When Elvis began putting together his collection of music for his comeback, he was able to reflect on many years of a great range of popular American music, including his own and that of other’s.
Elvis was blessed with a natural talent to sing just about anything, but he also needed to feel as comfortable with his selected material, as he was around the guys that worked for him.
Elvis was well aware he had an audience to please, but if he was in the mood and wanted to do something different, he would also please himself, as long as he did it his way.
In his selection of music were the Elvis Golden Oldies, which were always great crowd-pleasing favorites they included≈"That’s All Right (Mama)," "Cant Help Falling In Love," "Love Me Tender," "Heartbreak Hotel," "All Shock Up," "Hound Dog," "Trying to Get to You," "Jailhouse Rock"≈many of these songs are now used in a shortened form and put in suitable medleys.
The new range of material that found its way into his performance says a great deal about his existence and image.
Elvis required a personal "hold" in everything that he did; which might come from the style of the music, but most of the time it was more likely to come from something in the lyric, which would allow him to express himself.
Elvis knew that the only thing that would help the music stay fresh, alive, and take a hold on the audience was to add his personal touch with a meaningful opening.
Elvis wasn’t one to sing a song unless he felt it; he had to feel it in his heart, for that’s where he sang from and that’s what made him a famous star.
No matter what he sang it had to fit him perfectly, and it is obvious when going through songs he sang over the years, and hearing the personal connections that were evident in his life.
The guys in the group were often on the lookout for new material to try out on the boss, like Simon and Garfunkel’s moving classic, "Bridge Over Trouble Water," a song Elvis found instantly challenging and emotionally powerful.
When Elvis performed "Bridge Over Trouble Water," his trembling body quivers, his head rolls on his shoulders, while clinching his fists letting the sweat pour down his face, and when he gets to "I’ve Lost You" he is down on his knees as if death is the only option: as the tears streak the mascara.
Creedence Clearwater Revival’s traditional, "Proud Mary," allowed the kind of vocal expression Elvis loved, as did Tony Joe White’s "Polk Salad Annie" also having the same excited reaction.
Then there were the songs he sang for special reasons. A Marty Robbins’s hit, "You Gave Me A Mountain" expressed his need to persist, remain strong, continue with strength after his divorce, and the sadness of being without his daughter.
"American Trilogy," one Elvis put together, as a tribute to the dignity of his country and its tradition. Only Elvis could have pulled it off with such perfection.
In the end Elvis’s variety of musical material, remained a very profitable mixture of his past and present; his music was the glue that held together all those dissimilar basics in his life.
In private Elvis enjoyed the theatrical numbers with vocal back up, he was attracted to the many voices hitting at one time, from the lowest bass to the highest peak tenors and sopranos reaching the same note. Elvis loved the force behind it.
Mostly, Elvis took pleasure in listening to gospel. Elvis strongly believed, there was nothing as influential or inspirational than the good gospel music, he would carry around a case of a hundred or so albums≈most of them were gospel music.
Listening to his chosen gospel music was a means for Elvis to get in touch with his roots; he often used this music for giving praise to the Lord when feeling humble and thankful, which he regularly did. The Bible says to sing praise and lift your voice to Him.
When Elvis sang "How Great Thou Art" he felt it in his soul, with such feeling and meaning he had the power in him to move mountains. Elvis quite often liked to listen to Mahalia Jackson, who was to Elvis, the Queen of Gospel.
ELVIS was very religious, at times he would sit with his Aunt Nash, Vernon’s sister, who was an ordained Minister, and talk with her about the teachings of the Bible.
Elvis Was deeply moved by Gospel and Spiritual music.
WHO WERE ELVIS MUSIC PEERS?
Elvis liked all kids of music he had lot of albums. Various artist in the Country, Pop and Gospel field. He would often listen Mario Lanza.
Even in Memphis as a young man, Elvis would go to a place called Blues Alley and spend hours listening to Blues singers. He would list to Gospel and even symphony music.
He could appreciate all kinds of different and varied musical styles; he just adored Gospel, JD Sumner and the Stamps Quartet. JD and myself are great friends we go back some 40 years. JD would often let Elvis in the back door whenever the Blackwood Brother were singing.
In those day Elvis was so poor he couldn’t afford to pay to see the group perform so JD let Elvis in. Elvis never forgot what JD did for him.
WHO WERE ELVIS INFLUENCES?
You’d be surprised Elvis had certain sounds which he would use like what he called his Billy Erstein voice on "Fame and Fortune." He loved Mario Lanza’s voice in fact he could sing as high as Mario Lanza.
Elvis had a three octave range which is a fantastic range for an untrained singer. Let me tell you Elvis never had a singing lesson in his life. Anyway, Lanza highest note he ever got was a C above the middle C and I heard Elvis sing a high C many times on stage.
WHAT WAS ELVIS’ FAVOURITE ALBUM?
I think in Elvis has a choice of albums, I think his choice would be any Gospel album he recorded.
July 19, 1954
Other members from the Elvis days have gone their separate ways professionally, but still get together for special projects with Graceland/EPE.
Visit the Official Imperials Website for information about the group’s history and what’s going on today. Also, visit sites of some of the individual former members: Sherman Andrus, Terry Blackwood, Jake Hess and Jim Murray.
The Jordanaires were Elvis' primary male back-up vocal group from 1956 to the end of the 1960s. They worked with Elvis in the recording studio, on stage and in his movies. Visit their official web site to learn more.
George does not have his own web site, but he does present a weekly radio program, The Elvis Hour with George Klein, on 98.1 FM in Memphis on Sundays at 7:00 AM CDT.
He also has a local television program, Memphis Sounds with George Klein, seen on WYPL-TV (Channel 18) Wednesdays at 7:00 PM, Fridays at 4:00 PM and Sundays at 9:30 AM.
"It was Scotty Moore’s guitar riff when he was doing the Steve Allen Show that got me into rock music. I’ve been an Elvis fan since I was a kid."
Singer/songwriter/actor Rick Nelson was a contemporary, a friend and a great fan of Elvis Presley. His adult children are his heirs and manage his legacy, including maintaining the official Rick Nelson site. They are very good friends with Graceland/EPE management.
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