I have a number of Elvis reference books I use when researching topics for new blog posts. Sometimes I just scroll through one to get an inspiration. That worked for me this week with ELVIS: Day by Day by Peter Guralnick and Ernst Jorgensen.
On a hunch, I said, “Let’s see what Elvis did on his first weekends of each new year.” I tutnrned out to be a good idea.
1955 – 01 Saturday: Change in Manager
Elvis performed in a concert billed as the “Grand Prize Saturday Night Jamboree” in Houston, TX. That’s quite a name, but nothing notable occurred at the event. However, January 1, 1955 was the date Bob Neal’s contract to manage Elvis went into effect.
Scotty Moore was glad to turn it over to Neal, who he knew could do a better job. But you have to wonder how Neal let it slip away into the hands of Colonel Parker.
1956 – 01 Sunday: No More Concerts at High Schools
By now Elvis was part of a Grand Ole Opry package tour headlined by Hank Snow and featuring Webb Pierce. They performed that night at a concert in an auditorium in St. Louis.
However, the next night, Elvis teamed up with Johnny Cash for a concert in Charleston, MS. Elvis was billed as The King of Western Bop. I looked up Western Bop, and Wikipedia had nothing, but Google had this:
The significance of this concert is that it is the last time Elvis performed in a high school. He was had already appeared in larger venues, so this must have been contracted well before his popularity exploded, and Elvis was fulfilling the deal.
1957 – 04 Friday: Pre-Induction Physical
Elvis drove his Cadillac Eldorado from Graceland to the Kennedy Veterans Hospital for his Army pre-induction physical. Then he left by train to New York for his third and final appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show two nights later.
The Memphis Draft Board held a press conference to announce that Elvis was classified 1A and he would be drafted in the next six to eight months. He wasn’t inducted until fourteen months later, so I guess Col. Parker did a good job negotiating some delays.
1958 – 03 Friday: Side Show Medicine Pitch
Back in 2005. 101 Strings released an album of Elvis songs done in classical fashion.
However, the idea was originally brought to Col Parker on January 3, 1958, and he hated it. He had a brash response to the RCA executive that suggested it. Parker said it sounded like a “Side Show Medicine Pitch.” I guess a classical reworking of Elvis’ music was a better idea after he was dead.
1959 – 04 Sunday: The Dream
This new year found Elvis in the Army and stationed in Germany. The time difference between there and Memphis may not have mattered to Elvis as he called Col. Parker at 5 A.M. local time.
But Parker shook off his sleep and ended up talking to Elvis for an hour-long chat. Parker joked that the call interrupted a dream he was having about Elvis getting an early release. I know plenty of female Elvis fans dreamed about him, but I doubt the Colonel did.
1960 – 08 Friday: Planning for Life After the Army.
There was nothing noted in the book for Elvis’ first weekend of 1960, but the second Friday, Elvis’ birthday on January 8, was very interesting.
Dick Clark had arranged to celebrate Elvis’ 25th birthday on American Bandstand by interviewing him by phone from Germany. It’s interesting that most of the conversation concerned up-coming plans for after Elvis returned home. This included a recording session (that resulted several singles and the album Elvis Is Back), his appearance on the Frank Sinatra TV show, and his next movie, G.I. Blues.
None of this would happen until late March or April, but obviously, Col. Parker had the deals already cut by early January.
Later in the day, Elvis hosted his own birthday party in Germany. The gang presented him a trophy with a wordy inscription.
“Elvis Presley: Most Valuable Player.
Bad Nauheim Sunday Afternoon Football Association, 1959.”
I tried to find a photo of this trophy, but apparently one does not exist.
1961 – 06 Friday: King Karate
During the first week of 1961, Elvis was in Hollywood filming Wild In The Country. The cast and crew through him a birthday party two days before his 26th birthday.
In keeping alive the tradition of weirdly-titled awards, they gave Elvis a plaque saying:
“Happy Birthday, King Karate”
There is no photo to be found of it, either.
My reference book had nothing listed for the first weekends of 1962, 1963, 1965, and 1966, so we’ll skip them and move on.
1964 – 03 Friday: Picking Out New Wardrobe Items.
The highlight of this weekend was apparently going to Lansky Bros. to shop for new clothes. Elvis’ visits to Lansky’s were frequent and continued over a long period of time.
1967 – 06 Friday: Elvis Gets Into Horses
On this date, Elvis supervised the renovations of the Graceland barn to accommodate his recent horse purchases. He bought a registered palomino named Midget’s Vandy, that he promptly renamed Rising Sun.
Although Elvis also bought Midnight Sun for his father and a Tennessee walker named Traveler, he soon started calling the Graceland barn “The House of the Rising Sun.”
This was fun to do. We will return to this subject again someday and cover the last ten new years of Elvis’ life. I hope there will be less about Col. Parker in them. I’m not a big Col. Parker fan, but if he’s a factor on the date, I’ll have to write about him as well as Elvis.
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