Congratulations to regular reader Laura Harrison. She actually sent in two caption submissions, and this was the winner. There will be a new caption contest next week.
Mt. Rockmore: The photo in Caption Contest 7 came from the entrance to the now defunct Hard Rock Park in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The permanent sand sculpture depicted Elvis, John Lennon, Bob Marley and Jimi Hendrix. In my opinion, the artist who created it did a better job on the likenesses of Elvis and Lennon than he did on Marley and Hendrix. And what’s with Bob Marley on there, anyway? If you’re memorializing great dead rock stars, I could see Buddy Holly, James Brown and several other rockers before Bob Marley. Believe it or not, this is not the first Mt. Rockmore sculpture. Here is another from the Flintstones Theme Park in Custer, South Dakota:
Elvis Songs Describe Blago: The Chicago newspapers have been full of commentary about deposed Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich. Two of them even mentioned Elvis. According to Stefano Esposito of the Chicago Sun-Times, “He liked to crank up Elvis Presley’s ‘Blue Hawaii’ and sing along to the stereo. Chuck Goudie of the Daily Herald listed some famous Elvis songs that fit Blago’s bill: “A Fool Such As I,” “Put The Blame On Me,” “Suspicious Minds,” “T-R-O-U-B-L-E,” “There Goes My Everything,” and maybe eventually “Heartbreak Hotel.” It’s too bad Elvis never had a song called, “Devious Scumbag Politician.”
A Peek At The Future: EPE has three new Graceland exhibits for 2009. “Graceland’s 70th Anniversary Celebration” is already open. Coming in March are “Elvis in Hollywood” and “Elvis Lives: The King and Pop Culture.” The press release for “Elvis Lives” reads in part:
“This interactive exhibit showcases Elvis in action as he entertains crowds in a stunning video presentation. Visitors can trace Elvis’ impact on pop culture by taking a trip down an Elvis time line, test their knowledge at an Elvis trivia kiosk and explore Elvis’ music through listening stations that feature classics from the king of Rock ‘N Roll.”
If you ever wondered what EPE is going to put on all those acres of land it bought around Graceland, “Elvis Lives” gives you a good clue. However, I think video presentations, trivia kiosks and listening stations are just the tip of the iceberg. Get ready, big-time Interactive Elvis is coming.
Stupid Reporter Questions: Over the years, reporters have posed lots of stupid questions to Elvis. Possibly the worst questions came from Luther Voltz of the Miami Herald on August 4, 1956. Voltz asked Elvis how he felt about some strange subjects: the Andrea Doria ship disaster, the popular Empire waistline in fashion, prominent politicians Estes Kefauver and Adlai Stevenson, and famed cellist Pablo Casals. Elvis told the reporter he would rather keep his views to himself because he did not want to be labeled. That was fast thinking by Elvis, because, as he later admitted to friends, he had never heard of any of those people or things. Elvis always enjoyed telling the story of how he outsmarted the reporter who tried to embarrass him.
Keep That Pelvis Far from Me: Did you know Elvis was mentioned in the lyrics of one of the songs in the movie Grease, starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John? “Look At Me, I’m Sandra Dee” was sung by co-star Stockard Channing’s character Rizzo. Here are some of the lyrics:
Look at me, I’m Sandra Dee, lousy with virginity.
Won’t go to bed till I’m legally wed. I can’t, I’m Sandra Dee.
I don’t drink or swear, I won’t rat my hair, I get ill from one cigarette.
Keep your filthy paws off my silky drawers. Would you pull that crap with Annette?
Elvis, Elvis, let me be, keep that pelvis far from me.
Just keep your cool, now you’re starting to drool. Hey, fungool, I’m Sandra Dee.
Not Worth $200 To Me: Somebody might pay $200 for a 20 inch long statue of Elvis riding on a motorcycle if it really looked like Elvis. However, this so-called collectible on a Phoenix antique website just looks terrible. It may be the worst reproduction of Elvis’ face I have ever seen. Look close, that’s not a bazooka strapped to Elvis’ back, it’s a guitar case.
That Hep Presley Cat Is A Gas: When Elvis performed at the New Frontier Hotel in 1956, some negative comments appeared in the Las Vegas Sun. This prompted several letters to the editor, including an unusual one from Mr. Ed Jamison. Here are two excerpts:
“This cat Presley is neat, well gassed and has the heart. His vocal is real and he has yet to go for the open field. He is hep to the motion of sound with a retort that is tremendous. These squares who like to detract their imagined misvalues can only size a note creeping upstairs after dark. This cat can throw ‘em downstairs or even out the window. Presley’s voice is that of American youth looking at the moon and wondering how long it will take to get there.” What??? At least Mr. Jameson followed with, “He deserves his ever-growing audience. Nobody should miss him.” Now, that I understand.
The King Of Las Vegas: Elvis didn’t make much of a splash with his 1956 performance in Las Vegas, but when he came back in 1969, he up shook the place. I like this quote from Nick Naff of the International Hotel: “The first time he was booked here, some of us had our doubts. I mean, we opened July Fourth with Barbra Streisand, who’d just won an Oscar, had three pictures going. She was one of the hottest entertainment properties in the world. We knew we had something. Elvis [who was the second performer at the new hotel] was an unknown stage property. He hadn’t appeared anywhere in eight years. We knew he’d be something of a draw, but my God! Elvis was a blockbuster.” Elvis turned out to be an even bigger draw in subsequent runs at the International. I’m not sure how this figure was verified, but it has been reported the Maitre d’ and head waiters split $10,000 in tips per night when he performed the following February.
Strange Elvis Memento On Display: Back in 1976, Elvis was headed by car to a concert in Roanoke, VA. As the car passed through Lynchburg, Elvis felt the need to go to the bathroom, so they stopped at the Koffee Pot restaurant to use the facilities. Once finished, Elvis took the toilet paper roll and autographed it for owner Estelle Meadows. Here is a picture of the memento, which has been on display at the restaurant for years. Note, Elvis even drew a TCB logo on it.
© 2009 Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister All Rights Reserved www.ElvisBlog.net
For the past week, the TV channels I watch have been bombarded with ads from the Vermont Teddy Bear Co. I suspect you have seen them, too. With Valentine’s Day approaching, their pitch about men giving cuddly bears to their sweeties had to fall on many receptive ears. Not mine, however. On the ad, we can see a view of their website page for the “Thief of Hearts” bear with a price of $89.99. That is beyond my budget, but my wife loves the dozen pink roses I already gave her that cost less than a third of that.
I did wonder if Vermont Teddy Bear had any Elvis bears, so I checked out their website. There were three: “Jailhouse Rock” bear, “Love Me Tender” bear, and “That’s All Right Mama” bear. They cost $99.99, so I guess the extra $10 is to cover the EPE license fee. The Elvis sunglasses on two of them are pretty cool. I like the white jumpsuit better than the other two outfits, so the “Love Me Tender” bear might make a good gift next year if you are persuaded by the Vermont Teddy Bear advertisements. On the other hand, giving a bear with a prison shirt on might be a mistake. Bad karma.
Next, I went to www.shopelvis.com, because I remembered they offered a series of inexpensive Elvis teddy bears. These have different images printed on the bears’ bodies, and they cost only $12.99
The themes for the Elvis bears cover just about every aspect of his career, such as “68 Comeback Special,” “Heartbreak Hotel,” “Aloha From Hawaii,” and “G.I. Blues.” The red bear below is the “Can't Help Falling In Love” bear, and the pink one is the “Love Me Tender” bear. Both might work well as a Valentine's present next year.
Then, I Googled Elvis Teddy Bears to see what else might come up. Here are three, none of which do much for me. The first costs $39.99, and the only connection with Elvis is his name on the ribbon and one foot. The middle one costs $18.99 and doesn’t even have Elvis’ name on it, just the TCB logo. The last one would not be recognizable as an Elvis teddy bear without the tag on its ear. It’s not worth 10.99 to me.
I did find something else that surprised me – Elvis Beanie Babies. You can get the whole set for $30 new or $15 on eBay. I really like these, especially the Elvis shades and the sideburns. I showed the picture to my wife, and she said they look like hound dogs to her. I see her point, but this is an article about Elvis teddy bears, so I’m over-ruling her.
My favorite of all the Elvis teddy bears also came from www.shopelvis.com. They call this series the “Plush Swing and Sway” bears, and the price of $34.99 each seems like a good value. I like the hair and sideburns, and, of all the bears reviewed here, they are the only ones with mouths (and a nice smile). For some reason, ShopElvis fails to mention one very significant fact about these teddies (I found this out on another site that also sells them.) See the little red logos on the bears’ left feet. If you press that, an Elvis song plays. The little guy with the cape sings “Burning Love.” The bear in the gold lame coat sings “Don’t Be Cruel.” You can figure out what the one in the prison shirt sings.
Nest year, I’ll see if my wife would rather have a singing Elvis teddy bear or a dozen pink roses. I’m pretty sure it she’ll pick the roses. However, if she wants a gift idea for me, it will be the “Burning Love” singing Elvis teddy bear.
© 2009 Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister All Rights Reserved www.elvisblog.net
We are going to take a one-week break from writing about Elvis. This week, I am covering another explosive entertainment act: Darwin and the Cupids. Haven’t heard of them? Just keep reading.
Darwin Lamm is the editor and publisher of Elvis…The Magazine. He puts out a wonderful, slick, professional product, aided by at least one article per issue written by me. We are friends, and I just love being in his aura at Elvis Week when he puts on his concerts. Darwin knows everybody still alive who had anything to do with Elvis’ life. Backstage at his shows is like an old homecoming for all the performers. In addition, other folks with non-musical connections to Elvis show up. One big happy family, gathered together by Darwin, and I’ve been able to hang out with them three times.
So, now I am proud to announce that Darwin’s talents are not restricted to writing, editing, publishing, and concert promoting. In addition to that, Darwin is a singer. Or at least, he once was. I learned this when a wonderful CD arrived in the mail. I knew in advance it would be coming, but I didn’t know what it was. Darwin hinted it was rare and teased me with a supposed value of $999.99. For a while, I allowed myself to think he was sending me a special Elvis goodie, but I knew better. Darwin has sent me lots of Elvis stuff over the years, but nothing valued like that.
No, it wasn’t an Elvis CD, it was Darwin’s Musical Journey. Splashed across the CD cover is a photo of eighteen-year-old Darwin Lamm. He looks good, and his attire gives you a hint of the music inside. Darwin was wearing a preppy-looking sweater and a tie. Sort of in the Frankie Avalon-Bobby Vee mode. This didn’t look like a guy that cranked out full-throttle rock and roll. My guess was that it would probably be soft rock, and that turned out to be right.
When I opened up the case, I was delighted to find a booklet full of liner notes. It started with an article from Discoveries magazine in 1990, written by Jerry Osborne. Now, Jerry is one of those folks with a non-musical connection to Elvis who ends up backstage at Darwin’s concerts. Jerry met Elvis six times and is the author of many books on Elvis and Elvis collecting. He is one of the very best experts on Elvis collectibles, and he covers the field with all the items available on his website www.jerryosborne.com.
Jerry Osborne was the founder and publisher of Discoveries magazine (for record collectors) when he wrote the article about Darwin and the Cupids. I have stacks of old Discoveries down in the basement, and I think they go back beyond 1990, so I’m going to dig out the issue and see the real article about Darwin.
The Discoveries story began with eighteen-year-old Darwin living in Vancouver, Washington in 1960. A multi-talented musician, he sang, wrote music, and played guitar. Darwin used these talents to create several songs, ones that sounded much like the very popular group, The Fleetwoods.
Then one day he heard singer Bonnie Guitar would be appearing in Vancouver at the Frontier Dinner Club. Bonnie Guitar had been a star since 1957 when she had a top 10 hit “Dark Moon.” But Darwin knew an obscure fact about her — that she discovered The Fleetwoods and gave them their start. The Fleetwoods were composed of a male lead singer and two female singers.
It would have been little trouble for Darwin to sound like The Fleetwoods. He probably had all three of their hit records up to that point, including two # 1’s: “Come Softly To Me” and “Mr. Blue.” You can imagine that much of his practice time was spent listening to those records and honing that Fleetwoods’ sound.
Darwin knew instinctively that he must meet Bonnie Guitar. On the night of her show, he grabbed some songs he had written in Fleetwoods-style and headed down to the club where Bonnie Guitar was playing.
Darwin got to the backdoor of the place, but the doorman stopped him from entering. Darwin had to think quickly, and he used his rolled up music sheets as a prop. Somehow, he convinced the doorman that he had important papers to deliver to Ms. Guitar. Darwin must have been able to show enough sincerity to pull it off, because to him they were important papers.
He was told to wait in the back. After Ms. Guitar finished her show, Darwin was standing by the door as she reached her dressing room. He sucked up his courage and gave her the pitch. He said one thing that sparked her interest. He said the word — Fleetwoods.
Darwin had no way of knowing how good his timing was. Can you imagine what kind of euphoria he must have been in when Bonnie Guitar told him she was looking for another Fleetwoods-like group? Darwin convinced her he had two college girls that were ready to sing with him, making a trio, just like The Fleetwoods.
Next thing you knew, Bonnie handed Darwin her guitar so he could sing her some of his songs. When he finished, Darwin had closed the deal. Pretty good job for anyone, let alone an eighteen-year-old.
Bonnie Guitar knew just what to do with Darwin. She took him to a Seattle music distributor, Jerry Dennon, who was itching to get into the recording business. He created Jerden Records and signed Darwin as its first singer. Darwin and the girls practiced a bit and headed to the recording studio. Darwin and the Cupids were born.
The result was a single titled “How Long,” issued as Jerden 1. Darwin hit the road and visited disc-jockeys at radio stations all over the Northwest, plugging his new release. Here’s what the Discoveries article said about Darwin and the Cupids from that point on:
“Within weeks, ‘How Long’ was the Northwest’s hottest hit, reaching the top of the charts. Darwin and The Cupids were in constant demand.” Darwin did weekend gigs in towns like Pullman and Wala Wala, Washington, and Salem and Eugene, Oregon to crowds of 300 and up. Without question, the highlight of Darwin’s performing career was getting on the bill of two “Show of Stars” concerts in Seattle, each attended by 10,000 fans. How’s this for a line-up?
And ……………Darwin and The Cupids
Darwin was on the bill with four high-energy bands and two singing stars. He was singing his brand of music in front of large crowds and having success in his career.
“How Long” was included on the album Original Great Northwest Hits, Volume 1. Darwin followed it with another equally popular single “Goodnite My Love,” which appeared on Volume 2 of the Original Great Northwest Hits. He had a co-writer on “Goodnite My Love” — Don Robertson, another aspiring singer/songwriter who played piano. Robertson went on to write nine songs for Elvis, including “There’s Always Me” and “I’m Counting on You.”
After the two regional hits, Darwin moved to Los Angeles, and signed with Dore Records. He put out several more records, including one selected by Dick Clark to be on American Bandstand’s Rate-A-Record feature. It was “There Ought To Be A Dance,” which unfortunately is not on Darwin’s CD. Missing studio tapes, I suppose. He says he doesn’t remember what rating his song got. Yeah, right.
Darwin made some bucks doing singing commercials for the soft drink Squirt and the shampoo Head and Shoulders. He also produced records for other artists for Dore Records, as well as other L.A.-based labels Liberty and Dot.
By 1965, the singing career was over, but Darwin had learned about other aspects of the music business. Ahead of him were three different careers. First he was a talent agent for CMA, second largest agency in LA. Then, he started the Creative Radio Network, putting out dozens of syndicated radio programs that featured Elvis and other stars. And after that, he had another career with his magazine known over the years as:
Elvis International Forum (1988-2001)
Elvis International, The Magazine (2002-2005)
Elvis…The Magazine (2006- )
So, although the story of Darwin and The Cupids ended, he moved on. As Jerry Osborne said in his article, “Singing was an exciting chapter in Darwin’s career, and along the way, it shaped his life for a great journey in the entertainment business.”
Good CD, Darwin. Thanks for sending me one. And keep on having those concerts at Elvis Week.
© 2009 Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister All Rights Reserved www.ElvisBlog.net
Darwin and The Cupids CDs are available, not for $999.99, but just $9.99. E-mail elvisint@AOL.com.
Tuesday, February 3 will be the 50th anniversary of the plane crash that killed Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper. This story will be covered thoroughly by all the entertainment media, so I won’t repeat it here. What I want to look at is the connection between Buddy Holly and Elvis Presley.
Young Buddy Holly was a nineteen-year-old aspiring musician in Lubbock Texas when he first met Elvis. It happened at the local Cotton Club on October 15, 1955. Buddy and his friend Bob Montgomery opened the show as Buddy and Bob, before Elvis came out and took over. Buddy Holly also opened for Elvis that year at the Fair Park Coliseum.
Here is an interesting legend to come out of these meetings, according to Elvis – His Life from A to Z by Fred L. Worth and Steve D. Tamerius:
“According to legend, Elvis told Holly and Montgomery that if they came down to the ‘Louisiana Hayride,’ he’d get them on the show, but when they did show up, Horace Logan [ed. note: station manager at KWKH, which produced the Louisiana Hayride] turned them away, and Elvis wasn’t there.”
In spite of this, Holly has been quoted, “Without Elvis, none of us would have made it.
Here’s a little-known nugget. Elvis’ band, Scottie Moore, Bill Black and DJ Fontana, caused almost all West Texas Rockabilly bands to change their style, including the Crickets playing behind Buddy Holly, and Roy Orbison’s band.
Elvis and Buddy Holly must have liked a lot of the same songs, because they both recorded these songs by other popular singers:
Good Rockin’ Tonight (Roy Hamilton)
Reddy Teddy (Little Richard)
Blue Suede Shoes (Carl Perkins)
Shake, Rattle and Roll (Joe Turner / Bill Haley)
Rip It Up (Little Richard)
Elvis never recorded any songs released by Buddy Holly, and Holly never recorded any Elvis songs except one. He once said, “(You’re So Square) Baby, I Don’t Care” was his favorite Elvis song. He recorded it as a demo during a visit to a radio station in 1956. To my knowledge, it was never released during his life.
After his death, all sort of rare Buddy Holly music was released. Because Holly’s career was cut so short, the total number of songs he recorded was much less than Elvis accumulated. But that didn’t prevent historians and record producers from finding every scrap of tape with Holly playing and singing on them. Then they put out albums like this. He was the undisputed king of the lost-basement-tapes, until they started digging for Jimi Hendrix material a decade later..
It is generally known that Waylon Jennings was part of the Crickets on that fateful night fifty years ago. He was supposed to be on the charter plane with Holly, but gave up his seat to the Big Bopper. There are few photos of Jennings with Holly, but here is one:
There is one last Elvis and Buddy Holly connection. Both Elvis and Holly are charter members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In 1986,when the first ten inductees to the Hall were named, Elvis Presley and Buddy Holly were chosen. Two rock icons, for sure.
© 2009 Philip R. Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister All Rights Reserved www.ElvisBlog.net