Monthly Archives: September 2007


Vacation Time Again:  There will be no new articles posted to this blog on the next two Sundays, September 23 and 30.  Sorry for the two-week break, but your Elvisblog host will be on vacation out west.  We are going to four national parks: Yosemite, Grand Teton, Yellowstone, and Rocky Mountain – with stops in Reno, Salt Lake City, Jackson Hole, and Estes Park (Colorado).  This country has outstanding natural grandeur, and we are going to check out some of the best of it.  Of course, I will be on the lookout for anything interesting about Elvis to provide the basis for a future blog article. I imagine my best hope will be in Reno, but you never know.


Bragging Again:  A month ago I mentioned how interest in the 30th Anniversary Elvis Week caused a big spike in reader visits to Elvisblog in mid-August.  Well, it appears that many of these new readers liked it enough to come back again.  During the past three weeks, Elvisblog has averaged well over 2100 hits per week, a 20% jump over just two months ago.  Total reader visits year-to-date are now over 58,000, but I recently saw figures on the hits the Elvis website powerhouses get, so there is still a lot of room for growth.  Thank you for reading Elvisblog.


New Links:  The list of favorite links on Elvisblog has grown considerably in recent weeks, and it will get bigger after vacation.  Past blog articles have contained hyperlinks to quite a few Elvis websites and other sites that have some interesting Elvis content.  These will be compiled and added to the favorites list.  By the way, if you hold the cursor over the link name, a box will open with a short description of what the site is all about.  It’s a pretty cool feature.


OK, it’s time to go to the airport.  Talk to you in October.


Phil Arnold, host of Elvisblog


Not Guilty:  Did you know Elvis got arrested on October 18, 1957 for a fight with two other men.  He pulled into a Gulf gas station in Memphis to have some repairs done on his Continental Mark II.  He was immediately besieged by autograph seekers, and the station manager ordered him to drive away.  Somehow, a fight broke out between Elvis and two station attendants.  All three were charged with assault and battery and disorderly conduct.  City Court judge Sam Friedman ruled in favor of Elvis: “The testimony points to the guilt of the other men.  I dismiss you.”  Then the judge fined the other two men.  How many of those witnesses giving favorable testimony do you think were female Elvis fans?  I’ll bet the other guys never had a chance.


Mysterious Celestial Blue Light:  Have you ever heard of a book called Alien Rock: The Extraterrestrial Connection by author Michael Luckman?  In the August 16, 2007, issue of the New York Herald Tribune, columnist Billy Cox related one story in the book about Elvis.  It was supposedly told by Vernon to Elvis’ hairdresser and astrologer, Larry Geller, and his bodyguard Ed Parker.  According to Vernon, during Elvis’ childbirth, the Presley home in Tupelo was bathed in a canopy of blue light emanating from a source in the sky.  Sounds possible, I guess, but the writers go off the deep end with it.  Cox calls it “an eerie echo of the Star of Bethlehem.”  And Luckman said, “…clearly it left an enduring subliminal imprint [on Elvis]: “Blue Suede Shoes,” “G.I. Blues,” “Blue Hawaii,” “Blue Moon of Kentucky,” “Blue Christmas.”  Pretty strange.


T-Shirts From Latest Elvis Catalog:  I love browsing through the catalogs from EPE, even though the budget restraints of my recent retirement limit how much more Elvis stuff I can buy.  The latest catalog has fourteen different T-shirts, and several are very appealing.  My favorites have to be the American Classic shirt with a color picture of Elvis on his motorcycle and the Elvis Has Left The Building shirt with a silhouette of Elvis to the right of an empty stage scene (mike stand, a guitar leaning against a tall stool).  The worst selection has to be one that is called Elvis Presley Enterprises Insiders T-Shirt.  Across the chest in large block letters is E. P. ENTP.  I’m sure folks are just jumping to buy that one at $21.99.


I Saw Elvis: Believe it or not, an American President has mentioned Elvis in a State of the Union Address.  In 1992, President George H. W. Bush praised the courage, commitment, and compassion of our Nation’s defenders: “…all the ones who fought faithfully for freedom, who hit the ground and sucked dust and knew their share of honor… What a group we’ve put forth, for generations now, from the ones who wrote, ‘Kilroy was here’ on the walls of the German stalags to those who left signs in the Iraqi desert that said, ‘I saw Elvis.’”


Rock’s Incredible Body Parts:  In the September 2005 issue of Spin magazine, they picked the 25 ‘most incredible’ rock star body parts.  Madonna’s bellybutton tops the list, followed by the Rolling Stones’ Keith Richards’ liver.  Spin concludes, “…it is so durable that when Richards finally passes, they’ll line the exterior of the space shuttle with his liver tissue.”  There was no witty quote for the Elvis body part on the list – his hip-shaking pelvis.  Other selections include Tina Turner’s legs, Kiss’ Gene Simmons’ tongue, and Bruce Springsteen’s butt.


The Colonel Kills The Deal:  Sonny West has another book out:  “Elvis – Still Taking Care of Business.”  It should be titled “Sonny – Still Making Money Divulging the Dark Side of Elvis.” At least that is the impression I got from a lengthy excerpt from his book.  Although West talks about praying for Elvis and having his heart broken by Elvis, most of what I read sounded like it was lifted from the National Enquirer.  However, there was an interesting passage about the time in 1969, when Barbara Streisand offered Elvis the male lead in the remake of A Star Is Born.  Elvis was interested initially; then he changed his mind and had Colonel Parker save him from the discomfort of having to back out.  Parker laid out these demands:  $1 million in salary, $100,000 in expenses, 50% of the gross profits, a separate deal for soundtrack rights, and Elvis had to get top billing.  Streisand said ‘no way’ and got Kris Kristofferson to do the part.  I wonder what he got paid.


©  2007   Philip R. Arnold   All Rights Reserved


That enticing title graced the cover of the August issue of the Ladies Home Journal.  As soon as I read the first line of the subtitle, “Very Private Confessions,” I knew this was prime material for an Elvisblog article.  Unfortunately, it came at a time when Elvis Week was front and center in my consciousness, and it had to wait a month until all that had run its course.


A good many Elvisblog readers probably missed the LHJ article by leading Elvis writer Alanna Nash.  It featured seven lovely ladies associated with Elvis in a variety of ways.  June Jaunico was Elvis’ girlfriend for over a year in 1955/56.  Wanda Jackson sang in concerts on tour with Elvis (And was his girlfriend in 1955/56.  Hmmm.).  Raquel Welch had a bit part in the 1964 movie Roustabout.  Mary Ann Mobley appeared in Girl Happy and Harum Scarum.  Jo Smith was the wife of Elvis’ very close cousin Billy Smith.  Linda Thompson was Elvis’ girlfriend from 1972-76.  Kathy Westmoreland recorded and toured with Elvis in the 70s.


The subtitle “Very Private Confessions” turned out to be quite a stretch.  I looked specifically for them and have listed below my best guess at each woman’s “Confession.”


June Jaunico:                “We got so wrapped up in kissing on our very first date – nothing too sloppy, it was marvelous – a little pecking here and there, a little nibble here and there, then a serious bite.”  (This one is very nice, but wouldn’t a real confession have been about what she and Elvis did on date number five or six?)


Wanda Jackson:            “In the early part of ’56, he gave me one of his rings… We stood by his car and he asked me to be his girl… I had a crush on him, and being able to know him and know his heart made me admire him a lot.  So, I said I’d be his girl.”  (What a revelation. Can you imagine anyone saying ‘no’ to the chance to be Elvis’ girl?)


Raquel Welch:              “One of his guys came over and said, “Elvis is having a little party at the house, and if you’d like to come up…” I had a very strict upbringing, and I didn’t like the setup, so I didn’t go.”  (Big mistake.  Bet you wish you had that one to do over again, Raquel.)


Mary Ann Mobley:         “Elvis and I felt a common bond, coming from Mississippi.  He thought I understood him… This is an odd thing to say about Elvis Presley, but it was like I was working with my brother.  We never dated.”  (Sorry, but there is nothing else remotely approaching a confession in Mary Ann’s section.)


Jo Smith:                      “He loved you to talk babytalk to him, and we had to take care of him and cater to him like a small child… He liked to be put in bed and be told good night.”  (You have to assume this took place in the time after Priscilla and before Linda Thompson.  Can’t see Jo Smith tucking Elvis in bed when either of them was around.)


Linda Thompson:           “But I think it’s wonderful if you can be all things to each other.  And he and I were.  He called me ‘Mommy.’  And he was like my father at times.  And we were like brother and sister at times, and we were like lovers at times.”  (She could have confirmed or denied that persistent story about that first night they were lovers.)


Kathy Westmoreland:    “My last in-depth conversation with Elvis was just a few weeks before he died.  I remember he said, ‘Kathy, what’s it all about?’  And I said, “I think that is for you to find out for yourself.’”  (Kathy’s section in the article was very short and mostly about sad topics.  This is about the most upbeat thing she said.)


Here is a selection of other interesting quotes by some of the ladies.

June Jaunico didn’t hear from Elvis for a while after that first date.  “It turned out he was calling and my older brother wasn’t bothering to tell me.  Finally, he said, ‘Some guy with a hillbilly accent called.’”
Wanda Jackson and her dad were backstage on the first stop of a tour with Elvis in 1955.  “All of a sudden my dad and I started hearing screaming.  My daddy said, ‘I wonder if there’s a fire or something.  Let me go look.’  I started getting my things, and he came back and said, ‘No, relax.  But you’ve got to see this foryourself.’  He took me to the wings, and there was Elvis singing and moving and gyrating, and all these girls standing at the foot of the stage, screaming and reaching for him.
Raquel Welch had a revelation about what a sexy guy could be when she saw Elvis in concert for the first time.  “Like many adolescents of the 50s, I had been completely gaga over Elvis.  I saw him live in San Diego in one of his early shows.  It was my first rock ‘n’ roll concert ever.”
A Linda Thompson quote seems to dispute reports that Elvis knew he would die young.  “I think it’s terrible for people to say they couldn’t imagine Elvis growing old.  Everybody has that right, even if they are a sex symbol. He wanted to live to be an old man.”
And, we sure wish he had.
©  2007   Philip R Arnold   All Rights Reserved


Elvis lore is filled with stories of fans freaking out at his concerts in the 50s, but the biggest ruckus didn’t happen in this country.  That honor goes to the Canadian city of Vancouver in British Columbia.   Elvis’ concert at Empire Stadium on August 31, 1957, turned into a real mess.  Reporter John Kirkwood wrote in the morning newspaper The Sun, “Vancouver teenagers…transformed into writhing, frenzied idiots of delight… The most disgusting exhibition of mass hysteria and lunacy this city has ever witnessed.”


So, you’d think the folks in Vancouver would let this bit of embarrassing history be quietly forgotten?  Oh, no.  Why not throw a party to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the event.  I love the crazy stuff that goes on in Elvisworld.


The celebration took place on the same date, and the man who hosted the first one, legendary Vancouver DJ, Red Robinson, did it again.  I hung out with Red some at Elvis Week, and he sure got a lot of calls from the media back home concerning the celebration.  He complained about all the demands on his time when he should have been enjoying himself, but I know he loves all the attention.


Here’s a little history leading up to the original concert.  Back in 1957, rock concerts were held in theaters, arenas, and auditoriums.  Nobody had performed outside in football or baseball stadiums.  So it was a big leap for the promoters in Vancouver to book Elvis into Empire Stadium.  The stage was set up in the north end zone, and the crowd was seated in the stadium’s stands on either side of the football field.  Portable steel fences were erected to keep the fans off the field, and local air cadets (college students?) were hired as security.


The seating configuration allowed a maximum attendance of 25,892 people, and every seat was sold.  Tickets cost $1.50, $2.50, and $3.50, and total revenues came to $61,099.  This number is interesting when compared to that spent on “security” – only $412.  In retrospect, it seems the promoters might have shelled out a few more bucks for professional security protection.


Elvis came into Vancouver riding on a string of eight straight #1 hits, and he created fan hysteria at every concert on his tour.  When Elvis hit the stage at Empire Stadium, a roar went up from the crowd unlike anything Vancouver had ever experienced.  Red Robinson remembers that Elvis sang “Hound Dog,” “Jailhouse Rock” and a few other songs, but it’s doubtful the fans could hear him because of the constant shrieking.


They also could hardly see him.  For most, he was just a tiny speck on the distant stage.  All the fans were on their feet and moving closer, and soon they overwhelmed the air cadets.   According to retired Vancouver Sun photographer Ralph Bower, “They knocked (the fence) over and… came like a herd of cattle.  I was standing there and they ran right over the top of me.”  John Kirkwood’s newspaper report the next day said, “It was like watching a demented army swarm down the hillside to do battle… when those frenzied teenagers stormed the field.”


Colonel Parker then pulled Elvis off stage and told him to tone down his act.  He also admonished the crowd to calm down or Elvis would not continue the concert.  Elvis came back and promptly ignored the Colonel’s words.  Likewise, the fans’ hysteria continued to rise until Elvis and the band had to run from the stage in fear for their own safety.  I love this quote from Elvis’ buddy George Kline, “The last thing we saw was the stage being turned over.”  The concert lasted only 22 minutes.


The next day, DJ Red Robinson was on the air and said, “Wasn’t that wonderful.  Elvis stayed at the Hotel Georgia, room 1226.”  Even though Elvis had already departed, the fans were apparently still psyched up.  Red continued, “The fans went up and ripped up the carpet and tore pieces out of the bed.”  Red’s employer, radio station CKWX, had to pay almost $5,000 to repair the damage.




Red Robinson and Elvis before the concert.


Things were a lot calmer during the 50th anniversary celebration this week.  The party was held in Rogers Amphitheatre, and Joe Esposito, Elvis’ best friend, was guest of honor.  Award-winning Canadian tribute artists Steve Elliott and Wally Tierner provided the musical entertainment.  The promoters called it “one glorious night of stories, remembrances, and good old rock n’ roll.”


I wish I could have seen the celebration, but I really would have loved to be at the near-mythic event 50 years ago.  Red, you are so lucky to do both


©  2007   Philip R Arnold   All Rights Reserved