Tag Archives: In the Ghetto

Ramblings of a Lifelong Elvis Fan – Part 62 – Elvis and Colonel Tom Parker

A little over 60 years ago, in August of 1955, Elvis signed a contract with manager, Colonel Tom Parker. The Colonel negotiated a deal with RCA for Elvis’ Sun contract for an unprecedented $40,000, $5,000 of which was a bonus for back royalties owed by Sun Records (Elvis was 20, and officially a minor, so his father had to sign the contract).

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Over the years, many differing accounts regarding their relationship have surfaced. From what I can gather, based on snatches I’ve heard from sources that should be reliable, Colonel Parker was both beneficial and detrimental to Elvis’ career.

No one can argue that Elvis rose to mega superstardom never seen before or since. But how much of that had to do with the Colonel and how much was solely due to Elvis’ phenomenal talent and charisma? It appears the Colonel was more concerned with money than what was good for Elvis. While Elvis received 50% of the profits rather than a per picture fee, he was also more or less forced to star in movies that were considered laughable by some (although I personally enjoyed them immensely), rather than serious movies he could be proud of. As most know, the only movie Elvis made that he liked was King Creole. He wanted to follow in the footsteps of James Dean and Marlon Brando, but supposedly, the Colonel held him back from that. Robert Mitchum wanted Elvis to play in ‘Thunder Road’ but the Colonel refused to allow it.

Other notable Elvis/Colonel facts…

  • By the end of Elvis’ career, the Colonel was taking 50% of Elvis’ earnings, rather than the standard 10% for managers.
  • The Colonel never served in the military, but was given the ‘title’ by a pal. And, while Elvis never learned this, the Colonel’s true name was Andreas Cornelis Van Kujik and he was born in Breda, Holland and in the U.S. illegally. Elvis would have loved to tour overseas, but he was never able to because the Colonel feared deportation.
  • Scotty Moore, who was Elvis’ first manager and his original guitarist tells of a time early in Elvis’ career, before he made it big, when Elvis promised Scotty and Bill Black 50% of his earnings. Scotty told him that was way too much. He said Elvis would make it big and he shouldn’t offer such a high percentage. Scotty told Elvis that, if he wanted to, he could just give them 1%. Elvis agreed, but Parker took over his career and shut Scotty and Bill out of the earnings. Scotty did approach Elvis about it, but the Colonel had so much control over Elvis, he was more or less helpless. Obviously, Elvis was known for his kind heart and generosity, so he most definitely well-compensated those who worked for him. But as far as any contractual agreements, those were all controlled by Parker.

More Elvis Presley photos+ 10,000+ more pictures www.morethings.com/photo_gallery_index.htm

This is a rare and fascinating interview by Ted Koppel with Colonel Parker:

http://coloneltomparker.elvis.com.au/interview_colonel_tom_parker_1987.html

He starts out by saying he had little to do with Elvis’ success, but by the end, he is definitely giving himself a great deal of the credit. He also states that no one told Elvis what to do, but then admits to turning down a script that the producer said could almost guarantee Elvis an Academy Award because they couldn’t pay them what they wanted. I’d say that is a pretty damning admission. No doubt in my mind, the Colonel held Elvis back from doing the serious acting he desired.

I feel that the Colonel was a crafty manager and knew how to make a buck, but I don’t believe that he was the best choice for Elvis, and that Elvis could have done what he did, and perhaps exceeded that and at least had an opportunity to pursue his dream of becoming a serious actor, with someone else managing him. What do you think?

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EOLS Charity

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:

http://www.graceland.com/epcf/

END OF LONELY STREET – Now Only 99 Cents!

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.

EndofLonelyStreet_w9180_FINAL

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?

Click Here for Kindle

Click Here for Nook

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Ramblings of a Lifelong Elvis Fan – Part 61 – Elvis the Lonely

It’s difficult to understand why, but in spite of Elvis’ fame and the hordes of people who were almost always around him, he was actually very lonely. I think maybe that’s one of the reasons he surrounded himself with so many people, to fight that loneliness. I remember reading this story a while back, from a member of his entourage although I don’t recall which one, (this is the way the story was relayed):

“Elvis had been ill with a cold and he was in the music room playing gospel songs on the piano. I walked into the room and said, ‘How are you feeling, Elvis?’

‘Alone,” said the king.’

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Many people who knew him have told similar stories. Longtime girlfriend Linda Thompson said Elvis told her that he was intensely lonely on the inside.

From friend, hairdresser and confidante, Larry Geller (taken from this website:  http://elvispresleybiography.net/index.html)

“Elvis sat in silence for a moment with his eyes fixed on the ground, then looked up at me. ‘No one knows, Larry. No one knows, an’ it might surprise you just how God-awful lonely I get, how empty my life feels sometimes.'”

When I first heard Elvis sing ‘I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry’ back in 1973 during the Aloha from Hawaii concert, and he began with, “I’d like to sing a song that’s probably the saddest song I’ve ever heard” it had a huge impact on me. He’d done Don’t Cry Daddy, In the Ghetto, Long Black Limousine, Mama Liked the Roses, and no doubt heard countless sad songs in his life, yet a song about loneliness was ‘probably one of the saddest’ to him.

Watch the clip and listen to the haunting sadness in his voice. 😦 (Pay special attention to what he does at around :46 seconds. I must apologize in advance for the sexiness he throws in there. The man couldn’t do anything, even be lonely and sad, without also being extremely hot and sexy 🙂 )

Here, I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry is sung by Hank Williams, Sr, who wrote it (and was one of the saddest men I’ve ever heard of.) This song was my dad’s favorite, so it makes me a little sad to listen to it, but it’s sort of a good kind of sad, because it reminds me of my daddy. 🙂

Two legends, two men who had so much talent and such a bright future, but were extremely lonely souls who died too young.

I’ve been alone a lot in my life. I live alone, and I spend a great deal of time by myself. But, I can honestly say, I never feel ‘lonely.’ There is a huge difference between being alone and loneliness. So sad that someone like Elvis had to experience it so intensely.

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I have to wonder if Elvis feeling lonesome had something to do with his stillborn twin, Jesse Garon. Elvis always felt a part of him was missing, and he wondered what his purpose in life was, why he lived when his brother didn’t, and why fame came to him of all people. Most likely, it also stemmed from losing his mother, at a fairly young age, just when he was making it big.

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What do you think? Any ideas about what contributed to his loneliness?

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EOLS Charity

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:

http://www.graceland.com/epcf/

END OF LONELY STREET – Now Only 99 Cents!

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.

EndofLonelyStreet_w9180_FINAL

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?

Click Here for Kindle

Click Here for Nook

3 Comments

Filed under Elvis Presley, Entertainment

Ramblings of a Lifelong Elvis Fan – Part 60 – The Stories Behind the Songs

Listening to Sirius XM Elvis radio, I am privy to all kinds of heretofore unknown tidbits, many times, straight from the mouths of those who were there. I’ve heard a lot of interesting facts about songs Elvis performed, and I’d like to share some of those with you…

In the Ghetto (Written by Mac Davis, recorded by Elvis in 1969)

This was a huge hit for Elvis. Elvis added the last line himself, where he repeats: “And his momma cries”

Mac Davis on how the song came to be:

“I grew up in Lubbock, Texas, and it was a ghetto in every since of the word, but we didn’t use that word back then. I was trying to come up with a song called ‘The Vicious Circle,’ how a child is born, he has no father, and the same thing happens. The word ‘Ghetto’ became popular in the late ’60s to describe the poor parts of town. A friend of mine, Freddy Weller, who used to play guitar for Paul Revere And The Raiders, showed me lick on the guitar one day. I went home and fiddled around with it, I wrote the song and called him up at 4 in the morning and sang it to him. He called me a dirty name and hung up on me. He knew I’d written a hit with his lick, but that’s the way it goes.”

Don’t Cry Daddy  (Written by Mac Davis, recorded by Elvis in 1969)

Again, in Mac’s own words…

“At the time I was going through a divorce. I had my son, Scotty, for the weekend and was about to take him home. I had some time to kill, and I flipped on the five o’clock news. Scotty was about five or six years old. It just happened to be the broadcast where they were showing some film of the massacre in Vietnam. It was a very famous horrific incident where some of our guys shot to death some women and children villagers. They were showing some scenes of the bodies, and apparently I started crying and didn’t even realize it. The next thing I know Scotty was patting my back and trying to comfort a grown man going, “Don’t cry daddy.” That’s where the inspiration came from for “Don’t Cry Daddy.” My songwriter’s brain made it totally different. By the time I got Scotty home to his mother’s…on the way back to my house I had the chorus written.”

This song was recorded in 1997 as a duet with Lisa Marie, with Elvis’ voice dubbed in.

One Night  (Written by Dave Bartholomew and Earl King, recorded by Elvis in 1957)

Elvis first recorded the original version in January, 1957: One Night of Sin. His manager and record company felt the lyrics were too suggestive and risque, so the lyrics were changed (some say by Elvis himself) and the song became and was re-recorded as “One Night With You,” a mega hit for Elvis. Here is the original version:

All Shook Up  (Written by Otis Blackwell, recorded by Elvis in 1957)

According to songwriter Otis Blackwell, he was trying to come up with a follow-up song to “Don’t Be Cruel.” He used to joke that he could write a pop song from any phrase or theme.  In the autumn of 1956, one Blackwell’s bosses at his publishing offices dropped an unopened bottle of Pepsi on the ground. When he removed the cap, the soda exploded all over his white shirt. In frustration, Blackwell’s boss slammed the half-emptied Pepsi bottle on Blackwell’s desk. “There,” he said, tersely. “Write a song about that.” Blackwell studied the bottle closely for about a couple of seconds before finally shaking it again. Legend has it, he wrote the lyrics to “All Shook Up” before the bubbles had completely settled back into the beverage.

Softly as I leave you (Composed in Italian by Giorgio Calabrese and Tony De Vita. English songwriter Hal Shaper added English lyrics to it in 1961. This song wasn’t actually recorded by Elvis, but was only done in concerts.)

Elvis told a story about the song when he performed it in Vegas. Elvis said that he’d heard the story from some people in Florida. It was based on a man, who was dying. His wife was sitting by his bedside. As she began to doze off, he felt himself beginning to die and he wrote the words to the song on a notepad. Supposedly, Elvis insiders claim that this explanation was just an example of his flair for storytelling, so it likely isn’t accurate. If that’s so, then it just goes to show Elvis had a creative imagination. No matter whether it’s true or not, I think it’s pretty awesome. Side note:  Elvis doesn’t actually sing this song; he speaks the words while his backing tenor Sherrill Nielsen sings it.

Heartbreak Hotel: (Written by Tommy Durden and Mae Boren Axton, recorded by Elvis in 1956)

I’m sure you’ve all heard this story, I think I’ve told it on my blog before, but it’s highly interesting, to me, so I’m sharing again. The below is from the article found at this link: http://performingsongwriter.com/heartbreak-hotel/

A suicide note was the unlikely inspiration behind the song that became Elvis’ first No. 1 hit and million-selling single.

Steel guitarist and session musician Tommy Durden read a newspaper article about a man who had killed himself, leaving behind a piece of paper with the haunting words: “I walk a lonely street.”

Durden brought the article to his friend and cowriter Mae Boren Axton. A 41-year-old high school English teacher who moonlighted as a journalist and a songwriter, Axton had notched a few hits in the early ’50s with artists such as Perry Como and Ernest Tubb. In late 1955, she took a part-time position as a public relations secretary for Elvis’ manger, Colonel Tom Parker. When Mae first met Elvis, she felt he had everything he needed to become a star except a hit song. “You need a million-seller and I’m going to write it for you,” she promised.

As Axton and Durden discussed how they could turn the newspaper article into a song, Axton suggested that there be a “heartbreak hotel” at the end of the lonely street. With that flash of inspiration, the pair was off and running. Painting a picture of a place where “broken-hearted lovers cry away their gloom” and “the desk clerk’s dressed in black,” they managed to convey in very few words a mood that was both romantically charged and funereal.

Side note: Elvis purchased his first home, the one on Audubon Drive, with the money he made from Heartbreak Hotel.

Are You Lonesome Tonight: (Written by y Roy Turk and Lou Handman in 1926, recorded by Elvis in 1960)

I remember, right after Elvis passed away, this was probably the hardest song to listen to. The lyrics, ‘If you won’t come back to me, then they can bring the curtain down’ made my sisters and I sob uncontrollably. :/

Elvis was reluctant to record this song, because he was afraid he couldn’t do it justice. His manager, Tom Parker, convinced him to do so, because it was his wife’s favorite song. (And, you guessed it, huge hit!) Supposedly, Elvis had the studio lights completely turned off while recording the song. As he finished, he bumped into a chair, knocking it over, and the sound can be heard if you listen to the record on headphones.

Side note: The spoken part is loosely based on a speech by Jacques in Shakespeare’s As You Like It, Act II Scene VII:

All the world’s a stage, and all men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; And one man in his time plays many parts.

A version of Elvis performing the song on stage and getting so tickled he can’t finish the song, aptly named, The Laughing Version, is extremely popular with fans. It’s adorable…take a listen:

I hope you’ll actually take the time to listen to these videos, they are awesome, amazing, fantastic. (And I’m not just saying that because I’m an obsessive Elvis fan, honest I’m not ;))

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EOLS Charity

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:

http://www.graceland.com/epcf/

END OF LONELY STREET – Now Only 99 Cents!

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.

EndofLonelyStreet_w9180_FINAL

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?

Click Here for Kindle

Click Here for Nook

5 Comments

Filed under Elvis Presley, Entertainment

Elvis Presley – Ramblings of a Lifelong Fan – Part XVIII  –  Song & Movie Tidbits

I thought I would share a few facts that I find interesting. If you’re an Elvis fan, you might already know them. If not, then I hope you find them interesting as well.

A Star is Born  – A highly successful movie released in 1976 starring Barbara Streisand and Kris Kristofferson. Barbara and Elvis were friends and held one another in high regard. Barbara asked Elvis to co-star with her in the movie, and he was thrilled. He planned to do it, but Colonel Parker nixed it and wouldn’t let him. I think this would have been a huge turning point in Elvis’ acting career, and in his life in general. 

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Thunder Road – An excellent movie from 1958 starring Robert Mitchum. Elvis was a fan of Mitchum’s and wanted to meet him. When they met, Mitchum asked him if he’d be interested in co-starring in Thunder Road. Elvis was thrilled and desperately wanted the role, but the Colonel refused.

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Don’t Cry Daddy – Written by Mac Davis, who also wrote quite a few other songs for Elvis, one of the most popular being In the Ghetto. Mac said that Elvis made some tweaks to most of his songs, and in this one, Mac ended it with ‘another little baby child is born in the ghetto’ and Elvis added ‘and his mama cries’ – which Mac thought was genius. Back to Don’t Cry Daddy, in Mac’s own words, here is the story of how the song came to be:
At the time I was going through a divorce. I had my son, Scotty for the weekend and was about to take him home. I had some time to kill, and I flipped on the five o’clock news. Scotty was about five or six years old. It just happened to be the broadcast where they were showing some film of the massacre in Vietnam. It was a very famous horrific incident where some of our guys shot to death some women and children villagers. They were showing some scenes of the bodies, and apparently I started crying and didn’t even realize it. The next thing I know Scotty was patting my back and trying to comfort a grown man going, “Don’t cry daddy.” That’s where the inspiration came from for “Don’t Cry Daddy.” My songwriter’s brain made it totally different. By the time I got Scotty home to his mother’s…on the way back to my house I had the chorus written. Basically that’s where the song came from. It was a combination of him telling me not to cry because of watching this massacre in Vietnam on TV and my own situation having gone through a divorce. I didn’t know at the time that it was a special song. It was just another day in the life of a songwriter. We write songs about our lives and about things that happen to us…I do remember thinking that I should have written another verse for it. But that was me. That’ll be on my tombstone, “I was still working on that last verse.”

 

Help Me – An Elvis song written by Larry Gatlin. Elvis recorded a few of Larry’s songs, my favorite of them by far is Bitter They Are, Harder They Fall. I heard a brief interview with Larry Gatlin on Elvis radio recently. He said that he was struggling financially, and he and his wife were at home, wondering how they were going to keep their house. He received a call from a mutual friend of his and Elvis who told him Elvis was recording his song. Larry hung up the phone and said to his wife, “Honey, we can keep the house.”

Here is Elvis’ rendition of Bitter They Are. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a live version. 

 

Heartbreak Hotel, recorded in January, 1956 – Elvis’ first million selling record was co-written by Mae Boren Axton, mother of singer/songwriter Hoyt Axton. She was an English teacher and a songwriter. A steel guitarist, Tommy Durden, read an article about a man who killed himself and left a suicide note that read “I walk a lonely street.” He showed the article to Mae and the two collaborated on the song. Mae took a position as a part time public relations secretary for Colonel Parker, and when she met Elvis in 1955, she said that he had everything it took to be a star except a hit song. She told him, “You need a million-seller, and I’m going to write it for you.” And, that she did.

elvis windwo 732d88f4cd069e1

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