My condolences to the family of B.B. King, who passed away last night at 89 years old. B.B. was a supremely talented singer and musician, and a wonderful person with a big heart. B.B. and Elvis had a great deal of respect for one another. I’d like to believe they are singing together in Heaven today.
Million Dollar Quartet:
On December 4, 1956, Carl Perkins, who had already had a hit with Blue Suede Shoes, was in Sun Studios for a recording session…
Sam Phillips, the owner of the studio who discovered Elvis, had brought in Jerry Lee Lewis, a talented but barely known singer and piano player. Johnny Cash stopped by, as did Elvis, with his girlfriend, Marilyn Evans, whom Elvis had met in Vegas where she was dancing in the chorus line at the Frontier. Elvis was now with RCA, but he loved Sun Records and Sun, and missed recording there. The four soon-to-be legendary stars launched into a jam session, and Jack Clement, an engineer with Sun, recorded it. A Memphis newspaper wrote an article about the session the next day and titled it “Million Dollar Quartet.” The article carried the below picture. The now famous version has Marilyn cropped out:
I was fortunate to have the opportunity attend the musical portrayal of this historic event with my friends, Kathy L Wheeler, Krysta Scott, her daughter Taylor, and my sister, Christi Perryman last Friday night at The Civic Center in Oklahoma City. (Coincidentally, I ran into my daughter, Lana Clary, and her friend, Sara Kitchell, at the play. Lana claims she told me months earlier that she was going, but I don’t believe her. I wouldn’t have forgotten something like that…would I?) 🙂
The show was phenomenal! It was much better than I expected, although I did expect to like it. Not only was it funny…Jerry Lee was quite a character…the music was incredible. I was blown away by the talent of the four actors; Jacob Rowley as Elvis, Gabe Bowling as Carl Perkins, Scott Moreau as Johnny Cash, and Colte Julian (a graduate of Oklahoma State University who grew up in Fletcher, Oklahoma) as Jerry Lee Lewis. Not only did they play their parts to near perfection, they did their own singing and actually played the instruments. It was amazing, seriously amazing. Bryan Langlitz as Sam Phillips did an excellent job as well.
Check out the trailer (this is not with the cast I saw. I believe it is the original New York cast):
As everyone who knows me probably knows, I do not like Elvis impersonators, but this was different. This was a young, talented actor portraying Elvis. And Jacob did a marvelous job. He didn’t sound ‘just like Elvis’ but his singing was great, and when he did a beautiful rendition of Peace in the Valley, he sounded similar to Elvis. One thing I will say, he had Elvis’ 50’s moves down. His dancing was adorable and so exciting to watch.
Colte as Jerry Lee was hilarious and supremely talented. The way he beat the hell out of the piano, kicked over his stool, and generally Jerry Lee’d it up, was one of the highlights of the show. Scott and Gabe, who played Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins respectively, were excellent as well. I had to laugh when Carl whined about Elvis stealing his song and people thinking “Blue Suede Shoes” was Elvis’ song. 🙂 I loved the glimpses into the realism of their history. For the female part, I believe for legal reasons of some kind, they used a character named Dyanne to represent Elvis’ girlfriend. The actress, Laura Obenauf, was talented as well and sang a few songs too, although I don’t believe Marilyn actually sang in the session.
The show provided a little snippet of how each of the four came to be with Sam Phillips, which I loved. The end was a dazzling, rocking, spectacular performance where the four actors donned glitzy jackets and sang and played their hearts out. By the end of the production, my sister and I were in tears. It was so much fun, so moving and so poignant at the same time. SPOILER ALERT: Toward the end, Sam grabs his camera and says he wants to get a picture of ‘his boys’ and tells them to gather around the piano. He said something to the effect of “This would be the first time and the last time these guys played together…I just wish they could have lived happier lives.” The actors were all in the pose of the original MDQ photo. The stage went dark and bright white camera flashes went off. Lights came back on and suspended above the stage was the actual famous MDQ photo while the original 1956 recording of them singing “Down by the Riverside” plays. They were all so young and talented and full of dreams. Elvis’ beautiful face held so much happiness and hope. It was very emotional.
Immediately when it was over, myself, my sister, my daughter and her friend all wanted to watch it again. It was that good. If you get a chance, do yourself a favor and go see the show. You won’t regret it.
Elvis was known for his giving heart and charitable work during his lifetime. Lisa Marie and Elvis Presley Enterprises have continued that tradition with their involvement in various charities. In 1984, The Elvis Charitable Foundation was formed. The EPCF created a scholarship fund for students majoring in the arts. The charity also contributes to one of Elvis’ favorite charities, Goodwill Homes, a Memphis facility that provides counseling and services for abused children and their families. The EPCF also assists numerous other charities, especially focusing on arts, education and children’s programs.
Learn more here, including how to donate:
**** My short story, End of Lonely Street will be on sale for 99 cents beginning Friday, May 29th****
On Elvis’ birthday this year, I released a Vintage Romance short story set in 1957, and of course, my heroine is an Elvis fan. 🙂 As a tribute to Elvis’ generosity, and in order to assist with this worthy cause, 10% of my proceeds for End of Lonely Street will go to the EPCF.
All Toby Lawson wants is to go to college to become a teacher and to be free of her alcoholic mother and some painful memories. But when her mother nearly burns the house down, Toby must put her dreams on hold and return home to care for her. The only time she isn’t lonely and miserable is when she’s listening to her heartthrob, Elvis Presley. His music takes her away and helps her escape from everything wrong in her life.
Noah Rivers has always loved Toby, but no matter what he says, she can‘t get past the fact that her drunken mother once kissed him. He soon realizes the true problem lies in Toby’s belief she’s not good enough for him and in her fear she will be just like her mother.
What will it take to prove to her that she deserves to be happy, and that he would give anything to be the man to make her dreams come true?