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Elvis & Atlantic Records

Thu Jul 11, 2013 10:36 pm

Atlantic Records is, without a doubt, one of the best record labels there is. The music that came out of there is just incredible! The early R&B recordings of the 50's and the fabulous Soul recordings of 60's.

Elvis himself was a great fan of the label, covering many of the early R&B classics of great great artists like, Joe Turner, Ray Charles, The Clovers and of course Clyde McPhatter, these were Elvis' heroes. He had more heroes on this label than any other.

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

My question is, did Elvis ever meet any of his Atlantic idols? To my knowledge, i've not seen any photos or read any stories of him ever bumping into any of them. Apart from the topic the Doc posted a while back of Clyde McPhatter visiting Elvis backstage in Vegas, did he ever meet any of the others?

Re: Elvis & Atlantic Records

Thu Jul 11, 2013 11:05 pm

This is a good question.

I don't think Elvis ever met Ray Charles.

I've never heard of Elvis meeting Big Joe Turner.

Re: Elvis & Atlantic Records

Thu Jul 11, 2013 11:20 pm

Elvis of course met Bobby Darin, who was also on Atco and Atlantic.

Re: Elvis & Atlantic Records

Thu Jul 11, 2013 11:48 pm

Always wished he was on that label instead of RCA. They had so many great artists, writers, A&R people, and arrangers there. I mean, I like Chet Atkins, but I bet Elvis would have recorded more r&b stuff had he been with Atlantic and less country stuff. Elvis never got to meet a lot of great artists unfort. and even less fortunate never collaborated with anyone.

Re: Elvis & Atlantic Records

Fri Jul 12, 2013 12:03 am

mysterytrainrideson wrote:Atlantic Records is, without a doubt, one of the best record labels there is. The music that came out of there is just incredible! The early R&B recordings of the 50's and the fabulous Soul recordings of 60's.

Elvis himself was a great fan of the label, covering many of the early R&B classics of great great artists like, Joe Turner, Ray Charles, The Clovers and of course Clyde McPhatter, these were Elvis' heroes. He had more heroes on this label than any other.

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

My question is, did Elvis ever meet any of his Atlantic idols? To my knowledge, i've not seen any photos or read any stories of him ever bumping into any of them. Apart from the topic the Doc posted a while back of Clyde McPhatter visiting Elvis backstage in Vegas, did he ever meet any of the others?


One imagines that Presley management would have crossed swords many times with the label, as their dedication to cultivating and nurturing artists far outstrips RCA's track record. So perhaps a stay at Atlantic would have been short-lived.

Desides Bobby Darin, Elvis did apparently meet several Atlantic artists:

Brook Benton (Cotillion/Atlantic)
Alice Cooper
Ivory Joe Hunter
Led Zeppelin
Clyde McPhatter
Johnny Rivers
Chris Slade
Sweet Inspirations
Rufus Thomas

Re: Elvis & Atlantic Records

Fri Jul 12, 2013 12:56 am

I think a couple of the reasons for going with RCA was that they had a Television station under the NBC umbrella IIRC,
and that the colonel had contacts with rCA via his association with Hank Snow and Eddy Arnold.

It's hard to say what would have happened if he had gone with Atlantic but my best guess is that
how could it have topped the phenomenal track record of 1956-62?

At that time, Elvis had access to such a treasure of great songs, it's hard to imagine Atlantic bettering that.

Perhaps when things started to go south with RCA and the movie career, and the colonel, perhaps part of his
great return to recording and touring after the 1968 special, Elvis had his best chance to start all over with
a new label at that time.
Last edited by ekenee on Fri Jul 12, 2013 1:01 am, edited 1 time in total.

Re: Elvis & Atlantic Records

Fri Jul 12, 2013 12:57 am

Good question and nice answers, John.

Elvis, in reality, stood little chance of signing with Atlantic.

Parker was aiming for Victor from the start: he'd have gone there regardless, one way or another.

It's still nice to dream though, isn't it.

Re: Elvis & Atlantic Records

Fri Jul 12, 2013 1:02 am

r&b wrote:Always wished he was on that label instead of RCA. They had so many great artists, writers, A&R people, and arrangers there. I mean, I like Chet Atkins, but I bet Elvis would have recorded more r&b stuff had he been with Atlantic and less country stuff. Elvis never got to meet a lot of great artists unfort. and even less fortunate never collaborated with anyone.

Yeah, i think Elvis would have been better off musically with Atlantic. They were far more hip snd up to date with the contemporary music scene than RCA ever were. In many ways, RCA was the worse label choice for Elvis.

Having said that, Atlantic never signed any R'n'R acts in the 50's. Of course that would have changed had Elvis gone there, which is the reason they would have signed for had they won the bid with his Sun contract.

Isn't there a story of Ahmet Ertegun going down to Memphis to meet Elvis to persuade him to go with Atlantic when his contract for Sun Records was up for sale? But Elvis never showed up....

Re: Elvis & Atlantic Records

Fri Jul 12, 2013 1:06 am

Elvis worked with enormous creative freedom at RCA during the 50s and it's difficult to say that this was a bad thing.

What Atlantic might have offered was some form of creative soundboard: EP often did his best work when challenged.

I'm not sure I can imagine anything better than "Hound Dog" or "Don't Be Cruel" ... wow ... !!

Re: Elvis & Atlantic Records

Fri Jul 12, 2013 1:11 am

ekenee wrote:I think a couple of the reasons for going with RCA was that they had a Television station under the NBC umbrella IIRC,
and that the colonel had contacts with rCA via his association with Hank Snow and Eddy Arnold.

It's hard to say what would have happened if he had gone with Atlantic but my best guess is that
how could it have topped the phenomenal track record of 1956-62?

At that time, Elvis had access to such a treasure of great songs, it's hard to imagine Atlantic bettering that.

Perhaps when things started to go south with RCA and the movie career, and the colonel, perhaps part of his
great return to recording and touring after the 1968 special, Elvis had his best chance to start all over with
a new label at that time.

One thing you have to remember is that some of Elvis' songwriter were tied to Atlantic as well, Leiber/Stoller and Pomus/Shuman. So we still may have heard him do, Trouble, A Mess of Blues etc.

Re: Elvis & Atlantic Records

Fri Jul 12, 2013 1:17 am

George Smith wrote:Good question and nice answers, John.

Elvis, in reality, stood little chance of signing with Atlantic.

Parker was aiming for Victor from the start: he'd have gone there regardless, one way or another.

It's still nice to dream though, isn't it.

Yes, Parker was always aiming for Victor. He was always involved with them long before he even met Elvis. Parkers credibilty in show business was only with RCA and no one else.

Re: Elvis & Atlantic Records

Fri Jul 12, 2013 1:34 am

mysterytrainrideson wrote:
r&b wrote:Always wished he was on that label instead of RCA. They had so many great artists, writers, A&R people, and arrangers there. I mean, I like Chet Atkins, but I bet Elvis would have recorded more r&b stuff had he been with Atlantic and less country stuff. Elvis never got to meet a lot of great artists unfort. and even less fortunate never collaborated with anyone.

Isn't there a story of Ahmet Ertegun going down to Memphis to meet Elvis to persuade him to go with Atlantic when his contract for Sun Records was up for sale? But Elvis never showed up....


I've never heard that.

Atlantic put in a bid for Elvis' contract it just wasn't high enough.

Re: Elvis & Atlantic Records

Fri Jul 12, 2013 1:38 am

ekenee wrote:I think a couple of the reasons for going with RCA was that they had a Television station under the NBC umbrella IIRC,
and that the colonel had contacts with rCA via his association with Hank Snow and Eddy Arnold.

It's hard to say what would have happened if he had gone with Atlantic but my best guess is that
how could it have topped the phenomenal track record of 1956-62?

At that time, Elvis had access to such a treasure of great songs, it's hard to imagine Atlantic bettering that.

Perhaps when things started to go south with RCA and the movie career, and the colonel, perhaps part of his
great return to recording and touring after the 1968 special, Elvis had his best chance to start all over with
a new label at that time.


Yes.

Remember that RCA was the biggest label in the world at the time.

They had more money to use for promotion and more connections.

RCA was the right fit for Elvis in 1950s but I think in the 60s is when Atlantic would have been better.

Re: Elvis & Atlantic Records

Sat Jul 13, 2013 9:47 am

Now, wouldn't it be fabulous to see a photo of Elvis with the great Joe Turner....

Re: Elvis & Atlantic Records

Sat Jul 13, 2013 11:26 am

George Smith wrote:Elvis worked with enormous creative freedom at RCA during the 50s and it's difficult to say that this was a bad thing.

What Atlantic might have offered was some form of creative soundboard: EP often did his best work when challenged.

I'm not sure I can imagine anything better than "Hound Dog" or "Don't Be Cruel" ... wow ... !!

This being said, and a excellent point. So then what difference would another label have made, other than their own promotional tactics?.

Re: Elvis & Atlantic Records

Sat Jul 13, 2013 11:47 am

The Colonel clearly did not ain for artistic recognition and integrity or creative freedom. The Colonel even torpedoed the idea of having a studio built at Graceland so Elvis could record whatever he liked any day of the week. Everyting he did was for the sake of earning money. From that point of view the Colonel/ RCA combo was probably the best money machine thinkable. Taking Care Of Business.

Re: Elvis & Atlantic Records

Sat Jul 13, 2013 12:06 pm

promiseland wrote:
George Smith wrote:Elvis worked with enormous creative freedom at RCA during the 50s and it's difficult to say that this was a bad thing.

What Atlantic might have offered was some form of creative soundboard: EP often did his best work when challenged.

I'm not sure I can imagine anything better than "Hound Dog" or "Don't Be Cruel" ... wow ... !!

This being said, and a excellent point. So then what difference would another label have made, other than their own promotional tactics?.

One things for certain, no other record company would've sank as low as RCA did in the 60's & 70's, the 70's especially. Atlantic had just the same connections has RCA and Presley's management had. As i said earlier, some of Elvis' regular songwriters were also staff writers for Atlantic, even before they started writing for Elvis.

Elvis did well for RCA in the 50's, he was the one in charge of the music. Imo, once RCA realised Elvis wasn't just a passing fad, they got greedy. When we get to 1960, they were almost picking his music for him or giving him songs that were within their publishing company and everyone cashing in on all the publishing. The situation got so bad that they all lost sight of the one thing that made it all possible - the music. I don't think any other would have went as low as this.

Re: Elvis & Atlantic Records

Sat Jul 13, 2013 12:16 pm

Alexander wrote:The Colonel clearly did not ain for artistic recognition and integrity or creative freedom. The Colonel even torpedoed the idea of having a studio built at Graceland so Elvis could record whatever he liked any day of the week. Everyting he did was for the sake of earning money. From that point of view the Colonel/ RCA combo was probably the best money machine thinkable. Taking Care Of Business.

As for the Colonel, i agree, he was on top of it when it came to money, probably the best. As for creativeness, forget it, he wouldn't know it if it came up and slapped him in the face. This is were he fails miserably as a manager.

Re: Elvis & Atlantic Records

Sat Jul 13, 2013 1:05 pm

The Colonel was always on the idea " now money". Forget the future and the past. And, like the Aberbach brothers and Freddy Bienstock said: "he had no long term thinking". So. once he signed Elvis with RCA, Elvis remained with them all his life, despite the shortcomings of the label regarding good songs and creativity.

Re: Elvis & Atlantic Records

Sat Jul 13, 2013 2:56 pm

mysterytrainrideson wrote:
Alexander wrote:The Colonel clearly did not ain for artistic recognition and integrity or creative freedom. The Colonel even torpedoed the idea of having a studio built at Graceland so Elvis could record whatever he liked any day of the week. Everyting he did was for the sake of earning money. From that point of view the Colonel/ RCA combo was probably the best money machine thinkable. Taking Care Of Business.

As for the Colonel, i agree, he was on top of it when it came to money, probably the best. As for creativeness, forget it, he wouldn't know it if it came up and slapped him in the face. This is were he fails miserably as a manager.


Exactly. Therefor it is not likely he was ever switching RCA for Atlanta. Too much focus on "now money" indeed jurasic1968.

Re: Elvis & Atlantic Records

Sat Jul 13, 2013 3:57 pm

Looking back we all have 20/20 vision. Elvis should have.... Elvis could have.....
Fact is the story is as it is. As for "now money", everybody at the time was in for "now money".
Read a lot of biographies, read a lot of stories of groups and singers and you will find out Colonel Parker simply was the best manager ever.
We can speculate what would have happened if Elvis would have signed with Atlantic just as we can speculate what would have happened if The beatles were not rejected by Decca.
Looking backwards, the list of "faulty decisions made" is endless.

Re: Elvis & Atlantic Records

Sat Jul 13, 2013 5:11 pm

zolderopruiming1 wrote:Looking back we all have 20/20 vision. Elvis should have.... Elvis could have.....
Fact is the story is as it is. As for "now money", everybody at the time was in for "now money".
Read a lot of biographies, read a lot of stories of groups and singers and you will find out Colonel Parker simply was the best manager ever.
We can speculate what would have happened if Elvis would have signed with Atlantic just as we can speculate what would have happened if The beatles were not rejected by Decca.
Looking backwards, the list of "faulty decisions made" is endless.


But the colonel didn't learn from his mistakes.
20 year rca recording contract.
Long term movie contract.
Long term Vegas contract.
The music sell out.

And those are only the big mistakes.

He made so many and yet HE benefited on every decision he made.
No matter how huge the mistake was for Elvis, the colonel got his money.
Money for himself was his prime motivation,not the career of his client.

Re: Elvis & Atlantic Records

Sat Jul 13, 2013 5:38 pm

mysterytrainrideson wrote:
promiseland wrote:
George Smith wrote:Elvis worked with enormous creative freedom at RCA during the 50s and it's difficult to say that this was a bad thing.

What Atlantic might have offered was some form of creative soundboard: EP often did his best work when challenged.

I'm not sure I can imagine anything better than "Hound Dog" or "Don't Be Cruel" ... wow ... !!

This being said, and a excellent point. So then what difference would another label have made, other than their own promotional tactics?.

One things for certain, no other record company would've sank as low as RCA did in the 60's & 70's, the 70's especially. Atlantic had just the same connections has RCA and Presley's management had. As i said earlier, some of Elvis' regular songwriters were also staff writers for Atlantic, even before they started writing for Elvis.

Elvis did well for RCA in the 50's, he was the one in charge of the music. Imo, once RCA realised Elvis wasn't just a passing fad, they got greedy. When we get to 1960, they were almost picking his music for him or giving him songs that were within their publishing company and everyone cashing in on all the publishing. The situation got so bad that they all lost sight of the one thing that made it all possible - the music. I don't think any other would have went as low as this.


If I'm reading you correctly, there are a few points here where I think you're mistaken:

a) With rare exception, RCA never picked the music that Elvis recorded. Elvis had almost total carte blanche over his songs. It was Elvis' decision to tape almost all of the music he recorded. Elvis was under no legal or contactual obligation to record songs from any catalogue whatsoever. He chose to go with Hill & range because he made more money from those songs.

b) RCA did not own Hill & Range or any other music publishing companies so they stood to make no extra money from those songs.

c) By and large, RCA's release policy from 1955 to 1963 was okay: that's an astonishing eight-year run (roughly the same as The Beatles). During 1964 it became silly and it continued that way until late 1968 because they didn't have enough new non-soundtrack material to fill in the gaps between movies.

d) From 1969 onwards the LPs and singles were sometimes inspired and sometimes insipid: this came down to a combination of Elvis' somewhat erractic song choices and Felton/RCA's bizarre idea of what constituted an album.

As I said earlier, when challenged in a studio setting, Elvis' work hit its highest level. The Atlantic people (who clearly valued quality over quantity) may have provided a very interesting and creative soundboard for our hero to bounce ideas off.

Apologies if I have misrepresented your thoughts.

Re: Elvis & Atlantic Records

Sat Jul 13, 2013 6:11 pm

George Smith wrote:
mysterytrainrideson wrote:
promiseland wrote:
George Smith wrote:Elvis worked with enormous creative freedom at RCA during the 50s and it's difficult to say that this was a bad thing.

What Atlantic might have offered was some form of creative soundboard: EP often did his best work when challenged.

I'm not sure I can imagine anything better than "Hound Dog" or "Don't Be Cruel" ... wow ... !!

This being said, and a excellent point. So then what difference would another label have made, other than their own promotional tactics?.

One things for certain, no other record company would've sank as low as RCA did in the 60's & 70's, the 70's especially. Atlantic had just the same connections has RCA and Presley's management had. As i said earlier, some of Elvis' regular songwriters were also staff writers for Atlantic, even before they started writing for Elvis.

Elvis did well for RCA in the 50's, he was the one in charge of the music. Imo, once RCA realised Elvis wasn't just a passing fad, they got greedy. When we get to 1960, they were almost picking his music for him or giving him songs that were within their publishing company and everyone cashing in on all the publishing. The situation got so bad that they all lost sight of the one thing that made it all possible - the music. I don't think any other would have went as low as this.


If I'm reading you correctly, there are a few points here where I think you're mistaken:

a) With rare exception, RCA never picked the music that Elvis recorded. Elvis had almost total carte blanche over his songs. It was Elvis' decision to tape almost all of the music he recorded. Elvis was under no legal or contactual obligation to record songs from any catalogue whatsoever. He chose to go with Hill & range because he made more money from those songs.

b) RCA did not own Hill & Range or any other music publishing companies so they stood to make no extra money from those songs.

c) By and large, RCA's release policy from 1955 to 1963 was okay: that's an astonishing eight-year run (roughly the same as The Beatles). During 1964 it became silly and it continued that way until late 1968 because they didn't have enough new non-soundtrack material to fill in the gaps between movies.

d) From 1969 onwards the LPs and singles were sometimes inspired and sometimes insipid: this came down to a combination of Elvis' somewhat erractic song choices and Felton/RCA's bizarre idea of what constituted an album.

As I said earlier, when challenged in a studio setting, Elvis' work hit its highest level. The Atlantic people (who clearly valued quality over quantity) may have provided a very interesting and creative soundboard for our hero to bounce ideas off.

Apologies if I have misrepresented your thoughts.


All well & good but according to Priscilla, when he was given the songs for Double Trouble, and saw he had to record Old McDonald, he said to her, 'Has it really come to this?' So in a way he didn't choose everything he wanted to record He was told to sing that song for a scene in the movie. He could have demanded the scene & song be cut, but instead complained only to his wife and friends. Never the powers that be. I may be wrong but I cannot imagine a POS song like that and other movie songs ever being on the Atlantic label.

Re: Elvis & Atlantic Records

Sat Jul 13, 2013 6:23 pm

Well said r&b. If Elvis was allowed to choose his own songs, so why was he singing these crappy movie songs that he didn't like? The simple reason is, is these were the one that were being presented to him by Hill & Range, purely because they had the publishing rights to the songs. However, the situation changed in 1970 when Elvis started doing songs like "Bridge Over Troubled Water" "Proud Mary" there was no way they were gonna get a slice of the action on those songs. So they forced to bring down the barriers and weren't so hell bent on getting the publishing on everything.