sábado, 31 de marzo de 2012

Nurse Remembers ‘King of Rock ’n Roll’

Nurse Remembers 'King of Rock 'n Roll'

By Kristin Rothwell, NurseZone feature writer

This year marks the 25th anniversary of Elvis Presley's death. The man who revolutionized rock 'n roll with his earthy sounds, hip swinging moves and trademark red scarves is remembered by many the world over. And, he has a special place in the heart of one special nurse who provided care to Presley at Baptist Memorial Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee in the mid-70s.

Almost 28 years later, registered nurse Marian J. Cocke can still remember the day Elvis Presley made his way into her life.

It was the second week in January of 1975. Marian, then a unit supervisor on a medical floor at Baptist Memorial Hospital, was asked by Elvis's personal physician, Dr. George Nichopolus, if she would personally care for Elvis. "Dr. Nick," as Marian called him, explained that Elvis was a shy fellow and that it had taken some coaxing to get him to agree to the hospital stay.

Surprisingly, she was not elated about the task, especially since the day Elvis was to arrive was her only day off that week.

Nevertheless, Marian took the assignment.

Two days later, at 4 a.m., Marian received a phone call at home from Dr. Nick. Elvis would be arriving at the hospital shortly, he said. She immediately got out of bed, dressed for the day and drove to Baptist Memorial.

"You can believe this or not, [but when] I walked in on the ground level [of the hospital] I thought, 'Hmm, he's already here,' " she said. "The air was filled with static electricity. As I got closer to [Elvis's] room I felt like I was floating on air. It was the craziest darn thing I've felt in my life."

Inside Elvis's hospital room were Dr. Nick, Joe Esposito (Elvis's road manager), Dick Grob (Elvis's head of security), Linda Thompson (Elvis's then-girlfriend) and Vernon Presley (Elvis's father). They surrounded "the king," who sat on the bed sporting a beard.

As Dr. Nick introduced Elvis to Marian, she interrupted him: "Yeah, I know who this is." Presley grinned at her and she grinned back, thinking, "This is a good kid. He's going to be a part of my life."


Marian grew up an Army "brat." She said that by age 5 she already knew she wanted to be a nurse.

And that's what she did.

Marian graduated from high school in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1943 and in 1949 earned a diploma nursing degree from Holy Name of Jesus Hospital (now Riverview Regional Medical Center) in Gadsden, Alabama. She moved back to Memphis, where she married her husband, Bob, in 1951, and continued practicing nursing—first at the veteran's hospital then at Baptist Memorial.

She worked at Baptist until she retired in 1984. Four years later, the vice president of nursing at Baptist asked Marian if she would come back to work. Marian gladly returned. More than 10 years later, she would take another break from nursing. This time, to care for her daughter, Katey, who lost her battle to cancer last year. Marian found peace in the grieving process by returning to Baptist a few months after Katey's death, where she continues to work today as an administrative house supervisor.


The years 1975 to 1977 will likely be the most memorable of Marian's nursing career. Though she openly admits she was never a fan of Elvis's before meeting him, she soon found herself to be a fan and a loyal friend.

On her first day of caring for Elvis, they talked about their likes and dislikes, shared stories about their families and stayed away from talking show business.

"We just clicked," she said, adding that Elvis was an excellent patient who was understanding when she needed to check on the other 50 patients on the floor or tend to her other nursing duties.

Elvis's first hospital stay lasted about three weeks. But not surprisingly, he didn't leave without first saying goodbye to "Miss Cocke," as he called her.

He thanked her with a gold filigreed cross dotted with 13 diamonds and flecks of black onyx on it.

Through tears, she tried to refuse the gift, but Elvis persisted. He simply said, "Yes, ma'am, this is for you" and put it on her.

Several weeks passed before she saw Elvis again. One evening, while driving home from work, she wondered how he was doing.

"It was the darndest thing because Dr. Nick called that night and said, 'Elvis is sick. We're going to bring him back from Las Vegas, would you get a room ready for him?' "

Elvis arrived at Baptist Memorial in seemingly good spirits, even making comments about his flat stomach, and stating, "By the way, Miss Cocke, I've ordered you a car and it will be here tomorrow."

Marian answered, "That's really nice of you Elvis but I don't need a car."

Through a puzzled stare, he replied, "Well, whether you need it or not, it's been ordered and it'll be here tomorrow."

As promised, the next day Elvis interrupted her bed-making duties and told her to look out the window. Following his finger to the 18 floors below, she saw a white 1976 Grand Prix.

He dangled the keys in his hands and Marian quickly grabbed them and a couple of the house supervisors on her way down to see the new car Elvis had purchased for her.

When she returned to the hospital later that night, Elvis said, "Miss Cocke, I just want to tell you one thing. The next time I give you a car, would you remind me that I want to make sure my bed is made before I give you the keys?"

They laughed. Marian said Elvis had the most infectious laugh she'd ever heard.

The next night Elvis returned home to Graceland and Marian followed. She would be his private duty nurse for the next two years while also fulfilling her position as house supervisor at Baptist Memorial.

Refusing to be paid for her private duty nursing, Marian said "Everything I did for Elvis was because I wanted to."

Her tasks while working at Graceland—where she would sometimes roommate with Presley's daughter, Lisa Marie—included checking Presley's blood pressure and dispensing his medications. As his friend and nurse, she would often talk with him through the late hours of the night when he had trouble sleeping.

To dispel any rumors that Presley died of a drug overdose, Marian stated in her book, "I Called Him Babe: Elvis Presley's Nurse Remembers," that all of Presley's medications to treat his hypertension, colon problem, high blood pressure and fluid retention were carefully monitored by Dr. Nick, herself and the other nurses who cared for him.

She added, "If there were other medications ordered by another physician we were not aware of them…There was never a time that I noted any sort of medication abuse or misuse…The coroner's report stated that Elvis died of a heart attack and that he had an enlarged heart. This was no surprise to me. Elvis had the biggest heart of anyone I've ever known."

One morning before Marian headed back to work at Baptist Memorial, she hugged Elvis as she said goodbye. When she reached the door of his bedroom, he said, "Miss Cocke…I just want you to know the doors of this house will always be open for you."

A few mornings later, Presley called and asked her to come by around 4 p.m. before he left Memphis for a concert. He refused to leave for the airport until she arrived. Marian, who noticed fatigue in Elvis's voice, agreed.

At around 3 p.m. that same day, Marian received a call to go to the emergency room. Several doctors, including Dr. Nick, were hastily trying to revive Elvis using CPR. The EKG machine gave the news before the doctor could—no signs of life were evident. On August 16, 1977, Elvis Aaron Presley was pronounced dead at age 42.

As Marian put it in her book, "My boy was gone…"

Today, in Elvis's memory, Marian holds an annual Elvis Presley Memorial Event with all proceeds from her book as well as the event going to charitable organizations including, United Cerebral Palsy, the Special Olympics, Memphis Humane Society, Memphis Baptist Foundation for Indigent Patients, Memphis Cancer Center, Elvis Presley Trauma Center and Presley Place.

This year's 14th annual event, to be held at the Peabody Hotel in Memphis on August 12, expects to draw a crowd of more than 1,000 people. Special guests at the event include Sam Phillips who helped get Elvis on the road to success, friends of Elvis's, as well as entertainment by The Jordanaires, Ronnie McDowell and Terry Mike Jeffrey who will perform music as tributes to Elvis.

In addition to the dinner event, Marian has also had the opportunity to travel nationwide and to Europe to speak to several Elvis Presley fan clubs about her unforgettable experience as Elvis's nurse and friend.

"He certainly changed my life," she said. "There have been a lot of doors opened for me."

One of those doors includes Graceland. Though the home is now a popular tourist attraction, the people behind Graceland, including Priscilla and Lisa Marie Presley, remain part of Marian's family.

"The people at Graceland have certainly been a strength and support for me," she said.

Though "Miss Cocke" wasn't sure about this so-called "King of Rock 'n Roll," she said, "Elvis was my friend and I was protective of him when he was living and I'm still protective of him. He meant a lot to me and he'll always mean a lot to me."

Permission to reprint photos taken by Gil Michael were granted by publisher Marion J. Cocke.

© 2002. AMN Healthcare, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Rolling Stone Names Elvis One of Greatest Singers of All Time?


Rolling Stone Names Elvis One of
Greatest Singers of All Time?

Alan Hanson

In its November 22, 2008, issue, Rolling Stone listed the "100 Greatest Singers of All Time," according to its own poll. The magazine was issued with four different covers, one each featuring Elvis, John Lennon, Aretha Franklin, and Bob Dylan. Fortunately, the copy that showed up in my mailbox had the Elvis cover.
Elvis Presley Rolling Stone cover In case you haven't seen the magazine, the top 10 in the poll were: (1) Aretha Franklin, (2) Ray Charles, (3) Elvis Presley, (4) Sam Cooke, (5) John Lennon, (6) Marvin Gaye, (7) Bob Dylan, (8) Otis Redding, (9) Stevie Wonder, (10) James Brown.
Of course, these kinds of polls are completely subjective, not to mention thoroughly meaningless, but they do fuel spirited discussion and disagreements. Some Elvis fans were doubtless incensed that anyone finished ahead of their guy. As you might be able to tell from the top 10, the complete list leaned heavily toward established male rhythm and blues singers. Intermixed along the way was a smattering of straight country, hard rock, and mainstream pop vocalists.
Such a list begs two questions: "Who had a vote?" and "What makes a singer great?" Rolling Stone answered the first question and vaguely addressed the second one. The magazine listed the names of 179 singers, musicians, producers, executives, journalists, etc., who were asked to list "20 favorite vocalists from the rock era, in order of their importance." The only voter on the list with a direct connection to Elvis was Scotty Moore.
"Influence in the rock era" more important than voice quality
The instructions made it clear that voters were to consider each singer's influence in the rock era more than voice quality. In a lead-in article, titled "What Makes a Great Singer?" Jonathan Lethem admited the subjectivity of such a question. "The beauty of the singer's voice touches us in a place that's as personal as the place from which that voice has issued," he explained. That, of course, explains why Elvis fans think his voice is the greatest ever, while non-Elvis fans can't stand to listen to his music.
The job of justifying Elvis's #3 spot on the list was given by Robert Plant, the former lead singer of Led Zeppelin. He doesn't do a very good job of it. He starts out with a few generalizations, such as, "I just heard this voice, and it was absolutely, totally in its own place. The voice was confident, insinuating and taking no prisoners." Plant spends the rest of his allotted space listing his favorite Presley recordings and telling about his meeting with Elvis in the early seventies.

Elvis Presley 1971 It's presumptuous to think I could better answer the question, "Why was Elvis Presley a great singer?" but I'm going to attempt it anyway. I'm well aware that all Elvis fans have their own favorites among his recordings, and many feel very passionate about them. Recently, I've communicated with fans who have listed the following recordings among their most-treasured Elvis titles: "Where Do You Come From?" "Until It's Time for You to To Go," "Is It So Strange," and "A House That Has Everything."
Now, I wouldn't have put any of those titles in my list of "Hanson's Top 500 Favorite Elvis Recordings." I only mention that to show I understand that many of you will disagree with some of my personal favorites that are listed below. Therefore, I'm going to save some space by asking you to mentally add the phrase, "in my opinion," to the end of each sentence that follows from now on.
Beauty of Elvis's voice first attracted me
When I first became an Elvis fan in 1963, it was the beauty of his voice that attracted me initially. His voice then was crystal clear, smooth, and pleasing to my ear. I didn't make the connection, then, but now it seems clear to me that Elvis's vocal style in those days showed the influence of Dean Martin. I was especially drawn to ballads, such as "There's Always Me," "Starting Today," and "They Remind Me Too Much of You." The beauty of Elvis's voice also was evident in rhythm songs, like "I Got Lucky" and "Follow That Dream."
As I began to delve into his recordings of the fifties, I became aware of the versatility of his voice. No one then could match Elvis's strength and energy on a rock 'n' roll song. Take "Blue Suede Shoes." Although it was Carl Perkins' song, Elvis's version was much more compelling and demanding than Carl's version. Elvis gave that same hard edge to other rockers like "Ready Teddy," "Hound Dog," and "A Big Hunk O' Love." At the same time, the strength of his voice and natural timing was also evident in softer, rhythm numbers, like "Don't Be Cruel," "Anyplace Is Paradise," and "All Shook Up."
"Love Me Tender" notwithstanding, Elvis's voice was not mature enough to handle ballads in the 1950s. His uneven and strained efforts on "Is It So Strange," "Blueberry Hill," "Don't," and others, make his ballads of that era among his worst vocal efforts. Two years away in the army gave his voice time to mature, and ballads became one of his strengths. "Are You Lonesome Tonight?" was one of the best vocal performances of his career.
In the end, though, it is the versatility of Elvis's voice and his ability to handle a variety of musical genres that makes him one of the rock era's greatest singers. Through the years he could always handle the rockin' numbers. "Such a Night" in the sixties and "Promised Land" in the seventies are evidence of that. He could deliver a soulful number, like "In the Ghetto," and sing the blues, as in "Reconsider Baby."
Presley's vocal range evident in some '70s recordings
Elvis's vocal output in the seventies was very uneven. He was at his best then when singing tunes like "An American Trilogy" and "Bridge Over Troubled Water." Such recordings featured his voice in soft ballad segments that built into strong, big voice endings. "How Great Thou Art," among the best of his critically acclaimed gospel recordings, was another effort that put Presley's great vocal range on display.
The single recording that best represents Elvis Presley's voice, however, is "It's Now or Never." The ability to branch out into a different kind of music; the beauty of his voice throughout; the soft delivery in the two verses, followed each time by the passionate chorus; the big finish—all are characteristic of one of the greatest singing voices of the rock era … in my opinion, of course. —



jueves, 29 de marzo de 2012

Elvis and Civil Rights: Presley Was a Force for Change

Elvis and Civil Rights:
Presley Was a Force for Change

Elvis Presley never thought he was a player in the civil rights movement of the 1950s. In fact, in 1957 he was accused of being part of the problem.
On August 17, 1957, an article in JET magazine cleared Elvis Presley of the charge that he had made a racially insensitive statement about African-Americans. When he left Memphis for his Pacific Northwest tour 11 days later, Elvis probably felt he had laid to rest the notion that he was a racist.
He certainly didn't think it would be a concern in the Pacific Northwest, where the black population percentage was among the lowest in the country. In the Northwest, Elvis played to no segregated crowds, as he had done in many areas of the South in 1956.
Of course, in the region where Elvis grew up and made his home, segregation was still the order of the day. Presley himself graduated from a whites-only high school in Memphis, and when he played the Mississippi-Alabama Fair and Dairy Show in Tupelo in 1956 and 1957, the fair maintained a "Negro section" where black displays and competitions could be separated from the white areas. The schools that Elvis once attended in Tupelo would not be integrated until 1965.
Elvis Presley at Vancouver, B.C., press conference, 1957
Vancouver, B.C., press conference, Aug. 31, 1957. Red Robinson on right.

It shouldn't be assumed, however, that the Pacific Northwest was free of racism in 1957. It was there, just not as openly as in the South. One medium in which it was least transparent was radio. In Vancouver, B.C., legendary DJ Red Robinson remembers it well.
"There was a hell of a lot of bigotry here, which a lot of smug Canadians won't tell you about," says Robinson. "I took a lot of abuse over it myself." Robinson drew white ire when he began playing "race records" on the air in the mid-fifties. At that time radio station play lists were segregated; white pop music was played on most major stations, while Negro music was aired on smaller stations aimed at a black audience.
"Race Records" available under the counter
As black rhythm and blues music became more popular with white teenagers, Robinson began playing so-called "race records" on his teen-centered radio show. To even get the records, Robinson had to visit local record stores and go through a backroom process.
In an interview for Tom Cohen's Associated Press article in 2000, Red recalled how records were segregated then. "You'd go in to buy it and honest to God they'd put it in a brown sack, and under the counter. You had to know what to ask for. It was like pornography."
As he mixed the records of such black artists as Joe Turner, Clyde McPhatter, and The Drifters, with the traditional white sounds of Pat Boone, Guy Mitchell and the Four Aces, Robinson began to feel some heat. "I had phone calls," he told Cohen, "and I'm going to use their words. 'Nigger lover.' 'Why are you playing that devil's music?' It was no joke. I mean, I was a kid and it scared the hell out of me."
Not only did Robinson survive, he and others like him thrived. Most adult listeners had left radio for the new medium of television, leaving teenagers as the dominant radio audience. By 1958 teenagers were buying 75 per cent of all records. To draw advertising dollars and profits, station owners had no choice but to support DJs who produced high ratings. In the mid-fifties they were the ones most tuned into rock 'n' roll music, as recorded by both white and black singers and groups. Without realizing it, these DJs were in the front lines of the battle for civil rights.
Presley named white pop singers as favorites
Wherever Elvis performed in 1957, these rock 'n' roll disk jockeys were honored guests at their city's Presley press conference. One thing Elvis was asked to do at each stop on the tour was to list his own favorite singers. His responses surprisingly revealed a personal preference for white, popular music.
In Toronto he named Joanie James, Dean Martin and Pat Boone. (Sinatra? "I can take him or leave him.") In Spokane he added The Four Aces, The Four Lads and Tommy Sands to his list of favorites. In Vancouver, B.C., Presley singled out Boone, calling him, "undoubtedly the finest voice, out and out, especially on slow songs." Asked he favorite female artists, Elvis mentioned Patti Page and Kay Starr.
The next day in Tacoma, Presley mentioned Ricky Nelson and Tommy Sands as his favorite new singers. At the Portland press conference, Presley renamed Martin, Boone, and the Aces, and added Nat King Cole as a personal favorite. Before his controversial October show at the Pan Pacific Auditorium in Los Angeles, Elvis again expressed admiration for Boone, Martin and Sands. That evening in his hotel suite, he spent a half hour talking music with Ricky Nelson.
It's ironic that Elvis, whose career self-admittedly was based on rhythm and blues, nevertheless had a personal taste for the smooth style of the ballad singers who dominated the pop charts before he and his ilk came along to displace them. Even when Elvis was asked specifically his opinion of R&B singer/rocker Little Richard, he was non-committal. "I'll say there's no one in the world as long-winded as he," Elvis told the assembled crowd at a press conference in Portland.
Despite Presley's apparent personal preference for listening to white pop music in 1957, the disc jockeys playing his records then saw a direct connection between what Elvis was doing, the emergence of "race records" from behind the counter, and the civil rights movement.
In addition to buying and playing black R&B records in the mid-fifties, Red Robinson was also driving across the border to Seattle to buy Presley's releases on the Sun label in 1955. An avowed Presley fan, then and now, Robinson today bristles at the allegation that Elvis was racist.
Red Robinson defends Elvis
"Take a look at the things that are only publicized now, of how he'd be driving down the street and see a destitute black woman with a little child. He went and bought her a Cadillac. Now if this guy hated blacks, he wouldn't even have gone near them. There's a lot of twisted bullshit about that. In my conversation with him backstage [in 1957], we talked about a guy named Roy Hamilton. He was one of his favorite singers, and one of mine. Go back to 1956 when Elvis played at the New Frontier in Las Vegas … he would go over to see Jackie Wilson. He'd go over and see all the black acts. He'd go see Frankie Lymon. I have interview outtakes of Elvis where's he's raving about Clyde McPhatter. I don't know who's trying to do a [racist] number on Elvis, but that's bullshit!"
There are even some in the music industry who today credit Presley with giving impetus to the civil rights movement, the opening salvos of which were being fired during the same period that Elvis was exploding into fame. Certainly he can't be portrayed as a leader of that great movement in American history. Presley saw himself first and foremost as an entertainer, and he lacked the passion to stand up publicly for political causes. He may have thought the segregated entertainment venues in the South of 1956 were wrong, but as an entertainer he played them and never spoke out for change.
An episode that helps illuminate Presley's roll in civil rights occurred just days after he finished his 1957 Labor Day weekend tour of the Pacific Northwest. Nine black teenagers attempted to start the school year at previously white-only Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. In what would become one of the seminal acts of the Civil Rights Movement, Governor Orval Faubus defied a federal court desegregation ruling and ordered state National Guard units to prevent the blacks from entering the school. For several weeks developments in the confrontation were front page news in Northwest newspapers, as they were across the country.
Rock and Roll Traveling Show advertisement
There is no evidence that Elvis ever publicly commented on the issue, but the thousands of Northwest teenagers, who had just days before reveled over Presley on stage, were now starting a new school year themselves. They were forced to judge the situation in Little Rock in the context of their own lives.
In October 1957, just a month after Elvis finished his tour there, a rock 'n' roll touring show came to the Pacific Northwest. It included black performers Fats Domino, Clyde McPhatter, LaVern Baker, Frankie Lymon, Chuck Berry, and The Drifters. They shared the same stage and billing with white performers, such as The Everly Brothers, Buddy Holly, Paul Anka, Buddy Knox, and Eddie Cochran. The show must have validated what the overwhelmingly white teenage population already intuitively felt—that the segregated policies existing in the South were wrong. As teenagers throughout the country grew into adulthood, many threw their political power behind the movement that ultimately brought about the civil rights legislation of the mid-sixties.
Elvis's role in the civil rights movement
There are those who claim that Elvis had a vital role in preparing those teenagers, and millions of others across the country, not only to understand the inequity of the Little Rock situation in particular, but also to come to grips with the entire spectrum of civil rights. In a 2004 issue of Rolling Stone, singer Bono explained the political effect of the non-political Elvis Presley.
"I recently met with Coretta Scott King, John Lewis and some of the other leaders of the American civil rights movement, and they reminded me of the cultural apartheid rock & roll was up against. I think the hill they climbed would have been much steeper were it not for the racial inroads black music was making on white pop culture. The Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Creedence Clearwater Revival were all introduced to the blues through Elvis. He was already doing what the civil rights movement was demanding: breaking down barriers. You don't think of Elvis as political, but that is politics: changing the way people see the world."
Presley biographer Peter Guralnick also believes that in the 1950s Presley was one of the pillars of the burgeoning civil rights movement. "If you listen to the music," Guralnick said during a 1994 interview in the Seattle Times, "you can hear Elvis's love for not simply the blues, but also the whole range of African-American culture. Jackie Robinson, Elvis Presley and the legislative triumphs from Brown v. the Board of Education on helped change the fabric of American life. Elvis's music had as much to do with the integration of American life as any non-legal remedies."
If Presley was a player in the civil rights movement, it certainly wasn't intentional. In interviews throughout his life he declined to comment on social issues, explaining he was just an entertainer who preferred keeping his political opinions to himself.
In his 1995 book, Lamar Fike, who was close to Elvis from 1957 through the end of the singer's life, confirmed that Presley stayed clear of broad social movements. "I think Elvis didn't like to see any kind of injustice," Fike explained, "but if it didn't directly affect him, he was a little bit indifferent. And in that sense, he wasn't the big humanitarian people make him out to be. He cared more about helping individuals than helping masses of people or a cause."
There is no doubt that Elvis Presley's ability to influence American culture diminished after 1957. Emerging from the army in 1960, he no longer served as a force for cultural diversity in America. While he concentrated on a Hollywood career for a decade, his live performances ended and his recordings entered the mainstream. But there is also no doubt that, at least in the area of popular music, Elvis passed on a lasting legacy to the 1960s.
Elvis Presley and Jimi Hendrix
An example of that occurred when Presley performed in Seattle in 1957. That year Seattle race relations were in flux, moving forward in some ways, falling back in others. The year before Elvis arrived, Seattle's two black and white musician unions were integrated into one as the black rhythm and blues sound blended with white pop.
The city's education system, however, was taking a step toward de facto segregation. When the school year began in September 1957, just days after Elvis left town, Garfield High School became the first city public secondary school with a more than 50 per cent nonwhite student body.
On September 1, 1957, however, one of those Garfield students made a connection with Elvis Presley. That evening in Sicks' Seattle Stadium, the black rhythm and blues music that inspired Elvis was passed through him to a young African-American who would carry rock's banner through the following decade.
Fourteen-year-old Jimi Hendrix could not afford to buy a ticket, so with others he watched Elvis perform from a hill overlooking Sicks' Stadium on the east side. Though he could barely see Elvis, Hendrix saw the excitement as the 16,000 in the stadium reacted to Presley taking the stage. He heard Elvis sing his hit songs, and as the singer launched into his "Hound Dog" finale, Hendrix clapped his hands and stomped his feet on the hillside.
As Presley exited the stadium in the backseat of a white Cadillac, Jimi got his closest look at the rock 'n' roll star as the car drove by on the street below him. Two months after the concert, Hendrix acknowledged the effect it had on him by drawing a picture of Elvis in his notebook. Around the image of the guitar-playing Presley, Jimi wrote the titles of a dozen of the singer's hit records.
In 1970 Jimi Hendrix, by then arguably the world's most famous guitar player, performed in concert at Sicks' Seattle Stadium, just as Elvis had done thirteen years earlier. By the time he died of a drug overdose later that year, however, Sicks' Stadium had been torn down. Still, the two-hundred-car funeral procession that accompanied Hendrix to Greenwood Memorial Cemetery in Renton, south of Seattle, passed by the former stadium site where both he and Presley had performed. It was a sad but vivid reminder of the fluidity of American rock music as it passed through giants from one generation to the next. —
Alan Hanson

Milton Berle Show rehearsal at NBC Studios

June 4, 1956, on Milton Berle Show rehearsal at NBC Studios, and June 5, 1956 when the TV show was aired.
NBC Studios,Burbank 1955.

NBC-TV Milton Berle - Comedy
June 5th 8.00 to 9.00pm (Est)
Elvis Presley - the new singing sensation
Debra Paget - who will sing and dance
Arnold Stang - as Francis (comedian)
Irish McCalla - who plays in the Sheena series
Les Baxter and Orchestra - with his No.1 hit 'The Poor People of Paris'
Barry Gordon
Victor Young conductor
Sponsored by RCA
PHOTOGRAPHER : Stewart Sawyer

Irish McCalla the exotic looking star the of TV series 'Sheenah Queen Of The Jungle' jokes with Elvis Presley backstage.

The guests on Berle's show attended several days of rehearsals in preparation for the live broadcast but Presley was unable to attend the first day because he was performing somewhere on the East Coast. Debra Paget, was also appearing on the show, and when Elvis arrived she and Irish sat out front in the audience with all of the dancers to watch as he came in. Irish's immediate impression was that he didn't look any different from the guys back home in Nebraska where she grew up ("I thought he was another 'in-joke' or something.") When Presley smiled, however, she saw something boyish and shy in that smile that reminded her of James Dean and she said that it made her want to "ruffle his hair". When the music started and Presley began singing Irish turned to Debra Paget and said, "It's a good beat, but what's he singing about... a hound dog?" Paget, obviously a fan, was entranced and replied laughingly, "Who cares!" Irish said that it was obvious to her even then that Presley could sing the first page of the dictionary and the girls would still go wild. Over the next couple of days she got to know him better and learned to love the rhythmic music and Presley's voice as well. She was somewhat astonished and delighted when Presley told her that he was a big fan of hers because he had seen Sheena on television ("I showed him Tahitian dancing and how it differed from his rock and roll. He was a real nice kid"). Irish also remembered that the dancers were all over him and he loved it.

miércoles, 28 de marzo de 2012

Colonel Parker Answers Criticism About Elvis Movies in 1964 Interview


Colonel Parker Answers Criticism
About Elvis Movies in 1964 Interview

Colonel Parker is the devil to many Elvis Presley fans. They hurl a litany of accusations at Presley's former manager—he took too much of Elvis's money, he mismanaged Elvis's movie career, he pressured Elvis to work when he was in poor health, he even tried to capitalize on Elvis's name after he died.
To what extent Parker was guilty of such sins against Elvis, I'm not qualified to say. I do know that while researching for my book, I became increasingly impressed with how the Colonel managed Elvis during the 1956-57 period. In fact, in my book I included a chapter entitled, "The Parker Propaganda Machine." It outlines how Parker promoted, marketed, and booked Elvis in ways that undeniably made possible Presley's meteoric rise in show business. In their rush to denounce him for failing his client in later years, many Elvis fans forget that there may not have been an Elvis Presley were it not for Tom Parker's work in those early days.
Colonel Parker protects Elvis in Ottawa, 1957 The purpose here is not to recap the relationship between Parker and Presley. That can be found in detail in two Parker biographies published in recent years—Colonel Tom Parker by James Dickerson (2001) and The Colonel by Alanna Nash (2003).
Colonel Parker stands stage front in Ottawa on April 3, 1957. That year Parker often used his body as the final line of defense should police lines fail to hold back teenage girls rushing the stage.
Instead, the focus here will be on sharing some interesting information about Colonel Parker that appeared in a rather obscure source. I offer this information without prejudice or comment, leaving it to the reader to judge whether it reflects good or ill on Colonel Parker.
• Colonel Parker tells how the money was split
The article in question appeared in Variety on January 15, 1964. The piece by Michael Fessier, Jr., carried the headline, "Elvis Hits $20,000,000 Gross Jackpot". The article's first three paragraphs broke down the various amounts and sources of Presley's income since 1956, with the total having reached the $20 million mark by the end of 1963.
The article then turned to a lengthy interview with Colonel Parker, who Fessier called the "commander-in-chief of the Presley forces." Parker started out by explaining how Elvis's earnings were divided in those movie-making days. Cash was split down-the-line of 75% to Elvis, 25% to the Colonel, with the William Morris Agency taking 10% off of the top of film revenues. According to the Colonel, "We make no picture deals without the great potentate—Abe Lastfogel." (Lastfogel was the long-time president of the Morris agency.)
Parker admitted he was a bit troubled by the public perception that he was profiting too much from Presley's work. He claimed that at least 50% of his share went right back into the business of promoting Elvis—"office expenses, advertising and exploitation, etc." Elvis's cut, said Parker, "goes straight to the Memphis accountants."
• "Look—you got a product, you sell it."
The Colonel just shrugged at the perception around Hollywood that Elvis was falling off at the box office due to over exposure. "Look—you got a product, you sell it," explained Parker. "As long as the studios come up with the loot we'll make the deal. Those guys complaining—some of them are not working too good. Me—I'm happy being able to buy the groceries."
As for the reports of declining returns on Elvis's movies, Parker didn't believe them. "They keep asking us to do more," he said. "Somebody must be making a buck. A producer was complaining that an Elvis picture of his didn't do so well. All I can say is that he must like losing money. Now he's after us for two more."
The Colonel went on to tell a story about a producer who wanted to trim down Elvis's film fee. Less cash to Elvis, claimed the producer, would allow the use of a "great script" to get Presley's film career back on the right track. "I told him that if we're doing so badly maybe next year he wouldn't want us at all," said the Colonel, "and we better get all we can while we can—and I hiked the price.
"Another guy says he has a script which would cinch an Oscar for Elvis and wouldn't we do it for less money. I told him pay us our regular fee and if Elvis gets the Oscar we'll give him his money back. We never saw him again.
• No Oscar for Elvis, but lots of money
"So maybe we never win an Oscar—but we're going to win a few boxoffice awards. Check the list of the 10 top boxoffice stars—Elvis is right there. And here's a guy who carries his pictures by himself—the rest of the guys on the list have three or four stars to back them up."
Fessier pointed out that the Presley-Parker partnership was one of the few in Hollywood that confined its demands to money. The writer explained, "Once a deal is made, the studio takes complete control of a film, the Presley camp having no say—so on cast, script or production costs."
Colonel Parker confirmed that Elvis had no creative say in his films. "We don't have approval on scripts—only money. Anyway, what's Elvis need? A couple of songs, a little story and some nice people with him.
"We start telling people what to do and they blame us if the picture doesn't go. As it is, we both take bows and if it doesn't hit maybe they get more blame that us. Anyway, what do I know about production?—nothing."
According to Parker, production costs for the average Presley film ran between $1.5 and $2 million, "and if the studio lets it—maybe a little more."
• Elvis could always go back on the road
The Colonel didn't seem too concerned that Elvis's film popularity would dry up someday. Presley had other ways of making money that they could fall back on. "For one," Parker said, "we can do some of the personal appearances we haven't been able to. Anytime we want—$75-100,000 a week."
In the meantime, Colonel Parker had nixed all offers for Elvis to appear on stage, as he had for Presley to appear on TV. One of the offers he turned down was for Elvis to appear on the small screen for $150,000. Presley's schedule didn't allow it anyway, according to Parker.
Over the next four years, Elvis's movie career would indeed play out. Only then did the Presley-Parker partnership make a triumphant return to television and, soon after that, to the concert stage. But in 1964 both men seemed content with the steady and dependable flow of money provided them by the Hollywood studios.
— Alan Hanson

lunes, 26 de marzo de 2012

Elvis Negs to be auctioned


Rare Elvis 56 Negatives To Be Auctioned

In the run-up to Elvis' 75th Birthday celebration, B&H Productions will auction a private photo shoot of Elvis Presley that has never before been printed or sold.
From The Press Release:
On Monday, April 13th at 3:00PM PST, B&H Productions will be launching an international eBay auction of ten never-before-seen images of Elvis Presley. Images of Elvis that have never been published or seen by the public are very rare.
That these are color images – which were seldom taken of Elvis in 1956 – greatly increases their rarity and value. These ten photographs were taken at a private photo shoot while Elvis was in Las Vegas for his first performances there in 1956.
On April 23, 1956, 21–year–old Elvis Aron Presley performed in Las Vegas for the first time at the New Frontier Hotel. Young in his career, he was wildly popular on the radio but had yet to reach the national stardom he would achieve only months later. Between performances, he went to a local club and heard Freddy Bell and the Bell Boys perform a tune called "Hound Dog". Elvis performed his own ground-breaking version of "Hound Dog" live on the Milton Berle Show a few months later on June 5th to 40 million viewers, and the resulting hip-grinding fanfare is history.
During Elvis' stay in Las Vegas, the editor of Dig Magazine, Ed Hummel, traveled there to interview and photograph him for a cover story for the magazine. Several photos taken at this photo shoot were used in the magazine, but these ten images were not used and were placed in storage. They remained in storage until four years ago when Mr. Hummel gave them to his friend, Bob Striegel of B&H Productions, as a gift. Following Mr. Hummel's death in late 2006, Mr. Striegel copyrighted the images, and has continued to keep them safely in storage. Copyright will be transferred to the buyer upon purchase in this auction.
These 120mm transparent color film negatives are in excellent condition, and the color and image quality is superb. As Elvis' 75th birthday approaches, this auction provides a very exciting opportunity for Elvis Presley collectors worldwide. The eBay auction will be a tenday auction, ending at 3PM PST on April 23, 2009 – 53 years to the day of his first performance at the New Frontier, when they were taken.
B&H Productions owns several rare, vintage photo collections, and makes selected items available to the public for purchase at auctions and on auction websites, such as eBay.
B&H has sold over 700 vintage photographs on eBay, and is proud to have received 100% positive feedback and a silver power-seller status.
Source: Email / Updated: Apr 15, 2009

Laurel Goodwin … Elvis’s Love Interest in Girls! Girls! Girls!


Laurel Goodwin … Elvis's Love
Interest in Girls! Girls! Girls!

Girls! Girls! Girls! was my first Elvis Presley movie. In early 1963 it helped speed along my transformation into a Presley fan, a process that had begun a few months earlier. Laurel Goodwin, then, was the first of Elvis's numerous leading ladies I saw on screen. I must admit, though, that I was not too impressed with her during that first viewing. She was, after all, an unknown actress at the time, and while attractive, neither stunningly beautiful nor particularly sexy.
Elvis Presley and Laurel Goodwin Recently, however, I decided to give Laurel Goodwin a second look. I watched Girls! Girls! Girls! again, and this time, instead of keeping a eye on Elvis, I focused on Miss Goodwin. By the end of the film, I had developed a new-found respect for her both as an actress and as a screen personality.
Noticeable from the start is the phenomenal amount of screen time Goodwin was given in Girls! Girls! Girls!, especially considering it was her film debut. Her first appearance on screen is easy to miss. As Elvis and Stella Stevens stare grimly at each other across the Pirate's Den nightclub, Goodwin can be seen sitting quietly at a table halfway between the two veteran actors. After Elvis does a number on stage, Goodwin's character, Laurel Dodge, begins her pursuit of Presley's character, Ross Carpenter. She attempts to buy him a drink, and then chases him down in the street after he leaves the club.
Miss Dodge then continues to chase Elvis throughout the movie until she finally wrings a marriage proposal out of him at the film's conclusion. To win Elvis, she out-duels Stella Stevens, who early on referred to Goodwin's character as the "swinger with the mink look." Along the way, Goodwin surely appears on screen more than most, if not all, of Presley's leading ladies. In addition to the expected scenes with Elvis, she has numerous other scenes of her own. Along the way, she collects six kisses from Elvis, which could very well be another record among Elvis's many female costars.

Elvis Presley and Laurel Goodwin Laurel Goodwin was born August 11, 1942, in Wichita, Kansas. She was a child model and later studied acting before signing on at Paramount as a contract player. Hal Wallis spotted her and cast her in Girls! Girls! Girls! "When I learned I was going to do the role, I was a little hesitant, startled, stunned and nervous," she explained in a Photoplay magazine article some years later.
But Elvis helped Goodwin relax during the weeks of shooting on location in Hawaii and doing interiors on the Paramount lot. "He was extremely kind," she recalled. "Fortunately, we were involved with involved dialogue and scenes right away. He put me at ease immediately. It wasn't like working with a phenomenon but with someone who was doing a job. It was fun because he was informal, as well. And considerate. A couple of times he'd take the brunt of something that went wrong instead of letting the blame fall on a small person."
Elvis Presley and Laurel Goodwin Like a big brother, Elvis was protective of Laurel Goodwin. In the Photoplay article, she explained that during filming a boyfriend started giving her a hard time. Without telling her, Elvis stopped the trouble by sending a member of his entourage to tell the boyfriend to cool it.
Goodwin learned that Presley preferred the musical part of making movies over serious scenes. "Elvis was really a shy person," Goodwin remembered. "He would feel much more comfortable if I were behind the camera while he was singing and dancing."
Laurel Goodwin's most treasured memory of filming Girls! Girls! Girls! with Elvis came off camera. "We used to play touch football between scenes and would have great fun," she explained. "Some shots were taken by the still photographer. When they were developed the next day, Elvis picked up a photo of me in which I looked dreadful—messy, sweating—and said to me, 'Isn't that a gorgeous leading lady?' He definitely had a sense of humor."

Elvis Presley and Laurel Goodwin One filmed sequence in Girls! Girls! Girls! might have made a distinct impression on Laurel Goodwin, but if so, she was discreet enough not to mention it in public through the years. Thus Laurel Goodwin participated in what may be the most bizarre scene in all of Presley's 31 Hollywood films.
Laurel Goodwin received positive reviews for her work in Girls! Girls! Girls!. Variety's November 7, 1962, review panned the film but singled out Goodwin for praise. "Most striking thing about the picture is the introduction of new Paramount pactee Laurel Goodwin, who makes an auspicious film bow. Youngster has a cute, homespun potential of a Doris Day."
Despite the "auspicious" start, Laurel Goodwin's Hollywood career was limited to just three more films through 1969. Besides her role opposite Elvis, she is best known today for playing Yeoman J. M. Colt in The Cage, the pilot episode for the original Star Trek TV series.
Goodwin married business executive Walter Wood in 1971. They lived in New York for many years, but now reside in Palm Springs, California. Over the years she has attended a few Elvis conventions, and in 2005 appeared at her first Star Trek gathering.
 In the Photoplay magazine article, she expressed her regret that Elvis never found the happiness in his life that she had found in hers. "I sensed a deep sadness inside him," she concluded. "He was such a phenomenon—and he could never outgrow it." —
 Alan Hanson_