Monday, May 8, 2017

Elvis and Chuck Berry

  •     Charles Edward Anderson or Chuck Berry was born October 18, 1926  died March 18, 2017 and known as the father of rock'n'roll . The American guitarist, singer and songwriter was a pioneer of rock and roll music. In 1944, at the age of 17, Berry and two friends set off on road trip to California but when reaching Kansas City they decided to go on a robbing spree. Which included the stealing of a vehicle.The three young men were arrested and received the maximum penalty 10 years in jail, despite being minors .Berry served three years before being released on good behavior on October 18, 1947, which was his 21st birthday. After his release Berry wrote and recorded Maybellene and took it to the executives at Chess Records. Maybellene reached No. 1 on the R&B charts and No. 5 on the pop charts in 1955. The song is considered as one of the first rock'n'roll songs. Elvis performed this song live at the Louisianna Hayride in August 1955. A couple months before Elvis's Cadillac had caught fire at the top of a hill while traveling to a gig. I can see Elvis as a teen being a bit of a rev head . He loved his cars and Harleys. 

 Elvis's burnt out Cadillac June 1955

  •   Chuck and Elvis's career both took off in 1955 with Elvis going to number one on the country charts with I Forgot To Remember To Forget. Elvis mentions seeing Chuck in 1955/56 in the Million Dollar Quartet recordings but the first actual known meeting of the two,wasnt until 1972 in Vegas.
Maybellene live recording 20th of August 1955 at the Louisiana Hayride


  •    In 1956 Elvis again performed a Berry composition at the famous million dollar quartet sessions at Sun studio. Its in these sessions you can hear Elvis talk about Chuck Berry's music and how awesome his songs were. The song was Brown Eyed Handsome Man which originally had the title of Brown Skinned Handsome Man. It was written by Berry after seeing an altercation between a Hispanic man and a woman at a baseball game he was attending. 

  •     In 1963 Elvis recorded the Berry composition, Memphis Tennessee. In the song the singer is trying to find out the number of a girl named Marie, who lives in Memphis Tennessee, on the southside, high upon a ridge, just a half a mile from the Mississippi bridge. It seemed so prophetic, recorded 5 years before Lisa Marie was born and ten years before Elvis and Priscilla's divorce.  He sings how he misses Marie and that they were separated by Marie's mother. The final verse reveals that Marie is, in fact, the singer's six-year-old daughter and her mother, presumably the singers ex-wife, left their home and took Marie with her.
 
 Memphis Tennessee with rare pics.

 
  •      The first of Berry's hit protest songs was Too Much Monkey Business it was the flipside to his 1956 hit, Brown Eyed Handsome Man . "I realized i needed about a hundred verses to cover the major areas that bugged people the most" Berry, said about the song in his autobiography. Well he certainly included the main ones salesman,telecommunication and fuel companies.

Too Much Monkey Business Elvis outtake



  •      Jerry Schilling, Elvis long time bodyguard said that Sammy Davis and Elvis went to see Chuck  together in 1972 and he can remember Elvis shouting out song names for Chuck to play. Elvis loved Chuck Berry from when he first started out, Jerry said. A couple of years later Elvis would record Promised Land. Which was another Berry composition  written in Midwest prison and was recorded by Berry on his release, at Chess studios in Chicago, in 1964. Elvis Presley''s version was used in the tunnel scene in Men In Black where they were chasing down the key to the universe around Orion's neck. Presley's Promised Land Album  was his final complete studio album before his death.

Men in Black Tunnel Scene



  •     Chuck Berry's signature song would have to be Johnny Be Good and Elvis first live version comes from his first shows at the International Hotel in 1969. Johnny lived in the backwoods probably with Polk Salad Annie or Poke Salet/ salad Annie. LOL My bit of trivia for this month is a Poke Salad recipe. Its made from Pokeweed . Pokeweed leaves and roots have been used in folk medicine for the following  of chronic rheumatism and arthritis. The plant has also been used to treat edema, skin cancers, catarrh, dysmenorrhea, mumps, ringworm, scabies, tonsillitis, and syphilis. Poke greens, the young immature leaves, are commercially sold under the name “poke salet".

Johnny Be Good live International Hotel 1969



Read more here: http://www.heraldonline.com/latest-news/article12273290.html#storylink=cpy

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Elvis and Bowie


     Elvis Presley born 8 January 1935 ! Twelve years later David Bowie is born on 8th January 1947 !The sharing of January 8th as their birthdays was a big connection for Bowie to Elvis as Bowie himself said "I thought that it meant something". Eventually taking a plane trip in 1972 to New York to watch Elvis perform and then penning Golden Years for Elvis a couple of years later. Elvis rejected Golden Years, but according to Bowie, he did get a call from Elvis late in 1976, asking him if he could produce a new Elvis album but of course this was never to be, as Elvis was spiraling to an early demise, passing on August 16th 1977. 
    Lets go back to when David was first making it on the London rock scene around the mid sixties. It was at the La Gionconda Club, where David and his band the Lower Third played nightly gigs. It was here they came in contact with a performer called Vince Taylor. Vince, originally born in England but at an early age had moved to New Jersey USA. Dressed in black leather, Vince performed mainly Elvis covers and his obsession with Elvis, stemmed back to him seeing the king perform back in the mid fifties.In an interview with the BBC back in 1996 Bowie talked about the man who inspired Ziggy Stardust referring to him as not playing with a full deck and how he used to carry maps of Europe around with him pointing out sites where UFO's were going to land. He was preoccupied with Jesus and Aliens. David told the interviewer.  Vince was the inspiration for Ziggy Stardust.
Vince Taylor Too Much

David Bowie Starman 

  In 1968 Also Sprach Zarathustra, Richard Strauss's composition was included in the musical score for Space Odyssey 2001 and probably had a big impact on both Bowie and Elvis . It was inspired by the Friedric Nietzsche's philosopical novel of the same name and first recorded by the Boston Symphony Orchestra in 1935.  Ground control to Major Tom ! Space Oddity was written, by Bowie ,after seeing this movie, and of course Elvis stage entrance was always accompanied by the Strauss composition . After the Space Oddity album came The Man Who Sold the World and then Hunky Dory which included the song Andy Warhol . David sent the song to Andy in New York and then traveled over to meet him. I wanted to connect Warhol here because I find it curious that one of his most famous pieces of art is the Eight Elvis's which a couple years backed fetched over 100 million dollars at auction. This was a still taken from Flaming Star overlaid eight times. 


   The movie Flaming Star had a working title of Black Star and portrayed Elvis as Pacer Burton son of a Kiowa mother and Texan father. The movie originally had four songs but two were cut after Elvis had protested about them. The original title song Black Star was not released until the early 1980s. This is the song that David told one of his work colleagues that had a connection to his final song released in his lifetime. David Bowies, Black Star was released on his 69th birthday January 8th 2016, three days prior to his death on January 10th. I cant help but think Black Star leads back to Ziggy, then to Vince, and finally to the Golden Years of the mid fifties and even maybe further back to the birth of these two rock icons on the 8th of January.

Elvis Black Star 


Interesting Trivia 
 
Morning White Dove was Cherokee Indian and Elvis great great great grandmother born 1800 died 1835.  
Cane and a High Starch Collar was the only other song in Flaming Star
A black star is a gravitational object composed of matter.
The movie prior to Flaming Star was GI Blues and following it was Blue Hawaii both hugely successful.
Vince Taylor was known as the Black Leather Rebel because he always performed in black leather ! If he was performing in black leather early sixties. I was curious if Elvis had ever performed in black leather in the fifties.  
Colonel Tom Parker Elvis"s manager diedi at the age of 88 and his first job on USA soil was working with the Chautauqua.  
 Golden Years

Bowies Black Star

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Elvis and Mary

  After the recent death of Mary Tyler Moore (MTM Meow ) . I thought i would do a post on Elvis''s music and the connections it had to Mary. Whether it be a riverboat, Virgin Mary or Mary T herself. I could of gone a bit deeper and gone into the close association between Marie and Mary but that would have got a bit messy so I might leave that to another day !
   Our first destination is down to the river where the people are happy to give. The song Proud Mary was written in the 60's by a worker on the Mary Elizabeth or once known as the Queen Mother of Memphis Tugboats and the song then found its way into the hands of John Fogerty, who published and performed it and the rest is rock history. Built in 1905 the tug once transported prisoners up the Hudson River to Sing Sing State Prison. Then in 1915, the boat was used to transport mail up the Mississippi from Greenville to Luna Landing. Thirteen years later it was purchased by a Memphis Tennessee businessman and given the name Mary Elizabeth to be used as a tugboat. Im afraid Proud Mary is no more it was towed away in 1986 from the Memphis riverbank for scrap metal.
   Elvis performed this song many times in concert in the early 1970's my memory as a child was on the Madison Square Garden record.Where it was played often, in our household .We also had the Tina Turner version.Which was very popular at that time during the mid seventies, Rollin on the River . 
I thought i would post some rare footage of his Boston show 1971, here he is wearing his black conquistador suit, with cape and the recording of Proud Mary is from this show.
 

 Mary Tyler Moore and a Change of Habit 
        Doctor John Carpenter and Sister Michele in the movie Change of Habit. This was one of my favorite Elvis movies growing up being made around the time of the 1968 TV Special and the birth of Lisa Marie This was when Elvis was on a high, and enthused about performing again. In the movie Mary was trying to make the decision, whether to throw away her habit and faith to join Doctor John. This movie also starred Mary Tyler Moore show co star Edward Asner. Ed had appeared with Elvis in an earlier movie Kid Galahad. The soundtrack had some good recordings without being outstanding. The title track Change of Habit, Have A Happy,Let Us Pray and Rubberneckin , The later being a hit for Elvis after the milenium, in 2003. It was also the B side of Dont Cry Daddy which reached number 6 on the billboard charts in 1970. Let's Be Friends was also recorded for the movie at the Change of Habit sessions . These sessions started a couple of days after Elvis had done his marathon  American Sound Studios cuts of  In The Ghetto, Suspicious Minds and others. Darlene Love and the Blossoms were the backup singers for these sessions.  Lets Be Friends still remains one of my favorite Elvis recordings.
      Barbara Mcnair co star spoke about the visit of Mahalia Jackson on the set one day and how Elvis just loved her and how him and Mahalia discussed the charity show she was organizing. Barbara said Mary was a little stand offish but Elvis had been so friendly . This clip of Elvis and Mary ! Property of Notre Dame (our Mother) Sister Michele lead us into Mother Mary ! Miracle of Your Rosary Hail Mary full of grace ! 


   Miracle of Your Rosary 
This song is often referred to as the Hail Mary or Ave Maria (latin).
Written by Lee Denison and recorded by Elvis in May 1971 first released on the Elvis Now album in the 70's.  Some Elvis trivia ! In early 1955 Elvis performed at a Catholic club in Arkansas and the Priest Father Keller was not impressed and later witnessing Elvis signing a young girls leg, had said to Elvis "you are a disgrace to manhood, dont come back here". 


   Yet another connection to the Catholic church was Sister Dolores Hart, who was Mario Lanza's niece co starred with Elvis in Loving You and went on to become a Catholic Nun.  This clip of her talking about her relationship with Elvis and God !
Miss Hart talking about being on set with Elvis. I was mesmerized by his charisma and voice. That voice is for the people of GOD. 

   
     The last clip i am going to share is Mary in the Morning, a song written in 1967 and first recorded, by Al Martino. Elvis incorporated this into his live performances in the early 1970's. Always thought this song had a mystical feel about it ! I've always wondered who was Mary the woman with golden hair and chasing rainbows in her dreams.


More Trivia
In the middle ages mary or mare was was often referred to the sea ! Stella Maris or star of the sea a name given to the Virgin Mary !
The Vatican also known as the Holy See !
See of Rome or Central Government of the Catholic Church
Lateran Treaty of 1929
  Name Marie --- French cognate of Mary, which is derived from the Hebrew Miryām. Many believe it to mean "sea of bitterness" or "sea of sorrow." However, some sources cite the alternative definitions of "rebellion," "wished-for child," and "mistress or lady of the sea

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Elvis and Mac Davis

    Mac Davis born 21st January 1942.His biggest hit was Baby Don't Get Hooked On Me and he first saw Elvis perform way back in 1956 on the back of a truck in Lubbock Texas . Lubbock being the home of Buddy Holly and as Mac said Buddy and Elvis were his two inspirations to write music. Another of Macs biggest hits Hooked on Music has in the first verse a reference to the first time he saw Elvis. Mac started writing for Elvis in 1967 in partnership with Billy Strange who worked with Elvis on the movie songs in the sixties. Billy and Mac wrote songs like Charro , A Little Less Conversation, Clean Up Your Own Backyard , Nothingville ,Dont Cry Daddy , Memories and his most famous In The Ghetto. I loved hearing Mac's story about the success of A Little Less Conversation going to number one in 2002. He said I was in shock i could'nt believe it. A friend of mine called me and said , hey Mac one of your songs has gone to number one in the UK. I knew nothing about the Nike promotion. Then later, my wife and I were watching Oceans Eleven and didnt realize they had used this version in the movie. It sounds so good. I thought the revamp they did was amazing. It was originally written for the 68 special but not used.
    Interested to hear Mac say that the lyrics were changed in A Little Less Conversation by Elvis or by those in Hollywood to fit the scene in Live A Little Love A Little and he said at the time he was a bit annoyed that they had changed his favorite verse in the song. Its a groovy night and i can show you how to use it. .Here is the original movie version with Elvis and the beautiful Celeste Yarnall . This computer will prove to you that the planets are wrong.

         
                 “Elvis’ records were always lesser than what he was vocally,”Billy Strange

   Charro a western had Elvis as Jess Wade a role originally offered to Clint Eastwood. The title song written by Mac , was the only song Elvis performed in the movie. Mac told a story about hearing a guy whistling this tune in a bathroom one time and was amazed, because it had always been a dream of his, to hear some person, unknown to him whistling a song he had written and I couldnt believe the song would be Charro as i dont remember much about that song myself. I had to ask him the name of the song because i couldnt remember the name.

    Clean Up Your Own Backard was a song performed in Trouble with Girls . Interesting to note alot of the songs recorded for this movie stayed unreleased for a considerable amount of time bar this one. Songs like Signs of the Zodiac and Swing Down Sweet Chariot, Almost and Violet.


   Nothingville or as I think it was referring to Hollywoodville. They treat me like a country clown. Its a Rats race at a snails pace ! Mac said he always thought that was one of his favorite lines in any song he had written. It was specificly written for the TV Special with Memories.

Poor Mans Gold another written by Mac but Elvis only ever sung one line from it in the studio. I loved how Pete Storm completed it and thought i would add it here for a novelty song .



Monday, November 21, 2016

Sweet Inspiration 1970

Sweet Inspiration was the only top 40 hit for the Sweet Inspirations although they appeared on many 60's and 70's hits as a backing group. Brown Eyed Girl by Van Morrison Burning of the Midnight Lamp by Jimi Hendrix and Just One Look by Doris Troy. They also did backing vocals for Aretha Franklin and Dusty Springfield in the sixties. This version by Elvis was a one off performance from the midnight show 20th August 1970 . Interviews with Whitney Houstons mum Cissy, Myrna Smith and Estelle Brown precede his performance.


I'm Leavin 1974

Michael Jarrett/Sonny James ballad. Michael said he wrote the song after he had given up performing to concentrate on song writing and its written about his girlfriends lack of faith in his songwriting and his decision to leave her and move on. She had said to him what if your songs arnt good enough. Michael said the unusual structure of the song belongs to Sonny James. In the Nashville recording studios in 1971 Elvis is heard saying phew this song is tough but its worth working on. Elvis performed it on various occassions at live shows but none compared to the haunting studio recording due to the difficulties in getting the pace of the song just right. In this live recording from 1974 Elvis is heard chatting to fans and singing one line of the song Stop the World and Let Me Off. 


Little Mama 1955

This was recorded live at the Lousianna Hayride March 1955. Many mistakenly think this is Thats Alright Little Mama but this is a completely different song Co written by the music producer Jerry Wexler . Wexler wrote for Billboard magazine and is said to have coined the term Rhythm and Blues. He produced Wilson Pickett and Aretha Franklin and was the man who connected Elvis with the Sweet Inspirations.  Originally sung by The Clovers in 1953. Elvis often performed Clovers songs in his early live performances songs like Fool Fool Fool, Love Bug. Love Potion Number 9 is their most known hit written by the great Leiber and Stoller who of course were prolific writers for the early Elvis recordings. 


Reconsider Baby 1977

A song written by Lowell Fulson in 1954 its registered in the top 500 songs that shaped rock'n'roll. Elvis first recorded it for his Elvis is Back album in 1960 and featured the great Boots Randolph sax break. Its a song Elvis would perform in his concerts every now and again and was first perfomed live in 1970 in front of Jimmy Page and Led Zeppelin. I only just recently found out that Elvis had performed this on numerous ocassions in late 76 early 77. This recording is from february 1977 .


Love Bug Clovers 

This song is often said to have been performed by Elvis at some of his 55/56 shows but no recording has ever surfaced.





Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Recordings at Home and Backstage



  • Twelfth of Never was an adaption of an old English folk song The Riddle Song first released by Johnny Mathis in 1957 . Cliff Richard and Donny Osmond also had hits with this. Elvis version comes from his rehearsals done in Vegas in 1970.

  • Turn Around Look At Me was one of Glen Campbells early hits from 1961. Glen played on a What d I Say on Elvis Viva Las Vegas sessions in 1963 and remained a good friend of Elvis. Glen appears in one of the most iconic photos of Elvis at George Kleins wedding . That day Elvis was photographed walking around with a flashlight in a long black coat.This rare audience recording made at an Asheville concert 1975 .


  •  Young Love A song which was a hit for a many artists in the 50's with the most famous being by Tab Hunter and Sonny James. Sonny version spent nine weeks at number one on the country charts in 1957. Sonny died earlier this year 2016 at the age of 87. The original was done by Ric Cartey and the Jiva Tones in 1956. Elvis on the spot version is from the 1968 rehearsal show. Its followed by a small snippet of Patsy Clines Shes Got You.



  • Fool Fool Fool This is a song originally done by the Clovers in 1951 and written by Atlantic Records boss Ahmet Ertegun who put in an offer of 25000 dollars for Presleys contract in 1955. This was recorded by Elvis probably in January1955 at a radio station in Lubbock Texas.


  •  Photos of Glen Campbell and Elvis together. The Famous flashlight pics. December 5th 1970

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Monday, October 3, 2016

Fairytale and Fire

     Fairytale, written by Anita and Bonnie Pointer it was the second single release from their 1974 album Thats A Plenty . Elvis recorded a version for his 1975 album TODAY . He loved the song so much, he called it "the story of my life". After recording it, he included it in all of his live shows. 
      Due to the success of the song, The Pointer Sisters won their first Grammy award for Best Duo or Group in 1975. Anita and Bonnie were also nominated for songwriters of the year.
The group was also invited to perform the song at the Grande Ole Opry, making The Pointer Sisters the first black female group to ever perform at the Opry.

Fairytale Pointer Sisters


Fairytale Elvis Presley


Elvis Presley Live Memphis Colliseum 1975


Fire written by Bruce Springsteen . This was the song he tried to get to Elvis in 1976 by jumping the fence at Graceland. After Elvis died in 1977 he passed the song onto the Pointer Sisters who had a big hit with it in 1978. 
Pointer Sisters live at the Attic 1981 Fire



  Bruce Springsteen tribute to Elvis Johnny Bye Bye