Monthly Archives: November 2007

ELVIS COMMENTARY MINI-NUGGETS — # 7

The Right Beer to Drink With Peanut Butter and Nanner Sandwiches:  According to an expert at www.beerinator.com, the beer that matches up best with Elvis’ favorite sandwich is Young’s Double Chocolate Stout.  He goes on to say: “I think Young’s Double Chocolate Stout would blend perfectly with the banana fruitiness, and it would compliment the slight roasty nutty flavor from the peanut butter.  The toasty outsides of the sandwich would also befriend the hints of bitterness left on your tongue from the last sip of Stout.  I’m fairly positive that Elvis would have lived a little bit longer if he had enjoyed this concoction alongside his favorite sandwich.”  Yeah, right.  Compliments on your slight roasty nutty idea.

 

That Was Embarrassing:  Did you know that Elvis once split the pants of his jumpsuit during a concert?  Give yourself an A in Elvis triviaif you knew it happened on March 21, 1976, in Cincinnati.  Give yourself an A+ if you knew he was singing “Polk Salad Annie” when it happened.

 

More Than Just Elvis Wigs:  A few weeks ago, Elvisblog featured some of the items you can purchase for an Elvis Halloween costume.  While searching for Elvis wigs, I came across something totally unexpected – a Priscilla Presley wig.  Offered by www.worldofwigs.com, the Priscilla wig goes for $44.95 and is described as, “Long hair with lots of volume in the crown.”  Here’s the really strange part: it’s available in a choice of colors, including blond.  Seems to me that if you bought a blond Priscilla Presley wig for your Halloween costume, nobody would ever guess who you were trying to look like.

 

National Elvis Presley Day:  Believe it or not, a resolution was introduced in the 97th Congress to proclaim January 8 as “National Elvis Presley Day.”  In 1978, a fan named Patricia Ann Emanule started a campaign to get Elvis a day of honor and remembrance.  Her efforts paid off on June 23, 1981 when Representative Ford of Tennessee introduced H.J. RES. 296 to “provide for the designation of January 8, 1982, as National Elvis Presley Day.”  The resolution was referred to the Committee on Post Office and Civil Service.  Although the bill died in committee, sixteen governors did proclaim January 8 as Elvis Presley Day in their states.  Tennessee has continued to make that proclamation each year.

 

Now That’s What I Call Memorabilia:  In the mid-1950s, the Gulf Hills Golf Club and Resort in Ocean Springs, Mississippi was a favorite getaway spot for Elvis.  Earlier this year, the suite where Elvis stayed was remodeled and redecorated and renamed the “Love Me Tender Suite.”  For a mere $1,000 a night, you can party and sleep where Elvis once did.  The suite is a three-bedroom wing with a mezzanine and a parlor with an upholstered bar.  According to Gulf Hills General Manager Donna Brown, “No children are allowed because it is furnished with antiques and irreplaceable memorabilia, like an ashtray from the Pink Pony Lounge where he performed on the grounds.”  Wow, I’d sure pay $1,000 a night to be surrounded by treasures like that.

 

Practice What You Preach – NOT:  Back in 1956, when denouncing Elvis was common among the nation’s preachers, one of the most vocal was Rev. Bob Gray, pastor of the Trinity Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Florida.  A photo of Rev. Gray preaching against the sensuality of Elvis’ music appeared in an edition of Life magazine.  Gray declared that Elvis had  achieved a new low in spiritual degeneracy.  Well, it looks like Rev. Gray achieved his own spiritual degeneracy.  He died last week – one week before he was to stand trial for molesting several girls while he was a pastor.  What a creep!

 

The Lure of Elvis Festivals:   (Editors Note:  I have an old high school buddy named Jim Lane who has been an oldies music fan for more than fifty years but never made it to Elvis Week until 2007.  He spent a bunch of money and saw everything.  Jim was so impressed that two months later he attended another Elvis festival.  Not only that, he was so moved he wrote an article about it.  I am happy to show it here.)


During the weekend of October 12-14, 2007, over a thousand people attended the fifteenth annual ELVIS FANtasy Fest at Woodland Park in Portage, Indiana.  Sponsored by Taking Care of  Presley (TCP) charity, the celebration had the theme “Raised on  Rock,” the name of the 1973 album that Elvis recorded at Stax Studios in Memphis.

 In addition to games and vendor exhibits, Friday night featured a spaghetti dinner, a jam by Showcase Artists who were former FANtasy Fest ETA competition winners, and a sock hop hosted by deejay Steve Christopher.

Saturday kicked off with classic cars cruising down Elvis Presley Boulevard followed by a welcome to special guests.  Then the ETA competition sessions got underway featuring 14 candidates from as far away as Branson, Missouri, and Orlando, Florida. Three junior Elvis ETAs also wowed the crowd.  An overflow audience attended an evening concert featuring Showcase Artists Irv Cass, Dwight Icenhower, Quentin  Flagg, Robert Washington, and Stephen Kabakos, backed by the Change of Habit Showband.

 On Sunday the finals of the ETA competition took place with a nine-person panel  ultimately naming Ted Torres the winner and Curt Lechner the first runner-up.  The final event was a Grand March by Special Olympics athletes.  Last year's event raised $22,000 for the Special Olympics, and FANtasy Fest chairperson Kay Lipps expects this year’s proceeds to by equally bountiful. “We try to carry on Elvis Presley's giving spirit,” she said.

 

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

ELVIS' FIRST COVERAGE IN THE PRESS

Entertainment critics regularly panned Elvis early in his career, particularly in 1956, when he burst onto the national scene.  Over the years, Elvisblog has contained prime examples of these unfavorable reviews from the New York Times, the Las Vegas Sun, and Time magazine.  However, the very first press report mentioning Elvis was in his hometown newspaper, the Memphis Press-Scimitar.

 

It appeared on July 28, 1954, in a column titled “Front Row,” written by the Press-Scimitar movie columnist Edwin Howard.   It was the result of a rushed interview Elvis had with him during Elvis’ lunch hour (Elvis kept his truck-driving job at Crown Electric until October).  The interesting thing about the interview is that Howard didn’t want to do it.  He reluctantly agreed as a favor to an old friend he knew from their days in local theater.  The persistent friend was a lady named Marion Keisker.  Does that name sound familiar?  Sure it does, Marion Keisker worked for Sam Philips at Sun Records.

 

In fact, she was at the front desk in 1953 when Elvis first showed up to cut a record for his mom.  Some folks think Marion is the person who actually discovered Elvis, because she had the foresight to turn on the master tape recorder while Elvis sang “My Happiness” and “That’s When Your Heartaches Begin.”  She also got his name and address on a 3×5 card and added the note: “Good ballad singer, hold.”  Marion was the gatekeeper at Sun Records and Elvis passed the test that day.  It was another year before she got him back to sing for Sam Phillips, and Phillips may never have seen Elvis if not for Marion Keisker.

 

It has been duly noted that Elvis, Scotty, and Bill recorded his first song, “That's All Right,” on July 5, 1954.  Once they recorded a second song, “Blue Moon of Kentucky,” on July 8, Sam quickly produced a 45 record.  Soon, local disc jockey Dewey Phillips was giving “That’s All Right” heavy airplay, enabling Scotty to get the group booked at the Bell Air club.  They played on two consecutive Saturday nights, July 17 and 24, and their sets consisted of two songs — the only ones they knew.

 

Then, Sam Phillips convinced Bob Neal, promoter of the upcoming “Hillbilly Hoedown” show, to add Elvis to the bill.  The show was held in the Overton Park Shell on Frida,y July 30, and the headliner was Slim Whitman.  This concert appearance is of historical note because it is when Elvis first started shaking his legs and where girls first started screaming for him.  This was a big break for Elvis.

 

Marion Keisker must have foreseen the concert’s potential to aid his career, so she not only arranged the press interview for Elvis, she took him to it.  She correctly saw it as a chance to promote both his new single and his upcoming live performance.  She even came armed with stats to show how well “That’s All Right” was selling. 

 

In spite of his friendship with Marion Keisker, critic Howard considered the interview a distasteful chore.  When he saw Elvis, he was instantly turned off.  Howard is quoted saying, “He walked in there looking like the wrath of God.  Pimples all over his face, Ducktail hair.  Had a funny looking thin bow tie on.”  Howard forced himself to ask Elvis a few questions, and Elvis gave a crummy interview.  Howard later said, “About all I could get out of him was yes and no.”

 

So, how bad was Elvis slammed in Howard’s column the next day?  Howard opened with a section about the Ringling Bros. Circus coming back to Memphis after a two-year absence.  Elvis definitely wasn’t going into the lead of the column.  The Elvis item was brief, and the nicest thing Howard could manage to write was: “This boy has something that seems to appeal to everybody… equally popular on popular, folk and race record programs.”  Howard obviously tossed off the piece without any rereading and editing, or else that terrible “popular on popular” jam-up would have been fixed.

 

So, just three weeks after Elvis recorded the songs for his first release, he was mentioned in an entertainment article in the local paper.  It’s nice that Elvis received press coverage so quickly after starting his career, but it probably didn’t matter.  The important thing was that there were teenaged girls at that hillbilly concert, and they saw something special up on that stage.  It started the ball rolling.  From that point on, Elvis always had plenty of bookings.

 

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

A JUG OF CORN LIQUOR AT A CHAMPAGNE PARTY

Believe it or not, the disparaging sentiment above came from a Newsweek magazine review of an Elvis show in Las Vegas.  How could this be?  Elvis was synonymous with Las Vegas and performed to sold-out crowds at more than 700 shows there in the 70s.  The explanation for this incongruity is that Newsweek was actually reviewing Elvis’ 1956 performances at the New Frontier Hotel.

 

Newsweek wasn’t alone in its ridicule of Elvis’ New Frontier shows.  Bill Willard of the Las Vegas Sun ended his review of the show with this:  “His musical sound… is uncouth, matching to a great extent the lyric content of his nonsensical songs.”  Elvis bashing was a popular pursuit among entertainment critics in 1956, but there is more to this story.  Elvis actually bombed in his first appearance in Las Vegas. 

It’s my opinion that Col. Parker made one of his few mistakes managing Elvis’ career when he set up the shows.  Instead of booking Elvis as the headliner in a smaller venue, Parker booked him to be the “extra added attraction” at a long-running show featuring Freddy Martin and his orchestra.  Also on the bill were comedian Shecky Green, the Venus Starlets and a cast of 60 performers who made up a typical Vegas entertainment package.

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Freddy Martin was a popular name in big-band music, and his shows regularly drew large crowds of middle-aged fans.  For some reason, Col. Parker must have thought Elvis would appeal to these folks.  Parker couldn’t have been counting on filling the venue with Elvis’ fan base of screaming teenagers, because they were in short supply in Las Vegas in 1956.  Unfortunately, the older crowd didn’t like Elvis at all.  Another quote from Bill Willard’s review sums it up perfectly.  “For Teenagers, the long tall Memphis lad is a whiz; for the average Vegas spender or show-goer, a bore.”

 

Elvis was well aware that the audiences ‘didn’t’ get it.’  Three years later, he recalled, “After that first night I went outside and just walked around in the dark.  It was awful…. I wasn’t getting across to the audience.”  After causing near-riots everywhere else he performed, it must have been a hard thing for him to handle. 

Other Las Vegas Sun reviewers were able to say some nice things about Elvis.  Bud Lilly wrote, “Here is a young man who has an inherent ability to arouse mass hysteria wherever he goes, yet is unassuming and completely untouched by the fabulous success he has achieved almost overnight… His avid fans have elevated him to a plane reached only by a few singers of our time.”

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Elvis on Stage at the New Frontier Hotel


Ralph Dent called Elvis The Shake and Shiver Kid, and then made a totally stupid statement.  “Here stands Elvis Presley, who has probably has yet to blow out his 21st birthday candle, drink his first beer or kiss his first girl.”  Dent was right about the beer, but how naïve to think Elvis had never kissed a girl.  Come on, he had girls falling all over him at every stop.  As Scotty Moore and DJ Fontana’s books revealed about life on the road with Elvis, he did a lot more than just kissing.  Dent also stated, “My wife seemed pretty much interested in Presley’s gymnastics on stage,” and then he admits this caused a cold sweat to pop out on his forehead.  I’ll bet he didn’t take his wife backstage to meet Elvis after the show.
 
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A footnote to this story is that the New Frontier Hotel closed for good on July 16 of this year.  It will be razed at 2:30 tomorrow morning (Monday, November 13) to make way for a $5 billion complex, including a 3,500-room luxury hotel, private residences, a casino, and upscale shopping. When first built in 1942, the Old Frontier Hotel had a Western theme and only 105 rooms.  It was renamed the New Frontier in 1955 and remodeled with a space travel/celestial theme.  Elvis performed in the Venus Room which held almost 1000 people.  Various owners expanded the New Frontier Hotel over the years.  Howard Hughes bought it for $14 million in 1967.  Kansas-based businessman Phil Ruffin paid $167 million for the property in 1997.  He investment was in the land, not the hotel.  He sold the 34-acre property in May 2007 for $1.2 billion.
 
Knowing that the New Frontier’s days were numbered, Ruffin put no money into the hotel, and it had grown rather seedy over the past few years.  At the time of it’s closing, the sign out front advertised Bikini Mechanical Bull Riding and Mud Wrestling, and it promised Cold Beer and Dirty Women.  I wonder what the Las Vegas Sun entertainment critics had to say about that.
 
© 2007   Philip R Arnold   All Rights Reserved   www.elvisblog.net
 

The Strange Odyssey of Elvis’ Shot-Up TV

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When I saw the first television news report of Robert Goulet’s death, I leaned over to my wife and said, “Did you know Elvis shot a TV once because Robert Goulet was on?”  She’s usually unimpressed with my knowledge of Elvis trivia, but this time she asked, “Why?”  That told me this would make a good Elvisblog story.  My instincts were confirmed when almost all Internet news sites I checked mentioned the Elvis TV incident in their coverage of Goulet’s death.

The answer to the question of ‘why?’ is clearly explained in a quote by old Elvis buddy Marty Lacker in an interview he did with www.elvisinfonet.com: “Elvis harbored some bad feelings about Goulet from back in the late 50s when he was in the Army.  Elvis’ girl friend Anita Wood was a singer and she did shows with Goulet and Buddy Hackett.  Anita would often write Elvis in Germany, and one time Goulet added a postscript to one of them telling Elvis in a sly way that he was personally taking care of Anita.  Elvis didn’t like that and he never forgot, so when he saw Goulet on TV, he shot the TV out.”

No wonder Elvis got mad.  He’s overseas in the Army and gets a letter from his girlfriend back home, but slimy Robert Goulet writes on the bottom something like, “Don’t worry, Elvis, I’ll take care of Anita while you are gone.”  To fully understand why this would enrage Elvis, go back to the Elvisblog story on February 26, 2006.  It contains quotes from a letter Elvis wrote to Anita Wood in November 1959, including:  “I can’t explain to you how I crave you and desire your lips and your body under me, darling.”

So, Elvis was serving his Army time in Germany, sustained by thoughts of Anita Wood, and then he gets Goulet’s snide postscript.  Not only was Elvis mad, he carried that grudge against Robert Goulet for years.

All the way to 1974, when Elvis finally got some mental satisfaction by nailing Goulet on TV.  It occurred while Elvis was working at the International Hotel in Las Vegas.  He was in his top-floor suite when he saw Goulet on TV.  Elvis took out his gun, shot the TV, and (according to Allexperts.com) said, “Get that s**t outta my house!”

It’s no surprise Graceland has a different spin on all this.  In a March 2006 music.yahoo.com article, Graceland spokesman Kevin Kern is quoted, “There was nothing Elvis had against Robert Goulet.  They were friends.”  I don’t think so.  Marty Lacker’s story sounds more believable.  He was in the Memphis Mafia, and he was there.

The quote from Graceland’s Kevin Kern came at the opening of their new exhibit at Elvis After Dark on March 20, 2006.  Guess what was there?  A 25-inch RCA TV that Elvis shot out.  Spokesman Kern also told the press, “Elvis just shot out things on a random basis.  This is the only surviving television or appliance that Elvis shot out.”  Appliance?  Did Elvis shoot toasters and coffee makers, too?

According to an AP report on the exhibit opening:  “Entertainer Robert Goulet was performing on TV when Elvis Presley blasted the 25-inch RCA that’s part of the exhibit called Elvis After Dark.”  (Italics added for emphasis)

So, after thirty-two years, the Goulet TV shows up at Graceland.  How did it get there?  Allexperts.com reports:  “The TV is currently on display at Graceland.  It was found a few years ago in the attic above his father’s office.”  Sure.  Doesn’t everybody lug a huge shot-up TV to the attic to store for lengthy indefinite periods?

Let’s think about this.  Elvis blasts the Goulet TV in Vegas in 1974, and then has it crated up and shipped back to Memphis so it could be stored in his dad’s attic.  After thirty-two years, it is discovered and put on display at Graceland.

Could that improbable chain of events have actually happened?  Sorry, it’s almost easier to believe Elvis is still alive.

©  2007   Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister   All Rights Reserved   www.elvisblog.net