Today at Graceland:
Ronnie Milsap in concert
7:00 pm. Graceland Soundstage, Elvis Presley’s Memphis.
Tickets: $99.50 – $25.00.
Six-time GRAMMY Award winning singer Ronnie Milsap will perform a concert at the Soundstage at Graceland on the evening of Tuesday, August 13. As one of the most successful country music artists of all time and a Country Music Hall of Fame inductee, Ronnie is a 12-time ACM and CMA winner, has sold over 30 million albums and has had 40 #1 hits. Ronnie also has a special connection to Elvis, which makes this Elvis Week appearance an exciting addition. As a session player for Chips Moman at American Sound, Ronnie played on Elvis’ “Kentucky Rain” and sang harmony on “Don’t Cry Daddy.” In addition, Ronnie performed for two of Elvis’ New Year’s Eve parties and would later go on to record “Smokey Mountain Rain,” where he paid tribute to “Kentucky Rain” by incorporating the same sound of thunder that Elvis used. Ronnie is a known as a great storyteller, so concert goers will likely be treated to some wonderful first-hand stories of his time with Elvis in addition to a night of incredible music.
Milsap, now 76 years old, has been blind since birth.
“That session with Elvis for ‘Kentucky Rain’ came about because there was no one else there to play piano. It came about because there was nobody else there at American Studios that night to do it. Chips Moman who was running that studio and producing the Elvis sessions said, ‘Ronnie Milsap’s here in the building, bring him in’. He introduced me to Elvis. ‘Elvis, this is Ronnie Milsap’. And that was about it. I played on that record and sang on that record, too. I played grand piano on ‘Kentucky Rain’ while Elvis was cutting his vocal live. It was just incredible.
“I got to play a New Year’s Eve party when ’70 turned ’71. That was at TJ’s in Memphis, down in midtown in Memphis. He leased the whole club. I’d been playing there six nights a week ’til the crack of dawn. Elvis wanted to pick a place where the band was already in place and they could do the job. So he wanted to come hang out down at TJ’s. I said, ‘Elvis, I know you’re probably gonna say no but I know every song you’ve ever recorded. Any possibility you might come up and sing one tonight? Tell me if you wanna sing ‘Wear My Ring Around Your Neck’ or ‘One Night With You’. I know them all’. He said, ‘Ronnie, I would prefer to just hang out here with my friends’. I said, ‘Okay, I understand that but I had to ask you’. We spoke about the records I played and sang on and he loved all of that. He appreciated that I was on the records with him. But he had such history working in the studio it was just fun to be around him. I found out that he had people around him all of the time. If he was getting to walk somewhere there was a person in front and person in back of him and a person on each side of him. I said, ‘Why is all of that?’ And they said, ‘Well, Elvis usually gets hit up in the bathroom. He’ll go in the bathroom and somebody will come up and say, ‘My mama needs hip surgery and I don’t know what we’re gonna do’ and Elvis would just whip out his check book and write ’em a check for whatever that would cost’.”
Ronnie Milsap from an August 2009 interview
Milsap and his granddaughter Kye Leigh
“Here’s something incredible. When Elvis passed in 1977 I heard that on his turntable was a copy of my album called ‘It Was Almost Like A Song by Ronnie Milsap’. That was on his turntable so he knew what I was doing.”
In July 1977, “It Was Almost Like a Song” was Milsap’s eighth #1 song on the Billboard magazine Hot Country Songs chart. The song also became his first Billboard Hot 100 chart entry, peaking at # 16.
UPDATE: From Milsap’s concert…