Category Archives: FRIENDS of ELVIS

Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Ignores TCB Boys Again

The Rock & Fall Hall of Fame announced the Class of 2010 inductees today, and for some reason, they skipped the Sidemen category.  This means that Jerry Scheff, Ronnie Tutt, Glen D. Hardin and John Wilkinson will have to wait at least another year to join TCB band leader James Burton in the Rockhall.  Frankly, I cannot figure out the logic the selection committee uses, but they continue their stupid record of keeping Elvis’ bandmates on hold.


Elvis, Charlie, Jerry, Ronnie, James and John (Glen is off frame to left)


As we have discussed on earlier blogs, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Sidemen category has a strange history.  It was started in 2000 with five inductees including Elvis guitarist Scotty Moore.  The next year, two more musicians were honored, including James Burton.  So, things started out good for Elvis’ bandmates.

In 2002 Chet Atkins was the lone honoree, and in 2003, three more musicians were added.  Fans started wondering when Bill Black and DJ Fontana would join Scotty, and when the rest of the TCB guys would join James in the Hall of Fame.  Five years later they were still wondering, as there were no new Sidemen inducted in 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2007.

In 2008 the Sidemen category was revived with a strange selection.  Little Walter was an exceptional blues talent and harmonica wizard, but his fame as a bandmate was with Muddy Waters, not any rock singers.

Finally, in 2009 DJ Fontana and Bill Black won their long overdue recognition and were installed into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  Nine years after Scotty Moore was honored, Elvis’ full band from the 50s was finally together in the Hall.  It was then that I started to hope the same thing would happen the next year for the TCB Band.  Surely Jerry Schell Ronnie Tutt, Glen D. Hardin and John Wilkinson would join James Burton in a Class of 2010 Sidemen after their own nine year wait.

Ronnie Tutt, Glen D Hardin, and Jerry Scheff


I’m afraid not.  By skipping the Sidemen category again, the Hall has put off the other TCB guys’ worthy induction for yet another year.  That will make it a full decade of waiting.  This is so frustrating.  These guys deserve to be in the Hall of Fame.  It’s hard to tell if EPE is doing any promotion on their behalf, but they should.  If they would use that huge mailing list of fans they’ve got to organize a letter-writing campaign on the fellows’ behalf, maybe we could get this thing done.

I’ll say it again.  Jerry Scheff, Ronnie Tutt, Glen D. Hardin and John Wilkinson BELONG in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

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

One Last Hall of Fame Pitch


OK, now that DJ Fontana and Bill Black have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, we fans are happy that all of Elvis’ bandmates of the 50s are honored in the “Sidemen” category.  We’ve talked about that here, and I’ve also asserted that the rest of the 70s TCB guys should join them next year.  Surely there aren’t any more Elvis-related musicians worthy of Rock Hall cheerleading.  Actually, there is one.

The Hall of Fame seems to favor Elvis’ guitarists. They honored Scotty Moore and James Burton, but what about the main guy in the time between them – Hank Garland.  He recorded and performed with Elvis from 1957 until 1961.  The connection between Elvis and Hank Garland would have continued even longer, but Garland had a car crash in 1961 that put him in a coma for months.  Over the years he gained some mobility, but his career was over.

And that career was going quite well up until then.  Garland recorded and performed with the Everly Brothers, Roy Orbison, Patsy Cline, Conway Twitty, Hank Williams and Marty Robbins.  Notice anything interesting about that group of singers?  They are all in one or more Halls of Fame.  Counting Elvis, Hank Garland played with seven Hall of Fame singers.  What more can a “Sideman” do?


Hank Garland with Elvis at the USS Arizona concert in 1961

Here are praises for Hank Garland written elsewhere on the web.  ElvisNews.Com has called him, “the talk of Nashville, known for musical riffs that could take a record from humdrum to dazzling.”  Musician Wolf Marshall said, “He is heralded as the quintessential Nashville studio guitarist.”  That sounds like a Hall of Fame “Sideman” resume by itself, doesn’t it?   Plus Hank Garland had many accomplishments with Elvis. 

So, what music did he make with Elvis?  Garland replaced Scotty in the recording studio on June 10, 1958 at RCA Studio B in Nashville.  The pressure was on to get some hits in the can before Elvis went in the Army.  Elvis recorded just five songs but got huge mileage out of them: Top 10 hits “I Got Stung,” “A Big Hunk of Love” (#1), “I Need Your Love Tonight,” and “A Fool Such As I” (#2).  My fellow Elvis blogger Alan Hanson at says, “Garland really shines in the 1958 session, especially in “A Fool Such As I” and “I Need Your Love Tonight.” On the latter song, his guitar part is so strong that it overpowers Elvis’ vocal.”

When Elvis finished his Army service and returned from Germany in 1960, there was a similar urgent need for songs to release as singles.  Scotty Moore was back in the fold as guitarist for the March 20, 1960 session, but Hank Garland partnered up with him on electric bass.  They did six songs, including three hits:  “A Mess of the Blues,” “Fame and Fortune” and “Stuck on You” (#1).

Two weeks later everybody was back in Studio B, this time with Scotty and Hank sharing guitar duties.  Elvis recorded a dozen songs, including #1 hits “It’s Now or Never” and “Are you Lonesome Tonight?”

With that output behind him, Elvis took a recording breather in the middle of 1960.  He finally returned to the studio in October – to record a spiritual album.  Again, Scotty and Hank shared the guitar work on His Hand in Mine.

In March 1961, before starting the filming of Blue Hawaii, Elvis gave a benefit performance in Honolulu to raise money for the USS Arizona Memorial Fund (The Arizona sunk during the attack on Pearl Harbor).  Elvis stayed with the double guitar team of Scotty Moore and Hank Garland.  This turned out to be Elvis’ last live performance for eight years. 

And then the car accident ended it all for Hank Garland.  He had a short career, but it was full of outstanding “Sideman” accomplishments.  He recorded a dozen hits with Elvis, including four #1s.  His songs with Elvis filled up three albums.  In addition, he played with all those other Hall of Fame singers. 

Come on, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  Put Hank Garland in.


Hank Garland shortly before he died in 2004

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



A thought struck me while watching the 2009 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony.   Now that drummer DJ Fontana and bass player Bill Black have been honored in the “Sideman” category, all of Elvis’ 50s bandmates are in the Hall.  Guitarist Scotty Moore was inducted back in 2000, so this recognition of DJ and Bill was long overdue.  Nine years overdue, in fact.

Part of the delay may have come from the Selection Committee losing interest in the category. For some reason, the Hall of Fame added only six new members to the “Sideman” category from 2000 to 2007.  There were no inductions to the category at all in 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2007.  Somehow, the category must have fallen out of favor, because there were plenty of people out there deserving the honor.

The “Sideman” category came back to life a bit in 2008 with the induction of Little Walter, an excellent blues harmonica virtuoso and singer.  He was a long-time sideman to Muddy Waters (also in the Hall).

In 2009, the “Sideman” category had good action with three inductees.  Keyboard artist Spooner Oldham joined DJ and Bill this year.  He has played with a huge list of singers during his forty-year career.

So, if the “Sideman” category is getting on the ball and trying to catch up a bit, I have a suggestion.  I think it’s time for the rest of the TCB Band to be inducted. 

Guitarist James Burton has been a member of the “Sideman” category since 2001, so the rest of the TCB guys have been waiting only one year less than DJ and Bill.  To continue that any longer would now be stupid.

Drummer Ronnie Tutt, piano player Glen D. Hardin, bassist Jerry Scheff and rhythm guitarist John Wilkinson should go in the Hall of Fame next year.  Their absence is just not right; the whole band needs to be in, together.  A band is a unit, and that great music behind Elvis in the 70s came from the shared talents of these guys. They deserve equal honors.


James Burton


Ronnie Tutt

   Glen D. Hardin

Jerry Scheff


John Wikinson

Years ago, at Elvis Week 2005, I was backstage before a concert, and drummer Ronnie Tutt autographed his photo in an article I wrote about the TCB Band in Elvis… The Magazine.  He asked me if I could write something new to help get him in the Hall of Fame.  I told him I would, but not until we had DJ Fontana in there first.  Well, Ronnie, that time has come.

It’s time to push for the rest of the TCB Band to be inducted into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  There is no way they haven’t earned it.  Elvis surrounded himself with great musicians, great sidemen.  Ronnie Tutt, Glen D Hardin, Jerry Scheff and John Wilkinson belong in the “Sideman” category.  They belong in the Hall of Fame.  End of story.

Hopefully you will read lots of other articles and columns that support putting the rest of the TCB Band in the Hall.  Every Elvis website, blog and fan club should speak up for this long overdue recognition by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  Graceland will certainly be pushing for these guys.  All except John Wilkinson are part of the travelling TCB Band that works with EPE on Elvis The Concert, the Elvis Cruise, and most Elvis Weeks.  I hope our combined efforts make a lot of buzz.


Remember you heard about it here first.

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


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

Congratulations, Bill Black

When I heard the news last week about DJ Fontana and Bill Black making the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, I Immediately sat down and started writing about DJ Fontana.  I wasn’t disrespecting Bill Black.  I knew I would get to him next, and now it is time to give Bill Black a great big posthumous congratulation.

Scotty, Bill and DJ

It’s hard to believe he passed away forty-four years ago.  Too bad he didn’t have the durability of Scotty and DJ, who are still carrying on in their mid-seventies.  Those three guys made one heck of a band behind Elvis.  Despite his short time in the spotlight, Bill Black is an interesting story.

I told part of it five years ago in the 50th Anniversary issue of Elvis International, The Magazine.  It was a sidebar to an article about the Legends Salute, a concert promoted by Darwin Lamm at Elvis week 2004.   The concert was in honor of the 50th Anniversary of Elvis’ first song, “That’s All Right (Mama).” It was headlined by Scotty Moore, DJ Fontana, Boots Randolph, and The Jordanaires.


A SALUTE TO BILL BLACK — The Unsung Legend

By Phil Arnold

From:  Elvis International, The Magazine…50th Anniversary Of Rock & Roll —  August 2004

The 50th anniversary of the birth of rock & roll cannot pass without giving just praise to one of the men who was there: Bill Black.  Scotty Moore and Bill were the old pros in Sun Records studio on July 5,1954, when “That’s All Right (Mama) was recorded.  They were pioneers, just like Elvis, in the unearthing of this new sound.  Their musical talents on guitar and base blended with Elvis’s powerful vocal to create history.

Scene from Jailhouse Rock reminiscent of the real thing at Sun Records


Scotty Moore is a headliner of the 2004 Legends Salute.  Bill Black, unfortunately, will not be on stage, as he died in 1965 of a brain tumor.  His memory should be honored, not just for his contributions in the studio, but also for the huge benefits Elvis’ early live shows got from his stage presence.  Quite often Bill’s joking around warmed up the crowd and took some heat off Elvis.  Scotty Moore states, “If it hadn’t been for Bill, there were a bunch of shows where we would have died on the vine.”


Bill Black riding his upright base on the Milton Berle Show, April 3, 1956


Bill Black’s bag of tricks included riding his stand-up bass across the stage.  In his book “That’s Alright Elvis” Scotty Moore tells of the times on stage when Bill would take off Scotty’s belt while he was doing a guitar solo, and throw it out into the audience.


Elvis and Bill Black on stage in Austin, TX, August 25, 1956

Bill parted company with Elvis in 1958.  He went on to considerable success with a string of instrumental hits by Bill Black’s Combo in the early 60’s.  He is a true trailblazer in the birth of rock & roll, and should be remembered when  “The Legends” salute the 50th anniversary of rock & roll.  Bill Black’s spirit will be up on stage with them that night, a legacy from the ‘unsung legend.’

© 2004  Philip R Arnold

Here are the songs on that string of instrumental hits by Bill Black’s Combo.  The first three were all million sellers.

Smokie Part 2            #17 – 1959
White Silver Sands      #9 – 1960
Josephine                  #18 – 1960
Don’t Be Cruel           #11 – 1960
Blue Tango                #16 – 1960
Hearts Of Stone         #20 – 1961
Ole Buttermilk Sky     #25 – 1961
Twist-Her                   #26 – 1962


Almost all pictures of Bill Black show him with an upright bass, but here is one taken on September 1, 1957 at Sick’s Seattle Stadium that shows him wielding a Fender electric bass.


Here is a 1962 shot of Bill Black’s Combo.  Did you ever see any other band on stage where the bass player is out front and the guitar player is in the back?

If you would like to read up on more about Bill Black’s Combo, here is a link to a story I wrote in 2000 for Elvis International, The Magazine titled “The Music of  Bill Black’s Combo.”


So, that’s my tribute to Bill Black, Elvis’ original bass player.  I am so glad he will be in the Rock and Roll Hall of fame.

Bill, you deserve it.  Congratulations.

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

DJ Fontana Gets in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame


I just got some news that makes me very happy.  The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame announced it will induct DJ Fontana and Bill Black into the Hall on April 4.


Bill Black, Scotty Moore, and DJ Fontana


This is a long overdue recognition.  They will be inducted into the Sidemen Category, joining Scotty Moore, who was enshrined back in 2000.  Considering the many years that DJ played and recorded with Elvis, it was a surprise he didn’t go in with Scotty.  Ever since, DJ’s fans have wondered when the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame would correct this omission.  I was among those who championed his cause, so I would like to reprint an article I wrote for the August 2005 issue of Elvis…The Magazine.  It contains considerably more about DJ’s qualifications than the announcement on Graceland’s or the Hall’s websites.



By Phil Arnold


If you were on the Hall of Fame Nominating Committee, which of these drummers would you pick for the relatively new “Sidemen” category?
DJ Fontana: The beat behind the King.  Elvis’ original drummer, who performed and recorded with him from 1955 to 1968.
Benny Benjamin: Motown’s first drummer and the most beloved musician in Hitsville.
Hal Blaine: May well be the most prolific drummer in rock and roll history.
Earl Palmer: Probably the greatest session drummer of all time.
Pretty hard choice isn’t it?  Well, the selection committee has already enshrined three of these drummers, and it is time for them to add one more – DJ Fontana.
There can be no arguing with the merits of Benjamin, Blaine, and Palmer.  The capsule summaries above come right from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame web-site.  Benny Benjamin recorded with all the Motown greats like the Temptations, the Four Tops, the Supremes, Gladys Knight, Martha and the Vandellas, and Marvin Gaye.  Hal Blaine was a first-call session drummer in Los Angeles, recording with the Beach Boys, Jan & Dean, the Mamas and Papas, the Byrds, Johnny Rivers, the Association, Sonny & Cher, the Grass Roots, Gary Lewis & the Playboys, and Herb Alpert.  Earl Palmer started in New Orleans and recorded with Fats Domino, Lloyd Price, and Little Richard.  Then he moved to Los Angeles and backed Ritchie Valens, Ray Charles, Duane Eddy, The Monkees, Neil Young, and Elvis Costello.
Looking at these resumes, you will note all three men were outstanding session musicians, but none was ever a sideman to one rock star for an extended period of time.  DJ Fontana, on the other hand, was a sideman in the truest sense.  He performed with Elvis on hundreds of live shows and played drums on 460 RCA Elvis cuts.  Plus, he did other session work in Nashville for over 30 years, recording with a veritable who’s who of singers.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame created the Sidemen Category in 2000, and got it right when they picked Scotty Moore among the first five inductees.  But, in a move that defies logic, DJ was omitted, and two other drummers, Blaine and Palmer, were selected.  Scotty and DJ should have gone in together.
In 2001 the Hall enshrined the other Elvis guitar player of note, James Burton, of TCB band fame.  No drummer went into the Hall that year.  Another slight to DJ.
In 2002, only one musician, Chet Atkins, was added to the Sidemen list.  Why not DJ?  Who knows, but it surely wasn’t his lack of credentials.
In 2003, the Hall added a third drummer, Benny Benjamin.  This is when the fans of DJ Fontana started to really get upset with the selection process.  Rumblings of  ”let’s get DJ into the Hall of Fame” were heard at Elvis Week and other gatherings, and on Internet chat groups.  Hundreds of letters and petitions went to the Hall extolling the praises of DJ and cheerleading for his inclusion.
As reported in Elvis International magazine a year ago, four of the world’s most famous rock drummers formally approached the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Sidemen Nominating Committee about DJ Fontana’s qualifications.  Ringo Starr of the Beatles, Charlie Watts of the Rolling Stones, Levon Helm of  The Band, and Max Weinberg of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band had it right.
In spite of this intervention by all-star drummers with Hall of Fame credentials, the selection committee ignored DJ again in 2004.  Incredibly, they did it again in 2005. The most frustrating thing is that they selected no one to the Sidemen category in either year.  If there were no other notable musicians worthy of induction, how could they ignore DJ with such great qualifications?
Maybe we need more people championing his cause.  How about a lot more?  This writer thinks the time has come for the citizens of Elvis World to let the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame know we are fed up.  We cannot e-mail them, because they do not publish an e-mail address.  But they do have snail mail.  Please take a few minutes to write a letter to:
 The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation
 1290 Avenue of the Americas
 New York, NY  10104
There’s no need to remind them what stupid jerks they are.  Instead, you might want to add substance to your plea by emphasizing DJ’s qualifications.  To review, they are:
• Elvis’ original drummer.
• Performed and recorded with Elvis from 1955 to 1968.
• Played drums on 460 Elvis recordings.
• Top session musician in Nashville for 30 years.
• Supported by Hall of Fame drummers Ringo Starr of the Beatles and Charlie Watts of the Rolling Stones.
• Fellow Elvis sideman Scotty Moore already inducted into the Hall of Fame.

It’s time to stop the injustice to DJ Fontana.  Please send a letter and help get DJ into the Hall of Fame. 

©  2005   Philip R Arnold


DJ and Scotty backstage at the Legends Concert, Elvis Week 2004


There is no way to know what changed the mind of the selection committee, but I’d like to think my article played a small part, along with the urgings of those four famous drummers, and many other efforts, both individual and organized.  There has even been a website petition to get DJ into the Hall of Fame.  Maybe, the voice of the fans has been heard.

I have met DJ a few times at Elvis Week, thanks to Darwin Lamm, Publisher of Elvis…The Magazine.  Darwin has promoted many of his “Good Rockin’ Tonight” concerts there, and Scotty and DJ are always headliners.  I had breakfast with DJ and Darwin in 2004 and spent a lot of time backstage with DJ and his lovely wife Karen in 2007.  DJ is a terrific guy and one of the most popular people in Memphis every August.


DJ, me, and Karen Fontana


I am just as happy that Bill Black was finally recognized, too.  It had started to look like he and DJ were a lost cause.  Although James Burton was enshrined in 2001, the Hall added no new sidemen inductees from 2003 through 2008.  Now that DJ and Bill are in, we can start working on getting Jerry Scheff, Glen D. Hardin and Ronnie Tutt into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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


By the time this article is posted on Elvisblog, it will have been a week since Charlie Hodge died at age 71.  So, it’s likely all you readers have already accessed the big Elvis websites to read about the passing of one of Elvis’ best buddies.  They have done a good job of celebrating the life of this interesting and talented man, so that won’t be duplicated here.  It’s just a sad fact that another Elvis friend has joined him in heaven, and there will be more as the years go by. 


The only thing I can add on this occasion is a personal story that relates to Charlie Hodge’s main claim to fame.  In spite of his full life and many accomplishments, Charlie will forever be remembered as the man who put scarves around Elvis’ neck during concerts, so Elvis could pull them off and give them to the ladies in the audience.  Watch any of the Elvis concert DVD’s again, and you will clearly spot Charlie doing the scarf thing.


Back in 2002, during Elvis Week in Memphis, six lovely ladies from Ontario adopted me.  We all worked as volunteer ticket takers and ushers at three concerts presented by Darwin Lamm, publisher of Elvis International magazine.  After the shows we went out on Beale Street and drank and danced and had a bunch of fun together.  The six girls also adopted a pretty singer from Japan named Kathy Osawa.  She had a singing career back home and had occasionally performed in Japan and Canada as an Elvis tribute artist.  Kathy was in Memphis to scope it out for future performance opportunities, and she hung out with our group.


The next year, Kathy and I and our six friends reconnected at the Collingwood Elvis Festival in Ontario.  Kathy was there to perform in the competition (Professional Category), and to entertain at one of the outdoor beer gardens.  I volunteered to be sort of a roadie and carry all her stuff to the venues, but Kathy had one more job for me.


Before she went on stage at the beer garden, she brought out a bundle of scarves and explained that she needed me to come on stage during her closing number and drape them over her neck one-by-one.  It was kind of fun, and the men in the audience were more that happy to come up to the stage and get a scarf from Kathy (but no kisses – she kept on singing).


Later, as I returned to our group’s table, a girl I had met at an impromptu party in our motel parking lot spoke to me.  She said, “I saw you up there doing the Charlie Hodge thing.”


Well, I’m proud I could be like Charlie Hodge for just a few minutes.  Elvisworld has lost one of its most unique members.


©  2006   Philip R Arnold