Tag Archives: Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Elvis’ Custom-Made “SuperTrike”

On November 14, Elvis.Com/News announced a new exhibit of Elvis memorabilia at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. The press release says it “provides a compelling look into Elvis’ Army career, the 1968 television special and his appearances in Lake Tahoe.” However, look at the two photographs used to illustrate the announcement.

Elvis.Com -  Announcement of Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Exhibition

 That’s a shot of Elvis performing in the early days, plus a three-wheeled motorcycle. Because neither had anything to do with the Army days, the ’68 Special or the Lake Tahoe performances, I clicked on the link that takes you to the Hall of Fame website. Here’s another photo shown in the Hall’s announcement about the exhibit.

Elvis & Linda Thompson on SuperTrike 1975

You’ve probably seen this shot of Elvis and Linda Thompson on what is called Elvis’ SuperTrike. I have it in my digital files along with some other interesting ones. Here’s a rarer picture showing an alternate perspective from that day of cruising around in Memphis.

Outside Graceland  on SuperTrike with Linda Thompson

Here, Elvis is turning into the Graceland drive (notice the Graceland wall on the left).

Linda wasn’t the only person Elvis drove around on his SuperTrike. Here is cousin Billy Smith in the second seat. Doesn’t look all that comfortable, does he?

Cousin Billy Smith Riding with Elvis

And here is a picture of Elvis giving a ride to an unnamed fan on September 15, 1975.

Elvis with Fan on SuperTrike

 

So, I wondered what’s the story behind this strange-looking motorcycle. A little research turned up lots of interesting stuff about Elvis and his SuperTrike.

Elvis and His First Big Bike Harley-Davidson FLH

This is a shot of Elvis with his “first big bike”, a black 1957 Harley Davidson FLH purchased from Barfield’s Harley-Davidson in Memphis. Pictured with Elvis are B. W. Barfield (owner) on the right and Big Al McAlexander (Sales and Service Manager). Not pictured is the mechanic who actually prepped the bike for Elvis. His name is Earl Smith. Nineteen years later, Smith worked at a Memphis company called Super Cycle, and he did the prep work on Elvis’ custom-made Volkswagen powered SuperTrike. Here is the check that paid for it.

Check for Elvis' SuperTrike

You will note three things about the check. Vernon, not Elvis, singed it. The sale price was only $3,100, which sounds like Elvis got a real bargain. And finally, the date is August 16, 1975, exactly two years before Elvis died.

Back in 2007, Mr. Smith, at age 87, still worked at Super Cycle, as did the men who had built Elvis’ SuperTrike and the man who painted the unique design on it. These old-timers embarked on a project to build a replica of it. This is a photo on the website about the replica project, but it doesn’t really look like the original. Also, there doesn’t seem to be any update about the success of the project.

 2005 Replica of Elvis' SuperTrike

 

Photos have shown up on the internet suggesting that Elvis owned other three-wheel motorcycles.

Another Elvis Three-Wheeler

This one is parked in front of Graceland (note the white lion statue on right). If Elvis didn’t own it, he at least drove it, as evidenced by this photo.

Elvis Driving Three-Wheeler Trike

 

And the website for ELVIS – The Private Collection of the King on Tour, an attraction that travels around to fairs and festivals, shows this as an Elvis-owned trike.

Moody Blue Supertrike from The Private Collection of the King on Tour

Maybe the exhibit includes some information on the Moody Blue Supertrike and some photos of Elvis on it, but the website does not.

 

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame exhibition sounds like it might be pretty good. Graceland has loaned them more than forty artifacts, including:

A selection of Elvis’ personal jewelry
The “If I Can Dream” white suit from the “’68 Comeback Special”
A rehearsal schedule for Lake Tahoe performances in 1971
ID bracelet and several rings
Official U.S. Army induction portrait (wallet size) that was taken and issued upon his arrival for basic training in 1958

However, if you go to Graceland in the next few months, you will note that Elvis’ SuperTrike will be missing from this display in the Car Museum.

Elvis' SuperTrike in Display at Gracland

 

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

 

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One Old Rocker Who Deserves to be in the Hall of Fame

Link Ray - RockHall Picture

Do you know who this guy is?  Last week, he was nominated for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and this is the photo the Hall website shows above his biography.  During his long career, this man changed his appearance many times, but I can’t figure out why the Hall used this shot.  He looks like some folk singer who lived up on a mountain in Colorado, which he definitely was not.

Let’s try another photo.

Link Wray - Old Dude Bad-Ass Rocker 2005

Now, you are even more confused.  This is a photo snapped toward the end of his life in 2005 at age 76.  Even for an old dude, the guy looks like a bad-ass rocker.  He’s got the black leather jacket and the shades, and you can see he is really into slamming that chord on his guitar.

Guessing this man’s identity would be easier if we showed photos of him during the time when he had his only two Top 40 hits in the late-fifties.  Not yet, but here’s another hint: those two hits were both instrumentals.

Let’s see some other times and other looks in his life.

 Link Wray - King of the Wild Guitar

Hey, isn’t that one of the Rolling Stones?  Or Deep Purple?  Or Black Sabbath?  Sure looks like a heavy metal guitar slinger.   The RockHall biography called his first and biggest hit, “a dangerous slab of reverberating power chords and raw distortion.”  (Wow, I wish I had written that.)

 Link Wray Album

Here’s the cover of one of his albums (with his name whited out).  Another hint, he is three-quarters Shawnee Indian.

 Link Looking Like Elvis

Aw, man, now he is doing the Elvis thing.  Looks a little like the ’68 Comeback Special, doesn’t it?

 Link at 69 in 1998

Here he is in 1998 at age 69, now with the pony-tail look.  He had the tail in that old dude bad-ass rocker picture at the beginning, but you couldn’t see it because of the angle.

 Link Wray - Pink Ponytail Band 2005

You can see the tail in this shot – with a pink band around it.

Are you thinking we’ve had enough pictures and hints?  Just tell us who this guy is!

 Link Wray Album Cover

Link Wray!  Certainly, some of you readers know who Link Wray is.  Perhaps you are old like me and lived during the time his two hits got lots of airplay.  There was “Rumble,” a number 16 hit in 1958, and “Raw-Hide,” a number 23 hit in 1959.  Think about it, with only two hits, Link Wray has been nominated for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  And he never had a Top 40 album. There has to be more to the story.

And there is.

Early History:

Lucky Wray and the Palomino Ranch Gang

Fred Lincoln Wray started out in a country group – Lucky Wray and the Palomino Ranch Gang.  That’s Link in the cowboy hat backing his brother Vernon who sang as Lucky Wray.

Link Wray in his Country Music Days

Another photo of Link Wray during his country music days

In 1957, the group got a gig as the house band on Milt Grant’s House Party, a local teen dance show in Washington, DC.

Milt Grant's House Party

Link improvised an instrumental to cover the intro and outgo of the show’s commercial breaks.   It became known as “Rumble.”   The band played other local gigs and “Rumble” turned out to be a fan favorite.  Milt Grant, who was acting as their de facto manager, shopped the song around to various record labels, and finally got Cadence Records (the Everly Brothers label) to bite.

Link Wray's First Hit - Rumble - 1958

However, because it was an instrumental featuring Link, not Lucky, Cadence released it in 1958 by Link Wray and His Ray Men.  (We can assume the record company executives thought the name Palomino Ranch Gang would be a deterrent to sales of a rock record.)

 Link Wray and His Ray Men

That’s Link on the left.  The clean-cut all-American boy look didn’t last long.

 

Link’s music and stage persona grew wilder

Link’s music and stage persona grew wilder

 

The brooding, ominous blitzkrieg of “Rumble” caused it to be banned from the radio in several markets (including New York City).  Cadence Records tried to get Link to clean up his act, but he wanted no part of that, so he signed with Epic Records and released “Raw-Hide.”

Link Wray's Second Hit - Raw-Hide  1959

 

Link Wray continued to record, but subsequent releases failed to chart.  For a while, he recorded for his own label, Rumble Records, then had a longer tenure with Swan Records.  Many songs were instrumentals, but Link now incorporated singing into his act.  During the late 60s and 70s, Link and the boys honed their particular brand of rockin’ mayhem working some of the grimiest joints on the face of the planet.

Link’s Rockabilly Phase:

Robert Gordon and Link Wray

During the late 70s, Link had a stint backing ’70s rockabilly revivalist Robert Gordon.

Robert Gordon With Link Wray

According to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame bio, Link’s “collaboration with Robert Gordon left every retro-rockabilly guitar slinger in the dust.”

Link Moves to Denmark:

In 1980, at age 51, Link Wray moved to Denmark after marrying his wife Olive, a Danish student who had been studying Native American culture.  He continued to tour in Europe, while travelling to America occasionally to perform for the fans who knew him as an underappreciated rock hero.  Here are just a few of the hundreds of small venues where he worked:

 Link Wray - Gig 1

 Link Wray - Gig 2

Link Wray - Gig 3

Link Wray - Gig 4

Link Wray - Gig 5

 

Link Wray in 1993

Link Wray in 1993

 

Link Wray and Elvis:

I couldn’t find much to connect these rock legends.  The website Something Old, Something New said, “Link worshipped Presley, who invited him to dinner at Graceland.  Wray’s ultimate compliment consisted of naming one of his sons Link Elvis Wray.”  Link also recorded three Elvis songs:  “Hound Dog”, “Heartbreak Hotel” and “Love Me Tender.”

Older Link Wray, Looking Like Elvis

Link’s sunglasses sure look like those Elvis wore.

 Link Wray - Album Cover Pink Coat

Check out the pink sports coat.  Elvis loved pink clothes, but never had a pink coat as far as I know.  Maybe Link was trying to do him one better.

Elvis T-Shirt -  Link Wray Playing in Memphis 1998

Look who is on Link’s T-shirt during a performance in a 1998 Memphis concert.

Link Wray and Scotty Moore - Signing at Ponderosa Stomp

Remember that Ponderosa Stomp poster above.  Here are Link and Scotty Moore signing autographs at this event in April 2005.  Link died in November that year.

 

The Link Wray Legacy:

You may be thinking that everything presented in this article doesn’t sound like enough to qualify Link Wray for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  Well, here are several quotes from the Hall’s bio on Link:

”… the rebellious sonic onslaught of “Rumble” cut through Top 40 radio like a steamroller. This was more than a decade before power chords even had a name…The impact of Link Wray, one of Rolling Stone’s “Top 100 Guitarists of All Time,” can be heard in generations of American and British metal, punk, grunge, thrash and psychobilly rockers, all of whom have claimed him and “Rumble” (and follow-ups “Raw-Hide” and “Jack The Ripper”) as their own.”

However, they also note that major mainstream rockers have a deep appreciation for Link:

“Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix and Bruce Springsteen head the A-list of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductees who bow to Link Wray’s abiding influence.”

Robert Gordon, Bruce Springsteen and Link Wray

“Pete Townshend simply calls him the King: “If it hadn’t been for Link Wray and ‘Rumble,’ I would never have picked up a guitar.” Even Iggy Pop is an acolyte: “I left school emotionally after hearing ‘Rumble.”

The Hall could have added a few other prime testimonials.  Neil Young once said: “If I could go back in time and see any band, it would be Link Wray and the Raymen.”  The Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll adds Bob Dylan to those who have given acclaim to Link Wray.  A bootleg CD cover has this quote from John Lennon: “Gene Vincent and Link Wray and are the two great unknowns of rock ‘n roll.”

Two Link Wray Songs in Pulp Fiction

You can also count Quentin Tarentino as a Link Wray fan.  He used two of Link’s songs in the movie, Pulp Fiction.

This article turned out to be three times longer than I originally intended.  But what the heck,  I’ve been a Link Wray fan since I was 16.  I bought the “Rumble” and “Raw-Hide” 45s and played them a million times.  Thirty years later, when I got into the record collecting hobby, I bought seven Link Wray albums.  Four were original releases and prized collectibles.  The other three were newer compilations of rare instrumental tracks that cost so much they might as well have been collectibles (maybe they are now).

In 2002, Link performed at a small, but unique, music venue in our city, and I was privileged to see him perform.  He came out on the stage in the black leather jacket and the shades, but he seemed old and a little frail.  His wife helped him put on the guitar and get his ponytail out of the way of the strap.  Then he turned on the guitar and blew everybody’s mind.  Boy, I was so glad I brought earplugs that night.

So, now we must wait to see if the RockHall selection committee picks Link Wray for the Class of 2014.  If they don’t, they just might get serious complaints from that heavy-weight group of Hall members mentioned above.  Link Wray fans are a dedicated bunch.

Link Wray belongs in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame!

Link Wray belongs in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame!

Link Wray - I'll Blow Your Eardrums Out

“If you don’t vote me in, I’ll come back and blast your eardrums out”

.

 

ElvisBlog has covered other musicians with connections to Elvis as they were selected (or should have been) for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  Click below to read about them.

DJ Fontana

Bill Black

Wanda Jackson

The Other TCB Band Members (James Burton has been in the Hall since 2001)

 

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

 

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Sorry, TCB Band — No Call from the RockHall, Again

 

On February 9, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame made an interesting announcement.  They will enshrine six rock backing-bands from the 50s and early 60s at the 2012 Induction Ceremony in April 4.  The bands will join all the previously announced bands and singers in this year’s class, the ones that survived a significant judging competition.

The funny thing is that these old bands got a pass straight into the RockHall.  No judging, just picked by committee.  I’m fine with their easy ride.  The more of these old rockers we can get in there the better.

That committee did have one criterion.  Each band had to play behind somebody already in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  The press release said, “[These] groups should be recognized along with the original lead singer inductee.”  This sounds like the powers behind the Hall of Fame realized an earlier mistake, and they are taking a move to fix it.  Good for them.

For example, Hank Ballard will no longer be considered a single performer.  From now on the name of the Inductee will be Hank Ballard and the Midnighters.

The other bands selected are:

Bill Haley and the Comets
Gene Vincent and the Blue Caps
Buddy Holly and the Crickets
James Brown and the Fabulous Flames
Smokey Robinson and the Miracles

I’ll bet the Miracles and their fans have been hounding the hall since 1987, when it put Smokey Robinson without them.  That was wrong and stupid.  Congratulations to all the bands.  They deserved it.

So, I’m happy about what did happen, but I’m upset about what didn’t happen.  The TCB Band has again been ignored. (Ed. note:  Lead guitarist, James Burton was inducted in 2001in the relatively new “Sideman” category.)

ElvisBlog has frequently commented about how the Hall hasn’t inducted the other members of the band.  Scotty, Bill, and DJ from the Blue Moon Boys have all been in since 2010.   What is holding up recognition for the TCB guys?

Ronnie Tutt……….Drums
Glen Hardin………Keyboards
John Wilkinson….Ryhthm Guitar
Jerry Scheff……….Bass

These seasoned pros certainly belong in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  But, perhaps they didn’t fit the mold this time.  They weren’t a 50s/60s band.  And announcers at the performances didn’t regale the entrance of “Elvis and the TCB Band.’

So, it looks like Ronnie, Glen, John and Jerry will have to wait until the Hall adds 70s backing-bands.  Or maybe, the Hall could gain some sense and induct them as “Sidemen,” where they belong.  And do it soon.

 

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

 

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