Monthly Archives: March 2013

Remembering Gordon Stoker

I’m usually thankful when something shows up in the news that inspires an ElvisBlog article.  The exception is when the news is about the death of another Elvis buddy or bandmate or anyone else from Elvis’ world.  In the past few years, this blog has remembered John Wilkinson, Jerry Leiber, Lamar Fike, Boots Randolph, and Charlie Hodge.  There were other losses as well, like Myrna Smith of the Sweet Inspirations

But none of these deaths saddened me the way it did this week when I learned Gordon Stoker had passed away at age 88.  I had personal contact with this wonderful stalwart of the Jordanaires, and he gave me some memories I will never forget.  So, my salute to Gordon Stoker will be to tell some of them here.

 

Milton Berle Show   June 1956

Elvis performing on the Milton Berle Show on June 3, 1956. Gordon Stoker is the second closest Jordanaire to Elvis.

 

Making Moves With Jordanaires

Another shot from that show, and Elvis is doing his moves. Gordon Stoker is second from the left. Did you recognize Elvis’ outfit in both pictures as the one he wore in the film clip of him doing “Hound Dog” on Milton Berle… the performance that created so much commotion.

 

Gordon Stoker between Ed Sullivan and Elvis

Gordon Stoker between Ed Sullivan and Elvis

 

Okay, the stories.  I spent a lot of time around Gordon Stoker during Elvis Week 2004, at the 50th Anniversary Legends Concert.  EPE had deemed it the 50th anniversary of rock & roll, dating back to July 5, 1954, when Elvis recorded his first song.

At that time, I was a contributing editor for Elvis International magazine, published by Darwin Lamm.  Darwin has promoted some great Elvis Week concerts, and he did it again for the 50th anniversary show.  This Legends Concert featured Scotty Moore, DJ Fontana, the Jordanaires, Boots Randolph, Ronnie McDowell, and lots more.  They were followed by the TCB Band Concert.  Great double-bill.

I had backstage-access passes for both concerts.  I functioned mostly as a go-fer, but if somebody wanted a cold bottle of water, I was happy to get it for them.  Plus I was scoring autographs like crazy from everybody backstage.

I was around Gordon at the afternoon practice session, and all the hanging-out beforehand.  My contact with him was minimal, but I became a familiar face.  It was the same thing with the concert, but when it ended, I got a new job.  All the performers signed autographs after the show.  I was part of a four man group that escorted the performers to the autograph tables out in the lobby.  Then we positioned ourselves strategically behind the signers to make sure nobody got pushy in the lines or tried to come behind the tables.  At that point, I had gone from go-fer to bodyguard.

I was stationed near Gordon Stoker.  After a half-hour or so, I was told Gordon needed to leave.  After an active day, this eighty-year-old diabetic was having a little trouble.  All the Jordanaires decided to leave together, so we escorted them out of the lobby and to the service elevator.  I ended up with Gordon, and some stupid fool came up and wanted Gordon to stop and pose for a photo with him.  I had to tell the guy, “Hey, get back and let us pass.  Gordon needs to get some food.”

When the Jordanaires got to the elevator, they took off for the nearest restaurant.  So, after saying hardly anything to Gordon all day, I was now a favorably familiar face.

All this occurred on August 13, so there was lots more of Elvis Week to go.  Gordon and the Jordanaires were there for a few more days, and so was I. The next night I walked past the open restaurant area out in the hotel lobby and saw Gordon Stoker eating at a table alone.  I entered the restaurant, went up to him, and asked how he was doing.  He was fine, and we had a nice little conversation.  To my surprise, he asked me to join him.  You bet I did.

When the waitress came by, Gordon ordered for me.  He was eating meatloaf and raving about it, so he wanted me to have it, too.  He was right.  It was great meatloaf.  We chatted through the whole meal, and he was charming.   He gave me his business card, and wrote my e-mail and phone number on the back of another.  Said he would put it in his book.  I didn’t think we’d actually do any messaging, but he sure made me feel good.

Then, Gordon picked up the whole tab.  I had gone from go-fer to bodyguard to friend.  It was just a perfect night.

 

Sadly, we now say goodbye to Gordon Stoker.  Another member of Elvis’ world has left us.  We’ll miss you, Gordon.  Say hi to Elvis for us.

And, thanks for the meatloaf.

 

Cool shot of Gordon Stoker and Elvis

Cool shot of Gordon Stoker and Elvis

 

©  2013    Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister    All Rights Reserved    www.ElvisBlog.net

 

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Elvis, Elvis Presley, and Graceland are registered trademarks of Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc.

Photos of Elvis Playing Musical Instruments — No Apps Required

It’s been a while, so I thought I’d check out elvis.com/news to see if anything going on would make a good ElvisBlog article.  Most of the ‘news’ stories were uninspiring, but one did catch my eye.

 Elvis.com news

So, now you can watch photos of Elvis playing various musical instruments on your smartphone using Elvis Mobile Apps.  Being an old dinosaur who somehow manages to get by without a smartphone, I could not check out what instruments EPE has selected for this feature.  I wonder if they include any of these.

 

 Bass Guitar

The picture on the webpage shows Elvis in Loving You costume playing a guitar.  It’s a fairly common photo.  But, have you ever see the one above of him playing an electric bass guitar.  This looks to be young Elvis, so the picture could be from the 1957 recording session for  “(You’re so Square) Baby, I Don’t Care.”  Remember how Bill Black was having trouble getting the bass intro straight, and Elvis had to step in and play the licks.

 

Twelve string guitar

I think this shot of Elvis with a double neck guitar came from the publicity photos for one of his movies, but I can’t remember which one.

 

   Love Me Tender recording session

Here is another instrument that Elvis could actually play – the piano.  This shot was snapped during the recording session for “Love Me Tender.”

 

Piano 4

Elvis played the piano before rehearsals for the Steve Allen Show.   (Thanks Al.  www.alfredwertheimer.com)

 

Piano on U.S.S. Randall

The website where I found this one said it was taken aboard the USS Randall, which was the troop ship that took Elvis to Germany.  That looks like his medals for sharp-shooting hanging from his chest.  I didn’t realize he got them during basic training, not active duty.  I also didn’t know that troop ships had pianos.  That white streak pointing to the guy’s chin is a drumstick.

 

Drums 4

Speaking of drumsticks, look what Elvis is doing here.  I’ve never read that he had any particular skill as a drummer, but he must have found it fun to play around with them.

 

Drums 3

It certainly looks like he was enjoying it here.

 

Drums with Boots

That’s Bill Ulyate in this shot with Elvis taken during the wrap party for a 20th Century Fox movie.

 

 1961 Uke

I guess if you can play guitar, then a ukulele would be no big challenge.  This photo was taken in 1961.

 

Elvis Playing Ukelele

The most famous examples of Elvis playing the ukulele are shots from Blue Hawaii.

Accordian

The fact that there are at least two photos on the internet of Elvis playing the accordion indicates that maybe he actually knew how to.

 

Playing Accordian

Here’s another shot of him in his Army uniform playing an instrument.  Do you think he was actually playing the accordion or just goofing around?

 

Trumpet 2

We know Elvis was goofing around with this trumpet.

 

Trumpet Chet Baker

He may actually have been trying to play the trumpet here under the tutelage of professional trumpeter Chet Baker.

 

 Clarinet - Loving You

This shot on the set of Loving You shows Elvis playing(?) the clarinet.

 

Flute

I found this picture on the internet twice.  One site called it a clarinet, and the other called it a flute.  I think it’s a flute.

 

Pan Flute

And this is a pan-flute.  Well, if Cartman and the guys on South Park can play the pan-flute, why not Elvis.

 

 Tamborine

And finally, we have Elvis playing the tambourine.  You probably recognize this shot from the ’68 Comeback Special.

If any readers have the Elvis Mobile Apps and access their photos of Elvis playing musical instruments, could you please advise on ‘Comments’ what they actually show.  I’d like to see how the it compares.

 

©  2013    Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister    All Rights Reserved    www.ElvisBlog.net

 

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Elvis, Elvis Presley, and Graceland are registered trademarks of Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc.

Elvis’ Circle G Ranch — Part 3

Elvis’ idyllic times at the Circle G Ranch paused in late April 1967 when he returned to Hollywood for the last week of filming on Clambake.  When that wrapped up, Elvis and the gang did not go back to Graceland or Circle G.  Instead, they spent time in Palm Springs as the date for Elvis and Priscilla’s marriage approached.

On May 1, Priscilla and Elvis exchanged their vows at the Aladdin Hotel in Las Vegas.  After the reception, they returned to Palm Springs to start their honeymoon.  On May 4, they flew back to Memphis and spent the next two nights at Graceland.  Then, finally on May 6, Elvis and Priscilla returned to Circle G, and for reasons of privacy, they continued their honeymoon at the ranch house.

Backside of Honeymoon Cottage

 

It is unclear how many days passed until Elvis and Priscilla moved back to their mobile home by the lake, but their stay in the ranch house was long enough for it to be nicknamed their “Honeymoon Cottage.”

The various written histories of Elvis’ life have very little to say about what went on in May 1967, but there are hints that Elvis’ fascination with the cowboy life at the ranch started to wane.  The immense bills he had run up since purchasing the Circle G became an increasing strain.  Dr. George Nichopoulas had entered Elvis’ life that spring, and some historians consider that as a changing point in Elvis’ behavior and interests.  The overall good feeling among the Memphis Mafia started to crumble as jealousy about the trailers and trucks Elvis gave out caused bad feelings. At the end of May and early June, the Elvis biographers mention a number of activities that all indicate he was living at Graceland:  a second larger wedding reception, a bowling night party at Whitehaven Plaza, an all-night outing at the Memphis Fairgrounds.

Bumper Cars

 

On June 9, Priscilla learned she was pregnant, and the next day, Elvis and friends and wives took off in a Greyhound bus and a caravan of cars for a road trip to California, including stops at Flagstaff, Arizona and the Grand Canyon.  On June 19, Elvis reported to MGM for the preproduction of his next movie Speedway.  A week later, filming began, and it lasted until August 18.  There were some breaks, but Elvis spent the time either in Las Vegas or Palm Springs, not back at Circle G.

It is evident that about this time, Colonel Parker’s earlier prophecy came true.  Elvis simply lost interest in his new toy and moved on.  According to the excellent reference Elvis—Day by Day, written by Peter Guralnick and Ernst Jorgensen, “With Elvis’ interest in the Circle G having waned almost to the point of nonexistence, Vernon begins to sell off pickup trucks, mobile homes and cattle.”

Elvis did spend some time at the ranch in August and September, but instead of riding horses, his new hobby was target shooting.  However, by the end of September, Elvis decided to put the ranch up for sale.

On November 4, 1967, two thousand fans and collectors came to Circle G for a public auction. The sale of tractors, trailers, TV sets, equipment, and miscellaneous items raised over $108,000.

Two fans with old Elvis guitar case purchased at Circle G auction

Two fans with old Elvis guitar case purchased at Circle G auction

 

During the 1967 Christmas season, Elvis and the gang said an extended farewell to the Circle G Ranch.  They continued to ride the horses not already shipped back to Graceland.  The house trailers were all gone, but the ranch still provided an excellent location for hayrides and snowball fights.  Finally, on May 20, 1968, Elvis sold the Circle G Ranch for $440,100 ($2,900,000 in today’s dollars).

 

There are some people who say the Circle G Ranch was not that important in Elvis’ history because of the short time he owned it, and the even shorter time he spent there.  They say it does not belong in sphere of reverence fans show for other places in Elvis’ life that are preserved and open to the public:  Graceland, the Tupelo home, Sun Studios.

Park-like atmosphere around Elvis’ Tupelo birthplace home

Park-like atmosphere around Elvis’ Tupelo birthplace home

 

I never had an opinion one way or another about Circle G until I started research for this ElvisBlog series.  But, you can’t read all the things Priscilla and Elvis’ buddies said about the ranch in their books or interviews without realizing that the short Circle G period in 1967 was arguably the happiest time in Elvis’ life.  How wonderful would it be if this gorgeous property could be restored and shared with his legions of fans?   Who could resist the opportunity to walk around the grounds and check out the ranch house, the stable location, the lake, the woods, the riding trails, the bridge, the cross, and especially the house trailer area by the lake?  I think it would be impossible share this special world and not feel the same peace and serenity it gave Elvis.  It would be a rare fan who could leave the Circle G Ranch without understanding how Elvis’ time there must have been incredibly happy.

Unfortunately, nothing was ever done to make this dream a reality for the first forty-plus years after Elvis’ time at the Circle G.  And abuse and inattention have taken their toll.

 Vines Growing on Ranch House

Ranch House Bathroom

Circle G BBQ Grill

 

Fortunately, a dedicated English fan named Lesley Pilling stepped forward in 2010 to spearhead an effort to save the Circle G Ranch.  The Circle G Foundation’s vision for ranch is to see it open as an attraction for Elvis fans.  Their objective is to tastefully restore the site to how it was when Elvis knew and loved it; enabling visitors to enjoy the tranquility of the site, just as Elvis did.  They envision walking trails, horse riding and other outdoor activities, plus a Visitors’ Center, museum and gift shop in the old ranch house.  There is also a longer-term plan to provide a small amount of short-term accommodation, perhaps in the form of log cabins around the lake.

However, the Circle G Foundation’s ambitions run much deeper than just creating another Elvis ‘site’ for fans to visit.  The Foundation aims to create on-site facilities at the ranch catering to the disabled and disadvantaged as well as service veterans and others in need. They feel it is very important for Elvis fans to do what we can to continue Elvis’ charitable and humanitarian legacy and create something Elvis would be proud of — and the ranch is the perfect place.

The Circle G Foundation is truly international in scope.  They have Ambassadors in the USA, UK, South Africa, Australia, France, Germany, Italy and Canada and have received support from Elvis fans on every continent.   The Foundation believes Elvis fans are the best, and saving the Circle G would be a wonderful tribute to him.

Circle G Foundation Logo

 

The Circle G Foundation’s website contains a huge amount of information, so rather than reproduce it all here, I strongly success you visit http://circlegfoundation.co.uk.   As you check out all the sections of the site, you will grasp how critical the situation is with the structures on the ranch.  We are in real danger of losing them, and time is not on our side.

Be sure to click on the link “Our Vision For The Ranch,” which goes into considerable detail.

Vision for the Circle G

The Vision is still a work in progress and I have suggested to the Foundation that more emphasis needs to be given to the area where the house trailers and the BBQ grill were located.  The concrete foundations are still there in the ground, and Lesley Pilling advises she has information on who was in each trailer.

Another thing you can do is visit the Circle G Foundation Facebook page and ‘Like’ it.  There are now over 4,200 Likes and the next goal is 5,000.  You can link to it from “Contact Us” on the website, or you can click here.

 Grazing pastures at Circle G

 

The Circle G Foundation‘s website Home Page also includes a petition the Mississippi State Senate to include Elvis’ Circle G Ranch on the National Register of Historic Sites.  Scroll down to near the end of the home page or click here.

Another place to visit on the site is the “Store.”  You can help the cause by purchasing Circle G merchandise.  For now, the prices are listed in Pounds (remember, it’s an English site), but when you pay by credit card or PayPal, everything is converted to dollars.

Of course, the most important thing you can do is donate to the Circle G Foundation.  There are details on the site about how the money will be used and what will happen if it can’t be spent on the Circle G.  Please click on “How You Can Help…” and give serious thought to donating generously.

Here’s a long shot, but if you happen to have $3,900,000, you can purchase the Circle G Ranch and work with the Foundation to bring this dream to a reality.

 

View from back of ranch house showing the cross

We’ll end with one last photo.  Imagine if you could walk out of the Visitors Center and take in the view that Elvis had in 1967.  Imagine if you could walk around the 163 beautiful acres and enjoy the things that made Elvis so happy.

Or, imagine that the old ranch house and cross had rotted and crumbled to the ground.  Man, I sure hope we can save the Circle G.

 

©  2013    Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister    All Rights Reserved    www.ElvisBlog.net

 

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Elvis, Elvis Presley, and Graceland are registered trademarks of Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc.

Elvis’ Circle G Ranch — Part 2

In the ElvisBlog article two weeks ago, I stated “spring 1967 may well have been the happiest period of his (Elvis’) life.”  Last week, I ended the article by saying it could be argued that his three straight weeks at the Circle G Ranch that April was the happiest time of his life.

Elvis riding in front of lake

Elvis wearing cowboy gear

 

To see how a true Elvis historian might judge the happiest times in Elvis’ life, I contacted Alan Hanson, the man behind the Elvis-History-BlogHe agreed that Elvis’ early Circle G experience was right up there, but he offered one other very happy time as well.

“As for an equally happy time in Elvis’ life, my first thought was the summer of 1969, when he returned to live shows in Las Vegas. The challenge of rehearsals, followed by his triumphant shows, which were acclaimed by his fans, his fellow celebrities, and critics, by all accounts made him extremely happy.”

Alan makes some good points.  Now, it’s time to present the argument for the Circle G Ranch.

Elvis’ two long interrupted periods at the ranch were in February (including the first four days of March) and April, 1967.  He probably also spent two other short periods at Circle G in March, interrupted by time in Hollywood for the filming of Clambake.  February was fun for Elvis because he bought horses for himself, Priscilla, Vernon, and most of the Memphis Mafia.  He also bought pick-up trucks for everybody, tractors and other farm equipment, those nine house trailers, and made repairs to the stables and had a bridge built over the lake.

 

Circle G stables in decline -- decades after Elvis’ time at the ranch

Circle G stables in decline — decades after Elvis’ time at the ranch

 

It has been estimated that all this, plus the cost of the ranch, came to almost a million dollars.  Elvis’ father Vernon, who looked over his son’s finances, was afraid Elvis’ spending on the ranch would bankrupt him.  Vernon went to Col. Parker for advice, and he received a very prophetic answer that Elvis would soon tire of his new plaything.

Vernon and his stepsons David and Billy Stanley at the Circle G stables

Vernon and his stepsons David and Billy Stanley at the Circle G stables

 

As George Klein said in his book Elvis – My Best Man, “In becoming a ranch owner and turning the Memphis Mafia into a bunch of ranch hands, Elvis had given himself a tremendous challenge, which he threw himself into fully.  Making plans for the ranch, Elvis seemed more energetic and in charge than he had in a long time.”

And Joe Esposito said on his TCB Joe website, “So Elvis cast himself in the role of ranch foreman. He no longer looked like a famous singer and movie star. Wearing a cowboy hat and sheepskin jacket and sitting tall in the saddle, he was a dead ringer for the Marlboro man. Every morning he saddled Rising Sun and rode out to issue instructions to the contractor on how to do things and where everything should go.”

Elvis planned and oversaw the placement of the house trailers down by the lake, as well as the work to bring electricity, water and sewage to the site.  So, February 1967 was a time of buying and giving and planning and building.  Of course, Elvis combined that with riding horses, so he was certainly a happy man.

When Elvis arrived back from Hollywood in early April, the Circle G ranch was now set up and operating the way he wanted.  So, April 1967 was when Elvis got to live his dream and share it with his buddies, especially those who received house trailers from him.  Let’s take a look at some quotations by people who were there during this special time.

Priscilla:

“What seemed like a new life had begun. I look back at those weeks as a remarkable lull in the middle of a storm. Elvis was between pictures. I’ve never seen him so ‘free’.  He was having fun… He liked it when everyone was together, and he got upset when they wanted to leave… It wasn’t unusual to see him walking around the property, knocking on doors, waking everyone up, or checking on the horses in the early morning hours.  He was having a ball, and there were days he didn’t even want to take time out to eat… On Sundays we had picnics, and all the girls chipped in on potluck.  We rode horses, held skeet shooting contests, and combed the lake for turtles and snakes.  There was fun, laughter, and a lot of camaraderie…  It was almost like a commune effect.”

Elvis on horseback kissing Priscilla

Elvis on horseback kissing Priscilla

 

George Klein:

“Elvis may have been having trouble steering his career the way he wanted it to go, but now he had a place where he could live the way he wanted to, surrounded by the people he wanted around him, far from the call of Hollywood or the influence of the Colonel, or even the needs of the fans at the Graceland gates.”

Mike McGregor:

“One of the fun times on the ranch was when it snowed, and they took the tractors and sleds and drove around and tore them up.  One night one of the cows had a calf, and they were so excited and everyone had to go see the calf.  When one of the horses had a colt, you would have thought [it was] royalty.”

Charlie Hodge:

“That was where we had an awful lot of fun.  And Elvis loved to get out. He’d wear a big old jacket, a western jacket and his cowboy hat, you know.  They would ride horses all over the property.  Picnics were frequent.  The girls all got along pretty good.

Jerry Schilling:

“It was really beautiful at first.  Sandy and I had a little trailer in front of the lake… You’d wake up in the morning, the horses would be drinking out of the lake; Elvis and Priscilla would ride over, and we’d go for a ride, then have breakfast.

“It was like we were all just friends.  They spent a lot of time by themselves, and when they came over it was just like neighbors dropping by.  We’d go out riding and maybe have a little picnic, and it was as if things had kind of calmed down for a little while.”

Joe Esposito:

“On weekends, we threw giant barbecues. The wives prepared all the food, except for the meat, which I cooked on an open grill. We had great times.  Elvis felt very comfortable in his own little ranch world and usually hated being torn from it.”

View of trailer area from bridge

Obviously, views like this helped Elvis feel comfortable in his own little ranch world.  The land beyond the edge of the lake is where Elvis had the house trailers installed.  In the bottom left of the picture is a small part of the bridge Elvis had built over the lake.  You can see the bridge on this aerial view.

Aerial shot showing bridge and cross

 

Another arrow marks a seventy-five foot lighted cross erected by the previous owner of the ranch, Jack Adams.  He was one of the biggest used-aircraft salesmen in the world, and he installed the cross to be a highly visible landmark when he flew over the ranch at night.  (An alternate story says the cross was honor his daughter who drowned in the lake.)  Elvis noticed the cross from the main road while on a horse buying trip, and within twenty-four hours he had purchased the ranch, including a herd of Gertrudis cattle and all the furnishings in the ranch house.  That house is barely visible at the top left, the second structure in from the corner.  Much more visible are the red roofs of the stables and storage building.

There is some confusion about which Elvis buddies had trailers along the lake.  They were primarily for married couples.  There is no doubt this included Jerry Schilling and his wife Sandy, and Elvis’ cousin Billy Smith and his wife Jo.  Both wives were nearly the same age as Priscilla, and they all spent a lot of time together.  Richard Davis, Red West, Joe Esposito, and Mike McGregor were probably beneficiaries of Elvis’ trailer generosity.  Some reports even say that one trailer was for Elvis’ grandmother Minnie Mae, but no references about her actually staying in it have surfaced. No matter who occupied the trailers, here are three photos showing what the views out their front windows looked like.

View from part of the trailer area shows the 75 ft cross

View from part of the trailer area showing the cross

View from another part the trailer area.

View from another part the trailer area.

Maybe the best view of the lake from the trailer area.  The bridge was lit at night.

Maybe the best view of the lake from the trailer area. The bridge was lit at night.

 

Let’s close with another quote from Priscilla.  “I loved cooking his eggs and frying his bacon. I even loved doing laundry. We shared a new intimacy. After breakfast we’d saddle up our horses and ride them through the hills. Sometimes he’d ride alone. I remember one day I happened to look out of the window. It was twilight. The sky was aglow in misty blue and radiant pink. There was Elvis walking Rising Sun, his Golden Palomino.”

Elvis on Rising Sun

Elvis on Rising Sun

 

“I saw them as silhouettes against the darkening sky. Elvis was walking slowly; I could practically hear him breathe. His breath was easy, his body relaxed. At that moment I was convinced my husband had actually found peace.”

 

Well, are you convinced that spring 1967, and especially that three week period in April, was the happiest time of Elvis’ life?  I am.

©  2013    Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister    All Rights Reserved    www.ElvisBlog.net

 

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Elvis, Elvis Presley, and Graceland are registered trademarks of Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc.

Elvis’ Circle G Ranch — Part 1

Last week, I mentioned that Elvis had his own little private trailer village tucked away in the far reaches of his Circle G Ranch in Mississippi.  His foray into cowboy communal living is an interesting story, especially because spring 1967 was probably the happiest period of his life.

When the Circle G Foundation asked me to write an article about the ranch, I started searching the web and various Elvis books to learn all I could about the ranch.  I found lots of Circle G Ranch pictures, and the most common topic is some variation of this:

 

Grass in Front

This is called the ranch house, and it has declined a lot in the forty-five years since Elvis was last in it.

 

Street right in front

I didn’t help when the highway was moved practically up to the house.  It was a flower shop when this picture was taken.

 

Back side of house

After decades of neglect and abuse, the Circle G ranch house is ripped up and falling apart.  The inside photos are even sadder.  If the Foundation gets enough support to entice a wealthy fan/benefactor to buy this place, they plan to rehabilitate the ranch house as the Visitors’ Center for their projected amenities at the ranch.

Elvis and Priscilla started out using the ranch house immediately after purchasing the property on February 9, 1967.  But Elvis liked having his buddies around, and he figured the way to do that was to buy eight house trailers and have them installed on poured concrete pads near the lake.  Plumbing and electrical power systems were installed, and a septic system was dug.  It was like Elvis had built his own little “Memphis Mafia Village.”

 

Better guess at location

This is an aerial view taken some years after Elvis owned the Circle G.  The ranch house is essentially hidden by tree cover at the top left of the picture.  The building and swimming pool in the peninsula jutting out into the lake were not there when Elvis was.  The upper oval marks where the house trailers were located.  During Elvis’ time, there appeared to have been more trees along the fence line behind the trailers.  The arrow above shows the approximate location of the famous E P barbeque grill.

BBQ

 

Priscilla probably was very happy to have the accommodations for the guys set way back on the 163 acre property.  The roll of the land created a high spot of pasture that blocked the view of the lake and the trailers from the house.   However, Elvis seems to have really loved hanging out with his buddies in the trailer area.  As a result, on March 3, he ordered one more two-bedroom trailer for him and Priscilla.

Two days later, he took off for Los Angeles for the planned start of filming on Clambake.  However, there were production delays and Elvis suffered a minor concussion from a fall in the bathroom of the Rocca Place home he rented.  A week later, Jerry Schilling got married in Palm Springs, and of course, Elvis and Priscilla attended.

Elvis probably returned to the ranch for a few days before principle filming for Clambake finally began on March 20.  His trailer would have been set up and functioning when he arrived there, so this is when Elvis’ Circle G experience changed from the ranch house to the house trailer.

Circle G Trailers 1

Circle G Trailers 2

Circle G Trailers 3

Circle G Trailers 4

Circle G Trailers 5

 

Sorry for the poor quality of these pictures.  I was lucky to find any at all.  It’s almost like Elvis banished cameras from the ranch when he and his buddies were there.  The website where I found these photos offers proof this was one of the Circle G trailers Elvis bought, but they can’t say for sure it was the one Elvis and Priscilla used.  However, we do know Elvis had a front porch built on theirs, so this may be it.

Clambake filming paused sometime in early April 1967, and Elvis was able to enjoy about three straight weeks on the ranch.  It could be argued that this was the happiest time of his life.  We will look into this in more detail next week with Part 2 of our series on Elvis’ Circle G Ranch.

 

©  2013    Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister    All Rights Reserved    www.ElvisBlog.net

.

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Elvis, Elvis Presley, and Graceland are registered trademarks of Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc.