Elvis History E-Zine #10 — January 2009

It's Time for the January Issue
of Elvis History E-Zine
by Alan Hanson

This is the tenth issue of Elvis History E-Zine. If this is the first issue you've received, welcome and thanks for subscribing. If you missed them, you can easily read the first nine Elvis History E-Zine issues by clicking on the back issues link below.

Contents of Elvis History E-Zine #10

• January Anniversaries … A list of important events that occurred in January during the life and career of Elvis Presley.

• How “The Mystery of the Broken Elvis Records” was solved in 1957… See how an RCA Victor record distributor cracked a case of supermarket vandalism.

• Elvis hit the $20 million mark in January 1964 … A look at Variety’s report on the Presley balance sheet for the years 1956-1963.

• January Birthdays … A list of people in Elvis’s world who were born during the month of January.

• A January Quote from Elvis … Read what Elvis said in Germany in1959 about being homesick and his future show business plans.

January Anniversaries in Elvis’s Life and Career

January 6 — 52nd anniversary of Elvis’s final appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show” in 1957. Elvis sang “Peace in the Valley” on the program.

January 10 — 53rd anniversary of Elvis recording “Heartbreak Hotel” at RCA’s studios in New York City in 1956.

January 12 — 52nd anniversary of Elvis recording “All Shook Up” at Radio Recorders studio in Los Angeles in 1957.

January 13 — 40th anniversary of the start of Elvis’s 11-day recording session at American Studio in Memphis in 1969. The sessions produced “In the Ghetto” and “Suspicious Minds.”

January 13 — 36th anniversary of Elvis’s “Aloha From Hawaii” TV special concert at the International Convention Center in Honolulu in 1973.

January 15 — 52nd anniversary of Elvis recording “Teddy Bear” at Paramount studios in Hollywood in 1957.

January 16 — 38th anniversary of the Junior Chamber of Commerce of America honoring Elvis as one of the “Ten Outstanding Young Men of the Year” at an awards ceremony in Memphis in 1971. Elvis was 36 years old.

January 20 — 51st anniversary of the beginning of principal photography on King Creole in 1958.

January 27 — 53rd anniversary of the release of “Heartbreak Hotel,” RCA’s first official Elvis Presley record, in 1956.

January 28 — 53rd anniversary of Elvis’s first national TV appearance on “Stage Show,” hosted by Jimmy and Tommy Dorsey in New York City in 1956. Elvis sang “Shake, Rattle, and Roll” and “I Got a Woman.”

January 28 — 46th anniversary of the beginning of principal photography on Fun in Acapulco in 1963.

January 30 — 53rd anniversary of Elvis recording “Blue Suede Shoes” at RCA’s New York studios in 1956.

How “The Mystery of the Broken Elvis Records” was solved in 1957

On January 5, 1957, Billboard magazine reported on a mysterious case of damaged Elvis records. Larry Kanaga, then vice-president and general manager of RCA’s Record Division, heard the true story at a convention of record distributors in Indianapolis.

It seems that a supermarket manager called up the local RCA record jobber and complained that all the Elvis Presley 78’s he had on display were broken. The jobber couldn’t understand it, but he replaced the broken records in the supermarket. Several days later, however, the manager called back again with the same complaint. All the replacement records were broken.

The jobber replaced the Presley records again, but this time he made the delivery himself, inspecting each disk as it put it on the supermarket rack. Then, positioning himself in a spot where he could observe the rack unnoticed, the RCA rep sat down and waited.

He didn’t have to wait long. Soon he spotted a little old lady with a cane walking down an aisle toward the record rack. She walked up to the Presley display, and, after taking a look around, raised her cane and gave the records a couple of whacks.

The mystery was solved, but Billboard made no mention of what, if any, action was taken against the old lady for her act of vandalism. Perhaps an appropriate punishment in this case would have been being forced to sit and listen to Elvis’s records for several hours.

Elvis hit the $20 million mark in January 1964

Elvis Presley’s career has always been defined by numbers—big numbers. In a January 15, 1964, article, Variety used some big numbers to assess Elvis’s career to that point. The article opened with the following paragraph.

“His imminent professional demise having been forecast annually since his dynamic arrival on the show biz scene in 1956, Elvis Presley heads into 1964 as easily the most robust corpse extant, his estimated gross income to date a lively $20,000,000.”

The Variety article then went on to reveal one big Presley number after another. According to RCA Victor figures released the week before, Elvis’s single record sales during his eight years with the company totaled 49,300,000. He also had sold 11 million LPs and 12 million EPs. The 15 movies in which he had appeared from 1956-1963 had brought in an estimated $75 million in box office receipts. Colonel Parker told Variety that Elvis had received $1.5 million in straight salary for his two 1963 films, It Happened At the World’s Fair and Fun in Acapulco, with 50% of the profits still to come on top of that.

So where did all that movie money go? Parker explained that the William Morris agency took 10% off the top, with Elvis getting 75% and the Colonel 25% of what was left. Answering criticism that his share was too large, the Colonel explained that at least half of what he received from Elvis was put right back into the business, for such things as office expenses, advertising, and promotion. Elvis’s cut, according to Parker, went “straight to the Memphis accountants.”

The Colonel also explained that he had turned down all TV offers, which ranged up to $150,000, and personal appearances, estimated at $75-100,000 per week, because he said Elvis didn’t have the time to do them.

January Birthdays in Elvis’s World

January 5 — Sam Phillips, owner of the Memphis Recording Studio and Sun Records, where Elvis first recorded professionally, was born in 1923. He died in 2003.

January 8 — Elvis Presley was born in Tupelo, Mississippi, in 1935. He is 74 years old today. (And don’t give me any of that stuff about Elvis being dead—he’ll live forever!)

January 8 — Joan Freeman, Elvis’s costar in Roustabout, was born in 1942.

January 14 — Clint Reno, Elvis’s character in Love Me Tender, was born in 1843. (So read his tombstone in the movie’s final scene.)

January 19 — Shelly Fabares, Elvis’s costar in Girl Happy, Spinout, and Clambake, was born in 1944.

January 21 — Mac Davis, who wrote "Memories," "In the Ghetto," and "Don’t Cry Daddy" for Elvis, was born in 1941.

January 26 — Sid Wayne, who co-wrote 32 songs for Elvis, including “Lover Doll,” “Flaming Star,” and “I Need Your Love Tonight,” was born in 1923.

A January quote from Elvis Presley

“I would give my neck to be back home. I am homesick all the time … I’m happy to do my part in the Army, but you’ll never know how much I want to get back home … back to the entertainment business one way or another the rest of my life … whether playing or as a stagehand. You will never know how wonderful old Memphis is until you’ve been away for a while.” — during a telephone interview while in Germany, January 3, 1959

My next weekly blog entry will be posted on Thursday, January 8, which happens to be Elvis’s birthday. Also, sometime during January, I’ll post an article I wrote about Elvis’s experiences in Seattle while filming It Happened At the World’s Fair in 1962. The article appeared in the December issue of Elvis: The Man and His Music, an Elvis magazine published in the United Kingdom.

Like this E-Zine and Elvis-History-Blog.com? Pass it on! Tell your Elvis fan friends to go to elvis-history-blog.com and sign-up for this E-Zine. Consider purchasing a copy of my book, Elvis ’57: The Final Fifties Tours for yourself or as a gift for a friend. I’ll be back in your mailbox a month from now with the February issue of Elvis-History E-Zine. Until then, I’ll see you in my weekly blogs on Thursdays, and I look forward to getting your feedback. — Alan Hanson