Elvis and his PJ’s

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This week was Elvis’ 85th birthday. The birthday week, while celebrated, is nothing like the long list of events held in August commemorating the King’s death.

On Elvis’ birthday there’s always a ceremony at Graceland with a cake cutting. This year Jerry Schilling appeared for the very first time.

Schilling was a friend o Elvis at a very young age and remained until Elvis’ death.

Other than Priscilla Presley, there is no closer, more better, more supportive, more dependable, more accurate source about Elvis. I’ve read his stuff. It’s tremendous if you’re an Elvis fan.

Here’s a segment from this week’s birthday celebration that, if you continue to watch, also includes Priscilla, and PJ’s.

Vegas revived Elvis (and Liberace helped, too)

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Happy Birthday Elvis! He would have been 85 today as you read in the above proclamation.

Very early in his career Elvis went to Vegas…and flopped.

Of all people, Elvis got advice from…

While those 1956 Vegas performances were taking place Elvis cemented his blockbuster fame. And remember when a certain movie with a certain co-star came out?

The password is “CHEMISTRY” –  the complex emotional or psychological interaction between two people.

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And then as the 60’s turned into the 70’s, Elvis owned Las Vegas. As my mother once said, “He could sing so pretty.”

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Friday Night Forgotten Oldie: “The Wonderful World of Christmas”

Been listening to Christmas music on the radio, have you?

No doubt you’ve heard some perennial favorites like:

 

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And, of course…

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This album was released in 1957.

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Elvis was controversial back then and so was this LP.

One of his backup singers in the Jordanaires told the King he couldn’t be doing Christmas songs that way. Elvis’ response? “You let me worry about that.”

“Elvis has prepared a surprise package for the nation that is likely to be the most serious menace to Christmas since ‘I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus.'”
TIME magazine

Variety reported that KEX radio in Portland program manager Mel Bailey  “had forbidden all KEX jockeys to play the RCA Victor platter because he felt that this treatment of the song is in ‘extremely bad taste.” The station’s all-night disk jockey, Al Priddy, was fired for intentionally playing Elvis’s recording of “White Christmas” on the air in violation of station policy.

Radio station CKXL in Calgary also banned Elvis’s album. “Presley’s latest release has, we feel, no place on our station,” said a CKXL spokesman. “We have the album for audition—it speaks for itself. Presley sings the Christmas songs exactly as we expected he would. It is one of the most degrading things we have heard in some time.”

So much for the critics. The album has sold 20 million copies.

Elvis’ second and final Christmas album released during his lifetime…

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The original album reached number one on Billboard’s Christmas/Holiday albums chart and sold more than three million copies, certified triple platinum by the RIAA.

Enjoy the title track.

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It’s ELVIS WEEK: The final day

Today at Graceland:

James Burton: celebrating 80 years of his life and music

11:00 am. Guest House Theater, The Guest House at Graceland.
Tickets: $35.

Legendary guitarist and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer James Burton will be celebrating his 80th birthday in August. Join us for a very special event to close out Elvis Week on August 18 that celebrates James’ life and legacy of music at the Guest House Theater. This retrospective event, hosted by musician Andy Childs, will feature music and storytelling as James talks about his life and storied career of working with everyone from Elvis, Johnny Cash, the Everly Brothers, Ricky Nelson, John Denver, Merle Haggard-to Joni Mitchell, Roy Orbison, and Elvis Costello.

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“He told me a thousand times, if this gets to be work, we’re not going to do it anymore. He said this is about fun. And when we walked on stage, it didn’t matter how long the show was, we’d just cut up with each other and have a good time. The songs were great, but it was all about enjoying ourselves and entertaining folks. Whatever Elvis did onstage was OK with them.”
James Burton

Last week the Memphis newspaper published a story about the undying popularity of Elvis

42 years after his death, Elvis’ impact still felt by fans: ‘He really changed my life’

 

It’s ELVIS WEEK: James Burton

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Today at Graceland:

Elvis in Vegas Panel

10:00 am. Graceland Soundstage, Elvis Presley’s Memphis.
Tickets: $25.

Hear stories and memories from those who shared the stage with Elvis, starting with his 1969 return to the live performances through the 1970s. Hosted by Tom Brown, confirmed guests include TCB Band members James Burton, Ronnie Tutt and Glen Hardin, Elvis historian Ernst Jorgensen and John Jackson of Sony/Legacy Recordings, Estelle Brown of The Sweet Inspirations, plus original members of The Imperials Terry Blackwood and Jim Murray.

About one of today’s guests, James Burton:

On March 19, 2001, the guitarist was finally inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He was inducted into the side-man category.

Back in the early days of rock and roll Burton received a telegram inviting him to
appear on the “Ozzie and Harriet” TV show. Burton accepted and performed with Ozzie and Harriet Nelson’s son, Ricky.

Fast forward to 1968. Burton got a call from Elvis to be on his Comeback television special. However Burton was working with Frank Sinatra and was unavailable. Elvis told Burton how he always watched the Ozzie and Harriet show just to see him play.

Elvis called Burton back in 1969, he asked him to put together a band for Elvis’ Las Vegas shows. This time Burton said yes. At the time Burton had decided against touring with Bob Dylan. Burton would remain with Elvis until Elvis died in 1977.

On  January 14, 1973, and Elvis concert that took place at the Honolulu International Center in Honolulu was broadcast live via satellite and aired in over 40 countries across Asia and Europe. Jerry Schilling, Elvis’ boyhood friend and confidante said Elvis trained his guts out for this worldwide broadcast and live recording, like a prize fighter. He swam every day and worked out so he could look his very best.

Two days before the broadcast Elvis did a rehearsal concert that was also taped and recorded. This one features Burton whose distinct style has always been using a straight pick and a fingerpick on his middle finger.

It’s ELVIS WEEK: The King wins back Vegas

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Today at Graceland:

1969 50th Anniversary Concert-Elvis Returns to Vegas

7:00 pm. Graceland Soundstage, Elvis Presley’s Memphis.
Tickets: $70, $60, $50.

Celebrate the 50th anniversary of Elvis’ triumphant return to the stage at the International Hotel in Las Vegas with a celebration concert featuring those who shared the stage with Elvis that evening. The concert will feature Elvis live in concert on the big screen, with performances by Elvis’ TCB Band – James Burton, Ronnie Tutt, and Glen Hardin – along with original members of The Imperials Terry Blackwood and Jim Murray, and Estelle Brown of The Sweet Inspirations.

Last week the Washington Post published an article about Elvis’ return to Vegas in 1969.

Elvis was terrified. The contracts had been signed, the audience was packed with celebrities — Cary Grant, Ann-Margret, Sammy Davis Jr. — and billionaire Kirk Kerkorian had flown in a slew of critics on his private jet.

Backstage at Kerkorian’s International Hotel in Las Vegas, Elvis Presley told guitarist James Burton, who had put together the backing band for the singer’s return to the stage, that he couldn’t perform.

“He hadn’t been onstage in nine years,” says Burton, 79. “He said, ‘James, I don’t know if I can go out there. I don’t know if I can walk out there and do this, man.’ I said, ‘Sure you can. Just walk out there and don’t even pay attention to the audience. Just sing to us, man. Make it like a jam session in the Jungle Room at Graceland.’ ”

Elvis, who was 34, would take the stage that last day of July 1969, and his 57-show run at the International would punctuate his comeback…

Read the entire article here.

 

It’s ELVIS WEEK: The King and the Law, and candles

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If Elvis were alive today, and still lived at Graceland, and had ONE yard sign in front of the mansion, I’ve got to believe it would be this one.

Today at Graceland:

Conversations on Elvis Panel

10:00 am. Graceland Soundstage, Elvis Presley’s Memphis.
Tickets: $30.

Hear personal stories and favorite memories from Elvis’ friends and family. Hosted by Tom Brown, this will be a celebration of Elvis’ legacy from those who knew him best. Guests include Bill Morris, former Shelby County Mayor and Sheriff who was friends with Elvis; Pat West, who served as Elvis’ secretary at Graceland; and Bonya McGarrity, who was Elvis’ secretary at Graceland in the early 1960s.

Read the article and watch the video in the article from FOX News:

Elvis Presley’s pal recalls last time he saw The King he ‘looked so bad’: ‘Everybody had tears in their eyes’

“He was absolutely a strong supporter of law enforcement.”

Also, tonight at Graceland:

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Candlelight Vigil
8:30 pm. Gates of Graceland.

After an opening ceremony at the Gates of Graceland, fans are invited to walk up the driveway to Elvis’ gravesite and back down carrying a candle in quiet remembrance. Gates remain open until all who wish to participate in the procession have done so, which typically takes until the early morning hours of August 16, the anniversary of Elvis’ passing. The Candlelight Vigil will be open for all to attend. No special passes or wristbands are required to participate in the Candlelight Vigil. All guests will be required to pass through security checkpoint. Can’t be in Memphis for the vigil? Watch it live on our Graceland Livestream page.

 

 

 

It’s ELVIS WEEK: Do you believe it?

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Today at Graceland:

American Sound 50th Anniversary Celebration Event

7:00 pm. Graceland Soundstage, Elvis Presley’s Memphis.
Tickets: $65, $55, $45.

Enjoy an incredible night of music as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Elvis’ legendary recording sessions at Memphis’ American Sound Studio. Join Memphis Boys Bobby Wood and Gene Chrisman, who were members of the legendary house band at the American Sound Studio, along with special guests the Holladay Sisters, who sang back-up during the sessions; plus lead vocalists Andy Childs and Terry Mike Jeffrey; and musician BJ Thomas; for a special concert event featuring music from Elvis’ time at American Sound.

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Founded in 1964 by Chips Moman and Don Crews, American Studios became one of Memphis’s most famous recording studios. Above, Moman presents a Gold Record to B.J. Thomas.

“…he (Elvis) made some beautiful records, I don’t think he ever mis-recorded anything or made anything that was really bad.”
B.J. Thomas

In June of 1970 Thomas released “I Just Can’t Help Believin'” and it moved up the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at #9. That same summer Elvis performed it at The International Hotel in Las Vegas. The video was captured for the documentary “That’s The Way It Is.” Country Today wrote Elvis’ version, recorded on August 11, 1970, “is considered as one of his best. The orchestra and vocals were both almost perfect.”

It’s ELVIS WEEK: It Was Almost Like A Song

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Today at Graceland:

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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

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Milsap and his granddaughter Kye Leigh

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Lorrie Morgan

“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.”
Milsap

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…

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It’s ELVIS WEEK: Not one but two Elvis Presleys?

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Today at Graceland:

Elvis Presley memorial trauma center fan reception

10:00 am. Elvis Presley Memorial Trauma Center at Regional One Health, 877 Jefferson Avenue, Memphis. Free.

Celebrate at the annual Elvis Presley Fan Reception at the Elvis Presley Memorial Trauma Center in Memphis. Light refreshments will be served and tours of the trauma center will be conducted.

The Elvis Presley Trauma Center is designated as a Level 1 Trauma Center in the states of Tennessee, Mississippi and Arkansas. Level 1 designation means there is a multidisciplinary team of highly trained specialists in the center 24/7, waiting for you to arrive in need of medical attention.

Over the last two decades, the Center’s team of surgeons, anesthesiologists, trauma nurse practitioners, certified registered nurse anesthetists, nurses, respiratory therapists, orderlies, x-ray techs, lab techs and medical students have treated nearly 100,000 trauma patients. Regional Medical Center is home to the only Level 1 Trauma Center within 150 miles. The facility includes four shock trauma bays for initial assessment, 13 critical care assessment rooms, four dedicated operating rooms, a two-bed recovery room, 23-bed trauma intensive care unit, 12-bed trauma step-down unit, and 26-bed post-trauma unit.

The featured speaker at today’s event is Elvis’ “Kissin’ Cousins” co-star Cynthia Pepper.

About that movie, one of Elvis’ co-stars was the yummy Yvonne Craig.

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Craig was in two Elvis movies, but is probably best remembered for her role as…

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Craig died on August 17, 2015.

In “Kissin’ Cousins” Elvis plays an Army officer who learns he has a lookalike cousin in the Smoky Mountains. (The film’s screenplay was nominated for a Writers’ Guild Award as the Best Written Musical of 1964. It lost, and rightfully so, to the year’s biggest box office hit, Walt Disney’s Mary Poppins.)

We mentioned Cynthia Pepper. She’s on the far left.

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Elvis Presley, Elvis Presley, Kissin' Cousins.

From 2017…

The “Kissin’ Cousins” soundtrack album went gold and peaked at #6 on the Billboard Album chart.