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Remembering Steve Sholes --> Discoverer and Developer

Tue Sep 14, 2010 8:15 am

RCA producer Steve Sholes, the man who signed Elvis to the big label in November 1955, kind of faded from view after the glorious 1950s. Often I wondered how the 1960s went for him, and research makes clear he kept doing fine work at RCA until his untimely death in April 1968.

When he died, while driving in Nashville en route to a show, it made front page news in Billboard. Many kind words were said. One wonders what Elvis thought.

Sadly, Sholes did not live long enough to see Elvis' stunning return at the end of the year, in his NBC-TV Special. He would have been pleased.


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Steve Sholes, RCA Producer, 1955


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Billboard - May 4, 1968


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Billboard - May 4, 1968 (continued)


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Billboard - Jun 3, 1967
Sholes is recognized for discovering the great Chet Atkins


Thanks for the music, and the memories, Steve.

Re: Remembering Steve Sholes --> Discoverer and Developer

Tue Sep 14, 2010 8:21 am

Thank you for that.

Interesting to note that from 1945 he was responsible for Rhythm and Blues....so he must have had dealings with Arthur Crudup

Re: Remembering Steve Sholes --> Discoverer and Developer

Tue Sep 14, 2010 8:30 am

Thanks, Doc! That´s great! Elvis´first recordings for RCA have been Steve´s 15 minutes of fame and his ticket to music history...
:idea:
O.S. ::rocks

Re: Remembering Steve Sholes --> Discoverer and Developer

Tue Sep 14, 2010 9:36 am

Sholes was indeed instrumental in signing Elvis to RCA. Ackerman writes that this was “remarkable when one considers the musical climate of the era”, but that’s not entirely true. After all, several other major labels, including Atlantic, were also bidding on Elvis. They all knew that he was hot.

I think it’s also a bit too much credit to describe him as a developer of talent, at least in Elvis’ case. In reality, Elvis and Sholes had very little in common, and Sholes didn’t even really understand the new rock ‘n’ roll phenomenon, as can be asserted from the songs that he would sometimes suggest. And it’s also been reported in various mags that he spent a lot of time during Elvis’ recording sessions sleeping on a couch.

Finally, it’s interesting to note that some of those who actually worked with Sholes were far less generous in their praise than what is seen in these articles. RCA’s Chick Crumpacker described him as someone “with an ego the size of his pants”.
Last edited by Rock Legend on Tue Sep 14, 2010 3:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Re: Remembering Steve Sholes --> Discoverer and Developer

Tue Sep 14, 2010 9:57 am

Thanks for the great read, Doc! Steve Sholes had music running through his veins.

Re: Remembering Steve Sholes --> Discoverer and Developer

Tue Sep 14, 2010 10:12 am

Rock Legend wrote:Sholes was indeed instrumental in signing Elvis to RCA. Ackerman writes that this was “remarkable when one considers the musical climate of the era”, but that’s not entirely true. After all, several other major labels, including Atlantic, were also bidding on Elvis. They all knew that he was hot.

I think it’s also a bit too much credit to describe him as a developer of talent, at least in Elvis’ case. In reality, Elvis and Sholes had very little in common, and Sholes didn’t even really understand the new rock ‘n’ roll phenomenon, as can be asserted from the songs that he would sometimes suggest. And it’s also been reported in various mags that he spent a lot of time during Elvis’ recording sessions sleeping on a couch.

Finally, it’s interesting that some of those who actually worked with Sholes were far less generous in their praise than what is seen in these articles. RCA’s Chick Crumpacker described him as someone “with an ego the size of his pants”.


the New York crew of Crumpacker and his mates were very jealous of their southern stablemates, especially Sholes.

What has Crumpacker ever done in his long years with RCA compared with the hugely successful Nashville based staff.

Re: Remembering Steve Sholes --> Discoverer and Developer

Tue Sep 14, 2010 10:23 am

KiwiAlan wrote: the New York crew of Crumpacker and his mates were very jealous of their southern stablemates, especially Sholes.


Do you have any documentation for this assertion?

Re: Remembering Steve Sholes --> Discoverer and Developer

Tue Sep 14, 2010 10:37 am

Rock Legend wrote:
KiwiAlan wrote: the New York crew of Crumpacker and his mates were very jealous of their southern stablemates, especially Sholes.


Do you have any documentation for this assertion?



It's history my friend, history.

Re: Remembering Steve Sholes --> Discoverer and Developer

Tue Sep 14, 2010 10:51 am

Well, by all means, please share that history with the rest of us.

Re: Remembering Steve Sholes --> Discoverer and Developer

Tue Sep 14, 2010 3:44 pm

Great post Doc!

Re: Remembering Steve Sholes --> Discoverer and Developer

Thu Sep 16, 2010 2:27 am

KiwiAlan wrote:Thank you for that.

Interesting to note that from 1945 he was responsible for Rhythm and Blues....so he must have had dealings with Arthur Crudup


Yes, I believe he was as he is credited on the "When The Sun Goes Down Volume 7: Rock Me Mamma" as the producer of those Crudup sessions.

Re: Remembering Steve Sholes --> Discoverer and Developer

Thu Sep 16, 2010 4:46 am

Rock Legend wrote:Sholes was indeed instrumental in signing Elvis to RCA. Ackerman writes that this was “remarkable when one considers the musical climate of the era”, but that’s not entirely true. After all, several other major labels, including Atlantic, were also bidding on Elvis. They all knew that he was hot.


From what I understand, bids from Atlantic, Columbia, Dot, Mercury, etc. were no where near the $35,000 (+$5,000 bonus) mark Sholes was willing to and ultimately paid.

Re: Remembering Steve Sholes --> Discoverer and Developer

Thu Sep 16, 2010 7:15 am

I enjoyed Jerry Hopkins' sections on the Sholester in his "ELVIS" bio...

Those BILLBOARD digital online archives are really getting a work-out lately.

What a welcome resource that is...

Re: Remembering Steve Sholes --> Discoverer and Developer

Thu Sep 16, 2010 7:22 am

only goofy thing he did was throw out ep sun master and outtake tapes.

Re: Remembering Steve Sholes --> Discoverer and Developer

Thu Sep 16, 2010 9:38 am

Considering Colonel Parker's heavy involvement with RCA I would doubt that there was any intention to go to any other label.

He used the others to jack up the price.

Re: Remembering Steve Sholes --> Discoverer and Developer

Thu Sep 16, 2010 3:24 pm

Excellent topic. Thanks for posting the Billboard articles, Doc.

KiwiAlan wrote:Considering Colonel Parker's heavy involvement with RCA I would doubt that there was any intention to go to any other label.

He used the others to jack up the price.



Sounds like something the Colonel would do, doesn't it? However, given that Elvis was considered a promising country singer in 1955, RCA Victor was probably the best fit.

But imagine if Atlantic Records had been the winning bidder for Elvis' contract. There could have been several twists to Elvis' recording career had all roads not led to Nashville and RCA Victor. The first couple of albums would have featured a lot of cover versions of those Atlantic songs that Elvis loved so much. In addition, Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller might have had more active involvement as Elvis' producers. Or perhaps Atlantic might have allowed Elvis to continue recording at 706 Union under the supervision of Sam Phillips.


ritchievalens wrote:only goofy thing he did was throw out ep sun master and outtake tapes.


I don't think that was Steve Sholes' decision. That decision was probably made at the corporate level to save space.

Re: Remembering Steve Sholes --> Discoverer and Developer

Thu Sep 16, 2010 9:57 pm

I assume this is the massive RCA tape dump we often here about. (Cringe):

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____________________Camden, NJ riverfront today near former RCA pier


Labels Strive to Rectify Past Archival Problems
Billboard July 11 and 17, 1997.
The most spectacular case of wholesale vault trashing is the decision by RCA in the early '60s to demolish its warehouse in Camden, N.J. The warehouse, according to collectors and industry veterans, held four floors of catalogue product, pre-tape-era material ranging from metal parts, acetates, shellac disc masters and alternate takes to test pressings, master matrix books and session rehearsal recordings.

Several days before the demolition, officials from French RCA gained permission to go through the building and withdraw whatever material they could carry for their vinyl "Black and White" jazz reissue series. A few American collectors were also allowed in the building to salvage any items they could carry out.

A few days later. as dozens of RCA officials and collectors stood on a nearby Delaware Bridge, demolition experts ignited the dynamite charges. Eyewitnesses said they saw "clouds of debris, black and metal chunks flying out the windows" of the collapsing building.

The building wreckage was then bulldozed into the Delaware River. A pier was built on top of the detritus
.

"Was it a case of literally dynamiting away our cultural heritage, or was it nobody's business but a private property of a company that had made a business decision that made sense to them at the time?" asked a young archivist, one of several who have confirmed the story with older collectors who were present at the demolition. "The problem is, it was both. There's always that tug."

http://www.biwa.ne.jp/~presley/elnews-VaultLosses.htm


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Re: Remembering Steve Sholes --> Discoverer and Developer

Fri Sep 17, 2010 1:21 am

KiwiAlan wrote:
Rock Legend wrote:
KiwiAlan wrote: the New York crew of Crumpacker and his mates were very jealous of their southern stablemates, especially Sholes.


Do you have any documentation for this assertion?



It's history my friend, history.



Hopefully the Docs new avatar will soon be as well !!

Re: Remembering Steve Sholes --> Discoverer and Developer

Sun Sep 19, 2010 2:27 am

sgt bilko wrote:
KiwiAlan wrote:It's history my friend, history.



Hopefully the Docs new avatar will soon be as well !!

:-)

Re: Remembering Steve Sholes --> Discoverer and Developer

Sun Sep 19, 2010 2:44 am

Thank god doc... that thing was giving me the creeps... :smt087

Re: Remembering Steve Sholes --> Discoverer and Developer

Sat Feb 02, 2013 4:27 pm

Don't really know too much about, Steve. It seems, from what i've read, that he didn't have too much much input in Elvis' recording sessions, as Elvis seems to have been the producer.. I think Steve was just there to make sure everything ran smoothly.

Re: Remembering Steve Sholes --> Discoverer and Developer

Sun Feb 03, 2013 7:45 am

mysterytrainrideson wrote:Don't really know too much about, Steve. It seems, from what i've read, that he didn't have too much much input in Elvis' recording sessions, as Elvis seems to have been the producer.. I think Steve was just there to make sure everything ran smoothly.


That was indeed his role. IIRC, according to Scotty Moore, when Elvis sessions ran late into the night, Sholes would nap in the control room.