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"Stick to Driving a Truck"

Sun Aug 07, 2005 3:39 pm

So who said that [if anyone] to the young Elvis ?

From Snopes.com:

We all admire the prescient individual who can spot a diamond in the rough; who has the vision to see great value in someone or something that everyone else has overlooked. Conversely, we love to jeer the fool who lets a valuable gem slip through his fingers, even if nobody else realized its worth at the time either.

So it was with Elvis Presley. It was far from apparent during Elvis' early adulthood that he was destined to become one of the most popular entertainers the world had ever seen. The day after Elvis graduated high school in 1953, he started work at M.B. Parker Machinists' Shop for $33 a week. When Elvis stopped by the studios of Sam Phillips' Memphis Recording Service sometime that summer (obstensibly to make a personal record "to surprise his mother"), he was, in the words of Marion Keisker, Phillips' partner and receptionist, "shy, a little woebegone, cradling his battered, beat-up child's guitar." While Elvis waited to record a couple of tunes ("My Happiness" and "That's When Your Heartaches Begin"), he asked Miss Keisker if she knew of any groups looking for a singer. She didn't.

Elvis knew he wanted to be a singer, but he didn't know how to go about becoming one. He hung around the Memphis Recording Service studios for the next several months and cut another personal record in January 1954, but he accomplished little else in the way of becoming a professional artist. The most notable "professional" event of these early years was Elvis' switching jobs (because his previous employer had made him get a haircuit), taking a job driving a truck for Crown Electric driving at the princely sum of $40 per week in April 1954.

A month later, Elvis was excited that the big break he had been seeking might finally be at hand. Ronnie Smith, a fellow music enthusiast with whom Elvis had played a few little gigs was, at 16, a member of a real professional band. This band was led by Eddie Bond, a 21-year-old "veteran" musician who had been performing in Memphis since he was 15 and was seeking to re-establish himself after having finished a stint in the navy. Ronnie and Elvis ran into each other, and Ronnie mentioned that Eddie was looking for a singer for their band. Maybe Elvis could try auditioning for the spot, Ronnie suggested.

Elvis duly showed up at a club called the Hi Hat shortly thereafter, where he met Eddie Bond and nervously performed a couple of songs onstage. Bond turned him down. The reasons why Bond turned him down have become confused over the years (Bond later claimed it was the club's owners who forced him reject Elvis), but according to a mutual friend, Bond told Elvis to stick with driving a truck "because you're never going to make it as a singer."

Within a few months Elvis Presley would record "That's All Right (Mama)" for Sam Phillips' Sun Records label. After the disc proved to be a hit in Memphis, Eddie Bond had Ronnie Smith ask Elvis if he'd like to sing with them now. Elvis politely declined the invitation.


So not the guy at the Ole Opry then ?

Re: "Stick to Driving a Truck"

Sun Aug 07, 2005 4:33 pm

ColinB wrote:So who said that [if anyone] to the young Elvis ?

From Snopes.com:

We all admire the prescient individual who can spot a diamond in the rough; who has the vision to see great value in someone or something that everyone else has overlooked. Conversely, we love to jeer the fool who lets a valuable gem slip through his fingers, even if nobody else realized its worth at the time either.

So it was with Elvis Presley. It was far from apparent during Elvis' early adulthood that he was destined to become one of the most popular entertainers the world had ever seen. The day after Elvis graduated high school in 1953, he started work at M.B. Parker Machinists' Shop for $33 a week. When Elvis stopped by the studios of Sam Phillips' Memphis Recording Service sometime that summer (obstensibly to make a personal record "to surprise his mother"), he was, in the words of Marion Keisker, Phillips' partner and receptionist, "shy, a little woebegone, cradling his battered, beat-up child's guitar." While Elvis waited to record a couple of tunes ("My Happiness" and "That's When Your Heartaches Begin"), he asked Miss Keisker if she knew of any groups looking for a singer. She didn't.

Elvis knew he wanted to be a singer, but he didn't know how to go about becoming one. He hung around the Memphis Recording Service studios for the next several months and cut another personal record in January 1954, but he accomplished little else in the way of becoming a professional artist. The most notable "professional" event of these early years was Elvis' switching jobs (because his previous employer had made him get a haircuit), taking a job driving a truck for Crown Electric driving at the princely sum of $40 per week in April 1954.

A month later, Elvis was excited that the big break he had been seeking might finally be at hand. Ronnie Smith, a fellow music enthusiast with whom Elvis had played a few little gigs was, at 16, a member of a real professional band. This band was led by Eddie Bond, a 21-year-old "veteran" musician who had been performing in Memphis since he was 15 and was seeking to re-establish himself after having finished a stint in the navy. Ronnie and Elvis ran into each other, and Ronnie mentioned that Eddie was looking for a singer for their band. Maybe Elvis could try auditioning for the spot, Ronnie suggested.

Elvis duly showed up at a club called the Hi Hat shortly thereafter, where he met Eddie Bond and nervously performed a couple of songs onstage. Bond turned him down. The reasons why Bond turned him down have become confused over the years (Bond later claimed it was the club's owners who forced him reject Elvis), but according to a mutual friend, Bond told Elvis to stick with driving a truck "because you're never going to make it as a singer."

Within a few months Elvis Presley would record "That's All Right (Mama)" for Sam Phillips' Sun Records label. After the disc proved to be a hit in Memphis, Eddie Bond had Ronnie Smith ask Elvis if he'd like to sing with them now. Elvis politely declined the invitation.


So not the guy at the Ole Opry then ?


Also interesting: what gigs did Elvis play with Ronnie Smith?
According to legend Elvis did not perform until after he cut "That's all right" with the exception of the odd performances at school and at the Overton Park when he was 10 years old.

Sun Aug 07, 2005 4:37 pm

I'll stick with the Opry guy.

Bond was less polite and didn't mince his words, his remark to Elvis was more cruel from memory (not my memory of being there :lol: ) I meant from memory of what I read. Bonds remark hurt Elvis the most and I believe Elvis remarked later that it had caused him to shed a tear or two at the time.

Sun Aug 07, 2005 10:50 pm

This information was first published in Guralnick's biography. Peter did his homework. What seems most credible is the "driving a truck" rebuke came from the earlier experience, but that the Opry gig also resulted in negative feedback. Elvis conflated the two experiences in later memory, putting it all on the Opry tryout.

DJC

Sun Aug 07, 2005 11:00 pm

Was that not Sam P's recollection as well though from being there with Elvis, that it was at the Opry ?

Mon Aug 08, 2005 7:41 am

I hope whoever said it lived long enough to recognize the fact that he'd made one of the most ridiculous remarks in the history of the music business.

I'm surprised that Elvis didn't bring up the remark during the 1969 Vegas engagement when he was telling his "life story."

Mon Aug 08, 2005 8:46 am

Rob -

There was an echo of this incident when The Beatles auditioned for the Decca recording label.

The guy turned them down saying that there wasn't much call for groups.

They then signed with EMI and had a few hits.

Tue Aug 09, 2005 4:06 pm

We know that Colin, we know that...

And if you'd go to a Beatles board to tell them. Maybe they don't know.

Tue Aug 09, 2005 6:41 pm

JYM -

You wrote:
We know that Colin, we know that...


You know it, perhaps.

But we have some youngsters [& some not so young] on here who might not.

Tue Aug 09, 2005 6:56 pm

Why would Elvis bring up his rejection when performing in Vegas? Of course he was embarrassed by the event and wouldn't like to remember that at all. Probably he was rejected several times. Auditioning must have made Elvis pretty nervous too so he may not have seemed as good as he could be.

People tend to forget about the bad times and remember the good times. Like being on the Ed Sullivan show. That was a nice memory. No matter what Sullivan said and thought about Elvis he was on the show and that was what mattered. Even though he was censored Elvis could do his music to a big audience.

Tue Aug 09, 2005 7:05 pm

ElvisAhlgren wrote:...Why would Elvis bring up his rejection when performing in Vegas? Of course he was embarrassed by the event and wouldn't like to remember that at all...


I wouldn't find it strange for him to mention that having happened to him. It was not uncommon for Elvis to poke fun at himself, on stage in Vegas or anywhere else. In fact, I think it's exactly the kind of irony he would have eaten up.

Wed Aug 10, 2005 12:43 am

ElvisAhlgren wrote:Why would Elvis bring up his rejection when performing in Vegas?


Oh, I don't know. Possibly for the same reason he told about singing to a dog on the Steve Allen show.

Fri Aug 12, 2005 5:42 am

ColinB wrote:Rob -

There was an echo of this incident when The Beatles auditioned for the Decca recording label.

The guy turned them down saying that there wasn't much call for groups.

They then signed with EMI and had a few hits.


Actually Decca tunred them down saying that guitar groups were on the on the way out. If you listen to the full Decca tape, there is little of the musicality that can found on their BBC sessions 8-10 months later.

Fri Aug 12, 2005 5:51 am

Mike -

You wrote:
If you listen to the full Decca tape, there is little of the musicality that can found on their BBC sessions 8-10 months later.


That Lewis guy from Decca still missed spotting their potential, didn't he ?

He partly redeemed himself by signing the Rolling Stones later on, but his gaffe with the young mop heads must rank as one of the biggest errors of judgement ever.

Fri Aug 12, 2005 6:07 am

ColinB wrote:Mike -

You wrote:
If you listen to the full Decca tape, there is little of the musicality that can found on their BBC sessions 8-10 months later.


That Lewis guy from Decca still missed spotting their potential, didn't he ?

He partly redeemed himself by signing the Rolling Stones later on, but his gaffe with the young mop heads must rank as one of the biggest errors of judgement ever.


Yeah, he did. After the Beatles recorded Please Please Me in November of 1962, George Martin sent an unlabeled copy of the tape to Decca as joke. He never foudn out their reaction.