Elvis History E-Zine #2 — June 2008

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

This is the third issue of Elvis History E-Zine. The subscription list continues to grow, so if this is the first issue you've received, welcome and thanks for subscribing. If you missed them, you can easily read the first two Elvis History E-Zine issues by clicking on the back issues link below. Check out the E-zine contents below and let me know what you think. I'm still trying to get a feel for what you would like to see in this e-zine.

Contents of Elvis History E-Zine #3

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

• Was Elvis a jazz singer? … In 1957 Elvis said he thought his music fit into the jazz scene. Others disagreed. Read about the debate.

• Living on Presley Avenue … Some Elvis fans in Toronto earned the envy of their friends because they lived on Presley Avenue.

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

• Quotation of the Month … Read what Elvis said back in 1957 about his obligation to his fans.

• What’s new and what’s coming … on Elvis-History-Blog.com.

June Anniversaries in Elvis’s Life and Career

June 5 — 52nd anniversary of Elvis's infamous performance of "Hound Dog" on the Milton Bearle Show in 1956. It earned him the nickname "Elvis the Pelvis."

June 7 — 44th anniversary of the nationwide opening of Elvis's movie "Viva Las Vegas" in 1964.

June 10 — 50th anniversary of Elvis's first Nashville recording session in 1958. Among the songs recorded were "A Big Hunk o' Love" and "A Fool Such As I." Elvis would not record again until leaving the Army nearly two years later.

June 10 — 36th anniversary of Elvis's concert appearance in New York's Madison Square Garden in 1972.

June 12 — 40th anniversary of the nationwide opening of Elvis's movie "Speedway" in 1968.

June 15 — 47th anniversary of the premiere of Elvis's movie "Wild in the Country" in Memphis in 1961.

June 22 — 52nd anniversary of the Jordanaires first backing Elvis on tour in Atlanta in 1956.

June 23 — 40th anniversary of Elvis recording of "If I Can Dream" at NBC Burbank studios in 1968.

June 25 — 47th anniversary of Elvis recording of "Little Sister" in Nashville in 1961.

June 26 — 51st anniversary of Elvis spending his first night in Graceland in 1957.

June 26 — 31st anniversary of Elvis's final concert in Indianapolis in 1977.

Was Elvis a Jazz Singer?

Everyone admits that while he didn’t invent it, Elvis Presley had a lot to do with making rock ’n’ roll music popular. He was also known to sing the Blues and Country music. But was Elvis ever a jazz singer? Apparently, Elvis himself thought he was, sorta. When Elvis appeared in Toronto in 1957, he was cornered by Tortonto Daily Star writer Eric Geiger. When asked what he thought of jazz, Elvis gave an answer that startled the reporter.

“I don’t actually know too much about it,” Elvis admitted, “but I am pretty sure my songs are part of jazz.”

Looking for confirmation of Elvis’s assertion, Geiger sought out Colonel Parker and put the question to him. “Are you kidding?” Parker growled. Pointing a finger at Geiger, Elvis’s manager continued, “Jazz singer … hah! He is not a jazz singer—he is a full-house singer.” The writer said one of the Colonel’s assistants then chimed in, “Yeah—who the heck is interested in jazz? It is dead.”

Geiger also asked the opinion of Dave Caplan, president of the Toronto Town Jazz club, who attended Elvis’s Toronto concert “out of curiosity.” His nose in the air, Caplan responded, “If Elvis thinks he sings jazz he insults not only every genuine jazz singer but millions of jazz fans all over the world.”

Geiger ended his short article in the Star by pointing out, in fairness, that Elvis seemed to look at jazz with “respect and even awe.” Elvis told him, “To play jazz you must be a very, very good musician.”

What It's Like to Live on Presley Avenue

While we’re on the subject of Elvis’s Toronto appearance in 1957, I have to say that I was amazed by the coverage Elvis was given then by the Toronto Star and the Toronto Telegram. Literally dozens of articles appeared in the two papers during a month-long period leading up to the concert and following it up afterwards. Only the Vancouver, B.C., newspapers later that year gave Elvis anywhere near the coverage provided in Toronto.

One example of how the Toronto papers reported on anything Elvis is an article that appeared in the Star on March 27, 1957, a week before he arrived in town. The headline read, “They Live on Presley—Without Rock ’n’ Roll”. A reporter had discovered there was a street named “Presley Avenue” in the Toronto suburb of Scarboro, and he trudged out there looking for a story.

City officials weren’t sure who the street had been named after, but they were certain it had nothing to do with Elvis Presley. “It was Presley Avenue long before Elvis ever saw a pair of blue suede shoes,” said one city father, “and it will be Presley Avenue long after he’s forgotten.” Another official pointed out that Presley Avenue was one of the burgh’s “unbumpiest” streets, with nary a rock nor a roll from one end to the other.

While city hall was trying to distance Presley Avenue from Elvis Presley, the reporter found that teenagers who lived on the street earned a certain level of envy among their rock ’n’ roll peers in the area. “Kids keep asking me all the time if I really live on Presley Avenue,” said 14-year-old Barbara McLaren. “When I tell them I do, they practically swoon, ‘Oh, I wish I lived on Presley Avenue.’” Barbara said her fondest dream, one she shared with the dozen or so other Elvis fans living on the street, was that someday the king of rock ’n’ roll would roll down Presley Avenue in his canary yellow convertible.

June Birthdays in Elvis’s World

June 1 — Pat Boone, Elvis's rival for teenagers' hearts in the fifties, was born in 1934.

June 3 — Sax player Boots Randolph, who backed Elvis in studio recordings and on stage, was born in 1927.

June 8 — Elvis co-star Nancy Sinatra ("Speedway") was born in 1940.

June 17 — Elvis's grandmother, Minnie Presley, was born in 1893.

June 25 — Songwriter Sid Tepper, who collaborated with Roy Bennett to write 42 songs for Elvis, was born in 1918.

June 26 — Elvis's manager Colonel Thomas Parker was born in 1909.

June 27 — Doc Pomus, who collaborated with Mort Shuman to write 15 songs for Elvis, including "Little Sister," "Surrender," "Suspicion," and "Viva Las Vegas," was born in 1925.

This Month’s Quotation

At a news conference in Honolulu on November 10, 1957, Elvis was asked if he felt he had an obligation to his public. He responded: "I do feel an obligation. I'm very careful not to do anything that would disappoint my fans. I behave myself. People have preconceived ideas about me. It's natural. I've often said, 'I won't like that person,' and then found out he's a nice guy."

What’s New and What’s Coming on Elvis-History-Blog.com

During May I posted my reviews of four Elvis movies on the site. They are "Girls! Girls! Girls!", "It Happened At the World's Fair," "Fun in Acapulco," and "Kissin' Cousins." Check them out. The movie reviews are the most read pages on the site, and the most commented on.

Also posted during May were two articles in the "Elvis History" section. One details an interview Colonel Parker gave in 1964 about Elvis's movies. The other article summarizes a 1956 newspaper interview in which Elvis's parents speak candidly about how they raised him.

Also, check out the images posted in the Elvis Photos section. Galleries #6-8 contain 6 photos each that I took during Elvis's 1976 appearance in Spokane. One viewer called the photos "awesome." You can purchase 8 X 10 enlargements of the photos for $6 each.

My next weekly blog entry will be posted on Thursday, June 6. Also, during June I'll continue my weekly reviews of Elvis's movies. Next in line are "Viva Las Vegas," "Roustabout," and "Girl Happy."

Like this E-Zine and Elvis-History-Blog.com? Pass it on!

Tell your Elvis fan friends, the members of your Elvis fan club, and everybody else you know to go to elvis-history-blog.com and sign-up for this e-zine. Consider purchasing a copy of 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 July 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