A few months rolled by, one thing lead to another, and Sam Phillips was talking to his secretary. Sam was the owner, janitor, and chief-cook-and-bottle-washer of Sun Records, and he needed something good to happen to be able to stay in business much longer. She mentioned this twitchy, nervous kid that had recorded a few songs. Sam, with nothing to lose, said 'call him and get him in here.'
Scotty Moore and his Gibson, Bill Black and his doghouse bass, and a high school kid named Elvis.They tried several times over several days, and nothing worked. At the end of another disappointing day in the studio, everybody was getting ready to quit and head home. Elvis grabbed his guitar and started playing this old blues tune, just cutting up. The guys joined in, and Sam, who was in the booth, heard them and thought 'there it is!' He hit record, told them to start over, and within the week the song was on the radio.
The studio version.
An early live version from The Louisiana Hayride.
At the end of '55 Sam Phillips sold about the only thing he had of any real value; Elvis' contract. He had to do it to stay in business. Dumb move or Smart move? He supposedly got $40,000.00 for it, an unheard of amount at the time. Over the years, some have said it was the dumbest deal ever made in the music business. BUT, because of the sale, Sam was able to keep going. And because of that the world got Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Luther Perkins, Jack Clement, and many others. Most importantly (IMO), we got Johnny Cash.
Once Elvis started recording at RCA, his sound changed. If you like it, it was better production and higher quality overall. If you didn't like it, he lost his edge, he became too polished. He was still Elvis, and that's enough for me.
If you have a few minutes to spare, here's a suggestion: Pick your favorite chair, or a comfy spot on the couch, whatever. Set the volume on your stereo or ??? you listen to music on these days to 'call the authorities', and start this song. Then, try your best to just sit still. Ignore the hype about 'this is just oldies junk', or 'who cares about this dead fat guy?', or 'he was just a Vegas lounge act', or 'my parents liked him' or ANY of that nonsense. Just crank this up, listen to it, and try to stay still. If you can stay still, then it isn't loud enough. Bump it up and try it again.
Elvis went into the Army for two years beginning in 1958. RCA kept the albums coming and Colonel Tom Parker did his thing - whatever that was - to keep Elvis' name out there. While he was in the Army, Elvis donated all of his pay to charity, and he refused to accept lighter, performer-oriented duty in Special Services. He thought his music career was finished, but fortunately he was mistaken.
Just a big-a, big-a, big-a hunk o' love will do!
A big-a, big-a, big-a hunk o' Goldtop
After he got out of the Army, Elvis was a bit lost. He had a number of personal problems (and more to come), so to buy time and to keep the exposure up and the cash coming in, Colonel Parker got him into making those movies. Mostly just soundtracks to insipid stories, there were some good songs hidden in them from time to time.
Thank you very much. I was hoping I wasn't boring anybody too much. I'm a HUGE Elvis fan, but I try to remember that not everybody is. I plan to post a few more, but I don't want to drive anybody crazy with it.
Originally Posted by Egads
Again, thanks very much.
After however many movies it was (25? 30? Somewhere in there) during most of the 60's, Elvis had about had his fill. And so had RCA. Elvis and his label had locked horns with The Colonel for years but couldn't get him to budge. But slipping sales AND Elvis' attitude finally got so bad that he had to give in and let 'his boy' as he called him do what he wanted.
Elvis was a 33 year old man now. His mom had died, he had Priscilla, he had done some living, and he didn't want to sing about teddy bears or shoes anymore. Enough of The Colonel's rules, and to some extent, even enough of the sycophantic Memphis Mafia. No more pablum, no more soundtracks... Real music for Real adults.
It was time for Elvis to show the world who and what he was, and he started with the '68 Comeback Special on NBC television. When it first aired, there were only three major networks on American tv; ABC, CBS, and NBC. It's estimated that somewhere around 40% - 45% of all the viewers in the country watched this show. (The writeup on Wikipedia says 42%. I don't know who wrote that or where their figures came from, but I got mine from several different books. Either way, we're all in the same ballpark.) Nearly half of everybody watching tv in this country that night watched this show.
These were two of the featured songs on the program. Elvis was back!
Soon after the '68 Comeback Special, Elvis started playing the showrooms in Las Vegas. And touring. He had recorded the album "From Elvis in Memphis", and on it he went in a new direction. Adult themes and subjects.
Which is your favorite era of Elvis? The 'Blue Suede Shoes' or the 'White Jumpsuit'? For me, it has always been the latter. The bigger band with James Burton, Ronnie Tutt, etc., The Sweet Inspirations, J.D. Sumner and The Stamps Quartet, the full orchestra... I love the music he made in those years. I like the early stuff for what it is and what it represents, but his later music is what really spoke to me. And still does.
I never got to see him live, though I had a chance to do so three different times. (Thanks Mom and Dad! Way to go!)
These last two are some of my absolute favorites that Elvis ever did. Melancholy, but still hopeful. Beautiful stuff.
I miss Elvis. I hope to someday be able to see him, hear him, meet him, and thank him. His music has helped me through some difficult times, and it keeps doing so.
Thanks for reading, listening, and indulging me yet again everybody. I hope there was something here that you enjoyed. Have a great weekend!
A T-O-O-T for Saturday.
The original from the man who wrote it.
The cover from The King.
You know I need me a mess o' Goldtop!
With sincere thanks to Markie for the inspiration, here's a Sunday T-O-O-T...
Sam & Dave will take it.
The Fabulous T-Birds will take it too!
And so will Goldtop!
And speakin' of Kim Wilson... (I know we weren't, but work with me here, okay?)
Alright! M-o-n-d-a-y in the U-S-A! May we all have a good one, right?
Several birfdays in the music world today. I'll start with Lee Ann Womack, a fellow Texan, and IMO one seriously beautiful lady. To me, she has the voice of an angel. Here are two songs from her; one solo, and one a duet with Willie. I've posted both before, but that's because I listen to them a lot.
Happy Birthday to Ian Gillan. I'm taking the cheesy way out here and posting two Deep Purple tunes. I could do two of his solo tunes, but I'm lazy. Anywayyyy, 'appy Birthday, Mate!
P.S. - Does anybody know the name of the artist who did the works shown in this second video?