The Ryman Auditorium – Home of the Grand Ol’ Opry

So it came to pass that I performed on the stage where Elvis, Hank Williams and so many other greats had performed.

The crowd was not quite as large (just three) and not quite as ecstatic either, but none-the-less, I graced that stage.

Today’s Music to keep me AnSe in Isolation – Billy Lee Riley

I thought I’d delve back to Sun Records in the 1950s and get an infectious dose of Rockabilly to liven up my spirits.

This is where Elvis started and this is who he was sharing the studio with – Billy Lee Riley!

Take it away Billy!! You hep-cat you! Let’s Rock!!

 

Photography – Elvis Presley – Sun Studio – Memphis

Photography – Elvis Presley – Sun Studio – Memphis

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Old recording tape machine and disc cutter.

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Elvis’s guitar

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Marion Keister’s desk – where she first met Elvis. She recorded him and passed the tape to Sam Philips – telling him that he should listen.

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Inside the studio – they still use it to record.

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The roof is all up and down to create the baffles to get the right noise.

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Howlin’ Wolf – Sam Philips greatest discovery

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Outside the studio

 

The café across the road.

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Rock Music Genres – Rock ‘n’ Roll in the Fifties.

Rock Music Genres – Rock ‘n’ Roll in the Fifties.

Singer Elvis Presley performing on stage in Hollywood, California. June 22, 1956 Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, USA

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Rock ‘n’ Roll emerged as Rockabilly in the mid fifties. In some ways the advent of Rockabilly was the story of Elvis Presley but in reality he was the catalyst and catapult that sent the style stratospheric. The sound had been bubbling around for a few years just waiting for the right person and the right moment. Elvis hit the spot and brought it together. It probably would have coalesced without him but it wouldn’t have been the same.

Rockabilly was the merging of two quite separate styles – black R&B and white C&W. The imposed segregation of the southern States had created a separation of the musicians and styles. Both had developed in their own way to fulfil a need. Following the Second World War there was a change in mood. The country wanted good-time dance music. They’d had it during the war with the Swing Bands. The dance-halls had resounded to the bid-band style as the young people jitter-bugged and lindy-hopped. The black youth seemed particularly adept and the black GIs had certainly impressed the British girls during the war.

As with so many things there was a convergence from many different directions. Elvis happened to emerge as the focus.

There is much conjecture as to the first authentic Rock ‘n’ Roll recording. The fact is that there probably wasn’t one. The term ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll’ had been in use since the thirties in black slang where it was a euphuism for sex. It was used in a number of Black R&B records in the forties. Rockin’ was also used to denote something was really jumping.

The musical elements of Rock ‘n’ Roll were also coming together in a number of different styles simultaneously. As early as 1946 Arthur ‘Big Boy’ Crudup had recorded ‘That’s Alright’ and ‘So Glad You’re Mine’ as up-tempo electric Blues and Bill Monroe recorded his bluegrass version of ‘Blue Moon of Kentucky’. Louis Jordan was developing his electric Jump Blues band style with dance numbers like ‘Let the Good Times Roll’ in 1946 and the ‘Saturday Night at the Fish Fry’, with its chorus of ‘It was Rockin” in 1949. In 1947 Amos Milburn recorded ‘Down the Road Apiece’ and the following year ‘Chicken Shack Boogie’. Hank Williams, with his Honky-Tonk style, recorded ‘Move it on Over’ as early as 1947. The Jump-Blues experts had really begun to put the components together by 1947 when Roy Brown wrote and recorded ‘Good Rockin’ Tonight’. This was covered by Wynonie Harris who also recorded numbers like ‘All She Want To Do is Rock’ in 1949 in the new up-tempo Rock style. This was joined by Goree Carter who released ‘Rock Awhile’ and Jimmy Preston ‘Rock the Joint’. Before the fifties had even begun there was a whole plethora of ‘Rock’ songs coming from Boogie Woogie, Bluegrass, Honky Tonk, Blues and Jump Blues. But the earliest contender of all may well be Sister Rosetta Tharpe, with her electric guitar and the Gospel song ‘Rock me’ incredibly recorded in 1942!

The scene was set for the fifties with segregated audiences, radio stations and ‘Race’ records. It was ripe for a coming together.

Young white audiences were getting hip to the great sounds coming out of the black radio stations. They were digging the Jump Blues, Doo-Wop and Boogie Woogie they were hearing. Black kids and musicians were also tuning in to the white Country stations and liking what they were hearing. It only goes to show that you may segregate the bodies but you can’t segregate the minds.

In the fifties the Blues had electrified and taken on a heavy beat with Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf, Elmore James and co. In Louisiana the R&B sound had come together with Fats Domino and Clarence ‘Frogman’ Henry. In 1950 Fats Domino released ‘The Fat Man’. Hank Williams and Bob Wills were producing up-tempo Country Music.

In 1951 Jackie Brenston, with the Ike Turner Band, released what some say is the first Rock ‘n’ Roll record with ‘Rocket 88’. In 1954 Joe Turner released ‘Shake Rattle and Roll’. You could even make the case for Bill Haley being the first white Rock ‘n’ Roller. He released Rock songs like ‘Rocket 88’, ‘Rock the Joint’ and ‘Rockin’ Chair on the Moon’ in 1951 and 52.

The ingredients were all there. The audience was eager. The times were right. The kids were looking for excitement, something different to their parents. Even the films were reflecting the age of rebellion with James Dean and Marlon Brando. The TNT had been put together all that was needed was the match.

That’s where Elvis came in.

In 1953 he walked into Sun studios in Memphis and made a demo. That young Elvis had been exposed to it all and had absorbed it like a sponge. He was full to bursting. In 1954 Sam Philips put him with two trusted musicians in Scotty Moore on guitar and Bill Black on Bass. The result was a series of searing tracks that created Rockabilly. The trio had no drums but created a driving, fast sound that drew on the R&B and C&W songs that Elvis was familiar with. He breathed a life into them that transformed them into something more. ‘That’s Alright, Mama’, ‘So Glad You’re Mine’, ‘You’re a Heartbreaker’, ‘Shake Rattle & Roll’, ‘I forgot to Remember to Forget her’, ‘Let’s Play House’, ‘Hound-dog’, ‘Mystery Train,’ ‘I forgot to Remember to Forget’, ‘Blue Moon’, ‘Blue Moon of Kentucky’, ‘Good Rockin’ Tonight’, ‘Milkcow Blues’ and ‘I’m Left, You’re Right, She’s Gone’ formed the basis of his live act and most were recorded for Sun. They were joined with some crooning ballads like ‘I Love You Because’ and the legend was off the ground.

Elvis was not only a great singer but also a brilliant performer. Elvis had the style that fashioned a revolution with his greased back long hair, long sideburns, duck-tail, contrasting bright jackets, shirts and ties, tight trousers, and smouldering looks – he had animal magic and charisma. He was incredibly good looking and moved his body sensuously in a way that nobody had seen. It was a mixture of dancing, posing, acting and raw sex with the fluidity of a large cat. It drove the girls crazy. He was called ‘Elvis the Pelvis’ because of his sexual gyrations. He also drove the parents and establishment into paroxysms of shock. Elvis was bringing the sexual vulgarity of black R&B into the white sitting room. The effect on their daughters was all too obvious. They were appalled. He was promptly banned.

However, the genie couldn’t be put back in the bottle. There was too much money to be made.

Every record label in the land was hunting for its own Elvis and the doors were even opened for the Black Performers.

From Sun Studios we got Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison, Billy Lee Riley, Sonny Burgess and Johnny Cash. From Chess in Chicago we had Bo Diddley and Chuck Berry. From New Orleans Fats Domino and Little Richard. From Texas Buddy Holly. Then there was Eddie Cochran, Ray Charles, Gene Vincent, The Everly Brothers, Wanda Jackson, and Dale Hawkins. It was like they all emerged ready-made. They exploded into the charts and a new age was born.

Allan Freed coined the term ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll on his ‘Moondog – Rock ‘n’ Roll’ Show. He championed R&B, Doo-Wop and Rock ‘n’ Roll. Was among the first to play it and organised the first Rock ‘n’ Roll concerts.

Elvis moved from Sun to RCA and took Colonel Tom Parker as his manager. For a couple of years we had the new Rock ‘n’ Roll complete with drums. The trio was ditched, the Jordinaires were used as vocal backing and then Elvis was eased over into a series of mediocre films and conscripted into the army. He had his hair and sideburns shaved and Lennon remarked that they cut his balls off with it.

By 1960 Rock ‘n’ Roll was through. The establishment had been horrified and quick to act. They thought it had a bad effect on the morality of youth and created delinquents. The authorities effectively shut it down using the ‘Payola’ scandal as an excuse. Radios were no longer allowed to play it. The TV stations moved over to the new ‘clean-cut’ boy next door, nicely presented in suits with trimmed hair Philadelphia Pop-Rock of Fabian, Bobby Vee, Bobby Darin and Bobby Rydell.

Chuck Berry was in prison. Elvis was in the army. Little Richard had discovered religion. Buddy Holly and Eddie Cochran were dead. Gene Vincent was badly injured. Jerry Lee Lewis was banned and ostracised because of his marriage to his thirteen year old cousin. Fats Domino had his records covered on the day of release by the clean-cut Pat Boone.

The energy and revolution petered out. Rock ‘n’ Roll was dead.

I visited Memphis and went to Sun Studios. It hadn’t changed. The ceiling was still up and down. They still had the old microphones. I stood on the very spot where Elvis had recorded ‘That’s Alright Mama’, all those years before. You could sense the energy and history.

It was incredibly nostalgic. My greatest regret is that Elvis didn’t have the self-confidence to reject Colonel Parker and the money, to turn his back on the films, and to stand up as a real angry James Dean rebel and stay with his music and his original trio. He rolled over. He watered his music down, tamed his act and became a parody of himself. He should have stayed true.

I wonder if Rock would have died?

Elvis Presley Found Murdered!! Who Killed Elvis??

Who Killed Elvis??

The lifeless corpse of Elvis Presley has been discovered! Police are certain of foul play!

Someone has  killed Elvis!!

So far there are four prime suspects for the murder:

  1. His manager Tom Parker
  2. The Memphis Mafia
  3. His Young Girl Fans
  4. The Army

Police are investigating the trail seeking to establish the last time that Elvis was seen alive. They have studied all the evidence in depth.

The Hillbilly Cat was certainly seen present in all his majesty as he bumped, shook and grinded his way through the Milton Berle, Steve Allen and Ed Sullivan shows. He was far from dead. From 1955 to 1958 the Memphis Flash shook up the hormones of young girls with his dynamite act, rockin’ up R&B, shakin’ his greased back hair so it hung over his eyes, flaunting his ducktail, pompadour and long sideburns like the greased up peacock he was, with his flash contrasting jackets, shirts and ties, in vivid pink, white and black, his baggy trousers, gyrating hips, rising up on the balls of his feet like a wild animal on heat, with smouldering eyes and trembling lip. The King of Western Bop was rockin’ up a storm, creating Rockabilly, unleashing a teen revolution and outraging the staid bastions of society.

Back then Elvis stalked the stage like an untamed and highly dangerous beast straight out of the darkest jungle. The sex oozed off him, hung in the air like a funky smog and drove the girls crazy. The look of the feral cat was right out of the black bordellos of New Orleans. The sound the trio made was equally wild. Elvis was alive like no other. The original King of Rockabilly was a phenomenon. The energy poured out of him like an exploding volcano.

But society wanted him dead. He’d been murdered. So who killed him?

1958 was the last time that primal force was seen alive.

It was over. Elvis had left the building. The Hillbilly Cat had been murdered. In his place a glitzy, rhinestone clad Pop Star had replaced that primitive smouldering feral feline. The imposter was tidied up, spangled and neutered. Elvis was dead.

So when had this murder taken place?

The obvious culprit was the Army. Detectives sieved through the full documentary of his induction. They watched closely as the bright glad- rags were peeled off the lithe torso to be replaced with drab khaki as the strutting cock was transformed into a dowdy hen. They studied the footage carefully to see if the barber’s electric shears that snipped off his long greasy locks and docked that ducktail had not slipped to his groin to intentionally relieve him of the source of his sexuality. But there were no balls left among the piles of hair on that floor. Elvis was diminished but still intact. As they led him away for two years of regimentation perhaps it was the routine and drabness that killed the spirit in him? Robbed him of his unique animalism? Had the army killed Elvis?

But no, studying the footage carefully the detectives identified that the murder had started before. There had been a slow poisoning that had already begun to erode the beast before those shears had begun to do their work. This was no sudden act of passion. This was a gradual process. Someone had deliberately dosed that cat, put arsenic in the cream.

Attention turned to the Colonel – Tom Parker – the carnival clown, the spiv who thought only in dollars. With his short-term thinking, film contracts and ‘grab the money and run’ attitude, he wanted the Hillbilly Cat dead. He wasn’t interested in Rockabilly or the uniqueness of the Memphis Flash. He wasn’t interested in any Southern Bop. He knew that controversy restricted the audience. He wanted something tame and mainstream. Elvis was the cash cow. He could settle for the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll done up in a showbiz gold lame suit and barber shop square crooners augmenting the backing with pseudo doo-wop – as if the Jordinaires were ever hip? Was he the murderer? Had he tamed that beast?

But on second viewing of those early shows they could see that the seeds were there before the Colonel had even begun to do his worst. Those first shows were instinctive and natural and the reaction was hysterical and took Elvis by surprise. But then he began reacting to it. He’d play for the screams, orchestrating the moves and exaggerating them for effect. What had been instinctive was now conscious and a parody of what had gone before. He’d become an act. Had those young girls killed Elvis? Had those screams made him self-conscious and divorced him from his primitive inner core? Had it become too easy to excite? Had they made him a parody of himself?

Or was it the Memphis Mafia? That group of his Memphis friends that he had grown up with, who’d know him before he’d made it? The only ones he could trust now everybody wanted a bit of him? He knew they were genuine because they’d liked him for who he was and not for who he’d become? Not for his money. They knew Elvis and did not see dollar signs when they looked at him. They saw the man they had known before the machine took him over. Or did they? Everything had changed. Elvis was now rich beyond belief. Perhaps they did only see dollar signs? Perhaps they were now out for what they could get? Perhaps they, like the Colonel, were busy milking the cash cow that was Elvis? Did they really understand? Did they steer him to safer waters and way from the white-water rapids that had spawned him? Regardless of anything they isolated him. He was locked into a small closed circle, separate from the world. They walled him off. No longer was he free to head off to the black part of town, to sneak in to watch those dynamic black acts that had lit his fire and inspired him. Now he was a prisoner divorced from the seminal energy that had fanned his flames. The Memphis Mafia were all that he had now and they weren’t the brightest stars in the heavens. Had they starved him of oxygen? Had they killed Elvis?

Elvis was dead in 1958. What was seen from then was nothing more than a puppet, a zombie going through the motions. The original spark of creative genius, atavistic energy and primitive sexuality had been doused.

The detectives studied the later footage; the crass films, the trite pop, the lurid showbiz costumes, big ballads and orchestrated extravaganzas, even the staged and highly rated come back,

and saw that Elvis had been murdered. This puppet masquerading, larger than life, with the massive spectacle of performance was an empty shell, a caricature, a comic book construction. Elvis was dead long before.

By the time 1977 found him slumped in the toilet he’d been rotting for nearly twenty years. They buried the corpse but the killing had taken place many years before and the killers were never brought to justice.

5 Greatest Elvis Presley Songs

  1. You’re a Heartbreaker – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gytmjlWOUAk
  2. Good Rockin’ Tonight – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6FeWJHUB8aU
  3. I’m Left, You’re Right, She’s Gone – https://www.google.co.uk/?gws_rd=ssl#q=youtube+elvis+presley+i+left+you+re+right+she+gone&spf=1497897790521
  4. Baby Let’s Play House – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Arm16wyUdI
  5. That’s Alright Mama – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NmopYuF4BzY

In the UK:https://read.amazon.co.uk/kp/card?preview=inline&linkCode=kpd&ref_=k4w_oembed_iElmdLlS8tkXQL&asin=B00TQ1E9ZG&tag=kpembed-20

In the USA: https://www.amazon.com/Search-Captain-Beefheart-Opher-Goodwin-ebook/dp/B00O4CLKYU/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1497866057&sr=1-1&keywords=opher+goodwin+in+search+of

Elvis Presley Quotes – A man trapped by his own success.

I was surprised when looking around Graceland to have a glimpse of a man with more intelligence than I had assumed. I think Elvis’s problem was that he was directed by Tom Parker into unsatisfying, but profitable, enterprises. He did not know who to trust and so surrounded himself with a bunch of people who knew him from before he was famous – on the premise that they liked him and not his money. Unfortunately they tended to be not the brightest or most interesting of characters. I think he could have d4eveloped a lot more than he did. He was stuck in an isolated rut.

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Truth is like the sun. You can shut it out for a time, but it ain’t goin’ away.
The truth is always there and will bite you on the bum.
The image is one thing and the human being is another. It’s very hard to live up to an image, put it that way.
I’m not sure we managed to see too much of the real man. Elvis had left the building. What we had was the image.
I don’t know anything about music. In my line you don’t have to.
That’s a joke. I saw the way he ran the studio. He knew exactly what he wanted. It was only during those dreadful film days when he wasn’t in control that he sidelined himself.
A live concert to me is exciting because of all the electricity that is generated in the crowd and on stage. It’s my favorite part of the business, live concerts.
I’m glad he rediscovered that. Though the glitzy cabaret act he developed was a million miles away from the creative excitement of those early two years. That was the real Elvis for me.
Rock and roll music, if you like it, if you feel it, you can’t help but move to it. That’s what happens to me. I can’t help it.’
It certainly rocked my world.
People ask me where I got my singing style. I didn’t copy my style from anybody.
He was unique.
Rhythm is something you either have or don’t have, but when you have it, you have it all over.
I guess I don’t have it all over but it still shook me.

Photography – Elvis Presley – Sun Studio – Memphis

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Old recording tape machine and disc cutter.

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Elvis’s guitar

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Marion Keister’s desk – where she first met Elvis. She recorded him and passed the tape to Sam Philips – telling him that he should listen.

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Inside the studio – they still use it to record.

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The roof is all up and down to create the baffles to get the right noise.

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Howlin’ Wolf – Sam Philips greatest discovery

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Outside the studio

 

The café across the road.

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Photography – Elvis Statue on Beale Street – Memphis

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Beale Street was where it all happened – Blues R&B and Rockabilly. It was the Black part of Town. Most of it has been pulled down and redone. It was a very dangerous area with prostitutes, gambling, dancing, gangsters, drugs and lots of knifings and shootings. Life was cheap. But it was the place to hang out where the music was hot, there was wild dancing and plenty of booze.

It’s a bit of a tourist trap now and has been cleaned up. But there is still a lot of loud music and booze and I’m sure you could get yourself shot if you tried.

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This is the Elvis I love – the Hillbilly Cat. ADSC_0280 ADSC_0281 I don’t go for that later period with the glitzy rhinestone. I think he rapidly became a parody of himself.