Monthly Archives: April 2009



Elvis fans seem to be interested in every facet of his life, including some pretty obscure ones.  So, what do these folks do to satisfy their curiosity?  They Google it, of course.  When the Google page opens up with a list of the top ranked websites covering the subject, hopefully one of them will have the information you search for.  Apparently, ElvisBlog is now a favored source for many Elvis-related topics, including some pretty weird ones.  I became aware of this when someone linked to ElvisBlog from a Google search on “Elvis pimples.”

I can’t imagine why anyone would even care about Elvis’ pimples, but somebody did.  And guess where ElvisBlog showed up on the Google list?  #2, beaten by a site with this news release, “National Pimple Center To Stage The Largest Charity Show In Singapore Next Year.”  Wow, who knew there’s a National Pimple Center?  One of the scheduled entertainers at the show was an Elvis Tribute Artist, so Google was merely connecting the two words pimple and Elvis, even though they were not used together in the story.  Dead end.

On the other hand, ElvisBlog had a legitimate reference to Elvis pimples. In a June 1, 2008, column titled “Never Before Told Elvis Secrets,” I made fun of a 1977 Midnight Globe story that quoted Elvis’ stepbrother Rick Stanley.  One of his so-called revelations was this, “Until he was well into his 20s, Elvis had a terrible skin problem – just like a lot of young people.  Pimples were his curse.  He even had them on his back.”  I hope that information was of some value to the person who Googled.

From that point on, I saved other strange Elvis search topics on Google.  Here a few of the more interesting ones.

“Elvis impersonator movie where lady meets guy who looks like Elvis and she has a kid and she goes away with Elvis”:  This one certainly gets the award for the longest Google search topic about Elvis.  Does anybody know what movie she is describing?  I sure don’t.  ElvisBlog came up #1 on the results, but simply because it had used more of the key words in that long string than any other site did.  It doesn’t look like anything that Google found solved the mystery.

“is Elvis' body preserved?:  ElvisBlog could do no better than #8 on this one, but that’s fine by me.  Google simply found the words body and Elvis in the same article.  However, Elvis World-Japan actually got into the topic.  I was pleased with their quote, “Graceland CEO Jack Soden said there are no cryogenically preserved tissue samples of Elvis.”  But, then they went on to discuss other possible ways to clone Elvis.  No!  Please, please, no!

“Elvis fly sandwich”:  This probably shouldn’t be mentioned here, because it is not about a sandwich made of flies, as I originally thought.  It just sounded like that.  It was actually about the Fool’s Gold Sandwich, which Elvis flew from Memphis to Denver to get.  Google got it right, when the top of their list was the April 15, 2007, ElvisBlog article about this unique Elvis story.  The person who Googled this one didn’t have to go anywhere else to get the information they wanted.

“Elvis Presley chest hair”:  Sadly, nine different websites beat out ElvisBlog on the Google results for this one.  #3 was a site with an article titled, “Did Tom Jones Insure His Chest Hair?”  (The answer is yes – for $25 million.)  The ElvisBlog article on the Google list appeared just two weeks ago as part of the bare-chested Elvis story.

“Speedway, Viva Las Vegas and Easy Come, Easy Go, all have something in common what is it?” : Was the person who Googled that trying to get the answer to a trivia question that stumped her, or was she trying to stump Google?  If the latter, it worked.  None of the sites on the Google list gave the answer.  They were there because they had seven or eight of the words somewhere in their contents.  ElvisBlog had ten of the words to rank #1.  Does anyone know the answer to this question?

“diabetic Elvis impersonators”:  Why would anyone care?  And Google couldn’t find anything to cover the subject.  However, the site at the top of their list had an article with an interesting title, “Calling all Elvis and Popeye Impersonators.”  I had to read that one to find out about Popeye impersonators.

“what Elvis and Ann Margaret movie was translated into Italian?”:  Well, let’s see… There are so many choices.  I’ll just have to make a guess.  How about Viva Las Vegas?  Score another #1 for ElvisBlog with the March 23, 2008 article titled Delinquente del Rock & Roll, which covered the titles of all of Elvis’ movies on Italian DVDs.

“Ancient Egyptian Boonta”:  Sometimes when I see these search subjects, I try to guess what ElvisBlog articles the words have been pulled from.  Ancient Egyptian was easy; it came from my review of the movie Bubba Ho-Tep.  Boonta stumped me.  It turns out the Boonta Eve Pod Race from The Phantom Menace was the source for half the photos when we compared a Star Wars race with the Elvis race in Viva Las Vegas.  There really was a Boonta in ancient Etheopia, and it is covered by several sites that ranked ahead of ElvisBlog.

“black midget Elvis”:  Apparently there is no such thing.  Many sites, including ElvisBlog, made reference to both Black Elvis and Midget Elvis, but apparently no enterprising black midget has tried to become an Elvis Tribute Artist.  Will someone please step forward and fill this gaping void?

“what color pants did Elvis split while recording ‘Heartbreak Hotel’?”:  Another attempt to stump Google, and it worked.  There was nothing on their list that led to an answer.  To my knowledge, the only time Elvis split his pants was while performing “Poke Salad Annie” and wearing a jumpsuit on March 21, 1976, in Cincinnati.  Although this was covered in Elvis Commentary Mini-Nuggets #7, Google missed it.  Instead, they found a combination of words from the search topic, including Bill Black’s split from Elvis.  I’ll still take the #1 rank on their list, thank you.

“Elvis picking his nose”:  We might as well end this column on a high note.  Not one choice on the Google list actually addressed this subject.  They had references to Elvis, and nose, and picking, but fortunately picking always referred to a guitar.  As I said at the beginning, Elvis fans seem interested in knowing about every facet of his life, but I think we’d be OK if we skipped this one.

Well, that covers about half of my list of strange Elvis searches on Google, so I guess someday there will be a Part 2.  It occurred to me that maybe some of the folks who did these weird searches and then linked to ElvisBlog may have become regular readers.  If so, I hope you didn’t mind me making fun of your stupid search topics.

©  2009    Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister    All Rights Reserved

Jumpsuits, Jewelry and Junk


Four weeks ago, this blog discussed the upcoming auction of Elvis items presented by Gotta-Have-Rock-and-Roll.  Although I didn’t express it in print, I did wonder how it would fare in these shaky financial times.  The results are in, and, with the exception of Elvis’ jewelry and clothes, you could not call it a huge success.  Thirty-three items received no bids at all, including four out of five of the items with the highest required minimum bids.

Let’s look at some of the successes first.  In all Elvis auctions, the jumpsuits get the most media attention, but it helps when they have a famous name, or at least, a cool sounding name.  Over the years, Elvis’ designers, friends and fans have come up with tags like the Chinese Dragon, Blue Phoenix and Mexican Sundial.  The jumpsuit in this auction was called by the uninspired name of Elvis Presley’s Madison Square Garden Jumpsuit.  Yes, that is descriptive, because he did wear it for one of his four shows in New York City in June, 1972.  But, it has no zing like the King of Spades or Burning Love jumpsuits.

I did a little research to see if the suit at this last auction actually had a name, and it did – the Wheat jumpsuit.  No wonder they didn’t use that name in the auction catalog.  As you can see in the picture below, that’s a sorry description of this design.

 image         image         image

For one thing, wheat doesn’t grow on curvy vines, but what else would you call this concept?  The pre-auction estimate for the suit was $150-200,000, and it brought in $212,000, so you could call it a success.  However, the Peacock jumpsuit, which sold last year, went for $300,000, and just the cape from the famous American Eagle jumpsuit that Elvis wore on the Aloha from Hawaii special went for $150,000 back in 1999.

image      image

The big stars of this most recent auction were the jewelry items.  Elvis’ 14KT gold and diamond owl ring had a pre-auction estimate of $7-8,000, but it went for $40,388.  The 14KT gold diamond and Pavé bracelet did even better.  It had the same estimate as the ring, but it pulled in $44,427.  The successful bidders on these items also get 8”x10” color photographs showing Elvis wearing the jewelry.

image                   image

image           image

Another over-achiever was a black pants and shirt set that Elvis wore off stage.  This splashy casual wear brought in over $33,000, well beyond the $9-10,000 estimate.

image               image


Here is how several other items mentioned in the March 15 ElvisBlog article fared in the auction:

                                                                       Estimate           Bid
Seventh Degree Black Belt Karate Card        $13,000       $21,000
Graceland View-Master                                  $75              $150
Set of Sixteen Elvis Buttons                            $75              $330
Between Takes Album (the one I own)            $25              $40

So, what were the big busts, the high priced items that received no bids at all?  The highest pre-auction estimate was for Elvis’ White grand piano, but nobody thought it was worth the minimum starting bid of $500,000.  In retrospect, that does seem rather over-priced.  The same problem plagued the three Elvis oil paintings by Ralph Wolfe Cowan.  He is the artist who did the Elvis paintings in the Smithsonian and Graceland.  When he did a third Elvis portrait, it brought $45,000 at the 1999 auction in Las Vegas.  I guess he went to the well too often when he produced three more.  That may have resulted in a glut-on-the-market feeling, because no one would even pay $25,000 for them.

The other items that no one bid on probably would have sold for something less than the minimum starting bid, but auctions don’t work that way.  Among the items that couldn’t fetch a $25 bid include an Elvis pencil, several movie still photos, movie press books, and various pamphlets, folios and advertising manuals.  There were even four magazines with articles about Elvis that failed to get the modest $10 minimum.  However, the magazines with Elvis on the cover all sold well.

There were a few items pulled from the auction before bidding started.  Probably due to ownership disputes, I guess.  I would have been interested to see what these sunglasses went for.  Note the variation on the standard TCB lightning bolt design.

image    image

Here’s a strange item that got pulled —  a placard advertising Elvis’ gold Cadillac that went on tour around the country in 1959.  With Elvis away in the Army in Germany, Col. Parker found something else to promote. 


And finally, here is the item that surprised me the most.  It is a hand-written poem that Elvis composed, and it went for over $20,000.  If you don’t want your image of Elvis sullied a bit, please do not read it.



©  2009    Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister    All Rights Reserved

Bare-Chested Elvis


As promised, this week's column will be a photo essay on the subject you chose from the four topics offered.  I guess it's not a surprise that “Elvis Impersonator Losers” got no votes, and “Elvis Images Made forem Weird Stuff” did little better.  However, they will be posted sometime in the future when I'm real busy or can't think up a good blog idea to write about.  The Linda Thompson photos will certainly be used sometime to illustrate an acticle about her.

So, that leaves the winner — BARE-CHESTED ELVIS.  You lady Elvis fans have spoken.  Lets start with some shots from the movies.



Photos from Blue Hawaii



Photos from Fun In Acapulco



Photo from Burning Star                                       Photo from Paradise Hawaiin Style


Here are some photos of young Elvis.  They look like they might be Al Wertheimer shots from 1956, but the websites where I found them did not give any crediting.





Here's two more from about the same time period, and I'm pretty sure they are not Wertheimer pictures.  If the left one was, Alfred would probably label it “Pumped Up Elvis.”



Here's two other photos shot during the filming of Elvis movies.



And finally, my favorite bare-chested Elvis photo.  He sure did grow a lot of chest hair between the earlier shots and this one.


(C)  2009    Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister    All Rights Reserved






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Choose The Next Blog:  Your dedicated Elvis Blogmeister has not been very dedicated with another time-sensitive function – doing my taxes.  Now that I have put them off until the final eight days, it is time to get going.  I do this best with no other tasks to divide my attention, so I need to cop-out on next week’s ElvisBlog column.  It will still be posted, but instead of writing about anything, I will simply present a pictorial essay on an interesting Elvis subject.


And, you readers get to pick the subject.  Here are four topics from my files of Elvis photos.   I will probably never write a real article about any of them (except for Linda Thompson, but I’ll save half of her pictures for that).  I think you would find any of the choices interesting, and nobody has ever covered the first three before.


Bare-Chested Elvis


Elvis Impersonator Losers


Elvis Images Made from Weird Stuff.


Linda Thompson



Pick the one you would like to see and e-mail your choice to  The winning subject will be posted on April 12.



A New Way of Counting Hits:  Over the years, I have reported it when ElvisBlog passed significant milestones in the number of hits to the site.  However, it seems I have been using the wrong measurement.  My blogware reports something they call “Distinct Hosts Served,” which means the number of computers that visit a site.  That pretty much means the same as the number of people who visit a site.  There might be a slight undercount if several people use the same library computer to visit ElvisBlog in the same day, but that’s not very likely.


I have learned that most other website counters use “Page Views” when reporting hits.  My blogware does this, too, calling them by the charming name “HTML Requests.”  So, I’ve gone back to the beginning of ElvisBlog in January, 2005, and tabulated the total of all the monthly page views.  It turns out that another milestone has been passed.  As of February, 2009, ElvisBlog has surpassed 500,000 page views.  A half-a-million hits!  Thank you, folks.



Reader Lydia Gallion is this winner this time with the caption below.  There will be another contest next week.


Moments later, Elvis was doing the Jailhouse Rock.

Wanda Jackson and Elvis


I hope you aren’t tired of articles about Elvis-connected people who were recently inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, because there is one more.  Elvis had a lot to do with Wanda Jackson becoming the first queen of rock and roll, as the Hall website calls her.  Like many other Wanda Jackson fans, I believe this Hall of Fame recognition was long overdue.  Her cause has been championed for years by Bruce Springsteen and a number of other notable rockers.

Unfortunately, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame decided to induct her into the “Early Influences” category, rather than as a “Performer.”  How stupid!  As the first queen of rock and roll, she was one hell of a performer.

Let’s look at the story of Wanda Jackson.  In 1955, she was an seventeen-year-old aspiring country singer, with some minor hits to her credit and a half-hour radio show on KLPR in Oklahoma City.  In July, she was booked on one of those packaged touring country music shows that were popular in the fifties.  It was here that she met a young male singer from Memphis who had a new sound and a controversial stage presentation.  His name was Elvis Presley, and they became fast friends.  Wanda and Elvis performed in other touring shows in August and October, 1955, and again in early 1956.



Elvis and Wanda dated a bit, but her dad was her manager on the road, so things never got hot and heavy between the young singers.  In an interview in Rolling Stone magazine, she said, “Our dating amounted to what we could do on the road.  If we got in town early, we might take in a matinee movie.  Then, after the shows, we could go places with his band — and my dad, of course… It was very important, a girl’s reputation, in those days.  There were things you could and couldn’t do, and my daddy made sure I never crossed the line.”

Elvis urged Wanda Jackson to branch out and try rockabilly music.  He said, “It’s the next big thing, and you need to be singing it.”  She took his advice and decided to try her hand in this wild new world of rockabilly.  “He broke my train of thought and made me realize I could stretch myself.”


Her first step in this direction was recording a rockabilly song on Capitol Records titled “I Gotta Know.”  Although it received much airplay on country music stations and even reached the Top 10, she was actually making her move into rock and roll.  After that, Capitol played it safe by releasing 45s with a fiery rockabilly number on one side and a country song on the other.

The rockabilly songs are what made her mark in music history.  As Rolling Stone said, “Her songs were full of vinegar.  She sang them all with gravel-throated gusto.”  The Smithsonian Institution would later refer to her as the sweet lady with the nasty voice.  The Rock Hall website says, “Jackson’s rockabilly recordings – including such red-hot fifties sides as “Hot Dog,” “That Made Him Mad,” “Rock Your Baby,” Mean Mean Man,” and “Honey Bop” – are among the greatest ever made.”

However, at the time, these songs did not have great commercial success, and full rockabilly stardom eluded her.  “I was ahead of my time,” Jackson has said.  “They were only beginning to accept men doing what was thought of as being this very wild and rebellious music; they sure weren’t going to accept a young lady singing this!  It then took me until 1960 to get a hit.”

That hit was “Let’s Have A Party,” which Elvis fans know he originally recorded for the movie Loving You in 1957.  Jackson liked the song and recorded it in 1958 for her self-titled first album.  She was backed by one of the tightest rockabilly bands there has ever been:  Gene Vincent’s Blue Caps.  The song went unnoticed for two years.


             Wanda's First Album               Wanda and Gene Vincent       

In 1960, a Des Moines disc jockey discovered the song and started using it as the theme song for his radio show.  Soon, it was getting airplay everywhere, and it went on to be a Top 40 hit.  However, by this time Wanda had given up on rock and roll and had gone back to her country music roots.  Her next two releases were “Right or Wrong” and “In The Middle of a Heartache.”  Both barely made it into the rock and roll Top 40, but they achieved Top 10 success on the country charts.

Wanda Jackson went on to have great success in other countries.  Her novelty song “Fujiyama Mama” became her first number one hit – in Japan.  Europe embraced rockabilly music in the sixties, and Wanda recorded an album in German in 1965 which lead to another foreign number one ranking with the song “Santo Domingo”.   Later, she recorded and toured as a gospel music artist, performing mainly in American Baptist churches.  In the mid-80s, she returned to her rockabilly and country songs on several European tours. 


Since 1995, Wanda Jackson has had a full schedule of touring in this country.  In 2007, she recorded an album in tribute to her old friend titled I Remember Elvis.  “[Elvis] has been a big part of my life.  I worked with him and loved him very much for the person that he was, so it only seemed right that I should do a special tribute to him.  I chose the songs he was singing when I was working with him in the fifties, and that gave it purpose.  At the end of the CD, I also tell stories about my remembrances of the first time I met him, the first night I worked with him, and the last time I saw him.”


So, after she chalked up nearly fifty-five years as a performer, The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame finally recognized Wanda Jackson.  In spite of calling her “The First Queen of Rock and Roll,” and declaring her rockabilly recordings are among the greatest ever made, the Hall did not induct her as a “Performer” like Elvis, Gene Vincent, Carl Perkins  Buddy Holly, and all her other contemporaries in the late-50s and early-60s.  What were they thinking when they put her in the “Early Influences” category.  She joined the ranks of great artists like Billy Holliday, Jelly Roll Morton, Mahalia Jackson, and T-Bone Walker, so she is in good company.  But, these folks performed in the 30s and 40s.  They really were early influences.

It is true that Wanda Jackson has been a big influence on the music of this country.  But, she was out there on stage with the best of them in the early days of rock and roll, including Elvis, Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis, all recognized as “Performers” by the Hall of Fame, not “Early Influences.”    For my money, Wanda Jackson was, and is, a great performer.  Check her out on this video of “Let’s Have A Party.”



Now that I’ve had my rant, I’m going to forget about this category thing and just regale in the fact that Wanda Jackson is finally in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  I’ll bet her friend Elvis is happy about it, too.

©  2009    Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister   All Rights Reserved