Tag Archives: Elvis Week

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

 

Thumbnail Icon

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

Scotty Moore Returns to Live Performances After 24 Year Absence

When Scotty Moore returned to Nashville after appearing in the ‘68 Comeback Special, he never dreamed it was the last time he would perform on stage for 24 years.

Elvis and Scotty Moore in the famous “Pit Session” of the the ’68 Comeback Special

 

In fact, Elvis had talked about wanting to do a tour in Europe.  Now that he was essentially finished with movies, Elvis was energized to perform live again, and Scotty was excited about getting back on stage with him.  Scotty went home to Nashville and waited for a call from Elvis to say the European tour was on.

Of course, Col. Parker put a quick end to such an idea.  He was an illegal alien from Holland and knew he couldn’t get a US passport, so he could never accompany Elvis to Europe.  And, Parker was not about to allow Elvis to tour over there without the constant presence of his manager.  So the tour idea died.

Scotty went on with his life as a studio sound engineer, work that kept him associated with the music business, without ever performing.  Years later he owned a cassette duplicating company, and followed that by opening a printing shop that made the label inserts for the tapes.

Scotty’s guitars sat essentially untouched for years.  He actually thought of himself as a ‘former guitar player,’ and was comfortable with it.  He did, however, maintain contact with many dozens of folks in the music business – including Carl Perkins.

Perkins underwent cancer surgery in 1991, but in early 1992 it was in remission.  He felt strong enough to record a new album, and wanted to do it in the old Sun Studios in Memphis.  So, Perkins called Scotty and asked him to join the project.  Scotty resisted, repeatedly saying, “I can’t do this.”  However, Perkins persisted, and soon he, Scotty, DJ Fontana and a group of their studio musician friends completed the recording session that resulted in 706 ReUnion.

Cover of CD Re-release, Not Original Album

 

Two years earlier, Carl Perkins had been the headliner at the first “Good Rockin’ Tonight” concert, presented during Elvis Week by Darwin Lamm, editor and publisher of Elvis International magazine.  Perkins was unable to sing at the second annual concert in 1991 because of his cancer surgery, but he was back as headliner again for “Good Rockin’ Tonight 3” in 1992.

Again, Carl Perkins worked on Scotty to join him – this time, on stage playing the guitar. Scotty agreed, and became part of the most exciting line-up in the history of Elvis Week concerts.  Not only did the fans get to see Elvis’ first guitar player, they also got to see his last one, James Burton.

James Burton and Scotty Moore Rehearsing

 

The Sun Rhythm Section, featuring Sunny Burgess and DJ Fontana opened the show and wowed the audience with an excellent Rockabilly set.  Also on the bill were the Jordanaires who backed Elvis on too many records to count and Ronnie McDowell who sang the songs on several Elvis movies and TV biographies.

From left – James Burton, DJ Fontana, Scotty Moore. Behind Carl perkins on stool — Jardanaires, Ronnie McDowell (in black, white belt), and others.

 

Scotty’s long-time friend, Gail Pollock, summarized the show, “It was electric.”  Especially, when Carl Perkins and Scotty Moore were on stage together.

 

After that, Scotty was hooked.  A week after the concert in Memphis, he went to England to perform with the Jordanaires.  He had been away from performing for 24 years, but at age 61, Scotty Moore was back.  Thousands of fans have seen him at concerts in the years since, and Scotty Moore has brought tears of happiness to more than a few of them.

 

Many thanks to James Roy, webmaster for www.scottymoore.net, and to Gail Pollock for their help in supplying the photographs and historical reference material for this article.

 

©  2012    Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister    All Rights Reserved    www.ElvisBlog.net

 

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