- Elvis' helping 'hounds': 75 years after his birth, Elvis's songwriter tells the stories behind the hits
By MICHAEL RIEDEL
(nypost.com, January 17 2010)
Elvis Presley would have been 75 this month, and all over the world, from Memphis to Sydney, Denver to London, the King's fans have been celebrating his legacy. You can be sure that at every one of those celebrations, somebody's singing "Hound Dog."
As it happens, the man who wrote it was in New York this week, working on a new Broadway show. Mike Stoller is one half of the legendary rock 'n' roll songwriting team Leiber and Stoller, whose hits include "Yakety Yak," "Stand By Me," "On Broadway," "Is That All There Is?" and many, many others.
Stoller wrote the music, Jerry Leiber the lyrics.
I ran into Stoller at a bar in the Theater District and asked him to tell me about "Hound Dog" and Elvis.
"We wrote the song for [blues singer] Big Mama Thornton," he recalls. "We met her at a recording studio in Los Angeles, and were just knocked out by her. She was tough-looking. She had razor scars on her face, she wore overalls and work boots and she weighed about 300 pounds.
"She was the inspiration for the song. We jumped into the car and went back to my house and wrote it in 10 minutes. Then we went back and played it for her. She was not eager to see these two white teenagers tell her how to sing the blues, but she recorded it the next day."
A few years later, Presley, whose career was just starting to take off, heard Freddie and the Bellboys sing "Hound Dog" in Vegas. Theyıd turned it into a guy's song, and Presley decided to record it.
Stoller was in Europe at the time and knew nothing about Presley's recording. He sailed home on the Andrea Doria, which collided with another ship off the coast of Nantucket and sank. He was plucked out of a sinking lifeboat and arrived in New York on a cargo ship.
"Jerry was waiting for me on the dock. He rushed down to see me and asked if I was OK. Then he said, 'We got a smash hit! Some white kid named Elvis Presley is singing 'Hound Dog.'"
Because of the success of "Hound Dog," Leiber and Stoller were hired to write songs for the film "Jailhouse Rock."
"We were in New York, and they gave us the script," he says. "But we didn't look at it. We were having a great time going to jazz clubs and cabaret and Broadway."
One day Jean Aberbach, who owned Elvis Presley Music, the King's publishing company, showed up in their hotel room.
"Boys," he said in his Austrian accent, "vhere are my zongs?"
Recalls Stoller: "We didn't have anything. So he put a big overstuffed chair in front of the door and said, 'I am not leaving this room until I have my zongs.' We wrote 'Jailhouse Rock,' 'Treat Me Nice,' 'You're [So] Square' and 'I Want To Be Free' under duress."
Presley had never met Leiber and Stoller, but when he heard the demos, he invited them to the recording studio. He was surrounded by a group of men who would later come to be known as the Memphis Mafia. They were all on the payroll of Presley's manager, Col. Thomas A. Parker.
"Wherever Elvis went, they went. The Colonel wanted it that way. He didn't want songwriters getting too close to Elvis in case we wrote a song before we signed a contract. Elvis once asked me, 'Mike, write me a real pretty ballad,' and I wrote 'Don't.' But it caused a furor because it didn't go through the proper channels."
Elvis and Stoller started to strike up a friendship, but the Colonel ended it.
"Elvis invited me up to his suite at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel to play some pool. I was aiming for a nine ball, and when I looked up, nobody was there but me. Then Elvis came in and said, 'Um, Mike, I feel real bad. The Colonel heard you're here and, um, he don't like it. So I guess you gotta go.'"
The end of Leiber and Stoller's association with Presley came when they had an idea of their own for a movie. They wanted Elvis to star in "A Walk on the Wild Side," based on Nelson Algren's popular 1956 novel about a drifter.
"We were so excited. Nelson Algren is a hell of a writer. We went to Jean Aberbach with the idea and he said, 'I must always speak to the Colonel. Vill you boys wait outside?' After about 10 minutes, while we were imagining how they were going to reward us for this incredible project, Jean summoned us in. 'Boys, the Colonel sez if you ever dare try to interfere with ze career of Elvis Presley, you vill never work again in Caleefornia, New York, London or anyvhere.'
"After that, we completely lost interest. The movie could have been something great. We were cut off. We had no communication with him. And Elvis went on to do some unimportant films."
Stoller saw Presley for the last time in Vegas shortly before his death in 1977. He introduced the King to his wife. "As was his way, he said, 'I'm very pleased to meet you, ma'am.' In the early days, he always called us sir - because we were two years older than he was.
"He was always gentle and polite. The Colonel was a pain in the ass."
- Elvis Presley: 8 deadly diseases that killed the singer!
Posted by contributor001
(entertainmentandshowbiz.com, January 16 2010)
Dr. George Nichopoulos who was held responsible by the public for killing their idol Elvis Presley is about to unleash a tell-all book in which he has made several claims about Elvis Presley's multiple illnesses which are, hitherto, unknown.
The pioneer of 'Rock & Roll' culture, Elvis passed away in 1977 at a raw age of 42 after a sudden cardiac arrest. His personal physician Dr. George Nichopoulos had been crowned the villainous title of 'The Man who Killed Elvis' after reports suggested that Elvis died owing to overdose of drugs (14 counts of overdosed drugs). But, now 3 decades after the legend's death, the Dr. has decided to retort back via his book that, he claims, holds the answers to some of the unsolved mysteries.
According to the Dr. during the last stages of his life, Presley was gravely unwell as his body had been invaded by a number of life-threatening illnesses. Here's the list:
Glaucoma (an eye disease that almost left the singer blind)
Arthritis (that curbed his physical movements)
A fatty liver
Enlargement of heart
Enlargement of colon
Now, the above-mentioned 8 grave illnesses are the ones that took Presley's life; this is what the Dr. claims. But the truth lies buried beneath the soil along with Presley's body lying in his grave in rest........ never to wake up again.......
- ELVIS PRESLEY WAS ALMOST BLIND WHEN HE DIED, SAYS FORMER DOCTOR
(newkerala.com, January 16 2010)
ELVIS PRESLEY suffered eye disease glaucoma and was almost blind when he died, according to the late King of Rock's personal physician.
Dr. George Nichopoulos earned notoriety when, three years after Presley's 1977 death, he was indicted on 14 counts of over-supplying drugs to Presley and other patients, including rocker Jerry Lee Lewis. He was acquitted on all counts, but the accusations earned him the nickname The Man Who Killed Elvis, among the star's angry fans. Thirty years on, Nichopoulos is hitting back in a new tell-all book, in which he claims Presley was a physical wreck at the time of his death and suffered from numerous ailments that could have killed him. The doctor alleges Presley suffered from glaucoma, arthritis, a fatty liver, an enlarged heart and a colon swollen to twice its normal size. He also allegedly suffered from gout, migraines and constipation. The singer died at his Graceland home in Memphis, Tennessee, after suffering a cardiac arrhythmia, aged 42.
- Elvis' family film fails to sell at Wiltshire auction
(news.bbc.co.uk, January 16 2010)
Footage showing the moment Elvis and Priscilla Presley brought their baby daughter home for the first time has failed to sell at a Wiltshire auction. The reel of 16mm film showing intimate family moments lasts for 17 minutes and had been expected to fetch £4,000.
A guitar pick, used by Elvis on his final tour in 1977, sold to a British collector for nearly £1,300.
A registration card for Elvis's 1966 Harley Davidson Motorcycle also sold for £1,400.
Auctioneer Andrew Aldridge said there was keen bidding for other items of Elvis memorabilia during Saturday's sale.
"The film didn't go this time - we'd thought it would raise between £3,000 and £5,000. "But it was sold without copyright so it couldn't be publically shown. "If that wasn't the case you could have put an extra couple of zeros on the end of the guide price," he added. The film had come from Jimmy Velvet, president of the Elvis Presley Museum, in Nashville, Tennessee.
In the film Priscilla Presley explains it contains some of her precious memories of the days she had with Elvis.
It shows Elvis and Priscilla at a party on the eve of their wedding in May 1967, as well as footage from the wedding at the Aladdin Hotel in Las Vegas. It also shows the Presleys arriving home from the hospital with Lisa Marie, and Elvis and Priscilla driving around Memphis waving at fans and holding their daughter to the window.
- International Elvis Tribute Artists To Descend On Lake George
(news.yahoo.com / PRWEB, January 12 2010)
The Seventh Annual LakeGeorge.com Elvis Festival (June 3-6, 2010) may be half a year away, but registrations from Elvis Tribute Artists are already coming in from around the globe. Terry Collins, the festival's Talent Director, announced today that "The 2010 festival is attracting the largest pool of international talent we've ever had, with performers traveling from Brazil, Australia, England and Qatar joining the talent from Canada and the US."
Festival organizers are already hard at work planning the upcoming festival, which will return to the Lake George Forum in 2010. The Forum recently reopened under new owners. "We are so excited to be returning to the Forum," commented festival director Jason Sherry. "We had a really great show last year, but the Forum is an exceptional venue for this type of event and we are glad it's available to us again."
The four-day festival celebrates the life and music of Elvis Presley. Events include two Las Vegas-style tribute shows, three days of competition featuring more than 50 tribute artists, a classic car parade through Lake George Village, Elvis cruises on Lake George, Elvis After Hours Parties, an Elvis Collectibles sale and much more.
Friday night's show, "Tribute to Rock and Roll History," features tributes to Elvis and other rock and roll legends including Tom Jones, James Brown, Rod Stewart, Buddy Holly and Roy Orbison. Saturday's "Elvis is Back" concert features Shawn Klush's internationally acclaimed tribute to Elvis Presley. "We are happy that Shawn is returning to perform at the festival this year," says Sherry. "Ever since Shawn won the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Competition in Memphis, he has become the hottest Elvis tribute act around."
Tickets for the 2010 LakeGeorge.com Elvis Festival are currently on sale. For more information, a complete schedule of events and tickets visit LakeGeorgeElvisFest.com, or call (518) 681-7452.
- Smithsonian exhibits celebrate Elvis
By Brett Zongker
(telegram.com / AP, January 12 2010)
On the 75th anniversary of Elvis Presley's birth, the Smithsonian Institution is showcasing the King of Rock 'n' Roll's ubiquitous image through exhibits opening Friday in Washington and Los Angeles. "One Life: Echoes of Elvis" will be on view at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington through August. The one-room exhibit is devoted to the evolution and influence of Presley's image after his death.
... The exhibit features portraits, images from Graceland, Elvis merchandise and a reminder that Elvis' manager put his face on just about anything that could be marketed. The commercial images include an Elvis-imprinted lunch box, nutcracker, action figure and snow globe.
Original artwork from a 1992 Elvis stamp design competition is on view, along with the 1993 stamp with Presley's likeness that became the most popular U.S. postal stamp of all time, with a printing of 500 million.
A gold bust of Elvis as Julius Caesar by sculptor Robert Arneson anchors another wall. A museum docent recently discovered a surprise in the sculpture that had been in storage at the Smithsonian's Hirshhorn Museum: A small heart was carved in the back. ...
A bust of Elvis Presley in the Smithsonian's "One Life: Echoes of Elvis" exhibit.
(THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)
- St Albans tribute acts wish Elvis Presley a happy birthday
By Alexandra Barham
(St Albans & Harpenden Review, January 12 2010)
ELVIS Presley tribute acts - including St Albans' very own impersonator Elvis Shmelvis - united to commemorate the king of rock and roll's birthday this weekend, performing a hip-shaking medley of his greatest hits in front of hundreds of shoppers in central London.
Celebrating Elvis' 75th birthday in style, three of the king's very own tribute acts, clad in sequin jumpsuits, banded together to sing legendary hits while thrusting their hips in front of jeering crowds outside an Elvis memorabilia shop in Baker Street, London on Friday.
Among the rockers at the street bash was professional impersonator Martyn Dyas, also known as Elvis Shmelvis, of Ragged Hall Lane, St Albans, and fellow impersonator Vince Citrano, aka Elvince. Pakistani Elvis tribute artist Sal Bashir completed the trio. ...
- If you're a real Elvis Presley fan
(timesleader.com, January 12 2010)
If you're a real Elvis Presley fan, you knew he would have turned 75 last Friday well before the coverage started.
The celebration was marked by tribute concerts, movie marathons, book releases and more, proving that The King is still king. You also probably know that Presley was a twin, that Priscilla was only 14 when she met her future husband and that he liked fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches.
Here are 10 things that you might not have known about him.
1. Presley almost died in a Tupelo, Miss., tornado when he was 15 months old.
2. Research shows that "Elvis" is one of the most popular passwords for computers.
3. When Presley was 2, he wiggled out of his mother's grip and joined the choir to sing during an Assembly of God Church service.
4. At 11, Presley got a guitar. He really wanted a bicycle (some say a rifle), but his parents couldn't afford it.
5. The first time Presley recorded, it was for his mother. He paid $4 to Sun Studio to press two songs - "My Happiness" and "That's When Your Heartaches Begin" - as a gift for her.
6. Presley recorded anywhere from 600 to 1,200 songs, depending on whether the list includes unfinished works, alternate versions, bootlegged recordings, etc.
7. Presley's last words were, "OK, I won't," when he assured Ginger Alden, his last girlfriend, that he wouldn't fall asleep reading in the bathroom.
8. It is estimated that there were about 170 Presley impersonators when he died in 1977. Today, some say there are 250,000.
9. Presley started wearing a chai necklace because his mother Gladys' maternal grandmother was Jewish - the reason why he added a Star of David on his mother's gravestone in the mid-1960s.
10. When asked why he wore the necklace, he said, "I don't want to miss out on going to heaven on a technicality."
- Elvis Presley feted in Memphis on 75th birthday
(chinadaily.com.cn, January 11 2010)
Hundreds of Elvis Presley fans braved frigid, snowy weather to celebrate the late rock'n'roll legend's 75th birthday on Friday at his Graceland shrine, part of a marketing machine that generates $50 million a year. ...
- Elvis Presley loved horses
(timesofindia.indiatimes.com, January 11 2010)
Priscilla Presley, former wife of the King of Rock and Roll, and other sources claimed the singer had at least 18 horses at both Graceland and the Circle G Ranch at one point.
His first horse at Graceland was a quarter-horse named Domino, which apparently he presented to his wife, reports Discovery News.
The singer went on to buy palomino Rising Sun for himself and many of the horses were said to have been stabled in a barn named "The House of the Rising Sun." Other animals to have received the star's affection included a chimpanzee and several dogs.
- Elvis Presley: Shall we ever have another Elvis Presley?
Posted by contributor001
(entertainmentandshowbiz.com, January 9 2010)
As the iconic & immortal 'King of Rock & Roll' turned 75 on 8th January, 2009; his fans erupted into ecstasy and incalculable joy and celebrated his birthday with as much enthusiasm as the legend, truly, deserved.
As astonishing 3000-plus die-hard Elvis fans congregated at his Memphis, Tennessee mansion to give company to Presley's ex-wife and daughter and rejoiced at what would've been his 75th birthday. The Presley-fans showered his grave with sheaths of flower and toured his home, which is like a divine place to the God Presley's humble devotees.
Presley's ex-wife Priscilla said, "It's very difficult for me to even fathom that it's been 75 years for him. It certainly [is] bittersweet." She was immensely moved by the touching gesture of all of Elvis' fans and hailed them as 'the greatest'.
Unfortunately, the megastar passed away prematurely in 1977 but, posthumously, his fan-base only increases year by year. Shall we ever have another Elvis Presley....... the answer is yes........ but, only when he, himself, takes another birth.
- Priscilla Presley in awe of how Elvis has stayed in people's hearts
(Deseret News, January 9 2010)
Priscilla Presley says Elvis Presley "had such a young spirit" that she can't imagine him as a 75-year-old man, but if he...
Parkes Elvis Festival, 6-10 January 2010, held in Parkes, NSW, Australia:
(top) Street parade; (below) Tribute Artist Mark Andrew: Elvis Gospel Celebration
- Started at 15 yo and still going
(Parkes Champion Post, January 8 2010, p. 3)
Elvis Gnarnayarrahe Waitairie has made his way from Melbourne to attend and perform at his first Parkes Elvis Festival. Gnarnayarrahe comes from a family of 23 brothers and sisters from the Yindjibarndi tribe in Roebourne, WA. ...
- 10,000 here for Viva Las Parkes
(Parkes Champion Post, January 8 2010, p. 1)
More than 10,000 people are expected to flock to Parkes for this weekend's Viva Las Vegas Elvis Festival which promises to the biggest in the 18 year history of the event. ...
- It's started ... Elvis Festival time
(Parkes Champion Post, January 6 2010, p. 1)
It has been 33 years since he left the building, yet an expected 10,000 fans will come to Parkes to celebrate Elvis Presley's birthday this week.
Record crowds are again expected for the CountryLink Elvis Festival. This year's theme is 'Viva Las Vegas' and the program officially commences today.
The five-day program will feature favourites including the street parade, gospel service, Cooke Park entertainment, look-a-like contests, Elvis Idol, displays of Elvis memorabilia, the Festival's first ever female Elvbis Tribute Artist in concert and more than 140 unique Elvis-style events. ...
Elvis fans and festival lovers are converging on Parkes from all over Australia and overseas - and town and surrounding areas are virtually filled to capacity. ...