Monthly Archives: May 2007

ELVISBLOG NEWS — 5/27/07

100,000 Hits:  The past week has been a great one for Elvisblog.  The number of visits by Elvis fans to the website since it began has now passed 100,000, and I am gratified by your interest in my writing.  New folks keep discovering Elvisblog every week through the magic of Google.  Because the archived weekly articles have covered so many topics, just about anything googled about Elvis will bring up Elvisblog on the results list.  Of course, many people who discover the site this way come back regularly for another booster shot of Elvis news and commentary.

 

The other milestone this past week was hitting a new daily record.  On Thursday, May 24, Elvisblog had 316 visits.  Thanks to all you readers for your support.

 

Comments:  I have no love for chat rooms.  Alhough some people like them, most are a big waste of time.  They veer off of the topic at hand, and often get into personal slams between the respondents.  So, from the start, Elvisblog has not been set up so readers could post comments and other readers could reply.

 

However, I would like to see what Elvisblog regulars think about the site.  Is there anything you would like to see changed?  Are there topics you would like to see covered?  Did I make a big glaring error in an article?  So, if you would like to make a personal comment (that will not be posted on the site), here is your opportunity.  Send your thoughts to philarnold@charter.net and put Elvisblog Comments in the subject line.  That way I can recognize your e-mails in the spam filter folder and retrieve them.  I’ll look forward to hearing from you.

 

Getting Posted on the Elvis Insiders Website:  Now that I have just knocked chat rooms, I am going to brag about being posted in one.  Someone thought enough of last week’s article “Scotty Moore – The Last Man Standing” to post it on the Elvis Insiders website under the Elvis Week 2007 topic.  This is the third Elvisblog article that has been added to that site, and each one has brought in new readers.  Keep it up.

 

Getting Posted on Scotty Moore’s Website: For several years, I have wanted to get something I wrote posted on Scotty Moore’s website.  Finally, webmaster Jim Roy took my “Scotty Moore – The Last Man Standing” article, added three photos, and posted it in the “Scrapbook” section.  Check it out at www.scottymoore.net.   Nice job, Jim.

 

©  2007   All Rights reserves   Philip R Arnold   www.elvisblog.net

 

DR. NICK'S MEMORIES OF ELVIS

In my mind, Dr. George C. Nichopoulos, better known as Dr. Nick, is one of the main bad guys in Elvis’ history.  Yes, I know the state of Tennessee cleared Dr. Nick in 1981 of charges that he prescribed Elvis too many addictive drugs, but he lost his state medical license in 1995 for other bad conduct, so that tells you something.  Normally, I wouldn’t write anything in Elvisblog about Dr. Nick, but this story is just too weird to skip.

 

During his long association with Elvis, Dr. Nick received gifts from his favorite patient.  In 2000, realizing the value of these items, Dr. Nick entered into a 50-50 partnership with a Nevada entertainer named Bobby Freeman.  Freeman’s real name is Robert G Gallagher, and he is a self-described “little old country boy” with a third grade education.  In his act he sings original rockabilly songs wearing a cowboy hat with a bullet hole in it.  He plays numerous instruments; his specialty is playing the piano with his feet and other body parts.

 

Gallagher’s deal with Dr. Nick was to exhibit the Elvis collection in casinos.  Gallagher has stated, “We opened it at the Hollywood Casino in Tunica, [MS], 15 miles from Graceland, and it was held over three times, and I did entertainment shows opposite of it in the ballroom.”  This success gave Gallagher the idea to put the collection inside tractor-trailers and tour it nationwide.

 

It took years to build displays inside two custom-made 18-wheelers, but by 2005 they was ready.  Gallagher proudly described the truck interiors: “Everything is beautiful.  There’s carpeting everywhere – burgundy, two inches high, the best you can buy.  Every frame is carved gold.  You got your crown molding …”

 

Before the exhibit trailers were finished, Gallagher met Richard Long, a California businessman at a car show in Reno.  Later, Long saw his performance and hired Gallagher to do the show at his birthday party.  They kept in touch, and Long visited Gallagher in Reno and saw the mobile Elvis exhibits.  In April 2006, Long and Gallagher entered into an agreement to form a joint company to exhibit the memorabilia.

 

Long gave Gallagher $200,000 for himself plus $1 million to buy the Elvis collection from Dr. Nick.  Supposedly, Long agreed to put up to $1 million more into the company so Gallagher could pay the bills he ran up creating the tractor-trailer displays.  In addidtion, Long was to put an additional 1 million into the company to be used on an as-needed basis.  Sounds good so far, right?  Well, now it gets weird.

 

Long gave Gallagher the first $1.2 million, and presumably Dr. Nick was paid off.  However, Gallagher never turned over the Elvis collection to the newly formed exhibition company.  Somehow, he got the idea that the real value of the memorabilia was $250 million, and that Long was planning to sell it to Asian collectors and keep all the money.  So, Gallagher refused to turn over the displays unless Long came up with another $3.5 million.

 

In November 2006, Long filed suit.  He was willing to dissolve the company, sell the Elvis collection, and split the proceeds.  But, when the court convened on March 25, 2007, Gallagher was a no-show.  He proclaimed, “I didn’t show up because I knew they were going to pound the hell out of me.”  Indeed, Long’s attorney did just that, introducing the facts that Gallagher had a prior felony conviction for auto theft, had a prior judgment against him for $200,000, and had run up $500,000 in debt to Bank America.

 

The judge ordered Gallagher to turn over the Elvis memorabilia for inspection for insurance purposes.  Gallaher refused to do this, saying that photographing the items would devalue the collection.  Long’s attorney said, “The legal term for their argument is ‘a load of hooey.’” Gallagher again failed to show up in court this past May 12, and the judge ruled that Gallagher must turn over the exhibit to the exhibition company and pay part of Long’s legal fees.

 

So what is in Dr. Nick’s Memories of Elvis?  Here’s the list:

 

The black doctor’s bag used by Dr. Nick while treating Elvis.

 

A stuffed dog Elvis had in his suite at the Las Vegas Hilton.

 

Laryngeal scope Dr. Nick used to examine Elvis’ throat and

tonsils.

 

Wooden carved desk, made by Elvis’ uncle, Vester Presley, and supposedly used by Elvis in Graceland.

 

Puka shell and turquoise necklace Elvis gave to Dr. Nick.

 

38 Smith & Wesson snub nose once owned by Elvis.

 

The book, “The Prophet,” with hand written notations by Elvis

in the margins.

 

A bowl, taken to the Memphian Theater filled with fresh cut

fruit, for Elvis to eat during movies.

 

An empty prescription vial dated August 15, 1977.

 

A 14k yellow gold and diamond TCB pendant and necklace that Elvis gave Dr. Nick.

 

A glass nasal douche Dr. Nick used to irrigate Elvis’

sinuses.

 

Gallagher has called this collection “the greatest find since the Titanic.”  With the exception of the book and TCB pendant, I think I like the lawyer’s term: “A load of hooey.”

 

©  2007   All Rights Reserved   Philip R Arnold   www.elvisblog.net

SCOTTY MOORE — THE LAST MAN STANDING

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 Standingis 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 during Elvis Week.

Scotty has a recording studio in his home, and he has had a blast with a group of Nashville musicians. After practicing and recording two-dozen R&B and blues songs, some from the Elvis library, they decided to call themselves “The Mighty Handful.” I’ve heard most of the songs, and these guys do a spectacular job. I hope there is a little section of the Peabody Grand Ballroom left open for dancing, because this is very danceable music.

Here’s a rundown of the men in “The Mighty Handful.” The biggest name is sax player supreme, Boots Randolph, like Scotty, another legend. He will steal the show, just like he always does. Billy Swan will do the vocals. Billy has tremendous stature among the Nashville music community as a successful songwriter, tour manager, producer, and singer (biggest hit – “I Can Help” — # 1, 1974). This grand performer will get a opportunity to show his stuff at The Last Man Standing, and he will not disappoint. Steve Shepherd has played with Scotty many times and was a long-time bandmate of Ronnie McDowell. Steve’s keyboard work will add so much to the sound of the concert. The other musicians in the band will be Bucky Barrett (Roy Orbison’s guitarist), Bob Moore (who followed Bill Black with Elvis) on bass, Fred Satterfield on drums, and Buddy Spicher on fiddle.

Just seeing these guys would be enough for me, but there is more — another group of Scotty’s buddies, this one from England: The Grundy-Pritchard Band. Scotty is much revered in England and Europe, so he has been traveling over there to perform since 1992. On every tour, he has played with Liam Grundy and Pete Pritchard and various other musicians in their group at the time. Scotty has recorded with them on the CD Western Union. In recent years, Paul Ansell, who has had a two-decade career with his own band “Number 9,” handled the lead vocals. Scotty also recorded with Ansell on the CD Live At Sun.

On the DVD, A Tribute To The King, Scotty and The Grundy-Pritchard Band did a superb job on six Elvis rockabilly and blues songs. They covered “Shake, Rattle, and Roll,” “A Mess of the Blues,” “One Night,” “I Forgot To Remember To Forget,” “Reconsider Baby,” and “Ready Teddy.” The music was tight, Ansell’s vocals were dead-on, and the end result was very impressive.

So, if you want some good entertainment at Elvis Week, take in the double concert Scotty Moore – The Last Man Standing. Scotty will be appearing 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.

Scotty’s long-time friend Darwin Lamm, Editor of Elvis…The Magazine, is presenting these concerts. To get tickets, call  818-991-3892, or e-mail  elvisint@aol.com..  See you in Memphis.

                                                                                  

©  2007  All Rights Reserved   Philip R Arnold   www.elvisblog.net

ELVIS COMMENTARY MINI-NUGGETS — # 4

Another Elvis/Celine Dion Connection:  In 1987, Dion’s husband and manager Rene Angelil was in Las Vegas to see a Wayne Newton tribute to Elvis Presley.  Angelil recalls, “For $5 you could visit the suite at the Hilton where Elvis lived.  So I go, and the Colonel is there selling souvenirs.”  (That sounds so true to character, doesn’t it?  Elvis had been dead for ten years, and Col. Parker was still making money off him.)  He did offer a suggestion to Angelil, who mentioned to him that Celine Dion sang in French, but she was a Barbara Streisand type.  The Colonel said, “Let me give you some advice.  Never compare your artist to another artist.”  Well, the Colonel may have given free advice, but I’ll bet he didn’t give Angelil any free souvenirs.

 

Another Souvenir Story:  This came from the Virginia Pilot in an August 16, 1997 article.  Back when Priscilla Presley was acting in the TV show “Dallas,” she made this quote at a cast party about her early days with Elvis:  “I didn’t seem to realize how famous he was.  The degree of it came to me one day when I looked out the window and saw some fans taking my discarded eyelashes out of a garbage can.  They wanted the eyelashes for a souvenir?  I couldn’t believe it.  That, I think, is when I first realized how famous Elvis was.”  Here’s a Pricilla trivia question for you.  What was her character’s name on “Dallas?”  Answer at the end of this column.

 

How About An Anagram?:  It can be a fun challenge to form a new phrase out of the letters in another phrase, and here’s a good one for our hero:

 

            Elvis Aaron Presley  =  Seen alive?  Sorry, Pal.

 

Elvis’ Voice Characteristics:  I don’t know all these music terms, but this description from Wikipedia sounds pretty authoritative:  “Elvis Presley was a baritone whose voice had an extraordinary compass – the so-called register – and a very wide range of vocal color.  It covered two octaves and a third, from the baritone low-G to the tenor high-B, with an upward extension in falsetto to at least a D-flat.  Presley’s best octave was in the middle, D-flat to D-flat.”  That’s very impressive, even if you don’t understand what it means.  However, the next part of the description I understand quite well:  “He has always been able to duplicate the open, hoarse, ecstatic, screaming, shouting, wailing, reckless sound of the black rhythm-and-blues and gospel singers.  Could he ever.

 

Elvis Lipstick Colors:  According to an article in an old Elvis International Forum magazine (1990 — # 4), the line of Elvis Presley lipsticks marketed back in the 50s had these names:  Tender Pink, Heartbreak Pink, Love-ya Fuchsia, Hound Dog Orange, Tutti-Frutti Red, and Cruel Red.  Although I have never seen any of them, I am sure Tutti-Frutti Red would be my favorite – but Hound Dog Orange sounds pretty good, too.

 

Elvis The Guitar Player:  Did you know Johnny Cash thought Elvis was a great guitarist?  Here’s what he had to say in his cleverly named autobiography,“Cash – The Autobiography”: 

 

“I remember Elvis at the Eagle’s Nest … I thought Elvis was great.  He sang “That’s All Right” and “Blue Moon of Kentucky” once again (and again) plus some black blues songs and a few numbers like “Long, Tall Sally”… The thing I really noticed that night, though, was his guitar playing.  Elvis was a fabulous rhythm player… The way he sounded with [Scotty Moore and Bill Black] was what I think of as seminal Presley, the sound I missed through all the years after he became so popular and made records full of orchestration and overproduction.  I loved that clean, simple combination of Scotty, Bill, and Elvis on his acoustic guitar.”

 

Yeah, me too.

 

Quiz Answer:  Priscilla Presley’s character on Dallas was named Jenna Wade Krebbs.   Good job if you knew that.

 

 

©  2007   Philip R Arnold   All Rights Reserved   www.elvisblog.net

ELVIS AND JOHNNY RIVERS

I love doing a little digging to find out what kind of connection Elvis had with other rock & rollers.  In the case of Johnny Rivers, it goes all the way back to early 1955, before Elvis was a big star, and before Johnny Rivers was Johnny Rivers.  At that time, he was Brooklyn-born John Ramistella, a twelve-year-old growing up in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

 

He 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 some unknown kid 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 recalls, “All that sexual energy up there on stage, people didn’t know what to make of it.”

 

Young Johnny did.  He said to his buddy, “Wow.  This guy’s really cool.”  Within a year, Johnny was playing guitar in local groups, and by age fourteen, he was fronting the band “Johnny and the Spades.”

 

Young 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 pulled by a Cadillac Coupe de Ville.  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.”

 

In 1957, Johnny recorded his first record, ‘Hey Little Girl,” and a local newspaper article about him led to his next Elvis connection – performing at the Louisiana Hayride in Shreveport.  It was there in 1958 that he met James Burton, who would later play guitar with Elvis, but back then was the guitarist for Ricky Nelson.  Burton was responsible for taking a demo Johnny had written and delivering it to Nelson, who liked the song and recorded it for his huge album “Rick at 21.”

 

Later in 1958, 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.

 

After he graduated from high school, Rivers moved to Nashville, where he teamed up with another young hopeful singer, Roger Miller.  They wrote songs together and made a little money singing demonstration tracks for Elvis and Johnny Cash.  The next few years saw Rivers move to New York City and then to 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.

 

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 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.

 

There is one last Elvis/Johnny Rivers connection.  I would strongly recommend the 1991 Rivers 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, including twice while writing this article.

 

©  2007   Philip R Arnold   All Rights Reserved   www.elvisblog.net