ELVIS PRESLEY  1/8/35 – 8/16/77

“On August 16, 1977, Elvis passes away at Graceland and the world mourns, but I feel guilty about crying over him. I was laughed at in my neighborhood, back in the Bronx, for liking and trying to emulate him. It angered the Black community that he allegedly said, “The only thing “Colored” people can do for me is shine my shoes and buy my records.” That afternoon my friend, DJ, Scott Shannon comes over to the house, and gives me a large picture book on Elvis and his life. I thank him with tears in my eyes and apologize for being so emotional. Then I tell him why I feel so badly. Then Scott says, “Artie, How could anybody who loved the blues, R&B and gospel music as much as Elvis did, ever say such a horrible thing. Isn’t listening to “In The Ghetto”, enough to convince you where his heart was really at?” I realize Scott’s right, and let go of those negative thoughts. I put on a cut by Elvis from the first album I ever had, a present from Mother 20 years ago.”

by Elvis Presley from 1957 Ed Sullivan Show. “Peace In The Valley” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zAJLB9IhrI4

Then Scott and I sat around all afternoon and listened to Elvis’ best songs.including “Heartbreak Hotel” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c_1K6h1WFC0

 

Alan O’Day (Rock And Roll Heaven, Undercover Angel) recalls, “I remember my high school innocence, my passionate love affairs that existed purely in fantasy, and the exquisite pain at being rejected by a girl I worshiped. It was probably the same week that I had bought the 45 of “Heartbreak Hotel”. But when I discovered the breakup ballad “I Was The One” on the “B” side, it reached right through to my heart. The lyric spoke to exactly what I was feeling, and made it poetry. Elvis was so real to me because he knew my suffering. It was a very personal experience, and helped shape me as a songwriter.”

 

“Don’t Be Cruel” A clip from Ed Sullivan Show 1956. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g6D206o0Hws&feature=related

from Milton Berle “Texaco Star Theater” show 1956. “Hound Dog” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X5JALwwaASg

“In the summer of 1956, I went to visit some relatives in Portsmouth Ohio. I knew somehow it was going to be a special Sunday. I went to my first bar-b-que, had my first beer, and stole my first kiss. When we got back to my aunt and uncle’s house, everyone was hovering around the TV set mesmerized by some singer who’s on the Steve Allen TV show.

 

He’s a cool looking guy with a pompadour, sideburns and a guitar who is singing to a hound dog. When I see my cousins and their friends screaming and crying, this electrifying moment changes my life forever! I’m 14 years old and up until now, I wanted to be either a Nuclear Physicist, or a Clown. Now I want to be a Rock and Roll Star…a Rock and Roll Star, just like Elvis Presley!”

Ed Sullivan show with clips from Elvis’ first movie “Love Me Tender”! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HZBUb0ElnNY&feature=related

Title song from the Hal Wallis 1957 movie “Jailhouse Rock”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tpzV_0l5ILI&feature=related

“Baby I Don’t Care” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SovkqRVsim8

 

Publicist, Bobbi Cowan recalls, “As a teen, I saw him at the old Pan Pacific Auditorium…I used to hang at a hot dog stand on Beverly Blvd, near the entrance to Pan Pacific…it was called the Kosher Puppy…They had a jukebox that had all of Elvis’ early hits, and I went broke feeding nickels into that box, to hear “Teddy Bear,”

“Teddy Bear” from “Loving You” 1957.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qhdUucs8AlY&feature=related

Ms. Cowan continues, “I must have been 17, or 18, when I was introduced to one of Elvis’ guys, and struck up a friendship with him. I think his name was James, and he invited me to come up to the house on Perugia Way in Bel Air. I would hang out, learned to shoot pool, but mostly just hang out. I’d watch Elvis, his entourage, the starlet- de- jour, all draped over a huge L-shaped couch, watching TV with the sound off, with Elvis’ music playing. He’d put a cigarette to his lips, and 10 guys would be there with lighters… An indelible image, this lanky, gorgeous, larger than life person, holding court night after night, while someone named Priscilla waited for him at something called Graceland…and yet, he was very sweet, very polite, very nice to me and the other young girls who were lucky enough to get an invitation to Perugia.”

From “King Creole” 1958 “Trouble”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WrzPmUASBho

“I’m excited when my uncle Mick tells me that a famous songwriter Sid Wyche (“Whole Lotta’ Shakin’ Goin’ On”), has just renteds the second story of his two-family house. As I start to walk upstairs to play Sid a few of my songs, he runs down the stairs nearly knocking me and my uncle over. He apologizes, and excitedly says, that he just got a $10,000 check from Hill and Range Music, as an advance against royalties for a song that Elvis Presley just recorded, “Big Hunk Of Love”. Sid momentarily forgets that his wife is waiting for him in the car to go cash the check and takes us upstairs to play us Elvis’ record.

I’m screaming in hysterics, “Louder, Louder!” Sid’s jumping up and down and we ignore the horn frantically beeping outside as we play Elvis’ record over and over!” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f78tRmbike8&feature=related

 

From “Blue Hawaii” 1961.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CdYHivTvQCU&feature=related

“After being a staff writer at Aldon Music (Carole King, Barry Mann, Neil Sedaka, etc.), and working with songwriter/producer Paul Vance (“Itsy, Bitsy, Teenie, Weenie, Yellow Polka Dot Bikini”, “Catch A Falling Star”), I went independent.

I started writing with music vet, Ben Raleigh (“Wonderful, Wonderful”, “Tell Laura I Love Her”), and as Ben and I start to place songs all over town, one of my dreams comes true. Ben takes me up to Hill and Range Music, to meet Freddy Bienstock, who runs Elvis Presley’s publishing companies. He asks us if we’d like to write a song for Elvis’ next movie, “It Happened At The World’s Fair”

I know this is my big chance, as Ben and I reach for the stars. We write a song for Elvis to sing on top of the Space Needle in Seattle, called “Where Do You Want The World Delivered?”

Although Col. Parker, calls and tell Ben and Me, that Elvis loves the song, and we’re definitely going to be in the film, we’re knocked out at the last minute by a beautiful songwriter, who is on the set and has Elvis’ ear (among other things).

Ben and I continue for the next year and a half to work on Elvis movies. Writing for, “Kid Galahad”, “Fun In Acapulco”, and “Kissin’ Cousins”. Unfortunately, none of our songs are used, but I treasure the advance checks we would receive from Gladys Music, which had Elvis’ picture on them! I swear I’ll never cash them unless I really need the money, which is usually an hour or so after I have the check in my hand.

“It Happened At The World’s Fair” 1963 “Return to Sender”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z54-QHEZN6E

Singer/actor, Eddie Hodges, says, “Elvis was a quiet man when I met him. I had a very small role in his movie, “Live A Little, Love A Little,” but he was very kind to me. He didn’t mind when I had to do 5 or 6 takes of a very simple scene. He was at home on the movie set and very attentive. I guess I had expected him to be kind of wild and boisterous, but that was not the case. He ran lines with me, worked out a realistic way I was to knock him down in one scene and was friendly every day. He liked jokes and told some good ones. I was smoking a Dutch cigar one day and, when he asked about them, I gave a few to Elvis. The next day, there was a whole pack of those cigars on my chair on the set. We talked about karate and he showed me some moves – even had the prop man set up a brick for him to break. He liked my square-toed boots and asked me where I got them – I heard he bought a half-dozen pair like them in all available colors. We also talked about things we did back home in Mississippi, like squirrel hunting. His boys were around him all the time – I talked a lot with Charlie Hodge, Elvis was a great person, but kind of sad. I think he was getting a divorce from Priscilla about that time, and I felt sad for him. It was a memorable time. I never had any contact with Elvis after that. I could not help but be impressed with how down-to-earth and laid back he was.”

 

“Elvis, ‘68 Comeback Special! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tthEpLS69fo

“I visit Hollywood, for the first time , about a month after the Comeback Special airs, and meet the producer/director Steve Binder and musical director, Bones Howe (the 5th Dimension, the Turtles, the Association), at a screening. I congratulate Bones for being the first producer ever to get a production credit on an Elvis Presley record with, “I Can Dream”. Then Steve shared a couple of stories with me, that happened during the taping…I wanted to hear more but then the movie started.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lonK5kcWKKo&feature=related

“In The Ghetto”, Live 1970 performance…”In The Ghetto” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Ox1Tore9nw

Live Performance M-G-M Grand Hotel “Suspicious Minds” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SBmAPYkPeYU&feature=related

Live + Elvis and Pricilla Home Movies…”You Were Always On My Mind” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VI94AsuvUUA&feature=related

 

‘Live In Hawaii” Special… “My Way” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OlKJ-0bnxdA

“Even though Elvis has left the building…his spirit is alive in everyone who hears his music, sees his movies, or watch his videos!…”

Scott Shannon adds… “Elvis was more than just a performer, he impacted modern culture in so many ways, he changed the way people sang, dressed and behaved, both in America and around the world. To this day, you can go just about anywhere on this earth and say the one name: “Elvis”, and its pretty damn likely that you will get a response from someone.and probably even a smile!”

May you Rock In Perpetuity!
Elvis Presley 1/8/35 – 8/16/77

EXTRA! EXTRA! NOW YOU CAN BUY MY BOOK ,“I DID IT FOR A SONG” AT AMAZON or Barnes & Noble or from Smashwords

Special thanks to Scott Shannon, Eddie Hodges, Bobbi Cowan , Alan O’Day, and Steve Binder, for their contributions to this tribute.

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