Elvis Presley and The Memphis Horns

You know the Memphis Horns, even if you think you don’t. This magical musical duo, made up of saxophonist Andrew Love and trumpeter Wayne Jackson, played on countless hit songs for decades. The pair played on soul, blues, R&B, country and rock ‘n’ roll hits, always adding that special Memphis sound to each and every recording. The Memphis Horns played on three of Elvis’ hits: “Suspicious Minds,” “In the Ghetto” and “Kentucky Rain.” Let’s learn more about these guys, who provided an incredible sound for so many legendary artists, including the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll. Andrew Love, a Memphis native, began playing music in his father’s church. Wayne Jackson, from West Memphis, Arkansas, took up the trumpet in the school band. Both of the men found careers in music in the Bluff City – Jackson joined a group called The Mar-Keys, while Love performed session work at Willie Mitchell’s Hi Records. The guys eventually landed at the legendary Stax label, where they met. You could say the rest is history, but it’s a really good history. Jackson and Love performed for Stax, Hi Records and American Studio, all in Memphis, and they also recorded at studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. The guys decided to form The Memphis Horns after performing with Otis Redding at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival. The guys were employed by Stax, but left in 1969 to offer their services to anyone who wanted that special Memphis sound. Love and Jackson played on Elvis’ RCA sessions at American Studios in Memphis on January 13-16 and 20-23, 1969, and Jackson performed on the sessions on February 17-22, 1969. “Suspicious Minds” and “In the Ghetto” were recorded in January, with “Kentucky Rain” recorded in February. The Memphis Horns contributed to so many incredible hit songs and albums, beyond their work for the king. Here is an incredibly short and in no way comprehensive list of songs and albums the pair worked on: “Try a Little Tenderness” and “(Sittin’ on) The Dock of the Bay” by Otis Redding; “Respect” and “Think” by Aretha Franklin; “In the Midnight Hour” and “Mustang Sally” by Wilson Pickett; “When a Man Loves a Woman” by Percy Sledge; “B-A-B-Y” by Carla Thomas; “Knock on Wood” by Eddie Floyd; “”Tired of Being Alone,” “Let’s Stay Together,” “I’m Still in Love with You” and “You Ought to Be With Me” by Al Green; “Shaft” by Isaac Hayes;...
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Guest Blog: ‘Speedway’ Turns 50

June 12, 2018 marks the 50th Anniversary of the release of Elvis Presley’s movie “Speedway.” Here is a special blog by his youngest co-star, Victoria Paige Meyerink, as she shares some of her memories of working with the king. by Victoria Paige Meyerink Being in the film business is unlike any other. The bonds formed during production last a lifetime and, in Elvis’ case, beyond. When I was cast as Ellie Easterlake in “Speedway” I knew the project was special and that it would be a great experience… I had no idea that from that moment on, Elvis Presley would become a huge part of my life and career forever. They cast me without even auditioning and I recall the first time I met Elvis was at a rehearsal for our number “Your Time Hasn’t Come Yet, Baby” on an MGM soundstage. Of course I knew of Elvis! I was excited about meeting him and that we’d be working together for weeks. I had already worked with huge celebrities like Danny Kaye, Rock Hudson and Clint Walker and considered Elvis a fellow actor and professional. We were there to make a movie together. So when we were introduced, a very formal almost-7-year-old extended her hand and said, “Hello, Mr. Presley!” He replied, “Hello, Victoria! This is going to be fun!” The cast included Bill Bixby, Nancy Sinatra and everyone’s favorite film/TV dad, William Schallert. Bill Bixby was at that first rehearsal, too. Bill and I had met previously on the Paramount lot, and I was very happy to see him again. Even though Elvis did ask me over lunch who I would marry – him or Bill Bixby – I didn’t know Elvis as an adult. I love that I had the privilege of knowing Elvis when I was just 7 years old… I gained a unique perspective, different from all his other co-stars over the years. Elvis and I got to play together in the MGM sandbox and we had a terrific time. That Elvis seemed to prefer hanging out with me on the set and lunching together is flattering. I got the impression he really enjoyed being a big kid, making my little books with me, playing cards between scenes and rehearsals, and feeding the tiny kitten in my trailer (I had sneaked kitty onto the set in a shoebox). Anyone could tell he’d be a terrific...
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Elvis and Chet ‘Mr. Guitar’ Atkins

The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll never made music by himself. He worked with some of the best musicians, singers, songwriters, producers and engineers in the business. All of these talents combined to bring some of the most influential and groundbreaking music to the ears of music fans around the world. Here on the Graceland Blog, we’ve covered several of the incredible talents who worked with Elvis, including Floyd Cramer, Blue Moon Boys, Sam Phillips, and The Jordanaires. This week, we’re getting to know musician, producer and songwriter Chet Atkins, better known as Mr. Guitar or The Country Gentleman. Chet Atkins was born in Luttrell, Tennessee, in 1924. He loved music from a young age and started playing the ukulele as a child. He later moved on to the fiddle and then the guitar – which quickly became his favorite instrument. He practiced and practiced, and by the time he was in high school, he was an accomplished guitar player. He began to develop his own style in 1939 after hearing musician Merle Travis on the radio. Travis’ style was called “Travis Picking,” and Atkins was inspired. He soon began his music career, and it was slow going for a few years until he was signed by RCA Victor in 1947. Atkins wore many hats during his career. He recorded his own music, assisted recording executive Steve Sholes as a session leader, manged RCA Victor’s Nashville Studio (eventually seeing the completion of RCA Studio B, where many artists, including Elvis, recorded their hits), and became a design consultant for Gretsch, a guitar manufacturer. He wrote songs and was a session musician, too. Steve Sholes took over pop production in 1957, as Elvis’ career took off, so he put Atkins in charge of RCA’s Nashville division. Atkins, along with producers Bob Ferguson and Owen Bradley, created what would become known as the “Nashville Sound” – less of a rough, honky tonk sound, and more of a polished, sophisticated sound with strings, choruses and background vocals. This smooth sound allowed country artists to crossover to more of a pop sound and appeal to a wider audience. Atkins enjoyed a long career in music, and he worked with some of the best in the business. He recorded his own albums, which featured him performing a mix of country, jazz and pop standards. He was never afraid to mix things up and experiment. As vice president...
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Elvis Presley’s #1 Hits – Part 6

Elvis Presley earned the title of the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll thanks to his endless work inside the studio, on the stage and on the big screen. Elvis topped the charts again and again – if you need the proof, check out his wall of awards at Elvis: The Entertainer Career Museum at Elvis Presley’s Memphis at Graceland. Here on the Graceland Blog, we’re digging deep to go behind the scenes of Elvis’ biggest hits – in fact, we’re up to part 6. Check out part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4 and part 5. Which of these following Elvis hits is your favorite? “Too Much” Now you got me started Don’t you leave me broken-hearted ‘Cause I love you too much This jaunty hit was written by Lee Rosenberg and Bernard Weinman. It was recorded by other artists first, such as Bernard Hardison. Elvis recorded the track on September 2, 1956 at Radio Recorders in Hollywood, where he would often record his movie soundtracks. The Jordanaires provided background vocals, Scotty Moore was on guitar, Bill Black was on bass, D.J. Fontana played the drums and Gordon Stoker of the Jordanaires played the piano. The engineer was Thorne Nogar, who was very respected in the industry, and Elvis enjoyed working with him. “Too Much” was released as a single in January 1957 with “Playing for Keeps” on the other side. It hit No. 1 on Billboard’s pop singles chart, where it stayed for three weeks, with a total chart run of 17 weeks. It also reached No. 3 on Billboard’s R&B and country singles charts, and it ran on those charts for 10 weeks and 14 weeks, respectively. It peaked at No. 6 on the British pop singles chart. “(Now and Then There’s) A Fool Such as I” You taught me how to love And now you say that we are through I’m a fool, but I’ll love you dear Until the day I die Elvis added a healthy dose of the blues to this country song to create his own hit single. “(Now and Then There’s) A Fool Such as I” was written by Bill Trader and was recorded by Hank Snow in 1952. Elvis recorded it several years later, on June 10, 1958. He was on leave from the army and it was his only recording session during his two-year stint of active service. Elvis...
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Elvis Presley in the Lone Star State

When you think of Elvis Presley, you think of Tennessee and Mississippi – the state of his beloved home, and the state in which he was born. But another important state for the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll is Texas. Outside of his standing engagements at the Las Vegas Hilton, the highest number of Elvis’ performances while touring occurred in the state of Texas. Elvis performed in Texas approximately 138 times from 1954-1977. Texas saw the young King of Rock ‘n’ Roll as he began his career, and welcomed him back with record-breaking crowds in the ’70s. Most of his Texas concerts took place in 1955, as he performed on the Louisiana Hayride. The radio show covered the east side of the state, and these early concerts provided Elvis and his band the opportunity to perfect their live shows. The Louisiana Hayride concerts led Elvis to perform in many small towns, especially in Texas. He and his band often performed in more than one city and more than one venue per day, so they often had to race from one stage to another. Elvis performed a whopping 308 times in 1955, and a fourth of those performances took place in the Lone Star State. Elvis’ tour schedule changed and slowed over the next few years, as he left the Louisiana Hayride, released his first album, made TV appearances and began making movies (and, of course, as he was inducted into the Army – but more on that in a bit).   Elvis spent much of the 60s making movies, and he returned to the stage in 1969 with his Las Vegas residency. His first shows outside Vegas were in Texas in early 1970. From February 27, 1970 – March 1, 1970, the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll performed six shows at Houston’s Astrodome as part of the Texas Livestock Show. He made an impression when he entered the building for the first show – he circled the arena in an open Jeep, waving and greeting fans. He broke his previous attendance record with the February 27 evening show, with a crowd of 36,299 – which was 10,000 more than his previous record. The evening crowd on February 28 was another record breaker – 43,614 – which also set a record for indoor rodeo performances in any arena. Elvis gave a press conference before his first and after his last Houston shows in 1970. At the...
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