Who was that masked man? ORION: The Man Who Would Be King


 
This is a guest post by Jeanie Finlay, director of ORION: The Man Who Would Be King

Ten years ago I was at a garage sale with my husband Steven in our hometown of Nottingham, England. On a stall filled with cheap ornaments and dog-eared paperbacks, standing proudly at the front of a box of faded vinyl records, we found the above album.

Orion: Reborn. Sun Records. Collector’s gold vinyl. Release date on the back said 1979. No songs we’d ever heard of, but that coverWho was this mysterious masked man, standing hand on hips, with his perfect raven hair and sta-press trousers? What the hell was his story?

We took the record home, put it on and within seconds the mystery deepened. Whoever this guy was, he sounded exactly–and I mean exactly—like Elvis. Except these weren’t songs that Elvis ever recorded, and there was no mention of the King on the record. But there was the fact of Sun Records and this odd story on the back sleeve about this guy called Orion Eckley Darnell and something about a coffin, and a book… Most of all, though, there was this guy in the blue rhinestone-studded mask with the voice of Elvis. I had to know more.
 

  

The story I uncovered was one of the strangest I’ve ever encountered. As a documentary-maker, I’ve long been fascinated with stories that peek under the surface of popular culture and the machinations of the music industry, or explore just how important music is in our lives. Stories like The Great Hip Hop Hoax–about two Scottish chancers who faked their way to a record deal by pretending to be American rappers; SOUND IT OUT about the very last record shop in my home town in Teesside or Goth Cruise a documentary about 150 goths (along with 2500 “norms”) taking a cruise in the sunshine to Bermuda.

But this story had it all. A roller coaster tale of the Nashville music scene in the wake of Elvis Presley’s death, taking in deception, a quest for success, a search for identity and ending in brutal and tragic murder.

Even if you’ve never heard of Orion, you probably know about the “Elvis is Alive” myth. What I uncovered was that the story of Orion is the story of how that myth got started. 
In the marketing offices of Sun Records, maverick producer Shelby Singleton came up with the plan to utilize the incredible pipes of Alabama singer Jimmy Ellis – a voice which was both a blessing and a curse to the singer. Ellis had found it hard to get a solid foothold in the industry because of the similarity of his voice to Elvis’ –a similarity which was wholly unpracticed. Jimmy didn’t try to sound like Elvis, he just did. That made it hard for any record company to use him.
 

 
Shelby had already tried one tack, dubbing Jimmy Ellis’ vocals uncredited onto the Jerry Lee Lewis tracks in the Sun catalog, releasing the recording under the name of Jerry Lee Lewis “and friends.” He’d leave it up to the audience to come to the conclusion –if they saw fit—that it might just be a previously unheard recording from the depths of the Sun vaults. After all, it sounded just like Elvis…

 

“I was born in Sun Records, in the studio.”

But it wasn’t until Shelby came across an unpublished manuscript by Georgia writer Gail Brewer Giorgio that the stars aligned for Jimmy Ellis.  Orion was the story of the world’s greatest rock star and how he fakes his own death. As a character, her “Orion” was not a million miles away from a certain Memphis-dwelling King. It was a fantasy that so easily could be true. A fantasy that could be made true… In a move that Shelby himself later described as “part madman, part genius,” Sun Records put a mask on Jimmy Ellis, rechristened him “Orion” and unleashed him on an unsuspecting world. In Jimmy Ellis, Shelby had “The Voice.” And the book gave him a name, and a backstory.
 

A copy of the letter announcing the name “ORION” for the first time. The mask was the beginning of the Orion mystery.

In May of 1979, one month after his announcement of the imminent arrival of “ORION,” Shelby Singleton sent the first single to the radio stations. The cuts were “Ebony Eyes” and “Honey,” but there was no label on either side. Shelby wanted to build the mystery. The voice was the thing. He knew that the moment they heard that voice, they would have a million questions. And they’d want to see the mouth it came from…
 

 
Orion’s first album was readied – but hit controversy when there were complaints about the depiction of the masked singer appearing to rise from the dead from an open casket. (It was replaced by the blue cover above, which was later to catch my eye.)

Orion was now out in the world. Performing across America, always in the mask, always in character (legend was that Shelby would fine Jimmy if he were caught not wearing the mask at any time). And the crowds came. Hundreds and thousands of them, many coming for that voice–and many simply coming for the fantasy, the fantasy that the thin mask kept precariously in place. But for Jimmy, it was a frustrating ride.
 

 
Orion traveled the world while on Sun–including, bizarrely, performing with Kiss in Germany—putting out seven albums on Sun in just five years, but Jimmy hated the mask; the gimmick that provided the all-important mystery was ultimately a trap.  He could never be himself.
 

“Look Me Up”

When the gimmick wore thin, Ellis discarded the mask. The fragile spell was broken – but Jimmy was free. However, he struggled to step out of the shadow of Presley and the voice he was “blessed and cursed” with. He tried out many different identities – Ellis James, Mister E – he put the mask back on, then took it off again - but he never really found the same bright spotlight again. In December 1998, back in Orrville Alabama, the town he had left many years before to find success in music, Ellis was brutally murdered in his pawnshop during an armed robbery. A tragic ending for the man with the voice of a legend.
 

 
For the past four years, I have tracked down the people that were close to Orion to discover his story and I am raising finishing funds for ORION: The Man Who Would Be King on Indiegogo so that I can finish the documentary. You can support getting this story to the screen by pre-ordering the film, getting some original Orion memorabilia or even a bejeweled Orion mask.
 

Orion and author Gail Brewer Giorgio interviewed in 1979 TV news report.
 
More Orion, the man who would be King, after the jump…

Written by Richard Metzger | Discussion
‘Having Fun with Elvis on Stage’: All banter, no songs, this is the weirdest Elvis album ever
04.03.2014
07:40 am

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Elvis Presley
Colonel Tom Parker

Having Fun with Elvis on Stage
 
Colonel Tom Parker, Elvis Presley’s friend/assistant/manager/svengali/whatever, was trying to figure out a way to release an Elvis album to which RCA, Elvis’ usual recording label, would own no rights. The problem was, contracts being what they are, RCA had exclusive rights to music released by Elvis. At some point he came up with a solution—release an “Elvis album” with no music! In 1974 Parker’s Box Car Records released the only LP it would ever release, an all-banter album with no songs at all called Having Fun with Elvis on Stage. And Parker owned the rights outright.
 
Tom Parker and Elvis
 
The album had two tracks, “Side A” (18:06) and “Side B” (19:00). Both sides consisted of a long succession of short, context-free snippets of Elvis talking on stage, introducing the next song and so forth. Since Elvis is seguing from this or that song, you get a lot of truncated audience clapping noises. If you are supposing that there is some rhyme or reason to the way the clips were put together, well then, you’ve overestimated the ingenuity of Col. Parker. Later RCA would release it as well; there is a CD release of it, billed as a “Special Extended Edition”—only who on earth would want this thing to be longer?
 
Having Fun with Elvis on Stage
 
Understandably, Having Fun with Elvis on Stage has come in for its share of abuse. It’s made a lot of “worst records of all time” lists, sometimes even making the top slot. The generally gentle Allmusic.com gave it one star (there really was no other option) and wrote of it, “Some have called Having Fun With Elvis on Stage thoroughly unlistenable, but actually it’s worse than that; hearing it is like witnessing an auto wreck that somehow plowed into a carnival freak show, leaving onlookers at once too horrified and too baffled to turn away.” Ouch. And yet, that’s not unfair.
 
A Talking Album Only
 
Some have compared Having Fun with Elvis on Stage to Lou Reed’s Metal Machine Music, but it’s nothing like that. You know the expression, “I’d pay to see that person read the telephone book?” Having Fun with Elvis on Stage is the rock music equivalent of that. Elvis was so immensely popular that people bought even this. It reached #130 on the Billboard charts and, almost incredibly, made it to #9 on Billboard’s Country Albums chart. The album had the (small) disclaimer on the cover “A Talking Album Only” but a good number of people didn’t notice, didn’t care, or were so enamored of Elvis that they enjoyed it anyway. Personally I think when people got home and put it on, they were pissed.

Here’s Side A, in full. I have to say, I’ll take 45 minutes of Paul Stanley’s banter any day.
 

 

Written by Martin Schneider | Discussion
Johnny Cash does his Elvis impression
02.10.2014
04:44 am

Topics:
Amusing
Music

Tags:
Johnny Cash
Elvis Presley
June Carter


 
In which one towering figure of 20th century American music good-naturedly ribs another…

“You know at just about all of our shows, and wherever we go, we usually do an impersonation… and we had a request here tonight to do an impersonation of a rock and roll singer…”

This is funnier than you think it’s going to be.

Interesting historical footnote to this, it was Elvis who first “introduced” Johnny Cash to June Carter. In her own words:

He was stooped down on one knee and grasping a guitar trying to tune it to somewhere near the correct pitch to make a correct cord ring - ‘Everybody knows where you go when the sun goes down, Ah-ummm - A - ummm’ and he’d strike the guitar again. Plink: plunk: ‘A-ummm ...’ What are you trying to do, I asked. ‘I’m trying to tune this blame guitar, honey, and I’m trying to sing like Johnny Cash’. Who is Johnny Cash I asked Elvis Presley, and I grabbed the guitar away from him. Mother Maybelle would never let me or Elvis go on the stage with a guitar that was that far out of tune! What’s the a-um-a-um for? ‘That’s what drives the girls crazy’ Elvis said. ‘Cash don’t have to move a muscle, he just sings and stands there’. I don’t know this Johnny Cash I said, and Elvis said: ‘Oh you’ll know Cash. The whole world will know Johnny Cash. He’s a friend of mine’. So the whole tour, my first with Elvis, we went into small cafes all throughout the south and Elvis played Johnny Cash on the jukebox while I fought off the girls trying to get through Scotty, Bill and I to Elvis. And the thing I remember the very best was the voice of Johnny Cash singing ‘You’re gonna cry, cry, cry and you’ll cry alone!’. Somehow this low voice just penetrated my heart and spoke to my loneliness, for I had no lover in my life and there was a terrific loneliness in my soul. I had visions of myself screaming ‘Hey Porter’ and riding a lonesome train home.

I had been working at the Grand Ole Opry since 1950 with my mother Maybelle and sisters, Helen, Anita and Chester Atkins. I would rush home from a tour on Saturday nights back to the same routine of loneliness and this particular night, I found myself backstage trying to tune my guitar humming Ah-ummm Ah-Ummm, when all of a sudden, there he was! The voice was the same. Johnny Cash took me by the hand and said, ‘I’ve always wanted to meet you’. The strangest feeling came over me. I was afraid to look him in the eyes. It was one of the things I did best. I never stammered and still found myself not able to say much of anything. I think I finally blurted out - I feel like I know you already. Elvis plays you on the jukebox all the time and he can’t tune his guitar without humming ‘Cry, Cry, Cry’ Now he’s got me doing it.

‘Why don’t you work with me on the road sometime?’ I’d like to I said. Hey, bring me one of your records. I’ve become a real fan.

I can’t remember anything else we talked about, except his eyes. Those black eyes that shone like agates. I only glanced into them because I believed that I would be drawn into his soul and I would never have been able to walk away, had he asked me to go with him. I felt that he was the most handsome man I’d ever met. I saw him take six encores that night. He had a command of his performance that I had never seen before. Just a guitar and a base and a gentle kind of presence that made not only me, but whole audiences become his followers. I walked away from him that evening.

The next time I saw Johnny Cash, he brought me his new record and we did find the time to talk together. Both of us afraid to look, and both afraid to see the lost and lonely souls that we were. For the next few years, I never saw him where I did not remember when, where and who he was with. John told me that after seeing him on stage that very first time in Nashville, he knew he was going to marry me. I guess neither of us ever forgot that. We walked away from each other and we both made some bad choices in our travels. I wondered if he has as hard a time with my blue eyes as I had with his, and after he wrote ‘I Still Miss Someone’ I think he might have really looked.

It took such a long time of praying and of walking away when I knew from first looking at him that his hurt was as great as mine, and from the depths of my despair, I stepped up to feel the fire and there is no way to be in that kind of hell, no way to extinguish a flame that burns, burns, burns. And so came the idea for the song ‘Ring Of Fire’. I was ashamed to tell John that I had always cared, that I couldn’t get him off my mind. Out of the loneliness came one song after another. There was so much hurt for both of us. And hurt for those we loved that only God could have pulled us out of that ‘Ring Of Fire’. For the last 35 years, I have been able to look into those black steel eyes and feel his love, and realize he always cared.

—from the liner notes for the Johnny Cash CD, Love.
 

Written by Richard Metzger | Discussion
Elvis Presley screen test, 1956
10.14.2013
11:33 am

Topics:
Movies
Music

Tags:
Elvis Presley


 
1956 was a good year for Elvis Presley. He was young, good-looking, could sing, and wasn’t yet binging on those peanut butter, banana and bacon Dagwood sandwiches he loved so much. He had also moved from Sun Records to RCA Victor, where he had signed a then record-breaking $35,000 contract.

On January 28th, “Elvis the Pelvis” made his first screamtastic television appearance on Stage Show. This was quickly followed by hip-shaking performances on The Milton Berle Show, the The Steve Allen Show, and The Ed Sullivan Show.

By March he was in talks to make a movie, which led directly to a series of screen tests at Paramount Studios. In the first, Elvis performed a scene from William Inge’s play The Girls of Summer. According to the biography Down at the End of Lonely Street: Life and Death of Elvis Presley, his drama coach, Charlotte Clary described the singer thusly: 

“Now that is a natural born actor.”

The second screen test was for a supporting role in the Burt Lancaster movie, The Rainmaker. According to the film’s screenwriter, Presley only showed the acting ability of “the lead in a high school play.”

Then came Presley’s third screen test, where the King lip-synched to “Blue Suede Shoes” in front of a set of rather shiny curtains. It was a wild audition, with Elvis giving his trademark gyrations and sneer. This time, Weiss was bowled over by Presley’s performance and later said:

“The transformation was incredible…electricity bounced off the walls. ... [It was] like an earthquake”

The studio was similarly all shook up and offered Presley a three-picture deal on the spot, with an option to make three further films. Though he was not offered the role in The Rainmaker (that went to Earl Holliman), the “Blue Suede Shoes” screen test did lead to Elvis’ first movie Love Me Tender. Two weeks after his audition for Paramount, Presley had his first million selling single, “Heartbreak Hotel.”
 

Written by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
All shook up: When Suzi Quatro finally made it to Graceland


 
Pioneering female rocker Suzi Quatro was on tour in the U.S. in 1974 when the call came.

She was touring to promote Suzi Quatro, her debut album for Mickie Most’s RAK Records in the U.K., which had been produced by the unparalleled, fabulous, evil-genius songwriting team of Mike Chapman and Nicky Chinn the year before. The album contained the well crafted Chinnichap compositions “48 Crash,” “Primitive Love,” and “Can the Can” but also included a cover of “All Shook Up,” chosen as the third single. Quatro had loved and emulated Elvis Presley – strikingly in her trademark black leather – since seeing him on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1956 when she was six years old. From that moment, unlike other little girls who went nuts upon seeing him for the first time, she wanted to be Elvis.

She was in a Memphis hotel room when she received a call from Elvis’ “people.” And, bless her heart, she had a panic attack. Talk about being “all shook up”!

Suzi said in a BBC interview this year:

I was on tour in Memphis and he had heard my version of “All Shook Up.” His people got in touch with me in the hotel room. Then he came on the line [open-mouthed shock] and he invited me to Graceland. He said, “Your version is the best since my own. How would you like to come to Graceland?” And I said I was very busy, no thank you.

The situation was, as BBC producer Mark Hagen later described it, complicated. Elvis was once again a bachelor, but Suzi was already romantically involved with her guitarist and songwriting partner, Len Tuckey (Surely a one-time pass could have been granted so that Suzi could hang out with the King?!)

Suzi discovered that she had been given the part of Leather Tuscadero on Happy Days on the day that Elvis died, August 16, 1977. She was devastated that she had turned down his invitation and would never have another chance to meet him. The regret has haunted her ever since.

During her memorable seven-episode stint on Happy Days from 1977 to 1979, Suzi sang “All Shook Up” and “Heartbreak Hotel” on the show, wearing a $2000 fawn jumpsuit made by Ukrainian “rodeo tailor” to the stars (including Hank Williams, Porter Wagoner, Gram Parsons, and Elvis), Nuta Kotlyarenko, a.k.a. “Nudie” Cohn. Her trademark jumpsuits were actually Mickie Mosts’s idea, not a tribute to Elvis.

[Mickie] came up with the jumpsuit idea, which I thought was a great idea. I wanted leather, without a doubt… I swear to God, I had no idea it was going to be sexy… It didn’t occur to me. I remember saying to him, “Oh, that’s really sensible. I can jump around and nothing will come out and I don’t have to iron it.” And then when I saw the pictures back, I went, “Ohhhhh.”

In 2009 Suzi finally made it to Graceland, when Mark Hagen made the documentary Suzi Quatro’s Elvis for BBC Radio 2. Suzi visited Elvis’ birthplace, all of his homes, talked to many of his childhood friends, and stopped in at Sun Studios on Union Ave in Memphis. It was already an emotional experience before she even reached the front gate of Graceland.

Suzi said:

I was in tears many times as I traced the footsteps of Elvis Presley who was, and is, the reason I do what I do.

She added her name to the stone wall filled with fans’ tributes running along the front of Graceland, thirty-five years late.

Suzi Quatro outside Graceland, below:

 
After the jump ‘Leather Tuscadaro’ gets her Elvis on…

Written by Kimberly J. Bright | Discussion
Elvis Presley jams with Jimmy Page, Keith Moon, Marvin Gaye and more
03.30.2013
10:54 pm

Topics:
Advertising
Music
Pop Culture
Superstar

Tags:
Elvis Presley


 
Ingenious commercial for BBC Radio 2 is pretty damn convincing down to Elvis’s bemused smile when Keith Moon misses his cue.

The commercial is composed of clips from:

Elvis – 1973 concert, Aloha from Hawaii.
Marvin Gaye – Live in Montreux, 1980
Jimmy Page - Atlantic Records 40th Anniversary Concert , 1988
Noel Gallagher – The Who and Friends at the Royal Albert Hall, 2003
Keith Moon –  The Who Charlton BBC Concert, 1974
Sheryl Crow – The Grammy Awards, 2003
Stevie Wonder – Sesame Street 1973

Very well done.
 

 
Thanks to Feel Numb for the clip sources.

Written by Marc Campbell | Discussion
The Residents sing the Blues: Elvis, Hank Williams and demented cowboys
08.28.2012
08:53 am

Topics:
Art
Music

Tags:
Elvis Presley
The Residents


 
In spring of 1989, The Residents brought their “History of American Music in 3 EZ pieces” tour to Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall in New York for that year’s “Serious Fun” avant-garde music/performance art festival  It was the second time I saw The Residents live and it was a memorable musical theatrical experience, I can assure you. Either the night before, or the night after, I can’t recall, I saw Diamanda Galas in the same theater performing her “Masque of the Red Death” trilogy and nearly bringing the walls down.

Avery Fischer is a plush, intimate(ish) recital hall (approx 2000 seats) that normally hosts the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. Because of the “classy” setting, the show promised to be “more” than previous live Residents outings. Seeing The Residents at Lincoln Center seemed irresistible, but I didn’t know anyone who wanted to go, so I went alone [I’ve never been able to rope in a friend to see The Residents with me, not once! The first time I’d caught The Residents, also alone, was a few years earlier, during their 13th anniversary tour at The Ritz nightclub (now Webster Hall). About ten minutes into the show, Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat arrived and stood near me on the balcony. About 20 minutes later they said something to each other and left immediately.]

The performance consisted of three-acts: “Buckaroo Blues” told the story of American music through cowboy music, “Black Barry” via slave songs, blues and jazz and in the final Elvis section, “The Baby King,” The Residents essayed a senile Elvis telling his grandchildren (“Shorty” and “Shirley,” two freaky ventriloquist’s dummies) about his life before the British Invasion kills him. The show featured elaborately choreographed dance numbers and back-lit sets. As you might expect, the acoustics were pretty near perfect in a place like Avery Fisher Hall.
 

 
The video below comes from the out-of-print Residents box set, Cube-E and features several numbers from the “History of American Music in 3 EZ pieces” tour as they were performed on NBC’s Night Music program, German TV and in 1989 rehearsals shot in San Francisco and New York.
 

 
Thank you, Paul Gallagher!

Written by Richard Metzger | Discussion
The King’s Skidmarks: Elvis’ crappy underpants go up for auction
08.27.2012
08:39 am

Topics:
Amusing
Music
Pop Culture

Tags:
Elvis Presley
Underwear
auction


 
A pair of soiled and stained underwear worn by The King of Rock and Roll himself, Elvis Presley, will be going up for auction next month at Omega Auctions. Elvis wore this particular pair of undies beneath one of his flashy white jumpsuits back in 1977.

It’s expected that The King’s fecal-stained briefs could fetch up to £10,000.

Omega Auctions will be live streaming the auction on its website September 8.

Via Arbroath

Written by Tara McGinley | Discussion
The King meets the rockers uptown: Elvis Presley ina rub a dub style
08.01.2012
04:54 pm

Topics:
Music
Reggae

Tags:
Elvis Presley
Reggae


 
The King remixed in a reggae style.

01. Return To Sender
02. In The Ghetto
03. Blue Moon
04. Fever
05. It’s Now Or Never
06. Baby I Don’t Care
07. Suspicious Minds
08. I’ll Remember You
09. Are You Lonesome Tonight?
10. Crying In The Chapel

Video contains some nudity.

Written by Marc Campbell | Discussion
Previews for every movie ever made starring Elvis Presley
07.12.2012
05:09 pm

Topics:
Movies
Music

Tags:
Elvis Presley


 
I own a commercially-released and now very rare VHS copy of this trailer compilation. It wasn’t available for very long. Licensing issues? Probably. The quality is of the bootleg variety. Presley fans may consider downloading it. Though the King may come looking for you.

Here’s a list of films included in the video.

That poster up there for King Creole was created for the French release of the film. It’s 47 x 63 inches. I just had mine framed - I’ve owned if for almost 20 years. It takes up an entire wall in my dining room. I’m not a big Elvis fan but that poster looks awesome when it’s right in front of you. Pop art that pops.
 
Watch the video after the jump…
 

Written by Marc Campbell | Discussion
The Elvis Mouse: The King cloned (sort of)


 
“It’s one for the money, two for the show, three to get ready now clone, cat, clone, but don’t you step on my Elvis Mouse… Oh you can do anything but stay offa my Elvis Mouse… “

Koby Barhad explains in the artist statement from his “All That I Am” installation at Design Interactions 2012 graduate show:

From a speck of hair to a mouse model.

A combination of three online services can make this project possible.
Hair samples of Elvis Presley, bought on eBay were sent to a gene sequencing lab to identify different behavioural traits (varied from sociability, athletic performance to obesity and addiction). Using this information, transgenic mice clones with parallel traits were produced. The genetically cloned models of Elvis (in this case) are tested in a collection of various contemporary scientific mouse model environments, simulating some of the significant biographical circumstances of his life.

Is it possible to quantify our life through a series of conditions and events? What are the aspects of life that are responsible in making us ourselves?
Does buying a pre-owned item gives one the legal right to another individual’s genetic data?
Can mouse models of ourselves help us prepare for possible futures or will it impose them on us?
Will we make different choices Re-living the same life?
Can a mouse be Elvis? What makes you believe it can be?

Further explication via We Make Money, Not Art:

In parallel to the works performed by these laboratories, Koby has been studying the scientific mouse model environments that have been used on lab mice over the past 100 years. The cages have been designed to study and manipulate psychological aspects of mice.

Koby then made his own cages. But his were intended to reconstruct some of the most influential moments in the life of Elvis. Each of these cages offers a specific environment that is designed to influence the psychology of the mouse and make it closer to Elvis’.

Some of the main themes that the designer identified as being influential in making Elvis are: his close relationship with his mother (and so the mouse is given a mouse companion), being the victim of bullying when he was a child (in this cage, the mouse is submitted to external stimuli that frightens it), the discovery of his talents, becoming a star (features a distorted mirror that makes the mouse appear bigger), the Graceland period (in every place the mouse pokes nose, it gets a positive reaction in the shape of food or toys and keeps filling the cage to the point making it anxious), the army, the death of mum, the divorce from Priscilla are events that are represented by a cage that functions as an isolation chamber. The last cage embodies the last three years of the life of Elvis, when he worked himself to death, that period is represented by a little treadmill at the top of the cages. The mouse would run, run, run and eventually fall down.

It’s unclear if the Elvis Mouse is only being fed fried banana and peanut butter sandwiches washed down with phenobarbital, when it groggily rings for its cook in the middle of the night.

Also unclear is whether or not there is a mouse equivalent to “Dr. Nick” Elvis’s legendary doctor feelgood, who prescribed the King over 10,000 doses of amphetamines, barbiturates, narcotics, tranquilizers, sleeping pills, laxatives and hormones in the final year of his life alone.
 

 
Via Nerdcore

Written by Richard Metzger | Discussion
‘Elvis On Tour’: Montage sequences directed by Martin Scorsese


 
On the heels of Madonna’s half-time spektakular and the new M.I.A. video (torrents of Arabia), may I present the The King of Rock and Roll (the white one) immortally preserved in hi-def.

Elvis on Tour was shot during a 15 city tour of the States in 1972 and Elvis is in fine Vegas form, wearing enough bling, satin, scarves and hairspray to make Liberace look like Bon Iver. Chubbier than in his sleek ‘68 Comeback Special, Presley still puts on a dynamic, though somewhat predictable, show. 

The montage (split screen) sequences were directed by Martin Scorsese. I guess the producers thought if they replicated the look of the film Woodstock that hippies would suddenly think Elvis was hip. Had The King’s handlers let him stick to his lean mean black leather look of the ‘68 Comeback Special that might have happened. Afterall, a decade or so later, Morrissey found the look compelling enough to imitate it.
 

Written by Marc Campbell | Discussion
Elvis Presley: “Santa Claus Is Back In Town” & “Blue Christmas”


The jungle room at Graceland all decked out with Christmas cheer.

When he was cool, he was very cool. A black leather clad Elvis croons “Santa Claus Is Back In Town” & “Blue Christmas” as young girls swoon.

Some raw takes not included in the television broadcast version of Elvis’s “Comeback Special.” June 27, 1968
 

Written by Marc Campbell | Discussion
Earliest known footage of Elvis, Buddy Holly (plus Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins)


 
This is what it says on YouTube:

This colour clip was shot silent in 1955 in Oklahoma City while Holly and Elvis Presley were working the two bottom slots on a country package tour headlined by Hank Snow — and apparently represents not only the earliest film footage of Holly but that of Elvis as well (he’s dressed in a neon-bright green shirt and he’s already a physically commanding figure).

Other YouTubers are saying this was shot in Buddy Holly’s high school in Lubbock, Texas, the following year. Whatever the case, you can also catch Carl Perkins, and at :58 seconds in, a really young-looking Johnny Cash.
 

 
(via Everlasting Blort)

Written by Richard Metzger | Discussion
Happy Birthday Mahalia Jackson!

image
 
The legendary Gospel singer and Civil Rights activist, Mahalia Jackson was born 100 years ago today.

In a career that spanned 6 decades from 1927-1971, Jackson recorded over 30 albums, appeared in numerous films and was once described by Harry Belafonte as “the single most powerful black woman in the United States”.

With her rich contralto voice, Jackson was hailed as the “Queen of Gospel”, and her influence crossed musical genres from Rock to Pop, Jazz to Blues, and influenced Elvis Presley, Nina Simone and Aretha Franklin.
 

 
More from Mahalia, after the jump…
 

Written by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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