Bruce and Elvis -- On The Road, Summer 1977

Thu Feb 04, 2010 1:36 am

In the summer of 1977, Bruce Springsteen was working on a new album. It was a pivotal moment, his first recordings following a very difficult legal mess with his former manager. That July he took a break, riding his motorcycle across the country as the sessions were shifted from New York's Atlantic Studios to the Record Plant.

Rolling Stone published an article on Bruce's status in its August 11 issue.

One photo stands out:

Image

Note the T-shirt: it's Elvis!

Bruce had seen Presley in May at the Spectrum in Philadelphia and was stunned by Elvis' unwell appearance and uneven performance. "It was not a good night," as he discretely recalled. Friends say Springsteen privately shared the concern of many fans about Presley's health and future. It almost seems like the worry is evident in this July photo on the road.

Inspired, Bruce completed a song tailor-made for Elvis called "Fire," a homage to Elvis' great early-sixties Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman singles "His Latest Flame" and "Suspicion." But the demo -- if sent -- never made it to Graceland.

After Elvis' tragic death, the song went elsewhere. Bruce's 1977 version remained in the vaults, while Robert Gordon cut a killer rendition with Link Wray (and Bruce, uncredited, on piano) that December, and a pop single by the Pointer Sisters hit #2 on the charts in 1979.

Elvis would have loved both recordings, Gordon's rockabilly roots so rooted in the early Presley sound, and his appreciation for the Pointer Sisters stretching back at least to 1975, and his cover of their single of the year before, "Fairytale."

The Darkness on the Edge of Town album, issued in June 1978, would be rightfully heralded as perhaps the best sustained work of his career, and the tour that year is now debated as the greatest in the history of rock 'n' roll.

Coincidence? I say not.
Last edited by drjohncarpenter on Thu Feb 04, 2010 12:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Re: Bruce and Elvis -- On The Road, Summer 1977

Thu Feb 04, 2010 1:41 am

Hello,

I take it you got the "Rolling Stone - Cover To Cover" set, Doc. Seeing that you've recently started threads regarding articles from Rolling Stone magazine lately.

Daryl

Re: Bruce and Elvis -- On The Road, Summer 1977

Thu Feb 04, 2010 1:53 am

Didn't Bruce climb over the gate at Graceland wanting to see Elvis, only to be told that he was away and Bruce was sent away from Graceland?

Re: Bruce and Elvis -- On The Road, Summer 1977

Thu Feb 04, 2010 1:56 am

Tony Trout wrote:Didn't Bruce climb over the gate at Graceland wanting to see Elvis, only to be told that he was away and Bruce was sent away from Graceland?


No that was Bruce Willis. Vester sent him packing because he was sweaty and had on a white vest. He thought he looked like he was up to no good :smt002

Re: Bruce and Elvis -- On The Road, Summer 1977

Thu Feb 04, 2010 1:59 am

I thought it was Rick Springfield :lol:
SNG ::rocks

Re: Bruce and Elvis -- On The Road, Summer 1977

Thu Feb 04, 2010 2:18 am

Tony Trout wrote:Didn't Bruce climb over the gate at Graceland wanting to see Elvis, only to be told that he was away and Bruce was sent away from Graceland?

Yup. Famous and true story.

Bruce played a killer show at the Ellis Auditorium on Thursday, April 29, 1976 -- Eddie Floyd joined the band for the encores -- and afterwords had a cabbie take him and band mate Steve Van Zandt over to Graceland.

There, Springsteen leapt the fence and rang the front doorbell. He was quite rightly told that Elvis was in Lake Tahoe. Bruce later said he had no idea why he did this, that he was just another crazy fan.

Re: Bruce and Elvis -- On The Road, Summer 1977

Thu Feb 04, 2010 2:21 am

I was told by a person with close relations to Bruce that Bruce and a friend jumped the walls to Graceland in the early part of 1976 ,only to be advised by a security guard to immediately leave the property through the gates where uncle Vester was in the guard-house. Evidently , they did not protest.
Funnily enough , I had the very same idea in the first week of July 1975 , but decided against it. Lucky for me , as I became friends with uncle Vester and Harold Loyd and had the good fortune to be taken up to the house twice and once into the mansion.

Re: Bruce and Elvis -- On The Road, Summer 1977

Thu Feb 04, 2010 2:21 am

drjohncarpenter wrote:In the summer of 1977, Bruce Springsteen was working on a new album. It was a pivotal moment, his first recordings following a very difficult legal mess with his former manager. That July, he took a break, riding his motorcycle across the country as the sessions shifted from New York's Atlantic Studios to the Record Plant.

Rolling Stone published an article about all of this in its August 11 issue. One photo stands out:

Image

Note the T-shirt: Elvis!

Bruce had seen Presley in May at the Spectrum in Philadelphia and was dismayed at Elvis' appearance and performance. "It was not a good night," as he discretely recalled later. Friends say Springsteen privately shared the concern of many fans about Presley's health and future. It almost seems like the worry is evident in this photo.

Inspired, Bruce completed a song tailor-made for Elvis called "Fire," a homage to Elvis' great early-sixties Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman singles "His Latest Flame" and "Suspicion." But the demo -- if sent -- never made it to Graceland.

After Elvis' tragic death the song went elsewhere. Bruce's 1977 version remains in the vaults, while Robert Gordon cut a killer rendition with Link Wray (and Bruce, uncredited, on piano) that December, and a single by the Pointer Sisters hit #2 on the charts in 1979.

Elvis would have loved both recordings, Gordon's rockabilly roots so rooted in the early Presley sound, and his appreciation for the Pointer Sisters stretching back to 1975, and his cover of their single, "Fairytale,"

The Darkness on the Edge of Townalbum would go on to be rightfully heralded as perhaps the best sustained work of his career, and the tour is now debated as the greatest in the history of rock 'n' roll.

Coincidence? I say not.


Very interesting! I'm sure for an artist of his calibre, inspired to do what he was doing by the King, to watch his idol in such a state must have been heartbreaking. No doubt it affected him.

I wonder if Elvis even knew how much of a fan Springsteen was? Yet sadly I think the question should more likely be I wonder if Elvis even knew who Springsteen was in that stage of his life?

Re: Bruce and Elvis -- On The Road, Summer 1977

Thu Feb 04, 2010 2:23 am

hollandgroupc2008 wrote:I wonder if Elvis even knew how much of a fan Springsteen was? Yet sadly I think the question should more likely be I wonder if Elvis even knew who Springsteen was in that stage of his life?

Sadly, the answer is probably "No" to both.

Re: Bruce and Elvis -- On The Road, Summer 1977

Thu Feb 04, 2010 2:33 am

drjohncarpenter wrote:
hollandgroupc2008 wrote:I wonder if Elvis even knew how much of a fan Springsteen was? Yet sadly I think the question should more likely be I wonder if Elvis even knew who Springsteen was in that stage of his life?

Sadly, the answer is probably "No" to both.

The Doc is correct on both counts. It is actually quite sad that Elvis was most likely unaware of one of the most dynamic, influential, and exciting new rock acts in years during this period.

Re: Bruce and Elvis -- On The Road, Summer 1977

Thu Feb 04, 2010 2:35 am

midnightx wrote:The Doc is correct on both counts. It is actually quite sad that Elvis was most likely unaware of one of the most dynamic, influential, and exciting new rock acts in years during this period.


But he WAS aware! Why, Sherrill Nielson appeared with him on ALL his personal appearances and on his records!

Re: Bruce and Elvis -- On The Road, Summer 1977

Thu Feb 04, 2010 2:36 am

Swingin-Little-Guitar-Man wrote:
midnightx wrote:The Doc is correct on both counts. It is actually quite sad that Elvis was most likely unaware of one of the most dynamic, influential, and exciting new rock acts in years during this period.


But he WAS aware! Why, Sherrill Nielson appeared with him on ALL his personal appearances and on his records!

You got me. I can't argue with that.

Re: Bruce and Elvis -- On The Road, Summer 1977

Thu Feb 04, 2010 2:49 am

midnightx wrote:
drjohncarpenter wrote:
hollandgroupc2008 wrote:I wonder if Elvis even knew how much of a fan Springsteen was? Yet sadly I think the question should more likely be I wonder if Elvis even knew who Springsteen was in that stage of his life?

Sadly, the answer is probably "No" to both.

The Doc is correct on both counts. It is actually quite sad that Elvis was most likely unaware of one of the most dynamic, influential, and exciting new rock acts in years during this period.


That's what I thought too. Had Elvis been home that day when Bruce turned up on Graceland's doorstep, that could have been quite an embarassing encounter if Elvis wouldn't have even known who he was.

Re: Bruce and Elvis -- On The Road, Summer 1977

Thu Feb 04, 2010 2:52 am

Maybe one of the Stanley boys would have known.

Re: Bruce and Elvis -- On The Road, Summer 1977

Thu Feb 04, 2010 5:38 am

Imagine Elvis looking at Bruce from his feet to his face, like he looked at "wild man" Jerry Reed before jamming with him. It could have went something like this:

Elvis: "Wooo!.. Who are you ?" "How did you get in here ?"

Bruce: "IWell, we climbed the.. Elvis, I'm your biggest fan, I just wanted to tell you this face-to-face. You're great, man. You inspired my whole career!" (big smile)

Elvis: "Thankyouverymuch, son. (shouts over his shoulder) Charlie! Charlie! that deleted - see guidelines #2.. son of a b.. Charlie! Sumbitch! Get him (points at Bruce) a scarf or somethin' (Bruce receives blue scarf from Charlie and is speechless with emotion.

Bruce: "Elvis, man, if you're up to it, I would like to invite you to my next show, wer're playing in..

Elvis: Ok, great. Here's what you do. Leave your name and all details with Cha.. Cha.. Charlie! Charlie!! goddamned ! what the h... (Charlie re-appears quickly: "I'm right here, Elvis). CHARLIE! you goddamned m.. When I say JUMP, you JUMP! (laughs). Charlie, take care of... (unintelligible words mumbled in ear). Elvis turns back to Bruce: Thank you, son.

And walks right back inside. Somebody closes the door.

Bruce: This is the greatest day of my life! (accepts a piece of paper en pen from Charlie and starts writing his name and tour date)

Re: Bruce and Elvis -- On The Road, Summer 1977

Thu Feb 04, 2010 5:58 am

Didnt Elvis meet Clapton one time and did not know who he was? Youd figure after all the Gospel albums Elvis recorded he would know Who G-O-D was LOL
SNG ::rocks

Re: Bruce and Elvis -- On The Road, Summer 1977

Thu Feb 04, 2010 6:20 am

scottngeorgia wrote:Didnt Elvis meet Clapton one time and did not know who he was? Youd figure after all the Gospel albums Elvis recorded he would know Who G-O-D was LOL
SNG ::rocks

That's the rumor. Clapton, however, does not mention any such meeting in his revealing autobiography.

Re: Bruce and Elvis -- On The Road, Summer 1977

Thu Feb 04, 2010 7:33 am

I have a dvd of a Bruce concert and he told this story. He said when he knocked on the door a guard came up and asked what he was doing? Bruce said is Elvis home? The guard said "no son, Elvis is in Lake Tahoe". The guard then escorted Bruce down to the gates.

Re: Bruce and Elvis -- On The Road, Summer 1977

Thu Feb 04, 2010 8:27 am

Had Elvis survived 1977,by 1985 he would have been very aware of Bruce.Many of the songs on "Born In The USA"seem tailored made for Elvis,especially "Workin On The Highway","Darlington County","Im On Fire",and "Glory Days".
All supposition,of course.

Re: Bruce and Elvis -- On The Road, Summer 1977

Thu Feb 04, 2010 8:51 am

jbnva58 wrote:Had Elvis survived 1977,by 1985 he would have been very aware of Bruce.Many of the songs on "Born In The USA"seem tailored made for Elvis,especially "Workin On The Highway","Darlington County","Im On Fire",and "Glory Days".
All supposition,of course.

Clearly there are many, many gems in the Springsteen catalogue that would have been appropriate songs for Elvis to cover. But it is alarming that Elvis became so insulated that he was out of touch with many current music trends and artists during his final years. Perhaps he was aware of Springsteen's name in passing, but it is doubtful he was familiar with any of the dynamic music he was producing.

Re: Bruce and Elvis -- On The Road, Summer 1977

Thu Feb 04, 2010 8:57 am

midnightx wrote:
jbnva58 wrote:Had Elvis survived 1977,by 1985 he would have been very aware of Bruce.Many of the songs on "Born In The USA"seem tailored made for Elvis,especially "Workin On The Highway","Darlington County","Im On Fire",and "Glory Days".
All supposition,of course.

Clearly there are many, many gems in the Springsteen catalogue that would have been appropriate songs for Elvis to cover. But it is alarming that Elvis became so insulated that he was out of touch with many current music trends and artists during his final years. Perhaps he was aware of Springsteen's name in passing, but it is doubtful he was familiar with any of the dynamic music he was producing.


Sadly,you are right.
You know,the really sad thing is is that many of the young rockers in the '70s would have given their eyeteeth to have worked with Elvis,or written for him.Their loss,Elvis' loss,and ours.

Re: Bruce and Elvis -- On The Road, Summer 1977

Thu Feb 04, 2010 9:02 am

Bruce did some good stuff for Gary US Bonds too

Re: Bruce and Elvis -- On The Road, Summer 1977

Thu Feb 04, 2010 9:06 am

rickeap wrote:Bruce did some good stuff for Gary US Bonds too


Yeah!"This Little Girl"-killer song!

Re: Bruce and Elvis -- On The Road, Summer 1977

Thu Feb 04, 2010 10:08 am

Springsteen eventually made it into Graceland. Bruce Jackson took Bruce Springsteen to Graceland in 1978. Vernon had no idea who Springsteen was.

How do I know? Bruce Jackson told me many years ago.

Re: Bruce and Elvis -- On The Road, Summer 1977

Thu Feb 04, 2010 10:13 am

It's worth to note Springsteen has played "Fire" himself live many times over the years. A great version can be found on the "Bruce Springsteen & The E-Street band Live 1975-1985" box. Would love to hear the original studio cut too!