Monthly Archives: January 2006

ANOTHER BIG ELVIS COLLECTOR IN THE NEWS

Who ever thought we would have three superstar Elvis collectors in the news over such a short time span?  First, it was Chris Davidson and Jimmy Velvet when the Elvis-A-Rama Museum was sold to EPE back in October.  Then, two weeks ago, we had the “Elvis Empire Auction” that sold the entire collection of Jim Curtin of Philadelphia for approximately $2 million.  Like Davidson and Velvet, Jim Curtin has an interesting story.

 

Here’s a little history on him, according to an article by Jenny Paschall in the London Daily Express earlier this month.  Curtin bought his first Elvis record (“Return To Sender”) at age 12, and this set off a buying spree that eventually included every Elvis record ever released in the US, plus as many different foreign versions as he could find.  When he first saw Elvis perform on stage in 1971, his reaction was, “He was like a god… The chemistry was so powerful, it overwhelmed me.”  Apparently so much that Jim Curtin evolved from being a fan to a follower, and finally, to a friend of Elvis.

 

Curtin saw Elvis perform 51 times and shook hands with him 32 times.  His love of Elvis turned into a career.  As an expert on Elvis, he has written several books and countless articles about the King.  He acquired 25,000 pictures of Elvis for his collection and used them to publish calendars. In 1974, Curtin designed and commissioned a $2000 Gibson guitar with “Elvis Presley” inscribed on the fretboard.  During a 2-1/2 hour visit with Elvis, he presented the guitar to Elvis as a gift.

 

We all know a generous person like Elvis would not let a gesture like that go unanswered. Elvis reciprocated by giving Curtin the stunning white “Nail Mirror Jumpsuit” (sold at the auction for $125,000).  According to the London Daily Express article, when Curtin tried on the suit, “It was something spiritual… I wanted to look like him, sing like him, be like him.”  Indeed, he did start giving Elvis concerts as tributes to a great man, he says, not as an impersonator.  Well, if you do your hair and sideburns like Elvis, wear his clothes, and sing his songs, it sounds like impersonating to me.

 

Some news reports said Curtin was selling his Elvis collection in an attempt to win back his ex-girlfriend, Renata Ginter.  Supposedly, she gave him an ultimatum – Elvis or me.  However, she responded to this news by sending a letter to www.Elvisnews.com, in which she stated their relationship ended three years ago, and it was for personal reasons that had nothing to do with his Elvis collection.  Even more important, she stated she is now engaged to another man.

 

So Jim Curtin may never get the love of his life back.  He says he can’t sleep, the loneliness is killing him, and he has lost 30 pounds.  You have to feel sorry for him, but let’s hope he will find some happiness with that $2 million he just got.

 

©  2006   Philip R Arnold   www.elvisblog.net

THEM KITTY HAWK GALS IS STEALIN' OUR MEN

The common complaint about Elvis movies is that they are all pretty much the same story with different actresses for love interests.  Elvis is either a racecar driver or pilot or boat owner, who just happens to be a singer, too.

 

So, you have to give credit to “Kissin’ Cousins” for breaking from the standard formula a bit.  I watched it again on Elvis’ birthday as part of the four-movie special presented by cable channel Turner Classic Movies.  Unfortunately, family obligations prevented me from seeing the other three: “Jailhouse Rock,” “It Happened At The Worlds Fair,” and “Viva Las Vegas.”  But “Kissin’ Cousins” started at 6:15 AM and was over by 8 AM, so I finished it before anyone else even got up.

 

What makes “Kissin’ Cousins” different is that there are two Elvises, or at least Elvis playing two characters.  One is Josh Morgan, the familiar black-haired Elvis, but the other is mountain man Jodie Tatum, a very distant cousin who looks identical except for his sandy-colored hair.  Josh has two other very distant Tatum cousins, Serena and Azalea, beautiful hillbilly girls who both go after Elvis early in the script.  This has happened in other Elvis movies, but I love the way he solves this dilemma.  This time, his character is an Army Lieutenant, so he simply orders a Sergeant to take one girl off his hands.  Nice assignment.

 

Of course, it wouldn’t be right unless both Elvises end up with a girl, so a beautiful WAC from the Army steno pool is introduced to be Jodie’s love interest.  She wants nothing to do with him at first, but Jodie keeps after her, and finally his singing wins her over.  Gee, that never happened before.

 

As with most Elvis movies, there are several song-and-dance scenes in “Kissin’ Cousins.”  So, where do all the extra girls for this come from?  Well, you see, the Tatum clan’s property is up on a mountain.  Down below is Kitty Hawk Valley, where no baby boys have been born for over twenty years.  (How’s that for pushing the limits of willing suspension of disbelief?)  I just love the parts when fifteen or so of the love-starved Kitty Hawk girls make raids up the mountain to snag themselves Tatum men.  No wonder Jodie has never left the mountain.  He’s had his choice of these lovelies all these years.

 

“Kissin’ Cousins” was a fine way to celebrate Elvis’ birthday, and I commend Turner Classic Movies for again bringing us blocks of Elvis films on special occasions.  The next time should be the Fourth of July, and I’ll be watching.

 

©  2006   Philip R Arnold   www.elvisblog.net

 

WANNA BUY AN ELVIS JUMPSUIT?

Sorry, too late.  You had your chance last weekend at the huge Elvis memorabilia auction in Beverly Hills, CA.  They even gave it a fancy name: The Elvis Empire Auction.  Everything up for bid came from the private collection of superfan Jim Curtain, and it cleared him over $2 Million.  This interesting man deserves an Elvisblog article in a week or so, but space today permits only a discussion of the items up for sale.

 

Regency-Superior, the auction company, has a website which as of this moment still contains pictures and descriptions of all 1213 lots and the expected range the bidding would reach for each.  Surely, at some point, they will end this link to a completed auction, so if you would like a look at all the Elvis goodies Jim Curtain amassed, don’t wait too long to click on: www.liveauctioneers.com/catalogs/8507-50.html.

 

And be prepared to spend a lot of time as you scroll down through the incredible selection of Elvis memorabilia.  You will be tempted to click on many of the items to see a much larger picture.  Even better, there are detailed descriptions of each item written in a pleasant conversational manner.  You will be tempted to spend hours on the site.  I sure did.

 

On the very first page you will find the two Elvis jumpsuits that were sold.  Have you ever heard of the “Nail Mirror Suit,” so named for the 1500 brass and mirror disks that adorn this creation?  It had an estimate of $250-300,000 but went for a mere $125,000.  The other jumpsuit is a two-piece dark blue outfit that I don’t think I have ever seen in photos before.  I’m not sure why, but the estimate was much less at just $150-200,000, and it sold for only $50,000.

 

News reports gave the selling price of just one other item: two ticket stubs from the October 28, 1956 Ed Sullivan Show, Elvis’ second appearance on the program.  They are nicely displayed in a frame with a background picture of Ed Sullivan (but not Elvis) on stage.  They went for $19,000.  Wow!  If I had that kind of money, I’d spend it on some stuff autographed by Elvis.  The auction included all sorts of things signed by him, and the estimates ranged from $500 to $2000.

 

One reason I spent so much time on the auction website is because I was hoping it included a bootleg Elvis album I own: “The Burbank Sessions.”  This is the audio recording from the famous unplugged pit session of the ’68 Comeback Special, and I have never known what it’s worth.  The good news is that it was there and estimated at $450-500.  The bad news is that I have only Vol. 1 of a 2-volume set, it is not still sealed, and it no longer contains the bonus souvenir book.  Oh, well.

 

One last note.  As you scroll down through the Elvis records, you might think it is just records from there to the end because there are a ton of them.  Wrong.  If you don’t scroll on past the records, you will miss a lot of cool items.

 

©  2006   Philip R Arnold   www.elvisblog.net

Elvis and the Grammy Awards

Most fans are aware Elvis won only three Grammy Awards, and that they were all for Gospel recordings.  There’s a lot more to the story.

 

How could the King of Rock & Roll not win any Grammys for his rock & roll records?  One big reason is that the Grammy awards did not start until 1958.  In 1956 and 1957, Elvis changed the sound of popular music and had hit after hit.  If there had been Grammy Awards for those years, Elvis surely would have won a cabinet full of trophies.  How could he have been denied the title for Best Vocal Performance, Male, or Best Performance By A Top 40 Artist?

 

An Elvis song would have been a shoo-in for Record Of The Year in 1956 with choices like “Heartbreak Hotel,” “Love Me Tender,” “Hound Dog,” and “Don’t Be Cruel.”  The Album of the Year for 1956 would undoubtedly have gone to Elvis’ first RCA album, Elvis Presley.  In 1957, the choices for Record of The Year would have been “Too Much,” “All Shook Up,” “Teddy Bear,” and “Jailhouse Rock”.  ”  Elvis’ Christmas Album was the definitive rock & roll Christmas album of the period and would have been a strong contender for Album of The Year.

 

Elvis was off in Germany in the Army when the Grammy Awards were created in 1958,and he had no nominations.  However, the next year he received three.  “A Fool Such As I” was a nominee for Record of The Year, but got beat by Bobby Darin’s “Mack the Knife,” a really huge hit.  “A Big Hunk of Love” received two nominations.  However, Nat King Cole won Best Performance by A Top 40 Artist for “Midnight Flyer” (I can’t say that I even remember the song), and Dinah Washington won Best R&B Performance for “What A Difference A day Makes.”

 

1960 was Elvis’ best year for Grammy nominations with five, but he was up against Ray Charles who was having a huge year.  “Are You Lonesome Tonight” had three nominations:  Record of the Year, Best Vocal Performance, Male, and Best Performance by a Pop Singles Artist.   “Theme From A Summer Place” by Percy Faith won the Record of the Year, and Georgia On My Mind” by Ray Charles took the other two categories.  He won a total of four Grammys in 1960.

 

Elvis had two album nominations in 1960, both for the GI Blues.  However, Ray Charles beat him again.  The Genius of Ray Charles took the award for Best Vocal Performance, Male, Album.  The Best Soundtrack Album award went to Ernest Gold for Exodus.

 

Elvis had another shot at Best Soundtrack Album in 1961 with Blue Hawaii.  Ray Charles didn’t beat him, but Henry Mancini did with Breakfast At Tiffany’s.

 

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For the next five years Elvis was making movies and none of his songs or albums received Grammy nominations.  In 1967, he finally won a Grammy for Best Sacred Performance for the album How Great Thou Art, which sold over a million copies and reached #18 in the Top Albums Chart.  In 1968, he was nominated in the same category for the single “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” but the award went to Jake Hess for “Beautiful Isle Of Somewhere.” 

 

In 1972 Elvis won his second Grammy when his album He Touched Me took the Best Inspirational Performance award.  In 1974 Elvis won this category again for his third and last Grammy.  But instead of winning for a single or an album, Elvis won for the live version of the song “How Great Thou Art” from the album Elvis Recorded Live On Stage in Memphis.

 

It should be noted that the Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences partially rectified their earlier snubs of Elvis by granting him their Lifetime Achievement Award in 1971.

 

 


©  2005    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.

GETTING ELVIS GOODIES FOR CHRISTMAS

My family has it so easy when it comes to buying for me at Christmas.  They just keep an eye out for cool Elvis stuff in stores and especially in catalogs.  If my mom, wife, brother or children find something they’re pretty sure I don’t already have, they snap it up.  Christmas 2005 was no exception.

 

Did you get some Elvis goodies for Christmas?  I had a banner year.  Sometimes I think just once I should say to everyone, “OK, no Elvis this year.  What I would really like is some shirts.”  Naaah…  That’s never going to happen. 

 

My wife is getting especially adept at finding unique Elvis gifts.  For example, have you ever seen the ’68 Comeback Special Salt & Pepper Shaker Set?  I like it, but I just can’t imagine how they came up with the design.  The salt shaker looks like a ceramic hockey puck, except it sits upright.  On the front is a picture of Elvis in the famous black leather outfit.

 

The black leather hockey puck salt shaker sits in a little black base that has ELVIS across the front, spelled out with simulated strings of red lights like in the special.  The surprise is that this base is the pepper shaker.  To be honest, the set is not really very functional, so it will stay in the box as a collectible.  That’s good, because my wife had no intention of allowing them on her dining-room table, anyway.

 

The best Elvis gift my wife found for me is the “All About ELVIS Puzzle.”  Someday, when I retire, I’m going to put this one together.  That will take a long time, as the puzzle contains 1000 pieces.  There’s no way I could tackle it now.   The center of the 27” by 20” finished product is Elvis in the turtleneck sweater from the pool scene in Jailhouse Rock.  Around the edges of the puzzle are 25 boxes about the size of playing cards.  Each one contains a picture, a paragraph detailing his life history, and a trivia fact.

 

The puzzle box says, “You’ll become an Elvis expert” while completing the puzzle, but I’ll bet anybody deep enough into Elvis to get this as a gift probably is an Elvis expert already.  The bottom line — it’s a great gift and well appreciated.

 

My strangest Elvis gift, so therefore the coolest, was from my son. Somewhere, he found gourmet popcorn in the most unique packaging you can imagine:  a 24” high, clear plastic guitar with a picture of Elvis from Blue Hawaii pasted on the body.  It’s a very thick guitar, so it holds a fair amount of popcorn, and it stands upright quite well.  When it’s emptied, the slot on top lets it become a coin bank.  I can see me using it as a bank, but I may have a problem.  My wife is pretty possessive about my pocket change for that Georgia Bulldogs bank of hers.

 

I truly hope Christmas 2005 was as good for all you other Elvis fans as it was for me.  It will be interesting to see what the year 2006 holds for Elvis World.

 

©  2006   Philip R Arnold   www.elvisblog.net