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Memphis Press Scimitar 1955

Mon May 03, 2010 11:23 am

I don't know if this has featured here before, sorry if it has but don't jump on me for it!! ( Not all of us have been here forever or can visit every day! ). I found it interesting & hope you guys do too. http://www.memphispressscimitar.com/

Memphis Press Scimitar 1955.


That Something' Has Captivated Fans Over U.S.
By ROBERT JOHNSON
Press-Scimitar Staff Writer


One sultry night last July, Dewey Phillips flicked a turntable switch with one of his cottin pickin' hands and sent a strange rhythmic chant spinning out from WHBQ.
"Well, that's all right, Baby . . . that's all right, Baby . . ."
The record ended. Radio, like Nature, abhors a void, and Mr. Phillips hastens to fill the breach. "That'll flat git it," he said authoritatively.
That same night, Sleepy Eye John over WHHM loosed the other side of the record on his admirers--and the same voice which had been reassuring Baby now sang plaintive praise of "Blue Moon of Kentucky"


Something Happened
Time didn't exactly stand still, but something happened. Bob Neal of WMPS played the record too. The pop jockeys, entranced by something new, began slipping "That's All Right" and "Blue Moon" in among the more sophisticated glucose and bedlam of Teresa Brewer, Nat Cole and Tony Bennett.
In less than a week, a momentous change began for a young teen-ager, working on an assembly line, who liked to sing and play the guitar.
His name: Elvis Presley.
Elvis' first record was on the Sun label of Sam Phillips' small but ambitious Memphis Recording Service, 706 Union. It wasn't the first time that Sam's Sun had created a good sized ripple in the frenzied circles of record business. Sam is largely responsible for a new trend in the field which the trade publications call R&B (for rhythm and blues) and country (or hillbilly) music, and for making Memphis the R&B capital, as Nashville is for rustic rhythm.

Within a Week
Within less than a week, Sam was frantically and happily trying to press enough copies of Elvis' debut platter to catch up wait a 6000 back-order which hit him before the record had even gone on sale, before it had been released in any market outside Memphis.
And overnight, a restricted but indubitable mantle of fame settled about Elvis, as the record went spinning out across the country--100,000 . . . 200,000 . . . 300,000 . . . still going.
Within a month, Elvis was invited to appear on hillbilly heaven, Nashville's Grand Ole Opry. Veteran entertainers kept him singing backstage, after the show.

On Juke Box Jury
The record was played on Juke Box Jury. "Blue Moon" had been written and first recorded some years earlier by a famous, Grand Ole Opry entertainer, Bill Munroe of Kentucky. Tennessee Ernie Ford, on the Juke Box Jury that night, drawled: "If ole Bill Munroe hears this, he'll just take his li'l ole country band and head back for the hills." Monroe himself, far from being offended, sent Elvis a note of thanks. After Elvis brought it out, six other companies made it with thier stars.
Billboard gave Elvis' first record an 85 score, very high, on both sides. Over a 15 week period, only one other record in the same category had an equal rating, and that was by the established star, Webb Pierce.
Sam Phillips still hasn't figured out which was the big side. "That's All Right" was in the R&B idiom of negro field jazz, "Blue Moon" more in the country field, but there was a curious blending of the two different musics in both.

Two More
Sun brought out two more Elvis records--"I Don't Care" and "Good Rockin' Tonight"; "Milk Cow Blues Boogie" and "You're a Heartbreaker." Billboard's annual poll of disk jockeys for 1954 landed Elvis in the list of Ten Most Promising artists on the strength of them.
Ruben Cherry of Home of the Blues said: "Just three records, and every one has been a hit. People have come in to buy them who never bought records before."
Country music had been thought to have more appeal for older people, but the teen-agers picked up Elvis.\All at once he had crowds screaming for him. He got a manager, Bob Neal, and a regular job on CBS Louisiana Hayride from Shreveport every Saturday night.
He had more money than he ever saw before.
"I got my own office," he said. "It's listed in the phone book---Elvis Presley Enterprises, 160 Union."

Terrific Appetite
He also has enough money to buy all the cheeseburgers he wants. When he has music on his mind, he forgets eating, then gets a terrific appetite which may demand eight cheeseburgers and three milk shakes at a sitting.
To that new office of his come between 60 and 75 letters each day, most requesting pictures.
Elvis at first sent the pictures for free. Now he charges 25 cents for them: on mass orders they cost 8 cents each.
In the past three months he has traveled more than 25,000 miles on personal appearances, played to crowds of 3000. He travels by car with his instrumental teammates--Scotty Moore, hot guitarist, and Bill Black, bass, both Memphians. Their schedule for one week -- New Orleans, Friday; Shreveport, Saturday; Ellis Auditorium in Memphis Sunday; Ripley, Miss., Monday; Alpine, Texas, Thursday; Carlsbad, N.M., next Friday and Saturday.
Elvis will be 20 this month, and things are moving fast.

Came From Tupelo
Elvis is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Vernon Presley, 462 Alabama. He spent his first 14 years in Tupelo, Miss. The music he heard was mostly negro, with some country influence from his parents' brothers.
When he was 13 Elvis bought a guitar for $12.95. He taught himself to play it, still doesn't read music. At Humes High, he lugged his guitar with him, played it with little urging at any time.
The guitar he has now cost $175. He is still peevish about what happened. "The man gave me $8 on the trade-in," he said. "Then he threw it in the waste basket. Shucks, it still played good."
Sam Phillips, who had been a WREC engineer seven years ago, had been scouting for talent on the side. He let it be known that he would listen to anyone who wanted to sing or play.

No Big Names
He still will--and that even includes children whose mothers think they have talent. "I've never made a record with an established star yet," he said.
But Sam has some established stars.
He listened to Jackie Brenston's group from Clarksdale, Miss., and recorded his first hit, "Rocket 88." This was genuine, untutored negro jazz, not the white man's music adapted by some of the famous negro musicians. Sam considers Ellington, Lunceford, etc., white man's music.
As word got around, Sam's studio became host to strange visitors. Negroes with field mud on their boots and patches in their overalls, came shuffling in with battered instruments and unfettered techniques. Most tried to impress him with white man's music. Sam outwaited them, listened for a wisp of original melody, a happy sound or an unconventional riff. Beale Street boys came, in cool drapes, moaning melodies Handy never knew.

One Big Oversight
B. B. King of Memphis made "My Baby's Gone" and "3 O'Clock Blues" with Sam, his first commercial record. Sam overlooked getting a contract. He didn't forget when Elvis came along. There were Joe Hill Louis of Memphis; the Howling Wolf from across the river; Roscoe Gordon, and others, all introduced by Sam.
Phillips brought out "Bearcat," with Rufus Thomas of WDIA, the first Sun Record, about two years ago. It sold 200,000, and he was in business. Since then he has brought out 32 records, now has distribution in every state.
Elvis lugged his guitar into the studio one Saturday afternoon, wanted to make a "personal" record. He sang pop ballads. Sam listened for several hours. "That's All right, Baby" resulted.

In a Class Alone
Sam doesn't know to catalog Elvis exactly. He has a white voice, sings with a Negro rhythm which borrows in mood and emphasis from country style.
Marion Keisker, who is WREC's Kitty Kelly and Sam's office staff, calls Elvis "a hillbilly cat."
While he appears with so-called hillbilly shows, Elvis' clothes are strictly sharp. His eyes are darkly slumberous, his hair sleekly long, his sideburns low, and there is a lazy, sexy, tough, good-looking manner which bobby soxers like. Not all record stars go over as well on stage as they do on records. Elvis sells.
If the merry go-round doesn't start spinning too fast for a 20-year-old, he'll end up with enough cheeseburgers to last a Blue Moon.
Spin 'em again boys.

This article was originally published in the Memphis Press Scimitar on February 5, 1955 and is reprinted here in its entirety with all its inaccuracies and misconceptions regarding events and with the original photos used cropped where possible.

S Moore


Content copyright 2009-2010. Memphis Press Scimitar. All rights reserved.
Last edited by mrbthebarber on Mon May 03, 2010 7:45 pm, edited 2 times in total.

Re: Memphis Press Scimitar 1955

Mon May 03, 2010 11:35 am

That's interesting, thanks !

If the merry go-round doesn't start spinning too fast for a 20-year-old, he'll end up with enough cheeseburgers to last a Blue Moon.

Did the writer have a crystal ball ?

Re: Memphis Press Scimitar 1955

Mon May 03, 2010 11:40 am

A great read, thanks for posting. ::rocks

Re: Memphis Press Scimitar 1955

Mon May 03, 2010 6:56 pm

mrbthebarber wrote:I don't know if this has featured here before, sorry if it has but don't jump on me for it!! ( Not all of us have been here forever or can visit every day! ). I found it interesting & hope you guys do too.
Memphis Press Scimitar 1955.


That Something' Has Captivated Fans Over U.S.
By ROBERT JOHNSON
Press-Scimitar Staff Writer


One sultry night last July, Dewey Phillips flicked a turntable switch with one of his cottin pickin' hands and sent a strange rhythmic chant spinning out from WHBQ.
"Well, that's all right, Baby . . . that's all right, Baby . . ."
The record ended. Radio, like Nature, abhors a void, and Mr. Phillips hastens to fill the breach. "That'll flat git it," he said authoritatively.
That same night, Sleepy Eye John over WHHM loosed the other side of the record on his admirers--and the same voice which had been reassuring Baby now sang plaintive praise of "Blue Moon of Kentucky"


Something Happened
Time didn't exactly stand still, but something happened. Bob Neal of WMPS played the record too. The pop jockeys, entranced by something new, began slipping "That's All Right" and "Blue Moon" in among the more sophisticated glucose and bedlam of Teresa Brewer, Nat Cole and Tony Bennett.
In less than a week, a momentous change began for a young teen-ager, working on an assembly line, who liked to sing and play the guitar.
His name: Elvis Presley.
Elvis' first record was on the Sun label of Sam Phillips' small but ambitious Memphis Recording Service, 706 Union. It wasn't the first time that Sam's Sun had created a good sized ripple in the frenzied circles of record business. Sam is largely responsible for a new trend in the field which the trade publications call R&B (for rhythm and blues) and country (or hillbilly) music, and for making Memphis the R&B capital, as Nashville is for rustic rhythm.

Within a Week
Within less than a week, Sam was frantically and happily trying to press enough copies of Elvis' debut platter to catch up wait a 6000 back-order which hit him before the record had even gone on sale, before it had been released in any market outside Memphis.
And overnight, a restricted but indubitable mantle of fame settled about Elvis, as the record went spinning out across the country--100,000 . . . 200,000 . . . 300,000 . . . still going.
Within a month, Elvis was invited to appear on hillbilly heaven, Nashville's Grand Ole Opry. Veteran entertainers kept him singing backstage, after the show.

On Juke Box Jury
The record was played on Juke Box Jury. "Blue Moon" had been written and first recorded some years earlier by a famous, Grand Ole Opry entertainer, Bill Munroe of Kentucky. Tennessee Ernie Ford, on the Juke Box Jury that night, drawled: "If ole Bill Munroe hears this, he'll just take his li'l ole country band and head back for the hills." Monroe himself, far from being offended, sent Elvis a note of thanks. After Elvis brought it out, six other companies made it with thier stars.
Billboard gave Elvis' first record an 85 score, very high, on both sides. Over a 15 week period, only one other record in the same category had an equal rating, and that was by the established star, Webb Pierce.
Sam Phillips still hasn't figured out which was the big side. "That's All Right" was in the R&B idiom of negro field jazz, "Blue Moon" more in the country field, but there was a curious blending of the two different musics in both.

Two More
Sun brought out two more Elvis records--"I Don't Care" and "Good Rockin' Tonight"; "Milk Cow Blues Boogie" and "You're a Heartbreaker." Billboard's annual poll of disk jockeys for 1954 landed Elvis in the list of Ten Most Promising artists on the strength of them.
Ruben Cherry of Home of the Blues said: "Just three records, and every one has been a hit. People have come in to buy them who never bought records before."
Country music had been thought to have more appeal for older people, but the teen-agers picked up Elvis.\All at once he had crowds screaming for him. He got a manager, Bob Neal, and a regular job on CBS Louisiana Hayride from Shreveport every Saturday night.
He had more money than he ever saw before.
"I got my own office," he said. "It's listed in the phone book---Elvis Presley Enterprises, 160 Union."

Terrific Appetite
He also has enough money to buy all the cheeseburgers he wants. When he has music on his mind, he forgets eating, then gets a terrific appetite which may demand eight cheeseburgers and three milk shakes at a sitting.
To that new office of his come between 60 and 75 letters each day, most requesting pictures.
Elvis at first sent the pictures for free. Now he charges 25 cents for them: on mass orders they cost 8 cents each.
In the past three months he has traveled more than 25,000 miles on personal appearances, played to crowds of 3000. He travels by car with his instrumental teammates--Scotty Moore, hot guitarist, and Bill Black, bass, both Memphians. Their schedule for one week -- New Orleans, Friday; Shreveport, Saturday; Ellis Auditorium in Memphis Sunday; Ripley, Miss., Monday; Alpine, Texas, Thursday; Carlsbad, N.M., next Friday and Saturday.
Elvis will be 20 this month, and things are moving fast.

Came From Tupelo
Elvis is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Vernon Presley, 462 Alabama. He spent his first 14 years in Tupelo, Miss. The music he heard was mostly negro, with some country influence from his parents' brothers.
When he was 13 Elvis bought a guitar for $12.95. He taught himself to play it, still doesn't read music. At Humes High, he lugged his guitar with him, played it with little urging at any time.
The guitar he has now cost $175. He is still peevish about what happened. "The man gave me $8 on the trade-in," he said. "Then he threw it in the waste basket. Shucks, it still played good."
Sam Phillips, who had been a WREC engineer seven years ago, had been scouting for talent on the side. He let it be known that he would listen to anyone who wanted to sing or play.

No Big Names
He still will--and that even includes children whose mothers think they have talent. "I've never made a record with an established star yet," he said.
But Sam has some established stars.
He listened to Jackie Brenston's group from Clarksdale, Miss., and recorded his first hit, "Rocket 88." This was genuine, untutored negro jazz, not the white man's music adapted by some of the famous negro musicians. Sam considers Ellington, Lunceford, etc., white man's music.
As word got around, Sam's studio became host to strange visitors. Negroes with field mud on their boots and patches in their overalls, came shuffling in with battered instruments and unfettered techniques. Most tried to impress him with white man's music. Sam outwaited them, listened for a wisp of original melody, a happy sound or an unconventional riff. Beale Street boys came, in cool drapes, moaning melodies Handy never knew.

One Big Oversight
B. B. King of Memphis made "My Baby's Gone" and "3 O'Clock Blues" with Sam, his first commercial record. Sam overlooked getting a contract. He didn't forget when Elvis came along. There were Joe Hill Louis of Memphis; the Howling Wolf from across the river; Roscoe Gordon, and others, all introduced by Sam.
Phillips brought out "Bearcat," with Rufus Thomas of WDIA, the first Sun Record, about two years ago. It sold 200,000, and he was in business. Since then he has brought out 32 records, now has distribution in every state.
Elvis lugged his guitar into the studio one Saturday afternoon, wanted to make a "personal" record. He sang pop ballads. Sam listened for several hours. "That's All right, Baby" resulted.

In a Class Alone
Sam doesn't know to catalog Elvis exactly. He has a white voice, sings with a Negro rhythm which borrows in mood and emphasis from country style.
Marion Keisker, who is WREC's Kitty Kelly and Sam's office staff, calls Elvis "a hillbilly cat."
While he appears with so-called hillbilly shows, Elvis' clothes are strictly sharp. His eyes are darkly slumberous, his hair sleekly long, his sideburns low, and there is a lazy, sexy, tough, good-looking manner which bobby soxers like. Not all record stars go over as well on stage as they do on records. Elvis sells.
If the merry go-round doesn't start spinning too fast for a 20-year-old, he'll end up with enough cheeseburgers to last a Blue Moon.
Spin 'em again boys.

This article was originally published in the Memphis Press Scimitar on February 5, 1955 and is reprinted here in its entirety with all its inaccuracies and misconceptions regarding events and with the original photos used cropped where possible.

S Moore


It might be nice to include where you lifted this transcription from:

Scotty Moore - Old Articles
http://www.scottymoore.net/articles.html

The site owner, JamesVRoy, is a member of FECC, too.

Re: Memphis Press Scimitar 1955

Mon May 03, 2010 7:33 pm

It might be nice to include where you lifted this transcription from:

Scotty Moore - Old Articles
http://www.scottymoore.net/articles.html

The site owner, JamesVRoy, is a member of FECC, too.


Gladly John,
I "lifted this transcription" directly from

http://www.memphispressscimitar.com/

thank you very much!
I understand the paper is now defunct but assumed it still being they, due to the web address.
You will find that it is noted at the top of the Topic, as it was they who wrote the said article in '55............. or so the website leads me to believe. I know James is a member here but his marvellous site is not where I found this, thankyou ..................
and if indeed http://www.memphispressscimitar.com/ "lifted" it from James' site, I guess they are just lifting it back ;-)

Re: Memphis Press Scimitar 1955

Mon May 03, 2010 10:31 pm

mrbthebarber wrote:Gladly John,
I "lifted this transcription" directly from

http://www.memphispressscimitar.com/

thank you very much!
I understand the paper is now defunct but assumed it still being they, due to the web address.
You will find that it is noted at the top of the Topic, as it was they who wrote the said article in '55............. or so the website leads me to believe. I know James is a member here but his marvellous site is not where I found this, thankyou ..................
and if indeed http://www.memphispressscimitar.com/ "lifted" it from James' site, I guess they are just lifting it back ;-)

No offense intended. There's been a rash of pages copied without attribution lately.

This is the direct URL for your posting:

ARCHIVES 1955
http://www.memphispressscimitar.com/ARCHIVES_1955.html

Re: Memphis Press Scimitar 1955

Tue May 04, 2010 12:01 am

And here I thought as I read all the way through here that the Doc owed our original poster an apology. And am I surprised there is no apology? Am I? Does this now mean that James "lifted" the article from the Press-Scimitar website? Find out for us will ya Doc? Can you let us know when you find out? Sic 'em boy.............uf


Uncle, maybe I can clarify:- The article was an original piece from the Press Scimitar in Feb '55. James in his wonderful site covered this piece, something he does often, finding amazingly rare articles and enlightening us all many times over. John ( Doc ) felt I had "lifted" it from James' site and not credited him, whereas I had in fact found it on a Memphis Press Scimitar site whilst looking for another interview.
Personally I don't think it's important where James found it as I am glad he does find so many things like it, for us all to enjoy, I was just intent on setting the record straight as to where I had ACTUALLY found it & had credited. The important thing is, that it's a great piece for us all to enjoy from early on in our man's career & I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.

Re: Memphis Press Scimitar 1955

Tue May 04, 2010 12:12 am

mrbthebarber wrote:Uncle, maybe I can clarify:- The article was an original piece from the Press Scimitar in Feb '55. James in his wonderful site covered this piece, something he does often, finding amazingly rare articles and enlightening us all many times over. John ( Doc ) felt I had "lifted" it from James' site and not credited him, whereas I had in fact found it on a Memphis Press Scimitar site whilst looking for another interview.
Personally I don't think it's important where James found it as I am glad he does find so many things like it, for us all to enjoy, I was just intent on setting the record straight as to where I had ACTUALLY found it & had credited. The important thing is, that it's a great piece for us all to enjoy from early on in our man's career & I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.

Exactly.

Anyone may read that I explained myself more clearly in my followup post.

And I am a big fan of mrbthebarber's contributions to FECC. I guess not everyone is aware of that.

Re: Memphis Press Scimitar 1955

Tue May 04, 2010 12:30 am

Great read mrbthebarber,thanks for posting.

norrie

Re: Memphis Press Scimitar 1955

Tue May 04, 2010 1:35 am

norrie wrote:Great read mrbthebarber,thanks for posting.

Indeed -- it is a wonderful article, one of the first on Elvis.

It's neat to know it was published (Feb 1955) while he was home in Memphis, cutting the incredibly influential single, "Baby, Let's Play House."

Re: Memphis Press Scimitar 1955

Tue May 04, 2010 1:52 am

It's neat to know it was published (Feb 1955) while he was home in Memphis, cutting the incredibly influential single, "Baby, Let's Play House."


It's also neat to see no mention of Elvis being a bad influence on the local teenage
population or lock up your daughter comments.Were other local papers as supportive
at this time just before he went Atomic
norrie

Re: Memphis Press Scimitar 1955

Tue May 04, 2010 1:59 am

Elvis wasn't getting a whole lot of press in Feb 1955! As a hometown boy, and not being seen in all his wild glory on TV, Elvis had yet to shake the foundations of U.S. culture to its core.

Re: Memphis Press Scimitar 1955

Tue May 04, 2010 8:48 am

How much truth is there in this article?

Consider this quote

Within a Week
Within less than a week, Sam was frantically and happily trying to press enough copies of Elvis' debut platter to catch up wait a 6000 back-order which hit him before the record had even gone on sale, before it had been released in any market outside Memphis.
And overnight, a restricted but indubitable mantle of fame settled about Elvis, as the record went spinning out across the country--100,000 . . . 200,000 . . . 300,000 . . . still going.



That would have made That's All Right a number one hit in the USA!
And as we know it didn't make one Billboard chart.

Instead of bitchin' about attribulation it might pay to actually read it!

Colins point saled over posters heads!

Re: Memphis Press Scimitar 1955

Tue May 04, 2010 3:53 pm

KiwiAlan wrote:...Colins point saled over posters heads!


Story of my life, Alan !

Re: Memphis Press Scimitar 1955

Tue May 04, 2010 4:28 pm

Instead of bitchin' about attribulation it might pay to actually read it!

Colins point saled over posters heads!!


Whilst I'm sure you meant the other two guys Alan, just for clarification, it didn't go over my head, just have chosen to not comment on a statement that needed nothing more added really :-)
Oh and re the sales figures Alan, I agree, tho total sales would be nice to know but knowing Sam's organised chaos, sales figures probably aren't available or accurate if are. Cheers.

Re: Memphis Press Scimitar 1955

Thu May 06, 2010 5:42 am

mrbthebarber wrote:
Instead of bitchin' about attribulation it might pay to actually read it!

Colins point saled over posters heads!!


Whilst I'm sure you meant the other two guys Alan, just for clarification, it didn't go over my head, just have chosen to not comment on a statement that needed nothing more added really :-)
Oh and re the sales figures Alan, I agree, tho total sales would be nice to know but knowing Sam's organised chaos, sales figures probably aren't available or accurate if are. Cheers.

Thank you again for the post, mrbthebarber.

Re: Memphis Press Scimitar 1955

Thu May 06, 2010 6:04 am

drjohncarpenter wrote:
mrbthebarber wrote:
Instead of bitchin' about attribulation it might pay to actually read it!

Colins point saled over posters heads!!


Whilst I'm sure you meant the other two guys Alan, just for clarification, it didn't go over my head, just have chosen to not comment on a statement that needed nothing more added really :-)
Oh and re the sales figures Alan, I agree, tho total sales would be nice to know but knowing Sam's organised chaos, sales figures probably aren't available or accurate if are. Cheers.

Thank you again for the post, mrbthebarber.


No comment on the glaring mistake you must have missed?