musical history, which will be returned to Graceland 60 years after it was first purchased by Elvis for the home in 1957 – a white, baby grand piano with gold accents and a custom-made, gold, metal bench designed by Elvis with a white, leather cushion. For the first time ever, the public will be able to see this legendary Knabe branded piano on display in its Graceland home.”

 

Knabe Piano Logo and Keys

 

This is a special piano, as we will report in detail, and its acquisition seems to be the catalyst for a complete restoration of the Graceland music room to its original 1960s-era appearance. The white piano will be complemented by the original white and blue draperies, and the gold couch that was part of the room’s décor in 1964. Doesn’t it sometimes seem like nothing at Graceland was ever thrown out? I guess it was all put into storage in the attic, basement, outbuildings and elsewhere.

Elvis Standing in front of Knabe Piano

 

History of Knabe Pianos:

William Knabe, a German immigrant, started his piano-manufacturing company in Baltimore in 1837. His instruments were of high quality and well regarded, especially in the antebellum South. Owners and players of Knabe pianos through the years include Albert Einstein, Brigham Young, Rutherford B. Hayes, Francis Scott Key, and Hans von Bülow. Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky played a Knabe at the opening concert of Carnegie Hall in 1891, and Knabe pianos were used by the New York Metropolitan Opera for forty years. Based on the serial number, this particular instrument was manufactured in 1912.

 

Owners Before Elvis:

It’s a mystery who may have owned this piano from 1912 until the 1930s when it was installed as a stage instrument at Ellis Auditorium in Memphis, Tennessee. For the next three decades, the Knabe piano at Ellis was played by the finest local and national touring musical acts of the period, including W. C. Handy, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Cab Calloway, and many others.

In early 1957, this Knabe grand piano was sold during a remodeling project at Ellis Auditorium. The purchaser was Jack Marshall, owner of Marshall Music at 3627 Park Avenue in Memphis. Marshall knew of the quality and history of this piano; he had played it onstage at the Ellis numerous times as the accompanist for the legendary Southern Gospel group, the Blackwood Brothers.

As soon as Elvis heard of the availability of this instrument, he wanted it as part of the original furnishings for his new home called Graceland. On May 28, 1957, Elvis purchased the piano from Jack Marshall s for $818.85.

 

Elvis and Ellis Auditorium:

What possessed Elvis in 1957 to choose this particular “used” piano for his grand new home? There were certainly plenty of other pianos, both new and used, to choose from. A new one could probably have been ordered in white, avoiding the lengthy refinishing process. A look at the history of Elvis Presley and the Ellis Auditorium may answer that question.

Ellis Autorium, Memphis Tennessee

As a poor teenager, Elvis often attended the Gospel “Sings” that took place at Ellis Auditorium. He and his mother both loved that type of music; they attended the First Assembly of God Church where the Blackwood Brothers were based. On the nights that Elvis couldn’t get a job selling sodas at Ellis to earn admittance and didn’t have the pocket change, he could usually count on the Blackwoods to let him sneak in through the back door. He would sit in the audience, watch Jack Marshall play this Knabe piano with the members of the beloved quartet he called friends. Elvis also dreamed of the day he might perform on that very stage.

Of the many memories Elvis held of Ellis Auditorium, one of the proudest must have been the night that he walked across that stage for the first time. The date was June 3, 1953, and the occasion was his graduation from Humes High School. His parents were likely in the audience beaming with pride at their son.

 

The very first time Elvis performed on that hallowed Ellis stage was on February 6, 1955. He was fourth-billed, behind Faron Young, Ferlin Husky, and Martha Carson.

Elvis' Concerts at Ellis Auditorium 1955

Fourth Billing February 1955  — Top Billing November 1955

At Elvis’ next gig at Ellis Auditorium, on November 13, 1955, he was top-billed over Hank Thompson, Carl Smith, and Carl Perkins. During 1955 and 1956, Elvis performed at Ellis Auditorium six times.

Elvis Performing at Ellis Auditorium

Performing at Ellis Auditorium, May 15, 1956
Is that the Knabe Piano on the left?

 

Elvis had become a superstar by the time he bought this piano in 1957, but he most certainly still had a strong emotional connection to Ellis Auditorium. When the piano became available, it’s no wonder that Elvis felt he absolutely had to have it for his very own. What an amazing story — from sneaking in the back door to hear it played behind his favorite Gospel group to owning it and playing it himself in his own music room just a few short years later!

Elvis Playing Knabe Piano

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Elvis Had the White Knabe Grand Piano Refurbished:

He had a definite vision of the appearance he wanted. To that end, Elvis personally supervised the refinishing of the Knabe, a process that took place in Jack Marshall’s store, with a young high school-aged member of the singing Blackwood family named Ron Blackwood performing most of the stripping and sanding procedures.

Blackwood had a fond memory of Elvis and the piano:

“One special event involving this piano occurred when one evening while I was working on the refinishing in the warehouse at Jack Marshall’s music store, Elvis came by to check on the progress, as he often did. He and several of the Blackwood Brothers began singing and playing gospel songs together. This continued until past 4:00 a.m. I was still in high school at the time, but I stayed and participated in the sing-along jam session the entire night. I was so tired the next morning, I couldn’t go to school. My mother was so upset.”

When piano was completed to Elvis’ satisfaction, he purchased a matching bench and had them moved into a prominent place in his music room at the new mansion. That is where this piano stayed for twelve years. During that time, the piano was the musical focal point of many hours Elvis spent rehearsing and entertaining guests, and it was played constantly by Elvis as well as visiting celebrities. Elvis enjoyed playing and singing alone in private moments, but especially enjoyed gathering family and friends in the music room as they ran through a broad repertoire of favorite songs – particularly gospel and R&B.

According to Elvis’ close friend George Klein:

“One special event involving this piano occurred when one evening Sam Phillips called and asked if he and Jerry Lee Lewis could stop by Graceland. The result was that Elvis and Jerry Lee played and sang together on that piano for over two hours.”

If I was granted a special wish to go back in time to any Elvis event, I think I would pick this two-hour Elvis and Jerry Lee jam session.  That would be some experience.

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The End of the Knabe at Graceland:

As a present for Elvis’ and Priscilla’s first wedding anniversary in 1968, she gave him a new gold piano to replace the Knabe. Off to storage it went, its mellow voice sadly silenced for several years.

In 1976, Vernon Presley decided to sell the grand piano to Ted Sturges, a local recording studio owner and record producer. During the five years Sturges owned this Knabe, it was used in recording sessions for more than 50 albums by various artists. In 1981, Sturges sold the piano to a close friend of Elvis, entertainer Jimmy Velvet. He had opened an Elvis Memorabilia Museum in Memphis, and he proudly exhibited it there until 1990. At that point, it returned to private ownership where it has remained for the last 20 years.

 

Elvis Presley's Knabe Grand Piano

 

During Elvis Week in 2010, the Knabe piano was offered at Ultimate Elvis Auction held by Heritage Auctions in Memphis. The minimum bid was set at $500,000, and the pre-auction estimate was $1 million plus. The price tag was too high, and nobody met the minimum.

Presumably, EPE negotiated more favorable terms to bring this special piano back to Graceland.

 

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

 

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

 

Interesting Elvis Memorabilia – Part 37

The Auction at Graceland Sign

I have run out of ideas for different titles on these posts featuring Elvis collectibles, so I’m just going to number them from now on. Here are the titles for the memorabilia articles posted so far in 2017.

2017 Elvis Auctions

So, the 37th post in this series will feature items for the recent Elvis Week 2017 Auction at Graceland. The number of lots for bid increased to 309, so the items I find interesting will fill several posts.

 

1954 Elvis Presley Ceiling Hanger Advertisement:

 

1954 Elvis Presley Ceiling Hanger Advertisement

You have to be impressed when a hanging advertisement for an Elvis record sells for $2,000. This 14 inch diameter in-store promotion featured Elvis’ second single “Good Rockin’ Tonight,” released on September 25, 1954. The auction website calls it custom-made, so presumably Sun Records made just a few for the local record stores. This one came from Popular Tunes, a record store in Memphis where Elvis shopped and hung out. It is rumored that when he released a new song, Elvis would hide around the corner to watch people go in and buy his new record.

 

Signed 1953 Humes High School Yearbook:

Signed 1953 Humes High School Yearbook

Every year or two another one of these Humes High School yearbooks shows up at auction. Elvis must have autographed the books of nearly every girl in his graduating class, and his usual message was a variation of, “Best of luck to a cute girl,” as it is in this one. The auction website describes all the pages in the yearbook pertaining to Elvis:

Elvis is depicted in his senior class portrait wearing a suit jacket and tie with a curl of hair falling onto his forehead. He has listed his major as “Shop, History, English” and his activities as “R.O.T.C., Biology Club, English Club, History Club, and Speech Club. The yearbook is 112 pages and Elvis is also mentioned on page 30 in the class’ Last Will and Testament in Section 83: “Donald Williams, Raymond McCraig and Elvis Presley leave hoping there will be someone to take their places as ‘teachers’ pets.’” Elvis is also pictured on page 56, in the 5th period 12th grade English class photo, in the back row.

If you would like to see these pages, click here.

These yearbooks are always popular with bidders, and after 15 bids, the price on this went up to $4,250, about what they usually bring.

 

1957 Soda Fountain and Ice Cream Toppings Canisters from the Graceland TV Room:

Elvis Presley’s 1957 Soda Fountain Ice Cream Toppings Canisters from the Graceland TV Room

When Elvis bought Graceland in 1957, he started remodeling immediately. He hired an interior decorator and let him decide what to do with the place. But Elvis did ask for two specific things. He wanted the most beautiful bedroom in Memphis for his mother — and he wanted a soda fountain so his friends could come and sit and have soda. He installed the ice cream machine, along with the soda fountain and topping canisters, in the bar area of the basement TV Room downstairs.

There are six ceramic canisters. The taller ones are 9 inches tall and have a soda pump. The three toppings canisters are 6 inches tall and have a chrome lid with a serving spoon attached.  Two of the soda fountains are labeled “Coca Cola” and “Root Beer,” while two of the topping canisters are marked “Marshmallow” and “Strawberry.” Two labels are missing. The set stayed in Graceland until 1974 when Linda Thompson did the remodel.

Bidding was rather light on this, but it went for $4,000. If the new owner could find a photo of Elvis standing in front of it, the value would surely go up.

 

Two Reels of 8mm Film from 1959-62:

Two Reels of 8mm Film from 1959-62

I believe someone got a real steal on this. These two rolls of film had the ridiculously low starting bid of $500 and pre-auction estimate of $1,000-1,500. They sold for $3,750.

These very interesting reels of 8 mm film contain footage of Elvis Presley and his Graceland home over a number of years, plus Elvis on location for Follow that Dream in 1961. The total viewing time is almost 20 minutes, but there is no sound. The scenes include:

Elvis Playing Football in 1961
Elvis Playing Football in 1962
His 21st Birthday Party where he kisses half a dozen different girls on the cheek as they pose for still photos.
Miscellaneous scenes showing Graceland.
Elvis signing autographs on location for Follow That Dream in Aug. 1961.” The scene shows a crowd discovering Elvis at his hotel and surrounding him, and soon he diligently signs autographs.

Based on labels on the reels, it is assumed that Ms. Pam Drew of Chicago shot this film. It seems like she (and perhaps girlfriends) caught up with Elvis a few times and had the camera ready. It is uncertain whether this film was ever shared or distributed.

The reason I think the top bid was a steal is because of the possibilities all the screen grabs present for marketing. Those shots of Elvis kissing the girls at his birthday party should alone generate big bucks for licensing. Somebody could add narration and music and editing and turn the footage into a DVD. There were 32 bids on this film, making it all the more surprising it didn’t go for a larger sum.

 

1953 “Annual Minstrel” Talent Show Program at Humes High School:

1953 “Annual Minstrel” Talent Show Program at Humes High School -- Front

Well, you wouldn’t be allowed to put an image like this on a program for a high school variety show these days. Apparently, it was okay back on April 9, 1953. Elvis is the 16th act, listed as “Guitarist,” but the interesting thing is that his last name is spelled “Prestly.”

1953 “Annual Minstrel” Talent Show Program at Humes High School - Inside

The winning bid for this program was $2,125, about what the pre-auction estimate projected.

 

Necklace – Possibly Stage-Worn in 1957:

Elvis Presley Necklace - Possibly Stage-Worn in 1957

I’m not sure why the auction website was so cautious about saying Elvis wore this item. Although they didn’t have a Letter of Authenticity from J.D. Sumner, to whom Elvis gave the neckless (along with additional tokens given to him by fans). But, they did have a LOA from Mike Moon of The Elvis Museum. Sumner gave it to the museum in the 1970s. The pendant, contains Catholic symbols on a clover-shaped design on the front, and reads on the reverse, “I am Catholic, please call a priest.”

This photo was snapped prior to Elvis’ March 28, 1957 performance at the International Amphitheatre in Chicago where he wore his famous gold-leaf suit. The website says the pendant in the picture “is very possibly the exact pendant” in the auction. Bidders must have believed this, because they ran the final price up to $8,750.

 

Complete Set of Five Elvis Presley Sun Records 45 RPM Records:

Complete Set of Five Elvis Presley Sun Records 45 RPM Records

I agree with the auction website that most collectors have to build this collection piece by piece, so it was a rare occasion to have all five Elvis Sun singles available together. Twenty bids ran the price up to $8,750

The collection includes:

1954 Sun 209 “That’s All Right” / “Blue Moon of Kentucky” (Sample stamped in red on both sides)
1954 Sun 210 “Good Rockin’ Tonight” / “I Don’t Care if the Sun Don’t Shine”
1955 Sun 215 “Milkcow Blues Boogie” / “You’re A Heartbreaker”
1955 Sun 217 “I’m Left, You’re Right, She’s Gone” / “Baby Let’s Play House”
1955 Sun 223 “Mystery Train” / “I Forgot to Remember to Forget.”

Can you make a guess which of these is the most difficult to acquire? The answer is Sun 215 “Milkcow Blues Boogie.” Four of the five records in this set are rated Very Good or better. # 217 has single crack through playing surface. You can bet the new owner of this set will still be looking for a better copy of “I’m Left, You’re Right, She’s Gone.”

 

Historic January 25, 1956, Elvis Presley First Signed Document as an Adult – Certifying Earlier Agreements with Colonel Parker:

Historic January 25, 1956, Elvis Presley First Signed Document as an Adult - Certifying Earlier Agreements with Colonel Parker

Col. Tom Parker convinced Elvis and his parents to allow him to manage his career and had them all sign a contract in August 1955. Gladys and Vernon had to sign it because Elvis was just 20 years old and considered a minor. The Colonel obviously wanted something stronger, so when Elvis turned 21, Parker had Elvis sign another contract where he reaffirms his agreement to the earlier contract. It seems like Parker skipped using an attorney and composed it himself using his best legal-sounding language. He refers to himself as both “me” and Col. Thomas A Parker in the document. And when he refers to Elvis as an “infant,” he obviously meant “minor.” Have fun reading this attempt at legalese.

On this 25 day of January, 1956, before me personally appeared ELVIS PRESLEY, to me known to be the individual described in and who executed this instrument, and he duly acknowledged to me that on November 21, 1955, he entered into and signed certain management and representation agreements with Col. Thomas A. Parker, that said instruments were formerly signed and executed by him when he was still an infant under the age of 21 years, that he has since arrived at full age and is desirous of confirming the signing and execution of said agreements, and he now acknowledges that he does hereby confirm said agreements as and for his act and deed, for the purposes therein contained.

Of course the contract had a big effect on Elvis’ life. It also sold for $21,250 at this auction.

 

1956 Signed Copy of His First Album Elvis Presley:

Signed Elvis Presley Album

As far as I know, no autographed Elvis album has sold for as much as this one. The estimate of $5-10,000 seemed reasonable, but 37 bids rocketed the price up to $25,000.

What makes this album so special? The auction website says that signed copies of the Elvis Presley LP are few and far between. However, this one has an extra feature – a close connection to the inner workings of the Presley organization. The back cover has an inscription, “To Trude, A great little gal. Thanks and good luck, Elvis Presley.” This is Trude Forsher, Elvis and Colonel Parker’s west coast secretary and promotions coordinator from 1956-1961.

You may not know this fact about Elvis’ first album as explained on the auction website:

In 1956, “Heartbreak Hotel” was already a smash hit, and RCA wanted to capitalize on the heavy TV presence of its young star. So five songs RCA acquired from Sun Records when it bought Elvis’ contract were combined with seven RCA recordings to round out the album.

The front and back of the sleeve have separated from heavy use. The back of the sleeve has several areas of tape and tape residue, including one that affects “Trude” in the inscription. None of these distresses affect the Elvis signature. The bidders apparently didn’t care about this album cover not being in the best of shape. Although the photos show that the vinyl record is included, not one word was said about its condition.

 

Wraparound Sunglasses – Worn on the Set of Follow That Dream:

Elvis Presley's Wraparound Sunglasses – Worn on the Set of Follow That Dream

I know you have heard of Ray-Bans and Foster Grants, but how about Renauld sunglasses?

In the 1960s, Renauld of France created a stylish and futuristic wrap-around style sunglasses that were popular with celebrities and sport enthusiasts. The above “Sea & Ski Spectacular” model was touted as appearing to float on the face. The green lenses were guaranteed distortion-free and contained a special UV formula filter.

Elvis always wanted to be at the forefront of fashion, so it was important to him to have this latest hot item. The story of how Elvis got this pair is described in a letter from Elvis’ buddy Alan Fortas on the auction website:

“I was with Elvis during the filming of the movie Follow That Dream down in Ocala, Florida. Elvis has wanted a pair of these new wrap-around sunglasses that had just come out. He had me look in shops around town and I couldn’t find any. When Elvis wanted something he wanted it ‘NOW.’ There were hundreds of people around the set wanting autographs and just wanting to watch Elvis.

“Well, eagle eye Elvis saw someone in the crowd with a pair of the sunglasses that he wanted. He yelled at me and pointed to the person in the crowd and told me to go and ask him where he got them, and, if I had to, buy them from him. When Elvis gave you a task you followed it. Turned out the guy that was wearing them got them as a gift and he didn’t know where they came from. I said I’ll give you $50.00 for them. He said make it $100 and he’d sell them. That’s how Elvis finally got these sunglasses he had been wanting. He wore them constantly when we weren’t filming. Eventually Elvis got tired of these when he started wearing another style and gave these to me.”

The Renauld sunglasses went for $11,875, which is more than Elvis’ familiar EP design from the 70s bring at auction. There have been many of those, but this pair of Elvis shades is one of a kind.

 

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

 

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Elvis’ First Guitar — A New Twist on a Old Story

Two new Elvis Statues in Tupelo

Every ElvisBlog article involves research on Google/Images. Sometimes I will scroll down well below the pertinent pictures just to see what new-to-me Elvis photos might show up. That’s how I found the one above.

The two statues are part of the several attractions added to make the visit to Elvis boyhood home in Tupelo a bigger experience. They were unveiled in 2012 as part of the 35th anniversary of Elvis’ passing. I like the contrast of young Elvis with his simple acoustic guitar in front of adult Elvis in all his jumpsuit and cape splendor.

Elvis at 13 Statue in Tupelo

There is another statue of young Elvis in the complex now known as the Elvis Presley Birthplace Museum and Chapel. I’ve never visited it, but by the time I do, I’ll bet even more stuff is added.

Elvis Presley Birthplace Museum

 

Let’s go back to the statues for a minute. Both young Elvis statues have him holding a guitar.  Tupelo is not only where Elvis was born, it is also where he got his first guitar. Just about every fan knows he bought it at the Tupelo Hardware Store.

Tupelo Hardware

Tupelo Hardware Inside

 

The story most people know about Elvis’ first guitar runs pretty close to the one in Elvis Day by Day.

Elvis Day by Day

The book’s authors, Peter Guralnick and Ernst Jorgensen, are two highly esteemed Elvis historians. Guralnick is a guest speaker at Elvis Week this year, and Jorgensen has had the same honor previously. They have done decades of research on Elvis and written several other books about him. So, what you read about Elvis in their books can be trusted as factual. Or at least factual according to their research documents as of 1999 when Elvis Day by Day was published. Here is the entry for January 8, 1946:

“On Elvis’ eleventh birthday, his parents buy him a guitar at the Tupelo Hardware Store. As Gladys Presley later tells the story, Elvis wanted a bicycle, but she was put off both by the cost and by her fears that he might get hurt.”

Color Picture of Elvis' First Guitar

Last year, a fellow Elvis fan named Carol Austin sent me a copy of a book written nine years after Elvis Day by Day. It states two things that differ from the earlier book – he did not go into the store wanting a bicycle, and it was not on his eleventh birthday. Why should we believe this different version of the story?

Book We Remember Elvis

Because the book, We Remember Elvis, was written by four people who were boyhood chums or relatives of young Elvis in Tupelo. If you want to fully understand the hardships that Gladys, Vernon, and Elvis went through prior to moving to Memphis, you can’t do better than this book. These four authors lived that life too. But, there were many happy moments as well. Chapter 33 – Elvis’s Christmas Wagon begins:

“Christmas of 1945 was great…. Elvis had gotten a glossy wooden Wagon Master…. That wagon was a spectacular model. The frames on the side slid in and out of metal holders.”

Elvis 1945 Christmas Present -- Wagon Master

Image from book – similar to Elvis’

Elvis took almost every child in his playgroup for rides in the first days after Christmas. On the last Saturday of the year, Elvis and his two best buddies, Odell Clark and Guy Thomas Harris, took turns pushing the wagon up the hill on Kelly Street and riding it down. They would give the passenger a huge shove and watch their friend take a roller coaster ride and hear the squeals of laughter.

When the boys tired, they rode the wagon down Kelly Street to the Assembly of God Church (since moved to the Elvis birthplace complex).

Elvis - Assembly of God Church Tupelo

In 1945, there were wide sandy ditches of the sides of the road, and the three boys parked the wagon and played in the sand with toy metal trucks carrying on a make-believe construction job. Then disaster hit, as described in the book:

“Coming along the road was a big dump truck filled with scrap metal driven by a neighbor named ‘Peanut’ Gamble.’ … He and some of the Randle boys pulled big pieces of metal out of grown up weeds on the back property lines. … [Gamble] then backed his big truck back onto the roadway. Unfortunately, Elvis’ new wagon was right behind the truck’s big wheels.”

The boys screamed “stop,” but it was too late and the wagon got crunched. Elvis picked up several broken pieces and stared in disbelief. Then he began hysterical crying and ran toward home.

“’Mama, Mama, Mama,’ he cried….Mama could fix anything! Gladys had heard his cry and was running toward her son. Her face was blood red and her breath was sporadic as she rushed to her child….Gladys grabbed Elvis into her arms, pulled him tight to her chest, but she trembled with the power of her emotions.”

Peanut Gamble caught up with them and apologized over and over. He took out his wallet and gave Elvis every bill he had. “I’m so sorry. I didn’t see it.”

Gladys carried Elvis all the way home as he clutched the money tightly. He had his chin resting on her shoulder and his arms and legs wrapped around her body. He was thinking of getting a new wagon, but another thought seeped in – maybe buying new rifle instead.

 

Let’s look at two calendars to get a sense of the timing of this story.

December 1945

The two dates circled are when Elvis got the wagon and when it got crushed.

January 1946

You all recognize January 8 as Elvis’ birthday. But the 5th of January is when Elvis went to Tupelo Hardware. As the book says, “The next Saturday was the day to go to Tupelo to replace the broken toy.” (The Presleys actually lived in the village of East Tupelo, now annexed into the city of Tupelo.)

By then, Elvis was committed to try to buy a 22 rifle with his money. Gladys wouldn’t hear of it, and doggedly maintained they were going to buy a wagon. Once in the store, Elvis took her hand and dragged her in the direction of the rifles. She continued past them and pulled him toward the wagons. Then something caught her eye and she looked up. Elvis’ eyes turned to see what she was looking at. It was a display of guitars.

The salesman saw the interest and asked, “Do you play the guitar, Mam?” Elvis made a quick glance back to the rifles before giving his full attention to the glistening guitar.

“The smart salesman immediately climbed the sliding ladder to take down the smallest of the instruments [it was a 1940s Kay model]. He slid the strap over Elvis’ head and adjusted the guitar at the perfect angle to fit Elvis’ young body. He handed him a small ivory pick. The child immediately placed his slender fingers on the proper frets as his Uncle Vester had taught him. When he strummed the strings with the pick, there was just enough harmony for the salesman to brag generously on the child’s talent.”

Elvis placed his money on the counter and got two one-dollar bills back. He strolled out of the store with the guitar still hanging over his shoulder. We can assume both he and his mother had big smiles on their faces. Gladys had to be happy that Elvis wasn’t carrying a rifle, and Elvis had to be thrilled with his new guitar.

January 1946

So, that’s how it all started. I am absolutely confident that Elvis told the story of his trip to Tupelo Hardware to his buddies numerous times, and they have recounted it in the book We Remember Elvis. This is the real story of Elvis’ first guitar.

 

Guernsey's Auction Sept 14, 2011

Elvis’ first guitar went up for auction at Guernsey’s on September 14, 2011 in New York City. I have spent entirely too much time on Google trying to find out what it went for, or if it even sold at all. If anyone knows, please put a message on Comments.

 

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

 

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A Summer of 40th Anniversaries

Elvis 40

Elvis Week 2017 will mark the 40th anniversary of Elvis’ passing, and EPE has a great event planned for the fans. There is so much quality stuff to do and see, enhanced by the new Graceland Guest House and Elvis Presley’ Memphis. I wish I was going.

Another 40th anniversary coming up is Elvis’ last concert performance on June 26 at the Haymarket Arena in Indianapolis. I had the privilege of contributing to an upcoming special on local radio station WIBC. Programmer Chris Davis interviewed me to get soundbites for the broadcast.

Elvis' last Concert - Indianapolis 1977

Not that I had attended the concert. He had already found some Hoosiers who had been there. He asked me general stuff like the difference between Elvis’ 1950s music and his 70s music, and what was it like to be a teenager when Elvis burst on the scene and changed everything. He also asked me my opinion of Col. Parker, but I’m pretty sure he won’t use my answer. I didn’t mince words about my disdain for Parker. If you’d like to read a 2009 blog post I did on Elvis’ final concert, click here.

 

Another 40th anniversary is the Elvis in Concert TV special on CBS. It aired on Oct 3, 1967, just a few weeks after Elvis died. However, it was conceived well before his death and was supposed to join the ranks of the ’68 Comeback Special and Aloha from Hawaii to create a trio of historic Elvis TV specials. The results did not live up to expectations, and Elvis in Concert has been mostly just a historical footnote.

TV ad for Elvis in Concert Special

This is a screen grab of the commercial CBS used to promote the program.

CBS advertisement for Elvis In Concert in 1977

 

Filming for the special was done on June 19 at the Omaha Civic Center and June 21 at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center in Rapid City, South Dakota.

 

Start of CBS Special Elvis in Concert.

This is the opening shot from the one-hour broadcast.

Omaha Civic Auditorium

Elvis in Concert contained fourteen songs, but only three were included form the Omaha show. According to Peter Guralnick and Earnst Jorgensen, the authors of ELVIS – Day by Day, “it is one of the poorest shows Elvis has given to date, a sad and incoherent performance for the most part.”

 

Rushmore Civic Auditorium

Elvis was in much better two nights later in Rapid City. He performed memorable versions two songs, but one was not included in the special. Again, quoting ELVIS – Day by Day,

“Perhaps the highlight of the show (although it is neither easy viewing nor listening) is Elvis’ version of “Unchained Melody,” which will not be included in the television broadcast, though Elvis performs it in bravura fashion, alone at the piano.”

Elvis Singing Unchained Melody

 

I would like to disagree. There is footage on YouTube of Elvis performing “Unchained Melody” the same manner on April 24, 1977, two months earlier. If you have seen it, you’ll never forget it. Elvis was bloated, sweating profusely, and performing through a cloud of painkillers.

Elvis Singing Unchained Melody - Close Up

And yet, he gave an utterly moving rendition of the song. Maybe it wasn’t easy viewing, but it was compelling. It gave me the chills and a lump in my throat. It was a great triumph for Elvis to pull it off. I was so proud of him.

 

Are You Lonesome Tonight Laughing Version

The other memorable song in Elvis in Concert was “Are You Lonesome Tonight?” Starting in 1969, when Elvis performed it onstage, he regularly played around with the words during the talking part part of the song. Often, this caused him to break into fits of laughter. If you’ve never seen a video of this, just go to YouTube and type in Are You Lonesome Tonight Laughing Version.

However in the Elvis in Concert broadcast, just before Elvis went into the recitation part of the song, the music was faded down and a devoted female fan is shown talking about her determination to see Elvis live in concert, then it switches back to Elvis after the talking part was finished. This may have been done so that viewers would not have to see Elvis fumbling through the recitation.

 

1977 Elvis in Concert double record set

Shortly after the broadcast, RCA released a double album also called Elvis in Concert.  Although it contained all the songs from the TV special, it also contained “Fans’ Comments,” “Elvis Talks,” a “Special Message from Elvis’ Father,” and a bunch of songs recorded at other concerts in June 1977.

 

The Elvis in Concert TV Special has never been officially released on VHS or DVD, and Elvis’ estate has issued a statement saying that they have “no plans” to release the special, due to the fact that Elvis was visibly “far from his best in the way he looked and the way he performed.”

However, the bootleggers have been busy putting out unofficial DVDs. Here are just a few.

ELVIS PRESLEY IN CONCERT 1977 DVD

 

And like everything else ever filmed, Elvis in Concert has shown up on YouTube – numerous times. Click here and take your pick.

 

 

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

 

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