A Strange Session --> August 22, 1967

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drjohncarpenter
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A Strange Session --> August 22, 1967

Post by drjohncarpenter »

Here's a little background on the RCA Hollywood studio session for Elvis Presley that never was, and only revealed by RCA's Ernst Jørgensen many years after the fact. It was producer Billy Strange's first shot at revitalizing Presley's recording career. Songs were carefully chosen, hot Los Angeles musicians booked.

Can you imagine how bummed Billy must have felt when he got the news to ... call off the session?

The work set for Tuesday, August 22, 1967 became a very strange, last-minute cancellation. Although the explanation has always been that an incident involving Presley associate Richard Davis shut down the session date (driving one of Elvis' cars, he hit and killed a gardener who had unexpectedly stepped off a curb), research proves this actually occurred in 1963! So ... it remains a mystery to this day why management told Elvis to immediately vacate his Rocco Place house and fly to Las Vegas.

The song list in Billy's capable hands was prone to change, and did so right up to the August 22 deadline. Elvis submitted tons of suggestions, and many were of a more uptempo nature than the final selections, such as Roy Hamilton's wonderful rhythmic rocker, "Don't Let Go."

The assembled Los Angeles musicians and vocalists, like Al Casey, Chuck Berghofer, B.J. Baker, Thurl Ravenscroft and Larry Knechtel, would eventually pop up at Presley sessions led by Strange in March and October 1968, and for June 1968 sessions in support of Steve Binder's NBC-TV Special.

The unused titles noted in Ernst's book, JAT's session journals, and elsewhere are:


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



Ramblin' Rose (Noel Sherman, Joe Sherman)
- #2 hit for Nat "King" Cole in September 1962

- Nat "King" Cole - Ramblin' Rose


620000_Capitol 4804.JPG

EDIT: this selection may actually be a different, rockin' song issued in 1962, and covered in 1965!



Ramblin' Rose (Fred Burch, Marijohn Wilkin)
- a Jerry Lee Lewis B-side released in January 1962
- very much reminiscent of Ray Charles' "What'd I Say"
- interestingly, songwriter Fred Burch placed three tunes on Elvis' 1967 "Easy Come, Easy Go" soundtrack EP

- Jerry Lee Lewis And his pumping piano - Ramblin' Rose


620000_Sun 374.JPG

(Love Is Like A) Ramblin' Rose (Fred Burch, Marijohn Wilkin, Obrey Wilson)
- stunning uptempo cover released in 1965 by Ted Taylor and produced by Billy Sherrill
- Taylor was a former member of the Cadets, the doo-wop vocal group who first cut “Stranded In The Jungle”
- see: http://www.headheritage.co.uk/unsung/thebookofseth/ted-taylor-im-so-satisfied-love-is-like-a-ramblin-rose

- Ted Taylor - (Love Is Like A) Ramblin' Rose


650000_Okeh 7222.JPG

I Tell The Sea (Tom Jones, Gordon Mills)
- waxed by Tom Jones in 1965 ... Mills was also Tom's manager

- Tom Jones - I Tell The Sea


650000_Decca UK 12121.JPG

Brown-Eyed Handsome Man (Chuck Berry)
- One of the great rockers, released in 1956 as a B-side
- Elvis sang it at "Million Dollar Quartet" jam that December, all spoke in awe of Berry's songwriting prowess

- Chuck Berry - Brown-Eyed Handsome Man


560000_Chess 1635.JPG

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

- Seekers - I'll Never Find Another You


650000_Capitol 5383.JPG

Tonight I Won't Be There (Arthur Kent, Ed Warren)
- 1961 ballad by r&b singer Adam Wade
- earlier that year made #7 with "Take Good Care Of Her" which Elvis covered in 1973

- Adam Wade - Tonight I Won't Be There


610900_ Coed 556_Wade.JPG

Baby What You Want Me To Do (Jimmy Reed)
- classic 1959 blues shuffle which hit r&B top ten in 1960
- Elvis performed it at the "Clambake" after-party in April 1967
- cut classic live version during small combo jams taped for 1968 NBC-TV Special

Jimmy Reed - Baby What You Want Me To Do


591109_Vee-Jay 333_Reed.JPG

Pretty cool session, it might have been.

Instead, because of what happened, RCA's Felton Jarvis won a reprieve of sorts, and was assigned three straight Presley sessions in Nashville in September and October 1967 and January 1968, with some success.

Enjoy!

If anyone knows more, please share.

-----

This topic was inspired by FECC member Bodie, thanks!
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Last edited by drjohncarpenter on Sat Oct 13, 2018 11:08 pm, edited 8 times in total.
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Re: A Strange Session --> August 22, 1967

Post by Rich_TCB »

Very interesting - thanks Doc & Bodie.

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

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

Post by drjohncarpenter »

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

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Memphis_Mafia
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Re: A Strange Session --> August 22, 1967

Post by rickeap »

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

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

Post by rickeap »

Thanks for the info Doc
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Re: A Strange Session --> August 22, 1967

Post by midnightx »

Great post Doc.
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Re: A Strange Session --> August 22, 1967

Post by KingOfTheJungle »

Doc, good post...BUT...

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

I would think a much more likely contender would be Jerry Lee Lewis's 'Sun' track of the same name.
Last edited by KingOfTheJungle on Tue Jan 05, 2010 8:22 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: A Strange Session --> August 22, 1967

Post by epf »

Thanks Bodie and Doc. Great info. Very behind the scenes. Great.
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Re: A Strange Session --> August 22, 1967

Post by Gregory Nolan Jr. »

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

At a point where we have analyzed the known facts of familiar sessions seemingly to death, it is the more mysterious aspects of his legacy that remain a wide open vista. Whether it's Ernst Jorgensen's open-ended search for Sun nuggets (on recordings, photos, touring, etc.) or that would-be gem version of "Feelings" ( :lol:_or whatever else it we love -too hate?- to speculate about) we should embrace the fact that we still have more to learn about Elvis Presley.
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Re: A Strange Session --> August 22, 1967

Post by Rtn 2 Sndr »

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

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

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

Unfortunately, we will never know.
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Re: A Strange Session --> August 22, 1967

Post by midnightx »

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

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

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

Unfortunately, we will never know.
And a much needed creative endeavor for Elvis. Fortunately, Elvis would cross paths with Steve Binder shortly thereafter.

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

Post by Harty »

Iam still sure, that a studio version of "Baby what you want me to do" exists. Elvis played this song very often in his 68 special with his guys and with a nice solo in his standup show as well. Also he did the song live in 1969. The 68 version sounds very familiar with his muscians. What do you think ?
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Re: A Strange Session --> August 22, 1967

Post by Alexander »

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

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

Post by rickeap »

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

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

Post by brian »

Had this session taken place I wish more original material would've been recorded instead of all those covers.
I always liked the songs Billy Strange wrote and arranged for Elvis so it's a shame he wasn't planning on writing songs for this particular session.
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Re: A Strange Session --> August 22, 1967

Post by Swingin-Little-Guitar-Man »

i enjoyed that doc! Nice post.
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Re: A Strange Session --> August 22, 1967

Post by londonflash »

Enjoyed reading that post.

Among other things, I've always wondered what Guitar Man would have sounded like from this session without Jerry Reed on guitar.
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Re: A Strange Session --> August 22, 1967

Post by Simon1 »

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

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

Post by brian »

londonflash wrote:Enjoyed reading that post.

Among other things, I've always wondered what Guitar Man would have sounded like from this session without Jerry Reed on guitar.
probably not as good it's been said the guitarists had trouble getting the sound down at the September 67 session so Felton called Jerry Reed in to play guitar.
I think without Reed it's very possible that Elvis and the band could of made several attempts but probably would've ended up with no satisfactory master.

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

Post by brian »

Harty wrote:Iam still sure, that a studio version of "Baby what you want me to do" exists. Elvis played this song very often in his 68 special with his guys and with a nice solo in his standup show as well. Also he did the song live in 1969. The 68 version sounds very familiar with his muscians. What do you think ?
I think if he did Sony or the old RCA would've released it by now.
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Re: A Strange Session --> August 22, 1967

Post by joshferrell »

it's interesting that this "lost" session took place in 1967 when elvis was bored with his music/movies,then almost exactly 10 years later there's a "lost" session in 1977 when elvis was bored again..also in the mid 60's elvs started slurring his speach on the recordings and started to record real sad depressing songs then almost exatly 10 years later he starts in with the slurring on the speech and starts recording depressing sad songs,it makes me wonder if elvis had lived if he would have made a
comeback in1978 like he did in 1968,..
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Re: A Strange Session --> August 22, 1967

Post by Gregory Nolan Jr. »

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

Rich_TCB wrote:Very interesting - thanks Doc & Bodie.

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

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

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

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

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

And hey, what did Bodie come with, exactly? I'd like to see that thread.
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Re: A Strange Session --> August 22, 1967

Post by Bodie »

Greg,

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

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

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

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

Post by elvissessions »

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

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

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

Without Elvis, it seemed he floundered a bit and was eventually reduced to accepting donations from fans to help support his new wife and children. Their needs continued after his sudden death in his sleep -- though, again, fans did try to help along the way.
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Re: A Strange Session --> August 22, 1967

Post by Gregory Nolan Jr. »

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

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