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Re: Elvis & Atlantic Records

Sun Jul 14, 2013 7:57 pm

brian wrote:
George Smith wrote:Parker was always going to take Elvis to RCA and the bidding war was a typical Parker scam. Parker always kept stuff "in the family": follow the careers of Arnold, Snow, Sands and others to see how Parker worked in a very tight circle: Steve Sholes, RCA Victor and Hill & Range. He rarely went outside of these people and companies because he had considerable influence within them.


I don't know about that.

Colonel Parker may have wanted Elvis on RCA all along but with a bidding war anything could have happened.

What if Capitol, Decca, Atlantic or Columbia offered more money than RCA.

If that happened Elvis goes to them.

Parker held all the bids, not Sam. Sam only heard what Parker told him. My understanding is that RCA were not necessarily the only company who went as far as $40,000.

Re: Elvis & Atlantic Records

Sun Jul 14, 2013 8:01 pm

jurasic1968 wrote:We must remember that Elvis hit his first number one in country charts in February 1956 with a Sun Record : "I forgot to remember to forget", 2 month before Heartbreak Hotel. In 1955, Elvis was number one in the Top of the future talents. So, to say Elvis would have remained in the 20.000 selling single league if he stayed one more year with Sun Records is absolutely nonsense. Again, I repeat myself: Jerry Lee Lewis became a big star with Sun records selling huge numbers of his singles, including his famous early hits.

But to be fair, when Jerry Lee became a star on Sun, Sam was holding $35,000 worth of promotion money he wasn't holding before he sold Elvis.

Carl Perkin's first big hit also arrived when Sam had the $35,000 sitting in his account.

The success of Elvis was killing Sun Records: their cashflow was terminal.

Re: Elvis & Atlantic Records

Sun Jul 14, 2013 8:01 pm

jurasic1968 wrote:We must remember that Elvis hit his first number one in country charts in February 1956 with a Sun Record : "I forgot to remember to forget", 2 month before Heartbreak Hotel. In 1955, Elvis was number one in the Top of the future talents. So, to say Elvis would have remained in the 20.000 selling single league if he stayed one more year with Sun Records is absolutely nonsense. Again, I repeat myself: Jerry Lee Lewis became a big star with Sun records selling huge numbers of his singles, including his famous early hits.


Did you not read what I said in response to you on page three?

shortly after RCA bought Elvis they began re-releasing the Sun material and that's when ''I forgot to remember to forget'' topped the country charts.

Re: Elvis & Atlantic Records

Sun Jul 14, 2013 8:04 pm

brian wrote:
jurasic1968 wrote:We must remember that Elvis hit his first number one in country charts in February 1956 with a Sun Record : "I forgot to remember to forget", 2 month before Heartbreak Hotel. In 1955, Elvis was number one in the Top of the future talents. So, to say Elvis would have remained in the 20.000 selling single league if he stayed one more year with Sun Records is absolutely nonsense. Again, I repeat myself: Jerry Lee Lewis became a big star with Sun records selling huge numbers of his singles, including his famous early hits.


Did you not read what I said in response to you on page three?

shortly after RCA bought Elvis they began re-releasing the Sun material and that's when ''I forgot to remember to forget'' topped the country charts.

Indeed, and it is said that RCA made their $40,000 back on this record alone (bearing in mind that the money came straight out of Elvis' royalty payment -- it was Elvis who bought his contract from Sun for RCA: they just forwarded him the money).

Re: Elvis & Atlantic Records

Sun Jul 14, 2013 8:15 pm

Brian, you're right about promotion. I read your reply. But I also reread in Jerry Hopkins's book 5 minutes ago that the single I Forgot to Remember to Forget/Mistery Train - released by Sun - already entered in the national charts in the autumn of 1955 and had a very big success in the US before it was rereleased by RCA in December.

Re: Elvis & Atlantic Records

Sun Jul 14, 2013 9:02 pm

jurasic1968 wrote:We must remember that Elvis hit his first number one in country charts in February 1956 with a Sun Record : "I forgot to remember to forget", 2 month before Heartbreak Hotel. In 1955, Elvis was number one in the Top of the future talents. So, to say Elvis would have remained in the 20.000 selling single league if he stayed one more year with Sun Records is absolutely nonsense. Again, I repeat myself: Jerry Lee Lewis became a big star with Sun records selling huge numbers of his singles, including his famous early hits.


In 1956 there were no Sun Records available!
In November 1955 all Sun releases were re-issued by RCA-Victor.
Sun Records was allowed to sell their stock until December 31, 1955.
Don't change history to suit your blindfolded ideas.

Re: Elvis & Atlantic Records

Sun Jul 14, 2013 9:25 pm

I don't like to change history. I already wrote that RCA rereleased all the Sun Records in late 1955. I just wanted to mention that Elvis was already in the national charts before RCA bought him from the Sun and he became a national figure, recognized by Bilboard also. And also this is an information about Baby, Let's Play House single, released before I forgot to remember to forget:

Baby, Lets Play House

This song was written and recorded by Arthur Gunter in 1954. It would become Elvis' fourth single along with I'm Left, You're Right, She's Gone. In an interview, Elvis' mother Gladys said this song was one of her favorites he'd recorded thus far. It peaked at #5 on the national Billboard Country Chart.

Not bad, isn't it?

Re: Elvis & Atlantic Records

Sun Jul 14, 2013 9:47 pm

There is a big difference between a country hit and a pop hit.

You can have a #1 on the Country & Western charts and only sell 100k or so.

That's why country singers tried to cross over into the pop charts so they would sell a lot more records.

In the history of Sun records they had very little success on the pop charts.

So many of the people that signed with Sun records never had a hit record.

Re: Elvis & Atlantic Records

Sun Jul 14, 2013 9:52 pm

OK, but Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis and Johnny Cash made big hits on national charts with Sun Records.

Re: Elvis & Atlantic Records

Sun Jul 14, 2013 10:23 pm

jurasic1968 wrote:OK, but Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis and Johnny Cash made big hits on national charts with Sun Records.


But again that goes back to what I said on page three.

If Elvis' contract hadn't of been sold to RCA then Sam Phillips wouldn't have had the money to promote those records.

Re: Elvis & Atlantic Records

Sun Jul 14, 2013 11:00 pm

Brian, I don't deny that. I agree with you. But I disagree with the opinion that Elvis was a nobody in august 1955 and only Colonel Tom Parker could made him such a big star from nothing. I mention also Roy Orbison at Sun who with "Ooby Dooby" reached number 59 in Hot 100 and sold 200.000 copies. So Sam Philips deserves the credit for recording all these singers and many others (including earllier the great bluesman B.B. King). Back to topic: Elvis could move to Atlantic in 1963, when RCA begin to neglect him.

Re: Elvis & Atlantic Records

Sun Jul 14, 2013 11:43 pm

jurasic1968 wrote:Brian, I don't deny that. I agree with you. But I disagree with the opinion that Elvis was a nobody in august 1955 and only Colonel Tom Parker could made him such a big star from nothing. I mention also Roy Orbison at Sun who with "Ooby Dooby" reached number 59 in Hot 100 and sold 200.000 copies. So Sam Philips deserves the credit for recording all these singers and many others (including earllier the great bluesman B.B. King). Back to topic: Elvis could move to Atlantic in 1963, when RCA begin to neglect him.

In what way did RCA begin to neglect Elvis in 1963?

Re: Elvis & Atlantic Records

Sun Jul 14, 2013 11:57 pm

When Elvis top 10 hits became rare after 1963, RCA did little for promotion and design. I saw recently many covers of the singles and LP's of the 60's released by Elvis and many of them are outdated comparing with the covers of The Beatles, Stones, Dylan, Doors, Beach Boys, and so on.

Re: Elvis & Atlantic Records

Mon Jul 15, 2013 12:09 am

jurasic1968 wrote:When Elvis top 10 hits became rare after 1963, RCA did little for promotion and design. I saw recently many covers of the singles and LP's of the 60's released by Elvis and many of them are outdated comparing with the covers of The Beatles, Stones, Dylan, Doors, Beach Boys, and so on.


Just a simple question: who sells more records than anyone else these days? Hint: it starts with an E and ends with lvis.

Re: Elvis & Atlantic Records

Mon Jul 15, 2013 12:18 am

jurasic1968 wrote:When Elvis top 10 hits became rare after 1963, RCA did little for promotion and design. I saw recently many covers of the singles and LP's of the 60's released by Elvis and many of them are outdated comparing with the covers of The Beatles, Stones, Dylan, Doors, Beach Boys, and so on.

It is my understanding that much of the designwork on Elvis' singles and LPs was done by Parker. And you can bet he charged RCA for this service. And also for the pictures of Elvis he allowed them to use on the covers.

There's a glorious little window from about 1968 until 1971 where Elvis' LP covers often looked great -- I can only assume that Parker was not involved in those.

Sometimes he got it right: Golden Records Volume 2 is a design classic.

Re: Elvis & Atlantic Records

Mon Jul 15, 2013 1:01 am

George Smith wrote:The comparisons bewteen Bob Neal and Tom Parker here seem a little unfair.

It's like celebrating the Apollo flights without mentioning the Mercury flights.

One can't simply say that within weeks of Parker taking over Elvis became a huge star and therefore Bob Neal was no good: when Bob neal took Elvis on, Presley was a virtual nobody. It was Neal who helped build Elvis up to considerable success until Parker took over.

When Parker actually did take over, Elvis was poised on the brink of his astonishing career and Parker progressed from there onwards.

Parker had tried to raise a young C&w singer before -- Tommy Sands -- from the bottom up, and failed.

It was Bob Neal who saw Elvis through the amazing and meteoric year of 1955. If you check out the careers of almost every other significant c&w artist of the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s, it usually took YEARS or even DECADES for them to achieve success. Bob Neal steered Elvis from zero to potential hero in twelve months. He was a bright, honest, hard-working guy. Parker ran a different type of show and did very well for Elvis up until about 1963.

Parker was always going to take Elvis to RCA and the bidding war was a typical Parker scam. Parker always kept stuff "in the family": follow the careers of Arnold, Snow, Sands and others to see how Parker worked in a very tight circle: Steve Sholes, RCA Victor and Hill & Range. He rarely went outside of these people and companies because he had considerable influence within them.

Bob Neal and Tom Parker: chalk and cheese, but both did well for Elvis up to a point. Elvis had outgrown Neal by Dec '55 and Parker by mid '63.


As always, George Smith, you share with us a thoughtful and informed post. Every single point is spot-on. Thank you!

Not only is denigrating Bob Neal's management of Elvis unfair, it is clearly proven by the facts to be a vacuous conceit.

Note also that Neal could have continued as part of the management team beyond March 1956, but he chose not to. Within a year he started a talent agency, and continued with his radio, TV and record promotion work.

Re: Elvis & Atlantic Records

Mon Jul 15, 2013 8:58 am

George Smith wrote:The comparisons bewteen Bob Neal and Tom Parker here seem a little unfair.

It's like celebrating the Apollo flights without mentioning the Mercury flights.

One can't simply say that within weeks of Parker taking over Elvis became a huge star and therefore Bob Neal was no good: when Bob neal took Elvis on, Presley was a virtual nobody. It was Neal who helped build Elvis up to considerable success until Parker took over.

When Parker actually did take over, Elvis was poised on the brink of his astonishing career and Parker progressed from there onwards.

Parker had tried to raise a young C&w singer before -- Tommy Sands -- from the bottom up, and failed.

It was Bob Neal who saw Elvis through the amazing and meteoric year of 1955. If you check out the careers of almost every other significant c&w artist of the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s, it usually took YEARS or even DECADES for them to achieve success. Bob Neal steered Elvis from zero to potential hero in twelve months. He was a bright, honest, hard-working guy. Parker ran a different type of show and did very well for Elvis up until about 1963.

Parker was always going to take Elvis to RCA and the bidding war was a typical Parker scam. Parker always kept stuff "in the family": follow the careers of Arnold, Snow, Sands and others to see how Parker worked in a very tight circle: Steve Sholes, RCA Victor and Hill & Range. He rarely went outside of these people and companies because he had considerable influence within them.

Bob Neal and Tom Parker: chalk and cheese, but both did well for Elvis up to a point. Elvis had outgrown Neal by Dec '55 and Parker by mid '63.

Nice post, George Smith. Thanks.

Re: Elvis & Atlantic Records

Mon Jul 15, 2013 9:20 am

brian wrote:
George Smith wrote:
brian wrote:not every song that is a big hit is a good song.


Okay?

So are you saying that "Suspicious Minds" isn't a good song and only reached number one because of RCA's promotion?

If not, I'm not sure where you're going with this?

Generally speaking, I would argue that songs that hit the Top 10 are probably the best songs in the charts at that time, certainly during the 50s, 60s and 70s. That's not a golden rule, but generally the cream rises to the top, in my opinion.


No.

I'm saying that a song doesn't necessarily have to be a great song to be a big hit.

Sometimes it is and sometimes it isn't.

in the case of Suspicious Minds it was a great song but promotion was a big factor in it being a hit.

You'll find that if you look at the pop charts from the 1950s through the 1970s that many songs that weren't that great were pretty big hits.

Some of the best songs during the 1950s through the 1970s weren't very big hits.

In both cases promotion or lack thereof is a big cause.

It is more about THE SONG than the promotion. If it is a good song, it will naturally sell by itself. You can put all the promotion you want in any song, but in the end, it is the public who decide if it is to be a hit or not. Of course, you have to promote the song for the public to hear, but that only takes a radio play.

It is the SONG that is important. It's the melody that usually does it. A nice tune sticks more in your mind than a non-melodic tune. And "Suspicious Minds" has all the musical ingredience of a great song.

Re: Elvis & Atlantic Records

Mon Jul 15, 2013 10:44 am

You're right, George. Thanks for explaining the great work done by Bob Neal. Regarding Parker: many forgets the Tommy Sands case, so it's clear that not all the Colonel did was pure gold. I read in Alana Nash's book about the Colonel how he believed in Tommy to be a great star.

Re: Elvis & Atlantic Records

Mon Jul 15, 2013 11:06 am

jurasic1968 wrote:You're right, George. Thanks for explaining the great work done by Bob Neal. Regarding Parker: many forgets the Tommy Sands case, so it's clear that not all the Colonel did was pure gold. I read in Alana Nash's book about the Colonel how he believed in Tommy to be a great star.

That's kind, thank you (and also thank you, John and Nelson).

Parker was actually very good at what he did (but not all of what he did was morally cool).

If one ignores the artistic stagnation of Elvis mid-60s and mid-70s (and that's a tough thing to overlook), one could say that Parker did a very good job.

Unfortunately, the wasted movie years and Presley's demise are damning evidence of Parker shortcomings.

But it should always be borne in mind that Presley and Parker were pioneers in their individual fields.

How does one cope with being the world's number one celebrity and rock star in one's late 30s?

How does one manage that celebrity?

There were no road maps because no one had trod that way before.

Re: Elvis & Atlantic Records

Mon Jul 15, 2013 7:45 pm

mysterytrainrideson wrote:
brian wrote:
George Smith wrote:
brian wrote:not every song that is a big hit is a good song.


Okay?

So are you saying that "Suspicious Minds" isn't a good song and only reached number one because of RCA's promotion?

If not, I'm not sure where you're going with this?

Generally speaking, I would argue that songs that hit the Top 10 are probably the best songs in the charts at that time, certainly during the 50s, 60s and 70s. That's not a golden rule, but generally the cream rises to the top, in my opinion.


No.

I'm saying that a song doesn't necessarily have to be a great song to be a big hit.

Sometimes it is and sometimes it isn't.

in the case of Suspicious Minds it was a great song but promotion was a big factor in it being a hit.

You'll find that if you look at the pop charts from the 1950s through the 1970s that many songs that weren't that great were pretty big hits.

Some of the best songs during the 1950s through the 1970s weren't very big hits.

In both cases promotion or lack thereof is a big cause.

It is more about THE SONG than the promotion. If it is a good song, it will naturally sell by itself. .


I don't agree with that.

Re: Elvis & Atlantic Records

Tue Jul 16, 2013 12:26 am

brian wrote:
mysterytrainrideson wrote:
brian wrote:
George Smith wrote:
brian wrote:not every song that is a big hit is a good song.


Okay?

So are you saying that "Suspicious Minds" isn't a good song and only reached number one because of RCA's promotion?

If not, I'm not sure where you're going with this?

Generally speaking, I would argue that songs that hit the Top 10 are probably the best songs in the charts at that time, certainly during the 50s, 60s and 70s. That's not a golden rule, but generally the cream rises to the top, in my opinion.


No.

I'm saying that a song doesn't necessarily have to be a great song to be a big hit.

Sometimes it is and sometimes it isn't.

in the case of Suspicious Minds it was a great song but promotion was a big factor in it being a hit.

You'll find that if you look at the pop charts from the 1950s through the 1970s that many songs that weren't that great were pretty big hits.

Some of the best songs during the 1950s through the 1970s weren't very big hits.

In both cases promotion or lack thereof is a big cause.

It is more about THE SONG than the promotion. If it is a good song, it will naturally sell by itself. .


I don't agree with that.

Didn't think you would! Please explain......

Re: Elvis & Atlantic Records

Tue Jul 16, 2013 5:28 am

mysterytrainrideson wrote:
I've always wondered how is career may have turned out had he have gone with Atlantic.



If Elvis had signed with Atlantic, here are two significant differences you would be experiencing with his catalog:

1.) The Follow That Dream Label would not exist as we know it. Atlantic stored it's masters in one storage facility -- but stored the alternate takes, outtakes and multitracks etc in another facility which unfortunately perished in a fire in 1978. So no alternates, multitrack live concerts etc would exist for FTD issuance had Presley been an Atlantic artist. Only Presley's masters would have survived -- and they would not have been able to be remixed by FTD as the multis would have burned in the fire.

2.) Presley's early 60s catalog would sound vastly inferior if recorded by Atlantic's Tom Dowd. Dowd pioneered an early 8 track recorder, but his late 50s / early 60s stereo masters are replete with hiss and overmodulation distortion. Contrast this with Bill Porter's superb early 60s (direct to stereo and three track safety) engineering which ensured a cleaner signal path and you will feel fortunate Presley was signed with RCA.

Re: Elvis & Atlantic Records

Tue Jul 16, 2013 10:31 am

monkboughtlunch wrote:
mysterytrainrideson wrote:
I've always wondered how is career may have turned out had he have gone with Atlantic.



If Elvis had signed with Atlantic, here are two significant differences you would be experiencing with his catalog:

1.) The Follow That Dream Label would not exist as we know it. Atlantic stored it's masters in one storage facility -- but stored the alternate takes, outtakes and multitracks etc in another facility which unfortunately perished in a fire in 1978. So no alternates, multitrack live concerts etc would exist for FTD issuance had Presley been an Atlantic artist. Only Presley's masters would have survived -- and they would not have been able to be remixed by FTD as the multis would have burned in the fire.

2.) Presley's early 60s catalog would sound vastly inferior if recorded by Atlantic's Tom Dowd. Dowd pioneered an early 8 track recorder, but his late 50s / early 60s stereo masters are replete with hiss and overmodulation distortion. Contrast this with Bill Porter's superb early 60s (direct to stereo and three track safety) engineering which ensured a cleaner signal path and you will feel fortunate Presley was signed with RCA.


So if Elvis had signed with Atlantic near the end of 1955 we now would be complaining about Parker's lack of insight to sign Elvis with RCA-Victor :smt003

Re: Elvis & Atlantic Records

Tue Jul 16, 2013 3:20 pm

monkboughtlunch wrote:
mysterytrainrideson wrote:
I've always wondered how is career may have turned out had he have gone with Atlantic.



If Elvis had signed with Atlantic, here are two significant differences you would be experiencing with his catalog:

1.) The Follow That Dream Label would not exist as we know it. Atlantic stored it's masters in one storage facility -- but stored the alternate takes, outtakes and multitracks etc in another facility which unfortunately perished in a fire in 1978. So no alternates, multitrack live concerts etc would exist for FTD issuance had Presley been an Atlantic artist. Only Presley's masters would have survived -- and they would not have been able to be remixed by FTD as the multis would have burned in the fire.

2.) Presley's early 60s catalog would sound vastly inferior if recorded by Atlantic's Tom Dowd. Dowd pioneered an early 8 track recorder, but his late 50s / early 60s stereo masters are replete with hiss and overmodulation distortion. Contrast this with Bill Porter's superb early 60s (direct to stereo and three track safety) engineering which ensured a cleaner signal path and you will feel fortunate Presley was signed with RCA.


I don't care about outtakes that much. First of all, 90% of them are so close to the master, it makes no difference. Secondly, if we had better original material in the 60's would you really care about take 2 of Chesay? The whole point of being on Atlantic comes down to getting material to record.