I don’t know exactly when blogs got started, but I read an article in late 2004 about how popular they had become. So, I thought I’d like to check out whatever Elvis blogs there were out there. Guess what? There were none.
Then I looked into it and found out how to set one up. I bought the URL www.elvisblog.net for $11, and on January 30, 2005, ElvisBlog was born. To celebrate its 10th birthday, this post will be a retrospective of articles published on (or very close to) the anniversary date each of these ten years.
Year 1, The First Article: Elvis Jukebox Rankings – 1/30/05:
Guess what is Elvis’ most successful record in terms of jukebox play?
According to the Amusement & Music Operators Association, it is HoundDog/Don’t Be Cruel from 1956, the 3rd biggest jukebox hit of all time. This trade association of jukebox owners, operators, and suppliers compiled their list back in 1989 (100th anniversary of the jukebox). They updated it again in 1996, and there were no changes in the top of the rankings.
So,Hound Dog/Don’t Be Cruel seems to be permanently locked into the #3 position. It’s no surprise that this double-sided hit got the most play of all the Elvis records featured on jukeboxes. Hound Dog stayed at the top of the record charts for twelve weeks, and then Don’t Be Cruel took over the next week. That’s a long run of popularity during an age when jukeboxes were really big.
What two songs could possibly beat Elvis? #2 is the 1979 Bob Seger hit. Old Time Rock & Roll, no doubt helped by Tom Cruise singing it in his underwear in the movie, “Risky Business.” #1 is Crazy by Patsy Cline. That song came out in 1962, but I’ll bet you can still find it on some jukeboxes in 2005. Talk about staying power. Elvis’ next best finish in the jukebox rankings is All Shook Up at #38. Seems like it should be higher.
(Editor’s note: This premier ElvisBlog article racked up a grand total of six hits during the entire first month of the blog’s history.)
1st Birthday: OK, I Finally Visited Elvis-A-Rama — February 5, 2006
Thanks to my company’s annual trade show in Las Vegas, I finally got to see ELVIS-A-RAMA. None too soon, either. The museum will shut down for good on August 15 this year. Do you think there’s any significance that the death of ELVIS-A-RAMA will come one day before the anniversary of Elvis’ death? The good news is that the memorabilia will not be permanently lost to us fans. It will be sent to Memphis, added to the extensive EPE collection, and ultimately will be part of Elvis-themed attractions in Las Vegas and other major cities.
I’m glad I took in ELVIS-A-RAMA, and I got my money’s worth for the $13 admission cost. Visitors with only a casual interest in Elvis could probably blow through the exhibits in 30 minutes, but I stayed there for over two hours. The 4 cars, 3 rings, 9 pendants, 4 guitars, 9 layman badges, 4 guns, 2 jumpsuits, and dozens of other clothes items catch every visitor’s eyes. Plus, there were brass plaques that gave the history of nearly every significant item.
Some folks barely noticed the wall covered with every Elvis 45 and album released during his lifetime. Not me. I loved the year-by-year approach, each with a plaque telling that year’s highlights in record rankings and sales figures. Below the plaques were the releases. I learned that Elvis’ five Sun Records singles came with printed picture sleeves. I had never seen them before.
I spent a lot of time with all the paper documents contained in eleven, tall, freestanding, two-sided display panels. There were tickets, contracts, letters, receipts, photos and all kinds of other stuff. I took time to read all the descriptive plaques and really studied the items on display. Now I know that Elvis’ phone bill for the entire month of May 1963 was only $6.84, for example. I do have one complaint. Each side of the displays had three framed sections. The top one was a little high for comfortable reading. The middle one was perfect, but the bottom one was only 6 inches off the ground. My knees were so sore after squatting up-and-down to read everything. Several times I wished I had a flashlight, because it was tough to read the plaques when they were at the very bottom.
The sources for much of the museum’s collection were revealed in the various plaques. As mentioned in a previous Elvisbog article, some key items came form Jimmy Velvet. Norman Taurog, who directed eight Elvis movies, provided much of the movie memorabilia. A lot of Elvis’ personal items were purchased from Trish Henley, who was his nurse for eleven years and lived behind Graceland with husband, a guard for the mansion.
Of course, there is a gift shop as part of the ELVIS-A-RAMA experience, but it’s pretty cool. In addition to the usual coffee mugs, pocketbooks, and T-shirts, there is actual memorabilia for sale. One of the most expensive was a shirt owned by Elvis going for $4,000. The price includes two 1973 photos of him wearing the shirt. I was impressed with the presentation of a ticket from Elvis’ 1956 concert in Tupelo ($1.50 face value). For $99 you can buy it in a large framed and matted collection of photos and other mementos of the event. A similar framed presentation was used to offer a set of five Sun Records colored-vinyl 45’s. It is an impressive sight, but the price was $875. That seems pretty steep for bootlegs.
All in all, I’m glad I finally got to visit ELVIS-A-RAMA. If you travel to Las Vegas in the next seven months, be sure to see it.
(Editor’s note: All these pictures were just added. ElvisBlog didn’t post photos back in 2006)
2nd Birthday: Visitors to Graceland — January 28, 2007
In addition to politicians and TV stars, the list of famous visitors to Graceland includes movie stars, sports figures, models, country singers, pop music singers, and rock groups – lots of rock groups. It seems like every music act that ever performed in Memphis also made a visit to the home of Elvis Presley. I was especially impressed with all the heavy metal bands that came to Graceland. You know that the music of groups like Ratt and Poison is about as far from “Hound Dog” or “Suspicious Minds” as you can get, but they still paid their respects to rock music’s seminal pioneer. Here’s some of the bigger names in heavy metal music that checked out the Jungle Room and the rest of Graceland:
Robert Plant and Jimmy Page (Led Zepellin)
Axl Rose (Guns and Roses)
And check out this line-up of classic rock bands who made the pilgrimage to Elvis’ home:
Crosby, Stills, & Nash
Keith Richards & Ronnie Woods (Rolling Stones)
Don Henley (Eagles)
John Fogerty (Credence Clearwater Revival)
Bruce Springsteen is listed just like everybody else on the list, but his visit to Graceland has an interesting story. He jumped the fence and tried to get into the house before the security guards escorted him off the premises. This was back in 1976, just after Springsteen had blasted to the top of the music scene. His picture had recently appeared on the covers of both Time and Newsweek. Memphis was a stop on his Born To Run tour, and after the concert, Springsteen took a cab to Graceland. He noticed a light on up at the house, so he climbed the wall and ran up to the front door. When security nabbed him, he asked, “Is Elvis home?” They informed him Elvis was in Lake Tahoe (true). Springsteen tried to explain who he was, but the guards apparently hadn’t heard of him yet.
If Bruce Springsteen ever decides to visit Graceland again, it’s a good bet the security guys will recognize him.
(Editor’s note: Portions of the original article have been deleted because of links to URLs that no longer work. Also, the photos have just been added.)
3rd Birthday: Fun with Elvis on Photoshop — February 3, 2008
Now that I’m retired, I spend even more time on the Internet searching for Elvis stuff. Not just the big Elvis sites that come up on the first two Google search pages. What I really like to find are sites where Elvis isn’t the whole deal – other kinds of sites that happen to contain some obscure Elvis content. You find strange and wonderful stuff that way.
Like altered photos of Elvis. I guess these are done on Photoshop or something similar, and some of them are so clever. Like this one where Elvis looks like an Arab. It’s pretty dark, but you can see that somebody did a great job of putting Elvis’ face inside that headdress.
For the past two years, every time I find a really good one of these altered Elvis photos, I copy it to a file. There’s enough in there now to do a couple of blog articles. Here’s another picture with a different twist. In my photo file, I label it Melting Elvis, and you can see why.
Another way of doing this is to put someone else’s face on Elvis body. Bill Clinton is a natural for this, because his election staff in 1992 called him Elvis. Here’s what he looks like in a jumpsuit.
While we are on Presidents, here are Bush’s that served before and after Clinton.
Of the three presidents, I think Clinton looks the best, probably because he’s wearing a jumpsuit. However, there is one other president who gets my prize for the best President in a jumpsuit. Does Ronald Reagan look cool, or what?
Here’s one more of Reagan, but on this one he’s doing the Richard Nixon thing, and George W gets to be Elvis. How do people come up with these ideas?
I wish the quality on this next one were a little better, because the concept is great: Elvis in a gift box. I sent e-mail birthday greetings to two female friends and asked them how they would like to open up that present.
Did you ever wonder what Elvis might have looked like if he had been born twenty or thirty years later and sang heavy metal Rock & Roll? Here’s your answer.
I labeled the next one “Shiny Elvis” for obvious reasons. If I knew anything about Photoshop, I put some clever phrase in that bottom right turned-up corner and send it out to my Elvis friends.
I wish I had kept track of where I found all these photos. Talented folks made artful creations and should be credited. The best I can do is say thanks to all of them for having fun with Elvis while still respecting his legacy. Well, with the possible exception of this last one.
(Editor’s note: Photos became a regular part of ElvisBlog posts in 2008)
4th Birthday: Elvis and Buddy Holly, February 1, 2009
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 in 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 later in 1955 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.
That concludes the first five articles from the archives to celebrate ElvisBlog‘s 10th birthday. Next week we will look at the five articles that were posted at the time of ElvisBlog birthdays in 2010-2014.
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