Category Archives: HISTORY

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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Say Goodbye to Graceland Plaza

Drawing of Graceland Plaza

If you’ve made the pilgrimage to Graceland you have certainly sent time in Graceland Plaza across the street. You probably have memories of eating at the Chrome Grill, shopping in the Elvis After Dark shop, or enjoying At the Movies with Elvis. Well, that’s all gone now.

Elvis Presley's Memphis Under Construction with Graceland Plaza in Front

In the bottom left of this aerial photo you can see Graceland Plaza. But look at the much larger complex of buildings under construction behind it. This is Elvis Presley’s Memphis, and all the good stuff has been moved here. It opened in March, and since then, the empty Graceland Plaza has been surrounded by a chain link fence.

More Buildings to the Left

Now demolition has begun and will be completed soon, if it hasn’t already. Graceland Plaza will be replaced by a park setting with lawn, bushes, and trees. It will provide a nice buffer between Elvis Presley’s Memphis and the busy street.

Current Graceland Plaza in Memphis

This is the ‘before’ shot showing what the above section used to look like.

 

Elvis Car Museum at Graceland

This is the car museum at the far left end of the plaza.

Old Car Museum with No car out Front

And this is it prior to demolition. Note that the shrubbery is gone and the Caddy has been moved from the stage.

 

Still More to the Left

This photo is taken from farther down to the right.

Graceland Plaza 3

The hedge and trees are gone.

 

Farther to the left

The demolition equipment is in place.

 

Graceland Plaza 2

The following are several shots of this section under demolition.

Graceland Plaza Demolition 5

Graceland Plaza Demolition 3

Graceland Plaza Demolition 2

Demolition of Graceland Plaza to the Left Of Airplanes

All gone.

 

Graceland Plaza Demolition 1

This picture is of the area just to the left of the airplanes.

Graceland Plaza 4

We’ll finish with a last look at what Graceland Plaza used to be. From the car museum in the upper left to the airplanes at the bottom right, Graceland Plaza had much to offer. It is part of our memories made during visits to pay tribute to Elvis. Now we have to go to Memphis again and see all the new stuff they’ve built. (Bring lots of money. It isn’t cheap.)

 

Many thanks to Scooby on Phoenix – The Elvis Forum for discovering a few of these photos on Facebook. His forum post on May 9 alerted me to the current demolition. I also checked on YouTube and found a walking tour filmed on May 9. Click here to view the footage.

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© 2017 Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister All Rights Reserved www.ElvisBlog.net
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Concerts at the Graceland Guest House Theater – Part 2

Concert in Graceland Guest House Theater

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

Joe Walsh at Guest House Theater 2

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

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

Gospel Weekend at the Guest House Theater

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

 

TG Sheppard and Kelly Lang

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

 

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

Wanda Jackson

Wanda Jackson Smiling and Elvis

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

Elvis Presley and Wanda Jackson April 15, 1956 San Antonio

April 15, 1956, San Antonio

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

Wanda Jackson and Elvis

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

 

Later Wanda Jackson

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

 

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

 

Wanda Jackson Concert Schedule

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

Wanda Jackson in 2014

 

 

 

Johnny Rivers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

Elvis - Memphis Single

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

Johnny Rivers- Memphis Single

 

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

Johnny Rivers -- The Memphis Sun Recordings

 

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

 

Older Johnny Rivers

 

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

Johnny Rivers Appearances

 

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

 

 

Jerry Lee Lewis

Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis Presley

Yes, I know this is a Photoshopped photo

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

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

 

Million Dollar Quartet

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

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

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

 

Jerry Lee Lewis RockHall of Fame Photo

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

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

Jerry Lee Lewis New Years Eve 2016

Jerry Lee Lewis New Years Eve 2016

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

Jerry Lee Lewis On Stage - May 4, 2013

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

 

Nesbit, Missippi

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

Vernon and Gladys Suite

 

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

 

Jerry Lee Lewis is a Rock and Roll legend.

Come on EPE. Bring him to Graceland.

 

Older Jerry Lee Lewis

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

 

 

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Interesting Items at the 7th Auction at Graceland

January 7, 2017 Auction at Graceland
I started covering auctions of Elvis memorabilia in March 2010. Over the next 4-1/2 years, ElvisBlog had 25 posts covering auctions from Heritage, Julien’s , Sotheby’s, Gotta Have It, and Michaan’s auction houses.

Then in August 2014, EPE sponsored the first Auction at Graceland in Memphis during Elvis Week.

August 14, 2014 Auction At Graceland

Since then, half of the 14 auctions containing sizeable selections of Elvis collectibles have been the Auctions at Graceland. In addition to on-line bidding, the items were on display prior to the in-person bidding in Memphis. These were logical attractions for the folks coming to Elvis Week and the Elvis Birthday celebrations.

In 2016, a third auction was added to add more pizazz to the opening of the new Guest House at Graceland.

October 29, 2016 Auction at Graceland

 

As I have stated before, EPE made a brilliant decision to get involved with auctioning of Elvis memorabilia. They are gobbling up much of the available items, and from what I can tell, they are bringing higher prices for the sellers.

The latest Auction at Graceland closed on January 7 and had 165 items for bid. We’ll probably look at the rings, autographs, and clothing in the future, but here are some other items that caught my eye for one reason or another.

Boxing Gloves Elvis Wore in Kid Galahad:

Elvis - Boxing Gloves used in Kid Gallahad

These boxing gloves were one of the surprise successes of the auction. Although this was just one of several pairs Elvis wore during the filming of Kid Galahad, it attracted 15 bidders. They ran the price way past the minimum bid of $2,500 and topped out at $11,875 (including the 25% auction premium). However, this is another example of something I’ve been reminding folks with an Elvis collectible to sell. Spend some money on a proper display. It will pay off. If it had just been two loose boxing gloves as shown above, the top bid would not have been so high.

Elvis - Display of Boxing Gloves used in Kid Gallahad

However, the top bidder actually got a nice framed 25’ x 25” display that included a shot from the movie and the six-song soundtrack EP, both showing Elvis wearing boxing gloves. The case is 5 inches deep with protective glass over it.

And here’s something you may find interesting. The previous owner said this about the boxing gloves, “I held them and could feel the Elvis vibes.” Good for her.

 

Shirt Signed by 30+ Elvis Presley Co-Stars and Friends:

eBay Shirt Signed by 30+ Elvis Presley Co-Stars and Friends

This is one item that may have fared better on a general entertainment auction than on one for just Elvis collectors. Only four bids came in and the winning one for $750 fell well below the estimate.

There are fourteen autographs on the front. Perhaps you can make out these Elvis co-stars: Anne Helm (Follow That Dream), Stella Stevens (Girls! Girls! Girls!), Cynthia Pepper (Kissin’ Cousins), Deborah Walley (Spinout), Celeste Yarnall (Live a Little, Love a Little), Julie Parrish (Paradise, Hawaiian Style), Diane McBain (Spinout), Joan Blackman (Blue Hawaii, Kid Galahad), and others. Notable co-stars on the back and sleeves include Julie Adams (Tickle Me), Marilyn Mason (Trouble with Girls), and Mary Ann Mobley (Girl Happy, Harum Scarum).

It doesn’t say so on the auction website, but I believe all these signatures were obtained over time at Elvis Weeks when all the special guests sit at tables signing publicity photos, etc. About ten years ago, I saw someone moving down the line with an acoustic guitar getting autographs by many musicians from Elvis’ past. It later sold at auction for well over $750.

 

Colt “Police Positive Special” .32 Caliber Pistol:

Elvis Presley Owned and Used Colt “Police Positive Special” .32 Caliber Pistol

What would an Elvis auction be without one of his guns? As the auction website says, Elvis had a personal arsenal. Here’s one with two interesting stories.

Elvis acquired this Colt .32 caliber pistol in the 1970s at Tiny’s Gun Store in Palm Springs, California. Tiny, the owner of the gun shop, admired one of Elvis’ rings, and Elvis asked him if he wanted to trade for it. Tiny said yes and offered several items for the trade. Elvis decided on this gun and others and made the deal.

However, after using it, Elvis gave it to his bodyguard Dick Grob. His reason for this was that it didn’t have much fire power, very little noise and almost no recoil. Definitely not enough bang to suit Elvis.

But the Colt pistol had enough appeal to bidders to run the $2,000 minimum bid up to $10,625

 

Mike McGregor’s Handcrafted “TCB” Necklace in Elvis Presley Style:

Mike McGregor’s Handcrafted “TCB” Necklace in Elvis Presley Style, Circa 1980

We could also ask, “What would an Elvis auction be without a TCB pendant?” So many of them have changed hands over the last seven years. However, this is not one that Elvis owned and wore. It is not one he gave to friends. In fact, it was made three years after his death.

Mike McGregor was a blacksmith and leather craftsman who met Elvis in the 1960s at the Western shop where Mike worked crafting saddles. Elvis hired Mike to work at the Circle G Ranch taking care of the horses. Mike and his family lived at Circle G and then moved to Graceland, where he continued making leather goods and jewelry for Elvis.

In 1976 McGregor opened his own jewelry shop in Mississippi where he made this silver pendant modelled after the Elvis style. Apparently, this is a close enough connection for the high bidder pay $687.50 for it.

 

Water Pistol from the May 8, 1976 Sahara Tahoe Squirt Gun Fight with Elvis:

Rockin’ Robin’s Squirt Gun from the May 8, 1976 Sahara Tahoe Elvis Presley Squirt Gun Fight

I didn’t think I would ever see a squirt gun at an Elvis auction, let alone bringing in a $625 top bid.

On May 8 1976 at the Sahara Tahoe, Elvis performed for nearly 90 minutes, sang more than 25 songs and was engaged throughout. Then, several fans near the stage began a water fight with squirt guns after he sang “Love Me.” One of them was “Rockin’ Robin” Rosaaen, a fan of some renown at that time.

Label on Squirt Gun from the May 8, 1976 Sahara Tahoe Elvis Presley Squirt Gun Fight

This plastic squirt gun was what she used during the skirmish. Her accompanying letter with the water pistol says, “During the show I gave Elvis this large green machine gun-sized squirt gun, and he then proceeded to shoot his back-up singers, thinking he had the only squirt gun. Later, as he stood center stage, we opened fire! Elvis thought it was too much fun, and the next night talked about it, saying ‘Ladies and gentlemen, you should have been here last night—it was like a gun fight at the OK Corral”

 

Platinum Record Award for Elvis Presley’s Album Aloha from Hawaii:

Platinum Record Award for Elvis Presley’s Album Aloha from Hawaii

Lots of Gold and Platinum Record Awards have shown up at auction. However, these are often the ones awarded to Col. Parker, or RCA, or others. Or they are awards presented by other entities than the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America). However, this is the actual official one awarded to Elvis. It’s a surprise that this one is not already part of the huge awards display at Graceland.

Elvis - Aloha from Hawaii Platinum Record Award.

The minimum bid was a ridiculously low $500. Fifty bids later, it topped out at $9,375. That doesn’t mean fifty different people bid on it. Probably two or three collectors battled it out to win the prize. In any event, I have never seen an item of Elvis memorabilia receive fifty bids.

 

23 Private Photos and More:

Elvis - Aloha from Hawaii Platinum Record Award.

This is a treasure trove of mostly never-seen-before photographs from the estate of Trude Forsher. From 1956 until 1961, Forsher served as secretary for Col. Parker and Elvis. Here is a photo of her and Elvis in 1956.

Trude Forsher and Elvis in 1956

As you can see, Graceland Auctions now puts a watermark over the photos posted on the auction website. It took them a while to figure that out. There is no mention of why Elvis is is that unusual position.

Trude Forsher Archive Showing Elvis at Rehersal

Here’s a photo taken at a Los Angeles recording session in 1957. Cousin Gene Smith, the Jordanaires, and Bill Black join Elvis.

This collection had a total of 42 bids and finally went for $6,250. Seems like a very good deal for all these photos and other stuff

 

1950s Original 35mm Negatives of Elvis Presley Jam Session with Scotty Moore

35mm Negatives of Elvis Presley Jam Session with Scotty Moore

For the same price of $6,250, someone bought a set of just six Elvis pictures (not shown – a near duplicate and one shot that doesn’t include Elvis). According to the auction website, the pictures were taken at a rehearsal in 1955. They do not say this was at Sun Studios, but the folks who placed 35 bids must have thought so. Why else would the winner have paid such a high price?

 

Union 76 Gold Cards:

Elvis Union 76 Gas Gold Card

Elvis credit cards show up from time to time. This one went for $3,375. Wow.

 

1966 Tennessee License Plate:

Elvis Presley’s 1966 Tennessee License Plate

This license plate went for $3,500, thanks in part to the nice display. However, the auction website said the plate was originally on Elvis’ 1967 Lincoln Continental. I don’t think that is the car in the picture.

The plate was originally owned by EPE, but they put it up for auction back in 1999 Graceland Archives Auction in Las Vegas. They sold a whole bunch of stuff then. I wonder if they wish they had it back now that they are about to open the new “Elvis: The Entertainer” museum at Elvis Presley’s Memphis.

 

March 4 2017 Auction at Graceland

Speaking of Elvis Presley’s Memphis, the new, state-of-the-art entertainment complex, which will have its grand opening on March 2-5. Yes, there will be another Auction at Graceland as part of the festivities. I’ll bet they will have no trouble finding another 165 or so new memorabilia items to bid on.
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© 2017 Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister All Rights Reserved www.ElvisBlog.net

 

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Elvis and Pearl Harbor

Ticket to Elvis Concert for USS Arizona Memorial Concert

The 75th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor was observed this week. On December 7, 1941, more than 2,400 Americans were killed and 1,178 were wounded in the surprise military strike conducted by the Imperial Japanese Navy against the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

All Elvis fans know he performed a benefit concert as part of the fundraiser for the memorial to the USS Arizona, which was sunk at the Pearl Harbor attack. 1,177 crewman on the Arizona died.

Newspapre Article on Elvis Performing at Pearl Harbor

 

As I started writing this post on December 7, I remembered that back in March this year, Graceland.com presented a Gates of Graceland video blog in remembrance of the 55th anniversary of Elvis’ concert at Pearl Harbor. I went back and viewed it again, and I recommend that you do as well.

Then, I checked into Graceland.com/news to see what they posted on the 75th anniversary of the attack. Sadly, nothing. This was the news post of the day.

graceland-com-news-post-on-dec-7-2016

Okay, the 60th anniversary of the Million Dollar Quartet is a pretty memorable event, and they did do the Gates of Graceland blog, so we’ll cut them some slack.

Over the years, I have accumulated a lot of pictures on Elvis’ Pearl Harbor concert, and there’s no better time than now to put them on ElvisBlog.

 

Elvis wearing gold Lame jacket at Pearl harbor Concert

Here is Elvis performing. Yes, he wore the famous gold lame jacket.

 

100% Benefit Performance

Elvis’ performance can be considered a patriotic action, because every cent of the concert proceeds went to the USS Arizona Memorial Fund. Elvis bought the first ticket for $100, and required all members of his travelling party to do the same.

 

Elvis' Travelling group for the USS Arizona Memorial Concert

Here is a list of that travelling party. It’s interesting to study the names of the Elvis group flying on Pan Am to Honolulu. Cousin Gene Smith was up in first class with Elvis, but the other four members of the Memphis Mafia are back in economy. Red West’s ticket was obviously issued in his real name Bob.

Hal Wallis was the producer on Elvis’ movie, Blue Hawaii. Production had begun a few days before the Pearl Harbor concert, and filming with Elvis began a few days after. Country comedian Minnie Pearl appeared in the concert as a warm-up act for Elvis.

Tom Diskin was Col. Parker’s number one assistant. Parker probably had arrived in Hawaii earlier to be there when work on the movie started. I believe Freddie Birkenstock was representing RCA Records.

The last group on the list included the Jordanaires and the members of the band, including special guests Boots Randolph and Floyd Cramer. The photo above shows Bob Moore playing bass guitar behind Elvis, but he is not on the list. He probably sat in one of those five extra economy seats mentioned at the bottom of the list.

 

Elvis Presley and His Show Album

This is an album of Elvis’ Pearl Harbor concert. I think it is a bootleg. With all the screaming by the audience, I’d be surprised if the sound is any good.

 

To The Memory

Priscilla, Elvis, Charlie and Joe at Pearl Harbor Memorial

Here are Priscilla, Elvis, Charlie Hodge, and Joe Esposito observing the list of the Americans who died at Pearl Harbor.

 

Elvis at Bell Shaped Wreath at USS Arizona Memorial

1,177 carnations were used in this bell-shaped wreath, one for every serviceman who lost his life aboard the Arizona. The sash says, “Gone But Not Forgotten.”

 

Elvis Greeting Fans Before USS Arizona Memorial Concert

Elvis arrived in Honolulu at 12:20 in the afternoon and had his concert at 8:30 that night. In between that and viewing the memorial, he had time to hold a press conference.

Elvis Press Conference at Pearl harbor

 

 

Polish Picture of Elvis at Pearl Harbor

This is an interesting photo, made in Poland, no less.

 

The poster below has the Sears logo on it, because their stores in Hawaii sold tickets to the show.

Sears Poster for USS Arizona Memorial Concert

 

Elvis’ concert raised $62,000 for the USS Arizona Memorial. This is the equivalent of $496,000 in today’s dollars.

 

Our nation paused this week to remember those who lost their lives at Pearl Harbor 75 years ago. Here is Elvis doing the same thing in 1961.

Elvis Presley at USS Arizona Memorial

 

 

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

 

 

 

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Touching AP Wire Stories after Elvis’ Death

Newspaper Headline of Elvis' Death

Elvis’ incredible rocket ride to superstardom coincided exactly with my high school years. I have always felt fortunate to have been a teenager when Elvis burst on the scene and changed everything. It was an exciting time for those of us lucky enough to be around then. Sometimes I marvel at all the folks who have become Elvis fans in spite of never experiencing the Elvis phenomenon in real time.

This week I realized there are also current Elvis fans who never experienced another momentous event – his death. It was a brutal shock to us fans, and the pain and sorrow we felt over his loss was staggering.

To honor the 39th anniversary of Elvis’ passing, I would like to reprint some of the sentiments expressed by Associated Press writers in the days after his death. These went out to hundreds of subscribing newspapers along with assortments of photographs. They are not straight news stories, but rather narratives on the effect Elvis’ passing had on the fans.

I think you may find these stories a welcome addition to your celebration of Elvis Week 2016.

 

Fans at Gates of Graceland august 18, 1977

The throng of grieving fans who descended on Graceland the day after Elvis died is well documented. Less known are the pilgrimages fans made to other of Elvis’ former homes, like the one at 144 Monovale Street in the Holmby Hills area of Los Angeles.

Elvis Home -- 144 Monovale, Holmby Hills section of Los Angeles

 

August 17, 1977:  (Author attribution not given)

As a light rain fell, fans of Elvis Presley sat outside the black iron gate of the Holmby Hills mansion once owned by the dead star. They waited, but they didn’t know what for, and they didn’t really know why they had come.

A tour bus stopped Tuesday, and after telling his tale, the driver leaned out to the damp visitors and said, “You know he doesn’t live there anymore.”

They knew.

Dany Frye said it was like being shot when he heard that the king of rock and roll was dead. Almost without thinking, he and his wife made a pilgrimage to the house where Frye and other fans often visited to catch a glimpse of Elvis. “He was Mr. Music to me,” said Frye. “I don’t think anybody will ever take his place. I used to come out here and wait by the gate, along with a hundred other people.”

The 29-year-old Frye had seen Presley once. “You know, he meant a great deal to people my age. The Beatles came along and he wasn’t so hot for a while, but his true fans loved him.”

Frye occasionally peeked through the hole in the fence at the expansive Tudor-style mansion capping grass-knolled lawns. He ran his hands through his hair, pacing back and forth.

Frye knew the trees that dotted the estate, knew the tennis court, but didn’t know why he was there.

[Editor’s note: We know.]

~~~~~~~~~~

Fainter Coming through the Gates of Elvis' Graceland

The dedication and anguish Elvis fans endured in Memphis the day after his death is probably not known by many of the folks in town for this year’s Elvis Week. Any who read this story will probably be less inclined to complain about the Memphis heat.

August 18,1977: by Eric Newhouse

The bouquet of red roses, meant to adorn the coffin of Elvis Presley, wilted in the sun.

“The girl standing next to us originally brought flowers,” said Margaret McCasland of Memphis. “We picked them up and decided to deliver them when she fainted.”

Hundreds fainted Wednesday as they waited in the stifling heat outside Graceland mansion for a last glimpse of the king of rock ‘n’ roll. After treatment by paramedics inside the mansion’s gates, many doggedly continued their pilgramage to Presley’s seemless copper coffin.

Police said 25,000 to 30,000 people passed the open coffin just inside the doorway to Presley’s white-pillared home for a two-second glimpse of the singer.

Presley was burried today after a private ceremony. At 5:55 p.m. a policeman announced over a megaphone that “gates will be closed at 6:30. No one will be admitted after that.” No one moved.

At 6:30 sharp, another announcement: “The family has requested that the gates be closed. They are sorry you couldn’t make it.” Still no one moved.

“It is not our doing,” pleaded the policeman. “The family has asked us to stop the visitation.”

The huge crowd responded with a chant: “One more hour, one more hour.” But the gates adorned with dancing musical notes opened only to admit a last-minute surge of children and fainting women.

Thousands were turned away.

“I think it’s terrible. I’ve waited six hours,” said Ms. McCasland, holding the wilted bouquet.

“We came all the way from New York,” said Donna Griffin. “We stood there for five hours and they shut the door in our faces.”

One man denied entry said he had flown from Switzerland. Another said he had come from Baltimore. A woman said she had come from California.

Sheriff Barksdale said he had been in law enforcement in Memphis for 27 years, “and I’ve witnessed many events, including the assassination of Martin Luther King,” he said.  “I’ve never whitnessed anything like this.”

Presley’s body was discovered Tuesday afternoon. News of the 42-year-old singer’s death swept the country.

“I heard on the radio that he was dead and then they started playing ‘I Can’t Help but Love You,’” Rita Hambrick of Texarkana, Ark. said.

“I couldn’t help it – I broke out crying and cried until I went to bed. And I woke up crying again to the radio playing ‘Love Me Tender.’”

Miss Hambrick and her friends drove 130 miles to Memphis Wednesday morning and spent six nightmarish hours waiting in the heat.

‘Seven people fainted around me. The lady in front of me and the lady behind me had to be caried out on stretchers.’

“It was horrible,” she said, “but I’d do it again, because it was our last chance to see him.”

~~~~~~~~~~

I always enjoy reading about how Elvis changed things for the teenagers of the late 50s. But many kids of that age in 1977 knew little about Elvis.

Woman Crying

 

August 19, 1977:  by Linda Deutsch

To little kids and teenagers, it must be a strange spectacle: a world of adults grieving the death of a rock ‘n’ roll singer.

“Who was this Elvis Presley, anyway?” they wonder. “Why did Mama cry when she heard he’d died? And what’s this got to do with me?”

How do you explain?

If there had been no Elvis, we might still be wearing crewcuts and saddle shoes. We might be humming ballads and saying nothing about sex.

“If there had been no Elvis,” says music publicist Paul Wasserman, “there would have been no Beatles, no Rolling Stones. Elvis was a pioneer.”

Like George Washington?

Well sort of. He was a revolutionary for sure, but he carried a guitar, not a musket, and his message was a different kind of freedom.

He was a “culture hero” and it seems just now that he should be compared to another man in this century: Rudolph Valentino. They were American originals – “The Shiek” and “The Pelvis.”

In the 1920s, Valentino danced the Tango on a movie screen and women swooned.

In the 1950s, Elvis wigglesd his hips on TV and girls fainted.

 

Screaming Elvis Fans

Elvis’ death shocked and stunned his fans around the world. Did you know that so many of them flocked to Graceland the next day that president Carter had to send in 300 National Guard troops in to maintain order? It has been written that 500,000 people and 1,000 police officers lined the streets of Memphis for Elvis’ funeral procession on August 18. That seems incredibly high, but such is Elvis lore.

Elvis Presley's Funeral Procession

*

 

To those of you who weren’t around then to experience the anguish of the fans mourning for Elvis, hopefully these three AP wire stories will give you a new appreciation for it.

 

Have a great Elvis Week.

 

 

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

 

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Elvis’ Karate Gi — Pictures and Stories

Elvis Pose Used in McCormick Decanter

Elvis auctions often lead to some interesting, but generally unknown, tid-bits. Sometimes it is contained in an item description, and sometimes my curiosity is inspired, leading to a Google search. And, sometimes these lead to a discovery like this.

McCormick Distilleries Elvis Decanter

This is a McCormick Distilleries commemorative Elvis decanter. There are dozens of different Elvis whisky decanters on eBay, but I couldn’t find this one. If you see it at a flea market, snap it up.

 

Posing for McCormick Decanter

Based on the first two pictures, you’d think the decanter was designed using the Elvis photograph. Nope, they had another guy model the Gi so they could get the depth, side, and back design right.

That’s three pictures in a row that are pretty much the same, so here’s a change of pace.

Back of McCormick Elvis Decanter

The back of the decanter makes it look like Elvis is sitting on a drum. The tax seal is pretty ugly, too.

There are two different circular images on the decanter. These are reproductions of embroidered patches that Elvis had on his Karate Gi.

Elvis' TCB Patch on his Karate Gi

This Elvis-designed TCB emblem adorned the left chest side of his Gi jacket.

Elvis' Karate Gi Crown-Fist Patch

Elvis had this so-called crown/fist patch on his lower left sleeve. Here’s a good look at their placement

Elvis and Karate Gi withTwo Patches

 

Elvis had a few other designer elements personalizing his Karate outfit. Much like a jumpsuit, the flared legs are secured with three braided buttons in red, black, and white (not visable). Flare vents are visible when the buttons are unhooked.

Side View of Elvis in Karate Gi

 

But the belt is especially interesting. It is cotton with a satin overlay. The end of the sash changed as Elvis advanced through the progression of Black Belt degrees.

Elvis Presley's 7th Degree Black Belt

There are seven red tabs indicating that Elvis had achieved 7th degree Black Belt. His Karate nickname was Tiger. It started out as Panther, but there was some bad stuff going on back then with the Black Panthers, so Elvis changed it.

 

Elvis Outside in his Karate Gi

This is a rare view of Elvis outside wearing his Karate Gi. They were stored at the training facility. Here Elvis is heading to a Karate demonstration he held for teenagers.

 

Elvis Presley's 7th Degree Black Belt Card

Elvis received this card when he achieved the 7th degree mark in August 1974.

He also received certificates for each new degree.

Elvis Presley with 7th Degree Certificate

 

8th Degree San Black Belt certificate

This one is for 8th degree, and it is dated just a month later than the 7th degree card. It is interesting that somehow Elvis managed to have his TCB logo incorporated into the certificate design.

 

Elvis With Kang Rhee

The name on the card is Ed Parker and the name on the certificate is Kang Rhee. Elvis started Karate training while stationed in Germany during his time in the U.S. Army. After completing his service and returning to the United States, he began to study with Grand Master of American Kenpo Karate, Ed Parker. In 1970, Parker suggested Elvis train with Rhee, a martial arts instructor of great reputation. Elvis trained under Rhee for the next four years.

Kang Rhee Patch

Elvis had six of his white sailcloth cotton Karate Gi’s with red satin trim on the lapels and hems, but there were slight variations. This Kang Rhee patch appeared on the back of some.

EP Back of Elvis' Karate Gi

At least one jacket had the letters E P on the back.

 

Elvis' Karate Gi that did not sell at June 2016 Heritage Auction

This is the photo of the Elvis Karate Gi that started me on my rambling Google search. It was part of the June 2016 Heritage Music Memorabilia Auction, but it failed to generate the minimum bid of $10,000 ($12,500 with auction house premium). This surprised me because I remembered some of the other versions selling at other auctions.

Here’s what I found:

Julien’s Auctions, May 2015 — $23,125
Gotta Have Rock and Roll Auctions, August 2012 — $7,986
Julien’s Auctions, December 2011 — $15,300
Guerney’s Auctions, May 2008 – 15,000

I studied these results trying to understand why there was such divergence. All I can conclude is that the winning bidder last year at Julien’s paid way too much.

 

Now, we’ll have fun looking at some of the stuff inspired by Elvis’ Karate Gi.

Karate Elvis figurine

Yes, sir. A Karate Elvis figurine. There’s even a button on the back of the stage which turns on a light at the top.

Elvis Presley Karate Figurine

To me, this figurine wins the award for the little plastic head that looks the most like Elvis. There are some crummy ones out there.

 

Liam Ghallager with Elvis' TCB Logo

This is a guy named Liam Gallagher from the rock band Oasis. He had Patsy tattooed on his arm until he got divorced from her. Then he covered it with Elvis’ TCB Karate design.

 

Elvis Karate T-Shirt

This looks like a kid T-Shirt sporting a cartoon Elvis doing a Karate kick. Actually, it’s an adult size large. Here’s another shirt that is obviously for adults.

 

Elvis Kicked My Ass T-Shirt

Elvis Kicked My Ass Back in ’72.         Great shirt.

 

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

 

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America Loses a Rock Legend — A Tribute to Scotty Moore

Scotty Moore and 63 Gibson Super 400

As every Elvis fan knows by now, Scotty Moore passed away on Wednesday, June 28, at age 84. Today you can find highlights of Scotty’s career with Elvis on many, many websites. And you probably know the story already, so I’ll take another approach.

This blog is usually fun to do, but writing about Scotty Moore leaving us is a melancholy experience. I think the world of him. I had the honor and privilege of having breakfast with him back at Elvis Week 2007, along with Darwin Lamm, publisher of Elvis International magazine. Scotty was in town to perform at two concerts Darwin was presenting, and I got to hang out backstage with him and the other musicians. He obliged me with autographs and a photo pose.

Phil Arnold and Scotty Moore Backstage 2007

I want to do a proper tribute and have so much I could share with you readers, but I don’t know where to begin.

Scotty has been mentioned in ElvisBlog over 80 times. There is a Scotty Moore tab under Blog Categories, and nine posts about him are in there. There’s also a lot more about the whole original band, Scotty, Bill Black, and DJ Fontana. Maybe the way to start this tribute is to feature excerpts from some of these old posts.

____________

 

This first blog article was written to highlight those 2007 concerts. billed as Scotty Moore — The Last Man Standing. This was a reference to the four men present on July 5, 1954 when Elvis recorded his first single at Sun Records. There is also an expression of my appreciation for Scotty Moore.

 

Scotty Moore – The Last Man Standing

 

Elvis, Bill, Scotty, and Sam Phillips

Graceland is a National Historic Landmark. Sun Records is a National Historic Place. I think we need one other special category – National Historic Person, and I have a fine nominee: Scotty Moore.

What qualifies Scotty Moore as a National Historic Person? Well, let’s see. On July 5, 1954, when Elvis recorded his first song, there were four men in the studio. The guitar player was Scotty Moore, and he had a lot to do with creating that unique sound. Scotty Moore’s guitar work made an immeasurable contribution to the initial success of Elvis’ music.

The other three men there that historic night are all dead. Bill Black died in 1965, Elvis passed away in 1977, and Sam Phillips left us in 2003. That’s too bad, because the session when “That’s All Right” was recorded was a very special moment in history. Three men gone, only one left. Scotty Moore, the last man standing.

It is now 53 years since that magic moment, and it’s nice to know that Scotty is still alive and well. Don’t count on seeing him at many more Elvis Weeks. It might happen, it might not. But we know one thing for sure. We can see him this year. Scotty is headlining two tribute concerts at Elvis Week 2007.

Those fans that admire and cherish Scotty Moore were thrilled to hear they could catch him on Wednesday, August 15, at the Peabody Hotel. To you folks that are going to Elvis Week but haven’t yet decided what to see, I’m telling you, buy tickets to one of Scotty’s two shows. They are going to be great.

Scotty Moore – The Last Man Standing is a unique concert concept. Both the 2 PM and 5 PM shows are double concerts. Scotty has invited two groups of his favorite musician buddies to perform, and they jumped at the chance to be on stage with him.

So, if you want some good entertainment at Elvis Week, take in one of the double concert starring Scotty Moore. He will appear at no other events in Memphis that week. This is the exclusive appearance of the genuine article, the last man standing. And sadly, it’s looking more and more like a farewell performance.

Join Scotty Moore’s many fans in honoring and appreciating him while you still can. Scotty may not have official recognition as a National Historic Person, but he truly is a national treasure.

 

Now, nine years later, the last man is no longer standing. And the fans who took in one of those Elvis Week 2007 concerts did indeed see Scotty Moore’s final performance.

Scotty Leaving Stage - Last Man Standing Concert 2007

I took this shot of Scotty as he left the stage after the 2 o’clock concert. I wish I had also taken a similar shot after the 5 o’clock concert. It would have been a photo of Scotty the last time he ever performed on stage.

__________

.

Scotty Moore Keith Richards Recording Duece and a Quarter.

That is Keith Richards backstage at a Rolling Stones concert. Those guys loved Scotty. So, here’s an excerpt from an ElvisBlog article that goes back to 2007.

 

Scotty Moore and the Rolling Stones Backstage

 

Searching through many Elvis-related websites is both prep work for ElvisBlog and a lot of fun. One site I go back to frequently is www.scottymoore.net . That’s right, the man who helped Elvis give birth to rock & roll has a great website of his own. It contains almost a dozen sections you can check out, but my favorite is SCRAPBOOK, a digital photo album. Hundreds of photos tell the story of places he’s been, people he’s met, and shows he’s done

I visit Scotty’s site frequently, but while I’m there, I’m always drawn back to the same set of pictures in SCRAPBOOK that I’ve seen four or five times before. You probably will understand why, when you see the title: “Backstage With the Rolling Stones in Memphis — December 15, 2005.”

Keith Richards and Ron Wood, who do the guitar fireworks for the Rolling Stones, both love and admire Scotty. They’ve recorded with him and had him backstage at four of their concerts. What started as admiration has grown into genuine friendship.

The SCRAPBOOK pictures show that Scotty and lady friend Gail Pollock and others obviously had a ball in Keith’s dressing room before the show. Then they had concert seats in the eighth row right in front of Mick Jagger (Scotty stayed backstage and watched from there). After the concert, there was a wrap party at the Peabody Hotel. It was here that Scotty got to spend some time with Mick Jagger and drummer Charlie Watts. Ron Wood spent a lot of time posing for smoochin’ pictures with Gail and the other girls. Sure looks like it was a fun party.

Keith, Scotty, Elvis, and Bill Backstage at Rolling Stones Concert

One backstage picture is outstanding. The dressing area at the concert venue contained a full-sized, color cutout of Elvis in his famous gold suit. Of course, this got into several of the pictures. I just love the photo of four musicians, Keith, Scotty, Elvis, and Ron. Take a quick glance at the picture and see if Elvis doesn’t look real. I liked the photo so much, I downloaded it to my hard drive and printed it out. Very cool picture.

Scotty’s whole site is, too. You can get lost for hours scrolling down through HISTORY, and connecting on all the links. So check out Scotty’s excellent website.  He’s a gentleman who deserves all the good things going on for him now. He’s a national treasure to be cherished.

__________

 

When you watch Elvis movies over and over, like I do, you start to notice things you missed originally. Years ago, I became fascinated with the roles Scotty, DJ Fontana, and Bill Black had in Elvis’ first few movies. Their screen time was the most in Loving You, prompting this ElvisBlog article from 2012.

 

Loving You – Starring Scotty, DJ, and Bill (Plus Elvis, of Course)

 

I recently found something interesting on the website for a Rock and Roll memorabilia auction. It was a movie theater lobby card from Elvis’ 1957 film Loving You. Most Elvis movie cards and posters show pictures of him with one or more of his lovely female co-stars, but this one included Scotty Moore and DJ Fontana, his original guitarist and drummer. I would guess neither man ever knew this lobby card existed, so I am sending copies to their webmasters.

Lobby Card for Loving You

Lobby Card showing DJ Fontana (far left) and Scotty Moore (far right)

Loving You was Elvis’ second movie, his first in color, and also the first of several (many?) where Elvis’ character was a singer. There are elements in this film that are considered auto-biographical. Elvis’ character, Deke Rivers, parallels Elvis’ start as a truck driver; for a beverage distributor in the movie and for an electric company in real life. Once he starts singing in the movie, all the famous frenetic leg-gyrations and hip-swinging are there to produce loud squealing by the young girls in the audience. There is even a female Col. Parker-like manager who gets Deke to sign a personal services contract giving her 50%.

The lobby card reminded me that all three of Elvis’ original bandmates, Scotty Moore, DJ Fontana and Bill Black, have considerable screen time in the movie, so I checked it out again to note all their appearances. Within seconds after the opening credits finish, they are up on a town square stage, in a country band providing music for a political candidate.

Scotty Moore and a Politician -- in Loving You

Scotty Moore and a Politician

After a few minutes of dialog by other characters, it’s back to the bandstand where we get a similar, but longer look at Scotty and Bill. In fact, Scotty gets his best screen time in any of the Elvis movies — fifteen seconds in a close shot, standing beside the politician.

About seven minutes into the picture, Deke Rivers is persuaded to get up on the stage and sing a song. He chooses “Got A Lot of Livin’ To Do.” This song is now used in Viva Elvis in the big trampoline sequence, which is generally considered one of the highlights of the Cirque du Soleil show.

Bill Black and Scotty Moore flank Elvis During Got A Lot of Livi to Do

At the eighteen minute point of Loving You, Elvis’ character is now a full time member of the band. He sings “Let’s Have a Party.” Scotty again fares best with screen time, followed by Bill, and last again, DJ.

Bill, Scotty, Elvis, and DJ Playing Lets Have A Party

Bill, Scotty, Elvis, and DJ Playing “Let’s Have A Party”

Another song in the movie is “Hot Dog.” For a few seconds, the camera shot cuts off the actor members of the band and shows only Scotty, DJ, Elvis and Bill. It’s fun to watch Scotty, because smiles so much and seems to be having a wonderful time. It is during this song that the manager creates a fake riot, very reminiscent of some of Col. Parker’s publicity stunts.

Elvis and the Boys Singing Hot Dog

Scotty, DJ, Elvis and Bill Black Playing “Hot Dog”

About 45 minutes into Loving You, Scotty, DJ, and Bill make their last appearance. Elvis’ character sings “Teddy Bear.” Although the band is visible, they are well behind him, and again the lights are dimmed until the song finishes. In this scene, as others, the bandmates move their lips as though singing. In truth, all the very fine vocal accompaniment in the movie came from the Jordanaires, an arrangement that would continue in many more Elvis films.

Elvis Taking a Bow after Singing “Teddy Bear.”

Taking a Bow after Singing “Teddy Bear.”

Scotty Moore, DJ Fontana and Bill Black also had significant screen time in Elvis’ third and fourth movies, Jailhouse Rock and King Creole. It would be so cool to find lobby cards showing them in these films as well. I’ll keep looking.

__________

These three blog excerpts provide a small glimpse into the many facets of Scotty Moore. I feel like this is just the tip of the iceberg, so there will probably be a Part 2 to this tribute. I’ve got so many pictures of Scotty in my files, it might be fun to do a pictorial essay.

 

Good Photo of Older Scotty Moore

 

Good bye Scotty. We will really, really miss you. Say hi to Elvis for us.

 

 

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

 

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

 

Virtuoso of Hootchy-Kootchy

Elvis Shaking Those Hips on Milton Berle Show

Last week the Graceland Blog celebrated the 60th anniversary of Elvis’ earth-shaking second performance on the Milton Berle Show. It was a good article with lots of photos, but there is much of the story they barely touched on.

Graceland Blog - Elvis on the Milton Berle Show
As the Graceland Blog explains, by 1956 standards, Elvis’ performance of “Hound Dog” on the show was scandalous. Actually, Elvis’ leg shaking and hip thrusts freaked out the entire country. The next day, a huge national backlash started, and Elvis rocketed into the entertainment stratosphere. Some day it might be fun to chronicle the worst of the press attacks on Elvis, but for now let’s start with what the New York Times had to say.

New York Times Review of Elvis on Milton Berle Show
Jack Gould was the king of TV critics during his 35-year career with the New York Times. He was there when the new medium was born, and he was its most notable commentator for the next two decades. Like the rest of America, he saw Elvis’ second appearance on the Milton Berle Show on June 5, 1956. The next day, Jack Gould’s pen dripped with disdain for Elvis. It’s fun to look at some of his statements, line-by-line. And now that we have the historical perspective, I will add my thoughts on them. And also mix in some photos not shown on the Graceland Blog.

 

Elvis in Colorized Pink Coat on Milton Berle Show

Pink Coat Colored Version of Elvis Doing “Hound Dog” on the Milton Berle Show

 

“Elvis Presley is currently the entertainment world’s most astonishing figure.”

So far, so good, but Mr. Gould gets no special credit for this statement. Whether people liked or disliked Elvis in early June, 1956, nobody disputed he was the most astonishing figure in show biz.

Milton Berle and Elvis

Milton Berle and Elvis

 

“Mr. Presley has no discernible singing ability.”

This is the first indication that Mr. Gould just didn’t ‘get’ Elvis. And, we can safely assume Mr. Gould never went out and bought any Elvis records.

Elvis Combing Hair Backstage at the Milton Berle Show

Elvis Combing Hair Backstage at the Milton Berle Show

 

“His specialty is rhythm songs, which he renders in an undistinguished whine.”

Oh, come on. Elvis’ whine is very distinguished.

 

Elvis during Rehearsal for a Skit on the Milton Berle Show

Elvis during Rehearsal for a Skit on the Milton Berle Show

 

“His phrasing, if it can be called that, consists of the stereotyped variations that go with a beginner’s aria in a bathtub.”

Say what??? Certainly not the simplest and clearest metaphor Mr. Gould ever wrote. A less erudite blog writer might say “like a kid singing in the shower.

Elvis Singing in a Shower

 

“For the ear, he is an unutterable bore…”

You want boring? How about “stereotyped variations that go with a beginner’s aria in a bathtub”? Maybe Elvis was a bore to Jack Gould, but he could make the girls cry at his concerts. Elvis was anything but boring to them.

 

Elvis and Milton Berle walking on his Ankles

Milton Berle Doing His Ankle Walk Routine

 

“From watching Mr. Presley, it is wholly evident that his skill lies in another direction. He is a rock-and-roll variation on one of the most standard acts in show business: the virtuoso of the hootchy-kootchy. His specialty is an accented movement of the body… identified with the repertoire of the blond bombshells of the burlesque runway.”

Berlesque Queen

At the end of “Hound Dog” on the Berle Show, Elvis sure did do some classic bump-and-grind. Mr. Gould’s loquacious pontification took a long while to get to Elvis’ moves, but, you will note, he didn’t say he disliked them.

 

Blue Coat Colorized Version of Elvis Doing “Hound Dog” on Milton Berle Show

Blue Coat Colorized Version of Elvis Doing “Hound Dog” on Milton Berle Show

 

“The gyration never had anything to do with the world of popular music and still doesn’t.”

Boy, did Mr. Gould get that one wrong. It’s a good thing he passed away before music videos showed up on MTV. He’d probably roll over in his grave if he saw one now. Today’s popular music is synonymous with sensual gyrations.

 

Elvis and the Band on Milton Berle Show

Elvis and the Band on Milton Berle Show

 

Jack Gould was a middle-aged man when he watched Elvis perform on TV on June 5, 1956, so he can be excused for ‘not getting it.’ But millions of American teenagers saw the show and got it. Got it big time. Elvis’ career shot into overdrive, and all of the bad press from TV critics and others could not stop it.

 

Shots of Elvis on Milton Berle Show

 

In fairness, Jack Gould did not accuse Elvis of poisoning the minds of America’s teenagers as did many other entertainment critics, clergymen, disk jockeys, and high school administrators. He didn’t rant that Elvis would create a nation of juvenile delinquents. If you read the paragraph where he called Elvis a virtuoso of hootchy kootchy, it almost sounds like he enjoyed watching those Elvis moves that enraged so many others.

Elvis’ performance of “Hound Dog” on the June 5, 1956 Milton Berle Show has become one of the most iconic events in Elvis’ career.

 

 

© 2016 Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister All Rights Reserved www.ElvisBlog.net
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The Night Bruce Springsteen Climbed the Graceland Wall

Bruce Springsteen Getting Readto Jump Elvis Presley's Graceland Wall

Today is the 40th anniversary of the night Bruce Springsteen tried to climb over the Graceland wall and see Elvis. It is an interesting story.

It has been often written that seven-year-old Springsteen watched Elvis on the Ed Sullivan Show and was moved to pursue a career in music. In fact, he has been quoted saying:

“…it was like he came along and whispered some dream in everybody’s ear, and somehow we all dreamed it.”

Elvis and Young Bruce Springsteen

Photoshopped Picture of Elvis and Bruce Springsteen Early in Their Careers


On April 29, 1976, Bruce Springsteen performed in concert in Memphis. It was called his “Born To Run Tour,” named after his first Top 40 hit and his first hit album that had reached # 3. After the four-hour concert ended, Springsteen was still wired, so he and E Street Band guitar player Steve Van Zandt decided to visit to Graceland. They took a cab, and at 3am on April 30 they arrived at the gate which was locked.

But Springsteen saw lights blazing inside the mansion, so he climbed the wall and ran to Graceland’s front door. Just as he was about to ring the doorbell, he was intercepted by security. Explaining his newfound rock fame and about recently being on the covers of both Time and Newsweek, Springsteen cajoled and begged to be let inside. Instead, the unimpressed guards told him that Elvis was out of town (true – on tour in Lake Tahoe) and escorted him promptly off the premises.

“Later on, I used to wonder what I would have said if I had knocked on the door and if Elvis had come to the door.”

 

Photoshopped picture of Elvis and Bruce Springsteen early in Their Careers

This is the cover of Springsteen’s Born To Run album. I have drawn a line to point out something on his guitar strap. It is a fan club button from the King’s Court Fan Club of NYC.

 

Elvis Button Bruce Springsteen wore on Born to Run Cover

Visual proof that Springsteen was still a big Elvis fan twenty years after that first Elvis epiphany.

 

Alt Photo During Born to Run Photo Session

Another picture taken at the album cover photo shoot

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“Elvis is my religion. But for him, I’d be selling encyclopedias right now.”

Springsteen performed a number of Elvis songs in concerts over the years. You may want to click on these:

Jailhouse Rock – 2009 Giants Stadium – Live sound but not video. Stock photos

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All Shook Up – 2009 The Spectrum, Philadelphia — Full song video in color, guy gets up on stage in white jumpsuit and sings.

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Viva Las Vegas — 2002 – Live video, poor sound

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Here are two more Bruce Springsteen quotes talking about Elvis:

“That Elvis, man, he is all there is. There ain’t no more. Everything starts and ends with him. He wrote the book.”

“I remember later when a friend of mine called to tell me that he’d died. It was so hard to understand how somebody whose music came in and took away so many people’s loneliness and gave so many people a reason and a sense of all the possibilities of living could have in the end died so tragically.”

 

Pensive Bruce Springsteen wearing Elvis Button

 

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

 

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