Elvis Presley's Sun Recordings on RCA CD reissues

Reconsider Baby (PCD1-5418) Elvis Presley
The Sun Sessions CD (6414-2-R) Elvis Presley
The Million Dollar Quartet (74321 13840 2) Various Artists
The Great Performances (PD 82227) Elvis Presley
When All Was Kool (CDT-2001) Elvis Presley
Elvis For Everyone (3450-2-R) Elvis Presley
The Complete 50's Masters (PD 90689(5) Elvis Presley
Elvis Presley (ND 89046) Elvis Presley
Platinum - A Life In Music (07863 67469 2) Elvis Presley
A Golden Celebration (07863 67456) Elvis Presley
Sunrise (07863 67675 2) Elvis Presley
Elvis At Sun (828766 12051) Elvis Presley
The Complete Louisiana Hayride  Archieves  1954 - 1956 (MRS 30001256) Elvis Presley
 For Elvis Presley's Biography (See:> The Sun Biographies <
Elvis Presley's Sun recordings can be heard on the playlists from 706 Union Avenue Sessions on > YouTube <
1985 RCA Records (CD) 500/200rpm PCD1-5481 mono digital

A 12-song, budget-priced compilation of Elvis' most notable blues sides for the label. A good place to start  digging Elvis' commitment to the music, always returning to it right up through the 1970s like an old friend,  whenever he needed a quick fix of the real thing, as he takes on everything from rhythm and blues slices like  Tommy Tucker's "High Heel Sneakers" to Percy Mayfield's "Stranger In My Own Home Town''. Major  highlights on this collection are Elvis playing acoustic rhythm guitar and driving the band through a take of  the Lowell Fulson title track, blistering versions of two Arthur Crudup songs, an unreleased Sun recording of  Lonnie Johnson's "Tomorrow Night," and the R-rated take of Smiley Lewis's "One Night (Of Sin)''. Also included 2 page booklet with liner notes by Peter Guralnick. The fine photograph on the cover was taken by Lloyd Russell Sherman.
Elvis Sings The Blues
''I remember the first time I met the great bluesman, Howlin' Wolf, in 1966. He started talking about white blues singers, a new concept at the time. He liked Paul Butterfield, he said, also "that other boy - what's his name? Somewhere out in California, that ''Hound Dog'' number." He was talking about Elvis Presley. But surely Elvis couldn't be considered strictly a singer, somebody pointed out. Maybe not, conceded Wolf in that great hoarse growl of his, but "he started from the blues. If he stopped, he stopped. It's nothing to laugh at. He made his pull from the blues''.

Wolf was right, of course, but I never thought the world would come around to that point of view. Elvis Presley, Bluesman? It sounds a little far-fetched, even though this was the very title that my friends and I conferred on Elvis in fantasy as we were growing up and discovered, one by one, both the songs on this record and others like them buried on albums, disguised as Christmas offerings, obscured as the B-sides of singles. Elvis continued to sing the blues, obviously because he wanted to. No one was pushing him to record this sort of material, and it seemed to us over the years as if he was transmitting a kind of secret message, keeping faith with his roots and his fans as he delivered some of his most engaged, and engaging, performances (often in the midst of an utter wasteland of surrounding material) on songs that recalled his earliest sides. His first record ("That's All Right"), after all, was a blues. The first source of cultural confusion that he provoked was primarily racial (when he went on the radio in Memphis immediately after the release of his first single, disc jockey Dewey Phillips immediately established the name of the high school from which he had recently graduated, simply to dispel the widespread assumption that he was black). And if he didn't exactly fit the stereotype -well, neither did Howlin' Wolf, neither does B.B. King; individuation is the essence of the blues. At its best this is truly a music of personal expression, not happy, not sad, not limited to any musical formula, but sui generis, engaging the singer on whatever terms he happens to choose. And in the end who could be more sui generis than Elvis Presley, a bluesman who yearned to be saved, a rocker who aspired to sing like Dean Martin, a convention-scatterer who prized convention, a white man singing the blues?

The proof should be in the music - and it is. From the opening notes of Lowell Fulson's "Reconsider Baby" (introduced by Elvis' emphatically strummed rhythm guitar) to the impassioned version of Charles Brown's "Merry Christmas Baby" that closes the album, what we get here is a singer who is altogether absorbed, and altogether at - so much so that he doesn't want to let it go and in several instances just keeps mashing home with his material down on the lyrics, repeating a verse over and over (like Wolf, or his favorite gospel singers) until he has wrung every last ounce of emotion from it. There's every kind of blues here, from the intensity of "Stranger In My Own Home Town", a Percy Mayfield tune that Elvis transforms into a very personal metaphor even in the midst of some of the most screwy production work Chips Moman ever did (but it works!), to the irrepressible high spirits of "Ain't That Loving You Baby" (taken at a breakneck pace in this hitherto unreleased alternate version, which thankfully omits the Jordanaires). There's the casual insouciance of Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup's "So Glad You're Mine," the breathtaking beauty of Lonnie Johnson's blues ballad "Tomorrow Night" (which in this also unreleased Sun demo version is taken almost a capella) along with the tough rhythm and blues stance of "Down In The Alley" and "One Night (Of Sin)'' - yes, these are the original, un bowdlerized lyrics. Sometimes the instrumentation is a little shaky, occasionally the production may falter, but Elvis is always idiomatic, lyrically at ease, rhythmically confident, never doubting for a moment that when he growls "Play those blues, boy," his accompanists will respond in kind. When his voice fails him (on the "Hi-Heel Sneakers" session he seems to have had a cold, as well as to have pitched the song too low), he improvises like a bluesman, making a virtue out of necessity and creating out of his hoarseness a sense of wordless you feel as if on each of these songs Elvis has been set free. There is no need to menace. The whole album is like that - worry about image, there is no need to worry about effect. He remains on each of the cuts the same shiny-eyed teenager who showed up in the Sun studio in Memphis one day and declared to label owner Sam Phillips (who had himself declared already that he was looking for a white boy with "the Negro sound and the Negro feel") that he was a "sucker" for the blues.

In the early 1960s, when Elvis was out of style, he seemed to lose faith in himself and his music. Not surprisingly the signal for his regeneration was a series of blues singles ("Big Boss Man'', "Guitar Man'', ''Hi-Heel Sneakers'', ''U.S Male") that went largely unnoticed at the time, and the '68 TV Special, whose centerpiece was a nakedly intimate, almost embarrassingly spontaneous live concert he did with his original Sun sessionmates (now packaged on video as ''One Night with You''), which focused not surprisingly on the blues. In the end I don't think there is any question that this is what Elvis will be remembered for: the feeling that he created, not necessarily the fashion. And that's what you get on this album in abundance: the pure feeling of Elvis' music, unencumbered by myth or self-consciousness, the very sound that first rocked the world.

- Peter Guralnick, February 1985
1 - Reconsider Baby
2 - Tomorrow Night (Sun Recording) 3:00 > Take 7 <
3 - So Glad You're Mine
4 - One Night
5 - When It Rains, It Really Pours
6 - My Baby Left Me
7 - Ain't That Loving You Baby
8 - I Feel So Bad
9 - Down In The Alley
10 - Hi-Heel Sneakers
11 - Stranger In My Own Home Town
12 - Merry Christmas Baby
Project A&R Director - Gregg Geller
Project Marketing Director - Don Wardell
Project Engineer - Rock Rowe
Mastering Engineer - Jack Adelman
June 1987 RCA BMG (CD) 500/200rpm 6414-2-R-11 mono digital
Silver label. RCA logo left at center. Tracks printed in black letters. Although this compact disc is titled "The Sun Sessions", it is actually the two-Lp record set "The Complete Sun Sessions" minus six tracks. Those six tracks are the outtakes: "I Love You Because" (Take 1) and the alternate takes "I Love You Because" (Take 4), "I'm Left, You're Right, She's Gone" ("My Baby's Gone") (Takes 8, 10, 11, and 12). 10-pages booklet inside the box with liner notes by Peter Guralnick. Perfect starting point to understanding how Elvis, as Howlin' Wolf so aptly put it, "made his pull from the blues''. All the source points are there for the hearing; Arthur Crudup's "That's All Right'', Roy Brown's "Good Rockin' Tonight'', Kokomo Arnold's "Milkcow Blues Boogie'', Arthur Gunter's "Baby, Let's Play House'', and Junior Parker's "Mystery Train''. Modern day listeners coming to these recordings for the first time will want to reclassify this music into a million subgenres, with all the hyphens firmly in place. But what we ultimately have here is a young Elvis Presley, mixing elements of blues, gospel and hillbilly music together and getting ready to unleash its end result, rock and roll, on an unsuspecting world.

The Master Takes
1 - That's All Right (1954) > Sun 209-A < 
2 - Blue Moon Of Kentucky (1954) > Sun 209-B <
3 - Good Rockin' Tonight (1954) > Sun 210-A < 
4 - I Don't Care If The Sun Don't Shine (1954) > Sun 210-B <
5 - Milkcow Blues Boogie (1955) > Sun 215-A < 
6 - You're A Heartbreaker (1955) > Sun 215-B <
7 - Baby, Let's Play House (1955) > Sun 217-B <
8 - I'm Left, You're Right, She's Gone (1955) > Sun 217-A < 
The Master Takes
9 - Mystery Train (1955) > Sun 223-A < 
10 - I Forgot To Remember To Forget (1955) > Sun 223-B <
11 - I Love You Because (1956)
12 - Blue Moon (1956)
13 - Tomorrow Night (1985)
14 - I'll Never Let You Go (1956)
15 - Just Because (1956)
16 - Tryin' To Get To You (1956)
The Outtakes
17 - Harbor Lights (1976)
18 - I Love You Because (Take 2) (1987)
19 - That's All Right (1984)
20 - Blue Moon Of Kentucky (1954)
21 - I Don't Care If The Sun Don't Shine (1984)
22 - My Baby Is Gone (Take 9) (1984)
23 - I'll Never Let You Go (1984)
24 - When It Rains, It Really Pours (1983)
The Alternate Takes
25 - I Love You Because (Take 3) (1987)
26 - I Love You Because (Take 5) (1987)
27 - My Baby Is Gone (Take 7) (1987)
28 - My Baby Is Gone (Take 12) (1987)
Original Sun Recordings
He tried not to show it, but he felt so inferior... Elvis Presley probably innately was the most introverted person that ever came into that studio. He didn't play with bands. He didn't go to this little club and pick and grin. All he did was sit with his guitar on the side of his bed at home. I don't think he even played on the front porch.

- Sam Phillips, founder of Sun Records

It was on a hot summer day in 1953 that a young man, just out of high school, first showed up all the door of the Memphis Recording Service, a custom studio whose motto read ''We record anything – anywhere – anytime''. For a few minutes he paced nervously outside the plate-glass window clutching a beat-up guitar, then finally plunged into the small outer office whose reception area was already filled to capacity by the three or four customers waiting to make a "personal" record of their own for just $3.98 plus tax. Sitting behind the desk jammed to the left of the door was an attractive woman in her mid-thirties, who took the young man's name and politely asked him to take a seat while he waited his turn. "(At first) I wondered if he wanted a handout'', Marion Keisker later recalled. "We get a lot of drifters along Union Avenue. His hair was long and shaggy, and he was wearing khaki work clothes and was dirty. Of course he had his guitar''.

"W"ho do you sound like''> Mrs. Keisker asked, just to make conversation.
"l don 't sound like nobody'', said the young man politely.

When it finally came his turn to record, Marion Keisker ushered the young man back info the little studio where blues singers B.B. King and Howlin Wolf and Ike Turner had all cut their first sides for Memphis Recording Service owner Sam Phillips, who had a leasing arrangement with the Chess and Modern labels in Chicago and Los Angeles. Phillips, who had recently started his own label, Sun, was just about to go out for lunch, so Marion set up the acetate disc cutter herself and, halfway through the young man's performance of his first song, an old Ink Spots number called "My Happiness'', she decided to make a reference tape as well. His guitar playing was rudimentary, and his singing style "changed every eight bars'' as he swung erratically from a thin tenor to a somewhat wobbly bass and back again - but Marion felt there was something "differed'' about his voice and she thought Sam would, too. She got about a third of "My Happiness" on tape and all of his second song, another Ink Spots number called "That's When Your Heartaches Begin'', complete with recitation. She noted down his address and a neighbor's telephone number on a piece of paper that was headed: Elvis Presley. Good ballad singer. Hold''.

The young man returned some six months later, on January 4, 1954, and recorded two more slow numbers, this time in a western style, "Casual Love Affair" and "I'll Never Stand In Your Way''. On this occasion it was 31-year-old Sam Phillips who noted the singer's name and the fact that he was "a good ballad singer''. If anything suited to his style were to come up in a commercial vein, Sam assured the young truck driver, he would call him. "I had never sung anything but slow music and ballads in my life at that time'', said Elvis Presley, reminiscing just two years later.

He stopped by the studio often in the next few months, trying out songs and seeking out advice, but Sam Phillips didn't call him for anything even resembling a session until June. Phillips had gotten a demonstration record that spring from Peer Publishing in Nashville on a song called "Without You'' and, struck by the soulful quality in the singers voice, had contacted Peer to see if he could put out the demo on Sun. No one at Peer even knew the name of the singer, though; it was just a young black man who had been hanging around the studio.

"What about the kid with sideburns''? said Marion Keisker.
''If you can get him over here.. said Phillips.
I called and asked him at his convenience to come see us'', recalled Marion. "l turned around, and there was Elvis coming through the door. I think he ran the way''.

As good an idea as if may have seemed to every one involved, it didn't work out the way that any of them planned. For whatever reason, Elvis Presley couldn't capture the special quality that Sam Phillips had heard in that anonymous black man's voice and Sam Phillips was definitely looking for something different. For Phillips, who had started out as a radio announcer and engineer in his hometown Florence, Alabama, individuality had always been the one quality he had most pursued and prized. In Memphis he had made his reputation broadcasting the big bands on a national hookup for the Hotel Peabody Skyway, but he soon grew disillusioned with the way those bands were ''programmed''. Every orchestra, every number sounded alike. It bored me, and I assumed it also bored the public. It just seemed to me that (the Negro people) were the only ones who had any freshness left in their music''. That was why he had started the Memphis Recording Service in 1950, "just to make records with some of (the) great Negro artists''. And it was why he had started his own record label two years later. He had never, he boasted at the time, "made a record with an established star yet", and he was looking even then for the same distinctiveness that he continues to seek to this day.

"Without You" was simply not the right vehicle to bring it out in this singer. At Phillips' instigation the young man ran through every song in his repertoire, including "Rag Mop'', a host of Billy Eckstine favorites, and just about every number in the Dean Martin songbook. Sam Phillips wasn't sure just what he head but he knew he heard something. "I suppose it was all the gospel singing Elvis had done that gave me a hint of that special thing'', he said a year or two later. Marion Keisker had evidently heard the same thing when she originally noted the name. ''Over and over," she told Elvis biographer Jerry Hopkins, "I remember Sam saying, 'If I could find a white man who had the Negro sound and the Negro feel, I could make a billion dollars'''.

At this same time there was a young guitarist in Memphis named Scotty Moore who also had a vision. Moore, recently out of the Navy and working as a hatter in in his brother's dry-cleaning establishment, had just cut a record for Sun with the group he was fronting, Doug Poindexter and the Starlite Wranglers. The record, "My Kind Of Carrying On'', has been pointed to as a seminal step in the development of rockabilly music, but if it in fact represented the seed of the revolution, it was a very modest seed that remained to be planted. For Scotty Moore if was contact with Sam Phillips that crystallized his sense of where the music was going.

"He knew there was a crossover coming'', says Scotty. "He foresaw it. I think that recording all those black artists had to give him an insight; he just didn't know where that insight would lead. Well, Sam and I got to be pretty good friends, just by my hanging around the studio at the time. It got to be an almost daily thing, fact, I would get through work and just drift down to the studio, and we would sit there over coffee at Miss Taylor's Cafe next door and say to each other, ''What is it?''.

That was where Sam Phillips first mentioned Elvis Presley's name to Scotty Moore "The best I can remember, he can sing pretty good'', Sam said. Well, that started me to thinking, and every day after that I would ask him, Did you call the guy? No, ''Did you call the guy? After a couple of weeks of this - either me or Marion bothering him all the time - he finally went back to the studio one day and actually came up with the number. He fold me, 'You get him to come over the house and see what you think of him'. Which I did''.

"Bill Black (the bass player in the Starlite Wranglers) lived just a couple of doors down, and he came down and listened for a while. Well, you know, Elvis came in, he was wearing a pink suit and white shoes and duck-tail, I thought my wife was going to go out the back door. We sat around a couple of hours going through a bit of everything - Marty Robbins, Billy Eckstine, Hank Snow, Eddy Arnold, you name it. After he left Bill came back and said, do you think? I said, 'Well, he sings good, but I can't really say he knocks me out.' This was on a Sunday afternoon. The next day I told Sam the same thing, and he called Elvis to set up an audition''.

''A few days later, I believe it was the following Monday night (this would have been July 5, 1954, following that June 27 initial meeting), Elvis came in for the audition. Sam just wanted to see what he sounded like on tape, because quite naturally you can sound quite a bit different in the studio than sitting around the living room singing. It wasn't intended to be a session - that was the reason just Bill and I were there. Well, we tried three or four things. ''Love You Because''' I believe was the first thing we actually put on tape. Then we were taking a break, I don't know, we were having Cokes and coffee, and all of a sudden Elvis started singing a song, jumping around and just acting the fool, and then Bill picked up his bass and he started acting the fool, too, and, you know, I started playing with 'em. Sam, I think, had the door to the control booth open - I don't know, he was either editing some tape or doing something - and he stuck his head out and said, you doing?' And we said don't know'. 'Well, back up,' he said, 'try to find a place to start, and do it again'''.

And that, according to Scotty Moore, was the genesis of "That's All Right'', a free-flying blues with a country beat that sounds - for all the work that went into it - as fresh and spontaneous as the most spontaneous Howlin' Wolf blues that Sam Phillips ever put on wax. The next night the trio came up with "Blue Moon Of Kentucky'', a reworking of the Bill Monroe classic arrived at under similar circumstances, and by the end of the week Sam Phillips had a two-sided acetate to deliver to three Memphis disc jockeys. Country disc jockeys Uncle Richard and Sleepy Eye John jumped on the bluegrass tune, but it was the irrepressible Dewey Phillips, a Memphis taste maker whose role in the popularization of rock and and rhythm and blues cannot be overstated, who really put the record across. He played it over and over again, first one side, then the other, while the unwitting subject of all this furor went to the movies (a western double bill). "When the phone calls and telegrams started to come in," Dewey told writer Stanley Booth, "I got hold of Elvis' daddy, Vernon. He said Elvis was down at Suzore's No. 2 Theatre. 'Get him over here', I said, and before long Elvis came running in. Sit down, I'm gone interview you', I said. He said, 'Mr. Phillips, I don't know nothing about being interviewed'. Just don't say nothing dirty', I told him''.

"He sat down, and I said I'd let him know when we were ready to start. I had a couple of records cued up, and while they played we talked. I asked him where he went to high school, and he said, 'Humes.'I wanted to get that out, because a lot of people had thought he was colored. Finally I said, All right, Elvis, thank you very much.'Aren't you gone interview me?' he asked. 'I already have', I said. The mike's been open the whole time'. He broke out in a cold sweat''.

The record was released on July 19, just two weeks after it was recorded. On July 27, Marion Keisker brought a very uncomfortable - looking Elvis Presley down to the Memphis Press-Scimitar building, where he was interviewed by theater critic Edwin Howard (who would later make a record of his own for Sun). "Marion said he was a truck driver'', recalled Howard, "and he could only come during his lunch hour. I'll never forget.. .he walked in there looking like the wrath of God. Pimples all over his face. Duck-tail hair. Had a funny-looking thin bow tie on. He was very hard to interview. About all I could get out of him was yes and no''.

On July 30 Elvis appeared at an outdoor concert at the Overton Park Shell headlined by Slim Whitman. He didn't go over very well at the afternoon show, where he sang mostly ballads. In the evening he came back with ''Good Rockin' Tonight'', and the shock was heard all around the world. Elvis Presley himself was no less shocked, it seemed. "My very first appearance'', he recalled in a 1956 interview, "I was on a show in Memphis as an extra added single. I was scared stiff. I came out, and I was doing a fast-type tune, and everybody was hollering, and I didn't know what they were hollering at. Everybody was screaming and everything, and I came offstage and my manager told me that they was hollering because I was wiggling. And so I went back out for an encore, and I did a little more. And the more I did, the wilder they went''.

That was the story in a nutshell; that was the genesis of Elvis Presley. The more he did, the wilder they went. Everyone knows something of the progression of events. Sometimes it is portrayed Hollywood-style as a long, hard, roller coaster-like climb, with obstacles looming along the way. Unquestionably, to the participants it must have seemed like a perilous ride which could come to an end of any moment ("We didn't have any idea how this thing was going to turn out'', says Sam Phillips today (1987). With the benefit of hindsight, though, it seems more like a nuclear explosion.

On September 10, Elvis recorded "Good Rockin' Tonight'', the Wynonie Harris blues with which he had shaken up the Overton Park Shell, while "Blue Moon Of Kentucky" hit the top of the Memphis Country and Western charts (it had probably sold 20,000 copies nationally at this point). In October he made his debut on the Louisiana Hayride, the Saturday night broadcast on which Hank Williams had made his reputation, and the next month signed on as a regular, after quitting his job at Crown Electric. In November, too, he was named eighth-most- promising Country and Western vocalist by Billboard' magazine (behind Tommy Collins, Justin Tubb, and Jimmy ''C" Newman), and in December he was acknowledged as "the hottest piece of merchandise on the Louisiana Hayride... the youngster with the hillbilly blues beat" by the same magazine. Within a year he had left forever the schoolhouse gyms and hardwood floors, the shopping center openings and impromptu shows on the back of a flatbed truck, and signed with RCA Victor. By the time he was 21- years-old he had acquired the status of legend and would never again be able to venture out in the world.

All this is known and can be interpreted in various ways. What isn't known, and what can perhaps never by fully explained, is where the music came from and what caused it to hit the way if did. Nor is it simply that there never was a phenomenon quite like Elvis Presley either before or since. If this were all there was to the story, you could always point to Sinatra or the Beatles, say, as similar manifestations of cultural implosion. No, what is truly astonishing - what is unique - about Elvis Presley is that at 19 he knew instinctively not so much who he was as what he wanted to be and that, out of that desire, he was able to create a style which was original from start to finish.

That is what is so important about this record. It shows the creation of the style. It shows Elvis Presley and Sam Phillips groping for something it would have been impossible to name (simply because it didn't exist), struggling to discover a common language, and, together, creating a new form out of what anyone else might have discarded on the scrapheap of history. Even this might be deserving of only passing cultural note, were it not for the fact that the ten sides that Sun issued in the sixteen months that Elvis Presley was on the label are so perfectly realized that, had he never recorded again, they alone would be sufficient to sustain the legend of the birth of rock and roll. This is the most improbable story of all: in a tiny Memphis studio, in 1954 and 1955, Sam Phillips and Elvis Presley created rock and roll.

What do we actually hear on the Sun sides? Here is what Bob Johnson, the Memphis Press-Scimitar reporter who followed Elvis from the beginning of his career, wrote all the time. "That's All Right'' was in the rhythm and blues idiom of Negro field jazz, ''Blue Moon'' more in the country field, but there was a curious blending of the two different musics in both... (Sam Phillips) doesn't know how to catalogue Elvis exactly. He has a white voice, sings with a Negro rhythm which borrows in mood and emphasis horn country style. When I first read these words 32 years after they were written, in 1987, it was as if the theory of relativity had finally been proved by practical demonstration. Certainly this is the received wisdom about Elvis ("A white boy with black hips'', as the New York Times once said), bud as often as I and others had stated it, sometimes I wondered if we were not merely perpetuating some abstract theoretical construct on to which the participants themselves had unaccountably latched. It's only recently that I've had a chance (mainly through the Dutch

publisher and archivist, Ger Rijff, whose Long Lonely Highway and Faces and Stages: An Elvis Presley Time-Frame are essential reading and viewing) to scrutinize some of the contemporary accounts, and there is no longer any question in my mind that Elvis and Sam Phillips knew exactly what they were doing, if not why they were doing it. "The colored folks been singing it and playing it just like I'm doing now, man, for more years than I know'', declared Elvis in a 1956 interview. "They played it like that in the shanties and in their juke joints, and nobody paid it no mind till I goosed it up. I got it from them. Down in Tupelo, Mississippi, I used to hear old Arthur Crudup (the Mississippi bluesman who originated "That's All Right'') bang his box the way I do now, and I said if I ever got to the place I could feel all old Arthur felt, I'd be a music man like nobody ever saw''.

He may or may not have gotten to that place - but, of course, he did become a music man like nobody ever saw. With this record we see, insofar as you can ever see anything of the nature of creativity, how the process occurred.

The issued sides (the first ten cuts) have been written about so often that I'm not going to dwell on them here, They illustrate perfectly Sam Phillips' belief in purity, simplicity, and economy of musical expression. They also possess that indefinable spark that could not have been drown out, no matter what the production methods, if it had not simply arrived unbidden. For a clue to the more prosaic mysteries, though, listen to the outtakes and the five completed master takes (from "I Love You Because" to "Trying to Get to You") that RCA put out after Elvis came to the label. It's here that we see for the first time the extent to which spontaneity merely served as hand-maiden to a great deal of experimentation and hard work. It's here that we are finally able to glimpse not just the range of styles attempted but the range of possibilities. Musically, the song selection runs the gamut from the most sentimental of ballads ("I Love You Because" and the Hawaiian-inspired "Harbor Lights") to the most low-down of blues - but all have one element in common: a willingness to go out on a limb, a zest for taking risks, for venturing off into unknown territory, regardless of whether anyone has ever been there before.

Listen to "Blue Moon'', the Rodgers and Hart ballad which Billy Eckstine recorded in 1948 in a satin-and-silk version with which Elvis must have been familiar (Eckstine was one of his favorite singers). What is he doing to this song? What is that eerie falsetto wail? The first time I heard this cut on Elvis's debut album in 1956 when I was 12 years old, I was outraced! I must have taken it as a betrayal of rock and roll! Now I hear it somewhat differently: now it seems touching to me, a ghostly echo from the past, though whose past - Elvis' or mine - I'm not really sure. That isn't really the point, though. The point is that here in the course of a single song we witness the first rock and roll wedding; we see an improbable marriage of the most unlikely elements approaching consummation. Here is the crooner who admired Dean Martin and Eddie Fisher, the devout church-goer whose single greatest ambition was to sing with the gospel Songfellows, the Beale Street dreamer who listened to rhythm and blues bird groups and wanted more than anything to be able to sing like Clyde McPhatter, the apprentice bluesman who wanted to feel all that Arthur Crudup had felt. We hear the western clip clop of Scotty Moore's guitar. We hear all of these elements coming together, or not coming together as the case may be. We see Elvis Presley struggling blindly to create a new music by instinct and will. And we see Sam Phillips doing all that he can - technically and psychologically - to further that instinct, fulfilling his own mission to bring out of a person what was in him, to recognize that individual's unique quality and then to find the key to unlock it''.

"Tomorrow Night'', "I'll Never Let You Go (Little Darlin')'', the various takes of "I Love You Because" and "I Don't Care If the Sun Don't Shine" all offer the same blend of drama and tentative resolution. On the alternate takes of "I'm Left, You're Right, She's Gone'', a straightforward country tune written expressly for Elvis by Stan Kesler and Bill Taylor, the musicians explore a blues direction which seems unpromising at first, is then refined but finally discarded for the light breezy flavor of the issued take. "Don 't make it too damn complicated'', Sam remonstrated with Scotty after an unsuccessful take of "When It Rains, It Really Pours'', a blues which was never completed in the Sun studio and to which Elvis eventually returned nearly two years later. "That's All Right'', the song which has always been portrayed mainly as an inspired accident, appears here in a version very close to the issued take and yet undeniably lacking the magic. Simplify, Sam Phillips seems to keep on saying. "All right, boys, we just about on it now. Do it again. Do it one time for Sam''. And they did. The guitar solo got less complicated. The vocal communicated more of the essence of the song. The whole finally flowed. And at the end, just as he did when the band finally started hitting it on "Blue Moon Of Kentucky'', Sam Phillips might pronounce himself pleased. "That's fine," he says. 'Hell, that's different. That's a pop song now, nearly 'bout''. And it is.

You can see the sessions in your minds eye. Time didn't matter. Trends didn't matter. Mistakes didn't matter. "You just forgot about making a record and tried to show him'', Carl Perkins later recalled. "I'd walk out on a limb, I'd try things I knew I couldn't do, and then have to work my way out of it. I'd say, Mr. Phillips, that's terrible' He said, That's original. I said, But it's just a big original mistake'. And he said, That's what Sun Records is. That's what we are'''. There was simply no containing the enthusiasm, the ingenuousness, the sense of possibilities. You listen to the Elvis Sun sessions, and you sense the belief in those possibility, the firm conviction that if didn't matter a damn what the rest of creation thought as it went about its appointed rounds, that if didn't matter a damn if to the "music industry" Memphis was just another back water town out of which nothing, and no one of significance could ever come - there was simply no formula that could encapsulate Sam Phillips' vision or Elvis' omnivorous embrace of the world and all that was in it. That is what I think the records finally come down to: a young man hungry for success - no, hungry for everything - and just impatient to get on with it. A few years ago I happened to be watching the television documentary, "The Heroes of Rock And Roll'', with Sam Phillips, when Elvis came on the screen, looking impossibly young, impossibly expectant.

"Ah, wasn't he something? Let me fell you some - thing about him. Elvis - you looking at him now, back then - he looks so clumsy and so totally uncoordinated. And this was the beauty of it, he was being himself. Well, he had that little innocence about him, and yet he had, even then, he had a little something that was almost impudent in a way. That was his crutch. He certainly didn't mean to be impudent, but he had enough of that, along with what he could convey, that he was. just beautiful and lovely - and I'm not talking about physical beauty, because he was not that good-looking then. Really, by conventional standards he was supposed to have been thrown off that stage, and I - listen, I calculated that stuff in my mind. An they going to resent him? With his long sideburns? That could be a plus or a minus. But I looked at it as this. When he came through like he did, it was neither. He stood on his 'own''.

- Peter Guralnick, April, 1987

All Recordings Produced and Engineered by Sam C. Phillips at the Memphis Recording Service, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee, July 1954-July 1955.

This compilation A&R Director - Gregg Geller
Marketing Director - Don Wardell
Audio Restoration by Rick Rowe.
Mastered by Jack Adelman
Cover liner notes by Peter Guralnick
Art Director - Ria Lewerke
Design - Piedro Alfieri
Hand Tinting Theresa Alfieri-Weinberg

Thanks to:
Sam Phillips, Knox Phillips, Ger Rijff, Colin Escott, Stan Kesler,
Stanley Booth, Marion Kaisker, and Scotty Moore


March 1990 RCA BMG (CD) 500/200rpm 74321 13840 2-1 mono digital
This picture disc CD was the first official release of the Million Dollar Quartet session on RCA Records. RCA and Sun logo low on bottom. On the back cover RCA and Sun logo on bottom. The selections are identical to the 1987 bootleg LP The One Million Dollar Quartet. Also included 8-pages booklet with track listing and liner notes and track information by Colin Escott. On December 4, 1956 four musicians from Memphis were giving American teenagers a first taste of selfexpression and rebellion. Discovered by Sun Records' founder Sam Phillips, known as "the father of rock and roll", these guys were Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis. And on one extraordinary night three of them played together for the first and only time in their careers. See session notes 1-1956 Elvis Presley.

1 - You Belong To My Heart (0:45)
(Ray Gilbert-Augustin Lara)
2 - When God Dips His Love In My Heart (0:18)
(Clevant Derricks)
4 - Jesus Walked That Lonesome Valley (2:52)
(Public Domain)
5 - I Shall Not Be Moved (3:01)
(Homer Morris)
6 - Peace In The Valley(1:20)
(Thomas A. Dorsey)
7 - Down By The Riverside (2:11)
(Public Domain
8 - I'm With A Crowd But So Alone (1:17)
(Ernest Tubb-Carl Story)
9 - Father Along (1:38
(Public Domain)
10 - Blessed Jesus Hold My Hand (1:24)
(Public Domain)
11 - As We Travel Along On The Jericho Road (0:42)
(Public Domain)
12 - I Just Can't Make It By Myself (0:59)
(Clara Ward)
13 - Little Cabin Home On The Hill (0:30)
(Bill Monroe/ Lester Flatt)
14 - Summertime Is Past And Gone (0:06)
(Bill Monroe)
15 - I Hear A Sweet Voice Calling (0:27)
(Bill Monroe)
16 - Sweetheart You Done Me Wrong (0:26)
(Bill Monroe)
17 - Keeper Of The Key (1:47)
(Beverly Stewart- Harlan Howard-Kenny Devine-Lance Guyness)
18 - Crazy Arms (0:18)
(Ralph Mooney-Charlie Seals)
19 - Don't Forbit Me (0:56)
(Charles Singleton)
20 - Too Much Monkey Business (:05)
(Chuck Berry)
21 - Brown Eyed Handsome Man (1:00)
(Chuck Berry)
22 - Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind (0:31)
(Ivory Joe Hunter-Clydy Otis)
23 - Brown Eyed Handsome Man (1:42)
(Chuck Berry)
24 - Don't Be Cruel (1:41)
(Elvis Presley-Otis Blackwell)
25 - Don't Be Cruel (0:37)
(Elvis Presley-Otis Blackwell)
26 - Paralyzed (2:36)
(Elvis Presley/Otis Blackwell)
27 - Don't Be Cruel (0:24)
(Elvis Presley!Otis Blackwell)
28 - There's No Place Like Home (3:18)
(Public Domain)
29 - When The Saints Go Marchin' In (2:14)
(Public Domain)
30 - Softly And Tenderly (2:27)
Public Domain)
31 - Is It So Strange (1:09)
(Faron Young)
32 - That's When Your Heartaches Begin (4:37)
(W. Hill-F. Fisher-W. Raskin)
33 - Brown Eyed Handsome Man (:20)
(Chuck Berry)
34 - Rip It Up (0:03)
(Robert Blackwell-John Maracalco)
35 - I'm Gonna Bid My Blues Goodbye (0:31)
(Hank Snow)
36 - Crazy Arms (3:13)
(Ralph Mooney-Charles Seals)
37 - That's Mu Desire (1:17)
(Helmy Kresa-Carroll Loveday)
38 - End Of The Road
(Jerry Lee Lewis)
39 - Black Bottom Stomp (0”54)
(Ferdinand Morton)
40 - You're The Only Star In My Blue Heaven (1:13)
(Gene Autry)
41 - Elvis (0:39)

Digital Series Coordinator - Don Wardell
Digital Producer - John Snyder
Digital Engineer -Joe Lopez
Digitally Mastered at BMG Recording Studios, New York, November 1989
Sonic Research and Annotation - Colin Eccott
Photographs courtesy of Marion Keisker
Art Direction and & Design: Norman Moore

Special Thanks to Shelby S. Singleton Jr., John A. Singleton, Harlan Dodson III, Sam Phillips, Jack Clement, and Sun Records. Every effort has been made to present "The Million Dollar Quartet'' in the best possible sound quality. However, priority has been given to historical content. This is a mono recording.

Everyday, friends gather in homes or in studios to play old favorites and share the pleasure of making music together. Usually those informal sessions have no significance for anyone other than the participants.

Usually- but not always.

On the afternoon of Tuesday, December 4, 1956 two friends, Elvis Presley and Carl Perkins, got together in the Sun Records studio in Memphis, Tennessee just as a Perkins session was winding down. It had been a shade over a year since Sun Records' founder Sam Phillips - staring bankruptcy toll in the face - had sold his only asset of any consequence: the last eighteen months of E.lvis Presley's recording contract. A few days later, Carl Perkins had come to Sun to cut his third single, ''Blue Suede Shoes'', which was released at the same time as ''Heartbreak Hotel'', Presley's debut for RCA Records. The two records raced each other up the charts and were the first to cross between the popular, country and rhythm and blues markets. In so doing, they defined both the sound and cross-cultural appeal of rock and roll.

In leaner times, Presley and Perkins had worked together on the road, chasing around the mid-South, playing high school gyms and beer joints, sometimes working off the back of a flatbed truck. However, by December 1956 the picture had changed radically. Perkins had been unable to recapture the success of ''Blue Suede Shoes'', while Presley was consuming half of RCA Records' pressing capacity and had sold over 27 million singles during his first year with the label.

In an attempt to get his career back on track, Perkins came back to Sun on December 4, 1956 with some new material, including a revamped version of an old blues song, ''Matchbox''. Trying to fatten the sparse rockabilly instrumentation, Sam Phillips brought in his latest acquisition, pianist Jerry Lee Lewis. Two weeks earlier, Lewis had cut his first record and Phillips had rush-released the debut single a few days before the Perkins session. Sleeping on his uncle's couch and in desperate need of money for Christmas presents, Lewis was working occasional sessions during the day and playing in the Memphis honky tonks at night.

The fourth member of The Million Dollar Quartet, Johnny Cash, had joined Sun at roughly the same time as Carl Perkins. At first it seemed as though the rock and roll explosion would hold little for him. His voice was simply not designed with rockabilly in mind. However, during 1956 Cash had also crossed effortlessly into the pop charts with a beautifully stark and allegorical pledge of love, ''I Walk The Line''.

The exact construction of The Million Dollar Quartet session is still open to conjecture. Presley walked in on the Perkins session early in the afternoon and listened to the playback which he pronounced to be good. It is Perkins' brother Clayton, together with his drummer, W.S. Holland, who can be heard on the earliest titles. The rhythm guitar on the earlier songs was played by Charles Underwood who was writer for Phillips' publishing companies.

The session began when Underwood retrieved his guitar. "The guys sung a gospel line or two'' he recalled, "and I don't think there was going to be a jam session but then I mentioned that I had an acoustic guitar in the trunk of my car parked out front. I said, 'Don't nobody move and I went and got it. There's something about an acoustic guitar that lends itself to jam sessions and then it took more Life. On the first few tunes I played acoustic guitar and sang along with the guys and then Elvis wanted to get the feel of something and he asked me for it''. After Presley took the guitar, someone said: "There go the strings''. Underwood obviously remained until the end to reclaim his instrument because Presley can be heard saying goodbye to him.

At some point, the Perkins band and then Perkins himself drove back to their hometown of Jackson, Tennessee. Before Perkins left and shortly before the session ended, Sam Phillips called the Memphis press Scimitar which was down the street and had the entertainment editor, Bob Johnson, come over. Johnson brought a UPI representative named Leo Soroca, and a photographer. With a photo opportunity in the offing, Phillips made a call to Johnny Cash who was in town working up material for his fifth single. Cash appeared in the photos and, according to Johnson, joined Perkins and Lewis on ''Blueberry Hill'' and ''Isle Of Golden Dreams'', which have never been found. It was Johnson who coined the phrase "Million Dollar Quartet" in his article the following day. Later, in his capacity as editor of "16" magazine, Johnson recycled his story, changing a of the details he reported the day after the session.

Another Sun artist, Smokey Joe Baugh, came by: His gravelly voice can be heard after ''I Shall Not Be Moved'', saying ''You oughta get up a quartet''. Baugh was still on hand for the photo session toward the end. Presley brought a girlfriend, Marilyn Evans, who can probably be heard asking if "This Rover Boys trio can sing Farther Along'' In one photo she is seated sultrily upon the piano. Presley also brought another aspiring singer, Cliff Gleaves, who might be participating on some of the ensemble parts.

The identity of the engineer is in some doubt. Phillips was the only person in the control room during the Perkins session but it was Sun's new engineer, Jack Clement, who later took credit for the microphone placement and the loading of the tape machine after Presley arrived. This assertion has excited some dispute. Both Underwood and Perkins are among those who recall that Clement was not present, although there are references in the chatter to "Jack''. There was certainly little reason for Clement to be on hand as Phillips was engineering the Perkins session and it seems most likely that it was Phillips' foresight that preserved the event.

However, it is not for the comings and goings (and certainly not for the engineering) that the session will be remembered, It pinpoints - with un-self-conscious accuracy - where rock and roll got its energy. It also proves (if such proof were still needed) that rock and roll did not simply explode upon an unsuspecting world one day in 1955 or 1956. The roots are clearly on display here, and country music and country gospel loom large,

What follows is a short listener's guide through some of the songs and the chatter. The choice of songs reveals a surprisingly strong slant in some unexpected directions. The unsmiling patriarch of bluegrass music, Bill Monroe, influenced Elvis and a generation of rockabillies with his chilling intensity and feel for driving rhythms. One of his songs from 1946, ''Blue Moon Of Kentucky'', was on Presley's first single. Another four Monroe songs, all dating from 1948, are rendered here; ''Cabin Home On The Hill'', ''Sweetheart You Done Me Wrong'', ''Summertime Is Past And Gone'' and ''I Hear A Sweet Voice Calling''.

Hank Snow was another bitter opponent of rock and roll music, although his country boogie tunes such as ''Moving On'' and ''The Golden Rocket'' pointed unerringly toward the primitive drive of rockabilly. Snow and Colonel Parker owned a management company and Presley worked on the Hank Snow Caravan touring show after Parker took over as Presley's booking agent in 1955. This would have made Presley very familiar with Snow's repertoire and he reprises one of Snow's more obscure tunes, ''I'm Gonna Bid My Blues Goodbye''. He also imitates Snow on a comparably obscure Ernest Tubb recording, ..I'm With A Crowd But So Alone''.

Carl Perkins shows his hillbilly roots with a beautiful rendition of Wynn Stewart's then current hit, ''Keeper the Key''. Jerry Lee Lewis performs a Gene Autry song that dates back to 1938, ''Your The Only Star In My Blue Heaven'', which he had recorded at his first session two weeks earlier.

The country roots ran deep but the true common ground for The -Million Dollar Quartet was gospel music. Between songs there is inside chatter about white gospel groups such as the Statesmen Quartet, and one of Presley's first moves after he got a little recognition was to bring the Jordanaires into his entourage. He would warm up for every session with gospel music just as he does here. However, Presley's gospel recordings never captured the atmosphere of pure church as vividly as these performances, There was no need for rehearsal because the songs were so deeply embedded in all the participants; after one singer took the lead, the others instinctively knew where to follow.

This set makes it transparently clear just how deeply those in the vanguard of rock and roll were grounded in country and gospel music, making it all the more ironic that rock and roll was branded as satanic music.

Country and gospel aside, Presley was obviously in the mood to preview material that he was considering for upcoming sessions in January and February 1957. He sang I''s It so Strange'', ''Peace In The Valley'' and ''That's When Your Heartaches Begin'' which were recorded the following January. Note that Presley makes reference to having recorded ''That's When Your Heartaches Begin'' on a personal disc that resurfaced over 30 years after he assumed that it had been lost. Sam Phillips can also be heard pitching one of his copyrights, ''When It Rains It Pours'' (''You know what it takes, you got it baby...") during the session on ''There's No Place Like Home''. He promises to find a copy of the record and run it over to Presley's house. Presley duly recorded it in February, although it remained unreleased for another eight years.

Lewis was also anxious to preview his first single, ''Crazy Arms'' b/w ''End Of The Road''. According to Charles Underwood, Presley and Phillips had gone into the control room while Lewis was playing and Presley commented to Bob Johnson that Lewis "could go. I think he has a great future ahead of him. He has a different style and the way he plays piano just gets inside me''. By December of the following year, of course, Lewis would be briefly challenging Presley for his crown.

Ever self-effacing, Carl Perkins only takes the lead on ''Keeper Of The Key'', although it should be remembered that he had been singing all afternoon. He is content to play guitar and supply harmony vocals. By the time the last reel of tape was unloaded he had gone home.

Despite the emphasis upon country music and country gospel, the choice of songs shows the musical eclecticism of the group - and Presley was the most eclectic of all. He sings ''Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind'' popularized by the rhythm and blues group the Five Keys, Bill Monroe's bluegrass laments, Chuck Berry's ''Brown Eyed Handsome Man'', old pop ballads such as ''That's When Your Heartaches Begin'' and even Pat Boone's hit of the day, ''Don't Forbid Me''.

Like many singers with catholic tastes, Presley was also a fine mimic. He even imitates Jackie Wilson imitating himself on ''Don Be Cruel''. It appears as though the Presley entourage spent a few days in Las (possibly after the filming of "Love .Me Tender") and went to watch Jackie Wilson, the then lead singer with Billy Ward's Dominoes. Wilson had obviously built an impersonation of Presley into the act which Presley in turn mimics here. It is surprising Elvis would stop in because in April 1956 he had played a disastrous stint at the New Frontier I.ounge that had reportedly soured him on the city until his 1968 comeback. He probably was not referring to the April debacle here because ''Don't Be Cruel'' was not a hit until July.

And it was Elvis Presley, the homecoming king, who dominated this session. Jerry Lee Lewis certainly held his considering that he was barely a household name in his own household, and that it was Presley whom everyone had gathered to hear. As he had ridden the train back to Memphis, he confided to photographer Alfred Wertheimer that he felt more comfortable back home. Just how comfortable is apparent here.

At the Sun studio, away from the sarcasm and cruelty of the Northern media and the tawdry Vegas glitz, he let his true musical soul come up for air. The hillbilly edges that he was at pains to sand down on formal recording sessions are evident in his diction. The gospel fervor that gave his music its compelling energy more obvious. His enthusiasm for the king music is also evident. Toward the end of his life, RCA Records moved recording equipment into Graceland in the hope that Presley would record something, anything! Here he sings and plays for the pure joy of it and says, "That's why I hate to get started in these jam sessions, I'm always the last one to leave''.

When three of the four participants regrouped at the same studio thirty years later for the "Class of '55" sessions, they were very self-conscious of their achievement, Here, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis Presley un-self-consciously blend everything they have heard with a looseness and vitality that says more about the origins of rock and roll than a thousand treatises. They mix and match the disparate styles - and their innate musicality ensured that what emerged had that rarest of all musical qualities: originality.

And, in an era when ''revelations" about the "real" Elvis Presley appear weekly, it is refreshing to get a fly-on-the-wall glimpse of the real Elvis Presley - the one who made the music.

- Colin Escott, Showtime Music, Toronto

I would like to acknowledge a very special debt to Charles Underwood for his input into this project.


August 1990 RCA BMG (CD) 500/200rpm PD 82227-1-1 mono digital
Black label. Silver letters. RCA logo left at center. On the back cover RCA logo lower right. Including the previously unreleased 'My Happiness', the legendary first recording ever made by Elvis Presley at Sun Studios in July 1953 and stereo version of ''Treat Me Nice''. Also included and fold bootled with liner notes by Andrew Solt and Jerry Schilling. 

1 - My Happiness (Sun Recording) 2:32 > Demo Acetate <
2 - That's All Right
3 - Shake, Rattle And Roll
4 - Flip, Flop And Fly
5 - Heartbreak Hotel
6 - Blue Suede Shoes
7 - Ready Teddy
8 - Don't Be Cruel
9 - Teddy Bear
10 - Got A Lot O' Livin' To Do
11 - Jailhouse Rock
12 - Treat Me Nice (Stereo Version)
13 - King Creole
14 - Trouble
15 - Fame And Fortune
16 - Return To Sender
17 - Always On My Mind
18 - American Trilogy
19 - If I Can Dream
20 - Unchained Melody
21 - Memories

September 1991 Mystery Train Records (CD) 500/200rpm CDT-2001 mono digital

Import release. Mystery Train logo printed in white letters on top. On the cover Mystery Train logo in upper right. On the back cover photo of Elvis Presley at home, 1034 Audubon Drive, Memphis, Tennessee.

Contains two unreleased RCA studio tracks from April 11, 1956; Excerpts from radio broadcast from Canada, April 1957; nine Sun recordings directly from recently re-discovered first generation master tapes; Radio promo 1956 concert in Oakland, California; The Milton Berle Show, April 3, 1956; Elvis talks.

1 - I Want You, I Need You, I Love You (Take 3)
2 - I Want You, I Need You, I Love You (Take 4)
3 - Elvis In Canada (Radio Broadcast, April 4, 1957)
4 - Live In Toronto (Heartbreak Hotel, Part One, April 2, 1957)
5 - Toronto Teenagers Talk About Elvis
6 - Heartbreak Hotel Part Two
7 - Elvis Talks To Mac Lipson In Ottawa, April 3, 1957
8 - I'm Left, You're Right, She's Gone
9 - Tryin' To Get To You
10 - That's All Right
11 - Blue Moon Of Kentucky
12 - I Don't Care If The Sun Don't Shine
13 - Good Rockin' Tonight
14 - Baby, Let's Play House
15 - Mystery Train
16 - How Do You Think I Feel
8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16
Original Sun Recordings

17 - Radio Promo For June 3, 1956, Concert In Oackland, California
Elvis Live At The Milton Berle Show, April 3, 1956
18 - Shake, Rattle And Roll
19 - Heartbreak Hotel
20 - Blue Suede Shoes
21 - Comedy Skit
22 - Elvis Talks To Happy On NBC Late 1956


1992 RCA BMG Music (CD) 500/200rpm 3450-2-R stereo digital
Included unissued Sun recording ''Tomorrow Night''. Since LaVern Baker's recording hadn't yet been released, it was Lonnie Johnson's version that Elvis influenced his styling. This overdubbed version of "Tomorrow Night" was released nine years after Elvis recorded it. For several years it was feared the original master of "Tomorrow Night" was either lost or destroyed. That fear provide to be unfounded, as RCA released the original version in 1985 on the "Reconsider Baby" (AFL1-5418) album, Sun master. The original LP "Elvis For Everyone" released in 1965, was originally going to be called "Elvis' Anniversary Album" to commemorate Elvis' tenth year with RCA. Tracks on the album were primarily unreleased songs from recording sessions dating back as far as February 24, 1957. The cover featured Elvis behind a sales counter with the following five LPs displayed: "Elvis Presley", "Elvis", "Elvis' Golden Records", "G.I. Blues", and "Blue Hawaii". The LP "Elvis For Everyone" reached number 10 on Billboard's Top LPs chart. It had a 27-week stay on the chart.

1 - Your Cheatin' Heart
2 - Summer Kisses, Winter Tears
3 - Finders Keepers, Losers Keepers
4 - In My Way
5 - Tomorrow Night (Overdub Unissued Sun Recording) > RCA LP Master <
6 - Memphis, Tennessee
7 - For The Million And The Last Time
8 - Forget Me Never
9 - Sound Advice
10 - Santa Lucia
11 - I Met Her Today
12 - When It Rains, It Really Pours
June 1992 RCA BMG (CD) 500/200rpm PD 90689(5)-5-1 mono digital
Picture on sleeve and disc. RCA logo left at center. On the back cover RCA logo lower left. 5 compact disc boxed set. Includes fourteen previously unreleased performances. 45-pages, four-color booklet with many rare photographs from the Graceland photo archives. First release of "That's When Your Heartaches Begin" from the legendary 1953 acetate. First release "Fool, Fool, Fool" demo record never otherwise recorded by Elvis. Contains complete 1950s sessionography and discography. Biographical text by Peter Guralnick. Includes a sheet of RCA Records label. Four-color stamps depicting Presley's 1950s record covers. This recording was prepared with the cooperation of the Elvis Presley Estate. The ultimate digitally remastered collection from original RCA Records label and Sun master recordings. Sound Restoration by Sonic Solution. Mastered at BMG Recording Studios, New York City, 1991.

Disc 1: Contains
1.1 - My Happiness
1.2 - That's All Right
1.3 - I Love You Because
1.4 - Harbor Lights
1.5 - Blue Moon Of Kentucky
1.6 - Blue Moon
1.7 - Tomorrow Night
1.8 - I'll Never Let You Go
1.9 - I Don't Care If The Sun Don't Shine
1.10 - Just Because
1.11 - Good Rockin' Tonight
1.12 - Milkcow Blues Boogie
1.13 - You're A Heartbreaker
1.14 - Baby, Let's Play House
1.15 - I'm Left, You're Right, She's Gone
1.16 - Mystery Train
1.17 - I Forgot To Remember To Forget
1.18 - Tryin' To Get To You
1.19 - When It Rains, It Really Pours
1.1 -1.19 Original Sun Recordings
1.20 -  I Got A Woman
1.21 - Heartbreak Hotel
1.22 - Money Honey
1.23 - I'm Counting On You
1.24 - I Was The One
1.25 - Blue Suede Shoes
1.26 - My Baby Left Me
1.27 - One Sided Love Affair
1.28 - So Glad Your Mine
1.29 - I'm Gonna Sit Right Down And Cry
1.30 - Tutti Frutti

Disc 2: Contains
2.1 - Lawdy Miss Clawdy
2.2 - Shake, Rattle And Roll
2.3 - I Want You, I Need You, I Love You
2.4 - Hound Dog
2.5 - Don't Be Cruel
2.6 - Any Way You Want Me
2.7 - We're Gonna Move
2.8 - Love Me Tender
2.9 - Poor Boy
2.10 - Let Me
2.11 - Playing For Keeps
2.12 - Love Me
2.13 - Paralyzed
2.14 - How Do You Think I Feel
2.15 - How's The World Treating You
2.16 - When My Blue Moon Turns To Gold Again
2.17 - Long Tall Sally
2.18 - Old Shep
2.19 - Too Much
2.20 - Anyplace Is Paradise
2.21 - Ready Teddy
2.22 - First In Line
2.23 - Rip It Up
2.24 - I Believe
2.25 - Tell Me Why
2.26 - Got A Lot O' Livin' To Do
2.27 - All Shook Up
2.28 - Mean Woman Blues
2.29 - Peace In The Valley
Disc 3: Contains
3.1 - That's When Your Heartaches Begin
3.2 - Take My Hand, Precious Lord
3.3 - It Is No Secret
3.4 - Blueberry Hill
3.5 - Have I Told You Lately That I Love You
3.6 - Is It So Strange
3.7 - Party
3.8 - Lonesome Cowboy
3.9 - Hot Dog
3.10 - One Night Of Sin
3.11 - Teddy Bear
3.12 - Don't Leave Me Now
3.13 - I Beg Of You
3.14 - One Night
3.15 - True Love
3.16 - I Need You So
3.17 - Loving You
3.18 - When It Rains, It Really Pours
3.19 - Jailhouse Rock
3.20 - Young And Beautiful
3.21 - I Want To Be Free
3.22 - Baby, I Don't Care
3.23 - Don't Leave Me Now
3.24 - Blue Christmas
3.25 - White Christmas
3.26 - Here Comes Santa Claus
3.27 - Silent Night
3.28 - O Little Town Of Bethlehem
3.29 - Santa Bring My Baby Back
3.30 - Santa Claus Is Back In Town
3.31 - I'll Be Home For Christmas

Disc 4: Contains
4.1 - Treat Me Nice
4.2 - My Wish Came True
4.3 - Don't
4.4 - Danny
4.5 - Hard Headed Woman
4.6 - Trouble
4.7 - New Orleans
4.8 - Crawfish
4.9 - Dixieland Rock
4.10 - Lover Doll
4.11 - Don't Ask Me Why
4.12 - As Long As I Have You
4.13 - King Creole
4.14 - Young Dreams
4.15 - Steadfast, Loyal And True
4.16 - Doncha' Think It's Time
4.17 - Your Cheatin' Heart
4.18 - Wear My Ring Around Your Neck
4.19 - I Need Your Love Tonight
4.20 - A Big Hunk O' Love
4.21 - Ain't That Loving You Baby
4.22 - A Fool Such As I
4.23 - I Got Stung
4.24 - Interview With Elvis (Unreleased Highlights From
Press Conference, September 22, 1958

Disc 5: Contains
5.1 - That's When Your Heartaches Begin (Acetate) Sun Recording
5.2 - Fool, Fool, Fool
5.3 - Tweedlee Dee
5.4 - Maybellene
5.5 - Shake, Rattle And Roll
5.6 - Blue Moon Of Kentucky (Sun Recording)
5.7 - Blue Moon (Sun Recording)
5.8 - I'm Left, You're Right, She's Gone (Sun Recordings)
5.9 - Reconsider Baby (Sun Recording)
5.10 - Lawdy Miss Clawdy
5.11 - Shake, Rattle And Roll
5.12 - I Want You, I Need You, I Love You
5.13 - Heartbreak Hotel
5.14 - Long Tall Sally
5.15 - Blue Suede Shoes
5.16 - Money Honey
5.17 - We're Gonna Move
5.18 - Old Shep
5.19 - I Beg Of You
5.20 - Loving You (Slow Version)
5.21 - Loving You (Fast Version)
5.22 - Young And Beautiful
5.23 - I Want To Be Free
5.24 - King Creole
5.25 - As Long As I Have You
5.26 - Ain't That Loving You Baby
All tracks on disc 5 previously unreleased
1994 BMG (CD) 500/200rpm ND 89046 mono digital

This CD issued with an ''Elvis In The '90s'' sticker came with an 1 page fold out front insert booklet with  five pictures and liner notes written by RCA. Elvis Presley's original first album (LPM-1254), consisted of  five tracks recorded at Sun Records and seven tracks recorded in January 1956 at the New York City and  Nashville studios of RCA. The cover photo was credited to Popsie, a pseudonym of photographer William S.  Randolph. Four photos of Elvis Presley graced the back cover. First copies of the jacket had "Elvis" in light  pink letters; in later pressings the letters were dark pink. "Elvis Presley" was the first album in history to sell  one million copies. Certification as a million-seller was made by the RIAA on November 1, 1966. The album  spawned a record five EPs. "Elvis Presley" entered Billboard's Best-Seller Pop Album chart on March 31,  1956 at number 11. Within six weeks, it reached number one, remaining at the top 10 consecutive weeks.  The total stay on the chart was 49 weeks.

1 - Blue Suede Shoes
2 - I'm Counting On You
3 - I Got A Woman
4 - One Sided Love Affair
5 - I Love You Because
6 - Just Because
7 - Tutti Frutti
8 - Tryin' To Get Of You
9 - I'm Gonna Sit Right Down And Cry (Over You)
10 - I'll Never Let You Go (Little Darlin')
11 - Blue Moon
12 - Money Honey
5-6-8-10-11 Original Sun Recordings
July 14, 1997 RCA BMG (CD) 500/200rpm 07863 67469 2 stereo digital
White label. Photo from Elvis appears on the disc. RCA logo below. An ultimate Elvis Presley collection, includes the recently discovered January 1954 demo "I'll Never Stand In Your Way". Released on the eve of the 20th anniversary of Presley's death, Platinum: A Life in Music attempts to trace an alternative history of Elvis' career by concentrating on alternate takes and unreleased material. Over the course of four discs, 23 hit singles are interspersed with 77 previously unreleased items. The hits function as touchstones, so the listener has an idea of where Elvis was in his career when he was recording such unreleased gems as a 1966 cover of "Blowin' in the Wind" or the 1959 "Bad Nauheim Medley." Certainly, the sheer amount of unreleased material means that Platinum: A Life in Music is targeted at hardcore collectors, but what is surprising is how listenable the set is, even for casual fans. The homemade recordings and demos are occasionally sonically rough, but the rarity of these items make the sound a moot point. Some of the performances aren't particularly remarkable -- alternates of "Always on My Mind" and "Heartbreak Hotel" simply sound like the released versions, only not as good -- but there's an abundance of gems scattered throughout the set, making it worthwhile for any serious Elvis collector.

Disc 1: Contains
1.1 - I'll Never Stand In Your Way (Sun Unissued)
1.2 - That's All Right (Alternate Take)
1.3 - Blue Moon (Alternate Take)
1.4 - Good Rockin' Tonight
1.5 - Mystery Train
(Original Sun Recordings)
1.6 - I Got A Woman (Alternate Take)
1.7 - Heartbreak Hotel (Alternate Take)
1.8 - I'm Counting On You (Alternate Take)
1.9 - Shake, Rattle And Roll/Flip, Flop And Fly
1.10 - Lawdy, Miss Clawdy (Alternate Take)
1.11 - I Want You, I Need You, I Love You (Alternate Take)
1.12 - Hound Dog
1.13 - Don't Be Cruel
1.14 - Rip It Up (Alternate Take)
1.15 - Love Me Tender
1.16 - When The Saints Go Marching In
1.17 - All Shook Up
1.18 - Peace In The Valley (Alternate Take)
1.19 - Blueberry Hill
1.20 - Teddy Bear
1.21 - Jailhouse Rock
1.22 - New Orleans
1.23 - I Need Your Love Tonight (Alternate Take)
1.24 - A Big Hunk O' Love (Alternate Take)
Bad Nauheim Medley
1.25 - I'll Take You Home Again Kathleen
1.26 - I Will Be True
1.27 - It's Been So Long Darlin'
1.28 - Apron Strings
1.29 - There's No Tomorrow

Disc 2: Contains
2.1 - Stuck On You
2.2 - Fame And Fortune
2.3 - It's Now Or Never
2.4 - It Feels So Right (Alternate Take)
2.5 - A Mess Of Blues (Alternate Take)
2.6 - Are You Lonesome Tonight
2.7 - Reconsider Baby
2.8 - Tonight Is So Right For Love (Alternate Take)
2.9 - His Hand In Mine (Alternate Take)
2.10 - Milky White Way (Alternate Take)
2.11 - I'm Comin' Home (Alternate Take)
2.12 - I Feel So Bad (Alternate Take)
2.13 - Can't Help Falling In Love
2.14 - Something Blue (Alternate Take)
2.15 - Return To Sender
2.16 - Bossa Nova Baby (Alternate Take)
2.17 - How Great Thou Art (Alternate Take)
2.18 - Guitar Man (Alternate Take)
2.19 - You'll Never Walk Alone (Alternate Take)
2.20 - Oh How I Love Jesus
2.21 - Tennessee Waltz
2.22 - Blowin' In The Wind
2.23 - I Can't Help It
2.24 - I'm Beginning To Forget You
2.25 - After Loving You

Disc 3: Contains
3.1 - I Got A Woman
3.2 - Tiger Man
3.3 - When My Blue Moon Turns To Gold Again
3.4 - Tryin' To Get To You
3.5 - If I Can Dream
3.6 - In The Ghetto (Alternate Take)
3.7 - Suspicious Minds (Alternate Take)
3.8 - Power Of My Love (Alternate Take)
3.9 - Baby What You Want Me To Do
3.10 - Words
3.11 - Johnny B. Goode
3.12 - Release Me
3.13 - See See Rider
3.14 - The Wonder Of You
3.15 - The Sound Of Your Cry (Alternate Take)
3.16 - You Don't Have To Say You Love Me
3.17 - Funny How Time Slips Away
3.18 - I Washed My Hands In Muddy Water
3.19 - I Was The One
3.20 - Cattle Call
3.21 - Baby, Lets To Play House
3.22 - Don't
3.23 - Money Honey
3.24 - What'd I Say
3.25 - Bridge Over Trouble Water

Disc 4: Contains
4.1 - Miracle Of The Rosary (Alternate Take)
4.2 - He Touched Me (Alternate Take)
4.3 - Bosom Of Abraham (Alternate Take)
4.4 - I'll Be Home For Christmas (Alternate Take)
4.5 - For The Good Times (Alternate Take)
4.6 - Burning Love (Alternate Take)
4.7 - Separate Ways (Alternate Take)
4.8 - Always On My Mind (Alternate Take)
4.9 - An American Trilogy
4.10 - Take Good Care Of Here (Alternate Take)
4.11 - I've Got A Thing About You Baby
4.12 - Are You Sincere (Alternate Take)
4.13 - It's Midnight (Alternate Take)
4.14 - Promised Land (Alternate Take)
4.15 - Steamroller Blues
4.16 - And I Love You So (Alternate Take)
4.17 - T.R.O.U.B.L.E
4.18 - Danny Boy (Alternate Take)
4.19 - Moody Blue
4.20 - Hurt (Alternate Take)
4.21 - For The Heart (Alternate Take)
4.22 - Pledging My Love (Alternate Take)
4.23 - Way Down (Alternate Take)
4.24 - My Way
4.25 - Excerpt From The Jaycees Speech
Compilation Produced and Directed by Ernst Mikael Jorgensen and Roger Semon
Mixing Engineer - Dennis Ferrante
Mastering and Additional Engineering by Paul Brizzi, Vince Caro, Marlan Conaty,
Dennis Ferrante, Tom MacCluskey and James Nichols, BMG Studios, New York
Executive Directors - Mike Omansky and Klaus Schmalenbach
Project Manager - Dalita Keumurian
Art Layout and Desigh Peacock, London
February 9 1998 RCA BMG (CD) 500/200rpm 07863 67456 2 mono digital
Gold label with white letters. RCA logo left at center. 4 compact disc boxed set with 32-pages booklet rare photographs inside the boxed set. Same selection s as RCA CPM6-5172. Originally released on 6 LP's in 1985, this compilation of mostly unreleased material was produced by Joan Deary and definitely not fitted for the general public. Reissued on 4 CD's in 1998 with new liner notes by Colin Escott, this is for the 1950's fans only, for that decade is in almost total focus, as it would be on the first three albums in the Essential series. A downside of this is that we get seven different versions of ''Heartbreak Hotel'' and ''Hound Dog,'' along with five different versions of ''Blue Suede Shoes'' and ''Don't Be Cruel.'' We are given a front row seat at two complete live appearances from 1956 and all of Elvis' television appearances from the 1950's are here, offering a fascinating insight to Elvis' rise to stardom and a glimpse at American television in its early days. Disc 4 contains unique home recordings and a few songs from the "boxing ring" in Burbank '68 (mostly 1950's material!) but the prize of this box set are the outtakes from Sun studios on disc 1.

Disc 1: Contains
The Sun Sessions Outtakes
1.1 - Harbor Lights
1.2 - That's All Right
1.3 - Blue Moon Of Kentucky
1.4 - I Don't Care If The Sun Don't Shine
1.5 - My Baby Is Gone
1.6 - I'll Never Let You Go
1.7 - When It Rains, It Really Pours
The Dorsey Brothers "Stage Show"
1.8 -  Shake, Rattle And Roll/Flip, Flop And Fly
1.9 - I Got A Woman
1.10 - Baby,  Let's Play House
1.11 - Tutti Frutti
1.12 - Blue Suede Shoes
1.13 - Heartbreak Hotel
The Dorsey Brothers "Stage Show" Continued
1.14 - Tutti Frutti
1.15 - I Was The One
1.16 - Blue Suede Shoes
1.17 - Heartbreak Hotel
1.18 - Money Honey
1.19 - Heartbreak Hotel

Disc 2: Contain
The Milton Berle Show
2.1 - Introduction
2.2 - Heartbreak Hotel
2.3 - Blue Suede Shoes
2.4 - Dialogue
2.5 - Blue Suede Shoes
2.6 - Hound Dog
2.7 - Dialogue with Milton Berle
2.8 - Dialogue
2.9 - I Want You, I Need You, I Love You
The Steve Allen Show
2.10 - Dialogue with Steve Allen
2.11 - I Want You, I Need You, I Love You
2.12 - Dialogue with Steve Allen
2.13 - Introduction And Hound Dog
The Mississippi-Alabama Fair And Dairy Show
2.14 - Heartbreak Hotel
2.15 - Long Tall Sally
2.16 - Introduction And Presentation
2.17 - I Was The One
2.18 - I Want You, I Need You, I Love You
2.19 - Elvis Talks
2.20 - I Got A Woman
The Mississippi-Alabama Fair And Dairy Show Continued
2.21 - Don't Be Cruel
2.22 - Ready Teddy
2.23 - Love Me Tender
2.24 - Hound Dog
2.25 - Interviews Vernon And Gladys Presley
2.26 - Nick Adams
2.27 - A Fan
2.28 - Elvis

Disc 3: Contains
he Mississippi-Alabama Fair And Dairy Show Continued
3.1 - Love Me Tender
3.2 - I Was The One
3.3 - I Got A Woman
3.4 - Announcement
3.5 - Don't Be Cruel
3.6 - Blue Suede Shoes
3.7 Announcement
3.8 - Baby, Let's Play House
3.9 - Hound Dog
3.10 - Announcements
The Ed Sullivan Show
3.11 - Don't Be Cruel
3.12 - Elvis Talks
3.13 - Love Me Tender
3.14 - Ready Teddy
3.15 - Hound Dog
3.16 - Don't Be Cruel
3.17 - Ed Sullivan
3.18 - Love Me Tender
3.19 - Ed Sullivan Introduces Elvis
3.20 - Love Me
Hound Dog
The Ed Sullivan Show Continued
3.21 - Hound Dog
3.22 - Elvis' Closing Remarks
3.23 - Introduction
3.24 - Hound Dog
3.25 - Love Me Tender
3.26 - Heartbreak Hotel
3.27 - Don't Be Cruel
3.28 - Too Much
3.29 - Elvis Talks
3.30 - When My Blue Moon Turns To Gold Again
3.31 - Ed Sullivam Speaks
3.32 - Peace In The Valley
3.33 - Ed Sullivan Speaks

Disc 4: Contain
Elvis At Home
4.1 - Danny Boy
4.2 - Soldier Boy
4.3 - The Fool
4.4 - Earth Angel
4.5 - I Asked The Lord He's Only A Prayer Away
Collectors Treasures
4.6 - Excerpts From An Interview For TV Guide
4.7 - My Heart Cries For You
4.8 - Dark Moon
4.9 - Write To Me From Naples
4.10 - Suppose
4.11 - Blue Suede Shoes
4.12 - Tiger Man
4.13 - That's All Right
4.14 - Lawdy Miss Clawdy
4.15 - Baby What You Want Me To Do
4.16 - Love Me
4.17 - Are You Lonesome Tonight
4.18 - Baby What You Want Me To D
4.19 - Blue Christmas
4.20 - One Night
4.21 - Tryin' To Get To You
Disc 2 / Disc 3 Vocal Accompaniment by The Jordanaires
Original complication by Joan Deary and Gregg Geller
Digitally Remastered by Dennis Ferrante and Vince Caro
Reissue Coordinated and Produced by Ernst Jorgensen and Roger Semon
Project Manager - Dalita Keymurian
Executive Directors - Mickael Omansky and Klaus Schmalenback
Design by Peacock, London
February 5, 1999 RCA BMG (CD) 500/200rpm 07863 67675 2 mono digital
Yellow label. Have circle of musical notes and staff around the entire label, with exception of the bar wherein "Memphis, Tennessee" appears.  The letters SUN with sun rays pressed in light brown at the top of the label.  On the front cover Elvis Presley's first professional photo for Sun Records by photographer William Speer. 2 compact disc boxed set first released in the Artist Of The Century series. Includes the complete Sun masters and previously unreleased Sun Records studio and early live performances. Also included a full-color booklet with liner notes by Peter Guralnick, track list and session information.

Disc 1 Contains
The Master Takes
1.1 - That's All Right
1.2 - Blue Moon Of Kentucky
1.3 - Good Rockin' Tonight
1.4 - I Don't Care If The Sun Don't Shine
1.5 - Milkcow Blues Boogie
1.6 - You're A Heartbreaker
1.7 - Baby, Let's Play House
1.8 - I'm Left, You're Right, She's Gone
1.9 - I Forgot To Remember To Forget
1.10 - Mystery Train
1.11 - I Love You Because
1.12 - Harbor Lights
1.13 - Blue Moon
1.14 - Tomorrow Night
1.15 - I'll Never Let You Go
1.16 - Just Because
1.17 - I'm Left, You're Right, She's Gone (Slow Version)
1.18 - Tryin' To Get To You
1.19 - When It Rains It Really Pours
Original Sun Recordings

Disc 2 Contains
The Alternate Takes, Previously Unreleased Private and Live Performances
2.1 - My Happiness (Acetate)
2.2 - That's When Your Heartaches Begin (Acetate)
2.3 - I'll Never Stand In Your Way (Acetate)
2.4 - It Wouldn't Be The Same Without You (Acetate)*
2.5 - I Love You Because (Alternate Take)
2.6 - That's All Right (Alternate Takes)
2.7 - Blue Moon Of Kentucky (Alternate Take)
2.8 - Blue Moon (Alternate Take)*
2.9 - I'll Never Let You Go (Alternate Take)
2.10 - I Don't Care If The Sun Don't Shine (Alternate Takes)
2.11 - I'm Left, You're Right, She's Gone (Alternate Take Slow Version)
2.12 - Fool, Fool, Fool (Acetate)
2.13 - Shake, Rattle And Roll (Acetate)
2.14 - I'm Left, You're Right, She's Gone (Acetate Live)*
2.15 - That's All Right (Acetate Live)*
2.16 - Money Honey (Acetate Live)*
2.17 - Tweedlee Dee (Acetate Live)*
2.18 - I Don't Care If The Sun Don't Shine (Acetate Live)*
2.19 - Heart Of Stone (Acetate Live)*
All live performances recorded live at the Louisiana Hayride 1955.
1-11 Original Sun Recording
* Previously Unreleased
If Elvis Presley had never made another record after his last Sun session in the fall of 1955, there seems little question that his music would have achieved much the same mythic status as Robert Johnson's blues. The body of his work at Sun is so transcendent, so fresh, and so original that even today you can scarcely listen to it in relation to anything but itself. Like all great art its sources may be obvious, but its overall impact defies explanation.
Just how Elvis Presley came to create this music suggests certain mysteries of its own. Some time in the summer of 1953, shortly after graduating high school at the age of eighteen, he showed up at the one legitimate recording studio in town and announced that he wanted to make a record. There was nothing particularly surprising in this request. The Memphis Recording Service, which doubled as the home of the fledgling Sun label, took as its motto "We Record Anything - Anywhere – Anytime'', offering as one of its services the opportunity for someone to just walk in off the street and pay four dollars to make an acetate dub of his own voice. The label, on the other hand, like the studio under the one-man direction of 31-year-old Sam Phillips, was dedicated to blues recording exclusively and had up to this time released records solely by African-American performers.

It was a Saturday, and the young man fidgeted incessantly as he waited in the tiny outer office, partitioned off by a thin wall from the almost equally tiny studio and crowded with other walk-ins. Phillips' office manager, Marion Keisker, a leading Memphis radio personality, interrupted her work only because she felt sorry for the boy. They made small talk while he waited his turn, and he was drawn out by her kindly manner, but Marion was puzzled by his seeming mix of boldness and abject self-effacement and she always remembered his answers to her questions. "What kind of singer are you''? she asked. "I sing all kinds''. "Who do you sound like''? said Marion. "I don't sound like nobody''. It was obvious to Keisker that he was trying to recommend himself to her attention in some way beyond the usual, but she was baffled for the moment as to what could be his motive. In later years he would always say that he went in to make a record for his mother, or simply to hear the sound of his own voice - but it became plain to Marion Keisker and Sam Phillips over the succeeding weeks and months that what the boy really wanted was to make a commercial record.

What was it exactly that could have led so cripplingly shy and limited a musician to conceive of so bold a plan when none of the peers from whom he took his musical cues seems even to have contemplated such a visit? Up until this time Elvis Presley had confined his music-making almost entirely to private occasions, with his appearance on the Humes High annual talent show, just four months earlier, the first time that many of his classmates even became aware that he sang. He was well known, however, to the residents of Lauderdale Courts, the housing project where he had lived with his family until January of that year, as one of a group of boys who played their guitars on the leafy, tree-shaded mall between the two-and three-story residences - but by no means one of the more talented ones. Dorsey and Johnny Burnette, Johnny Black, above all Jesse Lee Denson, a Golden Gloves boxer who had created a sensation the previous year by performing Hank Snow's "Golden Rocket" between bouts, were the musicians that everyone remembered. If anyone recalled Elvis Presley, it was for his appearance - his long, greasy hair and the outlandish outfits that he wore. Music may have been his deepest passion since being given his first guitar as a small child in Tupelo and singing, with other schoolchildren, in the children's contest at the Mississippi-Alabama Fair. But he had never given any hint of his true ambitions, or even of the extent of his talents, until he walked in the door of Sun. Why should he alone have made the journey?

The answer may lie in a story that had just appeared in the Memphis Press-Scimitar on July 15, 1953, about a new group making records at Sun. The Prisonaires were the group. They had begun their career inside the walls of the Tennessee State Penitentiary in Nashville, and when they first came to Sam Phillips' attention, the studio proprietor, according to the Press-Scimitar, "was skeptical - until he heard the tape''. At that point he was sold. And so on June 1, 1953, "the five singing prisoners'', accompanied by an armed guard and a trusty, were transported to 706 Union Avenue to make their first record for Sun. "They worked from 10:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., until the records were cut just right to suit painstaking Mr. Phillips''.

"Just Walkin' In The Rain" came out at almost the same time as the Press-Scimitar story. The song went on to become something of a hit, as reporter Clark Porteous had predicted, if now here near as big a hit as it was for pop singer, Johnnie Ray, three years later. It was the song that put Sun Records on the map, though, and, very likely, the item that captured the attention of Elvis Presley as he read about the studio, the label, and the "painstaking Mr. Phillips'', who had staked his reputation on a recording by an unknown singer and a song whose plaintive notes Elvis could hear reverberating both in his imagination and on the air. Nor was he the sort to be put off, as many of his contemporaries might have been, by Sun's status as a blues and "race" label - in fact, that may just have added to the allure for someone not only open to the sound of black music but equally open to a democratic dream based on a sense of his own exclusion.

He showed up in any case not long after the article appeared and presented himself to Marion Keisker with a diffidence she would always remember, cradling his battered, beat-up child's guitar in his arms. From the first quavering notes of the first song he sang, it was obvious that his mumbled self-description was true - while it might not be difficult to detect his influences, he didn't sound like anyone else. There was a quality of almost unutterable plaintiveness in his version of "My Happiness'', a 1948 pop hit for Jon and Sandra Steele that he had sung over and over in the Courts, a sentimental ballad that couldn't have been further from anyone's imagining of rock and roll. There is more than a hint of the pure tenor of Bill Kenny of the Ink Spots - but mostly the almost keening solo voice conveys a note of yearning that alternates with a crooning fullness of tone and a sharp nasality that fails to sustain its possessor's intent. The guitar, Elvis later said, "sounded like somebody beating on a bucket lid'', and there is, of course, the added factor of nervousness which cannot be fully assessed - and yet there is a strange sense of calm, an almost unsettling stillness in the midst of great drama, the kind of poise that comes as both a surprise and a revelation.

When he finished with the song, he embarked almost immediately upon a second, "That's When Your Heartaches Begin'', a smooth pop ballad that the Ink Spots had originally cut in 1941, with a deep spoken part for their baritone singer, Hoppy Jones. Here Elvis was not so successful in his rendition, running out of time, or inspiration, and simply declaring, "That's the end" at the abrupt conclusion of the song. When it was all over, he sat in the outer lobby while Miss Keisker typed out the label copy on the blank sides of a Prisonaires label ("Softly And Tenderly'', Sun 189). The singer's name was typed underneath the title on each side, and he hung around for a while hoping in vain that something might happen. After he left, Marion Keisker made a note of his name, which she misspelled and then editorialized beside it: "Good ballad singer. Hold''.

He stopped by the office all through the fall, trying to put himself in the way of discovery, and when that failed, he returned in January to cut another acetate, without even the excuse of surprising his mother by the sound of his voice. His selection this time consisted of a 1953 pop hit by Joni James, "I'll Never Stand In Your Way'', and a Jimmy Wakely country tune, "It Wouldn't Be The Same Without You''. This time, however, his lack of confidence betrayed him, and he sounds more forced, less self-assured than he did the first time he entered the studio. There is still that same feeling of aching tenderness, though, that same sense that he is reaching down deep within and summoning up feelings not necessarily related to the lyrics and far more "naked" than those of the "heart" singers like Eddy Arnold, and the smooth pop crooners like Dean Martin, Perry Como, and Bing Crosby, that he so much admired. Perhaps in the end he couldn't help being different, an outside observer might have been led to conclude. But if he had once again passed through the Sun doorway with the idea, if not of stardom, at the very least of being asked back - once again he was doomed to be disappointed. Because, just as the last time, there was no follow-up on anyone's part but his own. When he went to work delivering supplies for Crown Electric in the spring, Marion Keisker grew used to seeing his truck regularly pass by, and having its driver stop in from time to time to ask if she knew of a band that was looking for a singer.

Finally, on June 26, almost a year after he had first appeared at the studio, he got the call he had been waiting for. Sam Phillips, transfixed by an acetate he had picked up on his latest Nashville trip by a singer whom he was subsequently unable to locate or identify, came up with the idea of trying out "the kid with the sideburns''. The song was a plaintive lament called "Without You'', sung in a quavering voice that sounded like a cross between the Ink Spots and a sentimental Irish tenor, and while it was undeniably amateurish, there was something about it - perhaps its very amateurishness, or else just its quality of yearning - that put him in mind of the boy. When Miss Keisker called, as Elvis recounted the story in later years. She said, 'Can you be here by three?' I was there by the time she hung up the phone'.

They worked on the number all afternoon. When it became obvious that the boy was not going to get it right, Phillips had him run down other songs he knew - almost every one of them a slow ballad, some for which he could barely provide the faltering accompaniment. "I guess I must have sat there at least three hours'', Elvis told Press-Scimitar reporter Bob Johnson in 1956. "I sang everything I knew - pop stuff, spirituals, just a few words of (anything] I remembered''.

When it was over, he was exhausted, but he felt strangely elated, too. ''I was an over night sensation'', he always told interviewers in later years. "A year after they heard me the first time, they called me back"! Everyone caught the boyish modesty, but they may have overlooked the understandable pride. Mr. Phillips had called him back - his perseverance had paid off. And while nothing was said about what would happen next, there was little doubt now in Elvis' mind that something would.

Exactly one week later it did. This time he got a call from Scotty Moore, a 22-year-old guitarist who had himself made his Sun Records debut with his group, the Starlite Wranglers, just one month earlier, but who had bigger plans than simply playing in a hillbilly band. When Sam Phillips started telling him about this young singer who had something different about him, Scotty began pestering Phillips for the singer's name. On Saturday, July 3, Scotty phoned the Presley home, and, identifying himself as a scout for Sun, asked Elvis if he would like to audition and he said he guessed so. The next day they got together at Scotty's house, with Scotty's neighbor, Wranglers' bass player, Bill Black, stopping by for a few minutes to check him out. The following day, Monday, July 5, 1954, the three of them went into the studio for what was intended to be nothing more than a "rehearsal session''.

At first nothing seemed to go right. The first few songs they tried were all ballads (various touchingly revealing takes of "l Love You Because" are all that is left of this part of the session), and the musicians seemed to be casting about for a direction, trying out snatches of one song, then another, without ever really hitting on, or even knowing, what it was they were looking for. But Sam Phillips was nothing if not patient, and if he was discouraged, he showed no sign of it, even as Elvis clearly sensed his chances slipping away. Then, during a break, as the musicians were sipping on Cokes, "all of a sudden'', said Scotty, "Elvis just started singing this song and acting the fool, and then Bill picked up his bass and he started acting the fool, too, and I started playing with them. Sam, I think, had the door to the control booth open, and he stuck his head out and said, 'What are you doing'? And we said, 'We don't know'. 'Well, back up', he said, 'try to find a place to start, and do it again'''.

The song was ''That's All Right'', an old blues by Arthur ''Big Boy'' Crudup, and nothing could have surprised Sam Phillips more than that this boy should know let alone perform with such uninhibited freshness and zeal, the music for which Sam had crusaded all these years. But if it was a direction he could not have anticipated, it was one that he now whole heartedly embraced, as he had the trio run through their new number over and over, until they finally got it right, with Elvis gaining confidence on each try. In the next few nights, they hit upon an almost equally startling transformation of Bill Monroe's bluegrass waltz, "Blue Moon Of Kentucky'', which evolved from a slow, bluesy lament to a high-spirited declaration of self-discovery in 4/4 time. "We thought it was exciting'', said Scotty of the manner in which, almost unwittingly, they had turned the music upside down, "but what was it? It was just so completely different. But it just really flipped Sam - he felt it really had something. We just sort of shook our heads and said, 'Well, that's fine, but good God, they'll run us out of town''!

That, in a way, was the story of Elvis Presley's recordings at Sun: not just art as inspired accident (and it's hard to know what can better describe the origins of all art) but the peeling away of layers, psychological and musical, the uncovering of depths which, if not hitherto unsuspected, had hitherto lain unplumbed. As he had already done with the blues singers for whom he had built his studio (Howlin' Wolf, Little Junior Parker, Ike Turner, B.B. King), and as he would with each of the rockabilly artists (Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, Charlie Rich, Jerry Lee Lewis) who followed, Sam Phillips saw it as his mission to "open up an area of freedom within the artist himself, to help him to express what he believed his message to be''. With Elvis Presley he was astonished to discover an individual with a musical curiosity as omnivorous as his own ("It seemed like he had a photographic memory for every damn song he ever heard, and he had the most intuitive ability to hear songs without ever having to classify them, or himself'). In the studio his aim was to bring out that curiosity, to encourage that area of creative difference, to stifle not even the smallest element
of exploration.

For Elvis it was like stumbling upon the unlocking key. All of a sudden everything that he had been listening to all his life - blues and gospel, hillbilly, semi-classical, and pop - could coalesce into a single sound, and the astonishing thing was that his experience served not just for himself but for a generation. In Houston, Arkansan Sleepy LaBeef heard Elvis' first Sun sides and recognized their gospel roots, heard Brother Claude Ely and Sister Rosetta Tharpe just beneath the secular veil. Carl Perkins picked up on it in nearby Jackson, Tennessee, while Jerry Lee Lewis heard the same melding of blues, country, and western swing that he had been groping for in the honky tonks around Ferriday, Louisiana. There was no question that the sound was in the air, but at the same time there was equally little question that it crystallized in the freshness, innocence, and invention that Elvis Presley brought to the music. Bill Haley and his Comets may have established the potential for a commercial trend (his "Rock Around The Clock" was on the charts for the first time when Elvis cut his first Sun single), but Elvis Presley laid the groundwork for a musical revolution.

In part it was the simplicity of the music, in part it was the sound, but most of all it was the feel for Elvis Presley, as much as for Sam Phillips, it was the accidental, the unexpected, the unique that mattered, each placed his full faith -in the spontaneity of the moment. And that is exactly how Elvis Presley's records were made. Listen to "Good Rockin' Tonight'', "Mystery Train'', "Milkcow Blues Boogie" - each is based on a classic source, each in a way is intended as a kind of homage. And yet each continues to surprise. The laugh with which "Mystery Train" trails off, the bubbling enthusiasm of "Baby, Lets Play House'', the sheer, uninhibited ardor of "Trying to Get to You" - this is the gold that Elvis and Sam Phillips were mining for, this is the hard-won inspiration that finally emerged from each session.

At the same time, if you want to look behind the scenes at the kind of creative experimentation that went into the sessions, Elvis' live sides from this period are almost equally illuminating. No recording has yet surfaced of Elvis' early live performance of Martha Carson's gospel rouser, "Satisfied'', or of his attempt at the same song in the Sun studio. But various examples exist of his and the band's first stabs at such rhythm and blues classics as the Clovers' "Fool, Fool, Fool'', Big Joe Turner's "Shake, Rattle And Roll'', LaVern Baker's "Tweedlee Dee'', Otis Williams and the Charms' "Hearts of Stones" and Chuck Berry's "Maybellene'', and their presence on this set, along with previously unreleased versions of Elvis' own "I Don't Care If The Sun Don't Shine" and '' I'm Left, You're Right, She's Gone'', further expand our sense of the group's capabilities - and of their - limitations, when they stop somewhere short of the finish line. Most Of alb though, they confirm the impression of purey vaulting ambition, the sense of almost joyful release that the studio sides proclaim; they convey the same intimation of a deeper emotion underlying even the most ephemeral of the Sun sides, an emotion that comes across whatever the tempo, whatever the genre, mistakes and all.

It's hard to say what creates such a sense of high-tension drama in the midst of such assured ease, the conviction that all is right with the world while at the same time an assault is being mounted on every complacent -assumption of the culture, social, racial, and, not least, musical. Whether or not this improbable balance could have been maintained is open to question, but even before Elvis ended his stay at Sun by the summer of 1955 you can already hear it changing, with the last full session that Elvis would have with anyone other than himself as his principal producer (in 1969 Chips Moman would oversee some of his greatest post-Sun sides, but only take responsibility for about half the session). It is, arguably, his greatest moment in the Sun studio, with "Mystery Train" defining that peculiar combination of soaring high spirits and casual insouciance that characterized every one of the released sides. It was ''I Forgot To Remember To Forget'', though, that was the hit, the second song to which Sam Phillips added drums and the first that he had to use his considerable powers of persuasion to get Elvis to perform -(''I thought it was something we needed at that point to show a little more diversification"). The resulting treatment of a composition that Elvis at first considered too conventionally country was far from conventional, and the last song of the day, "Trying To Get To You'', with its suggestive combination of the secular and the spiritual, only points to a direction yet to be explored. With his final song at Sun, "When It Rains, It Really Pours'', never finished because the session was broken off due to the imminent sale of his contract to RCA, Elvis is back on familiar ground: once again, we hear him confidently singing the blues, though this time, seemingly, with far more knowingness than the innocent nineteen-year-old of just one year earlier could ever have assumed.

This abrupt ending, little more than the inevitable intrusion of business that all popular art invites, leads to the kind of what-ifs that are the by-product of both art and commerce - and no more profitably pursued in either. The fact is that when Elvis Presley first came to Sun, he was an inspired amateur; by the time he left, on November 21, 1955, "I Forgot To Remember To Forget" was on the national country and western charts, where it remained for thirty-nine weeks and became his first national hit. The music that he would make at RCA would clearly reflect the lessons that he had learned at Sun and result almost immediately in such calculated triumphs of craft and feeling as "Heartbreak Hotel'', "Hound Dog'' b/w"Don't Be Cruel'', and "All Shook Up''. He fashioned these songs with the same patience, dedication, and spontaneity that he had poured into his earlier work, but the Sun sides would be forever set aside, perhaps simply by the very innocence of their invention. They were as Sam Phillips often said in describing Elvis himself, impudent, playful, they almost dare the listener to smile. The music that Elvis created, as Phillips said of another of his favorite artists, Howlin" Wolf, existed on its own terms only, an unmapped territory "where the soul of man never dies''.

- Peter Guralnick, November 1998

Peter Guralnick is the author of the award-winning ''Last Train to Memphis: The Rise of Elvis Presley'', the first volume of a two-volume biography which concludes with the just-published ''Careless Love: The Unmaking Of Elvis Presley''.

June 22, 2004 BMG Heritage (CD) 500/200rpm 82876612051 mono digital
Elvis at Sun marks the third time that RCA has given Elvis Presley's seminal Sun Records recordings a refurbishing for release on compact disc (fourth if you count their appearance on the box set The King Of Rock And Roll: The Complete 50's Masters), but while 1987's The Complete Sun Sessions and 1999s Sunrise both added plenty of bonus materials along with the ten single sides and various outtakes Elvis Presley cut for Sam Phillips' pioneering label, Elvis at Sun seems to follow the notion that "less is more''. While the supposedly definitive Sunrise spread 38 cuts over two discs, Elvis at Sun sticks to 19 cuts (all of which appeared on disc one of Sunrise), and reissue producers Ernst Mikael Jorgensen and Roger Semon have done extensive cleansing on these vintage recordings, in some cases buffing off layers of echo and reverb that have been part of these performances since they first appeared on LP (most notably on "You're a Heartbreaker" and "Good Rockin' Tonight"). With neither Elvis nor Sam Phillips around to offer their views, it's hard to say if this amounts to presenting the tapes as they were meant to be heard or playing around with history, but on most of the tracks the effect is startling, these recordings have never sounded quite so clear and sharp, with a richer sense of detail in the nooks and crannies of Elvis' voice and Scotty Moore's guitar (the always spooky "Blue Moon" is now gloriously spectral, has anyone ever sounded quite like that?). Too bad they couldn't fix the speed glitch on "I Don't Care if The Sun Don't Shine," though. The disc also abandons the sequencing of most previous releases of this material, which presented songs in the order they were released, in favor of assembling the songs in the order they were recorded, which is probably better history if less satisfying as pure listening. As for the music, well, this is arguably the most important music of Elvis' career and the growth of rock and roll into a mass art form; Presley's wildly idiosyncratic fusion of blues, country, pop, and anything else that crossed his path was still evolving as he recorded these songs, and there's a thrill of discovery here that's a wonder to behold.

1 - Harbour Lights
2 - I Love You Because (Alternate Take 2)
3 - That's All Right
4 - Blue Moon Of Kentucky
5 - Blue Moon
6 - Tomorrow Night
7 - I'll Never Let You Go (Little Darlin')
8 - Just Because
9 - Good Rockin' Tonight
10 - I Don't Care If The Sun Don't Shine
11 - Milkcow Blues Boogie
12 - You're A Heartbreaker
13 - I'm Left, You're Right, She's Gone (Slow Version)
14 - I'm Left, You're Right, She's Gone
15 - Baby, Let's Play House
16 - I Forgot To Remember To Forget
17 - Mystery Train
18 - Trying To Get To You
19 - When It Rains It Really Pours
Original Sun Recordings

Recordings Published in Historical Reasons

November 2011 MRS (CD) 500/200rpm MRS 30001256 mono digital

Compact disc. Map of the State of Louisiana printed on disc. Picture of Elvis on stage from the Louisiana Hayride printed right of the disc. Memphis Recording Service logo printed left at bottom. On the back cover catalog number printed right of the bottom of disc. Contains the complete live recordings of the Louisiana Hayride by Elvis Presley from 1954-1956. All of the 25 tracks herein are re-mastered using the most sophisticated technology. Also on CD contains the recent discovery of Elvis' last performances on the Louisiana Hayride in December 1956. Also included 100-page booklet with many rare and unreleased photographs and extentensive liner notes with informative and historical facts on Elvis' time with the Louisiana Hayride during 1954-1956.


Shreveport in Louisiana, a medium sized oil town on the banks of the Red River, would become a major platform for Elvis in 1954 and 1956 in which to further his career. In 1954 KWKH radio was in its seventh year of broadcasting. The Louisiana Hayride was a weekly three music program played on Saturday nights. Shreveport's Municipal Auditorium's 3,800 seat facility was home of the Hayride.

The Louisiana Hayride was the second largest country music radio showcase in the United States. The only one bigger was Nashville's Grand Ole Opry at the Ryman Auditorium.

The Hayride was famous for bringing national attention to one of Elvis' heroes, Hank Williams. Once Hank made it big he moved up to the Opry; but then came back to the Hayride when the Opry decided he was too wild to deal with. It is ironic that the three most famous performers to ever grace the stage at Ryman Auditorium; Elvis, Hank and Johnny Cash were the very same people that the Opry turned away at one point or another,

Sun label owner Sam Phillips, accompanied EIvis, Scotty and Bill, down to Shreveport after calling the Hayride to ask if, a spot could be secured for his trio. With negative reactions to Elvis' performance at the Opry only weeks earlier, Sam knew he had to do something to get the momentum going. Sam first spoke with Tillman Franks, a talent booker and bass player for the show. He referred him to Pappy Covington, a fellow talent booker and building manager for the auditorium.

Local disc jockey Tommy Cutner, had been playing Elvis" 'That's All Right' and 'Blue Moon Of Kentucky'' record around, town for some time as a favour to his friend Sam Phillips. The local people assumed that Elvis was a new black artist.

Neither Elvis, nor his two songs would fit into the Hayride or the country music pattern, which was similar to his experience at the Opry. However, Tillman and Pappy asked Horace Logan, the producer and chief emcee of the Hayride show, to give Elvis' record a listen. Tillman, who also managed various country artists, was trying to free up one of his acts Jimmy & Johnny for higher paying gigs out of town. Elvis was considered to be a quick solution for filling the spot. Horace needed a replacement that weekend and it was Tillman to fill it. Tillman telephoned Sun Studios on October 13th, 1954 and spoke with Elvis, He informed him that the trio was to make an appearance on the Louisiana Hayride on Saturday October 16th.

When they finally pulled into Shreveport, Elvis, Scotty, Bill and Sam Phillips all checked into Shreveport's Captain Shreve Hotel where most visiting Hayride performers stayed. The next night, a Saturday, would be the big break the trio were looking for.

On Saturday afternoon they rolled into the parking lot of the Municipal Auditorium and by Tillman Franks end Horace Logan. The three were told that they would the first segment of the show where all the fresh talent was broken in. Elvis occupied himself backstage meeting other singers until Horace announced it was time for them to go on. Horace would usually introduce the main attractions of the show, but because Elvis was an unknown, Frank Page did the honors.

They were scheduled to appear during the ''Lucky Strike Guest Time''. During the spoken Lucky Strike ad, Scotty and Bill can be heard tuning their, instruments. When the ad was over, announcer Frank Page introduced the crowd: "Just a few weeks ago", he said, "a young man from Memphis, Tennessee recorded a song on the Sun label and in just matter of a few weeks that record has sky rocketed right up the .charts. He's only 19 years old; he has a new distinctive style. Elvis Presley! Would-you give him a nice hand''?

Elvis nervously walked on stage and after a few moments of friendly banter with Page, he launched into "That's AIl Right' and ''Blue Moon Of Kentucky'.

He seemed nervous at times and was showing some restraint in front of the crowd which consisted mainly of older married couples. His containment of kinetic force did slip out occasion and he' seemed to connect with crowd. Their appreciation for he was doing seemed to grow.

The crowd applauded generously Scotty and Bill retreated backstage.

As luck would have it, the ''Lucky Strike Guest Time'' was recorded on audiotape by KWKH. It was then sent to the Lucky Strike Corporation as proof of the Hayrides fulfillment of their contractual commercial obligation. Since this show was recorded on audiotape rather than acetate,'this historic performance remains the best preserved recording of Elvis on the Hayride.

1 - Hayride Begin Jingle
Recorded at the Louisiana Hayride, Shreveport, Louisiana, October 16, 1954

2 - Introduction/That's All Right (2:59)
(Arthur Crudup)
Recorded at the Louisiana Hayride, Shreveport, Louisiana, October 16, 1954
Elvis Presley Vocal and guitar), Scotty Moore (lead guitar), Bill Black (upright bass)

3 - Blue Moon Of Kentucky (2:16)
(Bill Monroe)
Recorded at the Louisiana Hayride, Shreveport, Louisiana, October 16, 1954
Elvis Presley Vocal and guitar), Scotty Moore (lead guitar), Bill Black (upright bass)

> Tracks 1-2 Live Louisiana Hayride <

Local born D.J. Fontana! was the Hayride's backstage musician playing brush sticks on the drums that would accompany the music played on the Hayride shows at that time. Fontana played on those very first Hayride shows with many other singers of the Hayride shows with Elvis along with many other singers of the Louisiana Hayride. Later the following year he would drummer as part of Elvis' band, along with Scotty and Bill.

A short time after Elvis' first performance of the Hayride, Tillman took Elvis aside and told him that Horace had decided to let them play again in the second segment. It is known that Horace advised Elvis to relax, to just go out there and do your own thing.

The reception Presley received for his second performance that night was different. He repeated the same two songs but dropped all pretenses of shyness. This time his legs started moving and he appeared to be more relaxed tuning in as he moved beat.

The Hayride saw potential in Elvis and decided it would be a good idea to keep him in mind. his would eventually lead them to offer a one year contract to return as a regular on the Louisiana Hayride.

News of the success of the Hayride performance was spreading fast and on October 20th, the Memphis Press-Scimitar reported that with Elvis, "it took just one guest appearance Saturday for the young Memphian to become a regular". This of course was despite the fact that nothing had been finalised between Sam and Horace Logan of the Hayride.

Still a confident Elvis now quits his day job at the Crown Electric Company; Scotty and followed suit. With no contract yet signed for the Hayride spot, the boys continued performing their regular Memphis shows at the Eagle's Nest for the next two weekends.

A Regular On The Hayride

In the meantime, Sam Phillips wasted no time negotiating a one year contract with Horace for the Louisiana Hayride.

On November 6, 1955, Elvis went back to the Hayride to give his second performance, this time accompanied by his mother and father to cosign a one-year contract as Elvis was still a minor.

The contract guaranteed a fifty-two week run at Union Scale wages. Elvis would receive $ 18 per show, while Scotty and Bill each received $ 12. They were to perform the Hayride every Saturday night. The contract also stipulated that if more than five shows were missed during the one-year, their contract would be cancelled.

This show would mark Elvis' first performance as a regular on the Louisiana Hayride. He was joined by an all-star cast which included Slim Whitman, Johnny Horton and Jim Beeves. With just two singles to their credit, they filled in the show with songs entitled ''I'm Gonna Sit Right Down And Cry'' and ''Fool Fool Fool" Many of these songs would be performed again every Saturday night. The exposure the Hayride gave Elvis played no small part giving his career a boost, making regional celebrity in the midi-south. The KWKH radio signal blasted the radio program into millions of homes and EIvis caught the attention of many young people.

The Hayride Tours

On January 6, 1955 a Hayride tour started. When the Hayride arrived in Midland on the 7th, Elvis and Scotty, and Bill were brought to the local radio station where an interview and plug for the show was conducted. They played later that night to a pleasing crowd of 1600. It was becoming apparent that the audience size and volume was vastly growing, largely of enthusiastic girls. This was a fact that was being noticed not only by other performers but promoters as well

Elvis spent his 20th birthday on January 8th, playing the finale of the Hayride tour on its home ground in Shreveport, Louisiana. This time he appeared sporting a pair of pink crocodile skin shoes. It was in this show
that Elvis added the songs ''Fool, Fool, Fool'' and ''Hearts Of Stone''.

On January 15th, Elvis took the stage at 8.30pm just after Jim Reeves. He was wearing a rust coloured suit, purple tie with black dots and pink socks, opening with ''Hearts Of Stone'' following with ''That's All Right''. The song that he finished with was a new song called "Tweedlee Dee'' which was another rhythm and blues song that had charted that same day for Lavern Baker.

This time Hayride musicians Jimmy Day on steel and Floyd Cramer on piano accompanied the trio in the mix. Floyd's honky tonk-style play appealed to Elvis and later the two would record with them regularly.

It was on this Hayride appearance, Elvis grabbed the attention of someone who would lift him and his career into super stardom. This person would see Elvis through for the rest of his life. In the audience that evening was a former carnival hustler and current tour manager for Eddy Arnold and he could not help but be impressed. He went under the title of Colonel Tom Parker.

4 - Hearts Of Stone (1:59)
(Eddie Ray/Rudy Jackson)
Recorded at the Louisiana Hayride, Shreveport, Louisiana, January 15, 1955
Elvis Presley Vocal and guitar), Scotty Moore (lead guitar), Bill Black (upright bass)
Sonny Trammel (steel guitar), Leon Post (piano)

5 - That's All Right (2:14)
(Arthur Crudup)
Recorded at the Louisiana Hayride, Shreveport, Louisiana, January 15, 1955
Elvis Presley Vocal and guitar), Scotty Moore (lead guitar), Bill Black (upright bass)
Sonny Trammel (steel guitar), Leon Post (piano)

6 - Tweedle Dee (2:29)
(Winfield Scott)
(4-5-6) Recorded January 15, 1955 at Louisiana Hayride, Shreveport, Louisiana
Recorded at the Louisiana Hayride, Shreveport, Louisiana, January 15, 1955
Elvis Presley Vocal and guitar), Scotty Moore (lead guitar), Bill Black (upright bass)
Sonny Trammel (steel guitar), Leon Post (piano)

> Tracks 4-5-6 Live Louisiana Hayride <

Elvis returned to the Louisiana Hayride on January 22th. This time Sonny Trammel and Leon Post would accompany the steel guitar and piano, which brought a new interpretation of ''That's All Right' and'' and ''Blue Moon Of Kentucky''. Also Elvis adds another song for the how, ''Money Honey'', which had been a popular rhythm and blues hit for The Drifters. He also took a shot of the B-side of his 2nd single release from the Sun label titled ''I Don't Care If The Sun Don't Shine''.

7 - Money Honey (2:49)
(Jesse Stone)
Recorded at the Louisiana Hayride, Shreveport, Louisiana, January 22,1955
Elvis Presley Vocal and guitar), Scotty Moore (lead guitar), Bill Black (upright bass)
Sonny Trammel (steel guitar), Leon Post (piano)

8 - Blue Moon Of Kentucky (1:59)
(Bill Monroe)
Recorded at the Louisiana Hayride, Shreveport, Louisiana, January 22, 1955
Elvis Presley Vocal and guitar), Scotty Moore (lead guitar), Bill Black (upright bass)
Sonny Trammel (steel guitar), Leon Post (piano)

9 - I Don't Care If The Sun Don't Shine (2:36)
(Mack David)
Recorded at the Louisiana Hayride, Shreveport, Louisiana, January 22, 1955
Elvis Presley Vocal and guitar), Scotty Moore (lead guitar), Bill Black (upright bass)
Sonny Trammel (steel guitar), Leon Post (piano)

10 - That's All Right (1:43)
(Arthur Crudup)
Recorded January 22, 1955 at Louisiana Hayride, Shreveport, Louisiana
Recorded at the Louisiana Hayride, Shreveport, Louisiana, January 22, 1955
Elvis Presley Vocal and guitar), Scotty Moore (lead guitar), Bill Black (upright bass)
Sonny Trammel (steel guitar), Leon Post (piano)

> Tracks 7-8-9-10 Live Louisiana Hayride < 

The month of April saw Elvis, Scotty and Bill spending more weekends away from the Louisiana Hayride than on. On April 2nd, (as part of a Hayride tour), a remote broadcast was set up for the shown from the Auditorium in Houston, Texas. The three performed ''Little Mama'' and ''You're A Heartbreaker'', along with the regular ''That's All Right'', ending with ''Shake Rattle And Roll''. It was reported in Billboard later in June, that 2000 people were turned away that last night as Elvis and headliner act Slim Whitman tore the house down.

Throughout the month of April, Elvis and the boys remained at large in the state of Texas. This was accompanied by the fact that for the next few Saturdays, the Louisiana Hayride would also be doing some remote road packages in Texas.

On Saturday April 23rd, the Hayride show was doing a special! remote broadcast from the Heart Óf Texas Arena in Waco, Texas. Elvis was billed underneath, top performers; Slim Whitman and Jim Reeves. This was arranged by Hayride promoter Horace Logan, who booked these out of town venues.

With Waco as the show venue, people were drawn from all over Texas and the promoters were not to disappointed that night as the show was a huge success. It drew the largest crowds eyer with over 5000 people as reported later in Billboard magazine. Billboard wrote, ''Making it great with the Central Texans was?, a misspelled; "Elvis Pressley and JE and Maxine Browen''.

The long drive from Lubbock to Gladewater on April 30th saw, Elvis' dream his pink, Cadillac, break down on route to a remote Hayride broadcast show at a High School gym in Gladewater, Texas.

Horace Logan just managed to get Elvis ii for the last curtain call in the final moments of the broadcast on stage. This gave the boys enough time for only one number and Elvis clearly dejected,chose the song ''Tweedlee Dee'.

From this performance, (luckily a recording survived) you can hear the crowd cheer as Horace Logan announces Elvis as he takes the stage. On a surviving picture from this performance we can see, little boy Royce Hansen Junior (son of a local musician), dressed up in a country and western outfit. Elvis happily lets
the boy perform on stage with him.

11 - Tweedle Dee (2:55)
(Winfield Scott)
Recorded April 30, 1955 at Louisiana Hayride, Shreveport, Louisiana
Elvis Presley Vocal and guitar), Scotty Moore (lead guitar), Bill Black (upright bass)
Jimmy Day (steel guitar), Floyd Cramer (piano)

> Track 11 Live Gladewater High School <

A turning point occurred for Elvis on July 16th. This was a special day because it marked a significant step forward in his career. His fourth single, ''Baby Lets Play House'', had entered the Cash Box's Country and Western chart at number 15. This marked Elvis' first appearance on the national charts, as opposed to the state charts he had been in previously. This national appearance coincided with an evening Hayride performance and in celebration of his national hit; he sang the flip side of the single to his Hayride audience ''I'm Left, Your Right, She's Gone''.

12 - I'm Left, You're Right, She's Gone (3:22) > Live On Stage <
(Stan Kesler-Bill Taylor)
Recorded July 2 or 16, 1955 at Louisiana Hayride, Shreveport, Louisiana
Elvis Presley Vocal and guitar), Scotty Moore (lead guitar), Bill Black (upright bass)

Another Year Contract

Duping the later part of August, 1955 and unbeknownst to Colonel Tom Parker, Bob Neal (Elvis' manager at the time) was already negotiabing with Horace Logan a renewal of Elvis' Hayride contract. The current firs year contract was going to come to an end on November 12th. All decisions, with respect to Elvis' career, had to go through the Colonel's office according to an agreement signed in the previous month, naming Colonel Tom Parker as "Special Advisor". On this particular occasion, Bob decided to take it upon himself to obtain some security for Elvis; but also more than likely, was asserting his independence from Colonel Tom Parker.

13 - Baby Let's Play House (3:17)
(Arthur Gunter)
Recorded at the Louisiana Hayride, Shreveport, Louisiana, August 20, 1955
Elvis Presley Vocal and guitar), Scotty Moore (lead guitar), Bill Black (upright bass)

14 - Maybellene (2:39)
(Chuck Berry)
Recorded at the Louisiana Hayride, Shreveport, Louisiana, August 20, 1955
Elvis Presley Vocal and guitar), Scotty Moore (lead guitar), Bill Black (upright bass)

15 - That's All Right (2:31)
(Arthur Crudup)
Recorded at the Louisiana Hayride, Shreveport, Louisiana, August 20, 1955
Elvis Presley Vocal and guitar), Scotty Moore (lead guitar), Bill Black (upright bass)

> Tracks 13-14-15 Live Louisiana Hayride <

The contract was prepared and signed during the first week of September as reported in the Shreveport Times on September 8th . Once again his parent's cosigned the contract as Elvis was still under the age of 21. The Hayride would now pick up the Presley option for $200 an appearance which was a fair increase compared to his current contract that paid the union scale of $18 a show, The contract also stipulated that, "...artist is given the right to miss one Saturday performance during each 60 day period". Horace Logan also added
a sideline note that $400 must be paid to the Hayride for every additional show Elvis would miss.

All this was done very much to the objection of Colonel Tom Parker. He urged Vernon Presley (Elvis father) not to sign the agreement, as he felt that the there was no need for a committed contract. He was close to getting a promise of a new recording contract with a major label. However, in Vernon's, mind wanting some kind of financial security, he signed the agreement that took hold on November 11th, 1955, just as Elvis present contract would end.

The last appearance on the Louisiana Hayride Show under the Sun Record label before moving to RCA was on November 19th, 19555. It was a remote broadcast from Gladewater, Texas at the High School Auditorium.

With the Hayride back in Gladewater, their second broadcast from the area in less than a year, the tickets was already sold out. When Horace Logan announced Elvis onto the stage, he tripped on the steps up to the platform. The audience, who were in that area of the stage, felt sympathy of Elvis except for a couple who shouted, ''The devil's child's drunk and can't stand on his own two feet''. The performance went well and he performed ''Baby Let's Play House'', ''That's All Tight'', and a cover of Bill Haley's ''Rock Around The Clock''.

The Last Farewell

Elvis' last appearance as a regular on the Louisiana Hayride was on March 31st, 1956.

In April of 1956, Colonel Tom Parker (by now Elvis' manager) negotiated with the Hayride and bought Elvis out of his contract. This was something the Colonel had in mind. Major plans for Elvis' career were developing into new areas. The Colonel decided that Elvis' career should also develop in Hollywood and Elvis was very excited at the idea of becoming a serious, actor. This was something he had dreamt of since childhood. Staying with the Hayride holding Elvis back.

It was smooth sailing once it was agreed that Elvis would do a full concert performance on the Hayride later in December 1956 as part of that deal. This show was to be a benefit concert for the local YMCA and Elvis was very pleased to give his farewell performance in Shreveport for charity.

The concert was set for 7 December 15th, at the Hirsch Youth Center on the Louisiana Fairgrounds instead of the Municipal Auditorium, where the Hayride was normally located. Those responsible expected an extraordinarily big crowd and wanted to be prepared. In the end 10,000 tickets had been sold for Elvis' last show on the Hayride and it would also be his performance of 1956. During that year, EIvis was almost never at home. Over 160 performances, including his legendary TV appearances and the Hayride shows, was
sheer madness. But through the Colonel's eyes it was the best thing to prepare Elvis for Hollywood, sending him out over the country either live on stage or on TV.

Elvis was part of the regular "Louisiana Hayride" show. But in time everyone knew that it wasn't a regular show anymore. When setting up the shows sequence, nobody wanted to perform directly after Elvis had been on stage!

Hayride cast member, Gary Bryant, was one performer and he later recalls: "I thought I was going to get lynched! I never heard so much booing and hissing in my life. They all wanted Elvis. So the last song on that show is me doing "Blue Suede Shoes".

It was now time for Elvis to fulfill his contractual obligation. After arriving at the Captain Shreve Hotel in the early morning of December 15th, Elvis got some sleep. Now a little fresher, he went to the press conference before the concert. He talked to many of the press as well as to some fans who managed to get inside.

Horace Logan, the main emcee of the Louisiana Hayride remembers the preparation and required tasks set out by the Fire Marshal which had to be met. They had a fence set up in front of the stage to keep a distance between Elvis and the fans. As soon as the doors opened, the already frantic fans entered the venue and the fence was history. The Fire Marshal made clear that the staff would have to do something about this otherwise the whole show would have to be cancelled due to lack of safety and security.

Horace finally got an idea. Only and hour before the show started, they they cleared space in front of the stage for several fans that were patients from the local hospital. They had arrived at the Youth Center with their iron lungs; the necessary technical and ancillary equipment was then put in place. The fans that had broke down the fence were understanding and after the organisers put everyone and everything the proper position, the show started with just a little delay.

Hal Kanter was a director movie Elvis titled ''Loving You '' He was present company that day, since he wanted to see firsthand the phenomenon Elvis Presley and what made the audience tick. He was not however prepared for what he was about to see at Hirsch Youth Center. Just by Elvis walking on stage his 10.000 fans immediately went hysterical.

The screaming made it nearly impossible to listen to any of his songs. Every move made was rewarded with a flew wave of screaming: This was something that the world, let alone Shreveport, had never seen before. The police were unable keep the excited crowd under control and could only protect Elvis from, being mobbed.

Elvis' performance lasted for 35 minutes and he ended his show with ''Hound Dog'', as he always did in the fifties; thus leaving the stage. The special performance was on of the most unforgettable renditions of ''Hound Dog'' to date.

In conclusion, it was a kid that left the Hayride on March 31st, 1956 and it was a King that returned on December 15th, 1956..

* - 16 - Heartbreak Hotel (2:42) Hirsch Youth Center <
(Mae Boren Axton-Tommy Durden-Elvis Presley)

17 - Long Tall Sally (2:37) > Hirsch Youth Center <
Johnny Johnson-Richard Penniman-Otis Blackwell)

18 - I Was The One (3:14) > Hirsch Youth Center <
(Aron Schroeder-Claude DeMetruis-Hal Blair-Sid Pepper)

19 - Love Me Tender (3:38) > Hirsch Youth Center <
(Vera Matson-Elvis Presley)

20 - Don't Be Cruel (3:06) > Hirsch Youth Center <
(Otis Blackwell-Elvis Presley)

21 - Love Me (3:08) > Hirsch Youth Center <
(Jerry Leiber-Mike Stoller)

22 - I Got A Woman (3:36) > Hirsch Youth Center <
(Ray Charles)

23 - When My Blue Moon Turns To Gold Again (2:49) > Hirsch Youth Center <
(Gene Sullivan-Wiley Walker)

24 - Paralyzed (2:44) > Hirsch Youth Center <
(Otis Blackwell-Elvis Presley)

25 - Hound Dog (4:56) > Hirsch Youth Center <
(Jerry Leiber-Mike Stoller)

26 - Elvis Has Left The Building (2:02)

27 - Hayride End Jingle (0:44)

16-27 Recorded December 15, 1956 Hirsch Youth Center, Louisiana Fairgrounds, Shreveport, Louisiana
Elvis Presley Vocal and guitar), Scotty Moore (lead guitar), Bill Black (upright bass)
Dominic Joseph Fontana - (drums), Gorden Stoker (tenor lead vocal),
Neal Matthews (tenor vocal), Hugh Jarrett (bass vocal),
Hoyt Hawkins (baritone vocal)

28 - Bonus Tracks: June Carter Talks About Elvis On The Hayride (1:26

29 - Maybellene (Tunzi Remix) (1:48)
(Chuck Berry)

*- Only the second half of 'Heartbreak Hotel' was recorded from the Hayride. For completeness, the first half
of the song is taken from Elvis' performance in Tupelo Mississippi on the 26th of September 1936.

Total time 75 minutes 27 seconds.

Some of the shows from Louisiana Hayride were very poorly recorded. The most up to date technology has been used to restore the original tapes. Every effort has been made to achieve optimum quality however, priority is given to its historical content.

Direction, Production and Compilation by Joseph Pirzada
Restoration by Studio D
Text by Joseph Pirzada
Additional notes by Proud Mary
Deign by 08/15 Design

Special thanks to the following for the use of their photographs and memorabilia:
The Balls-eye Photo Collection, Steve Barile, Sergej Gleitman, John Heath, Jürgen Keilwertb,
Joey Kent (of the Louisiana Hayride Archives), Michael Oghs Archives, Stanley Oberst,
Joseph Pirzada, David Topp and Joseph Tunzi.


 For Elvis Presley's Biography (See:> The Sun Biographies <
Elvis Presley's Sun recordings can be heard on the playlists from 706 Union Avenue Sessions on > YouTube <