60 Years Ago Today: Elvis Presley on the Ed Sullivan Show

Sixty years ago today, more than 60 million people watched Elvis Presley perform on “The Ed Sullivan Show.” Elvis’ first performance on “The Ed Sullivan Show” took place on September 9, 1956. At this point in his life, he’d already performed on national television shows like the Dorsey Brothers’ “Stage Show” and “The Milton Berle Show.” He’d released his debut album and was filming his first movie. He had a few hit songs on the charts, like “Heartbreak Hotel.” He was still living on Audubon Drive in Memphis and wouldn’t purchase Graceland for another few months. Elvis was famous, and he was thisclose to becoming the most famous man in America. But of course, Elvis has not yet been booked on the country’s most popular variety show, “The Ed Sullivan Show.” And the show’s host had promised he wouldn’t feature the then-controversial young singer; Elvis had a reputation among conservative leaders and parents for his performances, which they often labeled as inappropriate or even dangerous. Elvis was simply unlike any other performer they’d ever seen, and they were concerned. It was a surprise, then, when Ed announced in the summer of 1956 that Elvis would perform not just once, but three times on his show. Ed had watched Elvis’ career blossom and knew he’d pull in high ratings if he allowed Elvis to perform. Elvis’ manager, Col. Tom Parker, negotiated hard, and the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll was to be paid $50,000 for all three performances – an unprecedented amount at the time. On September 9, 1956, neither Elvis or Ed Sullivan were in the studios that day for filming. Ed had suffered injuries in a car accident and was at home recuperating, while actor Charles Laughton filled in for him on the show. And Elvis wasn’t in New York City, where “The Ed Sullivan Show” was filmed. He was seen from Hollywood, where he was in the middle of filming “Love Me Tender.” Still, the show was a success – 60 million people, or 82.6 percent of the entire television audience, watched Elvis perform “Don’t Be Cruel,” “Love Me Tender,” “Ready Teddy” and a few verses of “Hound Dog.” “Love Me Tender” had not yet been released, so fans ate up the new single – which only increased the hype for the new movie and its soundtrack. Elvis returned to “The Ed Sullivan Show” – this time with Ed hosting, and...
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In the Studio with Elvis Presley

Fans saw Elvis on stage and on the big screen, but fans never had the chance to see Elvis work in one of his favorite environments – in the studio. And, really, the studio is at the heart of Elvis’ career. It was in studios in Memphis, Hollywood, Nashville and New York, where he cut songs that became No. 1 hits, songs that shook the foundation of American music, and songs that became fan favorites. Elvis had hundreds of recording sessions in many different studios, but let’s take a look at just a few of the special ones where Elvis recorded some of his biggest hits. ELVIS’ FIRST STUDIO – SUN STUDIO The very first songs Elvis recorded at Memphis Recording Service – aka Sun Studio – were “My Happiness” and “That’s When Your Heartaches Begin,” in 1953. But his recording sessions got interesting on July 5-6, 1954, when he recorded a little record you may have heard of – “That’s All Right” – as well as “Blue Moon of Kentucky” and “I Love You Because.” During Elvis’ time at Sun, he recorded many songs that would go on to become classics, like “Good Rockin’ Tonight,” “Shake, Rattle and Roll,” “Baby Let’s Play House,” “Mystery Train” and “I Forgot to Remember to Forget” (Elvis’ first No. 1 hit), all with Sam Phillips at the helm. In the spring of 2017, the new state-of-the-art entertainment complex, Elvis Presley’s Memphis, will open at Graceland and will feature a permanent Sam Phillips exhibit. HOLLYWOOD Two of the Hollywood studios Elvis used were the Paramount Scoring Stage and Radio Recorders. Here are some insights into just a few of the sessions that took place at these studios. On September 1-3, 1956 Elvis recorded a slew of songs at Radio Recorders – a studio used by most of the major labels – for RCA. On September 1, he recorded songs like “Love Me” and “How’s The World Treating You,” followed by “Long Tall Sally,” “Too Much,” “Old Shep” and “When My Blue Moon Turns to Gold Again.” On September 3, he wrapped the session by recording “Ready Teddy,” “First in Line” and “Rip It Up.” Elvis was very familiar with “Old Shep” – he performed that song in a talent show as a young boy growing up in Tupelo (and only won fifth place). He performed the master recording in one take, but performed...
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Would You Rather – Elvis Presley Edition

Would you rather have been in the audience for the ’68 Special or the Aloha from Hawaii special? Would you rather sit down and talk with Elvis’ mother, Gladys, or his father, Vernon? What about having fun – would you rather ride motorcycles with Elvis, or ride horses with Elvis? This week on the Graceland Blog, we’re having fun with an Elvis version of “Would You Rather?” Check out how your picks stack up against other Elvis fans! Play the game...
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10 Reasons Why This Year’s Elvis Week Was The Best

By Jon Waterhouse During my Elvis Week 2014 blogging stint, the folks at Elvis Radio asked if I had a song that might encapsulate the event as it wrapped. My choice: “The Fair is Moving On.” Leaving Memphis after Elvis Week 2016, the bittersweet emotions return. Yeah, the fair moves on, but what a ride. I can honestly say, the 39th edition of Elvis Week ranks as one of my favorites, if not my all-time best. Why, you say? Below you’ll find 10 reasons in no particular rank or order. Now, keep in mind I didn’t have a chance to experience everything and see everyone. I always leave Elvis Week wishing I had a little more conversation and a little more action. Yet, out of everything I lived, these remain the memories pressing between the pages of my mind. Betty Harper This ultra-talented artist not only took time to talk with me over the phone the week before the festivities, we hung out together at the Heartbreak Hotel during her exhibit. The cavalcade of colors nearly popped right off of her artwork, encapsulating the image and personality of Elvis Presley in a such a way I believe remains incomparable. And the Nashville resident is a true sweetheart and rocks one heckuva cowboy hat. Elvis Radio We all need a soundtrack to Elvis Week, and thank God for these guys. T.Y., Doc Walker, Argo, Big Jim Sykes and the legendary George Klein deliver the audio goods. It’s an honor to be a correspondent and pop culture editor for these fellas, who take great care in keeping the sound and legacy of Elvis alive and well. The Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Competition Regardless of how you may feel about ETAs, the love these men have for Elvis just can’t be denied. Neither can the talent the ETAs display on stage. Many carry on the triple threat Elvis so deftly displayed with the ability to sing, dance and act. Perhaps one of the more obvious embodiments of this would be Dean Z, the 2013 Ultimate ETA winner and the 2016 correspondent for ElvisWeek.com and Graceland.com. What a guy! And hats off to 2016 winner Dwight Icenhower. After participating in eight Ultimates, he snagged this year’s title. Way to go, Dwight! Jeff Lewis and Friends After-Parties at Hard Rock Cafe You have to hand it to former Ultimate ETA competitor Jeff Lewis for...
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Elvis Week Day 7 – Inspiring Moments at the 2016 Candlelight Vigil

By Jon Waterhouse It never fails. Even after attending multiple Candlelight Vigils, the annual fan gathering and tribute at Graceland on the eve of the anniversary of Elvis’ death, I become awestruck at the event. This year, collective emotions arguably higher than ever, the amount of love pouring forth like the unrelenting rain inspired me to no end. Fans of every color, creed and geographic origin imaginable came together, a visual answer to Walter Earl Brown’s lyrics found in “If I Can Dream,” which Presley sang on the “’68 Comeback Special.” “If I can dream of a better land/Where all my brothers walk hand in hand/Tell me why, oh why, oh why can’t my dream come true?” Last night, once again, that dream came true. INSPIRING MOMENTS AT THE 2016 CANDLELIGHT VIGIL The fans who came early Several hours before the official 8:30 p.m. start time, fans began camping in front of the Graceland walls along Elvis Presley Boulevard breaking out their folding chairs, coolers and more. Now that’s dedication. A short summer shower turned the Memphis air into a virtual sauna. “It’s a pleasure to see the traditions that have been established carry on, as you would expect from the Elvis fans who have been here year after.” said Walker McCutcheon of Clarksville, Tenn. who sat in Graceland Plaza with wife Judy until start time. Among the die hard fans, I saw Cino Torricer from Hawaii, who handed out inspirational cards to those around him. The memorials Just before the Vigil began, many memorials along Elvis Presley Boulevard could be seen, some glowing in the darkness. A Memphis gentleman simply known as Fite created a memorial with images of Elvis, each with a special significance to him. A giant ticket stub replica from Elvis’ final concert in Indianapolis, Ind. sat in front of a massive version of the “’68 Comeback Special” album cover. The Graceland staff Never mind the weather and other obstacles threatening to damper the evening. The staff at Elvis Presley Enterprises, from security guards and retail clerks to marketing execs, channeled Elvis’ positivity and optimism with style, grace and smiles. The rain sprinkling upon him, Kevin Kern, the director of public relations at Elvis Presley Enterprises, welcomed everyone from the top of the Graceland driveway, his speech broadcast down to a jumbo screen perched above the mansion’s walls. The fans who braved the rain The U.S....
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