All posts with more than 3000 Hits, prior to 2008

Memphis...

Thu Mar 29, 2007 7:55 am

In Guralnick's Careless Love, he mentions that Elvis expected his version of Chuck Berry's Memphis to be his next big hit until Johnny Rivers apparently stole it out from under him and release it. I just heard it again recently and I must admit I think River's version is better because I believe it packs a little more punch. I am interested to hear everyone else's opinion. Does anyone think this could have been a big hit for Elvis?

Thu Mar 29, 2007 8:21 am

Well I haven' heard River's version
But I can say that Elvis version could be better. I think he's too gentle on that song. The double drums are surely great but the guitar rhythm also could be a lot better. More intensive.

Thu Mar 29, 2007 9:30 am

i have a few johnny rivers albums and he is a great singer his memphis version is very good but elvis's version is better he just nailed it his voice is awsome and i do think elvis's version would have been a big hit its just such a great song as most chuck berry songs are.

Thu Mar 29, 2007 8:26 pm

The Rivers version is much better. It does have more punch and when released suits the music scene at the time.

There is the problem of comparing studio versus live...Rivers being live does have the excitement factor.

Elvis version is low key...almost a ballad Perry Como laid back ballad reading of what should be a driving rock number.

Had it been released as a single the comparison between Chuck Berry and Lonnie Mack versions would have made "The King Of Rock And Roll" title a little sick.

For a guitar drenched version have a listen to The Beatles live rendition.

Thu Mar 29, 2007 9:00 pm

This is a tough one, Rivers version is good, but then again
so is Elvis'...

Elvis I feel could have had a hit with the song if released prior
to Rivers, tho Elvis version does lack a little punch or depth
if you will....and in some ways does sound a little over produced.

Nevertheless Elvis' version is still very cool...an holds up to
the test of time....

Rivers was one of the new sounds the new voice's of the day...
an since he did release this song before Elvis did, the song is of
course more associated with Rivers as being his song, even more
so then even Chuck Berry I'm sure....

Here is a sample of Rivers version:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/music/wma-pop- ... 54-6886229
Here is a samle of Elvis' version:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/music/wma-pop- ... 54-6886229
Here is a sample of Chuck Berry's version:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/music/wma-pop- ... 54-6886229

PEP 8)

Fri Mar 30, 2007 4:18 am

Hello,

To me, this is one of those bullsh!t stories that I believe originated from Alanna Nash's book "Revelations Of The Memphis Mafia" that she wrote with the assistance of Billy Smith, Lamar Fike and Marty Lacker. It's obvious that Guralnick regurgitated everything that was mentioned in "ROTMM" into his own book "Careless Love." I believe in Jerry Hopkins original biography, he mentions Johnny Rivers coming backstage at the International Hotel to see Elvis several years later. I have to question how much ill will Elvis really felt towards Johnny Rivers if Johnny "purportedly" stole "Memphis" from Elvis. Truth is that Lonnie Mack had scored an instrumental hit with it in July/August '63. In May of '63 and again in January '64 Elvis recorded it and had ample time to put it out as a single on several occasions but didn't. It wasn't until May'64 that Johnny Rivers' version of "Memphis" entered the Billboard charts at #88. Between the time Elvis recorded "Memphis" in May '63 and May '64 when Johnny's version began to chart, Elvis had the following singles released:

"(You're The) Devil In Disguise"/"Please Don't Drag That String Around" (June '63)

"Bossa Nova Baby"/"Witchcraft" (October '63)

"Kissin' Cousins"/"It Hurts Me" (February '64)

"Kiss Me Quick"/"Suspicion" (April '64)

"What'd I Say"/"Viva Las Vegas" (April '64)

Elvis had ample opportunity to release "Memphis" on any one of those singles before Johnny Rivers' version raced up the charts. Elvis could have easily replaced either "Kiss Me Quick" or "Suspicion" with "Memphis" but I don't think it would have mattered. "Memphis" was an ideal song for Elvis to record, being that he was the most recognizable celebrity to come from Memphis. The bottom line is that it was felt that since "Kiss Me Quick" had recently done well on the English charts that it would make a great single stateside as well. "Suspicion" was chosen as the flipside to capitalize on Terry Stafford's then recent top ten smash cover of a song Elvis had recorded in 1962. It just seems that on this one song, Elvis' musical direction had left him. Had guitarist Hank Garland not have gotten injured in a car accident a few years earlier, Elvis' version might have topped Johnny's. Johnny Rivers' version is way better than Elvis' "Memphis." Johnny's version has a Bo Diddley beat with a bass groove.

It would be nice to see "Elvis: The Man And His Music" magazine do an interview with Johnny Rivers to shed some light on this story. Because so far, we've only heard from one side. By the way, I highly recommend the 2 CD Anthology that came out I believe last year on Johnny Rivers entitled "Secret Agent Man: Johnny Rivers Anthology" This includes a career retrospective all his major hits as well as some of his more recent recordings, which some are suprisingly excellent.

Fri Mar 30, 2007 4:33 am

I also like johnny rivers version as well as elvis',jan and dean also covered it but they covered the johnny rivers version...

Fri Mar 30, 2007 7:41 am

Daryl well said, :wink:

It should be noted Johnny Rivers has come
forward more than a few times on record
when asked about the Song "Memphis"
if he ever stole the song from Elvis...

His answer has been basically "No" of course not
it never happened, Elvis was my friend"

Outside looking in, I would like to believe it
was just coincidence he ended up recording
the song around the same time....

There is a possibility the Memphis boys could be telling
lies outside of school for what ever the reason....

Lacker by the way has stood by the story that Rivers did steal
the song mentioned on AEK if I'm not mistaken....in 2006

It is a tough call....

As Lacker or anyone suggesting he stole the song
would have to have some kind of motive, for saying so....

We just don't know what that motive is... :roll:

PEP 8)

Fri Mar 30, 2007 1:16 pm

KiwiAlan wrote:The Rivers version is much better. It does have more punch and when released suits the music scene at the time.

dont agree

There is the problem of comparing studio versus live...Rivers being live does have the excitement factor.

i agree

Elvis version is low key...almost a ballad Perry Como laid back ballad reading of what should be a driving rock number.

bollocks perry como no no no

Had it been released as a single the comparison between Chuck Berry and Lonnie Mack versions would have made "The King Of Rock And Roll" title a little sick.

:shock: :shock: :shock:

For a guitar drenched version have a listen to The Beatles live rendition.


dont agree (but then again i dont like the beatles)

Fri Mar 30, 2007 7:30 pm

I've always preferred the Johnny Rivers version over Elvis. I'n sorry, but my "radio" ears just don't hear "hit" in Elvis' version. Of the Elvis versions I like the '63 session better.

Love the "Live" Whiskey A Go-Go albums by Rivers.

Fri Mar 30, 2007 8:20 pm

JerryNodak wrote:I've always preferred the Johnny Rivers version over Elvis. I'n sorry, but my "radio" ears just don't hear "hit" in Elvis' version. Of the Elvis versions I like the '63 session better.

Love the "Live" Whiskey A Go-Go albums by Rivers.


You don't have to apolgize for not liking EP's version, traitor! :lol:

Sat Mar 31, 2007 3:30 am

I find it laughable that anyone could be considered to have stolen the song from Elvis - when its a Chuck Berry original, which was also not a driving rock number but a cleverly constucted piece about a broken home and a father trying to contact his daughter. Its supposed to have a delicacy to it.

Sat Mar 31, 2007 3:54 am

Matthew wrote:I find it laughable that anyone could be considered to have stolen the song from Elvis

Well, then you are not familiar with the story of Elvis playing the yet-to-be-released song to Johnny Rivers over and over again. Elvis was said to be very excited about this song. But Johnny stole it from him.

Sat Mar 31, 2007 5:11 am

For Goodness sake people let go of this. It's been 43 friggin' years! Rivers' version came from the live recordings for the Whiskey-a-Go-Go lp. He did not hear Elvis' version then go rush off into the studio, cut the tune, then rush release it on a single. Elvis cut 2 studio versions, 1 in May '63, the other in January '64. He had plenty of time to get Memphis out as a single, but he didn't get around to it. Instead, stuff like the inferior movie tune Kissin' Cousins and the previously released Kiss Me Quick got put out. When Rivers' and his producer screened the Whisky recordings circa Feb./March '64 for a potential single they decided that Memphis was the pick of the litter. Granted Rivers' could've said "We can't put that out, my friend Elvis has a version he wants to put out," but they were trying to break Rivers' as an artist and producer Lou Adler's obligation was to Rivers - not Elvis! Especially considering that Elvis had plenty of time to get his record out. And let's get real here. Rivers' version had a funky-for-the-time, Jimmy Reed feel to it. Elvis' version was solid, but unexceptional. It would not have been a top 10 hit. If the raucous, excellent Ain't That Lovin' You Baby couldn't crack the top 10 during Beatlemania the solid but unexceptional Memphis wasn't going to do it.

Sat Mar 31, 2007 8:38 am

Thank You, Pete. You summed up the situation perfectly.

Sat Mar 31, 2007 8:47 am

Pete Dube wrote:If the raucous, excellent Ain't That Lovin' You Baby couldn't crack the top 10 during Beatlemania the solid but unexceptional Memphis wasn't going to do it.


I was always under the assumption that split airplay and sales of that great 1964 45rpm, ASK ME/AIN'T THAT LOVING YOU BABY, is what essentially held both those titles back from gaining higher chart positions on the billboard chart :!: :?:

A peak chart position of #16 for an already 6 yeard old record would certainly qualify the song as a legitimate and respectable "Hit" for any era ... :wink:

Sat Mar 31, 2007 4:23 pm

minkahed wrote:
Pete Dube wrote:If the raucous, excellent Ain't That Lovin' You Baby couldn't crack the top 10 during Beatlemania the solid but unexceptional Memphis wasn't going to do it.


I was always under the assumption that split airplay and sales of that great 1964 45rpm, ASK ME/AIN'T THAT LOVING YOU BABY, is what essentially held both those titles back from gaining higher chart positions on the billboard chart :!: :?:

A peak chart position of #16 for an already 6 yeard old record would certainly qualify the song as a legitimate and respectable "Hit" for any era ... :wink:


True enough Mink, but the split popularity most likely kept Ask Me from slipping in to the top 10 (it reached #12). Ain't That Lovin' You Baby was 6 years old, but who knew it at the time? I remember when I got Gold Records Vol. 4 for Christmas '76, I didn't know ATLYB was cut in '58, I thought it was an early 60's cut. It still sounds to my ears more like an early 60's sound than a 50's sound. I think it's due to the Nashville band.

Sat Mar 31, 2007 7:05 pm

Pete: I, too, had no idea in '64 that "Baby" was done in '58. It's a timeless classic. I like the flip as well. It's grown on me over the years.

Sat Mar 31, 2007 7:14 pm

Well I certainly knew about the history of ATLYB before it was released. It was no secret - RCA UK made a big thing about it.

Re: Memphis...

Sun Apr 01, 2007 2:10 am

TkoTzer wrote:In Guralnick's Careless Love, he mentions that Elvis expected his version of Chuck Berry's Memphis to be his next big hit until Johnny Rivers apparently stole it out from under him and release it. I just heard it again recently and I must admit I think River's version is better because I believe it packs a little more punch. I am interested to hear everyone else's opinion. Does anyone think this could have been a big hit for Elvis?

A quality 1964 studio recording of Elvis Presley singing "Memphis," as opposed to yet another piece of soundtrack crap, would've been welcomed by all, and likely a good-sized pop hit.

What Johnny Rivers did is steal the idea that the Berry tune could be attractive to a 1964 radio audience, an idea propagated by hearing Presley play the January 1964 acetate over and over again. Elvis thought he was sharing something he was proud of with a friend, but Rivers was much less than that.

Only The fool got the history right on this.

Sun Apr 01, 2007 2:18 am

drjohncarpenter :roll:?

Sun Apr 01, 2007 5:09 am

Hello,

Dr. Carpenter and The Fool still don't account for one important aspect about "Memphis.", That being that if Elvis felt so strongly about the January '64 recording, why didn't he put it out as a single before Johnny Rivers' version even dented the charts in May '64. Elvis had nearly a 5 month window to put it out as a single, but yet he didn't. Do yourselves both a favor by getting a copy of Tunzi's "Elvis #1, The Complete Chart History of Elvis Presley." On page 57 of that book is the Billboard chart for June 13, 1964 at which time Johnny Rivers' "Memphis" had just entered the Top 40 at #31 and had been on the charts for 3 weeks. During that same week of June 13, Elvis' "What'd I Say" and "Viva Las Vegas" had reached their peaks at #21 and #29 respectively. To reiterate what I said before, Elvis released three singles between the January '64 session and the time Johnny Rivers' version hit the charts, let alone two in the month of April. In Alannah Nash's book "Revelations Of The Memphis Mafia" it quotes Marty Lacker as follows:

That happened in '64. Johnny was up at the Perugia Way house one day, and Elvis played him a dub of his cut on the song. Not too long after that, we were coming home from the studio in the Rolls, and we were listening to the radio and they started playing "Memphis" by Johnny Rivers. Naturally, we all got upset. I turned around to Elvis and I said, "If you put yours out real quick, that'll kill his." And Elvis said, "No, let the little bastard have his hit record. I wish him luck, but I never want to see him again.

About two Saturdays later, Johnny came up on his motorcycle because he used to go riding with the guys on the weekends. Alan (Fortas) and I happened to be in the courtyard out front, and we both started calling him a no-good thief. He acted real innocent. He said, "What did I do?" I said, "Johnny, if you don't realize what you did, that's your problem. But you've got five seconds to get off this property, or we're going to throw you over the wall." He never came around again. But Elvis could get cruel. And he'd burn into you. (page 202)

Doctor John, you wrote that a "quality studio recording of Elvis Presley singing "Memphis" as opposed to yet another piece of soundtrack crap, would've been welcomed by all, and likely a good-sized pop hit."

While I'll concede to you that it would have been welcomed by all, that doesn't automatically mean that it would have been a hit for Elvis. Especially compared to Johnny Rivers' version. Where you compare Elvis' "Memphis" to other "pieces of soundtrack crap" the real comparision should be between Elvis' version and Johnny Rivers version. Johnny Rivers wins hands down. And I believe Marty Lacker is wrong that Elvis never saw him again, as I said before in Hopkins' first biography he mentions Johnny Rivers coming backstage to see Elvis at the International Hotel.

Dr. Carpenter, you also wrote:

What Johnny Rivers did is steal the idea that the Berry tune could be attractive to a 1964 radio audience, an idea propagated by hearing Presley play the January 1964 acetate over and over again. Elvis thought he was sharing something he was proud of with a friend, but Rivers was much less than that.


So are you saying Dr. Carpenter that Elvis stole the idea that the Berry tune could be attractive to a 1964 radio audience from Lonnie Mack who scored a major instrumental hit with "Memphis" in August '63. If anyone "propagated the idea that "Memphis" could be a hit on radio in '63 or '64" it would have to be Lonnie Mack, as I'm sure both Elvis and Johnny Rivers heard Lonnie's version on the radio.

Dr. Carpenter, why would Elvis' own label have to dig into older recordings such as "Kiss Me Quick", "Suspicion", "Ain't That Loving You Baby", "Such A Night", "Never Ending", "You'll Be Gone", "Crying In The Chapel", "(Such An) Easy Question", "It Feels So Right", "I'm Yours", "(It's A) Long, Lonely Highway", "Tell Me Why", "Blue River", "That's Someone You Never Forget", "There's Always Me", and "Judy" for the next few years in the hopes of pulling out a hit in the midst of Beatlemania. And yet all along they had this supposedly "killer" version of "Memphis" that they relegated to the "Elvis For Everyone" LP in '65. And none of these songs were initially recorded for use in any motion picture.

It is my opinion that Marty, Lamar and Billy are all biased against Johnny Rivers because of their dislike of Larry Geller, who was Johnny Rivers hairstylist before becoming Elvis'. And to be truthful, if Elvis had done as Marty Lacker supposedly suggested and put out his version of "Memphis" to compete with Rivers' version, Elvis would have had his hat handed to him. It's that simple. Maybe that's why he didn't put it out at all. He knew it wasn't good enough for radio in '63 or '64.

Daryl

Sun Apr 01, 2007 1:32 pm

Daryl wrote:Hello,

Dr. Carpenter and The Fool still don't account for one important aspect about "Memphis."
That being that if Elvis felt so strongly about the January '64 recording, why didn't he put it out as a single before Johnny Rivers' version even dented the charts in May '64.
Elvis had nearly a 5 month window to put it out as a single, but yet he didn't.


I don't think Elvis had any input as to the timing of the release of his singles.

And it was routine for there to be a long gap between the recording date & the release date of his songs.

RCA didn't appear to have any mechanisms in place to make a 'rush-release' of anything !

It was all a long, slow, drawn-out process.

Sun Apr 01, 2007 3:06 pm

Daryl wrote:Hello,

Dr. Carpenter and The Fool still don't account for one important aspect about "Memphis.", That being that if Elvis felt so strongly about the January '64 recording, why didn't he put it out as a single before Johnny Rivers' version even dented the charts in May '64. Elvis had nearly a 5 month window to put it out as a single, but yet he didn't. Do yourselves both a favor by getting a copy of Tunzi's "Elvis #1, The Complete Chart History of Elvis Presley." On page 57 of that book is the Billboard chart for June 13, 1964 at which time Johnny Rivers' "Memphis" had just entered the Top 40 at #31 and had been on the charts for 3 weeks. During that same week of June 13, Elvis' "What'd I Say" and "Viva Las Vegas" had reached their peaks at #21 and #29 respectively. To reiterate what I said before, Elvis released three singles between the January '64 session and the time Johnny Rivers' version hit the charts, let alone two in the month of April. In Alannah Nash's book "Revelations Of The Memphis Mafia" it quotes Marty Lacker as follows:

That happened in '64. Johnny was up at the Perugia Way house one day, and Elvis played him a dub of his cut on the song. Not too long after that, we were coming home from the studio in the Rolls, and we were listening to the radio and they started playing "Memphis" by Johnny Rivers. Naturally, we all got upset. I turned around to Elvis and I said, "If you put yours out real quick, that'll kill his." And Elvis said, "No, let the little bastard have his hit record. I wish him luck, but I never want to see him again.

About two Saturdays later, Johnny came up on his motorcycle because he used to go riding with the guys on the weekends. Alan (Fortas) and I happened to be in the courtyard out front, and we both started calling him a no-good thief. He acted real innocent. He said, "What did I do?" I said, "Johnny, if you don't realize what you did, that's your problem. But you've got five seconds to get off this property, or we're going to throw you over the wall." He never came around again. But Elvis could get cruel. And he'd burn into you. (page 202)

Doctor John, you wrote that a "quality studio recording of Elvis Presley singing "Memphis" as opposed to yet another piece of soundtrack crap, would've been welcomed by all, and likely a good-sized pop hit."

While I'll concede to you that it would have been welcomed by all, that doesn't automatically mean that it would have been a hit for Elvis. Especially compared to Johnny Rivers' version. Where you compare Elvis' "Memphis" to other "pieces of soundtrack crap" the real comparision should be between Elvis' version and Johnny Rivers version. Johnny Rivers wins hands down. And I believe Marty Lacker is wrong that Elvis never saw him again, as I said before in Hopkins' first biography he mentions Johnny Rivers coming backstage to see Elvis at the International Hotel.

Dr. Carpenter, you also wrote:

What Johnny Rivers did is steal the idea that the Berry tune could be attractive to a 1964 radio audience, an idea propagated by hearing Presley play the January 1964 acetate over and over again. Elvis thought he was sharing something he was proud of with a friend, but Rivers was much less than that.


So are you saying Dr. Carpenter that Elvis stole the idea that the Berry tune could be attractive to a 1964 radio audience from Lonnie Mack who scored a major instrumental hit with "Memphis" in August '63. If anyone "propagated the idea that "Memphis" could be a hit on radio in '63 or '64" it would have to be Lonnie Mack, as I'm sure both Elvis and Johnny Rivers heard Lonnie's version on the radio.

Dr. Carpenter, why would Elvis' own label have to dig into older recordings such as "Kiss Me Quick", "Suspicion", "Ain't That Loving You Baby", "Such A Night", "Never Ending", "You'll Be Gone", "Crying In The Chapel", "(Such An) Easy Question", "It Feels So Right", "I'm Yours", "(It's A) Long, Lonely Highway", "Tell Me Why", "Blue River", "That's Someone You Never Forget", "There's Always Me", and "Judy" for the next few years in the hopes of pulling out a hit in the midst of Beatlemania. And yet all along they had this supposedly "killer" version of "Memphis" that they relegated to the "Elvis For Everyone" LP in '65. And none of these songs were initially recorded for use in any motion picture.

It is my opinion that Marty, Lamar and Billy are all biased against Johnny Rivers because of their dislike of Larry Geller, who was Johnny Rivers hairstylist before becoming Elvis'. And to be truthful, if Elvis had done as Marty Lacker supposedly suggested and put out his version of "Memphis" to compete with Rivers' version, Elvis would have had his hat handed to him. It's that simple. Maybe that's why he didn't put it out at all. He knew it wasn't good enough for radio in '63 or '64.

Daryl


Daryl, if he knew it wasn't good enough for radio in 63 or 64, why did Elvis say "No, let the little bastard have his hit record. I wish him luck, but I never want to see him again." It certainly wasn't because he thought Rivers version was better, so obviously he knew it was a hit no matter who recorded it. Before you keep defending Johnny Rivers, what he did to Elvis was slimy and low-class, and the sign of a desperado.

Sun Apr 01, 2007 5:01 pm

The apparent delay in Elvis' version could have had a great deal to fo with publishing revenue rights. One would doubt whether the Colonel would have been happy with that no revenue wouild have been attributed to Hill And Range.

In any event a five month gap between recording between recording and release is not a large window by any means.

All that aside it is history that Rivers "stole" the idea of recording Memphis after listening to Elvis' demo several times and knowing full well that Elvis loved the track and was considering a single release.

Rivers deserves to be called a rat and was no "friend" of Elvis.

Let's not try to excuse his behaviour.