- In the music business, this decade belonged to the fans
(northjersey.com, December 28 2009)
... That was the decade's signature moment in pop music, a sign that fans -- once a faceless marketing demographic -- were now de facto distributors, marketers, publicists and coconspirators.
Previous decades were dominated by personalities and movements, larger-than-life figures such as Elvis Presley and the Beatles, and cultural shifts such as hip-hop, rave music and punk. But the 2000s belonged to music technology and delivery systems. Most of all, the decade belonged to fans.
The combination of broadband Internet access and file-trading software such as Napster seized power and control over music from a handful of corporations and transferred it to the laptops and cell phones of consumers. Since 2000, the industry has seen its business cut by one-third to less than $10 billion annually, while compact disc sales have been chopped in half, to fewer than 500 million annually.
Though sales of digital music have increased, those gains are far outweighed by rogue peer-to-peer file-trading networks. Web-tracking services estimate that for every digital file that is sold, 40 are traded in violation of U.S. copyright law. ...
- Paris Hilton Agrees to 'Marry' Journalist Piers Morgan
(aceshowbiz.com, December 28 2009)
Paris Hilton has walked down the aisle with revered British journalist Piers Morgan for a new TV special. The socialite showed off her sense of humor when she agreed to 'marry' the America's Got Talent judge in a staged 15-minute ceremony at the Little Church of the West for the upcoming U.K. program "Piers Morgan On... Las Vegas."
Hilton donned a long white bridal gown and veil, before exchanging vows and rings with Morgan in front of witness including an Elvis Presley lookalike and a Marilyn Monroe impersonator. And the 28-year-old blonde insists the low-key celebration was typical of Sin City's shenanigans: "You can do anything here - it's crazy! What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas."
Morgan jokes, "You know what it's like - you have a few drinks, spend too long on the blackjack table, get overexcited and do something silly. I have to say, Paris scrubbed up to be a beautiful bride. It was magical."
The fake nuptials served as a useful practice session for Morgan, who proposed to journalist Celia Walden in Paris, France in earlier December 2009.
- Prolific songwriter penned hits for pop stars: AARON SCHROEDER -- POP MUSIC PHENOMENON 7-9-1926 - 2-12-2009
By DENNIS McLELLAN
(theage.com.au, December 28 2009)
AARON Schroeder, a songwriter, independent music publisher and record producer who co-wrote 17 songs for Elvis Presley, including his biggest hit, It's Now or Never, has died of heart failure at a home for actors in New Jersey. He was 83.
In a songwriting career that began in the late 1940s, Schroeder wrote more than 2000 songs and was the composer, lyricist and/or producer on more than 1500 recordings. He co-wrote five No. 1 songs for Presley, including Stuck on You, Good Luck Charm, A Big Hunk o' Love, I Got Stung and It's Now or Never, which ranked No. 92 in Billboard magazine's 2008 list of the "Hot 100 All-Time Top Songs".
... In 1960, Schroeder went into the music publishing business. Around the same time, he launched the New York City-based Musicor Records. Musicor had its biggest success with Gene Pitney, for whom Schroeder produced his early hits, including Only Love Can Break a Heart and Town Without Pity. He also managed and wrote songs with Pitney.
But the biggest single hit for him, as it was for Presley, was 1960's It's Now or Never, which sold more than 20 million records and became No. 1 in countries all over the world.The melody was borrowed from O Sole Mio, a Neapolitan standard. Influenced by an English-language version of a song sung by Tony Martin, There's No Tomorrow, Presley, then in the US Army in Germany, decided to record his own interpretation.
Presley put the idea to his music publisher, Freddy Bienstock, who was visiting him in Germany, according to the book Behind the Hits (1986) by Bob Shannon and John Javna. Bienstock returned to his New York office, where he found two songwriters, Schroeder and Wally Gold, the only people in that day. The two wrote the lyrics in half an hour. ...
- Developers planning big changes at Graceland
(wmctv.com, December 28 2009)
The owners of Graceland are getting serious about plans for a redevelopment project that would rejuvenate the popular Heartbreak Hotel and spruce up 100 acres surrounding Elvis Presley's home.
- Extreme makeover: Graceland edition
(upi.com, December 28 2009)
The owner of the company that controls Graceland says a two-day meeting has been set to plan the future for the late Elvis Presley's Memphis estate.
- Books of The Times: Love Me Plenty, Presley Pleads
By JANET MASLIN
(nytimes.com, December 27 2009)
Jan. 8 will be the 75th anniversary of the birth of Elvis Presley. Don't fear that this milestone will be celebrated too quietly. Elvis 75 (a shorthand moniker for the event itself, as well as the title of a new greatest-hits collection) will bring an onslaught of commemorative festivities and products, like parties at Graceland, concerts with Elvis impersonators and a movie suggesting that Presley, who died on Aug. 16, 1977, has spent the last three decades in outer space. It will bring everything except realistic thoughts of what the uncontrollably self-destructive Elvis might have been like as a 75-year-old man.
BABY, LET'S PLAY HOUSE: Elvis Presley and the Women Who Loved Him
By Alanna Nash
Illustrated. 684 pages. It Books. $27.99.
Naturally, there are books. Lots and lots of books. Among the standouts -- beyond a tell-all by the doctor who knows a lot about Presley's death and a hagiography from the lifelong buddy who is fond of saying that America has had many presidents but only one King -- is Alanna Nash's long look at Elvis's bizarre history with women. She has cleverly borrowed one of his most seductive song titles, "Baby, Let's Play House."
Since Ms. Nash¹s book is studiously annotated and longer than many biographies of American presidents, there is reason to think she may have done some serious work here. Also, she approaches this subject with a running start. As the author of "The Colonel," about the carny tricks of Presley's famously Machiavellian manager, Col. Tom Parker, as well as "Elvis and the Memphis Mafia," she sounds like someone well connected in the Presley world. So it is only a little bit worrisome to see her identified in the jacket copy for her new book as "the first journalist to see Elvis Presley in his casket."
That whiff of morbid curiosity turns out to be determinative. So does the genesis of "Baby, Let's Play House": Ms. Nash acknowledges that she initially wrote a women-oriented article for Ladies' Home Journal and then decided to expand it. Thus armed with what she all too aptly calls "an oral history of some of the women in Elvis's life," Ms. Nash began padding her story with three kinds of material: her own legitimate interviews (some with women still pining for Elvis 50 years after their fateful encounters), secondhand gossip (from self-serving memoirs and fan publications) and psychobabble. Cobbled together, these elements led her along Presley's long, winding trail from babes to baby sitters as his life spiraled into sad decline.
"Baby, Let's Play House" is abundantly illustrated with pictures of Presley with his girlfriends. And the pictures tell a powerful story. He worked his way through a lifetime¹'s worth of women who looked like his brown-haired, soulful-eyed mother, Gladys. At first they were girls next door. Then, though still from the same cookie cutter, they became ever more beautiful as Elvis's star rose, to the point where he paired up with women almost as good-looking as he was.
After Gladys died in 1958, her distraught son began going off the rails, and the women become less and less suitable for bringing home to Mother. The last photos of Elvis show him with a glazed John Belushi look and not much visible awareness of his female companions, whoever they happen to be.
Ms. Nash tells a long, repetitive and dirt-digging version of that dramatic tale. Her central premise, supplied by Peter O. Whitmer ("The Inner Elvis") in his capacity as this book's resident psychologist and buttressed by terms like "individuate," "stuck grief," "sexual dimorphism" and "estrogen-androgen balance," is that Presley's loss of a twin brother at birth set him on a lifelong search for companionship he could never truly find and that his extreme closeness to his mother left no room for other adult women.
Using details too tawdry for even the most voyeuristic fans, the author offers evidence of her subject's arrested sexual development, physical insecurities and general predilection for the 14-year-old girls who struck him as unthreatening. Sometimes he really did throw pajama parties and teach girls how to put on eye makeup and style their hair. ...
- Facebook, Rage beat Simon Cowell
(news-mail.com.au / AAP, December 26 2009)
... Thanks to a Facebook campaign that capitalised on growing unhappiness with Cowell's cookie-cutter approach to pop stardom, the anti-establishment Rage Against the Machine came out ahead of Joe McElderry, winner of Cowell's popular X Factor TV competition. The upset for the heavily favoured McElderry represents a setback for Cowell, who has made millions on both sides of the Atlantic for his roles in American Idol, X Factor, Britain's Got Talent and other productions. ... The list of past Christmas No.1 winners includes the Spice Girls, the Beatles, Michael Jackson, Elvis Presley and perennial British favorite Cliff Richard, who triumphed with The Shadows in 1960 and again as a solo act in 1988.
- City Center: Las Vegas' newest, greatest, mega-resort
By Tom Wharton
(The Salt Lake Tribune, December 25 2009)
The $8.5 billion City Center in the heart of this desert gambling town is a study in contradictions. In a place known for its excesses, this complex of hotels, shops, spas, night clubs and restaurants emphasizes sustainability and green building. ...
Viva Las Vegas
Those looking for Vegas-style entertainment may enjoy "Viva Elvis," a new Cirque du Soleil production in a state-of-the-art 1,800-seat theater built specifically for the show. Currently in previews, the show differs from The Beatles Love playing at The Mirage in that it uses only some songs voiced by Elvis, who would be 75 on Jan. 8 had he lived. Others are Elvis songs performed by live musicians, some utilize historic footage of Elvis Presley and many feature the famous acrobatics the Cirque troop is known for.
"Elvis has always been in the forefront of new, contemporary entertainment and technology," said the late entertainer's wife Priscilla Presley at a news conference. "I believe 'Viva Elvis' continues this and reaches out and expands his legacy in a new, creative and exciting way."
Garrett Eugene Case, Jr. -- an actor with Utah ties, having worked the past few years for the Odyssey Dance Theater, including its production of Thriller -- has landed the role of his lifetime in "Viva Elvis." He plays Col. Tom Parker, Elvis' longtime manager, who serves as a narrator of sorts for the production. In one scene, he drops eight stories from the ceiling to the stage, rolling out in a giant film canister.
The 38-year-old Case said he visited Graceland and read as much as possible about Col. Parker before tackling the role. ...
- The King Of Christmas Past
By David Comfort
(blogcritics.org, December 24 2009)
[Two-page article on how Elvis's Christmases went from humble and happy, to spendthrift and sad.]
- A new icon for Tupelo?
By Carlie Kollath
(NEMS Daily Journal, December 19 2009)
Phillip Baulch hopes he has the must-have souvenir for Tupelo-area tourists. Baulch, CEO of Nettleton-based Digital Impressions, a 4-year-old business that specializes in direct mailing and graphic design, is making flat metal guitars that are mounted on a piece of metal shaped like the Tennessee Valley Authority sign at Crosstown.
The guitar design is modeled after Elvis Presley's first guitar, which his mother bought for him at Tupelo Hardware. "To me, that just screams Tupelo," Baulch said. The items steer clear of licensing issues by not using Elvis' name or likeness. Instead, they have "Tupelo Miss." printed on the front.
The metal guitars come in a variety of sizes, but managers at Digital Impressions expect the smaller 12-inch guitars to be the most popular with tourists. Prices start around $40 and vary depending on the size and finish. The foot-tall guitars are miniature versions of the 6-foot tall metal guitars that will be installed around downtown Tupelo in early January. The large guitars have been decorated by school children in the Tupelo Public School District.
"I want one day in the future for (the Tupelo guitar) to be as iconic as the TVA sign," said Russell Stafford, the art director at Digital Impressions. ...
Digital Impressions, based in Nettleton, makes metal guitars designed after Elvis Presley's first one from Tupelo Hardware. CEO Phillip Baulch, left, art director Russell Stafford and COO Buck Hester hope the guitar merchandise will be snapped up by tourists after the 6-foot-tall versions are installed in downtown Tupelo next month. (C. Todd Sherman)
- Inside peek at the King's wildest days: Best buddy dishes on Elvis' orgies, gun
By SUSANNAH CAHALAN
(nypost.com, December 19 2009)
Elvis Presley wasn't always the King. In fact, he was a total misfit who hadn't yet grown into his looks, wore strange, out-of-style clothes and was harassed by jocks in his Memphis high-school days, according to his oldest friend, George Klein, who co-wrote a new book "Elvis: My Best Man" (Crown) about their 30-year friendship.
Elvis and Klein met when they were in the eighth grade and stayed friends until the day Elvis died. Elvis was Klein's best man at his wedding -- and Klein was at the King's side when he wed the love of his life, Priscilla. Klein worked as Elvis' "travel companion," arranging trysts for him on the road, and he also witnessed the spiral of booze, pills and overeating that eventually killed his friend in 1977.
The Post exclusively reveals some of Klein's best memories from the book, out Jan. 5 . . .
Friends From the Start
Klein, who attended North Memphis Humes HS with Elvis, met him in an eighth-grade music-appreciation class (which Elvis had to take because he was rejected from the marching band), where he would often bring his guitar in and sing songs to schoolmates.
"Do you mind if I bring my guitar to class and sing?" he asked the teacher. "There were a few snickers and laughs," Klein recalls. "Back in 1948, there wasn't anything cool about a 13-year-old kid playing a 'country' instrument like a guitar." After he sang his songs, there was a "moment of shocked silence and then just a smattering of applause," Klein writes.
Elvis was far from the swaggering star the world would embrace. "Elvis wasn't quite as handsome in those years. He hadn't quite grown into his looks yet," Klein recalls. "So most Humes girls weren't sure what to make of this very different classmate."
While everyone else was wearing jeans and button-downs, Elvis would wear "black slacks with a pink stripe down the side and a black sport coat with the collar turned up. He'd let his hair grow out and had it combed back high. He had those sideburns."
The jocks didn't take to the quiet singer. "One day he was cornered in a Humes bathroom by a tough group who brandished a pair of scissors and said they were going to cut off his hair. "He tried to fight them off, but his pompadour was only saved when one of the strongest, most fearless guys at Humes, Red West, happened to walk into the bathroom and saw what was going on. Red told the would-be barbers that if they wanted to cut Elvis' hair they'd have to cut his first, and that was the end of that," writes Klein. (West later became a bodyguard and co-songwriter for Elvis, as well as an actor, appearing in many of Elvis' movies and later "Road House" with Patrick Swayze.)
- Sir Terry Wogan says emotional farewell to listeners
By Nicola Methven; Steve Myall
(mirror.co.uk, December 19 2009)
Terry Wogan bade an emotional farewell to his millions of listeners yesterday by simply saying: "Thanks for being my friend." The much-loved Radio 2 broadcaster, 71, brought an end to his 27 years on the breakfast show by poignantly playing Anthony Newley's The Party's Over.
Earlier, at least 15 millions fans heard a touching tribute from Gordon Brown. The PM described the Irishman's decades at the "very top" as an "unparalleled achievement". ... After hearing the PM's message - along with others - on the news bulletin, Wogan joked: "It's like hearing my obituaries while I'm still alive."
Sir Terry arrived at the studio after staying in a hotel to avoid the snow and insisted: "It's just a normal show." He then played all his favourite songs and thanked the listeners, known as TOGS - Terry's Old Geezers / Gals. ...
Young at Heart (The Bluebells)
Pinball Wizard (The Who)
Closest Thing To Crazy (Katie Melua)
Always On My Mind (Elvis Presley)
When you Were Old (Gretchen Peters)
Got to Get You Into My Life (Cliff Bennett and the Rebel Rousers)
Waterloo (Abba) Stardust (Nat King Cole)
I Will Always Love You (Dolly Parton)
Somewhere Over The Rainbow (Eva Cassidy)
That'll Do (Peter Gabriel)
The Party's Over (Anthony Newley, Ray Ellis and his orchestra)
- Woman does floor-to-ceiling nativity display
By Yadira Betances
(eagletribune.com, December 19 2009)
Some people have Christmas trees. Some set up nativity scenes. But Dora Deleon takes a room in her house and builds a three-level, floor-to-ceiling spectacular of miniature holiday villages and scenes, including everything right down to the singing Christmas Elvis figurine. And crowning it all is a nativity set.
"This represents the spirit of Christmas. Even though our people have nothing, we always have faith and it's a tradition we maintain by having a nativity set," Deleon said.
She recalls being awed by a similar display by her grandparents in Guatemala, and brought that tradition with her when she moved to Lawrence in 1975. The lower tier is a showcase of Christmas in the United States. It features an ice skating rink where a snowman glides along as his parents wave. In the town square, a group of children gather around a snowman as Santa Claus watches standing on a park bench. There are apartment buildings, stores and single family homes with Christmas trees, white lights and wreaths with velvety red bows completing the scene, as well as two crystal churches accented with gold.
And there is Elvis Presley in his famous white jumpsuit and red scarf, singing a Christmas song. ...
- Songwriters play central role in new music books
By DAVID BAUDER
(newstribune.com, December 18 2009)
The John Lennon-Paul McCartney songwriting team broke up 40 years ago but their influence lives on in music, pop culture and now in two prominent new books about music. Lennon is one of the five seminal artists who shape the backbone of "Corn Flakes With John Lennon," a memoir by Robert Hilburn, the influential former critic and reporter for the Los Angeles Times. Author Peter Ames Carlin focused on Lennon's partner for the biography "McCartney: A Life." ...
The seeds for Hillburn's book came from an in-depth series he did for the Times in 2004 on songwriters talking about their craft. When he was thinking about who to include, Hilburn drew up a list and showed the names to an industry friend who pointed out an obvious omission: Bob Dylan. Hilburn had over-thought things. He worried about whether Dylan would say no, or if the music legend, who can give inscrutable interviews, would not be revealing.
So he asked, and Dylan gave hours of his time, telling someone later that he did so because he thought "it was important to Bob." It was the thrill of Dylan's music that led Hilburn, then a news reporter, to music writing in 1966. He also recognized, as a youth obsessed with Elvis Presley in the 1950s, that not enough people took pop music seriously. ...
- Return of the King
By Allison Plitt
(zwire.com, December 17 2009)
Elvis Presley may have had an untimely death, but his voice never made it to heaven. Instead, it has been reincarnated in the vocal chords of Queens singer and musician Gregg Peters. While Elvis impersonators seem a dime a dozen these days, Peters has been crooning the King of rock 'n' roll's tunes for 32 years in a music career that has spawned over 10,000 performances. Not only does his voice sound uncannily like Elvis', but his dark dyed hair, sideburns, and physique evoke memories of one of the most revolutionary yet beloved musicians in rock 'n' roll history.
... When Elvis died in 1977, fans began to request performances from musical artists who looked like him and sang his songs in the same distinctive voice. Peters recalls that in the first few years following Elvis' death, there were only about 10 singers performing tribute shows to the King. In comparison, today, Peters estimates, there are about 100,000 different Elvis imitators giving concerts. He explained that as a musician he has a "good voice and is a good showman" and can sing various genres of music, while the other impersonators are "typecast. They can only do Elvis."
... Peters' youngest son, Lamar, is also an Elvis tribute artist who has been performing with his father since he was 9 years old.
"We get a discount on hair dye," Lamar joked.
Singing Elvis songs from the 1950s, '60s, and '70s, Lamar, who just turned 21, performs with the same energy and youthful exuberance that Presley exhibited earlier in his career. Building up an impressive resume of his own, Lamar toured across the country this year and is currently playing at various venues in Queens.
Nowadays the elder Peters performs mostly in the tri-state area, including tribute shows in Atlantic City.
In another tribute to Presley, who generously donated money to a variety of organizations and individuals in need of financial assistance, Peters also does charity work. He has raised funds during his career for the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, the American Red Cross and the Walter Kaner Children's Foundation.
Information about Peters' upcoming performances can be found at his website on myspace.com ...