On December 4, 1956, Elvis dropped by Sun Studios to visit Sam Phillips. Although Elvis was now a recording star with RCA, he was still close to Phillips, his old friend and mentor. 

At the time, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis were at the studio working together on some of Perkins' latest songs. When Johnny Cash happened to stop by, the four musicians started singing together.

Phillips knew he had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. He called the Commercial Appeal, and they sent over a photographer. The result was the only performance of the “Million Dollar Quartet.”

Elvis Presley was born in Tupelo, Mississippi. He grew-up there in a shotgun shack that his father, Vernon, built. Elvis was thirteen when his parents moved to Memphis. Throughout his teens, the family moved around, living in small apartments and low-cost public housing.

Beatles Bomb In Memphis

Jan 22, 2013

Elvis Presley’s manager, Colonel Tom Parker, went into the mid 1960’s with a strategy.  He repositioned Elvis from a singer who made movies to a movie star who made records.  This simple distinction successfully locked in millions of dollars in upfront movie money, and successfully detached Presley from depending on the fickle whims of the demographics which drove disc sales.

For many Memphians of a certain age, August 16, 1977 was really “The Day the Music Died.” Elvis Aaron Presley died at his mansion, Graceland. 

A native of Tupelo, Elvis moved to Memphis as a teenager. After high school, he walked into Sun Studios to make a record for his mother, Gladys.

Sam Phillips heard him and realized that he had found a white singer with a black feel. Hits like “That's All Right Mama” and “Hound Dog” left the music world all shook up. And it's still shaking.

One of the few false starts in the meteoric rise of Elvis Presley’s early entertainment career was an ill-fated run in Las Vegas in 1956. Elvis, Scotty Moore, Bill Black and D.J. Fontana spent two weeks trying to light a fire under a stodgy bunch of middle-aged gamesters. Even this fortnight drubbing displayed a silver lining, as an enthusiastic throng mobbed a special Saturday teenage matinee performance. This pointed to the demographic which would make up the sold-out shows when Presley returned in earnest to become the hottest ticket in town from 1969 through the end of his career.

The Patty Duke Show premiered on TV in September of 1963, in which the actress played the dual role of twin-like “identical” cousins. At the same time, Elvis Presley was working on Kissin’ Cousins, a movie with a similar plot twist. In order to keep a lid on expenses, Colonel Tom Parker ordered the soundtrack work to be recorded in Nashville this time, instead of Hollywood. The title track to the film would be Presley’s next single, making it to number 12 in early ‘64, as Elvis waded ankle-deep into the rising tide of what would be known as the British Invasion.

Elvis Presley spent September of 1962 in Seattle, working on his 12th movie, It Happened At The World’s Fair. Probably the most memorable scene from this movie involved Presley’s character bribing a kid to kick him in the shins.

As Luck Would Have It

Jan 24, 2012

It’s easy to say Elvis Presley had a career run of good luck as he headed into the sixties. From his first Sun Records single, he created a stir, and fostered a following that would set records and inspire a new youthful direction in the whole sphere of entertainment. But any carny worth his salt can read people like a book, and Presley’s manager Col. Tom Parker was perhaps the greatest since Barnum. In the new decade, he set new course was based on making movies that made money, fulfilling the RCA Records contract, and keeping Elvis off the TV and tour bus.

In the summer of 1993, the vocal group SWV was cruising along at number one with their song “Weak,” when a reggae band from England bumped them out of the top spot with a remake of a 60‘s classic. UB40 hit the top with a noted tune from a movie featuring a big name singer set in Hawaii from 31 years earlier. In turn, that movie drew its title and theme song from another movie featuring a big name singer which was also set in Hawaii, filmed 25 years before that.

Winning By Surrender

Jan 3, 2012

As 1961 dawned, It was back to the ballads for Elvis Presley. Since his return from the Army, Elvis had topped the charts with a song based on the late 19th century melody “O Sole Mio,” transliterated into “It’s Now Or Never.” The same session revived a 1920’s love song, “Are You Lonesome Tonight?” So when Presley went to RCA’s Nashville studio in late October, 1960, along with the gospel tunes lined up for his first religious-themed album, His Hand In Mine, he brought a new treatment of another Italian classic.