The Sun Singles Sales Figures

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The Sun Singles Sales Figures

Post by ColinB »

Elvis' sales figures at Sun.

When he came to sell the contract to RCA, Sam Phillips made some handwritten notes totalling up the sales of the five Elvis singles.

These notes were published in one of Ger's books.

This is what they revealed:

Sun 209 That's All Right/Blue Moon of Kentucky - total = 101,578
Sun 210 Good Rockin' Tonight/I Don't Care If The Sun Don't Shine ... - total = 69,232
Sun 215 Milkcow Blues/You're a Heartbreaker - total = 51,179
Sun 217 Baby Let's Play House/I'm Left, You're Right, She's Gone ... - total = 91,906
Sun 223 Mystery Train/ I Forgot To Remember... - total = 47,029


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Re: The Sun Singles Sales Figures

Post by Mael »

Thanks a lot ColinB!

Do you remember in which of Ger's books these figures were published?

Martin


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Re: The Sun Singles Sales Figures

Post by ColinB »

Mael wrote:Thanks a lot ColinB!
Do you remember in which of Ger's books these figures were published?
"The Rock 'n' Roll Years - My Wish Came True"


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Re: The Sun Singles Sales Figures

Post by Alexander »

ColinB wrote:
Mael wrote:Thanks a lot ColinB!
Do you remember in which of Ger's books these figures were published?
"The Rock 'n' Roll Years - My Wish Came True"
On Ebay there have been around one million on sale for the last decades...



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Re: The Sun Singles Sales Figures

Post by iplayastrat »

Thanks for posting those figures ColinB.
I wouldn't have guessed they would be
that high.


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Re: The Sun Singles Sales Figures

Post by KiwiAlan »

Thanks, Colin.


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Re: The Sun Singles Sales Figures

Post by Rtn 2 Sndr »

I am surprised that the sales figures on Mystery Train were that low. Perhaps this number doesn't take into account copies sold while "I Forgot To Remember To Forget" made it to #1 on the US Country chart.

Thanks ColinB.


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Re: The Sun Singles Sales Figures

Post by drjohncarpenter »

Rtn 2 Sndr wrote:I am surprised that the sales figures on Mystery Train were that low. Perhaps this number doesn't take into account copies sold while "I Forgot To Remember To Forget" made it to #1 on the US Country chart.
Assuming Sam's tally was made at the time Elvis was moving to RCA -- Nov 1955 -- Sun 223 had only been available for about 3 months.


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Re: The Sun Singles Sales Figures

Post by KiwiAlan »

Sun 209 That's All Right/Blue Moon of Kentucky - total = 101,578
Sun 210 Good Rockin' Tonight/I Don't Care If The Sun Don't Shine ... - total = 69,232
Sun 215 Milkcow Blues/You're a Heartbreaker - total = 51,179
Sun 217 Baby Let's Play House/I'm Left, You're Right, She's Gone ... - total = 91,906
Sun 223 Mystery Train/ I Forgot To Remember... - total = 47,029

RCA 6420 Heartbreak Hotel/I Was The One .....1,000,00 copies in 2 months

Something for those who disparage Col Tom Parker to reflect upon.


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Re: The Sun Singles Sales Figures

Post by drjohncarpenter »

KiwiAlan wrote:RCA 6420 Heartbreak Hotel/I Was The One .....1,000,00 copies in 2 months

Something for those who disparage Col Tom Parker to reflect upon.
Whoo, 1,000,00 copies.

Most do not "disparage Col Tom Parker" in the 1950s, but rather rightfully address concern over his very poor decision-making in the 1960s and 1970s.

And the RCA single debut might have had just a tad of sales support from the seven network TV appearances of Jan - Apr 1956.


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Re: The Sun Singles Sales Figures

Post by stevelecher »

Yeah, Doc, and those TV appearances were orchestrated by the Colonel. Of course, as you said, most of us are OK with the Colonel's management of Elvis in the 1950's.

Steve L.


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Re: The Sun Singles Sales Figures

Post by drjohncarpenter »

stevelecher wrote:Yeah, Doc, and those TV appearances were orchestrated by the Colonel. Of course, as you said, most of us are OK with the Colonel's management of Elvis in the 1950's.
Yup.

Beyond Alan's derailment of this topic, my point of why "Mystery Train" sold less is valid: it was only weeks old.

And the sales of the others was not too shabby for an indie label with little PR and poor distribution.


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Re: The Sun Singles Sales Figures

Post by Frankie Teardrop »

Were part of the sales for I Forgot... after the RCA reissue? Or did it actually hit a chart peak while still on Sun?


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Re: The Sun Singles Sales Figures

Post by Lonely Summer »

Frankie Teardrop wrote:Were part of the sales for I Forgot... after the RCA reissue? Or did it actually hit a chart peak while still on Sun?
That would be my guess. RCA had the bucks to promote these records. Sam did not.


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Re: The Sun Singles Sales Figures

Post by ColinB »

Frankie Teardrop wrote:Were part of the sales for I Forgot... after the RCA reissue?
Or did it actually hit a chart peak while still on Sun?
On the Billboard Country Best Sellers in Stores chart, I Forgot To Remember/Mystery Train entered in September, 1955, reached No.1 in February, 1956, and was in the chart until June that year.

So some of those sales must have been from the RCA re-issue.

Seems strange that a single can reach No.1 on the Country chart, yet fail to appear on the main chart !


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Re: The Sun Singles Sales Figures

Post by Monique »

Very interesting information. Thanks for sharing. Makes me realize that I miss Ger. :(


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Re: The Sun Singles Sales Figures

Post by KiwiAlan »

ColinB wrote:
Frankie Teardrop wrote:Were part of the sales for I Forgot... after the RCA reissue?
Or did it actually hit a chart peak while still on Sun?
On the Billboard Country Best Sellers in Stores chart, I Forgot To Remember/Mystery Train entered in September, 1955, reached No.1 in February, 1956, and was in the chart until June that year.

So some of those sales must have been from the RCA re-issue.

Seems strange that a single can reach No.1 on the Country chart, yet fail to appear on the main chart !
This reflects the power of RCA's nationwide marketing and distribution system compared to SUN.

With SUN only sales at 47,000 I would be surprised if RCA didn't lift sales to 100,000+


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Re: The Sun Singles Sales Figures

Post by ColinB »

KiwiAlan wrote:This reflects the power of RCA's nationwide marketing and distribution system compared to SUN.

With SUN only sales at 47,000 I would be surprised if RCA didn't lift sales to 100,000+
Another single which originated from Sun & lingered on in the Country Chart in 1956:

Baby Let's Play House - First entered the chart on 6th July, 1955 [his first-ever national* chart showing] and made its last appearance on
9th May, 1956.

* I guess there would have been a regional chart for the Memphis area in which That's All Right made its debut in '54.


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Re: The Sun Singles Sales Figures

Post by ColinB »

ColinB wrote:I guess there would have been a regional chart for the Memphis area in which That's All Right made its debut in '54.
Ger has come up with this:
The following info was found in the original copies of Billboard magazine at the National Public Library in
Washington DC, back in 1982 when I visited the place.

Under the heading : C&W Territorial Best Sellers, week ending August 18, 1954, one E. Prisley (!)
debuted on the local Memphis charts at # 3 with Blue Moon Of Kentucky.

Here's the top 6 from that date in Memphis :

1. It Don't Hurt Anymore- H. Snow
2. One By One- K.Wells& R. Foley
3. Blue M O K- E. Prisley
4.Courtin' In The Rain- T.T.Tyler
5.Thank You For Calling- B. Walker
6.You Can't Have My Love- W. Jackson & B. Gray

No info on positions 7-10 was printed.

On Sept 1, BMOK was the number 1, taking over from
Hank Snow.
That's All Right entered the top 10 at # 7.

On Oct 13 BMOK had dropped to the # 2 spot, while
More And More by W. Pierce was at # 1
That's All Right had dropped out of the top 10
Elvis entered the top 10 in Nashville at the same week with
BMOK at # 6
BMOK also charted in New Orleans that week at # 3 !

On Nov 3, Good Rockin' Tonight entered the Memphis
charts at # 3, while BMOK and TARight were not in
the top 6 anymore.
On Nov 17 BMOK re-entered at # 5 , while GRT had
dropped to # 8.

Milk Cow didn't make the Billboard territorial charts at all...


On June 22, 1955, You're Right, Im Left She's Gone (!)
entered at # 4 in Memphis, and Baby, Let's Play House
entered at # 10 in Houston.
Play House also entered # 8 in New Orleans and at #6
in Richmond, and # 8 in St. Louis.


I Forgot To Remember entered Memphis on Sept 7 at # 1 !
While Play House was at # 4 in St.Louis, # 8 in Richmond,
Va.
Mystery Train entered at # 5 in Houston and # 8 in New
Orleans on Sept 7.

On Sept 7: " Most Played by Jockeys" in Billboard listed
I Forgot To R entered at #10 while Play House was at # 15.
_______________________________________________

Billboard didnt print Territorial chart listings all the time.
But the above is what I was able to find at the time.
Possible I had left out some dates, when I did the lay
out for the pages of Long Lonely Highway...? Its over
25 years ago since the book was printed, and the
photocopies made at the Library have either gone lost
over here, or were handed over to Ernst, some years ago.
Thanks Ger !

Image

So, it looks like our boy's very first mention in any record chart was with Blue Moon of Kentucky !

Even if they spelled his name wrong !


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Re: The Sun Singles Sales Figures

Post by KiwiAlan »

I remember reading years ago that Blue Moon Of Kentucky was favored more in Memhis. In other areas That's All Right had the edge.


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Re: The Sun Singles Sales Figures

Post by Lonely Summer »

Wow, that's impressive research! I gotta get those 1950's Billboard's out of the basement at the local library one of these days!


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Re: The Sun Singles Sales Figures

Post by KiwiAlan »

Lonely Summer wrote:Wow, that's impressive research! I gotta get those 1950's Billboard's out of the basement at the local library one of these days!
All the issues can be read on-line via google books. Free


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Re: The Sun Singles Sales Figures

Post by thefunkyangel »

Later on Parker like to ship out Fools Gold. Print a million, ship 'em out, have RCA issue the gold/ silver record and make it policy that there were to be no returns from the distributors!


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Re: The Sun Singles Sales Figures

Post by ColinB »

KiwiAlan wrote:I remember reading years ago that Blue Moon Of Kentucky was favored more in Memhis.
In other areas That's All Right had the edge.
Image

But the BMOK side does seem to have had more chart action overall than TAR !

But history reads as if That's All Right was the song that gained all the attention !


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Re: The Sun Singles Sales Figures

Post by rickeap »

Alexander wrote:
ColinB wrote:
Mael wrote:Thanks a lot ColinB!
Do you remember in which of Ger's books these figures were published?
"The Rock 'n' Roll Years - My Wish Came True"
On Ebay there have been around one million on sale for the last decades...

Exactly what i was thinking!