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Who Played Lead On "Viva Las Vegas"?

Thu Jan 10, 2013 1:13 am

Did legendary singer and guitar whiz Glen Campbell play the lead guitar on Elvis' soundtrack recording of "Viva Las Vegas"?

All credible sources indicate that Billy Strange handled these exciting licks on the now-classic title song.

And these same sources confirm that Campbell did appear on one Presley session, and it was indeed for MGM's "Viva Las Vegas."

However, the song Glen plays rhythm on is "What'd I Say" -- a last-minute Radio Recorders session on Friday, August 30, 1963, when producers decided to add the Ray Charles song to the soundtrack for a dash more excitement. And Artie Cane's piano is handling the most significant leads.

But ...

According to an upcoming deluxe, limited-edition Glen Campbell box set, he did play on "Viva Las Vegas" and it is included:

"Glen Campbell, American Treasure" - Limited Edition Box Set
$150.00
BACKORDERED - SHIPPING IN 6-8 WEEKS

...

An additional disc that features his most memorable guitar work as one of the most in-demand session players of the 60's, on a myriad of iconic songs never-before compiled in one place; including Elvis Presley's "Viva Las Vegas," The Monkee's "I'm a Believer," The Champs "Tequila," Jan and Dean's "Surf City," Beach Boys, Frank Sinatra and many more.

...

SESSION WORKS (FEATURING SELECTIONS FROM GLEN CAMPBELL’S DAYS AS A SESSION PLAYER)

THE CHAMPS “TEQUILA”
THE CRICKETS “DON’T EVER CHANGE”
APRIL STEVENS & NINO TEMPO “DEEP PURPLE”
WAYNE NEWTON “DANKE SCHOEN”
THE MARKETTS “OUT OF LIMITS”
JAN & DEAN “SURF CITY”
JACK NITZSCHE “THE LONELY SURFER”
THE BEACH BOYS “I GET AROUND”
THE HONDELLS “LITTLE HONDA”
THE KNIGHTS “HOT ROD HIGH”
THE RIP CHORDS “HEY LITTLE COBRA”
THE RIGHTEOUS BROTHERS “YOU’VE LOST THAT LOVING FEELIN’”
ELVIS PRESLEY “VIVA LAS VEGAS”
THE EVERLY BROTHERS “MONEY (THAT’S WHAT I WANT)”
THE MONKEES “I’M A BELIEVER”
THE MONKEES “LAST TRAIN TO CLARKSVILLE”
THE BEACH BOYS “GOOD VIBRATIONS”
NANCY SINATRA “SUGAR TOWN”
FRANK SINATRA “STRANGERS IN THE NIGHT”
GENE CLARK “KEEP ON PUSHIN’”
TOM SCOTT AND THE CALIFORNIA DREAMERS “BABY I LOVE YOU”
THE MONKEES “MARY, MARY”
QUINCY JONES FT. GLEN CAMPBELL “BOWLEGGED POLLY”
SAGITTARIUS “MY WORLD FELL DOWN”


130108_Glen-Campbell-American-Treasure-Product-Poster-loRes(1).jpg


http://surfdog.com/store/product/glen-campbell-legacy-set



What to do? The set is likely already pressed up.
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Last edited by drjohncarpenter on Thu Jan 10, 2013 3:02 am, edited 1 time in total.

Re: Who Played Lead On "Viva Las Vegas"?

Thu Jan 10, 2013 1:15 am

I have it. it is a good set,

Re: Who Played Lead On "Viva Las Vegas"?

Thu Jan 10, 2013 1:27 am

Hello Doc,

I have the Studio Orchestra Manager's Report for the August session for "What'd I Say" and it lists Campbell (the document also includes personal info) that I wouldn't be allowed to post (SSN). But, nontheless, you're right, Campbell is playing on "What'd I Say," not "Viva Las Vegas." I wonder how the song made it past licensing, when nearly every session book on Elvis (Tunzi, Jorgensen) indicates Campbell playing on "What'd I Say," not "Viva Las Vegas." I heard about this set a while back on "The Second Disc." Is it out yet? I really hate to see erroneous information like that, because often times that erroneous information gets repeated and accepted. Whoever compiled that portion of the set should have done more homework.

Daryl

Re: Who Played Lead On "Viva Las Vegas"?

Thu Jan 10, 2013 1:43 am

How about that piano oriented first take we have on FTD that breaks down in the middle? I sure like the master more!

Re: Who Played Lead On "Viva Las Vegas"?

Thu Jan 10, 2013 2:37 am

I've always wondered if it was Campbell who played that opening lick. Thanks for the information about Billy Strange. As a Glen Campbell fan, I always hoped it was him playing but I had my doubts. Obviously, Campbell is in no condition to verify whether he played on it or not. Even before he was living with Alzheimer’s disease I doubt he could remember. He played on so many recordings as a session player!

It's interesting that even though he probably didn't play on it that it's now being accepted as fact by a lot of people. The LA Times also said that Campbell played the opening lick:

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/music_b ... -bowl.html

Since "Viva Las Vegas" was played as a tribute to Campbell at his farewell show at the Hollywood Bowl and the song is included on "Glen Campbell, American Treasure" it seems like those in the Campbell camp would like to imply that he played on it to enhance his legend. As if his career needed any more enhancement!

Great topic! :D

P.S. When I saw Glen Campbell in Reno last year he did a fairly credible impersonation of Elvis when he sang Conway Twitty's "It's Only Make Believe." He said he always thought that Elvis would have done a wonderful version of this song so he sang the first couple of lines in Elvis' voice. He also said that Elvis was the most charismatic person he'd ever met.

Re: Who Played Lead On "Viva Las Vegas"?

Thu Jan 10, 2013 2:58 am

So it seems Strange is the one. Too bad he is no longer here to make his case.

It is beyond irksome to read uninformed declarations like the one posted by the L.A. Times last June:

... “Viva Las Vegas.” Few realize that it's Campbell's guitar lick as a session player that powers Elvis Presley's hit single -- without that riff, the song's nothing.

- Randall Roberts
http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/music_blog/2012/06/review-glen-campbell-and-friends-at-the-hollywood-bowl.html



No one is going to question this statement.

Few realize that it's Billy Strange's guitar lick as a session player that powers Elvis Presley's hit single -- without that riff, the song's nothing.
Last edited by drjohncarpenter on Thu Jan 10, 2013 10:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Re: Who Played Lead On "Viva Las Vegas"?

Thu Jan 10, 2013 3:18 am

Is it possible that it is Glen playing that lead but is plainly un-credited?
Sometimes history doesn't record the truth because of union rules and such.
I am wondering if it is "possible".
I am thinking out load. I am speculating, so don't attack me please.
I recall some interview way back that Glen played on some Elvis sessions, and it was inferred that
he played on more than just one song. So it is a mystery.

Re: Who Played Lead On "Viva Las Vegas"?

Thu Jan 10, 2013 3:42 am

One of the greatest guitarists of all time.

He didn't actually play on the original version of "Tequila", though. He was still living in Albuquerque when that song was cut in 1958. He did join the Champs a couple years later. The Champs' bass player, Bob Morris, was a close friend of my father.

Re: Who Played Lead On "Viva Las Vegas"?

Thu Jan 10, 2013 4:15 am

ekenee wrote:Is it possible that it is Glen playing that lead but is plainly un-credited?
Sometimes history doesn't record the truth because of union rules and such.
I am wondering if it is "possible".
I am thinking out load. I am speculating, so don't attack me please.
I recall some interview way back that Glen played on some Elvis sessions, and it was inferred that
he played on more than just one song. So it is a mystery.


Anything is possible but the paperwork doesn't match. Paperwork isn't always perfect.

Re: Who Played Lead On "Viva Las Vegas"?

Thu Jan 10, 2013 6:42 pm

Might he also have simply played rhythm, and not lead, on some of these songs?

Re: Who Played Lead On "Viva Las Vegas"?

Thu Jan 10, 2013 7:33 pm

The Answer Is Tommy Tedesco!

Re: Who Played Lead On "Viva Las Vegas"?

Thu Jan 10, 2013 10:14 pm

docfreem wrote:The Answer Is Tommy Tedesco!


Sorry, this is incorrect. Tommy's first Presley session was about a year after the dates held for "Viva Las Vegas."

He did some fine work for Elvis, though. My favorite is the superb acoustic he played on the heartfelt Billy Strange-Mac Davis ballad, "Memories."

Tommy Tedesco - Elvis Presley Sessions

Sessions: June 10-12, 1964
http://www.elvisrecordings.com/s640610.htm

Sessions: February 16-17, 1966
http://www.elvisrecordings.com/s660216.htm

Sessions: June 29-30, 1966
http://www.elvisrecordings.com/s660629.htm

Sessions: June 20-21, 1967
http://www.elvisrecordings.com/s670620.htm

Sessions: June 20-24, 1968
http://www.elvisrecordings.com/s680620.htm

Sessions: June 29, 1968
http://www.elvisrecordings.com/s680629.htm

Sessions: October 15, 1968
http://www.elvisrecordings.com/s681015.htm

Re: Who Played Lead On "Viva Las Vegas"?

Thu Jan 10, 2013 10:24 pm

elvisjock wrote:Might he also have simply played rhythm, and not lead, on some of these songs?


The only evidence we have is Campbell's rhythm guitar work on "What'd I Say." It's likely Scotty Moore or Tiny Timbrell -- if not Billy Strange -- handled the rhythm guitar on the other 1963 soundtrack sessions (July 9-11). They weren't being paid to just sit there.

Re: Who Played Lead On "Viva Las Vegas"?

Tue Apr 15, 2014 6:08 pm

Billy Strange definitely played the lead guitar on Viva Las Vegas....he told me. The guitar is unmistakable!
It was a big deal to me when the movie came out.
Glen Campbell and my dad used to play guitar together fairly regularly at my house. They were good friends.
I see the musicians royalty checks for "Viva Las Vegas" on a regular basis. Mostly every time a new slot machine comes out.

- Jerry Strange

Re: Who Played Lead On "Viva Las Vegas"?

Tue Apr 15, 2014 6:22 pm

Strange.Jerry wrote:Billy Strange definitely played the lead guitar on Viva Las Vegas....he told me. The guitar is unmistakable!
It was a big deal to me when the movie came out.
Glen Campbell and my dad used to play guitar together fairly regularly at my house. They were good friends.
I see the musicians royalty checks for "Viva Las Vegas" on a regular basis. Mostly every time a new slot machine comes out.

- Jerry Strange

Welcome to the board, Jerry, and thank you for your unique insight.

We'd love to hear any stories your Dad may have told you about playing with Elvis.

Re: Who Played Lead On "Viva Las Vegas"?

Tue Apr 15, 2014 8:15 pm

George Smith wrote:
Strange.Jerry wrote:Billy Strange definitely played the lead guitar on Viva Las Vegas....he told me. The guitar is unmistakable!
It was a big deal to me when the movie came out.
Glen Campbell and my dad used to play guitar together fairly regularly at my house. They were good friends.
I see the musicians royalty checks for "Viva Las Vegas" on a regular basis. Mostly every time a new slot machine comes out.

- Jerry Strange

Welcome to the board, Jerry, and thank you for your unique insight.

We'd love to hear any stories your Dad may have told you about playing with Elvis.


Indeed, your pop produced two interesting sessions for Elvis in 1968, and there is also a mysterious, cancelled-at-the-last-minute date from August 1967 that your father was going to produce. To this day, no one knows for sure the reason why this session was undone. Do you know more? Here's a topic all about it:

A Strange Session --> August 22, 1967
http://www.elvis-collectors.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=50204
http://www.elvis-collectors.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=69&t=76419


And thank you for adding more support to answering this question. I wonder if your dad ever heard about these stories of Glen playing lead on "Viva Las Vegas." It would have driven me bananas.