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Elvis on his 1968 NBC Comeback Special

I can’t think of person in Modern History who has had a greater influence on music and the pop culture than Elvis Presley! I was 14 when I first heard one of his records…and I haven’t been the same ever since!

As an African-American, I was laughed at in my neighborhood for liking and trying to emulate him. It angered the Black community that he allegedly said,”All “Colored” people can do for me is shine my shoes and buy my records.” I never believed that someone who loved the Blues, R+B and Gospel music as much as he did would ever say such a horrible thing. Although he never confirmed or denied the statement, when he recorded, “In the Ghetto” in 1969, that was enough to convince me where his heart was really at!

Although I never met him, I got as close to him as I could, I became friendly with some of the writers who created some of his biggest hits; Otis Blackwell, ( “Don’t Be Cruel”, ” All Shook Up”, “Return To Sender”), Doc Pomus and Morty Shuman ( “Viva Las Vegas”, “Surrender”, ” HIs Latest Flame” ) Aaron Schroeder and Wally Gold ( “It’s Now Or Never”), Sid Wyche ( ” Big Hunk O’ Love” ) and Spectropopper Paul Evans ( “I Gotta’ Know”.)

When my songwriting partner at the time, Ben Raleigh (“Tell Laura I Love Her”, ” Love is a Hurtin’ Thing” ) got us a shot at writing for some his movies, “It Happened At The World’s Fair”, “Kid Galahad”, “Fun In Acapulco”, Kissin’ Cousins”…I was in Heaven! Unfortunately, none of our songs were used but I treasured the advance checks we would receive from Gladys music with Elvis’ picture on them!

I never gave up on Elvis covering one of my songs, however, and in 1977 a song I co-wrote with Deanie Hofheinz, Nancy Barry ( Jeff’s ex-wife ) and Brad Berg called “Perfect Strangers”, made it to his last recording session but was never finished due to his untimely death.

About 10 years ago, I ran into Deanie in Nashville with her husband Ron Anton, a Senior VP with BMI. She said that she was trying to get a copy of the track and hinted that there might’ve been a scratch vocal by Elvis that went along with it. I’m still waiting to hear it!

Copyright 2006 by Artie Wayne

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In 1971, When I was general professional manager of Warner Brothers music, the late Johnny Stevenson played me a song he just recorded, “Rock and Roll Heaven’. I thought the chorus was a smash, but didn’t care for anything else! I suggested that he collaborate with Alan O’Day (“Undercover Angel”, “Angie Baby”) and turn it into a tribute to Rock Stars who have passed away.

In 1974 the Righteous Brothers recorded it and took it to number one! Since then we’ve lost so many more of our heros that it was time for an update of the lyric. Alan O’Day worked on it for months, then he went to Nashville and made a demo with Ronny Kimball. I e-mailed a copy of the demo to my friend, director and producer, Sebastian Prooth for an opinion. This morning he surprised us with this brilliant video he made!

You can reach Sebastian Prooth at http://sebrt.com
You can reach Alan O’Day at http://alanoday.com
Artie Wayne http://artiewayne.com

Of course, it was impossible to mention every Rock Star who has passed away in the song and the video, but I would like to start a list to honor as many as we can on this blog. I would like to begin with my friends Jim Croce and Bobby Darin, who were mentioned in the Righteous Brothers record. Then we have Bill Haley (Comets), Rick James, Marvin Gaye, Carl Perkins, Rick Nelson, Johnny Burnette, Dorsey Burnette, Sam Cooke, John Bonham (Led Zeppelin), Keith Moon (The Who), Richie Valens, Luthor Vandross, Eddie Cochran, Wilson Picket, Tammi Tyrell, John Phillips (Mamas and Papas), Mama Cass (Mamas and Papas), Frankie Lyman, Peter Ham (Badfinger), Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, Chas Chandler (The Animals), Mike Milward (The Fourmost), Stu Sutcliff, Brian Jones (The Rolling Stones), Keith Relf (The Yardbirds), James Jamerson, Dennis Wilson (Beach Boys), Carl Wilson (Beachboys), Big Mama Thornton, Bert Berns, Curtis Mayfield, Otis Blackwell, Ben Benay, Lowell George, Van McCoy, Floyd Cramer, Ersel Hickey, Bobby Sheen (Bobby Soxx and the Blue Jeans), Mickey Most, Jim Capaldi (Traffic), Gene Vincent, Tony Williams (The Platters), Joe Brown, John Lennon, George HarrisonJohnny Johnson, Ray Peterson, Janet Vogel (Skyliners) Jan Berry (Jan and Dean), Freddy Garrity (Freddie and the Dreamers), Eugene Record (Chi-Lites), Chuck Willis, The Big Bopper, Jimmy Radcliffe, Bill Orr (the Cars), Doris Troy, Joe Tex, Joe Simon, Duane Allman (Allman Brothers), Billy Preston, Joe Strummer (The Clash), Del Shannon, Barry Cowsill The Cowsills), Bill Cowsill (The Cowsills), Joey Ramone (Ramones), Stevie Ray Vaughn, Link Wray, David Blue, Danny Gatton, Zal Yanovsky (Lovin’ Spoonful), Phil Seymour, David Blue, Shel Silverstein, Graham Parsons, Jerry Garcia (Grateful Dead), Bobby Fuller, King Curtis, Buddy Knox, Johnny Preston, Eddie Cochran, Kirsty MacColl, Jimmy Bailey, Maurice Gibb (Bee Gees), Richard Tee, Hank Ballard, Tony Romeo, Jessie Belvin, Ed Townsend, Sterling Morrison (Velvet Underground), Jackie Wilson, John Fred (Playboy Band), Hank Ballard, Bobby Hatfield (Righteous Brothers), April Young, Arthur Conley, Dick St. John (Dick And Dee Dee), Timi Yuro, Lou Rawls, Paul Atkinson (Zombies), Johnny Bristol, Francine Barker (Peaches and Herb)Maurice Gibb, Chris Curtis, Shirley Goodman (Shirley and Lee), Johnny Cymbal,The Duchess, Little Eva, Mickey Most, Billy Preston, Irving Green, Morris Levy, Nick Drake, Barry White, Laura Nyro, Frank Zappa, Barbara George, Arthr Lee, Baker Knight, Eddie Kendricks, Tony Jackson (Searchers), Link Wray, Kevin Gilbert, Michael Hutchence (INXS), Milan B. Williams (Commodores), Adam Faith, Johnny Wilder junior (Heatwave), Richard Barrett, Arthur Lee (Love), Syd Barrett (PInk Floyd) , Arthur Conley, Gene Pitney, Freddy Garrity (Freddie And The Dreamers), Shannon Hoon, Ray Peterson, Denny Doherty (Mamas And Papas), Bruce Gary (The Knack), Freddie Marsden (Gerry and the Pacemakers), Dennis Peyton (Dave Clark 5), Ruth Brown, Ahmet Ertegun, James Brown, Bill Pinkney (Drifters), Harry Nilsson, Dusty Springfield, Florence Ballard (Supremes), Shannon Hoon (Blind Melon), Barbara Acklin, Ron Miller, Donnie Brooks, Paul Griffin, David Ruffin, Freddy Scott, Hank Medress (Tokens), Dan Fogleberg, Ike Turner, Al Gallico, Mike Smith, Wilson Pickett, Bo Diddley, Norman Whitfield, Alan Gordon, Levi Stubbs ( 4 Tops) , Estelle Bennett (Ronettes)…

To view a RARE VIDEO OF BO DIDDLEY IN HIS PRIME!                        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M8PIbrMh6vo&feature=related

Copyright 2008 by Artie Wayne

If you have any names that you would like me to add to the list you can click onto comments (below) or e-mail me at artie_wayne@yahoo.com You may submit up to three names to add to the list, which I will post.