The King's Men: The Jordanaires

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Welcome to the official blog of Elvis Presley’s Graceland! You can take Elvis-inspired quizzes, get first-looks on events here at Graceland and how-to guides on everything you need to know about Elvis and his home. Like Elvis, we come with a little southern charm

The King's Men: The Jordanaires

If you've enjoyed an Elvis Presley song, chances are you've also enjoyed the sweet sounds of The Jordanaires.

The quartet sang backup vocals on many, many of Elvis' hits, including "Can't Help Falling in Love," "It's Now or Never," "Don't Be Cruel," "Don't," and "Surrender," just to name a few.

We've shared the stories of the artists and producers who helped shape Elvis' iconic sound, like the Blue Moon Boys and Sam Phillips, so this week, let's get to know The Jordanaires members.

The quartet formed in 1948 in Springfield, Missouri, by brothers Bill and Monty Matthews. The group sang barbershop and gospel music, and debuted on the Grand Ole Opry in 1949.

Elvis heard The Jordanaires perform in October 1954 with country singer Eddy Arnold at the Ellis Auditorium in Memphis. He met the guys in the group and told them he loved their sound, and that he hoped they could work together. In 1956, as Elvis' music and movie career was really taking off, he called on the group to sing backup for him on his records and at live performances. At that time, The Jordanaires were Gordon Stoker (first tenor), Hoyt Hawkins (baritone), Neal Matthews (second tenor, and in no relation to the founding Matthews members) and Hugh Jarrett (bass). Ray Walker replaced Hugh Jarrett in 1958. The Jordanaires' line-up has changed several times throughout the years.

The Jordanaires backed Elvis on his early television performances, including his "Ed Sullivan Show" performances. The quartet backed him at his concerts, too, including his 1956 Homecoming show in Tupelo. The band backed Elvis on everything from his rock tunes to gospel numbers, from Christmas songs to his movie soundtracks.

The Jordanaires worked with Elvis until 1969. As his movie career came to a close, Elvis started prepping his return to the stage, but The Jordanaires decided to stay home in Nashville. They had a steady workload as studio musicians, working two to four sessions a day, six days a week, for more than 20 years. The quartet backed country, rock 'n' roll, gospel and pop artists. You can hear The Jordanaires on hits like "Crazy," by Patsy Cline, "Coal Miner's Daughter" by Loretta Lynn and "Travelin' Man" by Ricky Nelson, and the band has also recorded with top country stars likes of Willie Nelson, Ringo Starr and Johnny Cash. It has been estimated that more than 8 billion records featuring The Jordanaires' backing vocals have been sold, not including their own extensive discography!

The Jordanaires were dissolved in 2013, following Gordon Stoker's passing.

A group this legendary has, of course, received many CMT and other music awards. The Jordanaires are members of the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Gospel Music Hall of Fame and the Rockabilly Hall of Fame. In 1976 and 1979, The Jordanaires were given a Superpickers Award by the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences for having performed on more Top 10 records than any other vocal group in history. In November 1984, the group was honored with the CMA Masters Award for its lifetime contribution to music.

This legendary band is just one integral part of Elvis' life and career. Explore more about the King of Rock 'n' Roll when you visit Graceland - make your plans now, and we'll see you in Memphis soon.

Posted by Elvis Presley's Graceland at 12:24 PM
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