Elvis Presley Musical “Heartbreak Hotel” Makes World Premiere at the Ogunquit Playhouse

Heartbreak Hotel, from the co-creator of the Tony-winning musical Million Dollar Quartet, makes its world premiere August 30–September 30 at the Ogunquit Playhouse in Maine.

The new musical charts Elvis Presley’s journey from an unknown musician to super-stardom and features hit songs from the King himself and the legends who influenced his music. Numbers include “Blue Suede Shoes,” “Tutti Frutti,” “That’s All Right,” “Shake Rattle and Roll,” and “Heartbreak Hotel.”

The cast of actor-musicians features Eddie Clendening as Elvis Presley (and co-musical director), Jerry Kernion as Col. Tom Parker, Matt McKenzie as Sam Phillips, Christopher Sutton as Dewey Phillips, Geno Henderson as B.B. King, Ike Turner, and Chuck Berry (and co-musical director), bassist Nathan Yates as Bill Black, drummer Jamie Pittle as DJ Fontana, guitarist Matt Codina as Scotty Moore, Brenna Bloom as Marion and the queen of Rockabilly, Wanda Jackson, Erin Burniston as Dixie Lock, Kara Mikula as Gladys/ensemble, Fallon Goodson as Alice from Dallas/ensemble, Terita Redd as Rosetta Tharpe/ensemble, and Berlando Drake as Ruth Brown/ensemble.

For more information, please visit the following link: http://www.playbill.com/article/elvis-presley-musical-heartbreak-hotel-makes-world-premiere-at-the-ogunquit-playhouse

Advertisements

August 16th | Reflections

This is going to be a very personal piece, so be forewarned.

Elvis Presley died 40 years ago today.

August 16th is a sad day for me. Why should it be, though? I was born 22 years after Elvis died. I never went into a record store and bought Elvis’ new LP. I never experienced a concert of his in person. I never went to Graceland just to get a look at Elvis as he drove out past.

But, I do know why it is. Elvis has been a part of my life since I was young, really young. I can’t say for sure what the first Elvis song I heard was, though I want to say it was That’s All Right. Even as a kid, that was my musical big bang. Quite honestly, I can’t remember much from my childhood. I remember my father bringing me to the firehouse and telling me I was too little to go fight the fires with him when the pager went off. I remember my first day of school. Past that, I don’t remember much else other than the feelings that Elvis’ music brought out in me. I dressed up as Elvis. I entered my little school talent shows doing Elvis songs. I started playing guitar because of how cool I thought Elvis looked with his.

As I got older, I grew into something of a loner, and to an extent I still am. I got teased mercifully for liking Elvis. I never quite understood that, personally. It’s just music. I never knocked anyone else for what they listened to, so what should they knock me? If anything, most of the bands and artists they liked wouldn’t have existed without Elvis in the first place. Still, when I’d come home from school, I’d go onto YouTube, and wait for an hour for just one Elvis video to load (dial-up was rough back in 2006, I tell you for sure) so I could have that wonderful 3 or 4 minutes of watching this singer in black and white, generations away from me, knocking them dead.

To this day, I still feel that awe when I see Elvis on a screen. Just tonight, my local channel 2 news ran a memorial piece for Elvis and talked about the Portland concert that never happened. They showed pieces of This Is Elvis, and there I sat, watching with eyes wide open and mouthing the words as I saw Elvis giving Blue Suede Shoes all he had in June 1968.

Most people won’t understand what Elvis means to me. Sometimes, I don’t understand it either. All I know, is that if I have a bad day, a good day, or an in-between day, Elvis has always been there to either add to the fun or just make things a little better. I’ve had struggles with depression and anxiety, and some days it doesn’t feel like it’s going to get any better. I’ll lay in bed, put on my headphones, and just let Elvis play nonstop. I’ll wake up, and he’ll still be right there. Is that weird to some people? Probably. I don’t know.

Elvis Aaron Presley has been gone 40 years. I’ve only been on this earth for 17 years, but Elvis still feels like a family member to me. If there’s been a major moment in my life, it’s probably a safe bet to assume there’s been an Elvis song playing while it happened.

Thank you, Elvis. By the way, your words still ring true, especially today.

Memories of the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll | Tuscaloosa News

Tus71

Elvis Presley signs autographs at Tuscaloosa’s Airport, Nov. 14, 1971, shortly after landing to play his first concert at Memorial (now Coleman) Coliseum. [Photo by Calvin Hannah]

Mark Hughs Cobbs wrote this wonderful article that just appeared online. Excerpts, and a link to the whole article are below.

“Elvis Presley played Tuscaloosa’s Memorial (now Coleman) Coliseum three times in the ’70s: Monday Aug. 30, 1976; Tuesday June 3, 1975 and Sunday Nov. 14, 1971.

A lot of you saw him there, at least once. Others of you glimpsed him in Memphis, or outside Reform, as a rising star, or rolling out on the road, flirting with strangers. As the 40th anniversary of his death approaches (Aug. 16), we asked for your Elvis tales, and boy did you reply.”

G.I.s not so blue

Lewis Hindman, from Fayette, got drafted and served with Elvis.

“Elvis Presley was approximately one month older than me. We were both drafted to serve in the U.S. Army and went to Fort Hood, Texas for basic training. Both of us were sent to Germany and were assigned to Ray Barracks in Freidburg, Germany. Although Elvis lived off post, he trained with us,” Hindman said.

“Elvis was in the Tank Division 1st Battalion Company D, 32nd Armor and I was assigned as a Forward Observer in the 27th Artillery. Most of the time we were in the field at the same time. One cold, rainy night Elvis came over to my jeep to see what we had to eat. We had lots of food because different battalions had furnished our jeeps with RTEs (Editor’s note: Meals, ready-to-eat, also known as MREs). Elvis only took a quart of milk and headed back to his jeep.

“The officers asked Elvis to perform at the Officer’s Club, but he refused since the enlisted men were not invited to attend….I watched the first scene of ‘G.I. Blues’ being filmed. I was privileged to meet Vernon Presley, Elvis’ dad, and his then-girlfriend, Priscilla, while in Germany. His mom had passed away while he was in Texas.

“In my opinion, Elvis was a top-notch soldier. He willingly served his country and got as cold and hungry as the rest of us.”

Elvis, Mom and me

For Tuscaloosan Rebecca Todd Minder, the ’75 and ’76 Memorial Coliseum shows were her first live concerts, at 8 and 9 years of age. She went with her mother, who was a huge fan.

″…I still have my ticket stub from the 1976 show. What I remember most was the 1976 show, because we had ‘nosebleed’ seats (although seats aren’t that bad in the coliseum). We were behind the stage, but could still see Elvis, because the stage didn’t have a huge projection screen or other viewing impediments like so many artists have today.

“Everyone stood through the entire show, and because I was only 9 years old, my mom lifted me up so that I could stand on the seat back in front of me. I recall screaming and crying, and I don’t even know why. Possibly because I got caught up in all the hysteria around me, although by this second show I truly did know who Elvis was and had watched many of his older films. I was indoctrinated at a very young age, and as a side note, my first albums were Beatles hand-me-downs that I still own today, at age 50.

“Elvis was a master on stage and knew how to create the hysteria that engulfed the venue. He would simply turn and face our direction and the entire backside of the coliseum would rock. Tears truly began flowing at that point. When the concert ended, and the ubiquitous, ‘Elvis has left the building’ announcement was made, Mom and I met a woman out front who was lucky enough to catch one of Elvis’s (sweat-soaked) scarves. She allowed me to hold it, and I caressed my cheek with it, vowing to never wash my face again!

“Mom and I had the times of our lives, and as years progressed, we watched all of his movies and concert performances, and all the documentaries about him. We even ate peanut-butter and banana sandwiches because Elvis liked them. Years later, I took my mom on an Elvis pilgrimage. Me, my sister, my two children, and Mom all drove to where the Elvis story began: Tupelo, Miss. We made it up to Memphis and toured Graceland, and Mom was excited to see the Lisa Marie (Elvis’ private jet, named for his daughter) as well.

“Before my mom passed away two months ago, I told her that I wanted to play Elvis’s version of ‘My Way’ at her funeral because she loved him so much, and because she lived her life HER way. But alas, we ended up with ‘I’ll Fly Away’ by Alison Krauss instead.”

Minder recently returned from visiting her mother’s gravesite, where her marker was just installed. Thinking about Elvis and her mom brought her to tears; she went and dug out the ticket stub, the one she’d kept from the ’76 show.

For more of this great article, please go here:

http://www.tuscaloosanews.com/news/20170813/memories-of-king-of-rock-n-roll

Elvis Presley, 40 years after his death, remains an icon and a cautionary tale | San Diego Tribune

The San Diego Tribune has this new article up written by George Varga:

750x422

Elvis Presley continues to inspire listeners, and provoke controversy, 40 years after his death on Aug. 16, 1977. (AP file photo)

Icon? Thief? Sex symbol? Menace to society? Hero? Drug addict? The King?

There is only one Elvis Presley, but there are also many Elvis Presleys.

No, that’s not an existential riddle about the hip-swiveling, lip-curling singer who irrevocably changed the sound and look of contemporary music, and — with it — popular culture in the 1950s and beyond.

Nor is it a reference to the estimated 35,000 Elvis impersonators still active around the world today, 40 years after the intensely charismatic singer hailed as “The King” permanently left the building on Aug. 16, 1977. He died from a drug-fueled heart attack in Memphis in his famed Graceland mansion, which still draws 600,000 visitors a year (second in the U.S. to the White House).

Only 42, Elvis reportedly weighed 350 pounds at the time of his death — 187 pounds more than when he was 32. (InheritTheWind note — this is an erroneous figure. Elvis is likely to have weighed 250 pounds at this death, not 350.)  He tested positive in his autopsy for 10 different prescription medications, including 10 times his prescribed amount of codeine.

Yet, while he died far too young, Elvis had seemingly lived several lifetimes in just over four decades.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Elvis Presley’s 1973 show at the San Diego Sports Arena photographed by the San Diego Evening Tribune’s Jerry Windle (John R. McCutchen)

He was a somtimes scorned high school student, an impoverished Memphis truck driver, an aspiring singer, a wealthy pop music superstar, a sergeant in the U.S. Army, a smoldering sex symbol, a movie idol, a middle-of-the-road Las Vegas showroom staple, a bloated, drug-addled victim of fame, and more.

Most significant of all. Elvis was the proto-rock star, an inadvertent revolutionary and a game-changing cultural phenomenon, whose impact extends from The Beatles and U2 singer Bono to Bruno Mars and beyond.

‘The template for everything’

“He is about as iconic as anyone in American music gets,” said John Oates of Hall & Oates.

“When Elvis came on the scene it was like an unbridled and untamed beast had arrived,” said Paul Stanley of Kiss.

“There was a sexuality, a danger and a joy in what he was doing that was the sign of a phenomenon. You see early footage of him, shimmying across the stage and playing for these screaming crowds — he was that generation’s template for everything that came after him and everyone copied that template.”

Indeed, no other solo singing star — not Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Michael Jackson, Madonna or Beyoncé — has matched Elvis. His influence and example helped pave the way — directly or indirectly — for The Beatles, Bob Dylan, and countless others.

“Elvis is my man,” Paul McCartney said. “He was a big influence on the Beatles.”

“There were other American greats, but it was Elvis we talked about,” said former Beatles’ drummer Pete Best. “The effect he had on all the members of The Beatles showed, from our repertoire to the way we played the music and handled ourselves on stage.”

Ringo Starr, who replaced Best in The Beatles, echoed his fellow drummer’s enthusiasm.

“Elvis turned my head around,” Starr said. “Frankie Laine, who I liked (in the early 1950s) was like my dad; everyone you listened to was like your dad, until Elvis came out.”

Similar sentiments are voiced by such disparate artists as “American Idol” winner David Cook, neo-R&B vocal star Maxwell, “Idol” alum Haley Reinhart and multiple-Grammy Award-winner k.d. lang.

“I think Elvis changed the dialogue, and maybe the morality, of the entire country. The cultural impact he had can’t be overrated,” Cook said.

“What he managed to do in his career,” Maxwell noted, “was unlike anything ever done before. I know he was very influential to people like Michael Jackson.”

“He was so incredibly unique. He’s definitely somebody to look up to,” said Reinhart, who in March earned a gold record for her understated version of “Can’t Help Falling in Love,” a 1961 hit for Elvis.

‘Untouchable’

Canadian vocal star lang paid tribute to Elvis in a different way. The cover photo for her 2006 album, “Reinternation,” pays homage to the cover photo of him on “Elvis Presley,” his 1956 debut album.

“There’s not too much to not like about Elvis, other than the fact that he was friends with (President) Nixon,” lang said. “Everything he did from the beginning of his career up to his 1968 comeback (TV) special, where he wore the black leather jumpsuit, is pretty untouchable.”

The late John Lennon put it more bluntly.

“Before Elvis,” the bespectacled Beatle once famously said, “there was nothing.”

In fact, there was much before Elvis — and many who inspired him profoundly from the worlds of blues, gospel and rhythm-and-blues.

They included a wealth of gifted but obscure African-American musicians and songwriters who created rock ’n’ roll and paved the way for Elvis and many more.

At a time when much of this country was still segregated, Elvis frequented black nightclubs in Memphis to absorb and study the music of Ike Turner, Jackie Wilson, Little Junior Parker, Matt “Guitar” Murphy and others. The sizzling sensuality of their songs and performances was a major inspiration for him.

Elvis’ first commercially released recording was his reverent 1954 version of bluesman Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup’s “That’s Alright Mama.”

He also recorded Crudup’s “So Glad You’re Mine” and “My Baby Left Me,” along with Roy Brown’s “Good Rockin’ Tonight,” Little Junior Parker’s “Mystery Train,” Arthur Gunter’s “Baby Let’s Play House,” Kokomo Arnold’s “Milkcow Blues Boogie,” Jesse Stone’s “Money Honey,” Ivory Joe Hunter’s “I Need You So” and Smiley Lewis’ “One Night (of Sin)” (which was sanitized by Presley and his producers as “One Night With You.”

Many of these songs are available in the new 3-CD Sony Legacy box set, “A Boy From Tupelo — The Complete 1953-1955 Recordings.”

Three of Elvis’ landmark early recordings — “All Shook Up,” “Don’t Be Cruel” and “Return to Sender” — were written by Otis Blackwell. Sadly, Blackwell’s own singing career never ignited, despite the fact that Presley’s recordings were almost identical to how Blackwell sang them on his demonstration recordings.

In this accompanying article, Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler, Hall & Oates’ John Oates, Boz Scaggs, Wynton Marsalis and other music stars discuss the question: Was Elvis a thief?

His voice was ‘living opera’

“It’s unfortunate that a lot of songs Elvis was famous for were written by African-American music artists that he didn’t really credit,” said noted New Orleans drummer Herlin Riley. “He changed the whole feeling of rock ’n’ roll.”

Yet, while Elvis may have been a far more adept musical synthesist than an actual innovator, the power, range and emotional depth of his singing — on stage and on record — wer undeniable. Ditto his ability to transcend even so-so songs through the sheer force of his musical skills and personality.

“Elvis was a great, great performer,” said San Diego-born avant garde vocal wizard Diamanda Galas. “Even at the start of his Las Vegas decline, he was phenomenal. It was sad to see a talent like that go away.”

U2’s Bono has at times emulated both the singing and bigger-than-life stage persona of Elvis. U2’s acclaimed 1984 album, “The Unforgettable Fire,” includes “Elvis Presley and America,” a song reportedly inspired by Albert Goldman’s controversial 1981 biography, “Elvis.”

“Even at the height of his middle-of-the-road terror period, at his most hamburger-esque, Elvis could stop the traffic, and not just give them a speeding ticket,” Bono said. “His voice, when he wanted to connect — even in Las Vegas, when he was forgetting the words — that was opera. And it was living opera.”

At first, Elvis’ real-life story was as triumphant as the second act of Verdi’s “Aida.” But, like “Aida’s” harrowing final act, he was destined for doom.

His decline was artistic, physical and spiritual. The superstar who once had it all became a victim of his own success. He also fell prey to forces within and beyond his control, in particular his manager, “Colonel” Tom Parker (in actuality a former Dutch carnival barker born Andreas Cornelis van Kuijk).

Parker turned Elvis into an incredibly lucrative international brand, but at a soul-sapping cost to his once rebellious client. And he funneled an eye-raising amount of Elvis’ earnings to himself.

“Elvis was a tragic figure who should have stood up and fired his manager,” said former Dead Kennedys’ singer Jello Biafra. “The ‘Colonel’ appears to have robbed him blind; it appears Elvis’ handlers preferred him to be strung out on drugs so that he couldn’t take more control of the direction of his career.”

Eagles’ co-founder Don Henley is equally critical of Parker.

“Elvis’ ‘Hound Dog’ was the first rock record I ever owned, so you could say that changed my life completely,” Henley said.

“But Elvis’ manager — rotten son of a bitch that he was — took 50 percent of Elvis’ earnings, which is absolutely disgusting. He put him in all those (crummy) movies, and put him in Vegas. Not that Elvis wasn’t culpable to some degree, but he was just kind of a naive country boy.”

Even as a teenager, though, Elvis was eager to be heard. By so expertly emulating the blues, R&B and gospel music he loved. Elvis had what his first producer, Sun Records’ honcho Sam Phillips, had long sought: “A white man with the Negro sound and the Negro feel.”

It was a potent combination that would change Elvis and — with him — the world, forever.

http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/entertainment/music/sd-et-music-elvis-presley-20170729-story.html

In Fine Form | February 9, 1973 Midnight Show Review

cd-in-fine-form

This CD brings us the February 9th, 1973 Midnight Show from Elvis’s 8th Las Vegas engagement. Elvis was not even a month removed from his iconic Aloha from Hawaii concert at this point, and not too enthusiastic about returning to Vegas to perform for a sold out crowd of 2,200, especially after (as it was announced at the time, but this figure is dubious) a BILLION people worldwide had watched him gyrate in his American Eagle jumpsuit.

Elvis’s entrance to the stage is marked by the customary tune “Also Sprach Zarathustra” or the theme from the movie “2001: A Space Odyssey”. The recording starts during the last few seconds of “2001”, which leads into Elvis’s usual opening song, “C.C. Rider”. Elvis’s voice is very clear and so are the band and backup singers. Though “C.C” isn’t as good as the 1970 (or even 72) versions, it’s a good sign of things to come. James Burton’s guitar work during his solo is exceptional as always. There’s a few girls close to the recorder and their screams are prominent throughout. Elvis starts his “well, well, well” routine that brings screams from the women. The “wells” lead into “I Got A Woman” which as usual leads into “Amen”. As in the case of “C.C. Rider”, Elvis’s voice isn’t as powerful as it was in 1970, but he still delivers the goods. “Amen” isn’t dragged out like it would become in later years as its only one verse. Elvis goes straight into “Love Me Tender”. This is a pretty straight, committed version, with little fooling around.
“You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me” is next, a rare song for 1973, as it was only performed 38 times in about 180 shows that year (a majority of which took place between Las Vegas and Lake Tahoe). I’d say this rendition is on par with the performance you see in the special edition of “Elvis: That’s The Way It Is”. A raunchy “Steamroller Blues” is next, and I think it’s better than most 1973 versions (though my favorite remains the March 20th 1974 outing). James Burton’s guitar work is, again, exceptional and well executed. Then, Elvis gives a powerful, committed reading of “You Gave Me A Mountain”, a mix of pop and gospel he always did well, even in 1977 during his final tours.
The sultry “Fever” is next, complete with all the gyrations, twitches, screeches, and swoons you see in “Aloha”. At the beginning you can hear a woman scream out “We can’t take it!” which makes for a pretty fun moment. “What a lovely way to burn,” indeed. Elvis informs us he’d like to a medley of his records for us, starting with “Love Me”, following it up with “Blue Suede Shoes”. “Love Me” is pretty decent, but “Blue Suede” is rushed and thrown away – it clocks in at barely over a minute. “Heartbreak Hotel” gets a pretty good effort here, not totally rushed, but the arrangement leaves more to be desired. Elvis plays with the lyrics a little proclaiming “you’ll be so sweaty you could die”. “Johnny B. Goode” is up next and it’s alright, Elvis doesn’t seem to be struggling to keep up like he did in “Aloha”.
Elvis tells us about being filmed from the waist up and Ed Sullivan seeing him and saying “hmm, sumbitch.” This of course leads into “Hound Dog” which is much like the Madison Square Garden versions he gave in June 1972 in that it begins slow and bluesy, then leads into the normal fast, rushed tempo with only one verse. Again, one of his biggest hits, that clocks in at barely over a minute.
The bombastic “What Now My Love” features Elvis much more focused and intent in giving a good performance. Elvis’s voice is very powerful on the end, and the audience shows their appreciation. “Suspicious Minds” is next and Elvis’s vocal seems kind of lazy, but it’s a fair version and Elvis sneaks in the well-known “you know I never lied to you…no, not much,” joke.
Elvis introduces us to his band, I’m not going to say anything about that. “I Can’t Stop Loving You” is solid, but the absolute high point of the show is “An American Trilogy”, which should come as no surprise as it regularly stole the show in the ’72-’73 era. The tried and true Elvis closer “Can’t Help Falling In Love” rounds out the show.
This release brings us a completely new, unheard show in very good sound. It’s a tight, professional performance even though Elvis is only on stage for 45 minutes. This is the same Vegas engagement where Elvis got sick and had to cancel some shows, so that might explain the short stage time. All things considered, it’s worth the listen.