A Strange Session --> August 22, 1967

Tue Jan 05, 2010 2:17 am

Here's a little background on the RCA studio session for Elvis Presley that never was, and only revealed by RCA's Ernst Jørgensen many years after the fact. It was producer Billy Strange's first shot at revitalizing Presley's recording career. Can you imagine how bummed Billy must have felt when he got the news it was off?

The session set for Tuesday, August 22, 1967 was a last-minute cancellation. Although the explanation has always been that associate Richard Davis, driving in Bel Air, accidentally killed a gardener who had unexpectedly stepped off a curb, the incident actually occurred in 1963. So it remains a mystery why management had Elvis and crew vacate the Rocco Place home for Las Vegas, ASAP.

The song list in producer Billy Strange's hand was prone to change, and did so right up to the August 22 booking at RCA Hollywood. Elvis submitted tons of suggestions, and many were of a more uptempo nature than the final selections, like Roy Hamilton's wonderful "Don't Let Go."

The assembled Los Angeles musicians and vocalists, like Al Casey, Chuck Berghofer, B.J. Baker, Thurl Ravenscroft and Larry Knechtel, would later pop up at 1968 sessions led by Billy Strange in March and October, and Steve Binder's NBC-TV Special that June. The unused titles noted in Ernst's book, JAT's session journals, and elsewhere were:


Here Comes Tomorrow (Charles Singleton/Horace Ott) - unknown song


Ramblin' Rose (Noel and Joe Sherman) - big hit for Nat 'King' Cole in 1962 ... covered by many artists
Nat 'King' Cole - Ramblin' Rose


And I Tell The Sea (Gordon Mills) - cut by Tom Jones in 1965 ... Mills was also Tom's manager ... check it out:
Tom Jones - And I Tell The Sea


Brown-Eyed Handsome Man (Chuck Berry) - One of the great Berry rockers ... Elvis sang it at 1956 MDQ jam, all assembled spoke in awe of Berry's songwriting prowess:
Chuck Berry - Brown-Eyed Handsome Man


I'll Never Find Another You (Tom Springfield) - #4 U.S. hit in 1965 for the Seekers ... a British Invasion-era folk-rock tune (note that country artist Sonny James had a hit with it in 1967) ... very '60s, replete with 12-string guitar, a la the Byrds:
Seekers - I'll Never Find Another You


Tonight I Won't Be There (Arthur Kent and Ed Warren) - 1961 ballad single by R&B singer Adam Wade ... hit #7 earlier that year with Coed single "Take Good Care Of Her," which Presley covered in 1973:

610900_ Coed 556_Wade.JPG
Adam Wade - Tonight I Won't Be There


Baby What You Want Me To Do (Jimmy Reed) - classic 1960 blues shuffle which hit R&B top ten ... Elvis apparently performed it at the "Clambake" after party ... cut classic live version in 1968 for the TV Special

591109_Vee-Jay 333_Reed.JPG
Jimmy Reed - Baby What You Want Me To Do

Pretty cool session, it might have been.

Instead, because of what happened, RCA's Felton Jarvis won a reprieve of sorts, and was assigned three straight Presley sessions in Nashville that September and October, and January 1968, with some success.

Enjoy!

If anyone knows more, please share.

This was inspired by an earlier post from FECC member Bodie. Thanks.
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Last edited by drjohncarpenter on Sun Mar 24, 2013 12:31 am, edited 5 times in total.

Re: A Strange Session --> August 22, 1967

Tue Jan 05, 2010 2:26 am

Very interesting - thanks Doc & Bodie.

Who was Richard Davis? I can't recall at the moment.

Rich

Re: A Strange Session --> August 22, 1967

Tue Jan 05, 2010 2:32 am

Richard Davis was a member of the Memphis Mafia, starting in the early 1960s.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Memphis_Mafia

Re: A Strange Session --> August 22, 1967

Tue Jan 05, 2010 3:54 am

Elvis doing the Seekers - oh dear!
There were reports in the 70s that he was considering a song by another Australian artist, Brian Cadd, Let Go or Gingerman. These would have been good material for Elvis at the time (some AC/DC woul;dn't have hurt either).
I would have loved to hear Don't Let Go. Jerry Lee Lewis did a great version of it in 1979

Re: A Strange Session --> August 22, 1967

Tue Jan 05, 2010 3:57 am

Thanks for the info Doc

Re: A Strange Session --> August 22, 1967

Tue Jan 05, 2010 4:24 am

Great post Doc.

Re: A Strange Session --> August 22, 1967

Tue Jan 05, 2010 5:15 am

Doc, good post...BUT...

are you sure the "Ramblin' Rose" slated for the sessions was the Nat 'King' Cole song?

I would think a much more likely contender would be Jerry Lee Lewis's 'Sun' track of the same name.
Last edited by KingOfTheJungle on Tue Jan 05, 2010 8:22 am, edited 1 time in total.

Re: A Strange Session --> August 22, 1967

Tue Jan 05, 2010 5:39 am

Thanks Bodie and Doc. Great info. Very behind the scenes. Great.

Re: A Strange Session --> August 22, 1967

Tue Jan 05, 2010 6:43 am

Interesting, DJC. I enjoyed that section of the Ernst book and it's good to begin fleshing out what might have been. In comics books, be it Marvel or DC, I recall they used to have "What If" titles that explored roads not taken by their respective heroes.

At a point where we have analyzed the known facts of familiar sessions seemingly to death, it is the more mysterious aspects of his legacy that remain a wide open vista. Whether it's Ernst Jorgensen's open-ended search for Sun nuggets (on recordings, photos, touring, etc.) or that would-be gem version of "Feelings" ( :lol:_or whatever else it we love -too hate?- to speculate about) we should embrace the fact that we still have more to learn about Elvis Presley.

Re: A Strange Session --> August 22, 1967

Tue Jan 05, 2010 7:21 am

Had this session taken place, it would be interesting to speculate on whether the songs from this session would have been added to some of Elvis' other studio recordings from 1966-67 to create an LP. I think a studio LP by Elvis after years of soundtracks and the occasional compilation LP would have been well received by the fans.

I think a studio recording of "Baby What Do You Want Me To Do" in 1967 would have been a standout.

I could also imagine Elvis singing the Nat King Cole version of "Ramblin' Rose". Elvis had already tackled "Mona Lisa" on his home recorder, so this may have been a logical choice for him.

Unfortunately, we will never know.

Re: A Strange Session --> August 22, 1967

Tue Jan 05, 2010 7:25 am

Rtn 2 Sndr wrote:Had this session taken place, it would be interesting to speculate on whether the songs from this session would have been added to some of Elvis' other studio recordings from 1966-67 to create an LP. I think a studio LP by Elvis after years of soundtracks and the occasional compilation LP would have been well received by the fans.

I think a studio recording of "Baby What Do You Want Me To Do" in 1967 would have been a standout.

I could also imagine Elvis singing the Nat King Cole version of "Ramblin' Rose". Elvis had already tackled "Mona Lisa" on his home recorder, so this may have been a logical choice for him.

Unfortunately, we will never know.

And a much needed creative endeavor for Elvis. Fortunately, Elvis would cross paths with Steve Binder shortly thereafter.

Re: A Strange Session --> August 22, 1967

Tue Jan 05, 2010 9:57 am

Iam still sure, that a studio version of "Baby what you want me to do" exists. Elvis played this song very often in his 68 special with his guys and with a nice solo in his standup show as well. Also he did the song live in 1969. The 68 version sounds very familiar with his muscians. What do you think ?

Re: A Strange Session --> August 22, 1967

Tue Jan 05, 2010 11:02 am

Great post! Thanks for the info, although I hear the Colonel mumbling on the background, saying "pretty neat bonus material!"

Re: A Strange Session --> August 22, 1967

Tue Jan 05, 2010 12:25 pm

Right on Alexander - just after he mumbled about how much percentage his boy could get on each song

Re: A Strange Session --> August 22, 1967

Tue Jan 05, 2010 11:12 pm

Had this session taken place I wish more original material would've been recorded instead of all those covers.
I always liked the songs Billy Strange wrote and arranged for Elvis so it's a shame he wasn't planning on writing songs for this particular session.

Re: A Strange Session --> August 22, 1967

Tue Jan 05, 2010 11:14 pm

i enjoyed that doc! Nice post.

Re: A Strange Session --> August 22, 1967

Wed Jan 06, 2010 12:54 am

Enjoyed reading that post.

Among other things, I've always wondered what Guitar Man would have sounded like from this session without Jerry Reed on guitar.

Re: A Strange Session --> August 22, 1967

Wed Jan 06, 2010 1:21 am

Interesting post to read Doc, and what a shame it didn't take place.
The information about Richard Davis killing that gardener was also new to me.
Thanks for posting.

Cheers,
Simon

Re: A Strange Session --> August 22, 1967

Wed Jan 06, 2010 1:40 am

londonflash wrote:Enjoyed reading that post.

Among other things, I've always wondered what Guitar Man would have sounded like from this session without Jerry Reed on guitar.


probably not as good it's been said the guitarists had trouble getting the sound down at the September 67 session so Felton called Jerry Reed in to play guitar.
I think without Reed it's very possible that Elvis and the band could of made several attempts but probably would've ended up with no satisfactory master.

Re: A Strange Session --> August 22, 1967

Wed Jan 06, 2010 1:45 am

Harty wrote:Iam still sure, that a studio version of "Baby what you want me to do" exists. Elvis played this song very often in his 68 special with his guys and with a nice solo in his standup show as well. Also he did the song live in 1969. The 68 version sounds very familiar with his muscians. What do you think ?


I think if he did Sony or the old RCA would've released it by now.

Re: A Strange Session --> August 22, 1967

Wed Jan 06, 2010 2:01 am

it's interesting that this "lost" session took place in 1967 when elvis was bored with his music/movies,then almost exactly 10 years later there's a "lost" session in 1977 when elvis was bored again..also in the mid 60's elvs started slurring his speach on the recordings and started to record real sad depressing songs then almost exatly 10 years later he starts in with the slurring on the speech and starts recording depressing sad songs,it makes me wonder if elvis had lived if he would have made a
comeback in1978 like he did in 1968,..

Re: A Strange Session --> August 22, 1967

Wed Jan 06, 2010 2:03 am

Good point. I've thought of that before or something similiar.


Rich_TCB wrote:Very interesting - thanks Doc & Bodie.

Who was Richard Davis? I can't recall at the moment.

Rich

drjohncarpenter wrote:Richard Davis was a member of the Memphis Mafia, starting in the early 1960s.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Memphis_Mafia



In that big Elvis DVD documentary set about 5-7 years ago (later declared an illegal set and then recalled), there were a lot of great (then recent) interviews with Mr. Davis.

I found him rather likeable with a sharp sense of humor. We can't always say that about some people but when he wasn't running people down accidentally, he struck me as one of the more likeable guys around him if less known to fans. I guess he never did write that book.... :idea:

And hey, what did Bodie come with, exactly? I'd like to see that thread.

Re: A Strange Session --> August 22, 1967

Wed Jan 06, 2010 2:42 am

Greg,

My topic is still on the first page only locked now, nothing of interest but the Doc can add much more to this subject than i can so i asked for mine to be locked.

Im not sure when Elvis and Richard parted company but he is seen in TTWII and i do know that Richard was around Elvis as late as '72.

He is also seen is a few films, he can be spotted in the film Tickle Me when Elvis is performing 'It Feels So Right', Richard is the guy in the light-blue shirt in the background on the left clapping his hands.I know Red's in this scene as well and is that Joe on the right sitting on the table?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r_1mGmZFZcY

Re: A Strange Session --> August 22, 1967

Wed Jan 06, 2010 7:48 am

Richard Davis was a likable guy, though in his later years, he came down to pretty much telling the same Elvis story over and over again, embellishing it a bit more each time -- to the point that it almost began to seem fabricated.

I also always found him to be one of the prime examples of arrested development among members of the Memphis Mafia:

On the one hand, he had some marvelous opportunities in life we all must envy; on the other, he missed some critical stages in his own development when he might have figured out what he could do with his life.

Without Elvis, it seemed he floundered a bit and was eventually reduced to accepting donations from fans to help support his new wife and children. Their needs continued after his sudden death in his sleep -- though, again, fans did try to help along the way.

Re: A Strange Session --> August 22, 1967

Wed Jan 06, 2010 8:18 am

That's sad to hear and confirms the worst about the "MM." I was just giving my initial impression from the big DVD set and yes, I do recognize him from a movie or tow.

With all due respect, I feel like I've seen more than enough of George Klein and Joe Esposito to last a long time so in comparision, he seemed refreshing.