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Re: Mike Stoller: The "Vegas" Elvis is ridiculous

Mon Nov 22, 2010 10:18 am

I've always got the impression from Leiber and Stoller's comments that working with Elvis wasn't as much of a thrill for them as working with the r&b artists. I'm sure they liked the royalty checks they got when Elvis recorded their tunes, though.

Re: Mike Stoller: The "Vegas" Elvis is ridiculous

Mon Nov 22, 2010 10:50 am

Mike Stoller wrote some of the best material for Elvis and helped him launch his career. The 1956 - 1958 era showed an eruption of talent of both Elvis' performing skills and Leiber/ Stollers writing/ composing skills. It is a bloody shame to co-operation was not continued during the 60s because of money-issues (thanks again, Colonel!)

But to serve Elvis Vegas' performance off as 'rediculous' I find rather disrespectful. In the 50s Elvis was a rock 'n roll hero who evolved to a superstar of omniverse proportions during the 70s. I can not proove it for sure of course - but I do certainly think that if it was not for the '68 Comeback Special and the evolution that took place afterwards Elvis would be referred to as an oldies act today and be on the same level as say Pat Boone, Cliff Richard, Neil Sedaka and all those others 'forgotten' artists of the 70s. Elvis today is IMO very much alive because of his evolution and the tragic history that comes along with his music and live performances...

Re: Mike Stoller: The "Vegas" Elvis is ridiculous

Mon Nov 22, 2010 5:04 pm

Lonely Summer wrote:I've always got the impression from Leiber and Stoller's comments that working with Elvis wasn't as much of a thrill for them as working with the r&b artists. I'm sure they liked the royalty checks they got when Elvis recorded their tunes, though.


I agree, they always seemed to come off that way to me as well!

Re: Mike Stoller: The "Vegas" Elvis is ridiculous

Mon Nov 22, 2010 11:42 pm

Ton Bruins wrote:
drjohncarpenter wrote:
Ton Bruins wrote:The dutch Elvis fanclub "It's Elvis Time" translated an interview in their last magazine with Mike Stoller.

On the question if he had seen some shows of Elvis in Vegas and what he thought of those shows he answered:

"Disappointing. Elvis was a caricature of himself. He still had a fantastic voice, but he made himself ridiculous. It is good when someone (Elvis) has some self-mockery
but he seemed more like an Elvis imitator. It was sad."

A little context would go a long way to understanding what Mike meant by these comments.

1) When was the interview conducted?
2) What Presley show/s did Stoller attend?

If you are going to post a controversial view, at least make the effort to provide all the facts.
Mike Stoller worked nose-to-nose with Elvis in 1957-58, helping to create some of the greatest music of his career. He knows where the bar was set, he helped Presley get it there.


Is that really important to know those facts ?

Yes, it absolutely is -- in order to have an intelligent discussion.



KiwiAlan wrote:There is nothing wrong with Three Corn Patches. Have a listen to the original.

It's the singer not the song.

In this example, you are correct.

T-Bone Walker's 1973 recording, produced by Leiber and Stoller, is quite good. Elvis used more than one for his LP released from sessions that year.

Mike Stoller son, Peter, reported on this forum that "someone must have rushed the T-Bone recordings to Elvis. It could easily have been Bienstock, who was a partner with L&S in the Hudson Bay Music Co. from 1969-1980."

Since T-Bone's sessions for Very Rare were completed in June, the songs almost certainly were presented to Felton Jarvis and Elvis on pre-release acetate.

Elvis cut "If You Don't Come Back," "Three Corn Patches" and "Just A Little Bit" in July at Stax, and Walker's album was not issued until October:


Image

Billboard - Oct 27, 1973


Elvis' album with these recordings was out only two weeks after T-Bone's set:


Image

Billboard - Nov 10, 1973


That review is kind of sad: "The raucous edge is gone from his voice."

Very Rare, on the other hand, was a pretty ambitious record from T-Bone Walker:


Image

T-Bone Walker - Very Rare (Reprise 6483, 1973)

Side 1
1. Striking On You, Baby (Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller)
2. Please Send Me Someone To Love (Percy Mayfield)
3. Brother Bill (The Last Clean Shirt) (Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller)
4. Evening (Harry White, Mitchell Parish)
5. The Come Back (L. C. Fraser)

Side 2
1. Your Picture Done Faded (Paul Howard)
2. Don't Give Me The Run Around (T-Bone Walker)
3. Hard Times (Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller)
4. Everyday I Have The Blues (Peter Chatman)
5. Person To Person (Charles Singleton, Teddy McRae)

Side 3
1. Fever (Eddie Cooley, John Davenport)
2. Three Corn Patches (Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller)
3. I'm Still In Love With You (T-Bone Walker)
4. Just A Little Bit (Earl Washington, John Thornton, Pitney Brown, Ralph Bass)
5. James Junior (Charles Otis)

Side 4
1. Been Down So Long (Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller)
2. If You Don't Come Back (Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller)
3. Kansas City (Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller)
4. Well, I Done Got Over It (Eddie "Guitar Slim" Jones)
5. Stormy Monday (T-Bone Walker)

Backing vocals by the Sweet Inspirations!

From: http://www.discogs.com/T-Bone-Walker-Very-Rare/release/2091488

This release, one of the last recordings put down by T-Bone Walker, just two years before his death, is exceptional by design alone.

Produced by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, these 20 tracks were recorded with the A-line of early 70s LA session players, quite a number of the sidemen already major jazz artists themselves, including a big band horn-section and The Sweet Inspirations as the vocal backing.

Musicians included Wilton Felder, Michael Omartian, James Booker, Jom Gordon, Dean Parks and Larry Carlton, along with jazz legends like Dizzy Gillespie, Gerry Mulligan, Zoot Sims, Al Cohn, and Herbie Mann. Blues singer Charles Brown is heard on piano only.

Re: Mike Stoller: The "Vegas" Elvis is ridiculous

Tue Nov 23, 2010 12:30 am

Great stuff, Doc, thanks for posting!

Re: Mike Stoller: The "Vegas" Elvis is ridiculous

Tue Nov 23, 2010 12:34 am

Lonely Summer wrote:Great stuff, Doc, thanks for posting!

Thanks!

Re: Mike Stoller: The "Vegas" Elvis is ridiculous

Tue Nov 23, 2010 12:45 am

drjohncarpenter wrote:
Ton Bruins wrote:
drjohncarpenter wrote:
Ton Bruins wrote:The dutch Elvis fanclub "It's Elvis Time" translated an interview in their last magazine with Mike Stoller.

On the question if he had seen some shows of Elvis in Vegas and what he thought of those shows he answered:

"Disappointing. Elvis was a caricature of himself. He still had a fantastic voice, but he made himself ridiculous. It is good when someone (Elvis) has some self-mockery
but he seemed more like an Elvis imitator. It was sad."

A little context would go a long way to understanding what Mike meant by these comments.

1) When was the interview conducted?
2) What Presley show/s did Stoller attend?

If you are going to post a controversial view, at least make the effort to provide all the facts.
Mike Stoller worked nose-to-nose with Elvis in 1957-58, helping to create some of the greatest music of his career. He knows where the bar was set, he helped Presley get it there.


Is that really important to know those facts ?

Yes, it absolutely is -- in order to have an intelligent discussion.



KiwiAlan wrote:There is nothing wrong with Three Corn Patches. Have a listen to the original.

It's the singer not the song.

In this example, you are correct.

T-Bone Walker's 1973 recording, produced by Leiber and Stoller, is quite good. Elvis used more than one for his LP released from sessions that year.

Mike Stoller son, Peter, reported on this forum that "someone must have rushed the T-Bone recordings to Elvis. It could easily have been Bienstock, who was a partner with L&S in the Hudson Bay Music Co. from 1969-1980."

Since T-Bone's sessions for Very Rare were completed in June, the songs almost certainly were presented to Felton Jarvis and Elvis on pre-release acetate.

Elvis cut "If You Don't Come Back," "Three Corn Patches" and "Just A Little Bit" in July at Stax, and Walker's album was not issued until October:


Image

Billboard - Oct 27, 1973


Elvis' album with these recordings was out only two weeks after T-Bone's set:


Image

Billboard - Nov 10, 1973


That review is kind of sad: "The raucous edge is gone from his voice."

Very Rare, on the other hand, was a pretty ambitious record from T-Bone Walker:


Image

T-Bone Walker - Very Rare (Reprise 6483, 1973)

Side 1
1. Striking On You, Baby (Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller)
2. Please Send Me Someone To Love (Percy Mayfield)
3. Brother Bill (The Last Clean Shirt) (Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller)
4. Evening (Harry White, Mitchell Parish)
5. The Come Back (L. C. Fraser)

Side 2
1. Your Picture Done Faded (Paul Howard)
2. Don't Give Me The Run Around (T-Bone Walker)
3. Hard Times (Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller)
4. Everyday I Have The Blues (Peter Chatman)
5. Person To Person (Charles Singleton, Teddy McRae)

Side 3
1. Fever (Eddie Cooley, John Davenport)
2. Three Corn Patches (Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller)
3. I'm Still In Love With You (T-Bone Walker)
4. Just A Little Bit (Earl Washington, John Thornton, Pitney Brown, Ralph Bass)
5. James Junior (Charles Otis)

Side 4
1. Been Down So Long (Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller)
2. If You Don't Come Back (Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller)
3. Kansas City (Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller)
4. Well, I Done Got Over It (Eddie "Guitar Slim" Jones)
5. Stormy Monday (T-Bone Walker)

Backing vocals by the Sweet Inspirations!

From: http://www.discogs.com/T-Bone-Walker-Very-Rare/release/2091488

This release, one of the last recordings put down by T-Bone Walker, just two years before his death, is exceptional by design alone.

Produced by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, these 20 tracks were recorded with the A-line of early 70s LA session players, quite a number of the sidemen already major jazz artists themselves, including a big band horn-section and The Sweet Inspirations as the vocal backing.

Musicians included Wilton Felder, Michael Omartian, James Booker, Jom Gordon, Dean Parks and Larry Carlton, along with jazz legends like Dizzy Gillespie, Gerry Mulligan, Zoot Sims, Al Cohn, and Herbie Mann. Blues singer Charles Brown is heard on piano only.


Great stuff, Doc! Do you happen to recall in which thread Mike Stoller's son made his comments? Thanks!

Re: Mike Stoller: The "Vegas" Elvis is ridiculous

Tue Nov 23, 2010 12:49 am

Mike C wrote:Great stuff, Doc! Do you happen to recall in which thread Mike Stoller's son made his comments? Thanks!

Yup.

http://www.elvis-collectors.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=53807

Re: Mike Stoller: The "Vegas" Elvis is ridiculous

Tue Nov 23, 2010 1:11 am

drjohncarpenter wrote:
Mike C wrote:Great stuff, Doc! Do you happen to recall in which thread Mike Stoller's son made his comments? Thanks!

Yup.

http://www.elvis-collectors.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=53807

Doc why is your Scatter image upside down?

SNG ::rocks

Re: Mike Stoller: The "Vegas" Elvis is ridiculous

Tue Nov 23, 2010 2:27 am

If I may…

Mike Stoller's opinion was based on the show(s) he attended, on a reasonable overview of Elvis as a performer over his entire career, and on having known and worked with Elvis c. 1957-1958. He was commenting on the "Vegas Elvis" he saw—he doesn't remember offhand exactly when, but tells me it was "toward the end"—not the entirety of Elvis career in Vegas from 1969 on. Of course, anyone is free to disagree with his opinion. But, whether you agree with it or not, his opinion is not based on ignorance of, nor antipathy toward, Elvis.

If Mike Stoller were only "interested in making his bank account bigger," he would have wholeheartedly embraced Elvis' hit version of "Hound Dog." Instead, he has consistently maintained that he doesn't much care for it, greatly preferring the Big Mama Thornton original on which he had yet to make a dime when Elvis' record was made. Again, anyone is free to disagree with his opinion, and many people do. However, there is no question that it was purely about music, not about business.

People have mistakenly extrapolated from comments about "Hound Dog" and movie scripts that Leiber & Stoller didn't like Elvis as a person or an artist. Really, most of what L&S didn't like about E's "Hound Dog" was Freddie Bell's rewrite of the lyrics; secondarily, it was too uptempo to capture their intent. From this, they got the impression that Elvis was clueless. Elvis corrected this impression by transforming "Love Me" from a joke into something honest and substantial. And, when the three men met, L&S quickly learned that Elvis knew as much about the blues as they did (and quite a bit more about country and gospel), and that he had a combination of humility and artistic brilliance that they could not help but respect.

The truth is, L&S liked Elvis as a man and loved him as an artist. As successful as Elvis was, they were frustrated by what they saw as his unrealized creative and personal potential. It was frustration for him. Their negativity in discussing Elvis is about this, not about Elvis himself, nor their own ambitions. The problem was not that Elvis "went his own way," it was that he didn't; he went the Colonel's. Working with Elvis under these conditions was like being given a race car, but only being allowed to drive it around one suburban block rife with stop signs and speed bumps. So, L&S went their own way, and quite successfully. They may still muse about what might have been (primarily during interviews), but not with any bitterness toward Elvis.

For what it's worth, Mike Stoller began his musical career as a performing pianist, and has remained an avid fan of live music to this day. Although he ultimately did not make his career as a touring musician, it is inaccurate to say that "he never knew about live performing." And anyone who thinks that his opinions about Elvis are colored by his "big ego" has clearly never met the man.

Finally, I don't think anybody regards "Three Corn Patches" as top-drawer L&S; certainly not I. It was, however, stylistically appropriate for T-Bone Walker. Frankly, I don't think that the Elvis of Raised On Rock could have made a convincing case for "Don't Be Cruel," let alone "Three Corn Patches." It's not fair to judge either Elvis or his material on that recording. And I think that was Mike's real point about Elvis in his last days in Vegas; not that we should judge Elvis based on what he had become, but that we shouldn't.

Re: Mike Stoller: The "Vegas" Elvis is ridiculous

Tue Nov 23, 2010 2:30 am

PStoller wrote:If I may…

Mike Stoller's opinion was based on the show(s) he attended, on a reasonable overview of Elvis as a performer over his entire career, and on having known and worked with Elvis c. 1957-1958. He was commenting on the "Vegas Elvis" he saw—he doesn't remember offhand exactly when, but tells me it was "toward the end"—not the entirety of Elvis career in Vegas from 1969 on. Of course, anyone is free to disagree with his opinion. But, whether you agree with it or not, his opinion is not based on ignorance of, nor antipathy toward, Elvis.

If Mike Stoller were only "interested in making his bank account bigger," he would have wholeheartedly embraced Elvis' hit version of "Hound Dog." Instead, he has consistently maintained that he doesn't much care for it, greatly preferring the Big Mama Thornton original on which he had yet to make a dime when Elvis' record was made. Again, anyone is free to disagree with his opinion, and many people do. However, there is no question that it was purely about music, not about business.

People have mistakenly extrapolated from comments about "Hound Dog" and movie scripts that Leiber & Stoller didn't like Elvis as a person or an artist. Really, most of what L&S didn't like about E's "Hound Dog" was Freddie Bell's rewrite of the lyrics; secondarily, it was too uptempo to capture their intent. From this, they got the impression that Elvis was clueless. Elvis corrected this impression by transforming "Love Me" from a joke into something honest and substantial. And, when the three men met, L&S quickly learned that Elvis knew as much about the blues as they did (and quite a bit more about country and gospel), and that he had a combination of humility and artistic brilliance that they could not help but respect.

The truth is, L&S liked Elvis as a man and loved him as an artist. As successful as Elvis was, they were frustrated by what they saw as his unrealized creative and personal potential. It was frustration for him. Their negativity in discussing Elvis is about this, not about Elvis himself, nor their own ambitions. The problem was not that Elvis "went his own way," it was that he didn't; he went the Colonel's. Working with Elvis under these conditions was like being given a race car, but only being allowed to drive it around one suburban block rife with stop signs and speed bumps. So, L&S went their own way, and quite successfully. They may still muse about what might have been (primarily during interviews), but not with any bitterness toward Elvis.

For what it's worth, Mike Stoller began his musical career as a performing pianist, and has remained an avid fan of live music to this day. Although he ultimately did not make his career as a touring musician, it is inaccurate to say that "he never knew about live performing." And anyone who thinks that his opinions about Elvis are colored by his "big ego" has clearly never met the man.

Finally, I don't think anybody regards "Three Corn Patches" as top-drawer L&S; certainly not I. It was, however, stylistically appropriate for T-Bone Walker. Frankly, I don't think that the Elvis of Raised On Rock could have made a convincing case for "Don't Be Cruel," let alone "Three Corn Patches." It's not fair to judge either Elvis or his material on that recording. And I think that was Mike's real point about Elvis in his last days in Vegas; not that we should judge Elvis based on what he had become, but that we shouldn't.

Thanks, Peter.

And tell your dad thank you for the music, and the memories.

Re: Mike Stoller: The "Vegas" Elvis is ridiculous

Tue Nov 23, 2010 2:46 am

What a great and beautiful post!

Re: Mike Stoller: The "Vegas" Elvis is ridiculous

Tue Nov 23, 2010 3:37 am

Juan Luis wrote:What a great and beautiful post!

Exactly!~ 8)

Re: Mike Stoller: The "Vegas" Elvis is ridiculous

Tue Nov 23, 2010 4:46 am

Some additional info on "Three Corn Patches" from the same interview where Mike comments on Elvis in Vegas. The original, unreleased recording of the song was by Ocie Smith (later "O.C. Smith"). It was recorded in 1960 for Big Top Records during the same session that produced Smith's recording of "You Are My Sunshine" b/w Leiber & Stoller's "Well, I'm Dancin'," with the Count Basie band and a chart by Frank Foster. Ocie would go on to replace Joe Williams in the Basie band for a couple of years. As for why Ocie's "Three Corn Patches" was never issued, well, his first single didn't chart and both L&S' and Ocie's relationships with Big Top ended in 1960, so perhaps the label just didn't see any point to it. Too, it was really a jazz record, and Big Top was not a jazz label.

In any event, the record was never pressed as anything but an acetate that Mike claims to have lost somewhere along the line, so I have no idea how it sounds. And, since nobody else has heard it, either, I'm going with "sheer brilliance!" as a review.

Re: Mike Stoller: The "Vegas" Elvis is ridiculous

Tue Nov 23, 2010 4:51 am

PStoller wrote:If I may…

Mike Stoller's opinion was based on the show(s) he attended, on a reasonable overview of Elvis as a performer over his entire career, and on having known and worked with Elvis c. 1957-1958. He was commenting on the "Vegas Elvis" he saw—he doesn't remember offhand exactly when, but tells me it was "toward the end"—not the entirety of Elvis career in Vegas from 1969 on. Of course, anyone is free to disagree with his opinion. But, whether you agree with it or not, his opinion is not based on ignorance of, nor antipathy toward, Elvis.

If Mike Stoller were only "interested in making his bank account bigger," he would have wholeheartedly embraced Elvis' hit version of "Hound Dog." Instead, he has consistently maintained that he doesn't much care for it, greatly preferring the Big Mama Thornton original on which he had yet to make a dime when Elvis' record was made. Again, anyone is free to disagree with his opinion, and many people do. However, there is no question that it was purely about music, not about business.

People have mistakenly extrapolated from comments about "Hound Dog" and movie scripts that Leiber & Stoller didn't like Elvis as a person or an artist. Really, most of what L&S didn't like about E's "Hound Dog" was Freddie Bell's rewrite of the lyrics; secondarily, it was too uptempo to capture their intent. From this, they got the impression that Elvis was clueless. Elvis corrected this impression by transforming "Love Me" from a joke into something honest and substantial. And, when the three men met, L&S quickly learned that Elvis knew as much about the blues as they did (and quite a bit more about country and gospel), and that he had a combination of humility and artistic brilliance that they could not help but respect.

The truth is, L&S liked Elvis as a man and loved him as an artist. As successful as Elvis was, they were frustrated by what they saw as his unrealized creative and personal potential. It was frustration for him. Their negativity in discussing Elvis is about this, not about Elvis himself, nor their own ambitions. The problem was not that Elvis "went his own way," it was that he didn't; he went the Colonel's. Working with Elvis under these conditions was like being given a race car, but only being allowed to drive it around one suburban block rife with stop signs and speed bumps. So, L&S went their own way, and quite successfully. They may still muse about what might have been (primarily during interviews), but not with any bitterness toward Elvis.

For what it's worth, Mike Stoller began his musical career as a performing pianist, and has remained an avid fan of live music to this day. Although he ultimately did not make his career as a touring musician, it is inaccurate to say that "he never knew about live performing." And anyone who thinks that his opinions about Elvis are colored by his "big ego" has clearly never met the man.

Finally, I don't think anybody regards "Three Corn Patches" as top-drawer L&S; certainly not I. It was, however, stylistically appropriate for T-Bone Walker. Frankly, I don't think that the Elvis of Raised On Rock could have made a convincing case for "Don't Be Cruel," let alone "Three Corn Patches." It's not fair to judge either Elvis or his material on that recording. And I think that was Mike's real point about Elvis in his last days in Vegas; not that we should judge Elvis based on what he had become, but that we shouldn't.

Fantastic post. Thank you for the insight.

Re: Mike Stoller: The "Vegas" Elvis is ridiculous

Tue Nov 23, 2010 4:53 am

PStoller, Fantastic post!

Thank you!!

Re: Mike Stoller: The "Vegas" Elvis is ridiculous

Tue Nov 23, 2010 5:40 am

thanks for the info pstoller and thanks L+S for so many classics!

Re: Mike Stoller: The "Vegas" Elvis is ridiculous

Tue Nov 23, 2010 8:32 am

I tend to agree with Mike Stoller. At the begining, yes Vegas was an interesting option. But after a couple of years, say after August 1970. It became a redundant formula. And for years the same line up, except for more extravanga jumpsuits.. We know how Elvis could become bored easily with that kind of scenario, like in the movie, but his insecurity kept him there. A world tour would have been more challenging for him. Another TV show with Steve Binder could have been creative too. But the dear Colonel was stuck to his crap tables at the casino. That didn't help either. Vegas was and is a trap in way. Some people say: how come he stayed in Hollywood making those dumbed movies for so long? I say: how come he stayed in Vegas so many years making the same show over and over again? An artist needs to stop for a while to go back to his roots and inspiration. That takes courage and maturity. John Lennon in his last period before his tragic death, was a good example of how an artist could redefine his life and career. Both passed away too young, while they could have bloomed with even greater achievement. Still, don't get me wrong here, Elvis is still my man, my favorite performer. I tend to listen to the best he gave the world to enjoy and forget about the rest.

Re: Mike Stoller: The "Vegas" Elvis is ridiculous

Tue Nov 23, 2010 12:15 pm

PStoller wrote:If I may…


Anytime, Peter!
It is good to know the context in which it was said. It has been discussed here more often that it is a bloody shame that after 1972 Elvis did not follow his incredible talent but basically became a crowd pleaser (that's my opinion) and he just followed Colonel Tom Parker (this goes for his entire career after 1960). I certainly can follow MS on that part, although I find the word 'rediculous' somewhat hard to manage.

About Three Corn patches: ofcourse Elvis' version is not a masterpiece. The song may have suited T-Bone Walker fine (I do not know his version) but Elvis did record some excellent material at Stax during the december 1973 sessions so maybe songs Just A Little Bit and Three Corn Patches were just not the right songs for Elvis back then: he needed a different kind of songs so basically these have just been poorly selected.

Anyway, how is your father doing today? I hope he is doing fine. You must be a proud son, having a father who brought so much joy to the world, writing so many beautiful songs for so many artists. I enjoy his music every day.

Just curious: do you know which shows your father saw in the 70s?

Take care!

Re: Mike Stoller: The "Vegas" Elvis is ridiculous

Tue Nov 23, 2010 3:59 pm

I think Stoller's comment of Elvis in Vegas is fully understandable. The music Elvis made in the 1970s surely didn't match Stoller's taste and the way the King presented himself was also far, far away from what Stoller thought was cool. So to him the guy in the jumpsuit with the huge orchestra and the army of backup singers must have been ridiculous.

I think differently, I like the 1970s Elvis. Because of the schmaltz, because of the orchestra and because of the backup voices. Maybe Stoller would also call my taste a bad one.

To each his own.

Re: Mike Stoller: The "Vegas" Elvis is ridiculous

Tue Nov 23, 2010 4:48 pm

The Welz wrote:I think Stoller's comment of Elvis in Vegas is fully understandable. The music Elvis made in the 1970s surely didn't match Stoller's taste and the way the King presented himself was also far, far away from what Stoller thought was cool. So to him the guy in the jumpsuit with the huge orchestra and the army of backup singers must have been ridiculous.

I think differently, I like the 1970s Elvis. Because of the schmaltz, because of the orchestra and because of the backup voices. Maybe Stoller would also call my taste a bad one.

To each his own.


You're not alone, a lot of people became fans of Elvis during the seventies and loved that era! What people fail to understand was that Elvis wasn't the same man as he was in the fifties, his taste in music and style had changed, which obviously didn't appeal to Mike Stoller.

Re: Mike Stoller: The "Vegas" Elvis is ridiculous

Tue Nov 23, 2010 5:22 pm

PStoller wrote:If I may…

Mike Stoller's opinion was based on the show(s) he attended, on a reasonable overview of Elvis as a performer over his entire career, and on having known and worked with Elvis c. 1957-1958. He was commenting on the "Vegas Elvis" he saw—he doesn't remember offhand exactly when, but tells me it was "toward the end"—not the entirety of Elvis career in Vegas from 1969 on. Of course, anyone is free to disagree with his opinion. But, whether you agree with it or not, his opinion is not based on ignorance of, nor antipathy toward, Elvis.

If Mike Stoller were only "interested in making his bank account bigger," he would have wholeheartedly embraced Elvis' hit version of "Hound Dog." Instead, he has consistently maintained that he doesn't much care for it, greatly preferring the Big Mama Thornton original on which he had yet to make a dime when Elvis' record was made. Again, anyone is free to disagree with his opinion, and many people do. However, there is no question that it was purely about music, not about business.

People have mistakenly extrapolated from comments about "Hound Dog" and movie scripts that Leiber & Stoller didn't like Elvis as a person or an artist. Really, most of what L&S didn't like about E's "Hound Dog" was Freddie Bell's rewrite of the lyrics; secondarily, it was too uptempo to capture their intent. From this, they got the impression that Elvis was clueless. Elvis corrected this impression by transforming "Love Me" from a joke into something honest and substantial. And, when the three men met, L&S quickly learned that Elvis knew as much about the blues as they did (and quite a bit more about country and gospel), and that he had a combination of humility and artistic brilliance that they could not help but respect.

The truth is, L&S liked Elvis as a man and loved him as an artist. As successful as Elvis was, they were frustrated by what they saw as his unrealized creative and personal potential. It was frustration for him. Their negativity in discussing Elvis is about this, not about Elvis himself, nor their own ambitions. The problem was not that Elvis "went his own way," it was that he didn't; he went the Colonel's. Working with Elvis under these conditions was like being given a race car, but only being allowed to drive it around one suburban block rife with stop signs and speed bumps. So, L&S went their own way, and quite successfully. They may still muse about what might have been (primarily during interviews), but not with any bitterness toward Elvis.

For what it's worth, Mike Stoller began his musical career as a performing pianist, and has remained an avid fan of live music to this day. Although he ultimately did not make his career as a touring musician, it is inaccurate to say that "he never knew about live performing." And anyone who thinks that his opinions about Elvis are colored by his "big ego" has clearly never met the man.

Finally, I don't think anybody regards "Three Corn Patches" as top-drawer L&S; certainly not I. It was, however, stylistically appropriate for T-Bone Walker. Frankly, I don't think that the Elvis of Raised On Rock could have made a convincing case for "Don't Be Cruel," let alone "Three Corn Patches." It's not fair to judge either Elvis or his material on that recording. And I think that was Mike's real point about Elvis in his last days in Vegas; not that we should judge Elvis based on what he had become, but that we shouldn't.


Thanks for the post, and I apprecaite the contexts of his comments now. He's correct in that Elvis creative talent was never fully realized.

Re: Mike Stoller: The "Vegas" Elvis is ridiculous

Tue Nov 23, 2010 6:40 pm

PStoller wrote:If I may…

Mike Stoller's opinion was based on the show(s) he attended, on a reasonable overview of Elvis as a performer over his entire career, and on having known and worked with Elvis c. 1957-1958. He was commenting on the "Vegas Elvis" he saw—he doesn't remember offhand exactly when, but tells me it was "toward the end"—not the entirety of Elvis career in Vegas from 1969 on. Of course, anyone is free to disagree with his opinion. But, whether you agree with it or not, his opinion is not based on ignorance of, nor antipathy toward, Elvis.

If Mike Stoller were only "interested in making his bank account bigger," he would have wholeheartedly embraced Elvis' hit version of "Hound Dog." Instead, he has consistently maintained that he doesn't much care for it, greatly preferring the Big Mama Thornton original on which he had yet to make a dime when Elvis' record was made. Again, anyone is free to disagree with his opinion, and many people do. However, there is no question that it was purely about music, not about business.

People have mistakenly extrapolated from comments about "Hound Dog" and movie scripts that Leiber & Stoller didn't like Elvis as a person or an artist. Really, most of what L&S didn't like about E's "Hound Dog" was Freddie Bell's rewrite of the lyrics; secondarily, it was too uptempo to capture their intent. From this, they got the impression that Elvis was clueless. Elvis corrected this impression by transforming "Love Me" from a joke into something honest and substantial. And, when the three men met, L&S quickly learned that Elvis knew as much about the blues as they did (and quite a bit more about country and gospel), and that he had a combination of humility and artistic brilliance that they could not help but respect.

The truth is, L&S liked Elvis as a man and loved him as an artist. As successful as Elvis was, they were frustrated by what they saw as his unrealized creative and personal potential. It was frustration for him. Their negativity in discussing Elvis is about this, not about Elvis himself, nor their own ambitions. The problem was not that Elvis "went his own way," it was that he didn't; he went the Colonel's. Working with Elvis under these conditions was like being given a race car, but only being allowed to drive it around one suburban block rife with stop signs and speed bumps. So, L&S went their own way, and quite successfully. They may still muse about what might have been (primarily during interviews), but not with any bitterness toward Elvis.

For what it's worth, Mike Stoller began his musical career as a performing pianist, and has remained an avid fan of live music to this day. Although he ultimately did not make his career as a touring musician, it is inaccurate to say that "he never knew about live performing." And anyone who thinks that his opinions about Elvis are colored by his "big ego" has clearly never met the man.

Finally, I don't think anybody regards "Three Corn Patches" as top-drawer L&S; certainly not I. It was, however, stylistically appropriate for T-Bone Walker. Frankly, I don't think that the Elvis of Raised On Rock could have made a convincing case for "Don't Be Cruel," let alone "Three Corn Patches." It's not fair to judge either Elvis or his material on that recording. And I think that was Mike's real point about Elvis in his last days in Vegas; not that we should judge Elvis based on what he had become, but that we shouldn't.


Well, that make things clear...Thanks for the post..

Re: Mike Stoller: The "Vegas" Elvis is ridiculous

Tue Nov 23, 2010 6:45 pm

drjohncarpenter wrote:
Ton Bruins wrote:
drjohncarpenter wrote:
Ton Bruins wrote:The dutch Elvis fanclub "It's Elvis Time" translated an interview in their last magazine with Mike Stoller.

On the question if he had seen some shows of Elvis in Vegas and what he thought of those shows he answered:

"Disappointing. Elvis was a caricature of himself. He still had a fantastic voice, but he made himself ridiculous. It is good when someone (Elvis) has some self-mockery
but he seemed more like an Elvis imitator. It was sad."

A little context would go a long way to understanding what Mike meant by these comments.

1) When was the interview conducted?
2) What Presley show/s did Stoller attend?

If you are going to post a controversial view, at least make the effort to provide all the facts.
Mike Stoller worked nose-to-nose with Elvis in 1957-58, helping to create some of the greatest music of his career. He knows where the bar was set, he helped Presley get it there.


Is that really important to know those facts ?


Yes, it absolutely is -- in order to have an intelligent discussion.

And that is of course for you to decide, when it is an intelligent discussion or not, isn't it ? See, that is your problem in nutshell...
Last edited by Ton Bruins on Tue Nov 23, 2010 6:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Re: Mike Stoller: The "Vegas" Elvis is ridiculous

Tue Nov 23, 2010 6:45 pm

Joe Car wrote:
The Welz wrote:I think Stoller's comment of Elvis in Vegas is fully understandable. The music Elvis made in the 1970s surely didn't match Stoller's taste and the way the King presented himself was also far, far away from what Stoller thought was cool. So to him the guy in the jumpsuit with the huge orchestra and the army of backup singers must have been ridiculous.

I think differently, I like the 1970s Elvis. Because of the schmaltz, because of the orchestra and because of the backup voices. Maybe Stoller would also call my taste a bad one.

To each his own.


You're not alone, a lot of people became fans of Elvis during the seventies and loved that era! What people fail to understand was that Elvis wasn't the same man as he was in the fifties, his taste in music and style had changed, which obviously didn't appeal to Mike Stoller.

That isn't the issue Stoller has, nor is it the issue others have when critiquing Elvis' final years. Elvis turned his back on his talent and his art and produced substandard work. Some of it was by his own design and a lot of it was due to the controlling hand of management. The frustration that exists has nothing to do with a change in his taste of music.