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The G.I. Blues Recording Sessions (Scrapbook)

Mon Dec 28, 2009 11:33 pm

I have posted this in the picture section,but thought I would put here just for anyone who may have missed it.


Elvis on his way to Los Angeles Union station.late on April 20th, 1960 Charlie Hodge can be seen in the reflection sat next to Elvis.
Charlie Hodge : Going out on the train to California,it was amazing to me.Every little whistle stop where trains no longer stopped,there was mobs of people all the way across the United States of America,they would be waving when the train went by,because they knew Elvis was on there.

Footage of the event
alternative here :

Question : Has Rock N' Roll died out?
Elvis " A lot people say it is has,I'll tell ya ,It has changed some,the music itself has changed,it's progressed quite a bit I think"
Question : It's better?"
Elvis " I think it's getting better all the time,you know,because the arrangements are getting better,they're adding more intsruments,and,you know so forth,it's getting better,but in 1956 when I first started out,I was hearing the same thing,that Rock N Roll was dead,that it was dying out,I'm not saying that it won't die out,because it maybe dead tomorrow,completely,I don't know"


Original caption 'WOMEN CHASING ELVIS PRESLEY'S TAXI' -- As his cab is mobbed by teenagers, returning veteran Elvis Presley (rear seat) plays it cool as he arrives in Los Angeles to start work on a movie at Paramount Studios. Despite his attempts to get from the station to his private car via the cab route, he was recognized and quickly surrounded by adoring fans.
DATE PHOTOGRAPHED : April 20, 1960
LOCATION : Los Angeles, California, USA
Charlie Hodge : When we got to Los Angeles,they put us in about five or six different cars,and each car went in a different direction,and they didn't know which one Elvis was in,so they didn't know which one to follow,then we of course,went through the hotel there in Beverly Hills,the Beverly Wilshire Hotel.

Original caption: 'SAME OLD MAGIC' -- Elvis Presley proved he has the same old magic yesterday as screaming teenagers surrounded his taxi as it left Union Station. The faithful had waited four hours for their hero.
DATE PHOTOGRAPHED : April 20, 1960
LOCATION : Los Angeles, California, USA


RAY CAMPI looks back to 1960 and recalls being present at the Hollywood rehearsals for G.I. Blues .
The acting career of James Drury was on the way up. "I just finished a part in a new Disney film called Pollyanna starring a young girl from England called Hayley Mills," he revealed. We were impressed. He had also done a lot of television work and had been "up" a few times to star in his own TV series.

Actor James Drury,who appeared in two episodes of the TV series of 'The Rebel' with Elvis' friend Nick Adams.

RAY CAMPI : Elvis fans know the name of the Reno brothers from his first film, Love Me Tender. Well, James Drury was in that one also. He played Ray Reno, one of Elvis' brothers. "Guess who's coming back to town in a couple of days?" he asked. "Elvis will be back at Paramount to start a new picture. I'm going over to visit, want to come along?" - his question being directed to me as he knew I would be interested. "I sure do!" I blurted out. I was working nights then and I didn't have to be at the Fine Arts until 6 p.m., so I had all of my days to dedicate to "Elvis watching."



Director Norman Taurog looks on as Elvis visits the Paramount Studio barber."Where has my great quiff gone"


Tuesday 26th April 1960
RAY CAMPI : The following Tuesday morning, Jim pulled up to the N. Gardener apartment in his blue 1957 Pontiac hardtop. "C'mon, let's go," he chimed as I jumped in the passenger seat. It was only a seven-minute ride over to the Paramount lot on Melrose and before we knew it we were pulling into the visitor's parking lot gate where a guard was standing in front of a small booth. "May I help you?" he asked. "Oh, it's you," he interrupted himself as he recognized Jim, who had worked on the lot many times. "Yeah, my friend and I came over to see Elvis Presley today, I heard he's coming back to work on a new film," Jim went on. "That's right. The Colonel has already moved into a production office and Presley will be rehearsing some of the songs to be recorded for the movie. He's on the stage right across from where Nick Adams is shooting his western series "The Rebel" just a short distance from where his old buddy was to be rehearsing that day. Jim and I got out of the car and started walking in the direction of the sound stages. "I think I'll go over to the production office and meet Colonel Parker," I said to Jim as we were walking. Jim responded and kept on toward the sound stage. That was the last I saw of him.

Charles O'Curran(far left) Neal Matthews sat down with Bass guitar,Ray Walker leaning against piano,Gordon Stoker,Elvis and Hilmer J "Tiny" Timbrell (foreground with guitar),

Hoyt Hawkins, Neal Matthews on Bass Guitar,Ray Walker,Gordon Stoker and Elvis.
Gordon Stoker : "He was a great, super nice guy,much too good for his own good. He was always in a good mood; he always had a good attitude - there's nobody that had a good attitude like Elvis. He was one of us; he considered himself one of the group, and he was an inspiration to be around; he made the best of any situation. In 15 years he never blew up and, believe me, he should have. His mother raised him that way, to make the best out of any situation... most of the time you can't do anything about it anyway."**

Drum set foreground,with the Jordanaires gathered around Elvis. Charles O'Curran (masked) bends down next to TinyTimbrull on guitar.

RAY CAMPI : I located the room that had the sign reading "G.I. Blues Production Office" painted above the door and walked in. I immediately was facing a large balding man with papers in his hand standing behind a desk. I stuck out my hand. "I'm Ray Campi," I blurted out, "I worked with Gabe Tucker last year and met Elvis in Killeen." The big man shook my hand and we talked for a few minutes and then he suggested that I go over to the sound stage and say "Hi" to his protégé. "I sure will," I responded, thanking him for his time before leaving the office.

Ray Walker,Hoyt Hawkins with his back to camera,Gordon Stoker,Elvis stood with music sheet as Charles O'Curran leans forward to chat to a musician,whilst Ray Siegal is holding the upright Bass and Hilmer J "Tiny" Timbrell can be seen sat in front of him.

Ray Siegal Played upright Bass on the G.I. Blues recordings and Baritone tuba on 'Didja Ever'. "My main job was when we were recording and he had a break where he was singing alone,and the orchestra had to come in after the two-bar break that he took,I was the one that would nod my head so that the whole rhythm section would stop. Then I would give a downbeat when we would all come in again,so at least we all made it together . I played string bass and of course he had four or five guitar players,all amplified,so I really didn't possess that important a musical role with him as I might."+

RAY CAMPI : I began scanning the studio lot, fascinated I was walking down the same streets where once travelled such stars as Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, Mae West and George Raft - all heroes of my childhood. Before I knew it I was on the stage where "The Rebel" was being shot., dressed Nick Adams in his Confederate costume, was only a few feet in front of me. It was between takes and I knew Nick would have a few minutes to talk. I introduced myself and we chatted. Being interested in drama and film-making, I hung around for a while and watched Nick shoot a scene. Jim and Elvis had vanished from my mind. My few minutes of gawking soon expanded into 30 or more.

Actor Mark Goddard who appeared in one episode of the TV series 'The Rebel',"To see the Elephant" alongside Nick Adams,pictured with Elvis on the Paramount set.

Nick Adams in his Confederate costume with Elvis

RAY CAMPI : When eventually I got over to Elvis' rehearsal stage I wondered if I could even get in. I quickly sprinted to the stage; the red light was off. I pushed in the thick door with a number painted on it... The "Virginian" (James Drury) and his guitar-picking friend were nowhere in sight!
When looking back on the music and film career of a superstar like Elvis Presley, it comes to mind that little of his success could have ever been achieved without help, and on that Paramount lot that was one thing Elvis had going for him. He had help from scores of people from Hal Wallis and The Colonel on down. There was music arranger Charles O'Curran and a score of sound technicians, and of course, his own personal entourage, not to forget the band musicians.
When I entered the sound stage at around 10 a.m., I witnessed many people doing many things. Players like Scotty Moore were positioning their instruments and amplifiers. Others were gathered around D.J. Fontana who was getting his drum legs lined up just right. Charlie O'Curran was pulling a stack of song sheets from his briefcase and setting them on the piano. He had been hired by the film company to direct and conduct the music rehearsals of all the songs that were to be recorded in Hollywood for RCA later that very night. Learning the songs had to be done first, of course, as the exact song lyrics were needed on tape so that when filming began Elvis could lip-sync along with the song playbacks.

Hoyt Hawkins(cropped)Neal Mattews,Ray Walker,Gordon Stoker provide backing vocals and Elvis

RAY CAMPI : Gordon Stoker and the rest of The Jordanaires were the first group of people I talked with. Gordon was a friend of a girl who lived in our apartment building called Billie Medlin. Billie knew Gordon in Dallas, and I knew talking to him would help to "break the ice" for me. There were stools placed around the area where the musicians were going to work, so I picked one up and sat down to observe the historic events of that day.

Gordon Stoker : We did most of the movie soundtracks and we were extras in a lot of the movies,crowd scenes and stuff.We enjoyed that and we were getting paid by the studio,we weren't on Elvis' payroll. It was his idea for us to be in the movies.He felt like we were his family.He asked the studios to give us parts in the movies and they did.We were in 'G.I. Blues','Loving You' 'King Creole'.*


RAY CAMPI : Soon a man came over to my corner with an acoustic bass in his hands. It was obvious with only one glance that he was not Bill Black, but a union studio musician and that Bill's success in his solo recording career had put him out of the "Elvis scene" forever. I talked with him for a while, as he was sort of an outsider like myself, but soon realized that a young man in black slacks, wearing two-tone shoes and a colorful shirt was sitting on the stool beside me not two feet away.
He was just as intrigued as I was by all of the movement going on by everyone and we two appeared to be the only ones in the room that had little to do. It was at that moment that I introduced myself to Elvis Presley for the second time in my life.
We talked about "Mr. Tanner," Bobby Reed and Killeen where we first met. He was extremely cordial to me and I displayed a low-key approach toward meeting him again. Within a few minutes Charlie O'Curran came over from his piano which was on the opposite side of the sound stage and showed Elvis copies of the songs they were going to rehearse that day. He picked up one copy, said, "We'll start with this one," and walked back to the piano on the far side of the room and pounded out a few chords of music.


Charles O'Curran,Hoyt Hawkins with Tambourine, Dudley Brooks on piano,Ray Walker,Gordon Stoker and Elvis.

Ray Siegel Bass player : " The nice part about Elvis was that he was always such a fine gentleman.I was always so amazed,and I was always happy to tell people how nice he was on all of the recording sessions. He would walk in and shake hands with everybody in the orchestra. 'How are you guys?' 'How are you? Chief?, he called me,and we had such a good rapport. It was always a good feeling and everybody was in such good spirits whenever we were recording."+


RAY CAMPI : Once the instrument levels and tunings were set, Charlie went on with his chord run-throughs for all to hear and to follow on the music sheets before them. When the musicians felt at ease with the tune, Elvis got up and started to sing in a mike along with the players a few times. I'm not positive if these rehearsals were recorded on tape, but I think they were as there were engineers who stayed in the booth the entire time and mikes were placed around the stage in various places. But, if recordings were made, I don't recall for sure. I don't think anyone called out the "take" numbers, and I don't think the tape was turned off for any reason. I assumed the tape was kept running and the contents used for reference at a later date.

Hoyt Hawkins with Tambourine,Ray Walker,Gordon Stoker and Elvis.

RAY CAMPI : I stayed at that rehearsal until about 5 p.m., when I had to leave for my job at the Fine Arts Theatre in Beverly Hills. During that day I sat next to Elvis the entire time, and talked to him briefly between his singing chores. Others would come up and talk with him as well. Charles O'Curran was a very efficient bandleader, little time was wasted and about six or seven songs were rehearsed with Elvis being able to sing all of them through without hesitancy.That night at the theatre I told my envious co-workers about my experience and decided that I would try to return to the Paramount lot the next day, and as many days following as I could.

Wednesday 27th April 1960
RAY CAMPI : Late Wednesday morning I excitedly drove to the Paramount lot but had no idea how I'd get past the studio gate. James Drury had "flown the coop" the day before, so how could I manage to get in?Perhaps in old films or in movie magazines you've seen the famous Paramount Studio gate, with lots of people rushing in and out. I made up my mind I'd be one of those people, still remembering that these gate police have very important jobs; mainly to keep nerds like me out! There was a way, though, to get in quite easily, and that was to enter through the gate at 10 minutes past 12:00 or at 10 minutes to 1:00. Those were the times when workers left and returned from lunch. During this period many office workers, stage hands, actors, extras and producers and their staff walked through the main gate, going to lunch at the restaurants on Bronson and Melrose Avenues. These people were never challenged by the guards, and I made my second appearance on the Paramount lot with an envelope in my hand, walking briskly with my eyes pointed intently, straight ahead. Before I knew it I was back on Elvis' rehearsal stage.


RAY CAMPI : What went on that second day was much like the previous one; the same people were present, working in the same way. I was impressed by the quality of the songs in G.I. Blues. I thought all of them were well-written and uniquely arranged. I talked with Elvis again and stayed there for a while, then decided to "look around" the lot. I entered another stage where some extras were already in costume, were made-up and were being screen-tested for small parts in the movie. Director Norman Taurog would ask them to walk on the set of a cafeteria and say a few lines as a camera filmed them. There was one girl in a German costume who later appeared as a waitress in the picture.

A rare behind the scenes shot of Elvis talking to Producer Hal Wallis.
"Hal Wallis" : Going into the army certainly changed Elvis,he had become more mature because being in the army was unlike anything he'd known before . His sense of humour also developed along with his career as a soldier.The sideburns went ,too,and he looked tougher,harder and leaner,and he just couldn't wait to get back to filming either. To begin with,Elvis was nervous that his two-year lay-off away from the cameras might mean he would have to start learning to act all over again,but in fact he slipped straight into it,though I guess it helped making a picture like 'G.I. Blues' which reflected his time in the army.

Thursday 28th April 1960
RAY CAMPI : The next day, Thursday, I pulled my same "fast walking" / "important business" act and got past the guard again at lunch break. I made it to the studio and was soon perched on what was becoming "my favorite stool."The rehearsals were fun! I was getting to be with Elvis and hear him sing "in person," more than any fan who had to buy a ticket to a concert. Was I a fan? I guess so, but a low-key one. Bear in mind that I'd started playing music a few years before Elvis, had had live radio shows with my Ramblers while still a teenager in high school, and had recorded in a "real" studio as early as 1951. There was no doubt that Presley was great! He completely changed the music business and opened doors for youthful entertainers and for country-fied rock 'n' rollers such as myself. Yet I didn't care to become a "groupie." Maybe I was too independent, or perhaps concerned more with my own music. I chose not to be running after him. I never asked for an autograph or for a photo to be taken. Would I act that way if I had the chance today? HELL, NO! For the above-mentioned reasons I acted a little shy with Presley and his troupe, though this was not to my best advantage - as I found out the next day.
During the course of Elvis' song rehearsals on that Thursday in April of 1960, I noticed that a boy of about ten had taken a seat on the stool next to mine - usually occupied by Elvis. This boy had a close relationship with the singer and talked with him a lot. The boy and myself began to talk and soon I'd told him I was from Austin, Texas, had met Elvis in Texas and that I played and sang rockabilly music.

"You should be in the picture!" he enthusiastically exclaimed. "That's not a bad idea," I answered. Anything was better than my job of tearing theatre tickets, I thought. "I can help you," the kid went on. "My dad is Norman Taurog and is the director. I'll take you to meet him." I was in shock. During the past few days Mr. Taurog had never appeared on the sound stage as he was busy testing actors for supporting roles on another stage. The kid acted like he had discovered something important and that by finding me, he was doing his dad a favor. Ha ha!
Jerry Lewis,Norman Taurog,Johnny Taurog and Dean Martin

RAY CAMPI : My pulse quickened as we exited the sound stage and soon we were ascending a flight of stairs to an office where I was to meet one of the best and most famous directors of musical films in the world.
Mr. Taurog was very warm and polite, and asked my drama background, did I have an agent, photos, experience, etc.? He then called the Paramount casting director and set up an appointment for me the next morning, which was Friday. I was to meet him at 9 a.m. (I knew then that my chances of being in the film were over. If a film director wants you in his picture, he does not ask permission from the casting director; he informs him what part you'll be playing.) I thanked Mr. Taurog and his son and left the studio as it was late afternoon and the theatre was awaiting me. I drove quickly to Beverly Hills with a million thoughts racing through my mind.



Ray Walker and Elvis(*)

Friday April 29th 1960 <
RAY CAMPI : At 9:00 sharp the next morning on Friday, April 29th, I was ushered into the office of Paramount's casting director. The middle-aged, cherub-faced man looked briefly at my photos, asked a few pertinent questions and thanked me for coming. Within a few minutes, maybe five, I was led to the door with the familiar, "We'll be in touch." I headed back to what I thought would be safe ground, the rehearsal stage I had grown used toElvis and the group were getting ready to go back to rehearsing, so I picked out a spot to sit down. After an hour or two the bottom fell out of my world.

Notice how Elvis is wearing the same watch in these photo's as the images of him arriving on the train,but changes for the start of the filming of the movie.




RAY CAMPI : Something like this happened to me on that fateful Friday. One of the technicians on the stage came to me and asked my name. I told him. "Are you part of Elvis' group of friends?" he asked. I said, "No," although I'd met him before. I was asked to leave. Later I learned that Elvis and the musicians thought that since I was there so many days in a row, I was a studio employee. Remember, Jim Drury did not introduce me personally to Elvis as his friend; he'd already left when I arrived. I possibly could have explained that I'd met Elvis in Texas in '58, that we had "mutual friends" or something silly like "Gabe Tucker sent me here," but I didn't. I did not want to say I'd had a meeting with the director or with Colonel Parker. If I had then I'm sure no one would have cared how long I'd observed the goings on.I had a great time. It was a fun experience for four days, so I couldn't really grumble. I packed up my pride and walked off the Paramount lot feeling like I was a richer man - which I was. By the way, I'm still waiting to hear from that casting director!


Charles O' Curran,Scotty Moore,Hoyt Hawkins, Dudley Brooks on piano(slightly masked) Neal Matthews,Gordon Stoker and Elvis.

"Scotty and Tiny became close friends working on the tracks sessions. Tiny could read music and Scotty used the nashville number system,so Tiny helped transfer the scores over before the actual recording sessions"***

Tiny Timbrell : " A lot of times there were different things to play,and we switched back and forth. It was a matter of what we called 'doubling' in the studio. We wanted to make as much money as we could,so we traded back and forth. He'd play electric on some things and I'd play electric and so on..."+

Dudley Brooks : "You see,all my work with Elvis,you know..his group didn't read any music. All the numbers that we did were rehearsed by me,but I had to tell them what,you know. I had to work it out with them. That was my main job with Elvis - learning all the songs and getting them ready for recording. Not only that,we would record first all the numbers,and then I would write them down later,I'd write all the numbers down that we recorded,after we did the recordings,so that I could give it to the musical director,so that he could know what was going on musically,so it was a kind of backwards procedure there,but everything that we recorded,which made me a lot of extra money,I wrote all these things down after we recorded it. I had written down lead sheets for them,Guitar parts mostly,thats what we needed. Guitar parts and a bass part,and a part for the drummer and myself-a piano part.I did that****




Elvis in rehearsals on the Paramount set for the production number 'G.I. Blues'

Elvis on the Paramount set.

November 1959 meeting with Hill & Range,Paramount had four tunes selected,two of which were two by Leiber & Stoller ,"Tulsa's Blues" and "Dog Face".The writers had not contributed these titles specifically for use in the picture as "Dog Face" was an unreleased leftover from a 'Coasters' session. Colonel Parker wrote a letter to Jean Aberbach " It is unfair to make different deals for the same service." and eventually both numbers were not included in the musical.

Elvis made a phone call to Priscilla and commented that he had just had a meeting with Colonel Parker and informed him that half the songs in the picture should be cut. Priscilla asked what did the Colonel say? "Hell,what could he say? I'm locked into this thing."^^

RCA Victor had made an agreement with the recording engineers union that all RCA records were to be recorded at RCA's own studios,therefore Steve Sholes informed Colonel Parker that this rule would apply to Elvis's movie recording.In turn this meant that the
G.I. Blues recording sessions were to be recorded at RCA Studios,Sunset Boulevard,Hollywood.

Radio Corporation of America,RCA Building,6363 W. Sunset Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 1965.

Wednesday 27th April
RCA Studios - Hollywood, California
Soundtrack Session for "G.I. Blues"
Musical Conductor : Joseph J.Lilley
Producer : Hal Wallis
Musical numbers staged and choreographed by : Charles O' Curran
Engineer : Al Schmitt
Recorded in 3-Track Stereo

9.00am - 2.00pm / 3.00pm - 8.00pm

Backup Vocals: The Jordanaires : Gordon Stoker; Neal Matthews; Hoyt Hawkins; Ray Walker
Guitar : Scotty Moore
Bass Guitar : Neal Matthews
Mandolin / Guitar: Hilmer J "Tiny" Timbrell
Bass : Ray Siegal
Drums : DJ Fontana
Drums : Frank Bode
Piano : Dudley Brooks
Accordian : James(Jimmie) Haskell
Tambourine : Hoyt Hawkins
Guitar : Elvis Presley (Shoppin Around)


Shoppin' Around (Instrumental)
Shoppin' Around
Didja' Ever
Doin' The Best I Can
G.I. Blues (Pickup & Composite)
Tonight Is So Right For Love
What's She Really Like?
Frankfurt Special (Fast)
Tonight Is So Right For Love

"Shoppin' Around" instrumental only take 4 is complete.(take 3 is missing)

"Shoppin' Around" (BO). On takes 1 to 4 the drums are in the foreground . Take 5 ,the guitar is more prominent and at the end of take 9 Elvis says 'Son of a'.
Shoppin Around' was written by Aaron Schroeder,Sid Tepper and Roy C. Bennett in late 1956. Originally submitted for the movie 'Loving You',but rejected Freddy Bienstock had noted that Elvis liked the song and was finally included in these sessions in 1960.Elvis can be heard playing the rhythm guitar on some early takes.
Takes 1-11,Take 11 is the Master

"Didja Ever" (CO) When the engineer mentions 'CO take 1', Elvis repeats 'Commanding Officer'. and 'Charlie,(0'Curran) keep the tempo up' before the first take of the song.
Takes 1-2,Take 2 is the Master

"Doin' The Best I Can" (DO) is a slow ballad,A voice states 'quiet in the back'. After 2 false starts and 2 break downs (after take 7) there is an announcement that its 'Hold it,there isn't time for another take,we'll have to go for lunch" "We have to have a 2 o'clock lunch break.. After lunch, the session starts, take 10 breaksdown,and Elvis states 'The chair squeaked has anybody got any oil?'.
Takes 1-13,Take 13 is the Master

"G.I. Blues" (EO). Elvis comments to Hal Wallis the Producer 'The ending was messed up anyway, so I didn't bother to say it'.Mr Wallis answers back "Ok" and take 4 "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling" is heard
Takes 1-7,Take 7 is used for the spliced Master
G.I. Blues (Pickup) EO
Takes 8-10
G.I. Blues (Composite)
Spliced (with take 7&pick up 10) Master

"Tonight Is So Right for Love" (FO). Elvis is snapping his fingers on the intro,How many how many? "7" comes the reply before a request "Elvis" "Yes Sir" "I have been asked to have you, not snap your fingers" "Am I snapping my fingers?" "Someone was?" "Oh,Ok,It was probably me,most humble forgivings" "Forgiven" "actually it's my teeth"
Elvis states 'Forward Observer',and before take 5 - 'Hey, Gordon Stoker, we're ready to go'.
Takes 1-7
Ray Siegal : "He sang a ballad from 'The Tales Of Hoffmann',The Barcarole (Tonight Is So Right For Love),and he sang a rock version of that,and his voice showed such a good quality,that everybody around him in the studio said that his voice was so good that he could actually have been Bing Crosby if he had been of that era of time,and the thing we were so amazed at was that it was a classical piece and he did such a first class job with it"

"What's She Really Like" (GO) Elvis saying to Charlie (O'Curran) "The take is a little bit slow".
Takes 1-5
For the actual movie version,this track was recorded on set

"Frankfurt Special" (HO Fast),Between takes 3 and 4 he sings one line of the song 'It's All In The Game', number one hit of Tommy Edwards in 1958. After take 12 Elvis says "Somebody has lost his false teeth" "damned train' 'I guess I'll never be right'.
Takes 1-13,Take 13 Master
Gordon Stoker,Ray Walker,Elvis,Neal Mattews and Hoyt Hawkins in the 'Frankfurt Special' production number,Paramount.
Ray Walker : He (Elvis) wanted us to have a scene in there (G.I. Blues), It took seventeen days to do the scene on the train in G.I. Blues'; not, working straight through, but with additions and changes and re-writes, it took that long. Very enjoyable, even without the digital we have today.In G.I. Blues, a team filmed all the scenery in Germany and built a square club car on the set, shook it from the back with a long pole and put the scenery in the windows with a rear projector. We never even saw Germany.

"Tonight Is So Right For Love" (F0)Tempo is much slower than on takes FO.,break down at the end of take 10 with laughter - Elvis shouts "Hold it Charlie,before I crack' 'I had a doozy in my throat - What ever a doozy is"
Takes 8-11,Take 11 is the Master
"Tonight Is So Right for Love" was based on Jacques Offenbach's "Barcarolle" from the opera Tales of Hoffman, which was in the public domain in the United States but not in Europe, the song had to be replaced with another song for the European releases of the film and soundtrack. The song "Tonight's All Right for Love," based on a Johann Strauss melody,"Tales From The Vienna Woods" but otherwise very similar to "Tonight Is So Right for Love," was substituted. For the actual movie Elvis filmed the two alternative arrangements together ,and the rare european version can be seen here :

On the Paramount set with Elvis at the piano joined by the cast including Ken Baker and Charlie Hodge.
Charlie Hodge : I'd never seen such a relaxed situation. Elvis would go in there, and he might get to the piano and start singing. And maybe the Jordanaires would come around, or we'd do something until he was comfortable, you know. And then he'd be ready to record. But I'd never seen anything like that. Usually like when we went in to do our sessions for Decca and went in there to do this session with Homer and Jethro, you went in there all business. You know, you'd go in and do your songs and get out. But there Elvis was ,and it felt like it was fun. It was relaxed. And Elvis had people around him who were very creative. And somebody would have an idea, and they would give it a try and see if it fits, you know. Elvis was wide open to suggestions. I mean, they stayed as close as the demonstration record as they could. But they came up with some great ideas that were used.(**)

RCA Studios - Hollywood, California

April 28th 1960
12.30pm - 6.00pm / 7.45pm - 11.30pm
Musicians same as 27th except : Guitar : Elvis Presley (Blue Suede Shoes)

Whistling Blues (Instrumental)
Tonight Is So Right For Love (Music & Chorus)
Wooden Heart
Big Boots (Fast and slow)
What's She Really Like?
Pocketful Of Rainbows
Blue Suede Shoes
Wooden Heart
Pocketful Of Rainbows

"A Whistling Blues" (instrumental)
Take 1 Master

Tonight Is So Right For Love (Music & Chorus) (KO)
Takes 1-4,Take 4 is the Master

Wooden Heart (Gramafunken Version) (LO)

"Big Boots" (M1O, fast tempo)
Takes 1-7,Take 7 is the Master

Big Boots (Slow Tempo) MO
Takes 1-4 ,take 4 used for spliced master

What's She Really Like? (GO)
Takes 6-19,Take 19 used for spliced master)

What's She Really Like? (Insert) GO
Spliced Takes 19 & Insert Take 22)

Pocketful Of Rainbows (NO)

"Blue Suede Shoes" (PO)
Blue Suede Shoes was completed in one take,on April 28th 1960. Elvis was apparently consulted about which track would be used in the jukebox scene and 'I Got A Woman' was his choice.
Gordon Stoker : "Elvis wanted to do 'I Got A Woman',which is a Ray Charles tune,and they came up and said,'This will cost $2,000 to do this song',so Elvis had to scrap it-they wouldn't even pay it because Ray Charles wanted $2.000 up-front,and they wouldn't pay it till the movie came out so he didn't get to do it.' +
Elvis' next suggestion was 'Blue Suede Shoes' which was a Hill & Range song and Paramount negotiated with Carl Perkins to use the track in the movie. Elvis re-recorded the track which gave RCA a new stereo master. Scotty Moore and D.J. Fontana were present,whilst Ray Siegal replaced Bill Black on acoustic Bass ,with Elvis on Rhythm guitar. The re-recording is 7 seconds longer than the original with a slightly more laid back approach.

Wooden Heart (QO)
Ben Weisman : 'Wooden Heart' As usual,we all received scripts,and once again the race was on.In this film,Elvis was in the service,stationed in Germany.There's a scene in G.I. Blues where Elvis is with Juliet Prowse watching a puppet scene.They needed a song to fit it,so we had the idea of Wooden Heart,which is a puppet,and so it was based on that old German folk song,'Muss I Denn',so they wanted an old German folk song,so it's based on old theme which we kinda' adapted,kinda re-arranged and made it work, which is what they wanted,so it worked out great.It was a very very big hit for him.The accordian heard on the track was played by Jimmie Haskell,a well known arranger and conductor/producer.
Takes 1-4,Take 4 Master
Bob Baker (the puppeteer)The first time he tried to sing the puppet number, he kept looking at it real funny. He couldn’t see us controlling it so he got a little upset, like, “I can’t sing to this puppet, this damn thing is alive!” He actually had to go to his dressing room for a full hour to unwind.Finally they told him, he had to come back so they could get the scene shot that day.... Finally by the end of the number, the director said, "Can I have the father puppet" And without Elvis knowing it, he put the puppet on his hand and he began hitting Elvis on the head with his stick. And Elvis at first got very angry - and then turned around and saw it was the director and he said it was OK.
Juliet Prowse was on the set during the whole thing. She was out in the audience with the children. We did everything and then a run-through after the audience left, for close-ups and angles. And that's when Elvis actually put one of the puppets on his hand and worked it. He found it kind of interesting. He seemed to work better with the puppets after that."
Robert Ebright provided the vocals for "Muss I' Denn" in the puppet section before Tulsa comes to the rescue German.

"Pocketful Of Rainbows" (NO) . Take 4 breaks down "'let's take it again real quick", take 7 ,Elvis says "he wants another 'real quick one, Charlie,(O'Curran) and possibly after this one another one"."'let's take one more, kind a quick, and we got it'. The engineer replies"good". Take 15 "Give another quick one". After a complete take 17 'let's do one more before we stop. And that's it', after he cracked on take 19 'let's start again. Kind a schnell like'. and on take 21 "keep it warm Charlie", : Elvis sings moaning 'I tried so hard, so hard to please'. Response by the engineer: 'Why don't you sing "I'm Doing The Best I Can"?'. Elvis: 'I tell you, well, let's try one more time and if she met ... If I crack, well, uh'. Response by the engineer: 'If you crack you have a new world record, it's 29'. Elvis: 'I did 60 one time. The record never came out"
Takes 3-28,Take 28 alternate master
Ben Wiseman : I tried to put a little sophistication into it,'Pocket Of Rainbows', if you'll notice,has some nice changes - a little bit different for him at the time,I tried to pull away from the usual Elvis type of song,and his style. ,He (Elvis) liked it,and it was in a cable car with Juliet Prowse,and I tried to get him to do some high notes,some falsetto notes,and I tried different things with him,and he went along with it.He seemed to like it.
The demo version was recorded by Jimmy Breedlove and can be heard on FTD release 'Elvis Presley Writing For the King'. The demo version does not differ that much to the Elvis version.
Note : Paramount Studio records state that a singing double was used. In the movie itself a female voice is added to the soundtrack to form a duet with Elvis and Juliet Prowse. The female vocal is not Juliet Prowse - Loulie Jean Norman provided the vocal ^^^
Loulie Jean Norman

Hoyt Hawkins with Tambourine,Ray Walker,Gordon Stoker(partially masked) and Elvis on the Paramount Studio sound stage.


Elvis went back to the Radio Recorders studio for the remaining recordings.
Ernst Jorgenson : Elvis insisted that they return to Radio Recorders,union deal or not. At Radio Recorders,with Thorne Nogar engineering,Elvis was both more comfortable and more confident,adding a little echo,Nogar created exactly the right blend of elements to make each song sound like an Elvis Presley record,suddenly vocals that had sounded flat and dry in the RCA studio came alive.

Bones Howe assistant engineer : "He came to the studio in full-dress uniform,with the piping around the sleeves,and all these guys around him,a whole new cast of characters,I was flabbergasted,he looked great,he had everything he could want,all the same people were there,but it just wasn't the same.It was like,wait a minute,how did I do this?What was it I did? Maybe through being away all that time he'd had a chance to think about what he'd been doing and tried to figure out what it was,but something was gone."^
Engineer Thorne Nogar and Elvis

May 6 1960
Radio Recorders Studio B.
7000 SANTA MONICA BLVD Hollywood, California
Soundtrack Session for "G.I. Blues"
Musical Conductor : Joseph J.Lilley
Musical numbers staged and choreographed by : Charles O' Curran
Producer : Hal Wallis
Engineer : Thorne Nogar
Assistant engineer : Bones Howe
1.00pm - 7.00pm / 8.15pm - 10.00pm


Backup Vocals: The Jordanaires : Gordon Stoker; Neal Matthews; Hoyt Hawkins; Ray Walker
Guitar : Neal Matthews
Guitar : Scotty Moore
Mandolin / Guitar: Hilmer J "Tiny" Timbrell
Bass : Ray Siegal
Drums : DJ Fontana
Drums : Bernie Mattinson
Piano : Dudley Brooks
Accordian :James Haskell
Tambourine : Hoyt Hawkins
More detailed info here :


Neal Matthews,Gordon Stoker,Hoyt Hawkins and Ray Walker.

Big Boots (Medium Tempo)
Shoppin' Around
Pocketful Of Rainbows
Frankfurt Special (Medium Tempo)
Tonight's All Right For Love
Big Boots
Tonight's All Right For Love


"Big Boots" (M1OX Medium)
Takes1-2,Take 2 is the Master

"Shoppin' Around" (BOX). A less rocking version and the instruments are moved to the background compared to the first version BO. Takes 2, 5 and 7 are complete, take 3 is a break down and takes 1, 4 and 6 are all false start (not even started to play). Before take 7 the engineer gives some directions to Scotty Moore, he wants DJ to shine and the bass singer is directed closer to the mike by Elvis. Take 7 was selected as the master.
Takes 1-7,Take 7 is the master

"Pocketful Of Rainbows" (NOX). A little echo is added. Take 1 breaks down while he's 'jumping the rainbow'. Takes 2 (master) and 3 are complete takes.
Ernst Jorgenson : A week before they had struggled away at "Pocketful Of Rainbows" loping through twenty-nine takes with only an unsatisfactory master to show for it,now they got what they wanted in just two.

"Pocketful Of Rainbows" (Movie Version) Loulie Jean Norman provided the vocal which Juliet Prowse lip-synced on the Paramount set.^^^

"Frankfurt Special" (HOX) slower than the HO version ,slight echo can be heard on the vocal backings. Elvis moans '"The tune doesn't allow me to sing in high voice", Take 6 breaks down on a guitar solo but Elvis says 'likes it' what he did so far. After take 9 he Elvis states "I want to go on before the train runs out of juice"
Takes 1-10,Master take is take 10
Ernst Jorgenson : "Frankfort Special was brought down to a human tempo,with Scotty and D.J. basing loosely on "Mystery Train".


"Tonight's All Right for Love" (R1O).. 'lost an engine on take off' and 'that fly up the sky' "shocked me" causing to break down take 3. It's hard for me to say a mid-summer nights dream',Elvis mentions "We should have never broke for lunch","I was in a great spirit before lunch. (Evening Meal Break) "I was in good spirits" "Its almost time for ten minute break" " Don't be afraid fellas" After the complete take 10, Freddy says 'I think it's a pretty good take' and Elvis replies with 'let's do one more and we'll make a better one'. After take 12 Elvis sings a line of "Loving You" 'I will spend my whole life through' 'that was back in the good old days'.
"Tonight's All Right for Love" (R2O). Inserts
Take 1-2
"Tonight's All Right For Love" (Composite)

"Big Boots" (MOX, slow)
Takes 1-6
"Big Boots" (M2OX,slow)Insert
Takes 1-4,(used slpiced Master)
"Big Boots"(Slow - Composite) SO

"Tonight's All Right For Love" (Music & Chorus) RO
Takes1-5,Take is the Master

Publicity Photograph most likely taken between Monday 27th and Wednesday 29th of June 29th 1960 - In this uncropped picture The khaki trousers can be seen used for the 'G.I. Blues Promo images.


Movie Musical breakdown

1. 'G.I. Blues' Orchestral Instrumental - Conducted and arranged by Joseph J.Lilley (Opening Titles)
2. 'What' She Really Like' - Written by Sid Wayne & Abner Silver ( Elvis vocal only recorded on set)
3. 'Instrumental'
4. 'Shoppin Around' Instrumental
5. 'G.I. Blues' - Written by Sid Tepper & Roy C. Bennett
6. 'Doin The Best I Can' - Written by Doc Pomus & Mort Shuman
7. 'Blue Suede Shoes' - Written by Carl Perkins
8. G.I. Blues' Orchestral Instrumental - Conducted and arranged by Joseph J.Lilley
9. 'Frankfort Special' - Written by Sid Wayne & Sherman Edwards
10. 'Instrumental Dance number 1' - Conducted and arranged by Joseph J.Lilley
11.'Shoppin Around' - Written by Sid Tepper, Roy C. Bennett & Aaron Schröder (as Aaron Schroeder)
12.'Tonight Is So Right For Love' - Written by Sid Wayne & Abner Silver/ 'Tonight Is All Right For Love (European Prints)
13. 'Wooden Heart' - Written by Bert Kaempfert, Kay Twomey, Fred Wise & Ben Weisman
14.'Pocket Full Of Rainbows' - Written by Fred Wise & Ben Weisman
15 'Instrumental Dance number 2' "Crawfish Dance"- Conducted and arranged by Joseph J.Lilley
16. 'Big Boots' - Written by Sid Wayne & Sherman Edwards
17. 'Instrumental Dance number 3' - Conducted and arranged by Joseph J.Lilley
18. 'Didja' Ever' - Written by Sid Wayne & Sherman Edwards
19. 'Instrumental' End Credits - Conducted and arranged by Joseph J.Lilley


Variety review 1960

About the creakiest 'book' in musicomedy annals has been revived by the scenarists as a framework within which Elvis Presley warbles 10 wobbly songs and co-star Juliet Prowse steps out in a pair of flashy dances [staged by Charles O'Curran].
Plot casts Presley as an all-American-boy tank-gunner stationed in Germany who woos supposedly icy-hearted Prowse for what starts out as strictly mercenary reasons (if he spends the night with her, he wins a hunk of cash to help set up a nitery in the States). Needless to say, the ice melts and amor develops, only to dissolve when Prowse learns of the heely scheme.
Responsibility for penning the 10 tunes is given no one on Paramount's credit sheet. Considering the quality of these compositions, such anonymity is understandable. Joseph J. Lilley is credited with scoring and conducting music for the film. It is not absolutely clear whether he had a hand in composing the pop selections, but it is doubtful. Presley sings them all as a slightly subdued pelvis.
Prowse is a firstrate dancer and has a pixie charm reminiscent of Leslie Caron. She deserves better roles than this.
Juliet Prowse publicity still for 'G.I. Blues'. Alternative shots from this session can be seen in the movie.

The Colonel and Elvis at Paramount Studios.
Tuesday June 21 1960 - "Telephone Call" from Hawaii to the set of G.I. Blues Interviewer : Tom Moffatt with firstly Colonel Tom Parker and Then Elvis himself. Lots of interesting information,Elvis mentions that he is shooting the end scene,this would be in last week of the shoot wrapping at the end of the week around friday June 24th 1960. ... l?button=6 and click on 'Elvis Off The Record'


Notes :
It becomes obvious that the accounts and recording info don't seem to match up.
1. Ray Campi gives great detail about his time on the Paramount sound stage,for instance he mentions that Elvis was due to record that evening(26th) at RCA,"that were to be recorded in Hollywood for RCA later that very night" but we don't have any details or logs that Elvis recorded on the 26th April at RCA?.
2. Ray Campi states that he visited the Paramount Sound Stage on the 27th of April from lunchtime and "Before I knew it I was back on Elvis' rehearsal stage" when the information for this date puts Elvis and his musicians in the RCA Hollywood Studio all day from 9.00am until 8.00pm . I havn't seen any paperwork for the 27/28th ApriI - Anyone have this?
3. It seems Ray Campi is out with his memories and dates, hopefully readers can help with this as Elvis couldn't have been in two places at once - any ideas?
4. From Ray Campi's description,it seems that the rehearsals were recorded.

My thoughts on the images included above of Elvis have been described in many publications :
1. 'A Life In Music' by Ernst Jorgensen page 132 as 'The G.I. Blues session at RCA'S Hollywood studios April 27-28
2. 'Elvis Sessions' Joseph A Tunzi JAT page 63,'Elvis at the G.I. Blues recording sessions,
3. ... hat60.html
My thoughts that these images may not be from RCA Hollywood Studios,they don't appear to be from RCA Radio Recorders Hollywood,so they could be from rehearsals on the Paramount sound stage. There is only one microphone visable in any of the shots which Elvis has,no microphones for backing vocals or musicians. I'm hoping the studio experts can help with this(James?) The surroundings also look to be a sound stage rather than a recording studio,plus Elvis is is sat in his Hollywood film stage chair. It's worth mentioning that I do not own the 'Inside G.I. Blues' book which may have some information in relation to this,I could be completely wrong regarding this - Hopefully Information can be provided so that I can then complete this section on 'The G.I. Blue Sessions'

The only way to hear the movie at the correct speed,with no pitch change is to obtain the NTSC DVD



Rare Cassette version

Background info regarding RCA Hollywood Studios,which I believe consisted of three studios - The large Studio A ,B and the smaller C

Keith Richards wails on his guitar at one of many recording sessions at RCA Studios in Hollywood California in 1965.
Keith Richards 2002 : "RCA Studios was a lovely big room, which meant you could work for hours and hours without getting tired. Good equipment. Great address on Hollywood Boulevard. RCA was the first room we recorded in in L.A. So we knew that when we got there we weren't in for strange surroundings. There was no time to check out a bunch of studios in those days. You'd just set up and go".

American singer and songwriter Harry Nilsson sits behind the piano in the RCA recording studio, Hollywood, California, March 1970.(Life)

With thanks

Collectors guide to the G.I. Blues LP : ... s-presley/
^Interview with Bones Howe 1989
^^'Elvis and Me' Priscilla Presley page 64
*Trevor Cajiao interview with Gordon Stoker ETMAHM 25
** Source: The McKenzie Banner
***Scotty Moore's secretary ETMAHM 29
****Dudlet Brooks interview with Jan-Erik Kjeseth (talking about the general recording procedure)
< There was a typo in the original article as the 29th of April had been put down as a saturday
^^^Loulie Jean Norman Soprano - Also Part of a female backing group, along with Jacqueline (Jackie) Allen, Dorothy McCarthy, and Virginia Rees, that backed Elvis on the song, "Moonlight Swim", from the Blue Hawaii soundtrack session, on March 22, 1961. A soprano who started out with the Mel Tones in the 40s, sang in the chorus in numerous movies, also voice double for Diahann Carroll in PORGY AND BESS and the Star Trek theme
+ETMAHM No. 54 is an essential read for more detailed info regarding the 'G.I. Blues Sessions' by Jan-Erik Kjeseth
(**)Charlie Hodge talking about Recording Sessions with Elvis in general
The sessions can be heard here for reference : ... gi/gi.html
Adapted & Edited from here
Adapted & Edited from here

Re: The G.I. Blues Recording Sessions (Scrapbook)

Tue Dec 29, 2009 12:17 am

A wonderful post in any section of the board.

Re: The G.I. Blues Recording Sessions (Scrapbook)

Tue Dec 29, 2009 1:55 am

Amazing, appreciated.
Blown away by this post - thank you.

Re: The G.I. Blues Recording Sessions (Scrapbook)

Tue Dec 29, 2009 4:18 am

What's with the "featuring WOODEN HEART" red heart on the top right section of the LPM-2256 G.I. BLUES album? Do you know if that was an original sticker placed on the plastic wrap from the factory? I've never seen that before.

Yes that sticker was on the original LP's when it was released, much the same as the sticker that was on BLUE HAWAII Lp. This is the most desirable version of this LP in a vinyl collectors eyes- that sticker ads quite a lot to the LP's value.

Although I've always thought that it was added to draw attention to the fact that Elvis' version appeared on that particular LP after the Joe Dowell single was released. As you know Elvis' single wasn't released in the U.S. until much later. That's just my wondering though.

Anyway it's pretty darn rare.

Re: The G.I. Blues Recording Sessions (Scrapbook)

Tue Dec 29, 2009 7:21 am

David, what a post...! I recall you doing a similiar one sometime ago!

You must make a lot of use of that "preview" button to get it just right!

Well done and thank you for your efforts to document that still-fresh time in the King's career.

Re: The G.I. Blues Recording Sessions (Scrapbook)

Tue Dec 29, 2009 11:20 am

Great post, this could fit 1 on 1 in a FTD booklet :-)

Re: The G.I. Blues Recording Sessions (Scrapbook)

Tue Dec 29, 2009 11:55 am

Thanks Davide,always enjoy your work

Re: The G.I. Blues Recording Sessions (Scrapbook)

Tue Dec 29, 2009 12:28 pm

Now THIS is an guide how an 'Inside' book SHOULD be made, what a great build up !! Henrik take note ! :D one word, AMAZING!!!

Re: The G.I. Blues Recording Sessions (Scrapbook)

Wed Dec 30, 2009 1:07 am

FANTASTIC reading. Thanks for the time and effort Davide.

Re: The G.I. Blues Recording Sessions (Scrapbook)

Wed Dec 30, 2009 1:53 am

Hi there!! :D :D :D.

Thank you Davide, excellent post 8). This Elvis movie is one of my all time favourite :smt007. Bye for now :smt006.

Mike Windgren.

Re: The G.I. Blues Recording Sessions (Scrapbook)

Fri Jun 01, 2012 4:08 pm

Davide is the man.

Re: The G.I. Blues Recording Sessions (Scrapbook)

Fri Jun 01, 2012 6:50 pm

STUNNING! How Davide keeps coming up with the goods like this is beyond me.

Re: The G.I. Blues Recording Sessions (Scrapbook)

Fri Jun 01, 2012 7:57 pm

This is fun to see this again, especially since the G.I. Blues, Volume 1 FTD is coming out soon.

It was very interesting to read of Loulie Jean Norman's dubbing of Juliet Prowse's vocal on "Pocketful of Rainbows." Norman did a lot of singing in her career, albeit without fanfare:

Few female vocalists have appeared so prominently on an Elvis Presley track. The first was probably Millie Kirkham's fantastic work on 1957's "Blue Christmas."

Thanks, as always, davide.