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Elvis' Early Sax Man

Mon Nov 07, 2005 8:21 pm

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Hello Music Lovers,

Just thought you might like to know about my old barber Del Puschert. He played sax with Elvis for a little while in the 50's before going to barber college to start his hair styling career. If you ever happen to be passing through Annapolis, Maryland, be sure to check out his place. He's a great guy.

Here's a link to pictures of his styling ranch:

http://www.newsline.umd.edu/etcetera/delsalon/page1.htm

And here's a good article about his story:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dy ... Found=true

Old Haunts Still Resonate With Memories -- and Elvis

By Anita Huslin

Washington Post Staff Writer

Monday, March 26, 2001

Morning lands sunny side up on the lawn of Del Puschert's small, white farmhouse when the Best Buy sign blinks on at 5 a.m., casting a giant, yellow glow.

Across the lawn drifts the voice of a young musician Puschert met nearly half a century ago, when they both played under the white lights of some of the hottest music halls in Texas.

You ain't nothin' but a hound dog, cryin' all the time...

Like the halogen lights that blaze from the shopping center parking lot near Puschert's property on the outskirts of Annapolis, the tunes crank 24-7 from two speakers mounted on the front of his barn.

Above them, enthroned behind a giant plate-glass window, the King stands frozen in mid-swivel, transfixing passersby on Generals Highway, a once-sleepy country road whose two lanes are now a blur of suburban traffic.

"I don't mean to be bragnocious," said Puschert, who embraces the development so many others shun, "but it's pretty nice here."

If there is an institutional memory for Annapolitans of his era, Puschert is it. He remembers the cars people drove, whom they married, the music they listened to. It all comes back to him as he drives the back roads of Anne Arundel County in his 1996 pearly white Cadillac, his brush with musical greatness granting him local celebrity status.

"Most people around here, if you mention Del Puschert, they know who he is . . . if they've been around here any time," said Bill Sorrell, a member of the Class of '51, one of four Annapolis High School classes that still invite Puschert to their reunions, even though he never graduated. "He's friendly, down to earth -- one of the most unforgettable characters you'd meet."

Most folks of his era already know the story, but Puschert is still happy to share how, as a young saxophone player who went to Texas in 1954 to seek his fortune, he met Elvis Presley.

"He stopped in one night while he was going through to Shreveport and sat in with us," Puschert said. "It was no big deal. We were all musicians, and so we played." As he recalls, the highlight may actually have been after the show, "when we went out and had biscuits and gravy."

Later, Presley asked Puschert, whom he called Daddy-o, to join him on a tour. At first, Puschert declined, because he wanted to stay in Texarkana to be near a lady piano player. But the two musicians would meet again, and the next time Presley asked, Puschert agreed.

They played a couple of shows, eventually ending up in Miami, where Puschert played with Presley one night before the show moved on and Puschert decided to go to school to get his barber's certificate.

"He was a super, super guy," Puschert recalled. "Yup, not much else to tell."

Soon after, Elvis headed to Hollywood to make the movie "Love Me Tender," ending his road-show days. And Puschert returned to Annapolis, where he bought his father's eight-acre farm and set up a barbershop.

He didn't give up music, however; in fact, his star rose when he joined a rhythm-and-blues group called the Van Dykes, which played with all the big-name stars when they came to Washington or Baltimore -- the Drifters, the Coasters, LaVern Baker, Ruth Brown, Ike and Tina Turner, Jackie Wilson and Otis Redding.

Folks swarmed to the local hot spots, like Carr's Beach and Sparrow's Beach, and the casino nightclubs in North Beach, south of Annapolis, to gamble and dance to the music of the Van Dykes.

That ended more than 40 years ago, but these are the places Puschert returns to now.

Each day is a different trip down memory lane, and they all begin at the Annapolis Gourmet coffee shop owned by his old friend Gus Leanos, who invariably is greeted by Puschert with a "How do?" It's a meeting place that attracts many old-time residents, including former mayor Alfred Hopkins; Willard Mumford, former president of the Anne Arundel Historical Society; and "Mushie" Snyder, who has owned Snyder's shoe store on Main Street for 68 years.

To all of them, Puschert is a local fixture, "one of the remaining characters who's been around for 50, 60 years" and who lends some of the old-town feel to the place, Mumford said.

On a recent afternoon, Puschert drives slowly through the waterfront community of North Beach, looking for the old buildings that once lined the shore and drew gamblers, diners and dancers to this town on the line between Anne Arundel and Calvert countiesfrom as far away as Baltimore, Virginia and the District.

He stops for nearly a minute on Bay Avenue, North Beach's equivalent of Main Street, to point out a gravel parking lot -- "That used to be Rose's," a swank dance hall on the main drag. Uncle Billy's, the other big club on the strip, is now an IGA grocery story. Down the street was Ewald's, another dance hall and casino, now an antiques store.

Most of the handful of shops remain closed in the middle of the business day. On a gray, blustery day, it's hard for a visitor to envision the hopping town Puschert recalls.

"It'll never be like it was, because slot machines will never be here again," he says to no one in particular. "Not in my time, anyway."

Then he moves on to other roads, other memories as he watches the countryside change, new subdivisions rising in old haunts.

Though others lament the change as sprawl, somehow it makes sense to Puschert. Perhaps because he knew the farmers whose fields now sprout subdivisions and understands why they cashed in their land to retire comfortably, without worries.

He found himself in the same position six years ago, when developers came to him looking to buy his property, clear it and build up the commercial strip that has grown around his house.

"All my neighbors had sold out, and I was the last one to go," he said. "I held out because I knew it was only going to be worth more, but change always comes. I kept the best two acres. . . . But that's progress. You really can't stop it."

He has no regrets about selling most of his land, about seeing the shopping center and apartment complex rise around him. (His only regret, perhaps, would be for Sugar Lump, his beloved mule. "I only buried her four feet down, and when they started digging around to build the shopping center, I said, 'Y'all are going to dig up my mule,' and darned if they did.")

Cars rush by faster than they used to, and his home appears tiny alongside the neighboring shopping center. But every now and then, some stranger stops to take in the Elvis mannequin in the window of Puschert's barn.

In the summertime, young families and old couples sometimes pull up to his barn and roll down their windows to listen to the music.

And through it all, the place stays lighted up like a bandstand, even after sunset, from the parking lot lights of the shopping center.

"Someday it'll all disappear, and that's kind of hard to think about," he said. "But I'll never leave here. This is home sweet home."

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Mon Nov 07, 2005 11:28 pm

Great post! :)

Tue Nov 08, 2005 12:10 am

Is this guy for real?

Did Elvis really have a sax player while touring in the 50's?

If he did, why was a sax never recorded?

Tue Nov 08, 2005 1:07 am

KiwiAlan wrote:Is this guy for real?

Did Elvis really have a sax player while touring in the 50's?

If he did, why was a sax never recorded?

Good questions. When I talked to him he seemed honest enough to me and it does say in the article that he only played a couple of shows.
But hey, who the hell knows??

They played a couple of shows, eventually ending up in Miami, where Puschert played with Presley one night before the show moved on and Puschert decided to go to school to get his barber's certificate.

Tue Nov 08, 2005 1:23 am

Maybe he's the guy that does that squeak on So Glad You're Mine, but unfortunately Elvis waived him down mouthing "No man, we're doing the guitar break here. The sax part was for the outtakes only".

Tue Nov 08, 2005 1:26 am

Trevell wrote:
KiwiAlan wrote:Is this guy for real?

Did Elvis really have a sax player while touring in the 50's?

If he did, why was a sax never recorded?

Good questions. When I talked to him he seemed honest enough to me and it does say in the article that he only played a couple of shows.
But hey, who the hell knows??

They played a couple of shows, eventually ending up in Miami, where Puschert played with Presley one night before the show moved on and Puschert decided to go to school to get his barber's certificate.
If Elvis did Only You for 6 months and there are no recordings so far, a sax for a couple of shows (not recorded) is nothing extraordinary.

Tue Nov 08, 2005 1:44 am

Jim Dandy wrote:Maybe he's the guy that does that squeak on So Glad You're Mine, but unfortunately Elvis waived him down mouthing "No man, we're doing the guitar break here. The sax part was for the outtakes only".


Good one! :lol:
Elvis gave the cut throat signal just as he was about to get down! 8)

Tue Nov 08, 2005 3:31 am

JLGB wrote:
Trevell wrote:
KiwiAlan wrote:Is this guy for real?

Did Elvis really have a sax player while touring in the 50's?

If he did, why was a sax never recorded?

Good questions. When I talked to him he seemed honest enough to me and it does say in the article that he only played a couple of shows.
But hey, who the hell knows??

They played a couple of shows, eventually ending up in Miami, where Puschert played with Presley one night before the show moved on and Puschert decided to go to school to get his barber's certificate.
If Elvis did Only You for 6 months and there are no recordings so far, a sax for a couple of shows (not recorded) is nothing extraordinary.


That´s what I thought. So many concerts that we will never be able to listen simply because it wasn´t recorded or got lost in the time. Maybe Elvis really had a sax player.

Tue Nov 08, 2005 3:35 am

Just one thing that came up to my mind. I believe Elvis had a sax player. So if he really had may I assume this is something that most of the worldwide fans never notice due to the fact we don´t any recording of these particular shows???

At least interesting to me if it´s true. We learn something new about Elvis everyday...even if this was gone almost 50 years!

Tue Nov 08, 2005 9:59 am

This is something that would have to be checked with Scotty Moore, DJ Fontana and Red West. If none of them know nothing about it it's bullshit.

Tue Nov 08, 2005 5:25 pm

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Last edited by neckywoudje on Fri Feb 24, 2012 1:10 am, edited 1 time in total.

Tue Nov 08, 2005 8:29 pm

Wow, I guess I never thought it was all that outrageous that this guy played a couple shows with Elvis just before he got really big. It's not like he's selling books or getting rich off of this. He's just a local Annapolis guy that has a small barbershop. I could see if he was making claims that he was Elvis' best pal and he was the one that got him hip to Heartbreak Hotel and Hound Dog and gave him his haircut before the army, but all he's saying is he ran into him down in Texas sometime in the mid 50's and he played on a couple gigs with him before he decided to start cutting hair.

But I guess it's alright to be suspicious and it would be cool to ask Scotty Moore or someone else that was around at the time about it.

Hey! Give the man a call yourself! Maybe someone could pose as an interviewer and ask all the key questions to get to the bottom of this! :lol:

Dels Styling Ranch
146 Defense Highway,
Annapolis, MD 21401
(410) 224-6950