Q&A With Joe Tunzi Part I
Here is the result of the interview you, the readers of ElvisNews and For Elvis CD Collectors, did with Joe Tunzi. The questions came from all corners of the globe and world wide net, and cover a wide variety of subjects. So the result is kind of a Q&A with Joe Tunzi. Part I focuses on Joe Tunzi and Elvis movies.
On his JAT Publishing website Joe Tunzi described as “widely acknowledged as one of the most reputable authorities on Elvis Presley’s recordings. Photographs from his own photo agency have appeared in the liner notes to numerous audio releases by B.M.G. / R.C.A. as well as magazines such as Time, People, and T.V. Guide. His photos have appeared in numerous books by other authors, the Larry King Live television program, the 1998 Country Music Awards telecast, as well as a 1997 television commercial for Blockbuster Video. He has written and published the following books, most of which pertain to Elvis Presley”. Joe Tunzi learned us a lot about Elvis and his work, but the he remains in the background. Time to put the spotlight on Joe Tunzi and his work.
Joe Tunzi On Joe Tunzi
1. To start things of, for those few who don’t know you, can you tell us a little bit about yourself, and your Elvis background?
Joe: You could say that I've been in some form of the music industry for all my adult life, working for several Chicago radio stations in marketing and sales. I also owned a few record stores in the late seventies up to the mid-eighties where I started my own direct-mail publishing company. My Elvis background is very simple. The first thing I ever recall seeing on Elvis was the 1960 “Welcome Home Elvis” television program. While my parents were Frank Sinatra fans, Elvis captured my attention that this was one really cool guy and that he was totally different from the other guests on the show. I also remember my dad commenting the night the show aired that the last time he saw Elvis on television was on the Ed Sullivan show. Shortly afterwards, my dad and I purchased “It’s Now Or Never” at a music store called “Deluxe Music” in Chicago which I listened to quite a bit. My dad liked it because it was an Italian song. Being only 7 years old at the time, I would have preferred watching the Chicago Cubs play baseball rather than “Welcome Home Elvis” but Elvis still got stuck in my subconscious as a really cool guy and over the next few years though I didn’t follow him single release by single release, I would listen to the radio quite a bit and followed Elvis that way. I loved "Follow That Dream" when I heard it on the radio in 1962.
2. And to get a feel for your Elvis preferences, can you tell us what are your favorite, Elvis era, song, album and movie? And tell us why these are your favorites? And which books by other Elvis authors do you really like?
Joe: I don’t have a personal preference for a particular era. I try to enjoy all 24 years of Elvis' career. As for my other favorites, I think the term “favorite” is a loose term as these things can change from day to day. Right now I like the film “Follow That Dream” but I also think Elvis' acting was terrific in “King Creole”. Maybe it was because he really wasn't trying to act. He may have been thinking of another calling, such as the U.S. Army which may have relaxed him enough not to overthink his role. I think I would have to include the first two albums (“Elvis Presley” and “Elvis”) among my favorites but I also think that “From Elvis In Memphis” is one of the top ten greatest albums of all time. As for a song, I would have to pick “If I Can Dream” but again all of this is very subjective. Some of my favorite books by other authors would include both Jerry Hopkins original biography from 1971 and “The Final Years.” The original biography is very nostalgic for me personally because it was the first time we had a biography of Elvis of that magnitude. I also enjoyed the first Peter Guralnick book “Last Train To Memphis.”
3. How long have you had an interest in Elvis, as I never heard your name at all before you started your series of excellent books, and would you describe yourself as a fan of Elvis or a business man? (Question from Chris)
Joe: As stated in my answer to question one, my fascination in Elvis began in 1960 and continued until 1964 when I got caught up in Beatlemania. It wasn’t until 1968 that my interest in Elvis returned with a fervor. Don’t get me wrong, I still followed Elvis but from 1964-1968 Elvis was more known then as a motion picture star than as an entertainer.
First and foremost, I am a fan. I truly believe that if you are passionate about something, you should really try to make it work. I’ve been very fortunate to be able to have done as many projects that I have. I am a businessman as well. If I wasn’t, I probably wouldn’t have made it past only a handful of books.
4. Not to stir up any trouble, but if you and Ernst were to change places for the next set of FTD releases, what would you release? What three CDs would you put together for the October (?) release? (Question from Orion)
Joe: What I would do if I were releasing FTD is redo the original double album “From Memphis To Vegas” / “From Vegas To Memphis”. It would be a FTD double CD with the first disc featuring the original albums and the second disc featuring outtakes and some of the best live outtakes from the August 1969 recordings. Also I would include the unreleased selected masters from the August ‘69 performances. I would also redo the Madison Square Garden with both shows included and especially remix the evening show. Being that the Jungle Room Sessions is one of the best selling FTDs it would be a no-brainer to do “From Elvis Presley Boulevard, Memphis, Tennessee”. This is an album that has been dying to be remixed.
I would also like to see the main label redo both volumes of the Worldwide Gold Award Hits but only this time presented the way Elvis wanted them to be, which was in their original mono sound.
Another project I think the main label should seriously consider doing for the 30th Anniversary next year is a rock, ‘n’ soul oriented CD that would cover the years 1969 through 1976. It should be totally remixed in the same manner that 30 #1 Hits was done with the same dedication to remix each track individually. A 2 CD set should be tailored as if it were a new studio album by Elvis. It would feature songs recorded from 1969 through 1976 that are up-tempo rock oriented, whether that be gospel infused rock, country rock, or R&B flavored rock. For my own personal enjoyment, my engineer, John Szymanski and I have been able to do a little remixing and compiled our own CDs of this nature. Let's just say were calling it “Mojo Workin’”. It has 29 tracks and includes “Rubberneckin’”, “Stranger In My Own Home Town,” "I'm Movin' On," “Power Of My Love,” “Wearin’ That Loved On Look,” “I Washed My Hands In Muddy Water,” “Patch It Up,” “Cindy, Cindy,” "I Was Born About Ten Thousand Years Ago," “Got My Mojo Workin’/Keep Your Hands Off”, “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Going On,” “Merry Christmas, Baby,” “Burning Love,” “Raised On Rock,” “Just A Little Bit,” “If You Don’t Come Back,” "Three Corn Patches," “I‘ve Got A Thing About You Baby,” “Find Out What’s Happening,” “Promised Land,” “Talk About The Good Times,” “I Got A Feeling In My Body,” “If You Talk In Your Sleep,” "I Can Help," “Shake A Hand,” “T-R-O-U-B-L-E,” “For The Heart,” "Moody Blue" and “Way Down.” A release like this could be capped off with a new remix such as the one done of “Burning Love” featured in the Honda commercial.
5. Also, what has been released since Elvis' death that blew you away or have you heard anything that blew you away that is still sitting in a vault waiting to blow us away? (Question from Orion)
Joe: One thing that really blew me away when it came out was “The Lost Performances” video. That was probably the closest thing that simulated the feeling of going to an Elvis concert. The ‘68 Comeback and the Aloha Deluxe Editions also were truly great releases as well.
6. I’m interested in your passion for Elvis. Did you ever meet the man? Talked to him? How and when did you get involved in the Presley World? (Question from Peter Verbruggen).
Joe: I met Elvis on October 14, 1976 at around 1:00 A.M. At the time I was working in marketing for a suburban Chicago radio station and I was also driving a truck or an air freight forwarder at O’Hare airport My father was a Chicago police sergeant who was in charge. I met Elvis at a place just off of the airport called Butler Aviation which is where high profile people came into so that they wouldn’t be mobbed. I actually met Colonel Tom Parker first and I can recall my father talking to him. Wow! It was just an incredible feeling. A real rush. Someone you followed, watched on television, listened to on the radio, listening to his albums at home or his 8 tracks in the car. To finally meet him was an amazing experience. As I woke her from her sleep when I got home that night I told my wife "You never going to believe who I met tonight. She said "it's late. Tell me." I said "Elvis" She said "Where is it?" I said "Where's what?" "The autograph" my wife replied. It still haunts me but it's something I just didn't think of asking for. Maybe I was in shock. After meeting Elvis, the police provided an escort to the Arlington Park Hilton which I was involved in. This is where Jody Sprowls took the picture that I used in the “America The Beautiful” book. While on the subject, there was another photo that taken while Elvis was still in the limousine with Linda Thompson. I was standing outside the car when the photo was taken.
I got involved by being an Elvis Presley fan and collecting his music which eventually led me to publish a tongue-in-cheek look at prices for Elvis video releases. At that time there had been numerous price guides on records but never one on the videos. After this book, it became quite apparent that fans were taking the book more seriously than I had anticipated. The success of that first book led me to publish a photo book on a show that I attended in Chicago. I was well aware of what Ger Rjiff was doing with photo books with the ‘50s so in a way it inspired me to do something in the ‘70s. At the time these first couple of books were more of a sideline project because I was still working for Chicago radio.
7. If you could go and see Elvis in one concert from any time what would it be, mine would be the new years eve concerts from 1975 or 1976 as they are very special and I think he only performed on new years eve three times and the other is not confirmed in 1954 (question from Ben Ralph).
Joe: As far as vocal prowess, I would have to say the tour that ran from June 20, 1973 in Mobile, Alabama and ended in Atlanta on July 3, 1973 but especially the show in St. Louis on June 28, 1973. I attended that show and I must say that Elvis’ vocal prowess was at it‘s peak. I would love to go back and see that show again. Two of the shows I would have liked to have been witness to would be the July 31, 1969 V.I.P. show and being a little biased towards Chicago, the show at the International Amphitheater in Chicago on March 28, 1957 with Elvis head to toe in gold lamé.
8. Which show Elvis did was the best show in your opinion? (Question from Riccardo).
Joe: The best show that I ever witnessed was the June 17, 1972 afternoon show in Chicago. I was totally mesmerized. Elvis discarded the set list and performed a very loose and relaxed show with selections like “Reconsider Baby”, “My Babe”, “Something”, “It’s Now Or Never”, “Johnny B. Goode”, “Release Me”, and “How Great Thou Art”. But let me emphasize that the June 28, 1973 show in St. Louis stands alone as his greatest vocal performance I've ever witnessed.
9. What would be your biggest dream for an Elvis project? (Question from Germain Tremblay)
Joe: The biggest dream for an Elvis project would be the ultimate video anthology/documentary. It would be a definitive record of Elvis’ life and his career. The question is how long do you make it? When the three surviving Beatles did their Anthology it was 10 hours on VHS and later DVD plus a bonus DVD of additional material. And that was for a career that only lasted eight years. Elvis’ career ran for 24 years.
The documentary should be warts and all. End it with “Elvis In Concert.” The Estate must start locating rare privately owned footage. Unfortunately they must also locate previously done interviews of people who have already passed away. They also must start extensively interviewing people. The people who knew Elvis are not getting any younger. There’s 33 motion pictures, numerous television appearances, three television specials, home movies, recordings, interviews, photos to create the ultimate testament of his career. A new song found would be beneficial to a documentary of this magnitude as would never before seen outtakes from Elvis’ films, in particular the two documentaries “That‘s The Way It Is“ and “Elvis On Tour.” The Estate needs to get people like Bill Porter, Al Pachucki, Chips Moman, Steve Binder, Bones Howe, Leiber and Stoller, etc. to sit down in front of a camera and start playing tapes and discuss candidly (good, bad, ugly) from the sessions. Invite musicians/backup vocalists to sit in on this so that they can recollect their stories of working with Elvis in the studio and even on stage. It also has to have an element that will appeal to even the most knowledgeable of Elvis fans so that even they get something out of it but at the same time still appeal to the general public.
Joe Tunzi On Movies and Filming Elvis
10. I am wondering if any out-takes from Elvis' movies exist. Like him laughing during a take or whatever. I only know of one take in an Elvis movie that was messed up but they left it in the movie. It was a scene in Stay Away Joe when he comes out to say hi to people on the back porch of a party. Its quick but I can tell Elvis was busting up for real. It’s a great moment. (Question from John G.).
Joe: As far as outtakes from other movies go, we know there are outtakes from Jailhouse Rock and it can only be assumed that there are others. Among the others that I know of is an outtake of the bar scene in Charro! in which one of the bar maids exposes her breasts, which causes Elvis to crack up laughing. The question of whether there are other outtakes from these films and others is a very time-consuming and expensive process to explore. It is something that the Estate really needs to explore if they ever decide to pursue their full length documentary as mentioned in the previous question.
11. I've heard that you are working on "Hot Shots and Cool Clips volume 2” and that it would include some professional footage from Elvis' Madison Square Garden concert in 1972. Is this true, and when can we expect to see this released? (Question from Jeanne).
Joe: Yes, it is true that I will be including professional footage from Madison Square Garden. I have been working on this project for a few years now. The release date of “Hot Shots And Cool Clips Volume 2” is tentatively scheduled for April 1, 2007.
12. Can you give some details of what we can expect on your new DVD "Hot Shots And Cool Clips volume 2”? (Question from David)
Joe: Obviously the Madison Square Garden footage but the DVD will be made up of footage from 1970 to 1972 and will also include clips from the ‘50s and the ‘60s as well. The exact details are yet to be determined but it will have a running time of approximately one hour.
13. Do you think that the unreleased filmed shows for “Elvis On Tour” in Richmond, Macon and Charlotte will ever be released? This is a crying shame that nearly 30 years since the sad passing of Elvis we still haven’t got what Elvis probably thought would be out to the fans. (Question from Darren Cavanagh)
Joe: The footage from many of the cities on the April ‘72 tour was done strictly on assignment, whereas someone from the production of the film was sent with a camera to film something the producer was looking for, whether that be something as mundane as a city limits sign along the highway, interviewing a local mayor in Roanoke, entering the stage or leaving the stage, Elvis dropping down on one knee or even holding up a pair of women’s panties while on stage. A prime example of this is the sign outside the T.H. Barton Coliseum in Little Rock, Arkansas was shot but the entire show wasn’t shot. These clips were added to the shows where a good majority of the show was filmed and recorded (Hampton Roads, Richmond, Greensboro and San Antonio) to fully illustrate a sense of Elvis going from city to city.
14. Did they film Boston in 1971 and do you know if any other professional footage concert wise exists? (Question from Darren Cavanagh)
Joe: I’ve heard the rumor about this being filmed and it continually gets repeated but I seriously doubt that Boston was filmed professionally. I’ve heard that someone claimed to have seen the footage and that it was dark and that it was difficult to make out Elvis in the film. The question then is what good is this footage? Also, is this actually professional footage or is it merely amateur footage shot by an audience member. I have come to the conclusion that at the Madison Square Garden press conference when Elvis was asked about this, the person who posed the question simply meant to say Buffalo instead of Boston, which makes more sense since cameras were in Buffalo at the beginning of the April ‘72 tour which filmed Elvis rehearsing.
15. I really want to know if there is some footage of the movies Jailhouse Rock and King Creole, I mean some unseen scenes. (Question from Jordan).
Joe: As mentioned in question ten, there are film outtakes from “Jailhouse Rock” some of which were used on the video “Elvis In Hollywood - The ‘50s but there is alot more than what was used.
16. I read on the web an old interview that you said there is a full concert that is filmed which is not “That’s The Way It Is”, “On Tour” or any of the 3 Honolulu shows (one filmed in 72 by Japanese television) or “Elvis In Concert” from 1977. So can you please tell me more about this show and what year was it? (Question from Atle Larsen).
Joe: I can’t recall ever saying that there was another complete show professionally filmed other than what you’ve mentioned. However there is some footage from Madison Square Garden that was professionally shot that I’ve mentioned in a previous interview. This however is not the complete show. I will be using this footage on my upcoming DVD “Hot Shots And Cool Clips Volume 2.”
17. Could you tell us where and how you find the clips and information for your DVD projects? (Question from Mark Richie)
Joe: I find a lot of the footage in some of the most unlikely places. It takes time, effort, due diligence to find proper leads that lead to proper people. It is a very difficult and expensive process to find unreleased footage. I’ve been very fortunate to know people who collect this type of footage and I have also gone through film stock warehouses where I have gotten some leads by simple conversations which have opened doors to people who either had the footage I was looking for or knew someone who did.
18. During the stand-up performance of "Baby What You Want Me To Do?" that features on the recent DVD releases of the '68 Comeback we get some good camera shots of Elvis playing the instrumental portion of the song but from when he starts singing all we see of him are only rear and side-on views making this track one of the biggest disappointments of the set yet we get the front-on camera shot when Elvis plays the opening chords of the song so why wasn’t this same footage used during the vocal portion? Surely it must exist. (Question from Darren Breeden).
Joe: This is something I really can’t answer. I would assume that you are correct that there would be a full front shot while he is singing. I think something like six cameras were used when they videotaped the show. I would then assume that this was a producer’s preference for the side shot as opposed the full front camera angle.
19. Do you have footage of the Elvis Aloha TV interview which Elvis has a breakdown due to the stress of the Aloha concert? (Question from Henry Fong).
Joe: To my knowledge there is no footage of what your referring to. All of the press conference footage that was known by the Estate was recently added as an Easter Egg to the single disc DVD of the Aloha show.
20. In a 2004 interview you said that the 60 minutes of additional “That’s The Way It Is” footage would be released. Do you have any idea if it will be soon/when it will be released? Also do you know of any more 1970 footage (rehearsals/live) that’s going to be released in the near future? (Question from Andrew).
Joe: Obviously I thought that the “That’s The Way It Is” footage would be released legitimately. Most of it has been bootlegged within the last two years unfortunately. I do think that in the not to distant future you will finally see the extra hour released legitimately, and possibly even more.
Part II of the interview with Joe Tunzi will follow soon. This will focus on his books.
Q&A With Joe Tunzi Part II
Here is the result of the interview you, the readers of ElvisNews and For Elvis CD Collectors, did with Joe Tunzi. The questions came from all corners of the globe and world wide net, and cover a wide variety of subjects. So the result is kind of a Q&A with Joe Tunzi. Part I focuses on Joe Tunzi’s books.
Joe Tunzi on his books
21. A book on jumpsuits would definitely be a winner. But why has no one has ever done that? If somebody could pull it off, it’s you. I had high hopes for ‘Fashion’, but it turned out to be another 100% EPE book: nicely done, but it’s a book you can live without – no new information at all. Will a jumpsuit book ever see the light? (Question from Peter Verbruggen).
Joe: A book on jumpsuits would be a winner for the ‘70s Elvis fans. It would be a monumental task to undertake. The problem with this type of project to do it justice would be to include a photograph of Elvis in every jumpsuit and every combination he wore. The time consumption as well as finding photos of every jumpsuit makes it a costly endeavor.
22. As the President of the Elvis Presley fan club of Oklahoma. I am very pleased to see the upcoming book your doing "Elvis, starring in Oklahoma" My question is what is the one factor that interested you enough to do this book about some of the Oklahoma shows? (Question from Charles Reeves).
Joe: The book “Elvis Starring in Oklahoma” focuses on one specific concert, the July 8, 1975 show which kicked off the July tour. This will be the first concert book that we’ve ever done that from beginning to end that will be of Elvis on stage. The photos we have are from a Hall of Fame photographer. One of the reasons I chose this show was because there are not a lot of soundboards from this tour, which makes a book of a show from this tour even more intriguing.
23. I enjoyed your publication 'Elvis: The Hayride Years 54-56'. Co-author Joey Kent stated that he was planning a follow-up with Frank Page that would focus on Elvis's final Hayride show in December of 1956. Is this book still forthcoming? And can we expect any other books on fifties Elvis from you? (Question from Andrew Arnold)
Joe: I believe Joey Kent has a new project coming out which includes a book, a CD, and a DVD. I don’t think we will be doing a second Hayride book but I wouldn’t rule it out entirely.
24. What is the quality of the paper you have been using in your books? There have been several message board comments regarding how thin it is. (Question from Daryl Restly)
Joe: For most of our recent titles we use an 80 pound gloss. This sheet is called garda gloss. It's made in Italy and is considered a number one sheet. Brightness equals 90. Opacity equals 95. The caliper is 591 pages per inch. For the new "Oklahoma" book we're using a 100 pound sterling ultra gloss. This paper is made in the United States and is also considered a number one sheet. Brightness equals 90. Opacity equals 97. The caliper is 426 PPI.
25. Have you ever seen (or know that exists) a photo of Elvis with Jerry Lee Lewis taken later than the one from the Million Dollar Quartet session? (Question from Victor Manso).
Joe: I do not know of any other photo of Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis other than the Million Dollar Quartet shot and I think it’s highly unlikely that a later shot exists.
26. What did happen to the original cover artwork for Elvis' albums? (Question from Joe)
Joe: Through research I’ve found that many are to be found in the RCA archives. Some are missing. I do know some people who formerly worked at RCA who have collections of artwork for singles, extended plays and albums.
27. Why didn't you use a color photograph from the benefit show on the cover of his most recent book and why did you use instead a publicity photo from "Blue Hawaii"? (Question from Daryl Restly)
Joe: If we had an original color photo from the benefit concert we would have used it since we featured the press conference and the show in the book. I don’t think some people realize how difficult it is to locate photos from that particular show. Recently, John Thornton reviewed the “Hawaii ‘61 Featuring the U.S.S. Arizona Benefit Show” book in the excellent publication “The Man And His Music” and was disappointed that the book wasn’t entirely on the benefit show. We never did advertise the book as being entirely on the benefit show, as the title of the book implies. Another thing that Mr. Thornton took issue with is why we included the photos of Elvis in Buffalo, New York in 1957. The reason is simple. Elvis wore the gold lamé in Buffalo ‘57, Hawaii ‘57 and at the benefit show. The photos from Buffalo and from Hawaii ‘57 were included in a section of the book entitled “More Gold Lamé.” It’s intention was to be a retrospective look at Elvis in 1957 when he began wearing the gold lamé. In closing, if you're going to review a book, you've got to do your homework.
28. Since the Sessions III book came out in 2004 have you been able to document any recordings that you didn't make mention of in the book? It would seem that Ernst Jorgensen hasn't been able to find any unless he has held back new finds for the 30th Anniversary next year. (Question from Daryl Restly)
Joe: Finding lost recordings has become harder than locating a needle in a haystack. Of course there are some Sun outtakes that will be on Ernst’s Sun project and there are some other tracks that may come to fruition. But it’s coming to a point where it is beginning to become more difficult. As for recordings that we didn’t mention in “Sessions III”, I am aware of tapes that come from 2 or 3 studio sessions but at this time I don’t want to elaborate on it.
One other thing I would like to mention is that the alternate take has lost a lot of it’s luster, zip, punch (or whatever you want to call it) because of a glut of outtakes found on numerous releases. It’s gotten to the point that the Elvis Channel on Sirius plays outtakes of songs more often than the masters. In a way I find that somewhat disturbing. Shouldn’t the masters get played more often? I don’t have a problem with them playing outtakes but shouldn’t they only be played in the context of programming where the show is strictly outtakes. It’s also a shame that Elvis’ original back catalog is in shambles. It’s gotten to the point where you can’t even go into a music store and find an Elvis CD the way it was originally released. Most of the albums have been expanded exponentially with bonus tracks which in some ways can actually put a damper on the listening experience. Especially if the bonus tracks are not in relation to the original album. For example, in 2000 BMG released a 3 CD set "That's The Way It Is - Special Edition" which featured "Rags To Riches" a song recorded a month after the filming was done. To make matters worse, BMG forgot to include the studio recordings of "I've Lost You" and "Patch It Up" which were originally released on singles.
29. Is there also an army year’s photo book on your list to publish? (Question from Geert).
Joe: Several years ago I used several Army photos in “Photographs And Memories” which were from the photographer who took them. These photos at the time were quite expensive to use in the book and if I were to do a book on Elvis’ Army years I would most definitely want to use more of the photographs from his portfolio. Otherwise, I have no aspirations.
30. Is there enough material to release a book on Elvis’ Last concert in Indianapolis? And is there enough material to release a book about the famous Memphis sessions or any other session? (Question from Sascha).
Joe: A book on the final concert in Indianapolis would be challenging and is a project that potentially could be done. As for the Memphis sessions, I take it you are referring to strictly the 1969 sessions. I don’t think there is enough material to create a viable product. I've already done a book called "Elvis, Highway 51 Memphis, Tennessee" which covers some of this ground already.
31. I have read the Elvis Sessions vol. III book which is fantastic, and was curious how do you find all of this information which is very extensive and very informative? (Question from Shane).
Joe: Our information for all three Sessions books is derived from several sources. It is a combination of all different people, places, and things from musicians unions to tape boxes to tapes themselves to musicians and backup vocalists’ eye-witness accounts to paperwork. The three books are not based on any single entity but they are a building process, somewhat like an ongoing puzzle that never really ends.
32. Did you hear some of the soundboards that you list in your book, and where comes the source from of that list? (question from Johan D).
Joe: Yes, I have heard many soundboard recordings. The list we used in Sessions II was taken from Joan Deary’s notes. In Sessions III we have updated that list with shows known to have been recorded or known to be in private collector’s hands. If you know something was recorded but you have no tape of it, should you list it. I believe you should list them. As I stated in the previous question, Sessions III was comprised of information from numerous sources, so why not use them.
33. I have wondered if your soundboard list of the complete tours in 1970 listed up in Session III is really true. There are many fans who don't believe that list of really sensational SBs from Elvis’ first tours after the comeback. Are these SBs in private collections or at BMG? (Question from Kenneth Pedersen).
Joe: Soundboards were recorded during the September and November 1970 tours on a reel-to-reel tape. There are photos of Al Pachucki at these shows recording them and I interviewed him several years ago and he recalled recording them.
If the soundboard lists in Sessions II and III are wrong, inaccurate, etc. then my first question is how many soundboards not on those lists have come out either legitimately or otherwise? The proof is not in the paper, it’s in your ears. If the list is indeed inaccurate I also have to ask why have several websites “borrowed” (I use the term “borrowed” lightly) the list?
34. Why is there not one picture from “Aloha From Hawaii” in you latest “Hawaii ’61” book? (Question from Jimmy Strang).
Joe: Having previously done two photo books on the Aloha concert, I felt it was better to use the outstanding photo of Elvis and Jack Lord in January ‘73 in Las Vegas. They each had a mutual respect for each other, and Jack Lord is well known for “Hawaii 5-0.” Although the book is tailored towards Hawaii 1961 I thought the photo fit the book perfectly.
35. How about a book based on Elvis's appearances on his favorite stage, the Omni in Atlanta. All of the shows here were of a high standard, especially the last one on December 30 1976. Plus there was a good variety of stage outfits over the years. I think this would be a good project to consider. (Question from Steven Wolak).
Joe: This is a project that is in the works although I doubt it will cover the December 30, 1976 appearance in Atlanta. It will however cover the June and July ‘73 shows at the Omni. I was lucky to attend the show in Atlanta on July 3 and like the St. Louis show earlier in the tour, it was truly phenomenal.
36. I always wondered if you ever had any thoughts of doing a book on the 1977 CBS Special? (Question from Gary).
Joe: This has the makings of another great project. It is all about the material though. If there were enough good photos to do a book on the CBS Special I would be inclined to do such a project. Having already done three books on Elvis’ other two television specials, this would be a natural. Having said that, a book on the CBS Special would have to be carefully crafted and being the optimist that I am, could potentially put a positive spin on the third television special.
37. On which subject would you like to write a book? (Question from Tony)
Joe: If I were to write a text book I would want to collaborate with a certain individual on a book about Elvis and the records he made. It would be a level headed, honest critique of Elvis’ recorded output during his lifetime. It would not be about his friends, associates, entourage, songwriters and what they thought of Elvis and his music. That road has been traveled enough times already. It would be an analysis of each album, each track scrutinized as to why it was recorded, why it was released. It would be my view of all of Elvis’ recorded work as a consumer when I originally bought the singles, extended plays and albums.
38. After your great book on Elvis in South Bend on 1.10.74 (Enter the Dragon) many years later a FTD soundboard of that show came out which matched perfectly the text from your book. Any chance of this happening again with your book featuring Elvis in Oklahoma July 8th 1975? (question from Geoffrey Mc Donnell)
Joe: The text for “Elvis Starring In Oklahoma” will unfortunately not be adapted from a soundboard recording because as far as I know there is no soundboard recording from July 8, 1975. That’s not to say that there couldn’t be one out there in private hands that I’m unaware of.
39. Does it cost a lot of money to get all these rare films and photos and – if you don’t mind me asking - how much would you say you have spend on acquiring the material? (Question from Mark Richie).
Joe: I really don’t even want to begin to guess how much I’ve spent on photos, film, tapes. To do a production, it most certainly costs an exorbitant amount of money. To acquire materials for future projects I try to negotiate as best I can but at the end of the day, Elvis still commands top dollar and most individuals who I’ve dealt with are fully aware of what they have. Some things certainly are overpriced.
40. First of all thanks for all that you brought to us and all the research you did please take it in a good mood but I would like to question what I regard as shortcomings about your work. Why such a big proportion of fuzzy / unclear pix in your books? why the systematic absence of a meaningful text accompanying it / can't you find someone who could do that part throughout the book instead of giving one line quote from a song (by the way the intros are usually good) And finally what is the economics of your books: some cost up to €60 and more, compare to a S. Shaver at €200 all in color and glossy paper. Can't there be something in the middle? (Question from Mikael Amsellem).
Joe: Well, fortunately or unfortunately (depending how you look at it) most of the photographs that we’ve used in our books over the years were taken by professional photographers. And I totally disagree with your assessment that we use a proportion of fuzzy, unclear photos. But no matter how good the photographer is, he or she is still going to take some photos that are not of the greatest quality. I personally believe that all the photos that we’ve ever used in all of our books are some of the greatest photography ever assembled on Elvis Presley. The photographers are some of the best in the field, some of whom have well recognized names. Another consideration to take into mind is that Elvis on stage did not stand still and pose for pictures while performing. This would only make it more difficult for even the best professional photographers to snap a crisp picture of Elvis. We have cut most of what we would consider "unusable" photos from our books.
Regarding the text, it would seem that you haven’t bought any of the recent books we’ve done lately. In the last several years we’ve incorporated very meaningful text with pertinent information to the subject matter we’re incurring. We are constantly trying to locate virgin information (something nobody knows about). Yes, some of our earlier books did not have much text but our three most recent publications “Hawaii ‘61”, “Charro!” and "The Documentaries" book are leaps and bounds ahead of some of our earlier titles as far as text is concerned.
Each book that we do has a different budget. A lot of people don’t fully understand how a price for a book is arrived at because they‘re not in the publishing business. The cost on books fluctuates not just on printing costs, but also on usage fees plus, many other things we don't do in-house, such as art direction. It’s hard to justify just how much work and payout there is for each project. We do offer our dealers a suggested retail price and most of our dealers accept this advice.
41. How many more Elvis books do you envisage to do? Many, many more I hope! (Question from Chris)
Joe: We have a lot of books, CDs, and DVDs planned for the next several years. Being the optimist that I am, I am certain that the 30th Anniversary is not the end. I still think the Elvis momentum can continue on for another five to ten more years, if not longer.
I do think that there is too much nitpicking and negativity amongst a small minority of Elvis fans. Although we all have our personality differences, we still have that common bond, which is a love for Elvis. For me personally, being an Elvis fan is very rewarding and a lot of fun. Take for example the recent announcement that the Estate is releasing an “Ultimate Film Collection.” Some have complained that they already have the films included in the set. Not every fan has these movies. To appease those who already have them, the Estate is including several photos, a music CD, two bonus DVDs and more. I also believe that it’s been mentioned that they hopefully want to do future installments with more films, some of which remain unreleased on DVD. Future installments may also open the path to finally get the extra hour of “That’s The Way It Is” material released and just maybe even more. The “Ultimate Film Collection” is a step in the right direction, without a doubt.
Part III of the interview with Joe Tunzi will follow soon. This will focus on his Elvis and his music.
Q&A With Joe Tunzi Part III
Here is the result of the interview you, the readers of ElvisNews and For Elvis CD Collectors, did with Joe Tunzi. The questions came from all corners of the globe and world wide net, and cover a wide variety of subjects. So the result is kind of a Q&A with Joe Tunzi. Part I focuses on Elvis and Elvis’ music
Joe Tunzi On Elvis In General
42. What information do you have on Elvis making any statements about USSR? (Question from Narek Markarian)
Joe: Elvis had a deep appreciation of people from all over the world but I really have no idea if Elvis ever commented any way regarding the USSR. Elvis wasn’t a person to make political statements. Elvis was in a business where he understood the power of the podium. He knew that if you’re not knowledgeable in an area in which you‘re talking about, it could get you into trouble with the media. A lot of people underestimate this aspect of Elvis.
43. I heard that if not for Elvis Presley's benefit and contributions the Pearl Harbor Memorial may not have been completed is this true? (Question from Steve).
Joe: No, it’s more likely that the USS Arizona Memorial would have been built irregardless of Elvis’ concert. It may have taken a little longer to build the memorial but I believe it still would have gotten done. Six months after the benefit concert, Hawaiian Senator Daniel Inouye was able to secure $150,000 in federal funds to assist in building the memorial. These funds had been lobbied for by AmVets National Commander Harold Berc. So it really didn’t stop with Elvis and it didn‘t really begin with him either. Construction of the memorial had already begun in late 1960 and concluded in the spring of 1962. There were many others besides Elvis who contributed their time and effort to getting the money raised. It’s a shame that Elvis has overshadowed the other individuals and their contributions of time and money.
44. I am curious to know what was inside the gift Elvis gave to Priscilla on her birthday in a long box that she opens but we cannot see what is inside. In the film she is dressed in green and then she cries having Elvis by her side. I was wondering what it could be? (Question from Vera Regina Prandi)
Joe: I’m not really an expert on this but I would have to guess that the home movie was taken in Palm Springs shortly after their wedding where Elvis may have given Priscilla a gift. I would have to guess that it’s either a necklace or a bracelet.
45. Elvis was always known for his generosity, especially to those in need. What has surprised me is that I have never heard of Elvis providing help for guitarist Hank Garland following Hank's debilitating accident. Similarly, no book I have ever read has even mentioned what Elvis might have thought about his accident. Legend has it that Hank was leaving an Elvis session when the accident occurred. Do you know how Elvis responded? (Question from T-roy Sims).
Joe: I have spoken several times to Brian, Hank’s nephew and his caretaker before Hank passed away several years ago. I don’t recall Brian ever making mention of Elvis contributing any money towards his medical bills but I’m sure that Elvis felt very bad that Hank was involved in a serious accident. This doesn’t mean that Elvis didn’t do anything. He may have done it without any fanfare.
46. In your book Recording Sessions vol. 3 it states that Elvis’s funeral service was recorded. Is this true and who has this audio of this sad service (question from Darren Cavanagh).
Joe: The audio was recorded by Bill Porter and was turned over to Elvis’ father, Vernon Presley. More than likely the recording is still contained in the Graceland archives.
47. Do you know how many guns Elvis owned, what his favorites were and what happened with the collection after he died? (Question from Kenneth McGowan).
Joe: I would have to think that Elvis owned many guns. Collecting guns and badges was a hobby in as much a sense as Elvis fans collect Elvis’ music and movies. It would be hard to guess how many guns Elvis ever purchased, given that he collected guns his entire career and that he purchased guns as gifts for family and friends.
Joe Tunzi On Elvis’ Music
48. This question relates to the female backing vocal(s) to the on soundtrack songs “Pocketful of Rainbows'” and “Spring fever”. Do you have any information when these overdubs were done, such as who recorded the “Pocketful of Rainbows” vocal, as well as dates, locations, and if any other production numbers were assigned to either cut during the recording process or after these overdubs were finished. (question from Garry Brennan).
Joe: "Pocketful Of Rainbows" was sung by Juliet Prowse. As for "Spring Fever" I believe this was done by B.J. Baker. Both of these were sung during post-production of their respective films.
49. You mention in Sessions III, possible recordings of Elvis and Tom Jones. Do you think they really exist and chance for a release? (Question from Samuel Ketenjian).
Joe: This rumor comes from a well known paparazzi photographer, Peter Borsari. He took several pictures of Elvis and Tom Jones together for a then upcoming article in a magazine. He told me several years ago before he passed away that he witnessed Elvis and Tom Jones fooling around singing while a portable cassette or a reel-to reel recorder on a table was in use. One of the titles he distinctively recalls Elvis singing was the Billy Eckstine number “With These Hands.” In the biography “Tom Jones: Close Up” by Lucy Ellis and Bryony Sutherland, it is mentioned that Tom first met Elvis on the set of “Paradise, Hawaiian Style” and Elvis came up to Tom singing “With These Hands.” Tom also mentioned in the book that he regretted not being able to locate some 8 mm film of him and Elvis jamming together that he said was shot by Joe Esposito and that Priscilla was unable to locate. Whether this is of the same jam is unclear.
50. What can you say about rumor that John Lennon suggested Elvis to sing Imagine in duet? Have they ever met after the meeting with Beatles? (Question from Narek Markarian)
Joe: No, Elvis and John Lennon did not ever meet again after their meeting on August 27, 1965 at Elvis’ home. As for the rumor regarding “Imagine” I would be willing to guarantee that it is not valid at all.
51. Do you think the unreleased takes and studio talk/clowning from Elvis' May 1971 Nashville recording sessions, where he recorded a lot of Christmas music, will ever be released by BMG or FTD? (Question from Jeanne Pellicani).
Joe: A great idea would be for FTD to do two 7”CD sets of the 1971 albums “Elvis Sings The Wonderful World Of Christmas” and “He Touched Me.” Rarely anyone mentions these two albums for potential classic album material. A third FTD could be dedicated to outtakes from the non-secular material from the March, May and June sessions. If FTD wants three releases in November, this would be the ideal way to present these 1971 outtakes.
52. Do you feel the CBS 77 tapes should be released by EPE? ((Question from Cory)
Joe: Yes, absolutely the Estate should release “Elvis In Concert.” Elvis only did three television specials. Why should the Estate deny the fans the material or for that matter try as much as they may to eliminate something from the public consciousness so as to make it that it didn’t ever happen. If any person from the media wanted to know about “Elvis In Concert” all they would have to do is search the internet to read about it. Also, in this day and age the media is more concerned with other agendas as opposed to Elvis’ appearance during “Elvis In Concert.” How the “Elvis In Concert” material is presented is another question. It doesn’t have to be both shows complete. It could be a DVD that contains the best of the ‘77 material.
53. In Sessions 3 you stated that the 6/28/73 St Louis Mo concert in on Soundboard in your opinion could this be a possible release? (Question from Mark Wengler).
Joe: This comes from solid information we received that the June 28, 1973 show in St. Louis was recorded on soundboard. It tied together with other information I’ve researched years ago that made it valid enough to include in “Elvis Sessions III.”
54. I wanted to know if there is any professional footage of the 69 comeback show in Las Vegas (Question from Riccardo).
Joe: I’ve never seen any professional footage from the 1969 Las Vegas engagement owned by anyone including the Estate or any production house. I doubt I will be wrong but I would love to be proven wrong on this.
55. On FTD's "I Found My Thrill" the soundboard tapes used on the last track to compile the medley differ favorably in sound from the Jan.27 D/S. Word has it that these were recorded with the addition of an audience effects mike, hence the stereo sound? The same applied with the bootlegged Aug.20, 1973 M/S. How often was this practiced? and was this restricted only to Elvis' Las Vegas shows?
Joe: I’m not sure on the technical aspects made to compile the “I Found My Thrill” medley but I do know that a good many audience recordings are owned by RCA. It is possible that parts of this medley were made up from audience recordings, some of which may actually sound better than a soundboard. To be quite frank, I’m not a big fan of this release. I think the big thump you heard when you put the CD in to play it was Elvis rolling over in his grave.
56. On FTD's "Today" re-issue it was disappointing that an unreleased outtake of "T-R-O-U-B-L-E" wasn't included in the line-up. What happened to takes 2 and 3? (Question from Darren Breeden).
Joe: I can’t speak for FTD but obviously takes 2 and 3 were not good enough for release. If I remember correctly takes 2 and 3 are not complete.
57. In the soundboard section of "Sessions III" the May 11 1974 from Los Angeles tape is listed but there is no distinction of whether it's the matinee or evening show, the former features the once only live rarity "You Can Have Her". Does it indicate both shows? (Question from Darren Breeden).
Joe: When we listed the May 11, 1974 show in Los Angeles we were referring to the evening show, not the show with “You Can Have Her.”
58. I'm very much interested in the rehearsals Elvis held leading up to his '69 stage Comeback in Las Vegas. Do you know of any recordings that were taken during the time of July 18 - July 31st? Is there any written material available to tell us what songs Elvis might have rehearsed other than your list in the rehearsal section in your Sessions III book? (Question from Alex from Germany).
Joe: A lot of the rehearsals for 1969 were done at RCA’s facilities in Hollywood, which would make it very likely that rehearsals could and would be recorded. Remember that Elvis did in fact have a new band, new backup vocalists and an orchestra that would need reference copies of how Elvis wanted to present these songs on stage. Logic would dictate that some of these rehearsals would be in these people’s hands.
59. Also I know that Elvis started very early in '69 together with Charlie Hodge to compile lists of possible material for the shows. Do you have or do you know of any written transcripts of this period either by Elvis or by Charlie that would shed some light on this material? (Question from Alex from Germany).
Joe: A few years ago I was privileged to look through Elvis’ personal lyric book, which was put together by Elvis and Charlie Hodge. This book had lyrics for practically every song Elvis ever did in concert as well as for some he planned to incorporate into the show but never did. I hope to have more information on this in the near future.
60. And last
but not least, how did you come up with the list of rehearsed songs that you
mention in your Session III book? Do you have further information on that other
than what's been published already? (Question from Alex from Germany).
Joe: We do have some documentation of paperwork regarding the rehearsals. I would imagine the Estate has some of this as well and most likely more of this paperwork.
61. There seems to be some dispute on the last 4 songs that features on the 'Concert Years' CD ("Elvis Aron Presley" box set disk 4). In my copies of both your "Sessions II & III" books I read that these songs come from Dallas - June 6 '75 however Ernst Jorgensen’s "A Life In Music" and the documentation of the EAP box both state that they come from Shreveport on June 7. Which are correct? (Question from Darren Breeden).
Joe: These last four selections were taken from the Dallas show on June 6, 1975 rather than Shreveport the following evening. I’ve based this as fact after listening to the complete show from Dallas several years ago.
62. The songs "Steamroller Blues" and "American Trilogy" from the 'Aloha' dress rehearsal that were used on past releases are in a lot better clarity and balance than what we get on the "Alternate Aloha" release with its echoes and unbalanced mix along with some sloppy and repetitive audience overdubs. Could you please explain the difference? Could it be that different tape sources were used? (Question from Darren Breeden).
Joe: Again fortunately or unfortunately it is the same tape source. The job done by Don Wardell and his team I would consider one of the worst mixing jobs on any live recording. The bass drum in some parts is louder than Elvis' vocal. This too would be an excellent release for FTD to release both shows remixed as a 7” classic album.
63. FTD records
released what's supposed to be nearly all the tracks recorded for the movie “Kid
Galahad”. At the very end of the movie Elvis sings one line from the song “I Got
Lucky” and it sounds quite a bit different from any of the additional tracks
provided in FTD's “Kid Galahad” release. One of my friends said he thought they
had just lifted the line from one of the takes then embellished it with horns.
What do you think?
Joe: The film company “Mirisch Brothers” took a take of “I Got Lucky” and simply embellished it with horns during the post-production of the film. This is something that occurred during a good many of Elvis’ films during post-production on certain selections.
64. If the line is from one of the takes already released do you know which take? I wish they had released it in the same form as it came out in the movie because it's quite lovely with the horn work they applied. (Question from Rejane Hinkle)
Joe: I believe it is the master that was edited and embellished with an orchestra during post-production of the film.
65. According to Ernst, during the recording of "Blue eyes crying in the rain" at Graceland in 1976, Elvis was kind of rude to guitar player Billy Sanford (“Cover him up David”). Have you ever interviewed him? If you did, can you tell us what his recollections of the session and of Elvis were? (Question from Mattia Berti).
Joe: I’ve interviewed Billy Sanford several times and he is one of the nicest guys I’ve ever talked to. He truly is a gentleman who regards the Jungle Room Sessions as one of the many highlights of his career. Yes, Elvis was being sarcastic with his uncalled for remark. It’s a letdown that Elvis has one of the finest guitar players at his session and Elvis disregards him. In my opinion, Billy's guitar playing on "Blue Eyes Cryin In The Rain" is one of the highlights of these recording sessions. Billy also recalled that they attempted a few rundowns of “Feelings” but then they decided to move on.
66. Why don't launch a national "barn search", a huge "all USA campaign" to find some new, unpublished or unreleased material which is hidden? We could certainly find out some real gems. What so you think of that idea? Also, do you think that a recording exists of the 1961 Memphis Show and is there a recording of the July 31st 1969 show and a soundboard recording from June 26 1977? (Question from Louie Germain Tremblay).
Joe: If anyone could do a national search for new material (audio, video, photographs, documents), it would be the Estate along with Robert Sillerman. Yes, the Estate could and probably should bring in the record label. It could be a massive hunt with rewards for each piece purchased. This is something that the Estate maybe should implement if they really want to do an anthology/documentary. There are no professional recordings of either show in Memphis in 1961 or of the Opening Night V.I.P. show on July 31, 1969. I seriously have my doubts that there would even be audience recordings of either show given the fact that the 1961 shows were for dignitaries who paid $100 a plate and tickets and the ‘69 show was for people Elvis and the Colonel invited. As far as the June 26, 1977 concert in Indianapolis is concerned, this is something that definitely was recorded on soundboard.
67. What about the rumors surrounding the 76 Graceland Sessions? Do you know if songs like “Blue Eyes”, “Feelings” and so on, survived on tape? I also read that Elvis usually warmed up playing the piano. Was any of that material ever recorded? (Question from Joe and Ulli)
Joe: I don' t know what "Blue Eyes" is that you're referring to but again the only chance that some of this material would exist is if one of the mini-cassettes that some of the musicians recorded while the sessions took place included such a selection. However, being that they were not recorded on the best of equipment, this would likely make for a low fidelity listening experience as the quality suffers tremendously. Just a few of these mini-cassettes have been located but it’s still a possibility that the few that are unaccounted for may contain what you're asking about. At the end of the Jungle Room Sessions Elvis asked David Briggs to stick around on February 11-12. David got paid but Elvis never showed up.
68. And what about the mystery of the complete 71 session? Why did BMG only release a handful of outtakes so far? Is there a tape of Elvis doing more Dylan songs? From what I heard, he worked on songs such as “Walking Down The Line”, “One Too Many Mornings”, “If Not For You”, “Blowing In The Wind”, “All I Really Want To Do”, “It Ain’t Me Babe”. These songs were mentioned in the book “Stolen Moments”. (Question from Joe and Ulli)
Joe: As far as I know the only Dylan songs Elvis recorded in 1971 are "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right" and the bit of "I Shall Be Released." There are however two different versions of “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right.” Both seem to run approximately the same time (11 minutes). Elvis may have jammed on "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right" as early as the September 10-11, 1967 or the January '68 sessions.
69. Do more outtakes from the 1971 studio version of “My Way” exist? It can’t be that only one take exists, released by BMG on the 70’s Master Box. (Question from Joe and Ulli)
Joe: You may have a point but in the RCA archives only the master is represented, which may indicate that it was done in one take.
70. Will there ever emerge any tapes containing material of those rehearsal sessions prior to Elvis Presley’s legendary Las Vegas season of 1969? (Question from Peter Hauri).
Joe: I think I’ve answered this question earlier but I’ll try to reiterate what I said before. Given that Elvis was starting a new band with new backup vocalists and that he was being accompanied by an orchestra, it would be logical that there are rehearsal recordings from 1969 out there. All of these people would need reference copies so as to work out arrangements. To give even more credence to the thought that there are rehearsal recordings is the fact that many rehearsals were done at RCA studios in Hollywood, California where equipment was readily available to record reference copies. Why have no rehearsals have turned up? It may be that these individuals feel quite differently about seeing rehearsal tapes released that Elvis may have given to them personally than the fan. The fan is more inclined to want to hear everything whereas the person with the rehearsal tape might look at it as a personal memento that’s meant to be kept private.
On behalf of the readers of ElvisNews.com and For Elvis CD Collectors Only we’d like to thank Joe Tunzi for taking the time to answer all seventy questions, sharing his view and experience with all of us.