CONTAINS
For audio recordings click on the available > buttons <
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1956 SESSIONS (12/1)
December 1, 1956 to December 31, 1956

Studio Session for Ramsey Kearney, December 1956 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Carl Perkins, December 4, 1956 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Carl Perkins, 1956/1957 / Sun Records

Jam Session for The Million Dollar Quartet, December 4, 1956 / Sun Records
- From TV News And Views - Memphis Press Scimitar by Robert Johnson December 5, 1956 -
- Some Minor Recollactions About The Sessions Of
The Production People Behind This Door -
- Tapes - Bootlegs - Releases -
- TV News and Views - 

TV Show Recordings for Roy Orbison, Fall 1956 / KOSA TV

For Biographies of Artists see: > The Sun Biographies <
Playlists of the Artists can be found on 706 Union Avenue Sessions of > YouTube <
   

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

DECEMBER 1, 1956 SATURDAY

Jerry Lee Lewis' first record "Crazy Arms" b/w ''End Of The Road'' (Sun 259) is released.

Only by an article in the "Shreveport Times" on December 1, the Shreveport citizens learned that Elvis Presley came back to the city. In his announcement of Elvis' appearance on December 15, Henry Clay, General Manager of the radio station KWKH, announced that the show was moved from the Municipal Auditorium in the Youth Center on the grounds of the Louisiana State Fairgrounds - the largest hall in the city, the Hirsch Youth building - to accommodate Shreveport resident found out the expected crowd. Elvis really loved Shreveport and put on one of his best shows ever in December 1956. There were no seat reservations and the tickets for the price of $ 2 in advance ($ 2.50 at the box office at the entrance) were available or could be purchased from: Security Jewelers, Domestic Appliance Center, Harbuc Sporting Goods, the Southern Made Doughnuts Company, the Central YMCA and Stan’s Record Shop. The proceeds were used to - besides other things - to build a Swimming pool for the Youth Building.

DECEMBER 1956

Johnny Cash's "I Walk The Line" still sat at number 3 in the country charts and at number 88 in the pop charts at the end of 1956. Cash's new record, which coupled "Train Of Love" with "There You Go", was starting to show up strongly; the year-end results showed that Johnny Cash ranked third among best-selling country artists, right behind Marty Robbins and Ray Price.

Warren Smith's "Ubangi Stomp" enters Memphis charts on December 1.

DECEMBER 1956

MPAA Production Code for US film releases is substantially revised, leaving only two taboo subjects: venereal disease and sexual perversion.

Twentieth Century-Fox introduces CinemaScope-55, a format with a film width of 55.625mm to improve the definition of the image (the CinemaScope format inherently reduces the definition by expanding the projected image of the film to 2.33 times its photographic width). Two films, Carousel and The King and I are shot in the new format but reduction printed to by-now conventional 35mm CinemaScope. The format is abandoned.

There are 200 art-house and over 4,000 drive-in cinemas in the USA.

RCA develops a prototype colour videotape recorder with two fixed heads and quarter-inch tape travelling at 360 inches (9.14m) per second, capable of giving 15 minutes of recording.

Scotch brand Magnetic VR tape 179 is introduced commercially by 3M Company to complement Ampex's two-inch quadruplex videotape recorder. The tape is nearly half a mile long and the reel weighs 10 kg (22 lbs). US network CBS is the first customer.

In United States, unused educational television channels start to be re-assigned by the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) to commercial applicants.

Bob and Betsy Magness open their first cable television relay business, a 700-home network in Memphis, Texas.

Cable television system at Reno, Nevada owned by Jack Gallivan relays signals from Salt Lake City imported by common carrier microwave.

DECEMBER 1, 1956 SATURDAY

More than two decades before recording the country hit ''I Wish I Was Eighteen Again'', George Burns shares the cover of TV Guide with Gracie Allen.

DECEMBER 2, 1956 SUNDAY

Scotty Stoneman of The Stoneman Family, becomes a father for the first time, with the birth of a daughter Sandra.

DECEMBER 3, 1956 MONDAY

Elvis Presley buys a 1957 Cadillac Seville in Memphis for $8,400.

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

Jackson, Tennessee, has been the home for several Tennessee rockabilly musicians, most notable Carl Perkins. Local record companies, e.g. Jaxon and Lu Records recorded local artists just as Kenny Parchman, Curtis Hobock, Carl Mann and others, and a young Ramsey Kearney, who also was part of the Jackson music scene and recorded for Jaxon Records. Coincidence or not, some of the artists that Jimmy Martin featured on Jaxon had already been turned down by Sun Records. Ramsey Kearney, the first vocalist with the Martin Combo, had already been mixed by Sun with good cause.

Still, two very mediocre Kearney songs, "Rock The Bop" and "Red Bobby Sox" were copyrighted by Sun's Hi-Lo Music in December 1956 and subsequently issued under Jimmy Martin's Combo on Jaxon Records.

STUDIO SESSION FOR RAMSEY KEARNEY
FOR JACKSON RECORDS 1956

PROBABLY SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
STUDIO SESSION: UNKNOWN DATE DECEMBER 1956
STUDIO HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER – SAM PHILLIPS

> ROCK THE BOP <
Composer: - Eddie Star-Ramsey Kearney
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - J 10 - Master (2:12)
Recorded: - Unknown Date December 1956
Released: - 1957
First appearance: - Jaxon Records (S) 45rpm Jaxon 501-A mono
ROCK THE BOP / RED BOBBY SOX
Reissued: 1993 Stomper Records (CD) 500/200rpm Stomper STCD 3-13 mono
THE LEAST GREAT ROCKABILLY SATURDAY NIGHT

> RED BOBBY SOX <
Composer: - Eddie Star-Ramsey Kearney
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - J 11 Take 1 - Master (2:56)
Recorded: - Unknown Date December 1956
Released: - 1957
First appearance: - Jaxon Records (S) 45rpm Jaxon 501-B mono
ROCK THE BOP / RED BOBBY SOX
Reissued: 1993 Stomper Records (CD) 500/200rpm Stomper STCD 3-22 mono
THE LEAST GREAT ROCKABILLY SATURDAY NIGHT

> RED BOBBY SOX <
Composer: - Eddie Star-Ramsey Kearney
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Take 2 - Not Originally Issued (2:01)
Recorded: - Unknown Date December 1956
Released: - January 1, 2005
First appearance: - Stomper Time Records (CD) 500/200rpm STCD 20 mono
HOT ROCKIN' MUSIC FROM TENNESSEE

> RED BOBBY SOX <
Composer: - Eddie Star-Ramsey Kearney
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Take 3 - Not Originally Issued (2:00)
Recorded: - Unknown Date December 1956
Released: - January 1, 2005
First appearance: - Stomper Time Records (CD) 500/200rpm STCD 20 mono
HOT ROCKIN' MUSIC FROM TENNESSEE

Note: Issued on Jaxon Records by Jimmie Martin Combo. Tapes stored at Sun and songs copyrighted by Hi- Lo Music.

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Jimmy Martin Combo consisting of
Ramsey Kearney – Vocal & Guitar
Junior Vestal - Guitar
Ickie Havener - Piano
Jimmy Martin - Bass

For Biography of Ramsey Kearney see: > The Sun Biographies <
Ramsey Kearney's Sun recordings can be heard on his playlist from 706 Union Avenue Sessions on > YouTube <

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

Carl Perkins back in the Sun studio seriously trying to recapture his place in the pop market. Jerry Lee Lewis was sitting in on piano trying to make enough money to buy his folks some Christmas presents. Elvis Presley dropped by to see what was shaking at his old stomping ground and sing a few songs.

Before the so-called "MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET" session started, Elvis Presley listened to the tapes of Carl Perkins' newest songs and declared that they had real potential.

It is hard to know exactly what Elvis Presley heard that day. Carl Perkins originally planned to couple an old blues standard, "Matchbox", with a novelty rock number called "Her Love Rubbed Off" on which he mumbled some of the lyrics in a manner that would have done credit to Jimmy Reed. Interviewed by Ronnie Weiser twenty years later, Carl Perkins had no recollection of "Her Love Rubbed Off", concluding that he must have been two thirds drunk when he performed it.

STUDIO SESSION FOR CARL PERKINS
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1956

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: TUESDAY DECEMBER 4, 1956
AND PROBABLY OTHER DATES DECEMBER 1956/JANUARY 1957
SESSION LOGGED JANUARY 30, 1957
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS

'CALDONIA''

This song was a smash hit for Louis Jordan 1945 and was quickly covered by Erskine Hawkins (composer of ''Tuxedo Junction'', a source for ''Perkins Wiggle''), Woody Herman, and Louis Prima. ''Caldonia'' has had staying power and in the years since 1945, it has appealed to a remarkable variety of musical performers. There was something of a revival flurry beginning in the late 1950s. Carl's recordings date from early 1957 most likely Bill Ramsey, largely famous for German-language versions of English-language hits, sang it in Engles in 1958 (available on BCD 16151).

Bill Haley & the Comets put it on a single in 1959 and Dale Hawkins recorded it in 1959 also (though it was not released then). The Rondels' single came out in 1962 as did Gene Simmons, and James Brown's was issued in 1964. Very engagingly, pianist Big Tiny Little did a boogie-woogie version on the Lawrence Welk TV show in 1958. In years since ''Caldonia'' has been recorded by B.B. King, the Band, Van Morrison, and others. And quite recently it was done as a duet by Willle Nelson and Wynton Marsalis.

The song's huge hook is the rhythm (quarter-note triplets) of the line – ''What makes your big head so hard?''. That hook shows up in Sonny Burgess' Sun recording of ''Fannie Brown'' (available on BCD 15525). The adaptation of it that is probably most familiar (''when-you-make-me-cry-hi'') occurs in the final verse of the Crickets ''That'll Be The Day''.

The song is a natural for bands like Carl's to play in dance halls - it's energetic and it's got that hook which permits the dancers to occasionally join in on the singing and then get back to business. We don''t know though, whether it was a standard entry in Carl’s playlíst at the honky tonks. The first of the two versions here present here suggest that it wasn't. The boys spend over a minute working out how they're going to play it, and it's not dedicated to figuring out how to work Jerry Lee s piano into an arrangement that the rest of the band already knows well.

Once they get the kinks worked out, the band plays it as they play most 12-bar blues with Carl's percussive guitar work driving the song along. We've got two takes. In both, guitar solos last for 24 bars (twice though the 12-bar blues chord changes); there are two solos on the first outtake and only one on the second. In the second solo on the first outtake, the melody consists of one note for the first 12 bars which is considerably more interesting to hear than to read about; the second twelve bars are more varied. There's only one 24-bar solo in the second outtake and in the second 12 bars Carl reprises one of his terrific moves from the first solo in the released version of ''Boppin' The Blues'' (Sun 243). The other boys are working hard as well. Jerry Lee Lewis throws in long glissandos after ''What makes your big head so hard?'', and fiddles around entertainingly at the end of the first outtake. Unlike most of his work behind Carl, on these takes Jerry Lee of ten plays chords rather than single notes with his left hand. W.S. ''Fluke'' Holland doesn't recapture the magic of ''Matchbox'' when he puts an unexpected drum roll into the guitar solo in the second outtake; this one really is in the wrong place.

Of course, the most striking thing about these takes is the vocals. This is Carl Perkins as we don't usually hear him – alternately growling and restrained, gimmicking up his voice in numerous ways. Sun Records aficionados are familiar with Billy Riley's remarkable ability to change his sound. Unfortunately, Carl just sounds peculiar doing it on these tracks. In tins case, the familiar bottle of Early Times seems to have affected not only the vocals but Car's guitar-playing as well.

> CALDONIA <
Composer: - Fleecy Moore
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - False Start 1, 2, 3, 4 - Take 1 - Not Originally Issued (4:44)
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - April 27, 2012
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17240-2/32 mono
CARL PERKINS - THE SUN ERA OUTTAKES

> CALDONIA <
Composer: - Fleecy Moore
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Take 2 - Not Originally Issued (2:05)
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - 1973
First appearance: - Phonogram Records (LP) 33rpm 6467 028-2 mono
SUN ROCKABILLYS - VOLUME 4 - PUT YOUR CAT CLOTHES ON
Reissued: - 1990 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15494-2/22 mono
THE CLASSIC CARL PERKINS

''SWEETHEARTS OR STRANGERS''

This song has a muddled history, to put it mildly. It dates back to the 1930s and depended on where you get your facts, it has been credited to Jimmie Davis, Gene Autry, Leon Payne, Hylo Brown. Jimmy Wakely and even Faron Young (who must have owned a time machine).

At the least we know they all recorded the song, as did countless other artist. Among those others was Carl Perkins, during his tenure at Sun.

Although this was a spontaneous (some would say throwaway) track, it has been reissued many (some would say too many) times. The reason for that is no doubt the presence of session pianist Jerry Lee Lewis.

The haphazard nature of the recording is matched by the care with which the title has been reissued on various record labels - it's often been titled ''Sweetheart's A '' Stranger''. Close, but no cigar!

There are three outtakes here. Actually, these are more aptly called ''alternates' since there never was an ''intake''. The song was never issued by Sun, nor was it ever a contender. On the first of these three versions, Jerry Lee's presence looms large over everything. His left-hand piano fills are a mayor, truly dominant part of the arrangement. Carl's vocal is not among his best. He sounds distracted and his vocal is quite mannered. It is even sloppy in place. The ideas in his guitar solo are unfinished, his playing is working towards something but it isn't there yet. Putting it bluntly, the whole thing sounds like a parody of Carl Perkins.

The second take (from the same session) has considerably more echo on it. This has ''warm- up taken'' written all over it. It's the kind of thing the Million Dollar Quartet might have knocked off in one take and then moved on.

The final version of ''Sweethearts Or Strangers'' is plainly from a different session. The tempo is slowed down, the mix is different, and the song is performed in a different key (the first two versions were in A; this one ls m,G).

The slower tempo and lower key seem like a more workable approach if the boys (and Sam) were serious about getting something usable. Clearly, they never did.

> SWEETHEARTS OR STRANGERS <
Composer: - Jimmie Davis-Lou Wayne
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Southern Music
Matrix number: - None - Take 1 - Not Originally Issued (2:00)
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - April 27, 2012
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17240-2/34 mono
CARL PERKINS - THE SUN ERA OUTTAKES

> SWEETHEARTS OR STRANGERS <
Composer: - Jimmie Davis-Lou Wayne
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Southern Music
Matrix number: - None - Take 2 - Not Originally Issued (2:43)
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - 1976
First appearance: - Charly Records (LP) 33rpm CR 30104-8 mono
SUN - THE ROOTS OF ROCK - VOLUME 4 - COTTON CITY COUNTRY
Reissued: - 1990 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15494-2/26 mono
THE CLASSIC CARL PERKINS

> SWEETHEARTS OR STRANGERS <
Composer: - Jimmie Davis-Lou Wayne
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Southern Music
Matrix number: - None - Take 3 - Not Originally Issued (2:20)
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - 1990
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15494-2/24 mono
THE CLASSIC CARL PERKINS

''BE HONEST WITH ME''

The thing about ''Be Honest With Me'', (a song written by Fred Rose and recorded by Gene Autry in 1946), is that it is so scalar to ''Sweethearts Or Strangers'', you can starts singing one and up singing the other without notice the transition. That's probably what happened to Carl or Jerry Lee when they found themselves at the informal hillbilly jam that produced some of these recordings. The melodies to the first time of the verse are identical - G - E - D - J - C- E (in key of C) and the second line is, as they say, close enough for jazz.

You can put all kinds of filigree around those notes, but at the core it doesn't matter whether you're singing ''Sweet - hearts - or - stran - gers or Be honest - with - me- (dear)''. You're going to hit that same descending pattern, and end up back on the E.

The first outtake makes it hard to see similarity between the two songs. The first 8 bars begin in a quasi-Latin rhythm before launching into a tough guitar riff which stinging than any of the outtakes in ''Sweethearts Or Strangers''.

The key modulation 2/3 the way through offers a nice touch. A1l in all, this is a surprisingly versions. The second outtake has taken on some additional echo and is closer to completion, although it seems unlikely this song was ever a serous candidate for release. Perhaps it might have been an album track, at best Sam wasn't giving away publishing revenue without a fight.

W.S.'s drumming is quite free compared to the previously released samples of his craft we've heard through the years. W.S. got a rough deal. First he was buried in the mix at Sun. He managed to get a few licks through, for example on ''Matchbox'', but most of his freest, much expressive playing remained on the outtake reels awaiting discovery decades later. And after recording with Carl, he spent the lion's share of his career playing brushes behind Johnny Cash, where tasty drum licks were strictly verboten.

Outtake 3 is a vastly different story. There's a tempo change, a substantial key change and a difference in overall feel. It's safe to say this take stems from a different session. The style is much more country, especially in the piano work, leaving open the possibility that we're listening to Jimmy Wilson this time around. Carl is a lot more focused Ii his half of the instrumental solo a than the piano player, whether Wilson or Lewis The final key modulation seems to throw Car's vocal off-kilter, from which be never quite recovers.

> BE HONEST WITH ME <
Composer: - Fred Rose
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Fred Rose Music
Matrix number: - None - Take 1 - Not Originally Issued (2:14)
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - April 27, 2012
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17240-2/37 mono
CARL PERKINS - THE SUN ERA OUTTAKES

> BE HONEST WITH ME <
Composer: - Fred Rose
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Fred Rose Music
Matrix number: - None - Take 2 - Not Originally Issued (2:25)
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - 1990
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15494-2/25 mono
THE CLASSIC CARL PERKINS
Reissued: - April 27, 2012 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17240-2/38 mono
CARL PERKINS - THE SUN ERA OUTTAKES

> BE HONEST WITH ME <
Composer: - Fred Rose
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Fred Rose Music
Matrix number: - None - Take 3 - Not Originally Issued (2:41)
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - April 27, 2012
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17240-2/39 mono
CARL PERKINS - THE SUN ERA OUTTAKES

''MATCHBOX''

According to Carl's biography, it was his father Buck who suggested (at the recording studio just after ''Your True Love'' had been completed) that the band do this 1927 Blind Lemon Jefferson song of which Buck remembered only the chorus (about wondering ''would a matchbox hold my clothes''). So Carl cobbled together a few other stock blues verses and thus was one of Carl's greatest records born. What Carl recorded contains two additional verses with lyrics that appear on most Top Ten lists of blues cliches (e.g., ''Let me be your little dog...''). Indeed, wondering whether a matchbox will hold your clothes goes back at least to Ma Raney's 1924 record of ''Lost Wandering Blues''. Songs resembling Lemon Jefferson's and using something like his record's title (''Matchbox Blues'') got recorded many times in the 1930s and 1940s, both by black blues and white country singers. Carl was part of a long tradition when he recorded ''Matchbox''. Its a tradition that has continued since Carl's record, including versions by the Beatles, Sleepy LaBeef and Warren Phillips & The Rockets.

In a way, it's disappointing that Perkins did not learn the song directly from the old 1927 Blind Lemon Jefferson record. It's fun to picture Carl sitting alone in the wee hours, playing an old Paramount 78, transcribing lyrics on a potato sack. But it just didn't happen that way.

This songs recording date, listed as December 4, 1956, was Carl's first experience with the young session pianist Jerry Lee Lewis impressed Carl as cocky and arrogant, a point of view borne out by Jerry Lee's performance on the one alternate take present here. His piano-styling intends more to be attention -grabbing and showy than to fit into a Carl Perkins record. And so there are numerous glissandos, gratuitous high-key doodling, and ''Hey listen to me!'' moments. Sadly, one of thorn occurs when he gets lost in the harmonic complexities of a 3-chord 12-bar blues in the chorus between the two guitar solos. Somehow. Carl and company tamed Jerry between takes - to our everlasting benefit.

Carl's vocal and guitar solos are much like what he performed on Sun 261 and this outtake sounds like a warm-up for the the real thing. More interesting is the pair (the released version has only one) of singlestroke drum rolls leading into the guitar solos, both extending two beats ''too long''. W.S. ''Fluke'' Holland was certainly blazing a new trail here when he played a drum ro11 that extended two beats into the bar. The fact that it occurs on an outtake here as well makes it seem likely that this moment of memorable and aspired drumming were carefully planned. Not so, according to W.S. ''I didn't I really now what I was doing. I didn't know there were four beats to a bar. I didn't I know what a bar was. (laughs) I was doing what felt good. The truth is, back then I didn't know if I was right or wrong. I didn't know where to start or end anything. If I had known anything else to do. I might have done it differently. But I didn't''.

Most of the outtakes remedied unheard until someone thought to dig them up and issue them. But not this one. When Carl made an appearance on the ''Town Hall Party TV'' show and performed a lip-synched version of ''Matchbox'', it was to this outtake and not to the actual released! Joe Maphis was on-stage standing behind Carl, off to his left, a sax and trumpet player pretended lo contribute to a rockabilly classic that has no horns whatsoever.

So why was this outtake chosen for lip-synching? Was it a simple mistake where someone provided the wrong tape? Was there actually a (pre-release) time when Sam or Carl believed this outtake was the version they'd soon be putting out on Sun? Did someone think that if Carl lip-synched a version that the audience hadn't already heard, then it might be more convincing as a live-performances? We'll never know.

It's not a bad choice, though. Much of what is wonderful about the released version is wonderful in this outtake as well. The rhythmic energy driven by all five players, the solid bottom provided by Jerry Lee's left hand, the crisp drumming, Carl s exuberant vocalizing. All of that is here. Unlike on the released version, Carl sings an ''extra'' third verse on this outtake before launching into his familiar guitar solo. It's a bit surprising to hear, but like most of the track, you can learn to love it. This outtake is a mighty good, if spotty, recording. And it led to Sun 261 which is simply sublime. And by the way, W.S. ''Fluke'' Holland says that ''Matchbox'' is still one of his favorite things to play after 55+ years, and notes that his band still performs it every night.

> MATCHBOX < 
Composer: - Carl Perkins
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Knox Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Take 1 - Not Originally Issued (2:27)
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - March 1982
First appearance: - Charly Records (LP) 33rpm Sunbox 101 mono
CARL PERKINS - THE SUN YEARS
Reissued: - 1990 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm 15494 EH-2/28 mono
THE CLASSIC CARL PERKINS

If a Sun collector dies and hears the first four bars of "Matchbox", its a sure sign he's gone to heaven. This track is a landmark recording in Perkins' work for Sun Records. Although credited to Carl, the song had been kicking around in one form ar another longer than he had.

What makes this record great, however, is hardly the lyric or melodic structure. Rather, it is the sound the musical energy that literally shook the walls of 706 Union. The Perkins Brothers band was loose, and young session pianist Jerry Lee Lewis brought a manic enercy and drive that brought everything to life. Even Carl's instrumental work carries an aggressive edge that goes beyond his own fiery standards. When he cries "Let her go boy, go go!" the skies literally open up for 12 bars. Even drummer W.S. ''Fluke'' Holland sounds inspired as he boots things along.

> MATCHBOX < 
Composer: - Carl Perkins
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Knox Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 231 Take 2 - Master (2:08)
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - January 23, 1957
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single Sun 261-A mono
MATCHBOX / YOUR TRUE LOVE
Reissued: - 1995 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15802-3/15 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 2

The Beatles recorded "Matchbox" which was no more from Perkins' pen than it was from Lennon and McCartney's. However, they attributed the song to Perkins because they had learned it from his "Dance Album". Thus, Perkins began receiving astronomically high airplay and publishing royalties from a song that had been a thrwaway flipside to perhaps his least creditable Sun single. In view of the sums of money at stake, it is surprising that no-one was slimy enough to contact the surviving relatives of Blind Lemon Jefferson who had recorded "Matchbox Blues" back in October 1927, thereby creating a protracted and messy court battle.

''HER LOVE RUBBED OFF''

This is surely one of the strangest songs Carl wrote or recorded at Sun. Carl's biography refers to it as rockabilly's most surreal moment. Carl's observation to biographer David McGee was, ''It sounds like bunch of drug addicts so high they don't know where they're at .. Well, we were pretty high. I remember that session. I slept on the studio floor that night''.

We've got five outtakes and it's unlikely any of them could pass a sobriety test. That isn't in itself necessarily bad. Carl's biography makes it clear that many, perhaps most sessions at Sun were fueled by some freeflowing ''Early Time'' whiskey. The problem in this case is that you can hear the inebriation. Carl's son Stan Perkins recalls, ''My dad was never so ashamed of anything he did at Sun as he was this song. It even bothered him when people brought up the title because, he knew what had gone on in the studio and the kind of shape he was in''. Carl was a good lyricist and too much of what he's written and sung are lost. Much of the singing sounds garbled, muffled and/or off-mike. In short, the boys may have squandered a good song here.

It's hard to fault Sam for keeping this title away from commercial release, either as a single or on Carl's lone LP. Yet. given the number of outtakes, though, its clear that a serious amount of time and effort were invested in making this work.

The structure of ''Her Love Rubbed Off'' is a bit of a novelty, both for Carl and for Sun Records. It's got that Indian war drum effect - or is that supposed to be Latin rhythm? Carl whoops and hollers and howls until everything is resolved into a fairly conventional major key song structure, abetted by Jerry Lee's piano licks. Minor keys weren't altogether unknown at Sun (think of Dick Penner's ''Cindy Lou'', both of which teeter on the edge of a major/minor and Rufus Thomas' ''Walkin' In The Rain''). This song forces you to listen to a sustained manor chord for a full 16 vars before turning you loose and resolving things into its relative major key (E minor to G). What a relief?

The lyrics deals with an irresistible, compulsive love. It's what some listeners today might call an addiction. On the first take, the piano (which would become quite important in the arrangement) is still buried in the mix. Carl sounds like he's singing through a pillow. Good luck figuring out his mumbled lyric. Around 1:40, the song is faded prematurely, a trick that probably happened after original recording was made. Even on this first take, Carl is really working the whammy bar on his Les Paul Gibson guitar.

The end of outtake 2 is again filed with Carl's whoops and howls. Carl must have had immense fun whupping that whammy bar and playing through the stops. Clayton is a lot more audible slapping his bass at the start of outtake 3. Jerry Lee is also becoming hotter in the mix. It's the best so far, but it ain't there yet. At around 2:25 of that take Carl's blood alcohol level was probably into the need for a designated driver.

Listening to the fade of outtake 4 makes you wonder: If Sam had ever released this, would he have faded it in the studio using declining record levels like everyone else did, or would he have asked the boys to play more and more softly like he did with Little Junior Parker on ''Mystery Train''?

The final outtake is the winner, but it still isn't really there. Carl changes the melody here, almost singing a harmony vocal to what he's been singing on the previous four. For the first time his vocal is clear! Whose idea was it to remove the pillow he's been singing through? The chords, as usual, are a mess. Some of the boys are in the I-minor, others are hitting the V. Still, this was the version to use. Listening to these tapes years later, it frustrated Carl to think they hadn't invested a few minutes more to nail it. As he sadly concluded, they were just too drunk.

> HER LOVE RUBBED OFF <
Composer: - Carl Perkins
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Take 1 - Not Originally Issued (1:41)
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - April 27, 2012
First appearance: Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17240-3/20 mono
CARL PERKINS - THE SUN ERA OUTTAKES

Carl Perkins using his new Gibson ES-5 maple-top with three P-90 pickups where you can hear him using the Bigsby vibrato.

> HER LOVE RUBBED OFF <
Composer: - Carl Perkins
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Take 2 - Not Originally Issued (2:36)
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - April 27, 2012
First appearance: Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17240-3/21 mono
CARL PERKINS - THE SUN ERA OUTTAKES

> HER LOVE RUBBED OFF <
Composer: - Carl Perkins
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Take 3 - Not Originally Issued (2:44)
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - April 27, 2012
First appearance: Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17240-3/22 mono
CARL PERKINS - THE SUN ERA OUTTAKES

> HER LOVE RUBBED OFF <
Composer: - Carl Perkins
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Take 4 - Not Originally Issued (2:53)
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - April 27, 2012
First appearance: Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17240-3/23 mono
CARL PERKINS - THE SUN ERA OUTTAKES

> HER LOVE RUBBED OFF <
Composer: - Carl Perkins
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Take 5 - Not Originally Issued (2:18)
Scheduled for SUN 261 but replaced by "Your True Love".
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - 1969
First appearance: - Sun Canada (LP) 33rpm LP 112 mono
CARL PERKIS – BLUE SUEDE SHOES
Reissued: - 1990 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15494-2/21 mono
THE CLASSIC CARL PERKINS

Shortly before release of this song, Sam Phillips decided to jettison "Her Love Rubbed Off" and take his chances with a very self conscious shot at the pop charts. It was called "Your True Love" and it was as innocuous as it sounded. Sam Phillips even decided to knock a few years and some hillbilly edges off Carl's voice by speeding up the tape. He almost overdid it; the vocal chorus sounds like the Chipmunks and Carl sounds almost pre-pubescent. The high point of the record for many was Perkins' wonderfully aggressive guitar intro.

''YOUR TRUE LOVE''

These five complete takes all sound different from what was released on Sun 261 because, as is well known, Sam Phillips had the final master tape speeded up before committing it to vinyl. That trick was routine for Fats Domino records; they were mastered on a tape machine with a special capstan that sped them up and raised the pitch so that Fats sounded younger and the band sounded peppier. And lots of Fats 'speeded-up records were very big hits.

So Sam must have thought that speeding up records was a good thing to do. In Shakespeare's As You Like It, Rosalind asks, ''can one desire too much of a good thing?''. The answer here is a resounding YES. Fats' records were speeded up enough the change the pitch by just one half-tone (e g., from C to C-sharp or from E to F). But Sam speeded up Carl's tape enough to raise the pitch by a full tone (from E to F-sharp). And as a result the vocals on ''Your True Love'' on Sun 261 don't just sound youthful and energetic, they sound perilously close to Alvin & the Chipmunks. Sam never tried this trick again despite the fact that ''Your True Love'' did make it onto the lower reaches of the ''Billboard'' charts.

We have an early fragment of a warm-up done at Carl's home (we'll discuss the home-recording conditions later, in the notes on ''The Way That You're Living''), as well as five later complete takes (plus a false start starts), all presented at the original speed. They make clear that Carl and his band knew from the beginning how how they wanted to do the song, including backing vocals by Clayton and Jay, and that Jerry Lee Lewis fit right into a pre-existing arrangement.

One constant in all these versions is the wonderfully aggressive and growling guitar introduction (with only a slight rhythmic variation in the third full outtake). It's a brilliant and attention-grabbing intro, but it's also disorienting as hell. Those first few chords don't tell us what to anticipate of the song's tonality or how the melody will relate to it. For the first four bars we're kind of left floating in free musical space, not knowing what to expect. It's only when the solo guitar intro ends and the band joins in, we finally know exactly where we are even though we're not entirely sure about where we started. (Musicians will discover that the intro begins on a III chord).

Our first outtake is an early fragment with Carl and the boys working out the arrangement without Jerry Lee. The remainder of the tracks here include Jerry Lee. You may notice a slight change of key between the home tape and the later ones. The reason force the change is probably that at home the instruments merely needed to be in tune with each other and didn't have to anchor their tuning to the piano. It turns out they were playing In E-flat, a half-tone below where they would later pitch the studio sessions.

Once they get to the studio and Jerry Lee joins in things evolve only a little bit more. In the first studio outtake, Carl's vocal seems a bit timid at first but becomes more confident and energetic as the song progresses. W.S. ''Fluke'' Holland plays a shuffle rhythm behind the band; he shifts to emphasizing the back-beat in the remained takes. Carl's guitar solos don't change much; they're mostly patterns of rhythmic chords rather than runs of single notes. He fiddles around with the second half of the solo a few times, but rhythmic chords are the choice. And the last line of the solo leading back into the vocal is solid am unchanging, dominated by Jerry Lee's left hand (playing pretty much what he does behind the line at the end of the release, ''and my baby she'll always be...'').

Our sixth outtake should sound the most familiar. It is the master recording without the speed change. This is Sun 261 as it was really played. And it's wonderful.

Not yet satisfied the band went on to try it one more time. But the seventh outtake is decidedly less good the the one sped up for the released version.

There are sensing vocal errors, such as Carl beginning the second verse by saying ''Your'' a bit early. It's also played a bit faster than the one sped up for release, perhaps in an attempt to do modestly what seeding up the tape would soon do excessively.

> YOUR TRUE LOVE <
Composer: - Carl Perkins
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Knox Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Take 1 - Not Originally Issued (2:56)
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - April 29, 2012
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17240-4/2 mono
CARL PERKINS - THE SUN ERA OUTTAKES

> YOUR TRUE LOVE <
Composer: - Carl Perkins
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Knox Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Take 2 - Not Originally Issued (2:56)
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - April 29, 2012
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17240-4/3 mono
CARL PERKINS - THE SUN ERA OUTTAKES

> YOUR TRUE LOVE <
Composer: - Carl Perkins
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Knox Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - False Start - Take 3 - Not Originally Issued (3:22)
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - April 29, 2012
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17240-4-4/5 mono
CARL PERKINS - THE SUN ERA OUTTAKES

> YOUR TRUE LOVE <
Composer: - Carl Perkins
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Knox Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Take 4 - Not Originally Issued (3:03)
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - 1990
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15494-2/27 mono
THE CLASSIC CARL PERKINS
Reissued: April 29, 2012 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17240-4/6 mono
CARL PERKINS - THE SUN ERA OUTTAKES

> YOUR TRUE LOVE <
Composer: - Carl Perkins
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Knox Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Take 5 - Not Originally Issued (3:02)
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - April 29, 2012
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17240-4/7 mono
CARL PERKINS - THE SUN ERA OUTTAKES

The tale of "Your True Love" being speeded up for release has often been told. Whether teens were fooled by the Chipmunk-sounding 'youthful' chorus is hard to tell. The record did sell in sufficient quantities for Perkins and Sam Phillips to see crossover potential lying within their grasp. However, this was Perkins' last serious flirtation with the pop charts. To their credit, Sun did not follow the Fats Domino model and release a neverending series of speeded up singles in order to attract the teen market. If it had been more successful, though, they might have.

"You True Love" climbed to number 67 on the pop charts before running out of steam. Ironically, it was the flip side that would reap the big pay-off, albeit ten years later.

> YOUR TRUE LOVE <
Composer: - Carl Perkins
Publisher: - Knox Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 235 Take 6 - Master (2:43)
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - January 23, 1957
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single Sun 261-B mono
YOUR TRUE LOVE / MATCHBOX
Reissued: - 1995 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15802-3/15 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 2

''YOU CAN DO NO WRONG''

From the ''Matchbox'' era comes this peculiar and engaging little song. Lyrically, it's a return to ''Blue Suede Shoes'' - a list of bad things you can do I that will nonetheless for forgiven. A year earlier, the bad things were trivial compared to stepping on the shoes; this time, they're trivial because you're you. The fun, of course, is in making up a list of entertaining infractions that rhyme like, ''smash my hat, tease my cat''. In fact, whoever this song is sung to can ''eleven step on my blue suede shoes''. Now, that's love.

That catchy lyrical idea appeared again in ''Going For A Song'' on Matthew Fisher's (best-known as the organist with Procol Harum) from the solo album from 1973. That, coincidentally was the year Charly first issued ''You Can Do No Wrong'' in the United Kingdom. Fisher's lyric lists things you can do that will be acceptable, (like, ''put piranhas in my swimming pool'') but ''please don't make me sing ' that song again''. One of them is ''scratch your name all over my Lamborghini''; Carl had a mere Cadillac.

By the time of his session, Carl was two singles beyond ''Blue Suede Shoes'' but without another big hit to his credit. Perhaps that was the appeal of writing a song that explicitly connected with his earlier success. The song is indeed clever but it never got a chance to become Carl's vehicle back to the Top 10.

Here five takes, and they show some evolution. The most striking change is that the first take does not - include the little instrumental hook that will dominate all the rest of them. It's a three-note figure eat bears a very strong similarity to the figure that served as the hook in Lavern Baker's 1955 smash ''Tweedlee Dee'' (or ''Tweedle Dee'' both spellings show up on the Atlantic record labels). Not only is it played to open the record, it shows up later in the song and sometimes appears in Carl's guitar solos.

Even the chord structure of the song evolves. What chord will the first verse end on? Initially it's the I (a C chord in the key of C), but in the later takes it's the V (G-chord in the key of C) and Carl's Vocals change to match those shifts. Because the song's chord structure changes across takes, Jerry Lee sometimes finds himself playing at odds with Carl.

A lot about these takes is both interesting and good. Jerry Lee's left hand is the bass line (listen closely: is there even a bass player here?) Often Jerry seems to be the entirety of the harmonic backing for Carl's vocals, with everyone else very subdued or laying out altogether. W.S. ''Fluke'' Holland's drumming is tasteful and energetic throughout all the takes. Carl gets some particularly good solos in, especially m the third and fifth of our outtakes) and his vocal gets very free-sounding. And perhaps most important, it sounds like the boys are having fun doing this one.

Sadly, though, not one of these takes is flaw-free There are ragged moments in every one of them. Chords get messed up, the band speeds up during the take, stuff happens. It's ironic that in a song with the title ''You Can Do No Wrong'', they couldn't get even a single take right.

But it's a good song with a good hook and it deserved a better performance. For reasons unknown, Carl never returned to it. We can only wonder why.

> YOU CAN DO NO WRONG <
Composer: - Carl Perkins
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Take 1 - Not Originally Issued (2:03)
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - April 29, 2012
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17240-4/14 mono
CARL PERKINS - THE SUN ERA OUTTAKES

> YOU CAN DO NO WRONG <
Composer: - Carl Perkins
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Take 2 - Not Originally Issued (2:32)
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - April 29, 2012
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17240-4/15 mono
CARL PERKINS - THE SUN ERA OUTTAKES

> YOU CAN DO NO WRONG <
Composer: - Carl Perkins
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Take 3 - Not Originally Issued (2:25)
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - April 29, 2012
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17240-4/16 mono
CARL PERKINS - THE SUN ERA OUTTAKES

> YOU CAN DO NO WRONG < 
Composer: - Carl Perkins
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Take 4 - Not Originally Issued (2:23)
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - 1973
First appearance: - Phonogram Records (LP) 33rpm 6467 028-1 mono
SUN ROCKABILLYS - VOLUME 4 - PUT YOUR CAT CLOTHES ON
Reissued: - 1990 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15494-2/23 mono
THE CLASSIC CARL PERKINS

> YOU CAN DO NO WRONG <
Composer: - Carl Perkins
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Take 5 - Not Originally Issued (2:21)
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - April 29, 2012
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17240-4/18 mono
CARL PERKINS - THE SUN ERA OUTTAKES

Or course, no artist is completely original and Perkins' version of "Matchbox" showed how successfully he had assimilated all the music he had heard while growing up. He had a rich and varied heritage to draw upon and during his early career the disparate elements coalesced into something truly unique. After being hailed as one of the godfathers of rock and roll, Carl Perkins became very self conscious of his achievement and started writing songs like "Birth Of Rock and Roll", which actually said less about the birth of rock and roll than a throaway couplet from an out-take of "Everybody Trying To Be My Baby": "They're squallin', ballin', runnin' down the hall. I guess ole daddy's got a lot on the ball...".

> PUT YOUR CAT CLOTHES ON <
Composer: - Carl Perkins
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Knox Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Take 16 - Not Originally Issued (2:48)
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - 1990
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15494-2/30 mono
THE CLASSIC CARL PERKINS
Reissued: - April 27, 2012 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17240-3/16 mono
CARL PERKINS - THE SUN ERA OUTTAKES

Due to its tape vault incarceration, this next ebullient rally cry didn't enter the collective public conscious until the early 1970s. By that stage Carl had all but erased "Cat Clothes" from his memory, which is odd considering that the song was tried out at Sun on at least three separate occasions. In their earlier attempts the Perkins band adopted something of a souped-up hillbilly approach but when Jerry Lee Lewis augmented the line-up as a session pianist, the outcome was a good deal more fearsome.

> PUT YOUR CAT CLOTHES ON < 
Composer: - Carl Perkins
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Knox Music Limited
Matrix number: - None - False Start 2 - Take 17 - Not Originally Issued (3:25)
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Reissued: - April 27, 2012
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17240-3/17 mono
CARL PERKINS - THE SUN ERA OUTTAKES

> PUT YOUR CAT CLOTHES ON <
Composer: - Carl Perkins
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Knox Music Limited
Matrix number: - None - Take 18 - Not Originally Issued (2:51)
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - 1986
First appearance: - 1986 Charly Records (CD) 500/200rpm Charly 16/9 mono
THE BEST OF SUN ROCKABILLY
Reissued: - 1990 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15494-3/2 mono
THE CLASSIC CARL PERKINS

''KEEPER OF THE KEY''

You may have heard Carl sing this one before, but It probably wasn't this version. By far the better down source is the Million Dollar Quartet session, on which Carl appeared during that fateful afternoon on December 4, 1956. The version we have here (which again features Jerry Lee Lewis on piano) seems to have been a throw-away, one-off studio take assayed in much the spirit of the Million Dollar Quartet, which has some the world's most famous extended jam session - deserving of its own Broadway show.

Carl's vocal on this Wynn Stewart song is quite impassioned and utterly sincere. The song itself, which bears more than a passing similarity to ''Seasons Of My Heart'', falls in that appealing overlap between a love song and a gospel song. ''I can't sing about my love for you, darlin', without bringing the Lord into it''. On the first go-around, Carl turns the ''key'' to his fate over to his woman. By the last verse, that all-important ''key'' has been passed along to the Lord.

Another noble feature here is the recitation. Once again, Carl has taken time away from his singing to spend 8 bars reciting the lyrics. We’ve discussed this practice elsewhere (see ''I Care'') and can add that according to his biography, Carl recorded a number of religious/sentimental narrations late in his life which do not able to have in released.

> KEEPER OF THE KEY <
Composer: - Harlan Howard-Kenny Devine-Lance Guynes-Berverly Steward
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Southern Music
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued (3:21)
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - March 1982
First appearance: - Charly Records (LP) 33rpm Sun Box 101 mono
CARL PERKINS - THE SUN YEARS
Reissued: - 1990 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15494-3/3 mono
THE CLASSIC CARL PERKINS

''ROLL OVER BEETHOVEN''

Chuck Berry's first top Top l 0 hit was has first record ''Maybellene'' In 1955. His second Top 10 hit, ''School Day'' came about a year-and-a-half later. ''Roll Over Beethoven'' was his only other entry in the top 40 during the interim, barely making it into the Top 30 in the summer of 1956. Yet it has a sort of classic status that some of his bigger records never achieved. Part of that is, undoubtedly due to the wonderful guitar intro that Chuck re-used on ''Johnny B. Goode'' and that the Beach Boys grabbed for ''Fun, Fun, Fun''. But another reason may be the fact that this was one of the first hit records with lyrics about rock and roll itself. It had the ready- made status of an anthem.

Although ''Roll Over Beethoven'' exists among Carl's Sun recordings, it is unlikely that it was ever intended to be more than a warmup track. The fact that only one take exists strengthens that conclusion. As such, it certainly served the purpose. There are some good reasons why Carl and the boys decided to record it. For one big, they all (including Jerry Lee) knew the song. For another, they surely liked Chuck's music at the end of 1956. In fact, four tracks on the Million Dollar Quartet sessions are performances of Chuck Berry songs, though not of this one. Carl and Chuck had recently become friends on tour and Carl liked both his guitarplaying and his songwriting. And it makes sense that two of the greatest contributors to the hybridizing of country music and blues - coming from the opposite directions - should find themselves to be kindred spirits.

Carl's guitar style here is here obviously intended to be Berry-like. What's more, Jerry Lee tinkles the upper end of the piano sounding more like Johnnie Johnson (who played behind Chuck) than usual. The lyric is an amalgam of lines and verses from Chuck's record sung in no particular order. But you can't take the country out of the boy and it's clear that we're listening to a band with country roots, more comfortable with shuffle rhythm than with the very steady one that drove the original. ''Roll Over Beethoven'' by Carl is entertaining and it's good, but it's not hit material. It's an homage.

> ROLL OVER BEETHOVEN <
Composer: - Chuck Berry
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Arc Music
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued (2:50)
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - 1973
First appearance: - Phonogram Records (LP) 33rpm 6467 028-6 mono
SUN ROCKABILLYS - VOLUME 4 - PUT YOUR CAT CLOTHES ON
Reissued: - 1990 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15494-3/4 mono
THE CLASSIC CARL PERKINS

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Carl Perkins - Vocal and Guitar
James Buck Perkins - Rhythm Guitar
Lloyd Clayton Perkins - Bass
W.S. "Fluke" Holland - Drums
Jerry Lee Lewis - Piano

Carl Perkins was essentially a rural poet like Hank Williams. He ran into problems when he tried to pander to the teenage market. In contrast, Chuck Berry could sit in his hotel room, guitar in hand and become a pimply white teenager instead of a middle aged black rhythm and blues singer. Berry empathised with experiences light years from his own; Perkins did not. His best music was always rooted in the west Tennessee bar-rooms that spawned it.

From time to time, Perkins would try to emulate Chuck Berry's achievement and write something patently aimed at the teenage market but the results were nowhere near as convincing as Berry's little playlets. Carl Perkins was younger than Chuck Berry and, of course, he was white but the grim rural poverty of the Depression years meant that Perkins had never enjoyed the spare time and the spare change that characterised the teenagers to whom he was playing. He had never really been a teenager and he found it difficult to identify with them.

For Biography of Carl Perkins see: > The Sun Biographies <
Carl Perkins' Sun/Flip recordings can be heard on his playlist from 706 Union Avenue Sessions on > YouTube <

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

STUDIO SESSION FOR CARL PERKINS
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1956

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: PROBABLY DECEMBER 1956
AND/OR OTHER DATE JANUARY 1957
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS

''TRY MY HEART OUT''

The origin of this over-emoted ballad is something of a mystery. Despite the presence of several instruments, it's far from certain it was cut at Sun. For one thing, the quality of these recordings is well below the standard for 706 Union Avenue. For another, these outtakes, including the incomplete version that runs about 1:40, were found on a home tape in Carl's possession that contained another title not previously released (see ''Poor People Of Paris''). And so the question of where these recordings originate remains a mystery: it's too sloppy for a Sun recording and too elaborate for a home recording (at the least here's quite a bit of echo on the vocal, a feature that lay beyond the capacity of mid-1950s home recorders.) One thing to note: If these are home recordings, that piano player is more likely to be Valda Perkins than Jerry Lee Lewis.

The song itself is a whole other matter. What makes the lyrics most interesting is likely to be lost on modem listeners. The composer (probably Carl) has adapted what was a common advertising gimmick - most frequently appearing on radio commercials - and put it to use in a love song. In its original form, the phrase might be ''Bear Family yeast provides every vitamin and mineral known to man. It'll give you more vim and vigor than you've ever felt. Try our yeast out. Put it to your test. If after one week you don't feel better than you ever have, return the unused portion and we'll refund your full purchase prize''.

It was an appealing offer. Buy our product. Put it to your test. What could be fairer? If this ain't the best cereal/orange juice/cake mix/pain reliever you've ever used, just send it back. There's no risk to you. Make up your own test for it. You be the judge. Carl has turned this common gimmick around and applied it to love, with himself as the product. ''Take me home. Let me love you. See how you feel with me in your life''.

It's a pretty funny idea when you think abut it because it's an unchaste offer in a generally conservative era. But that, too, contributes to why it's a fanciful and clever song.

Musically, its most effective moments come during the release (''a newborn feeling...'') when the melody shuttles between the IV and V-chords. Performance wise, Carl seems to be trying a little too hard to deliver a hiccup-laced marketable ballad. He should have laid back a bit and let the clever lyrics do the work.

> TRY MY HEART OUT <
Composer: - Carl Perkins
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Take 1 - Not Originally Issued (1:41)
Recorded: - December 1956/January 1957
Reissued: - April 27, 2012
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17240-5/14 mono
CARL PERKINS - THE SUN ERA OUTTAKES

> TRY MY HEART OUT <
Composer: - Carl Perkins
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Take 2 - Not Originally Issued (2:49)
Recorded: - December 1956/January 1957
Released: - November 1987
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (LP) 33rpm BFX 15211-3/17 mono
THE SUN COUNTRY YEARS 1950 - 1959
Reissued: - February 15, 2013 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17311-2/21 mono
THE SUN COUNTRY BOX 1950 - 1959

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Carl Perkins - Vocal and Guitar
James Buck Perkins - Rhythm Guitar
Lloyd Clayton Perkins - Bass
W.S. "Fluke" Holland - Drums
Jerry Lee Lewis - Piano

For Biography of Carl Perkins see: > The Sun Biographies <
Carl Perkins' Sun/Flip recordings can be heard on his playlist from 706 Union Avenue Sessions on > YouTube <

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

DECEMBER 4, 1956 TUESDAY

After Carl Perkins' Sun session, Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis and Johnny Cash hold the impromptu "Million Dollar Quartet" session singing mainly religious songs. Pianist Smokey Joe Baugh is also present along with members of Carl Perkins' band.

Elvis Presley, Cliff Cleaves, and Marilyn Evans, the Las Vegas showgirl, stopped at 706 Union Avenue by Sun Studios in Memphis. There they found Carl Perkins middle in a recording session. Also on hand was Jerry Lee Lewis, who had just had his first single, "End Of The Road"/"Crazy Arms", released by Sun Records. For the next three hours, the three performers, later with the addition of Johnny Cash, also a Sun recording artist, ran through a succession of gospel and popular songs. Sam Phillips called the Memphis Press-Scimitar, and a reporter Bob Johnson, and the photographer George Pierce, were dispatched to cover this impromptu event. later, this would be referred to as "The Million Dollar Quartet".

While the group sings some country and rock and roll, it is ragged gospel harmonies which predominate, along with Elvis' animated impression of the unnamed "colored" singer Jackie Wilson, who has so captivated him in Las Vegas with his version of "Don't Be Cruel". "He tried so hard", Elvis tells a disbelieving audience of fellow singers and hangers-on, "till he got much better, boy, much better than that record of mine. Man, he was cutting out. I was under the table when he got through singing".

DECEMBER 4, 1956 TUESDAY

Carl Perkins was completing a recording session. Jerry Lee Lewis had been playing piano for him. Johnny Cash called into see how things were turning out. This already formidable trio was joined by Elvis Presley who dropped by to visit his old friends at Sun. Before too long the Million Dollar Quartet" was launched into a jam session. Sun label boss, Sam Phillips, decided to invite the local press along and at some point he also had the tapemachine switched on.

What survives on tape is a fascinating and enjoyable flashback to the time when rock and roll was young, when its earliest exponents retained their brash enthusiasm and innocence. Johnny Cash had left by the time these recordings were made but the trio of Carl Perkins, Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis provide a thoroughly rivetting country music and a into rock and roll. None of these artists yet had a million dollars. They just had a million dollar worth of talent.

Johnny Cash was only present for publicity photographs before this session took place, he was not present when the session was recorded (as was previously believed), although the following is what Johnny Cash has to say about this session: "I was there, I was the first to arrive and the last to leave, contrary to what has been written, but I was just there to watch Carl record, which he did until mid-afternoon, when Elvis came in with his girlfriend.

At that point the session stopped and we all started laughing and cutting up together. Then Elvis sat down at the piano, and we started singing gospel songs we all knew, then some Bill Monroe songs. Elvis wanted to hear songs Bill had written besides ''Blue Moon Of Kentucky'', and I knew the whole repertoire.

So, again contrary to what some people have written, my voice is on the tape. It's not obvious, because I was farthest away from the mic and I was singing a lot higher than I usually did in order to stay in key with Elvis, but I guarantee you, I'm there..". Johnny Cash claims more, there is another tape missing of him with the group. Another tape in poor quality exists of Christmas songs. Since the sound quality is awful its hard to tell who's who is.

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

JAM SESSION FOR THE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET
ELVIS PRESLEY, JERRY LEE LEWIS & CARL PERKINS
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVIVE FOR SUN RECORDS 1956

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: DECEMBER 4, 1956 TUESDAY AFTERNOON
SESSION HOURS: 76 MINUTES
PRODUCER - SAM C. PHILLIPS AND/OR MARION KEISKER
RECORDING ENGINEER - JACK CLEMENT
RECORDED ON SCOTCH MAGNETIC TAPE

Recorded for "The Million Dollar Quartet", authentic studio recordings. Session hours circa 1.16:09 minutes with Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis and Johnny Cash. RCA matrix numbers used for release. While Elvis was home in Memphis celebrating Christmas and New Years Eve he dropped in at 706 Union Avenue (the Sun studio) where the three others were present. They all had a nice time talking, singing, and playing for a couple of hours. Sam Phillips turned the tape recorder on and recorded ''The Million Dollar Quartet".

> UNKNOWN INSTRUMENTAL <
Composer: - Million Dollar Quartet
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Public Domain
Matrix number: - None (1:46)
Recorded: - December 4, 195
Released: - September 19, 2006
First appearance: - Sony BMG Music (CD) 500/200rpm 82876 88935 2-1 mono
THE COMPLETE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET

This rhythm and bluesy instrumental opening jam probably features Carl Perkins and his band, brothers Jay and Clayton with W.S. ''Fluke'' Holland on drums, plus Jerry Lee Lewis, whose unmistakeable pumping left hand enlivens the number and adds a powerful rhythmic undertone. There are no composer credits and it has not been identified as any particular song. It is a driving, though fairly aimless, piece of improvisation with Carl's rockabilly guitar and Jerry Lee's relentless piano to the fore most of the time before it fizzles out. Apart from Jerry Lee's contribution, the playing is unspectacular though competent, but the band sounds tight. Fluke lets rip on the drums every now and then, demonstrating a real confidence in his ability despite a total lack of training and a fairly short career. Carl later said he did not think his guitar playing was particularly good that day. It all sounds like the sort of musical backdrop you might expect to hear at any number of smokey bars and honky-tonks on a Saturday night in small town fifties America, the kind of place Carl and his brothers had headlined countless times. Perhaps this was a piece Carl and his brothers had in reserve for those occasion when they had worked their way through their repertoire and needed something else to keep the crowd happy.

Although it is only speculation, this instrumental might have been played after the initial unrecorded songs, and after the photographs had been taken and Elvis was saying goodbye to Johnny Cash and the men from the press. Alternatively, Elvis might simply have been taking a break, chatting to Sam or others, possibly in the control booth. Perhaps the sound of Carl playing about with one of his recent big hits towards the end of the number made him think it was about time he was getting back to the musical fray.

> LOVE ME TENDER (INSTRUMENTAL) <
Composer: - Vera Matson-Elvis Presley
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Hill and Range Songs Incorporated
Matrix number: - None (1:00)
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - September 19, 2006
First appearance: - Sony BMG Music (CD) 500/200rpm 82876 88935 2-2 mono
THE COMPLETE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET

Carl's session was over, the quartet had probably worked their way through some songs together, posed for some photographs, and now, for a spell, Elvis was apparently absent, but in their thoughts. Carl and Jerry Lee start this ''Love Me Tender'' instrumental quite tentatively but soon get the hang of it. They are of course familiar with it since it has been a national hit; both were well able to play songs by ear. Jerry Lee embellishes the sound with some flowery piano phrases. Fluke hits a few beats but there is no rhythm to get hold of so he gives up. Voices can be heard in the background.

''Love Me Tender'' was an updated version of a sentimental ballad of the Civil War are, written by George R. Poulton and W.W. Fosdick and published in 1861. It was originally called ''Aura Lee'' (and sometimes known as ''The Maid Of Golden Hair''). it became popular with barbershop quartets and also soldiers at West Point where it had become a graduating-class song in the nineteenth century. It was embedded in America history, popular with several generations.

Elvis' recording had been released at the end of September 1956, one of a veritable blitz of releases by RCA, keen to recoup the money they had spent on Elvis' contract and exploit his massive commercial potential. Elvis performed the song on The Ed Sullivan Show on September 9, 1956. The following day RCA received a million advance orders making it a gold record before it was released. The composers of the song are stated to be Vera Matson and Elvis Presley.

The song reached number one on the main Billboard chart at the start of November 1956 and stayed there for five weeks, a period which included the day of the Million Dollar Quartet session. ''Love Me Tender'' became a standard for a while and was recorded by many artists including Paul Anka and Engelbert Humperdinck.

After playing ''Love Me Tender'' for approximately 50 seconds, Jerry Lee cuts into ''Mr. Sandman'' with some support from Carl. Fluke tries to add some drums momentarily but gives up after a while, apparently unable to get a handle on the song. This was traditional clean-cut pop, with completely innocent lyrics, the sort of thing that happened before rock and roll came along and shook everything up. It had been a number one hit for the Chordettes in 1954.

Now a standard, the song has been covered and adapted by a wide variety of artists. It was a Top 20 UK hit for Max Bygraves at the beginning of 1955. In 1978 the trio of Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt recorded a version. The songs is a gift for a piano player with its chord progression in the chorus which follows the circle of fourths for sic chords in a row.

> JINGLE BELLS (INSTRUMENTAL) <
Composer: - James Lord Pierpont
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Public Domain
Matrix number: - None (1:58)
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - September 19, 2006
First appearance: - Sony BMG Music (CD) 500/200rpm 82876 88935 2-3 mono
THE COMPLETE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET

No doubt the festive season was already well underway by early December, with Santa Claus much in evidence in the shops, and thoughts of Christmas would naturally have come to mind. This family favourite is familiar to all, young and old, and Jerry Lee and Carl deliver a fairly straight, jaunty rendition, respectful of the traditional nature of the song, though naturally with Jerry Lee at the piano it bounces along at a fair lick.

Though they had only for the first time that day, Carl and Jerry Lee play together as if they were used to each other's musical company. One of the best-known and commonly sung winter songs in the world, it was written by James Lord Pierpont (1822-1893) and originally published under the title ''One Horse Open Sleigh'' in the autumn of 1857. It was recorded in 1898 by the Edison Male Quartette on an Edison cylinder as part of a medley of Christmas songs.

Even though it is commonly thought of as a Christmas song, it was originally written and sung for Thanksgiving. It is one of the best known and best loved of all secular songs, albeit one associated with Christmas in the minds of many. It duly earned its writer a place in the American Songwriters Hall of Fame.

As with other songs by the quartet, ''Jingle Bells'' represents traditional values and customs; this is quite ironic when the four young performers were often associated with behaviour which was deemed by many to be a threat to good morals and the American way of life.

> WHITE CHRISTMAS (INSTRUMENTAL) <
Composer: - Irvin Berlin
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Irvin Berlin Music Group
Matrix number: - None (2:07)
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - September 19, 2006
First appearance: - Sony BMG Music (CD) 500/200rpm 82876 88935 2-4 mono
THE COMPLETE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET

As ''Jingle Bells'' peters out, Carl neatly morphs the chords into those instrumental of ''White Christmas'' after after momentarily revisiting ''Don't Be Cruel''. Themes of family and tradition are once more the fore. Written by Irving Berlin in 1940, ''White Christmas'' is a secular song which looks back nostalgically, with all the trimmings, to a bygone image of Christmas, with references to such festive delights as glistening treetops and sleigh bells in the snow. Given the song's strong association with Christmas, some commentators have referred to it as a secular hymn. Bing Crosby's version, which was featured in the film Holiday Inn is the biggest selling single of all time according to Guinness World Records. It was recorded in 1942 with backing vocals provided by the Ken Darby singers. The huge success of the song might, as with ''Aura Lee'', be related to its warmly sentimental nature and the connection to a time of war. Elvis went on to record the song in 1957 for ''Elvis' Christmas Album''.

Jerry Lee delivers a colourful and showy version of the song with Carl adding occasional guitar flourishes and Fluke messing about on the hi-hat, trying to find a beat amongst Jerry Lee's Liberace-like twist and turns. Once more their instinctive choice of song shows a respect for tradition of them which was based on the new cutting edge sounds with which they were exciting their younger fans, and upsetting many in the establishment

BLUEBERRY HILL
Composer: - Larry Stock-Al Lewis-Vincent Rose
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Redwood Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Sun Unissued
Recorded: - December 4, 1956

''Blueberry Hill'' was originally recorded by Gene Autry in 1940 for the film ''The Singing Hill'' but was soon picked up by other artists and producers who realised the simple little song had the makings of a classic. Countless artists have put their own stamp on the song but it is the version of Fats Domino, released in 1956, which had best stood the test of time. Domino's influential oeuvre has compassed pianobased rhythm and blues, rock and roll, zydeco, Cajun and boogie woogie. It was almost certainly his version - lilting rock and roll which the quartet was best acquainted with. According to several reports, Elvis started the session with this song. Needless to say the piano parts would have been put in Jerry Lee's hands. ''Blueberry Hill'' has been recorded by numerous acts over the years, from the Glenn Miller Orchestra in 1940 to Led Zeppelin, who performed it live at the Los Angeles Forum in 1970 at a concert from which a bootleg album called ''Live At Blueberry Hill'' subsequently appeared.

> RECONSIDER BABY <
Composer: - Lowell Fulsom
Publisher: - A.S.C.A.P. - ARC Music Corp
Matrix number: - WPA5-2537 (2:42)
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Elvis can be heard faintly off microphone.
Released: - June 1992
First appearance: - 1992 RCA BMG (CD) 500/200rpm PD 90689(5)-5 mono
THE COMPLETE 50'S MASTERS
Reissued: - September 19, 2006 Sony BMG Music (CD) 500/200rpm 82876 88935 2-5 mono
THE COMPLETE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET

This is the point at which Elvis is first heard singing on the recordings; the point at which he returns to the music and takes over the show. Although others provide backing vocals, it is Elvis who now leads the singing, until he hands over to Jerry Lee Lewis towards the end of the session. He is the undisputed main man; that said Carl Perkins had probably been singing without much of a break for several hours by this stage and might well have been content to have Elvis sit in the driving seat and is singing off mike for the last of the recording. "Reconsider Baby" was written and recorded by blues guitarist and singer Lowell Fulson in late 1953. Fulson, one of the founding fathers of West Coast blues, a sub-genre which features elements of jazz, rhythm and blues with piano and guitar solos to the fore. It developed when blues players moved from Texas (or in Fulson's case Oklahoma) to California in the 1930s and 1940s and then blended the music they brought with the music they found in their new home. West Coast blues favours smooth vocals and is generally more accessible than some of the purer, harder edged types of blues. His recording (Checker 804) reached number 3 on Billboard's Rhythm and Blues chart in 1954 and remained his biggest hit. A blues classic. Once more the instinctive draw for the quartet was towards outstanding songs, iconic examples of particular key styles. At times Elvis' singing is barely audible whereas the piano and drums remain constant; perhaps he was moving around as he was singing, putting himself out of range of the fixed microphone emplacements. Fluke provides a rock solid shuffle beat.

Elvis Presley recorded "Reconsider Baby" on April 4, 1960, at RCA's Nashville Studios. For years, his performance at the Bloch Arena in Honolulu on March 25, 1961, has appeared on bootleg albums. Finally, in 1980, RCA released the live recording on the Elvis Aron Presley boxed set. Originally, a live afternoon performance of the song at Madison Square Garden on June 10, 1972, was scheduled for the 1973 "Elvis" (APL1-0283) LP, but was finally deleted. The performance, which was filed by RCA's as "A Blues Jam" later appeared on "Elvis A Legendary Performer, Volume 4". ''Reconsider Baby'' has since been done by many artists, including Eric Clapton who has often featured it in its live concerts. Fulson's original version was inducted into the Blues Foundation Hall of Fame in the ''Classic of Blues Recordings;; category. It is also included in the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame list of the 500 Songs That Shaped Rock And Roll.

> DON'T BE CRUEL (1) <
Composer: - Otis Blackwell-Elvis Presley
Publisher: - B.M.I.- Elvis Presley Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - VPA4-5321 (2:21)
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - 1987
First appearance: - S Records (LP) 33rpm S 5001-A1 mono
THE ONE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET
Reissued: - March 1990 RCA BMG (CD) 500/200rpm 74321 13840 2-24 mono
THE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET
Lead vocal and guitar Elvis Presley.

During this session Elvis commented to Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins that he'd heard a member of Billy Ward and His Dominoes sing "Don't Be Cruel" in Las Vegas. He enjoyed the slower version so much that he wished he'd recorded it that way. The unnamed member of the Dominoes to whom Elvis was referring was Jackie Wilson. Elvis then demonstrated to Lewis and Perkins how Wilson sang "Don't Be Cruel".

Here the conversation: ''I hear this guy in Las Vegas - Billy Ward and his Dominoes. There's a guy out there who's doin' a take-off on my - ''Don't Be Cruel''. He tried so hard, till he got much better, boy - much better than that record of mine''. ''He was real slender - he was a colored guy - he got up there an' he said...''.

And Elvis leapt into an imitation of this other singer's version of his song, carefully mimicking every changed inflection, every turn of his performance.

''He had it a little slower than me.... He got the backin', the whole quartet. They got the feelin' on in.... Grabbed that microphone, went down to the last note, went all the way down to the floor, man, lookin' straight up at the ceiling. Man, he cut me - I was under the table when he got through singin'.... He had already done ''Hound Dog'' an' another one or two, and he didn't do too well, y'know, he was tryin' too hard. But he hit that ''Don't Be Cruel'' and he was tryin' so hard till he got better, boy. Wooh! Man, he sang that song. That quartet standin' in the background, y'know - BA-DOMP, BA-DOMP. And he was out there cuttin' it, man, had all'm goin' way up in the air. ''I went back four nights straight and heard that guy do that. Man, he sung hell outta that song, and I was under the table lookin' at him. Get him off! Git him off''!.

Although Elvis Presley probably didn't know it, the singer he was watching must have been Jackie Wilson, then the lead singer with Billy Ward's Dominoes.

Jackie Wilson (1934-1984), one of Elvis' favorite artists. On occasion, Wilson was referred to as the "Black Elvis". His first hit song, in 1957, titled "Reet Petite" was co-composed by Berry Gordy Jr., founder of Motown Records. In the 1950s Wilson was a member of Billy Ward and His Dominoes: (their 1951 hit "Sixty Minute Man" (Federal 12022), which was the first rhythm and blues record to chart on Billboard's Hot 100, can be heard in the 1979 movie Elvis).

Wilson replaced Clyde McPhatter, who had just departed the group to join the Drifters. In 1975, when Wilson suffered a disabling stroke while singing "Lonely Teardrops" at the Latin Casino nightclub in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, Elvis Presley offered to help pay the hospital bill, sending Wilson's wife a check for $30,000. Elvis Presley said to Wilson, upon meeting him in Las Vegas, "I thought it was about time the white Elvis Presley met the black Elvis Presley".

At the Million-Dollar Quartet session on December 4, 1956, Elvis remarked that in Las Vegas (November 1956) he saw Billy Ward and the Dominoes perform six times and that the lead singer sang a terrific version of "Don't Be Cruel:, in a style he wished he had recorded it. Unknown to Elvis Presley at the time, that lead singer was Jackie Wilson.

Wilson died on January 21, 1984, never having awakened from a coma after collapsing onstage in New Jersey and paralyzed since September 29, 1975. He was buried in Westlawn Cemetery at 31472 Michigan Avenue, tel, 313/722-2530, in Wayne, Michigan.

Otis Blackwell wrote "Don't Be Cruel" in 1955 and sold the publishing rights to the song on Christmas Eve of that year to Shalimar Music for $25. The song's full title is "Don't Be Cruel (To A Heart That's True)". Reportedly, the song was first offered to the Four Tunes, a rhythm and blues group that recorded for RCA Records, but they turned it down.

When Elvis Presley heard Blackwell's demo of "Don't Be Cruel", he fell in love with it. To get Elvis to record the song, Blackwell had to give 50 percent of his writers's rights to Elvis Presley. That's why Elvis is listed as co-composer. In 2004, the song was listed at number 197 in Rolling Stone's list of the 500 Greatest Songs Of All Time. The fact that Elvis performing it during all three of his appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show contributed to its massive commercial success. The record quickly reached number one on the Billboard chart, to be followed onto the top spot by ''Love Me Tender''. It was all part of an annus mirabilis for Elvis when virtually everything he touched turned to gold. Everybody round the piano seemed to love the song since they had three shots at it.

> DON'T BE CRUEL (2) < 
Composer: - Otis Blackwell-Elvis Presley
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Elvis Presley Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - VPA4-5322 (2:08)
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - 1987
First appearance: - S Records (LP) 33rpm S 5001-A2 mono
THE ONE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET
Reissued: - March 1990 RCA BMG (CD) 500/200rpm 74321 13840 2-25 mono
THE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET

Lead vocal and guitar Elvis Presley.

During ''Don't Be Cruel'', when Elvis takes a break from singing to talk about Jackie Wilson, someone, probably Carl, asks about him doing Paralyzed'' in the same way but Elvis declines, at which point a woman's voice can be heard pleading with him to do it. The moment passed but once the first two takes of ''Don't Be Cruel'' come to an end it seems Elvis has a change of heart and the ensemble drifts into the song. Once more Elvis imitates Jackie Wilson's delivery, slower than his own version, and once more he asks what key it is in before he starts singing. For this song Jerry Lee is more restrained, more like the lowly session musician he was supposed to be.

With Elvis now in full flow, the session takes on the feel of an informal concert and there is enthusiastic applause from those fortunate enough to be in the studio, little did they know what historic events were unfolding before their eyes. Despite the best efforts of the engineers who restored the tapes, there are moments when some damage to the originals cannot be disguised, although it is to their immense credit that this barely affects the overall listening experience.

> PARALYZED / DON'T BE CRUEL (3) <
Composer: - Otis Blackwell-Elvis Presley
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Elvis Presley Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - VPA4-5323/5324 (3:35)
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - 1987
First appearance: - S Records (LP) 33rpm S 5001-A3/4 mono
THE ONE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET
Reissued: - March 1990 RCA BMG (CD) 500/200rpm 74321 13840 2-26/27 mono
THE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET

 

Lead vocal and guitar Elvis Presley.

 

Otis Blackwell wrote "Paralyzed" special for Elvis Presley, but once more the writing credit is shared with Elvis who had recorded it in the Hollywood studio at Radio Recorders for RCA earlier in the year. It appeared on his 1956 album ''Elvis'' and was also released on EP. As a sign of Elvis' star status the studio was locked when he recorded it and a guard vetted people who came and went, only those approved by Tom Parker gained admittance.

Even for a private recording engagement such as this Elvis felt he was on show and made sure that his clothes would make him stand out from the crowd. He wore black slacks, yellow socks, a red checked shirt, and black oxfords with red inserts. By contrast, for the Million Dollar Quartet session he wore genuinely casual clothes, confident that he was among friends for whom he did not need to make a special sartorial effort.

''Paralyzed'' was not released as a single, possibly as a result of some uneasiness amongst disc jockeys and others about the title, with its connotations of disability. This might have been an early example of a kind of political correctness; there is some irony if so. In a mixture of altruism and favourable publicity, Elvis had agreed to become a supporter of the March of Dimes. This was a high profile national campaign aimed at raising funds for research into a new vaccine for polio, responsible amongst other things for childhood paralysis. Perhaps Elvis' own people were also uneasy about the associations which might be created in listeners' minds. Despite such considerations, Elvis did feature it when he appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show. Apart from being photographed receiving a vaccination, he also recorded a public service announcement in support of the campaign.

But, on this track Elvis said he wished he'd recorded "Paralyzed" at a slower tempo, similar to the way Jackie Wilson sang "Don't Be Cruel" with Billy Ward and the Dominoes in Las Vegas. Elvis Presley then sang "Paralyzed" at a slower tempo for Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis in the studio. "Paralyzed" inspired Terry Noland and Norman Petty to write "Hypnotized", which the Drifters (with Johnny Moore singing lead) recorded in 1957 (Atlantic 1141). Noland recorded his own version of "Paralyzed" (Brunswick 55010) in 1957.

> THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE HOME <
Composer: - John Howard Payne-Henry Rowley Bishop
Publisher: - B.M.I. - William Son Music Limited
Matrix number: - VPA4-5325 (3:41)
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - 1987
First appearance: - S Records (LP) 33rpm S 5001-A5 mono
THE ONE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET
Reissued: - March 1990 RCA BMG (CD) 500/200rpm 74321 13840 2-28 mono
THE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET

Lead vocal Elvis Presley, piano Jerry Lee Lewis, guitar Carl Perkins.

Carl Perkins kicks off this song which is often simply referred to as ''Home Sweet Home''. He starts tentatively picking the notes of the melody which Elvis quickly picks up on after humming it mellifluously for a few moment. ''Is that ''No Place Like Home'', Carl''? he asks. Things develop from there. The group choose a midtempo upbeat delivery, eschewing the more common slow ballad interpretation. Carl plays some tasty country-rockabilly guitar while Jerry Lee lays down some honky-tonk piano in the background. At this stage it appears that Carl's backing band, certainly Fluke Holland on drums and Clayton on bass, are still playing in support.

There is a lot of to and fro chatter in the background, some of which relates to the song. Elvis is asked if he has recorded the song for a new album, he had not but then he asks if there is a copy ''here''. Presumably he means a Sun recording. The response is '' Yeah, somewhere, I'll have to find it''. At other times the subject is football. It all goes on as the music continues.

This is a song with a historic stretching back to 1822. It was originally an operatic aria from Sir Henry Bishop's opera Clari also known as The Maid Of Milan. The lyrics were written by John Payne. The melody was used by Rossini in The Barber Of Seville.

It has been adapted, and indeed had liberties taken with it, countless times over the years. However the powerful emotional message of the song, about the vital human desire to have somewhere to call home, a house, a region, a country, has never varied and has struck a chord with people all over the world. In Japan, a version which is akin to a secular hymn is regularly played ad weddings. Not surprisingly it was very popular during the American Civil War; so popular that, according to some reports, senior officers tried to ban it because it might make soldiers more likely to desert. The song has been part of the rich embroidery of popular American music for nearly 200 years. In the early days it was a song that was marketed to families as something they could, and perhaps should, sing at home.

Elvis' rich and honeyed tenor voice does full justice to the song, suggesting that even at this early stage in his career he was able to work his vocal magic on any musical style.

> WHEN THE SAINTS GO MARCHIN' IN <
Composer: - Traditional
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Charly Publishing Limited
Matrix number: - VPA4-5326 (2:17)
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - 1987
First appearance: - S Records (LP) 33rpm S 5001-A6 mono
THE ONE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET
Reissued: - March 1990 RCA BMG (CD) 500/200rpm 74321 13840 2-29 mono
THE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET

Lead vocal by Elvis Presley, piano Jerry Lee Lewis, guitar Carl Perkins.

''The Saints'', as it is often referred to, is a traditional gospel hymn which could be said to fall under the general umbrella of folk music in the broadest sense. It marks the start of a run of eight religious-oriented songs which the ensemble performs with effortless confidence. Given their experiences during childhood, it was really inevitable that gospel would be one of the styles they would turn to early on in the session.

The song is often featured as a standard by jazz bands. There is however no definitive way of performing it and extra verses are Sometimes added. In New Orleans it is often part of the musical accompaniment to funerals; a dirge on the way to the cemetery, uptempo Dixieland on the way back, which is how the quartet do it. Jerry Lee can be heard singing backing response vocals with real fervour, reflecting his heavy personal involvement with so many aspects of evangelical religion throughout his 21 years. The listener can imagine the dilemma he regularly faced. Talking about his live performances he once said, ''I'm out here doing what God don't want me to do, I'm leading people to hell''. He was a sinner who would not stop sinning, but who always felt able to ask God for forgiveness. At the end he says with feeling, ''I sure do love that spiritual music''.

Earlier versions of the song emphasised its apocalyptic nature, ''When the sun, refuse to shine'', taking much of its imagery from the Book of Revelation, but excluding its more horrific depictions of the Last Judgment. Such aspects of religion would have been very familiar to the quartet as they were growing up and experienced the onslaughts of hellfire preachers for whom joy and damnation were inextricably linked. As time has gone by the lyrics have generally been softened. Louis Armstrong popularised the song in the 1930s to the disapproval of his sister who felt that his version wrongly took the focus off the religious nature of the song. Elvis later recorded his own version.

> SOFTLY AND TENDERLY <
Composer: - Will L. Thompson
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Babb Music
Matrix number: - VPA4-5327 (2:44)
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
- Lead Elvis Presley, piano Jerry Lee Lewis, guitar Carl Perkins
Released: - 1987
First appearance: - S Records (LP) 33rpm S 5001-A7 mono
THE ONE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET
Reissued: - March 1990 RCA BMG (CD) 500/200rpm 74321 13840-2-30 mono
THE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET

Lead vocal by Elvis Presley, piano Jerry Lee Lewis, guitar Carl Perkins.

''Do you know 'Softly And Tenderly'''?, somebody asks. ''Gimme a key'', snaps Elvis, eager to get into another song. Carl starts playing some notes. ''That's a little bit high Carl'''. He brings it down, songs are invariably geared up to Elvis' vocal range; in consequence Carl and Jerry Lee's vocal sound a little strained at times as they try to fit Elvis' preferred keys. It is a given that Elvis knows the words.

The full title of this song, which dates back to the late 1870s, is in fact, ''Softly And Tenderly Jesus Is Calling''. It was written by Will L. Thompson and is a Christian hymn, a meditation on impending death, which was sung at the memorial service for Martin Luther King in 1968. Although Elvis is inevitably the lead singer, Jerry Lee does his best to keep up with him, oblivious to any notion that it might be appropriate for him to defer to a major star. That said Jerry Lee never sounds like a lesser star in the firmament; completely familiar with the song he sings lead and harmonises with ease, imbuing it with real gospel energy. A listener who did not know otherwise might well think he was black.

There is constant background chatter which appears to be vary convivial. People were clearly not yet in awe of Elvis as they would be soon, when the idea of a lot of people making noise when he was in a studio, some of them unconnected to the music, would be out of the question.

> WHEN GOD DIPS HIS LOVE IN MY HEART / JUST A LITTLE TALK WITH JESUS <
Composer: - Gleavant Derricks
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Public Domain
Matrix number: - VPA4-5299/5300 (4:27)
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - 1987
First appearance: - S Records (LP) 33rpm S 5001 mono
THE ONE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET
Reissued: - March 1990 RCA BMG (CD) 500/200rpm 74321 13840 2-2/3 mono
THE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET

 

Lead vocals by Elvis Presley, co-lead Jerry Lee Lewis, guitar Carl Perkins.

As with the other religious songs, ''When God Dips His Love In My Heart'' is one which will have been familiar to most of the people Elvis and the others grew up with; it would have been a favourite at church and in gospel concerts. Perhaps the first version they heard was the 1946 recording by the Blackwood Brothers, the white gospel quartet of whom Elvis in particular was a great fan.

It was not just that they all knew so many religious songs, they clearly loved listening to them and singing them. It is hard to avoid the feeling that modern country singers include a few religious songs in their repertoire because some expert in the publicity department has said they will go over well with some sections of their potential demographic target. No such thinking applied with the quartet in the fifties.

Although sometimes attributed as ''traditional'', t his gospel song was written by Cleavant Derricks in 1944, whose whole life was devoted to religious matters. He was a pastor, a church builder, a choir director, a poet and the composer of around 300 religious songs. His initial motivation for embarking on his writing career was to inspire and give hope to people, especially poor black people, whose lives had been made even worse by the ravages of the Great War and the Great Depression. That said, Derricks understood that his concerns applied just as much to poor whites as they did to poor blacks and as the years went by many of his gospel songs were sung by black and white people, though not often together initially; as with many areas of life, churches were divided along racial lines. They were sung by innumerable mass choir, quartets and Sunday night gatherings around the piano in little country churches. It can be argued that they succeeded in helping people to rise above many instances of racial segregation and an atmosphere of prejudice, both commonplace during this era. Ironically Derricks, a black man, did not receive anything like the financial rewards he should have done while his publishers raked in large profits from the songs he wrote.

The ensemble just has a very brief stab at the song. In what might be a fragment of a longer version, Jerry Lee is singing lead and the uptempo rhythm is emphasised by hand-clapping and some vocal sounds from Elvis which might have been an indication that on this occasion he did not in fact know the words.

Towards the end of ''When God Dips His Love In My Heart'', with Jerry Lee in full flow on lead vocals, Elvis cuts in and brings the song to an abrupt ens, ''I known one Carl... 'Just A Little Talk With Jesus'... remember that''? Carl does and they quickly start it up. Jerry Lee is once more relegated to piano player and backing singer albeit one who is doing his level best to be at the forefront of the action, providing the calls for Elvis to respond to, something he had clearly done many times before.

This is another inspirational gospel song from the pen of Cleavant Derricks which was originally copyrighted in 1937 as ''Have A Little Talk With Jesus''. An instant classic, black and white audience quickly took it their hearts; they loved the simple and direct message of the comfort provided by religious belief and devotion. It was framed in language that resonated with ordinary people leading lives that were often hidebound by poverty and where physical pleasure were few.

After doing the song for a while, Elvis gets Carl to slow down from uptempo gospel swing to a more soulful tempo. Once more he is in charge, making things happen in the way he believes brings out the best in the song. This was his modus operandi regardless of whether he was in an RCA studio or enjoying an informal jam with friends in Memphis. Carl delivers some tastefully picked country style leads.

> JESUS WALKED THAT LONESOME VALLEY <
Composer: - William L. Dawson
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Charly Music Publishing Incorporated
Matrix number: - VPA4-5301 (3:32)
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - 1987
First appearance: - S Records (LP) 33rpm S 5001 mono
THE ONE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET
Reissued: - March 1990 RCA BMG (CD) 500/200rpm 74321 13840 2-4 mono
THE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET

Lead vocal by Jerry Lee Lewis, co-lead Elvis Presley, guitar Carl Perkins and band. Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis continually share the lead.

''Remember some of those real old ones Carl''?, Elvis inquires. The impression is given that the session is all about Elvis with Carl as a kind of first mate. Elvis' remarks are rarely addressed to Jerry Lee. Apparently not even waiting for a reply, he launches into the song; Jerry Lee positively explodes with delight when he realises which song is kicking off and again does his best to hijack it. He is in his element with music like this and makes no attempt to retrain his exuberance; on this one he outshines Elvis. He comes alive in the joy of the moment, breaking into a kind of delirious falsetto at times. As for Elvis, his singing is natural and relaxed, free from the exaggerated mannerism which were often in evidence on his later official RCA releases such as ''Jailhouse Rock'' and ''Are You Lonesome tonight''.

The song is sometimes described as ''traditional'' which is partly right; it can also be attributed to William L. Dawson, born in 1899, who, as well as being a famous composer, was a teacher and arranger of music. For this and other songs he drew on the lyrics of traditional American folk songs. He also used melodies of old spiritual songs whose origins were lost in the mists of time.

His Negro Folk Symphony of 1934 garnered a great deal of attention at its world premiere; it was later revised and revamped with greater emphasis on African rhythms. The composition attempted to convey elements of native music that were lost when Africans came into bondage outsite their homeland. The music the quartet chose to play really did connect to deep roots which spread far beyond the comparatively limited geographical boundaries of where they had been brought up.

At this stage it appears there are fewer people in the studio since there is hardly any applause at the end of the song, and what handclapping there is appears to come mainly from the musical participants themselves. Throughout the session there is an ebb and flow of people.

Both the Carter Family (Vocalion 03112) and Roy Acuff (Vocalion 04730) had popular recordings of "That Lonesome Valley" in the 1940s under the title "Lonesome Valley". Another popular version was Stuart Hamblen's 1955 recording (RCA 47-6152). The Kingston Trio recorded the song as "Reverend Mr. Black" (Capitol 4951) in 1963, reaching number 8 on the Hot 100 chart. It was their second most successful recording, after the number one hit "Tom Dooley".

> I SHALL NOT BE MOVED <
Composer: - Traditional Arranged by H. Young
This popular gospel tune was written by John T. Benton in 1949,
with an arrangement by Mrs. James A. Pate.
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Charly Music Publishing Incorporated
Matrix number: - VPA4-5302 (3:44)
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - 1987
First appearance: - S Records (LP) 33rpm S 5001 mono
THE ONE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET
Reissued: - March 1990 RCA BMG (CD) 500/200rpm 74321 13840 2-5 mono
THE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET

Lead vocals by Carl Perkins, Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis, guitar Carl Perkins and band.

''Here's an old one'', says Elvis by way of introduction. The group launch into the song with real gusto, all contributing to the lead vocals.

''I Shall Not Be Moved'' is a traditional African American spiritual whose origins might well date back to the slave era. It has also gained worldwide popularity as a protest song in the form, ''We Shall not Be Moved''. The song's format meant that it was easy to remember and it lent itself to group singing where all participants could feel included and express straightforward ideas. It consists of a series of verses, each of four lines. The title is repeated three times with one new line being introduced each time; this new line can easily be adapted to suit particular new situations. It came to be strongly associated with the Civil Rights Movement.

This version stresses the song's religious origins, which is how it would have been experienced by all participants as they were growing up. If unaware of the true situation, a listener to the recording might reasonably think it was made in church on a Sunday afternoon not least because of the ''Glory Hallelujahs''. The image of ''the tree that's planted by the water'' is one that seeks to express a message of hope, security and faith, to equip people for the trials of life. It images a better world ahead.

Quote at end: ''Boy this is fun, I think Jerry Lee Lewis would be a quartet". The person on the left side of the frame is Smokey Joe Baugh. This statement, at the end on a quartet is very strange because, some researchers say that Johnny Cash was not present. Then it is not sure who the fourth person could be.

> PEACE IN THE VALLEY <
Composer: - Thomas A. Dorsey
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Unichappel Music
Matrix number: - VPA4-5303 (1:33)
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - 1987
First appearance: - S Records (LP) 33rpm S 5001 mono
THE ONE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET
Reissued: - March 1990 RCA BMG (CD) 500/200rpm 74321 13840 2-6 mono
THE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET

Lead vocal by Elvis Presley, background vocal Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis. Possible Marilyn Evans or Marion Keisker, guitar Carl Perkins, most likel

Jimmy Wakely recorded "Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind" (Capitol 2484) in 1953. His recording didn't chart, nor did one by Porter Wagoner (RCA 47-7457) in 1959. The hit recording was by the Five Keys (Capitol 3502), who reached number 23 on the Top 100 chart in 1956. Thirteen years later, Little Anthony and The Imperials had a moderately successful version of the song (United Artists 50552), reaching number 52 on the Hot 100 chart and number 38 on the Rhythm and Blues chart.

Before this song starts, there is talk of doing''Softly And Tenderly'' again but after doodling for a while, and after Elvis apologises for burping, he leads the way into ''Peace In The Valley'' against a background of doors closing and opening, people coming and going. There are no drums and on this song Jerry Lee takes a break from the piano, just providing backing vocals. Occasional snatches of a woman singing in the background are also detectable. See above.

While Reverence Thomas A. Dorsey was travelling from Indiana to Cincinnati in 1939, the train he was on passed through a valley. Dorsey noticed how peaceful the animals on the farm was guest of honour at the E.H. Crump Memorial Football Game in Memphis, which was a benefit for the blind, lands seemed to be. That tranquil scene inspired him to write "Peace In The Valley". The full title of the song is "(There'll Be) Peace In The Valley", and was originally performed by Mahalia Jackson who, apart from being an outstanding gospel singer, was also a prominent civil rights campaigner. Dorsey originally played jazz and rhythm and blues but switched to writing religious music in the 1930s. According to some sources it was he who coined the term ''gospel music''. It was one of Elvis' favourite styles of music throughout his life and he would often listen to it for pleasure in his spare time, away from the pressures of the studio.

''Peace In The Valley'' has been covered by countless artists and is one of the first gospel songs to sell a million copies. It is not hard to see the link between traditional gospel music and the soul music which developed from the late fifties onwards. The version freshest in Elvis' mind could have been Red Foley's 1951 country hit.

In order to please his mother, Gladys, Elvis sang this song, against the wishes of the producers, during his 1957 appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. It was probably the moment when most people started to see him not as a satanic figure who was a threat to women and the morals of the nation but actually a nice boy who believed in God and American values. later in the year he recorded a version for RCA.

As the song draws to a close, Jerry Lee says to Elvis with great sincerity, 'Yeah that's brilliant. It is, it's beautiful'''.

> DOWN BY THE RIVERSIDE <
Composer: - Traditional
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Charly Music Publishing Incorporated
Matrix number: - VPA4-5304 (2:25)
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - 1987
First appearance: - S Records (LP) 33rpm S 5001 mono
THE ONE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET
Reissued: - March 1990 RCA BMG (CD) 500/200rpm 74321 13840 2-7 mono
THE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET

Lead vocal by Elvis Presley, background vocal Jerry Lee Lewis, guitar Carl Perkins and band, drums W.S. ''Fluke'' Holland. Quote at end: ''Take It Easy Boy'' by Elvis Presley. It is here that Elvis Presley's guitar can be distinctively heard and in fact is probably the only guitar heard prominently although Carl Perkins is playing too.

As they mess about between songs, Jerry Lee appears to suggest, tentively, doing ''My God Is Real'', but is quickly outgunned as the others get going with ''Down By The Riverside''. Elvis sparks it off once he has checked what key Carl was playing in before - A. This is the last in this continuous run of religious/spiritual songs but the singers have lost none of the fervour shown in the previous songs. Somebody, possibly Fluke, adds percussion from about halfway through by hitting something metallic rhythmcally, but it is not a conventional drum-kit sound.

Carl Perkins recalled people working in the cotton field singing this song in unison in order to raise their spirits and get through the day. A traditional gospel song, it was known during the American Civil War and also has associations with slavery in the Deep South. The words have been adapted to many situations over the years.

It falls into a category of folk music which is beyond mere entertainment; rather it is a traditional part of the fabric of particular communities, especially the rural working class, a unifying activity in which everybody can join. Such songs can be readily understood by anyone and the themes they cover include war, civil rights, work, satire and love. Such music is timeless; in the years following the Million Dollar Quartet sessions, many other artists deployed folk music in their opposition to the Vietnam War and the government's unpopular economic policies. ''Down By The Riverside'' is still sung regularly all over the world, little changed, as an anthem of hope and triumph over adversity.

> I'M WITH THE CROWD BUT ON SO ALONE / FATHER ALONG <
Composer: - Ernest Tubb-Carl Story-Reverend W.B. Stone
Publisher: - B.M.I. Ernest Tubb Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - VPA4-5305/5306 (3:22)
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - 1987
First appearance: - S Records (LP) 33rpm S 5001 mono
THE ONE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET
Reissued: - March 1990 RCA BMG (CD) 500/200rpm 74321 13840 2-8/9 mono
THE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET

 

Lead vocals by Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis, voices by Marion Keisker.

The indefatigable Jerry Lee suggest another religious song, ''Jesus Hold My Hand'', even as Elvis launches into an imitation of Ernest Tubb doing ''I'm With A Crowd But So Alone'', and managing to sound like Hank Snow along the way. This is clearly a spoof with Elvis trying to force his voice lower than its usual comfort zone. Such imitations were not unusual and were more affectionate than mocking, Johnny Cash regularly imitated Elvis during his live concerts around this time.

Country singer Ernest Tubb, The Texas Troubadour, was someone Johnny Cash in particular looked up to; Tubb gave Johnny a lot of useful advice early on in his career and acted as an informal mentor. Country through and through, he was at the height of his career in the mid fifties. It was a career which lasted more than half a century during which time he scored numerous hits and helped to popularise country music beyond the strict confines of Nashville and environs. In 1955 he had enjoyed an enormous hit with ''The Yellow Rose Of Texas''.

Ernest Tubb, singer born in Crisp, Texas, on February 9, 1914. Tubb composed with Carl Story ''I'm With A Crowd But So Alone, and composed, with Johnny Bond, "Tomorrow Never Comes", which he recorded in 1949 (Decca 46106), and which Elvis Presley recorded in 1970. When he was a lad in 1936, Jimmie Rodgers' widow gave Tubb one of her husband's guitars. In 1940 Tubb began a long association with Decca Records. His record store, the Ernest Tubb Record Store in Nashville, Tennessee, is world famous. It was out of that shop that publicist Gabe Tucker worked. Elvis Presley appeared on Ernest Tubb's radio program, "Midnight Jamboree", the same night he made his only appearance on the Grand Ole Opry, on October 1954. Tubb wrote and recorded "I'm Walking The Floor Over You", which has been recorded by several people, including Bing Crosby. Tubb's son, Justis Tubb, toured with Elvis Presley from January to April 1956.

Tubb, who in 1965 was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, was portrayed by Ed Moastes in the 1980 TV special "Hank Williams: The Man And His Music". Ernest Tubb died of a heart attack in 1984.

The group returns to religious music at this point following a request from a woman in the studio, called Marion Keisker. ''Would this rover boy's trio play ''Father Along''? The request does provide a particularly strong piece of evidence in support of the proposition that Johnny Cash was not present when the recordings were made, quite apart of course from the fact that his voice is nowhere to be heard and none of the recorded conversations make direct reference to him.

The rover boy's trio can indeed play ''Father Along''. The fact that so often they all knew all the words of the religious songs provided s strong flavour of a bygone era when a certain level of social cohesion was achieved, and cultural values shared, through the practice of all children in particular areas learning the same songs. Apart from knowing the words, the trio of vocalists give an excellent close harmony rendition of the song; clear evidence that even at this early stage, their credentials as top notch vocalists were established beyond question.

The lyrics of ''Father Along'' were written in 1911 by an itinerant preacher called Reverend W.A. Fletcher. A gospel promoter, J.R. Baxter, then arranged for the words to be put to music. Since that time, the song has served as a standard for gospel groups. The theme of the song is that in heaven all truths will be revealed and all questions, in particular those relating to the many injustices in the world, will be answered. To this day the song is included in the repertoires of many of the top traditional country artists.

Just after the songs finished a female voice can be heard to say, ''There go the strings'', which might refer to the departure of Carl's brothers.

> BLESSED JESUS (HOLD MY HAND) / ON THE JERICHO ROAD <
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Charly Music Publishing Incorporated
Matrix number: - VPA4-5307/5308 (2:18)
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - 1987
First appearance: - S Records (LP) 33rpm S 5001 mono
THE ONE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET
Reissued: - March 1990 RCA BMG (CD) 500/200rpm 74321 13840 2-10/11 mono
THE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET

Lead vocals by Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins.

Jerry Lee was not to be denied. The ensemble now turns its attention to the song he had mentioned just before Elvis launched into ''I'm With A Crowd But So Alone''. His appetite for religious songs was huge. This fairly brief rendering is a vocal duet by Elvis and Jerry Lee with acoustic guitar courtesy, presumably, of Carl. Elvis and Jerry Lee sound as if they have been regular singing partners for years despite a brief breakdown halfway through.

This gospel song was written by Albert E. Brumley in 1933 and was popular in church services in the 1940s and 1950s. It is a heartfelt plea for God's protection through life's journey and even more importantly for the believer, the reward of a place in heaven at the end.

This song flows almost seamlessly from its predecessor. When after a few bars of the song Elvis says, ''Take young Johnny Cash to do this;;, he surely provides yet more evidence of Johnny's absence.

The Jericho road runs from Jerusalem to Jericho; it is a difficult road, very steeo, a place where in the past robberies routinely occurred. In the song it serves as a metaphor for the difficult and perilous journey of life that everybody has to go through on the wat to eternal happiness, a journey that can only be successfully negotiated with the help of Jesus in the view of Christian believers. The underlying message of many of the songs is the same, it is just framed in different ways; a bit like country love songs. Once more the song is an Elvis and Jerry Lee duet with acoustoc guitar backing.

Donald S. McCrossan wrote "On The Jericho Road" in 1928. The arrangement was by Luther G. Presley, who was not related to Elvis Presley. The Speer Family recorded this traditional gospel tune in early 1951 (Columbia 20762).

> I JUST CAN'T MAKE IT BY MYSELF <
Composer: - Herbert Brewster - Copyright Control
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Charly Music Publishing Incorporated
Matrix number: - VPA4-5309 (1:02)
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - 1987
First appearance: - S Records (LP) 33rpm S 5001 mono
THE ONE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET
Reissued: - March 1990 RCA BMG (CD) 500/200rpm 74321 13840 2-12 mono
THE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET

Lead vocals by Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins. Quote at end: - Jack says Sam's gonnabe - Carl Perkins (referring to Sam Phillips) going out to get photographer George Pierce.

This soulful gospel song, initiated once more by Elvis, was written by Herbert Brewster. A trained minister, he experienced a great deal of racial prejudice at the outset of his career when he tried to get work; as a result, he set up the Brewster Theological Clinic. He also worked as a pastor at other churches most notably East Trigg Avenue Baptist Church in Memphis. The congregation was black but quite a lot of white people, including Sam Phillips and Johnny Cash, regularly tuned in to the radio broadcasts of the service. Elvis Presley attended service there from time to time. Yet again the song contains the same message of obedience and reassurance which is found in so many religious songs.

''Though afflictions fill my soul
I'm determined to make the goal
I've gotta have Jesus
Cause I just can't make it by myself''

Elvis stammers slightly in his enthusiasm to propose the song; in the end gives up and just starts singing it. It is striking that once he starts singing, in other words once he is in his natural element, his vocals are almost invariably smooth and consistent.

> LITTLE CABIN ON THE HILL / SUMMERTIME HAS PASSED AND GONE <
Composer: - William Smith "Bill" Monroe-Lester Flat
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - VPA4-5310/5311 (1:00)
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - 1987
First appearance: - S Records (LP) 33rpm S 5001 mono
THE ONE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET
Reissued: - March 1990 RCA BMG (CD) 500/200rpm 74321 13840 2-13/14 mono
THE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET

Lead vocal by Elvis Presley, imitating Bill Monroe, guitar Elvis Presley. Vocal support was provided by Carl Perkins.

 

Just as the previous song is starting to fizzle out, a voice is heard. ''Jack said sing some of Bill Monroe''. No further encouragement was required following this command, which was presumably passed on from Jack Clement in the control room. The trio fire straight into a medley of brief extracts from four Bill Monroe song; along the way Elvis amuses the others with an imitation of Monroe's high tenor voice. Bill Monroe and Lester Flatt wrote "Little Cabin On The Hill" in 1948, and now regarded as classics and include the four laid down during the Million Dollar Quartet. Elvis recorded a version of this song (it was entitles ''Little Cabin On The Hill'') in June 1970.

''Y-y-y-you know what I like''? Without further ado Elvis has a go at the first line of the song but doesn't remember where to go after that. Carl tries to help but it quickly fizzles out. The spirit was keen but the memory weak.

The lyrics of the song are typical of many classic Bill Monroe songs of this era, poignant folksy classic about love and loss

''Summertime is past and gone
And I'm on my way back home
To see the only one I ever loved
Now the moon is shining bright
It lights my pathway tonight
Back to the only one I ever loved''

Bill Monroe wrote and recorded "Summertime Has Passed And Gone" (Columbia 20503) in late 1948.

> I HEAR A SWEET VOICE CALLING / SWEETHEART YOU'VE DONE ME WRONG <
Composer: - William Smith "Bill" Monroe
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - VPA4-5312/5313 (1:05)
Recorded: - December 4, 1954
Released: - 1987
First appearance: - S Records (LP) 33rpm S 5001 mono
THE ONE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET
Reissued: - March 1990 RCA BMG (CD) 500/200rpm 74321 13840 2-15/16 mono
THE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET 

Lead vocals by Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins, guitar Elvis Presley.

Having failed to ignite the previous song there is some chat about other possibilities, Elvis suggests ''Christmas Time's A Comin''', but that comes to nothing. Then someone suggests ''I Hear A Sweet Voice Calling'' which someone describes as a ''pretty thing''. They have a go but beyond providing a hilarious opportunity to mimic Bill Monroe's high voice, this one also fails to take off. Clearly the boys did not know their Bill Monroe songs as well as they knew the religious material, but then again they had not learned them all through their childhoods.

Bill Monroe recorded this song in 1946 and then again in 1956; presumably it was the latter version that was fresh in the minds of the guys. Following a long established country tradition of tragic tear-jerking songs, often with religious overtones, it is about a dying girl who is sure there will be a place for her in heaven. Popular music has always found room for songs like this. In the seventies Terry Jacks had a major international hit with ''Seasons In The Sun'' about a boy dying of cancer.

Elvis initiates this song which seems to take off well with an uptempo bluegrass beat emphasised by someone working a bass drum pedal (or something similar) in time to the music. Reflecting the feel of the song somebody says, ''Yeah, sounds like a party''. Like the other Bill Monroe songs however, this one soon falls away. Once more the maudlin lyrics are typical of Bill Monroe's music.

''You told me that your love was true
Sweetheart, I thought the world of you
But now you've left me all alone
I have no one to call my own
Now sweetheart, you've done me wrong''

Bill Monroe wrote and recorded "Sweetheart You Done Me Wrong" (Columbia 20423) in 1948. Lester Flatt played guitar and Earl Scruggs banjo on his recording.

> KEEPER OF THE KEY <
Composer: - Harlan Howard-Kenny Devine-Lance Guynes-Berverly Steward
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Southern Music Limited
Matrix number: - VPA4-5314 (2:07)
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - 1987
First appearance: - S Records (LP) 33rpm S 5001 mono
THE ONE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET
Reissued: - March 1990 RCA BMG (CD) 500/200rpm 74321 13840 2-17 mono
THE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET

Lead vocals by Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins background, Elvis Presley guitar, Jerry Lee Lewis, piano.

Carl now wonders aloud if anybody knows Wynn Stewart's ''Keeper Of The Key''. He leads the singing with Jerry Lee providing harmonies and positive comments about the song. After a pause Elvis yet again asks about the key A, and it seems that he might have a go at it himself but this does not happen; Carl sings this one.

The song brings the trio into the orbit of one of the most prolific and successful writers of everyday country songs of all time, Harlan Howard, one of four writers of this particular song. Howard's career lasted for more than a half century and his songs have been recorded by countless artists including Patsy Cline, Ray Charles and the Judds. Asked for his definition of a good country song Howard is reported to have said, ''Three chords and the truth''.

At the time of the Million-Dollar-Quartet session on December 4, 1956, country singer Wynn Steward had just released "Keeper Of The Key" (Capitol 3515), which his wife, Beverly, had written with Harlan Howard, Kenny Devine, and Lance Guynes. Along with Buck Owens and Merle Haggard, Stewart was associated with West Coast country music and the Bakersfield sound, stripped down honky-tonk, a driving beat, with the instrumental emphasis on electric guitars ahead of steel guitars. Although popular in the South, "Keeper Of The Key" did not chart nationally. Porter Wagoner later had a version that also did not chart, as Jimmy Wakely (Shasta 110).

As the song finished Jerry Lee says, ''Yeah, that's the way I done it... on the piano... a while ago''. Does he mean that he and Carl Perkins, with his band, played the song on Carl Perkins earlier session on this day.

> CRAZY ARMS / DON'T FORBIT ME (1) < 
Composer: - Ralph Mooney-Charles Seals-Charles Singleton
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Knox Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - VPA4-5315/5316 (1:36)
Released: - December 4, 1956
Released: - 1987
First appearance: - S Records (LP) 33rpm S 5001 mono
THE ONE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET
Reissued: - March 1990 RCA BMG (CD) 500/200rpm 74321 13840 2-18/19 mono
THE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET

In 1956 Ray Prize had a number one country hit and million-seller with "Crazy Arms" (Columbia 21510) produced by Don Law. The song, which was written by Ralph Mooney and Chuck Seals, peaked at number 27 on the Top 100 chart. Mooney wrote "Crazy Arms" after his wife temporarily left him because of his drinking. In 1963 Marion Worth had a number 18 country hit with his rendition (Columbia 42703). On this track Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis sang a few lines of "Crazy Arms" during this Million Dollar Quartet session on December 4, 1956. For his part Jerry Lee was doubtless keen to show it off to the assembled group. However he had to wait until later in the session, when Elvis was otherwise engaged, to play something approaching the full version, in his own unmistakeable swaggering stomping style, a star performance by a star in waiting. Just three days earlier, Sun Records released "Crazy Arms" as Lewis's first record (Sun 259).

"Crazy Arms" must have sounded decades old the moment it was released, for Ray Price spends the whole record on the edge of a pure Jimmie Rodgers yodel and the fiddles and steel guitar belong to another era, one in which Elvis and Little Richard are barely conceivable, much less standing at center stage. On the other hand, the concept of the pop star as a person on the edge of insanity has some of its most important roots in just this kind of country record, in which the singer confesses - and genuinely seems to feel - that his behaviour is a form of madness, that he has little or no control over what his body is going to do even though his mind (or at least, his conscious moral sense) urges him in a more godly (or at least sensible) direction. You tell me the difference in attitude between that posture and many random heavy metal band's.

"Hey, have you heard Pat Boone's new record?", Elvis says, to laughter all around. "It was written for me. It stayed around the house for ages, never did see it - junk lyin' around''. Elvis kicks it off with Carl providing rhythm guitar. ''That's Pat Boone'' says Jerry Lee during a vocal pause. Someone else says, ''He's got a hit, man''.

''Crazy Arms'' was a piece of straightforward country music from which the guys moved effortlessly to the clean-cut mainstream pop of ''Don't Forbid Me'', which Elvis returned to a few minutes later. They were easily able to turn their hands to a wide variety of musical styles; for them what mattered most was the quality of the song.

"Don't Forbid Me" was written for Elvis Presley by Charles Singleton in 1956 (who later co-wrote the Frank Sinatra hit ''Strangers In The Night''. Pat Boone recorded it in November 1956, he had a number one hit and million-seller with the song in late 1956 (Dot 15521).

> TOO MUCH MONKEY BUSINESS / BROWN-EYED HANDSOME MAN (1) <
Composer: - Chuck Berry
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Isalee Music Company-Jewell Music Publishing
Matrix number: - VPA4-5317/5318
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - 1987
First appearance: - S Records (LP) 33rpm S 5001 mono
THE ONE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET
Reissued: - March 1990 RCA BMG (CD) 500/200rpm 74321 13840 2-20/21 mono
THE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET

Lead vocal and guitar Elvis Presley.

Jerry Lee tries to generate interest in ''Too Much Monkey Business'' but Carl, who says shortly afterwards that he has just ''come off a five-week tour with Chuck Berry'', quickly moves them onto another Chuck Berry song, ''Brown Eyed Handsome Man''. Not long afterwards Elvis responds to a question about ''Too Much Monkey Business'', making it clear he prefers ''Brown Eyed Handsome Man''. He says, ''It's all right but I like this one better''.

They have real fun with the song, stumbling over the words, stopping and starting, and getting some help with the lyrics from one of the women present in the studio. One or possibly more children can be heard in the background adding to the party atmosphere.

Whilst there is no one person who can legitimately claim to have invented rock and roll, Chuck Berry surely has a strong a claim as any artist alive or dead. It was inevitable that the guys would come across one of his songs sooner or later. Their sheer delight in the irresistible fun qualities of the song is palpable, although they break down several times as they try to get the words right.

Chuck Berry wrote and recorded "Brown-Eyed Handsome Mane" (Chess 1635) produced by Leonard Chess, in 1956. It was the flip side to his "Too Much Monkey Business". Both songs reached number 7 on Billboard's Rhythm and Blues chart.

Despite the light-hearted feel of the song it was inspired by the kind of racial tensions which were all too prevalent in parts of fifties America. It was written by Berry after a visit to California when he had witnessed a Hispanic man being arrested by a policeman in questionable circumstances, an incident which prompted a bystander to intervene on his behalf. One commentator has surmised that the song is subtly challenging racial attitudes in suggesting for instance that the very white and very beautiful Venus de Milo would ''lose both her arms in a wrestling match to win a brown eyed handsome man'' (i.e. a black man). Elvis later said that Chuck Berry told him the song was originally called ''Brown Skinned Handsome Man'' but that, ''They made me change it''.

One point that emerges from the sessions is a clear lack of racial prejudice on the part of members of the quartet, no mean feat at a time when it was so prevalent. Then again, their eclectic taste in and respect for all types of music by black and white artists would surely have made it illogical for them to have held any such views.

In 1969 Waylon Jennings revived the song in a popular country hit (RCA 0281), reaching number 3. Years later, Felton Jarvis recorded a studio jam session in which Elvis sang many Chuck Berry tunes, included "Brown-Eyed Handsome Man". The tape has never been released. A decade before "black is beautiful" achieved radical chic, Chuck communicated that very message with a jittery, ragged guitar line and rapidfire vocal delivery that suggested just how much he risked merely by celebrating the facts. I've always wondered whether that home run hitter in the final verse was Jackie Robinson or Willie Mays, but what really matters is that its the most organic connection anybody's ever made between rock and baseball, Bruce Springsteen and John Fogerty included. Here, Chuck fakes nothing - except for his substitution of "-eyed" for "-skinned", of course.

> OUT OF SIGHT, OUT OF MIND / BROWN-EYED HANDSOME MAN (2) <
Composer: - Ivory Joe Hunter-Clyde Otis-Chuck Berry
Publisher: - Charly Publishing Limited-Jewell Music Publishing Company
Matrix number: - VPA4-5319/5320 (2:29)
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - 1987
First appearance: - S Records (LP) 33rpm S 5001 mono
THE ONE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET
Reissued: - March 1990 RCA BMG (CD) 500/200rpm 74321 13840 2-22/23 mono
THE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET

 

Lead vocals by Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis, guitar Elvis Presley. Elvis patterned his styling after the Five Keys' recording.

''Hey I'll tell you one I like'', Elvis knowledge of songs was seemingly inexhaustible. This pop song, with its doo wop crooning, was an ideal vehicle for Elvis' smooth soaring tenor; and his simple acoustic guitar backing fitted the feel to a tee. ''Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind'', was written by Ivory Joe Hunter and Clyde Otis, two black men who had considerable success in a white dominated world.

Otis was one of the very first black executives of a major record company, Mercury Records. He produced records by Brook Benton, Dinah Washington and Sarah Vaughan, amongst others. He also wrote or co-wrote hundreds of songs which were recorded by artists from Bobby Darin to Aretha Franklin. Ivory Joe Hunter started out as a rhythm and blues singer and pianist but latterly he also achieved recognition in the fields of blues and country. Each man enjoyed a substantial degree of success and ''Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind'' was merely one passable piece of pop they conjured up together; a small part of a huge body of work. Hunter alone is estimated to have written or co-written more than 7,000 songs.

The year after the Million Dollar Quartet session, Elvis invited Hunter to visit him at Graceland. They spent a day together, talking and singing songs. Hunter said later that he was struck by Elvis' courtesy and spirituality. Even at this early stage he felt moved to say, ''I think he's one of the greatest''.

> DON'T FORBIT ME <
Composer: - Charles Singleton
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Campbell Connelly & Company Limited
Matrix number: - VPA4-5298 (0:46)
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - September 19, 2006
First appearance: - Sony BMG Music (CD) 500/200rpm 82876 88935 2-34 mono
THE COMPLETE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET

Lead vocal and guitar Elvis Presley.

HOME, SWEET, HOME / WHEN IT RAINS, IT REALLY POURS
Composer: - William Robert Emerson
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - Unreleased - Probably Tape Lost

"Home, Sweet, Home" was written by American John Howard Payne and Englishman Sir Henry Bishop in 1823 as the closing number to Act 1 of their opera "Clari". It was introduced on stage on May 8, 1823, at London's Covent garden by Maria Tree in the title role. Payne wrote his lyrics based in part on his own homesickness for America. Bishop's melody came from "A Sicilian Air", which he had written one year earlier. In 1842 Henry Bishop was knighted by Queen Victoria for his "Home, Sweet, Home" - the first musician ever knighted. During the Million-Dollar-Quartet sessions, Elvis Presley sang "Home, Sweet, Home". While the band was playing the song, Elvis blurted out two lines of "When It Rains, It Really Pours" (You know what it takes, you've got it, baby").

> YOU BELONG TO MY HEART / IT IS SO STRANGE <
Composer: - Ray Gilbert-Augustina Lara-Faron Young
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Public Domain
Matrix number: - VPA4-5298/VPA4-5328
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - 1983
First appearance: - S Records (LP) 33rpm S 5001-B1 mono
THE ONE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET
Reissued: - March 1990 RCA BMG (CD) 500/200rpm 74321 13840 2-30/31 mono
THE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET 

Elvis Presley sang it primarily by himself, with his own guitar accompaniment.

''You know a song that'll come back some day''? says Elvis. ''It'll make a splash... it's an old popular song''. This one could be said to have an interesting and unusual provenance for a song plucked out of the air in a jam session in Memphis. Written by Ray Gilbert and Augustin Lara, "You Belong To My Heart" was introduced by Dora Luz, who played a live-action bathing beauty in the 1944 fulllength animated Disney film "The Three Caballeros". The song's Spanish title is "Solamente Una Vez". Both Bing Crosby (Decca 23413) and Charlie Spivak (Victor 1663) had hit versions of "You Belong To My Heart" in 1945. Ezio Pinza recorded a version for the 1951 Lana Turner movie "Mr. Imperium".

Elvis sings the song, with effortless and convincing passion, adding colour by mixing the English and Spanish lyrics, and humour by camping up his vocal delivery.

Country singer Faron Young (aka ''The Singing Sheriff''), wrote ''Is It So Strange''. One of the most popular purveyors of smooth honky-tonk of his day, his career lasted around 30 years and included major hits such as ''Hello walls'', ''Live Fast, Love Hard, Die Young'' and ''It's Four In The Morning'' (the last-named being his only UK hit).

Before he starts singing, Elvis jokes that Faron had sent the song to him but that he, ''Didn't want to give me none of it. He wanted it all''. This is presumably a (slightly sheepish-sounding) reference to the practice of compelling writers to give up a large part of the writing credit if they wanted Elvis to record their songs. In fact, Elvis recorded the song for RCA in 1957.

During this number, which Elvis sings solo and accompanies himself on acoustic guitar, a child's voice can be heard in the background, giggling at times.(The children's voices are probably Jerry and Knox, sons of Sam Phillips, according to Knox Phillips). When Elvis stops singing, he is addressed by a woman: ''My little granddaughter (Susan) is a big fan of yours, would you put your name here''. Elvis, by now very used to dealing with such situations, display characteristic courtesy, completing the transaction with a very polite, ''Thank you ma'am'', as if he was the one being done the favour.

> THAT'S WHEN YOUR HEARTACHES BEGIN <
Composer: - William J. Raskin-Billy Hill-Fred Fisher
Publisher: - A.S.C.A.P. - Lowe Music Limited
Matrix number: - VPA4-5329 (4:55)
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - 1987
First appearance: - S Records (LP) 33rpm S 5001-B2 mono
THE ONE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET
Reissued: - March 1990 RCA BMG (CD) 500/200rpm 74321 13840 2-32 mono
THE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET

Lead vocal and guitar Elvis Presley.

Elvis starts talking about this song, which he had clearly mentioned before at some point. ''I lost the dub on it''. This is the longest individual song by nearly a minute. It has a particularly treasured place in the history of Elvis Presley since it was one of the two songs that started it all; one of the songs he recorded at the Memphis Recording Service in July 1953. He says he had lost the disc but according to other reports he gave it to a friend of his who had provided the money for him to make the recording in the first place. By 1956 his voice is transformed, it is now smooth and assured, delivering his own interpretation of the melody with confident aplomb.

He next recorded it in rather different circumstances for RCA in 1957, when it appeared as the B-side of ''All Shook Up'' (RCA 20/47-6870). The song's three composers Fred Fisher, William Raskin and Billy Hill were all born in the late nineteenth century and were mainly associated with music from a different, bygone world. Fred Fisher, for instance, wrote music to accompany silent films and also co-wrote ''Whispering Grass''. Billy Hill, one of the most successful songsmiths on Tin Pan Alley in the thirties, co-wrote ''Have You Ever Been Lonely'' and ''The Old Man Of The Mountain''.

''That's When Your Heartaches Begin'' was first recorded in 1937 and in 1941 the Ink Spots also recorded a version which might well have been and Elvis suggested that the right singer could really make a hit with the old Ink Spots song "That's When Your Heartaches Begin", something he himself had tried before, and would again. The Ink Spots were a popular black gospel vocal group whose heartfelt songs were characterised be sweet melodies with soaring vocals and gentle arpeggiated acoustic guitar breaking. The conservative, unthreatening nature of their songs and their clean-cut image made them acceptable to white audiences. They were major contributors to the development of the doo wop style of popular music. Their influence on Elvis is crystal clear on some of his later songs.

A particular feature of such songs, which Elvis here demonstrates, is the practice of speaking one or more of the verses in an emotionally charged voice, something he did with considerable skill in various songs over the years.

Elvis expresses the view that if someone could sing it right, ''a guy with a really deep voice'', it would sell. Could this be yet another reference to the self-evident absence of Johnny Cash?

> BROWN-EYED HANDSOME MAN / RIP IT UP / I'M GONNA BIT MY BLUES GOODBYE <
Composer: - Chuck Berry-Otis Blackwell-John Marascalco- Hank Snow-ATV Music Limited
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Jewell Music Publishing
Matrix number: - VPA4-5330/5331/5332 (1:34)
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - 1987
First appearance: - S Records (LP) 33rpm S 5001-B3 mono
THE ONE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET
Released: - September 19, 2006
First appearance: - Sony BMG Music (CD) 500/200rpm 82876 88935 2-34/35/39 mono
THE COMPLETE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET

Lead vocal and guitar Elvis Presley.

Hank Snow recorded "I'm Gonna Bid My Blues Goodbye" (Bluebird 55-3233) in the 1940s.

Elvis has fun with this one which he does in response to a request from a spectator; but he only really does the opening line. He deliberately gets the opening words wrong: ''It's Saturday night and I just got paid... laid''. This caught the mood of much of the session. It is delightful to listen to these artists simply being themselves and not putting on a show manipulated to fit in with demands of promoters or television producers.

Composer John Marascalco drove to Los Angeles in 1955 to sell "Ready Teddy" to Specialty Records as a tune for Little Richard to record. After selling the song to Specialty, Robert "Bumps" Blackwell, the label's A&R man, asked Marascalco if he had any other songs. Marascalco told him he had a country tune called "Rip It Up" that he could rework to suit Little Richard.

After spending a week rewriting the song at a fleabag motel in Hollywood, Marascalco went back to Specialty and Blackwell bought it, taking partial writing credit, as he had for "Ready Teddy". Little Richard's "Rip It Up" (Specialty 579) sold over a million copies in 1956 and hit number one on Billboard's Rhythm and Blues chart and number 17 on the Top 100 chart.

Marascalco also wrote songs with Fats Domino and a young Harry Nilson among many others. Blackwell went on to work extensively as a producer and was involved with the early careers of stars such as Ray Charles, Sam Cooke and Sly and the Family Stone. Later in his career he produced some songs for Bob Dylan's album ''Shot Of Love''. Bill Haley and His Comets cover version of "Rip It Up" (Decca 30028) stayed at number 25, also in 1956. Elvis Presley later recorded "Rip It Up" at Radio Recorders in Hollywood on September 3, 1956. Take 19 is the master.

Occasionally over the years, Elvis sang "Rip It Up" in concerts. Some of these performances have surfaced on bootleg albums. "Rip It Up" was one of the many songs Elvis performed during the Million Dollar Quartet session on December 4, 1956.

''Did you ever hear ole Hank Snow do a song called ''I'm Gonna Bid My Blues Goodbye''? With that Elvis launches into a brief take on the song, once more, it appears, accompanying himself on acoustic guitar, unlike Carl, his ability level was merely competent.

Close to the height of his career in the mid fifties, Hank Snow was one of the leading country artists of the immediate post-war era, whose inclusion in the session was highly fitting. All four members of the quartet grew up listening to his music on the radio and for all of them he was something of a hero as well as a strong influence.

A natural showman, Clarence Eugene Snow, whose main early influence was Jimmie Rodgers, wrote, recorded and regularly performed a clutch of classic hits including ''I'm Moving On'' and ''The Golden Rocket'' in the fifties. Born in Canada he eventually became an American citizen in 1958 and settled near Nashville, the logical place for him to live. His career spanned over 60 years and when he was 61, he became the oldest country performer to achieve a number one hit, with a song called ''Hello Love''.
Elvis brings the song to an end and moves away from the microphone. There is chatter, a door opening and closing and he is gone. His involvement in the music is now at an end. The last thing he can be heard saying is, ''That's why I hate to get started in these jam sessions, I'm always the last one to leave, always''.

There is a brief pause and then Jerry Lee can be heard seizing his opportunity and starting up on the piano which he now plays solo until the end.

> CRAZY ARMS / THAT'S MY DESIRE <
Composer: - Ralph Mooney-Charles Seals-Carroll Loveday-Helmy Kresa
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Knox Music Incorporated-B. Feldman & Company Limited
Matrix number: - VPA4-5333/5334 (5:34)
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - 1987
First appearance: - S Records (LP) 33rpm S 5001-B6 mono
THE ONE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET
Reissued: - March 1990 RCA BMG (CD) 500/200rpm 74321 13840 2-36/37 mono
THE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET

Lead vocal and piano Jerry Lee Lewis.

Before he starts ''That's My Desire'', Jerry Lee grabs his turn in the limelight with a swaggering version of his first single, ''Crazy Arms'', released at the beginning of December. This time he was able to play it all the way through, earlier he could only deliver a brief snatch of the song because Elvis was still in charge of things at that point. This was the start of a run of five solo songs by Jerry Lee.

He does full justice to ''Crazy Arms''. His virtuoso display provides a detailed picture of the Jerry Lee Lewis piano technique, a veritable master class; the pounding left hand, the flowery embellishments with the right, the syncopation, it was all there. Johnny Cash later described him as ''the master of the keyboard''. The piano playing is remarkably clear unlike Jerry Lee's vocals which sound as if they were laid down in a different room from the microphone.

Jerry Lee plus piano really could cover all angles, a banking band was merely an optional extra. The song is now a country/honky-tonk standard which has been covered by everyone from Bing Crosby to Linda Ronstadt. Perhaps the quartet's spontaneous attraction to such material was a sign of the kind of musical instinct that led them to be so successful themselves.

After ''Crazy Arms'' Jerry Lee moves onto classic, old school pop territory with the kind of song that his and his friends' parents might have listened to. ''That's My Desire'' was written by Caroll Loveday and Helmy Kresa in 1931, and Helmy Kresa who was the principal arranger and orchestrator for Iving Berlin. Since Berlin could not read or write music, he got Kresa to fulfill this role for the songs he wrote at the piano. Amongst many others, Kresa worked on ''White Christmas''.

Over the years the song has been covered in various styles by artists including Louis Armstrong, Dion and the Belmonts. Sixteen years later after writing, bot Frankie Laine (Mercury 5007) and Sammy Kaye (RCA 2251) had big hits with the ''That's My Desire'', reaching number 7 and number 3 respectively on Billboard's Best-Selling Singles chart. In 1968 the song was one of many that Elvis rehearsed for the "Elvis" TV special but did not use in the broadcast.

> END OF THE ROAD <
Composer: - Jerry Lee Lewis
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Knox Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - VPA4-5335 (1:48)
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - 1987
First appearance: - S Records (LP) 33rpm S 5001-B8 mono
THE ONE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET
Reissued: - March 1990 RCA BMG (CD) 500/200rpm 74321 13840 2-38 mono
THE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET

''Sing ''End Of The Road'', is the request from a female present, possibly Marilyn Evans. Jerry Lee says, ''I might as well do another one'' with an audible smile. "End Of The Road" was the flip side of Jerry Lee Lewis's first record at Sun Records (SUN 259), which was released on December 1, 1956. The A side was "Crazy Arms". Lewis sang "End Of The Road" (his own composition) during this session and again he gives a star performance which brings out the very best in a routine but highly catchy little song. Unaccompanied, his playing once more takes the breath away; his legendary skills are already well established and clearly in evidence. Elvis and Carl Perkins did not participate in this song.

> JERRY'S BOOGIE (BLACK BOTTOM STOMP) <
Composer: - Jerry Lee Lewis
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Knox Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - VPA5-5336 (1:12)
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - 1987
First appearance: - S Records (LP) 33rpm S 5001-B9 mono
THE ONE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET
Reissued: - March 1990 RCA BMG (CD) 500/200rpm 74321 13840 2-39 mono
THE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET

Lead vocal and piano Jerry Lee Lewis.

This rollicking jazz instrumental, imbued with hints of ragtime and Dixieland, provides Jerry Lee with an opportunity to show off another side of his effortlessly dazzling piano skills. On some early Million Dollar Quartet releases it is referred to as ''Jerry's Boogie''. It was written by Ferdinand Joseph LaMothe (other spellings of this last name are often quoted), better known as Jelly Roll Morton, in 1925, and was originally called ''Queen Of Spades''. He recorded it in 1926. His version was a multilayered musical affair. In one fairly brief number he maintained listener interest with a range of techniques, stomps, breaks, backbeat, two-beat, four-beat, melody played all over the keyboard, increasing volume, reducing volume, and Jerry Lee does much the same in his interpretation. It might have been impromptu but it revealed the studious nature of his exploration and understanding of the music of key figures in the development of popular music from an early age.

Jelly Roll and Jerry Lee had other things in common apart from a gift for playing the piano, in particular a confident belief in their own abilities which regularly crossed over into arrogance. Jelly Roll often claimed that he had single-handedly invented modern jazz. Whilst his contribution was undoubtedly considerable, such a claim has been challenged by many commentators, although it is true that his number ''Jelly Roll Blues'' was in 1915 the first published jazz composition. He is even said to have falsified details of his birth date in order to make the claim more credible. Jerry Lee got up to similar tricks when it came to his early marriages. The pair also had colourful private lives with an impressive array of relationship with women to their credit.

> YOU'RE THE ONLY STAR IN MY BLUE HEAVEN <
Composer: - Gene Autrey
Publisher: - B.M.I. - B. Feldman & Company Limited
Matrix number: - VPA5-5337 (1:13)
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - 1987
First appearance: - S Records (LP) 33rpm S 5001-B10 mono
THE ONE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET
Reissued: - March 1990 RCA BMG (CD) 500/200rpm 74321 13840 2-40 mono
THE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET

Lead vocal and piano Jerry Lee Lewis.

The inclusion of a Gene Autry song creates a connection between the Million Dollar Quartet and cowboy music, which has been an important strand of country music for as long as there has been country music. He was one of the most successful of a small number of singing cowboys which also included Ray Rogers. He is probably best known for the western song ''Back In The Saddle Again'' although he was also responsible for some favourite Christmas songs including ''Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer'' and ''Here Comes Santa Claus''. Jerry Lee brings the song to an abrupt end as Elvis plus some others leave the building; he gets up to join in the farewells.

Back in the mid-1930s, while Gene Autry was appearing on "The Old Barn Dance" radio show, he began receiving love letters from a woman in Iowa. After several months the woman's doctor wrote to Autry and told him she was mentally disturbed. The physician requested that Autry write to her and tell her that he was not at all interested in her romantic overtures. In the last letter Autry received from the woman, she described being alone. After hearing Autry on the radio she walked outside and stared at the night sky. She wrote: "I looked at the stars in the heavens. I saw millions of them, but you're the only star in my blue heaven". That line inspired Autry to write the song "You're The Only Star (In My Blue Heaven)". His recording (conqueror 9098) was released in December 1935. Roy Acuff had a popular 1936 recording of the song (ARC-7-04-51). Autry sang the song in his movie "The Old Barn Dance" (1938).

> ELVIS FAREWELL <
Matrix number: - VPA5-5338 (0:35)
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - 1987
First appearance: - S Records (LP) 33rpm S 5001-B11 mono
THE ONE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET
Reissued: - March 1990 RCA BMG (CD) 500/200rpm 74321 13840 2-41 mono
THE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET

During the goodbyes the irrepressible Jerry Lee can be heard to sing the line, ''You're the only star in my blue heaven'', a couple of times. Elvis says, ''Good night boys, I'll see you again'', suggesting that the session has gone on well into the evening. Jerry Lee says, ''Yeah, mighty glad to have met y'all''. Elvis is heard saying, ''Thank you sir'' to someone.

It is poignant to think that these casual events, which the participants probably intended to repeat some time, never in fact happened again. It had been a once in a lifetime event. Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis did subsequently get together a few times, but never all four. Elvis' fame took him away from the possibility of such carefree spontaneous encounters for the rest of his life.

The recordings, a remarkable piece of audio archaeology, provide an extremely rare glimpse into s crucial stage in the development of western popular music. In the course of an unguarded and uninhibited jam session, without pre-planning, or pre-agreed set lists worked out by managers and producers, four giants revealed the musical DNA which they would transmit to the world. As Colin Escott said, ''This is what the founding fathers of rock and roll music heard and played solely for the love of playing it''.

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Elvis Presley - Vocal and Guitar
James Buck Perkins - Guitar
Jerry Lee Lewis - Vocal and Piano
Johnny Cash – Vocals (Unknown)
Lloyd Clayton Perkins - Bass
Carl Perkins - Vocal and Guitar
Charles Underwood - Guitar
W.S. "Fluke" Holland - Drums
Marion Keisker - Vocals
Cliff Cleaves - Vocals
Marilyn Evans - Vocals
Smokey Joe Baugh - Piano

Before Elvis Presley leaving he remarked, with no regret, "That's why I hate to get started in these jam sessions. I'm always the last one to leave".

PROBABLY RECORDED ON THIS SESSION

MY ISLE OF GOLDEN DREAMS
The Hawaiian guitar sound became hugely popular in America in the early part of the twentieth century as musicians from the archipelago brought the instrument with them on visits to the United States. This process was boosted by songs like ''My Isle Of Golden Dreams'' which mixed the sound of the Hawaiian guitar with sentimental English lyrics. This particular song was written in 1919 by Walter Blaufuss and Gus Kahn. A song like this would have been very suitable for Elvis who had an outstanding gift for romantic ballads; some reports have it that Johnny Cash sang on it too.

American enthusiasm for the sound of the Hawaiian guitar faded in the late twenties but the instrument, in the form of the steel guitar, became permanently established as the signature instrument of country music whose followers have loved its sweet emotional sounds ever since.

Though mainly as novelty numbers, Hawaiian songs enjoyed regular resurgences of popularity in subsequent years, notably in the hands of Marty Robbins and Bing Crosby.

I WON'T HAVE TO CROSS JORDAN ALONE
This is a gospel standard, originally copyrighted in 1934, which has been recorded by numerous artists; it has long been a fixture in American church hymn books. It would have been as obvious a choice of religious number as any of the others that definitely were performed that day. As with many other spiritual songs, it is concerned with the comfort offered to believers through religious faith. In 1962 Johnny Cash included it on his second album of religious material for Columbia, ''Hyms From The Heart'' (the first was ''Hymns By Johnny Cash'', released by Columbia in 1959 not long after Johnny's arrival at his new label). One of the reasons he had grown dissatisfied with Sam Phillips was his resistance to Johnny's wish to be allowed to record gospel songs for Sun.

THE OLD RUGGED CROSS
Religious numbers featured strongly in the quartet's spontaneous selection. ''The Old Rugged Cross'' is a Christian song, loved by millions of people across the world, which was written in 1912 by a Methodist evangelist called George Bennard, whose ancestors came from Scotland. The song has been a standard, popular with black and white artists and audiences. It has been recorded by singers from Patsy Cline to Al Green and Willie Nelson. It even turned up in an episode of the popular British science fiction television series Doctor Who in 2007.

WILL THE CIRCLE BE UNBROKEN
This Christian hymn, written in about 1907 by Ada Ruth Haberson and Charles H. Gabriel, is one of the best known and best loved of all religious anthems. The lyrics aim to provide comfort for people who have recently been bereaved but over the years, singing the song in unison has come to be seen as an anthem appropriate for groups of people standing together in the face of adversity of any kind, announcing their common resolve to overcome their difficulties to the world. Countless concerts by traditional country-oriented musical groups, right up to the present day, feature the song as their finale, with the audience joining in. The quartet was probably able to sing bits of it before they could read and write.

Modern arrangements vary from medium paced and soulful to uptempo and joyous. Most are based on a rearrangement of the song in the thirties by A.P. Carter, of the legendary Carter Family, whose music provided the foundation upon which much of modern folk and country music has been built.

As evidence of its continuing appeal and relevance, the song was used as the title for a famous recording in 1972 by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band which brought together musicians young and old to record traditional old time songs. Bill Monroe was a notable refusenik.

THERE ARE STRANGE THINGS HAPPENING EVERY DAY
This is a traditional black American gospel song often adapted to various musical styles according to the preferences of performers and audiences. Although there have been many versions over the years, the most famous is that by Sister Rosetta Tharpe, the electric guitar-toting firebrand Christian advocate. She recorded it in 1944 and regularly featured it in her live concerts. Some have claimed it as the first ever rock and roll record, others as an important precursor of rock and roll. This was partly due to the rocking nature of the song but also to Tharpe's stage presence and attack; she swung her hips and moved around the stage as she picked out catchy licks on her steelbodied guitar. The song's popularity was such that it crossed over from gospel charts to the ''race'' (later rhythm and blues) charts. Its popularity continues and there have been recent versions by Tom Jones and Michelle Shocked.

It would certainly have been a suitable vehicle for Jerry Lee who would doubtless have underpinned the song with a rollicking piano foundation.

THAT OLD TIME RELIGION
This traditional call and response song, alternatively called ''(Give Me That) Old Time Religion'', might trace its origins to English folk music. It has been a southern gospel rallying call since the late nineteeth century in America, loved by both black and white spiritual singers and their audiences. A standard for well over a century, it is a song the quartet would all have known well from early in their lives. Carl Perkins said he recalled it being sung at some point during the session and Johnny Cash said he remembered singing on it.

BLUE MOON OF KENTUCKY
Written by Bill Monroe, this song has been discussed elsewhere. As one side of Elvis' first single, it would have been an obvious choice for inclusion at an informal jam session. In his 1997 autobiography, Johnny Cash said he remembered singing it.

WHEN I TAKE MY VACATION IN HEAVEN
In a similar vein, ''When I Take My Vacation In Heaven'', sometimes simply called ''Vacation In Heaven'', is a gospel song, originally published in 1925, which has enjoyed considerable popularity over the years. It was also included on Johnny Cash's 1962 album, ''Hymns From The Heart''.

It was co-written by Herbert Buffum, a Christian evangelist whose output was prolific, around 1,000 published songs in his lifetime. When he died in 1939 one newspaper described him as ''The King of Gospel Song Writers''.

TUTTI FRUTTI'
A major hit for Little Richard in 1955, the often indecipherable ''Tutti Frutti'' is among the most famous rock and roll song ever recorded, right up there with anything by Elvis, Bill Haley or Buddy Holly. The unaccompanied rhythmic onslaught that sets it off, ''A-wop-bop-a-loo-bop-a-wop-bam-boom'', is arguably the most memorable opening to any piece of popular music. In 2007 a panel of experts assembled by Mojo placed the song at number one on its list, ''The Top 100 Records That Changed The World''. They characterised the record as no less than the ''sound of the birth of rock and roll''. RCA clearly saw that it was perfect material for Elvis and it was included on his debut album for them - albeit with the lyrics toned way down from some of the original words which were aggressively saxual. This song would have been a lot of fun for Jerry Lee Lewis and a real opportunity for him to show off his skills.

THIS TRAIN (THIS TRAIN IS BOUND FOR GLORY)
This well known gospel song was first recorded in 1925 though it had been sung in churches for some years prior to that. In 1935 a version was recorded with the title ''Dis Train'', a probable indicator that the origins of the song lay in black music. Sister Rosetta Tharpe recorded a version in the early fifties which, with her trademark electric guitar, sounded a lot closer to rock and roll than anything that might normally be heard in church. The song was also brought to wider public attention by the work of folklorists John A. Lomax and Alan Lomax.

The song has been covered by a great many artists in a wide range of musical styles from blues and folk to reggae and zydeco. A shortened version of the main hook line of the song provided the title for Woody Guthrie's autobiographical book, ''Bound For Glory'', which was later used as the basis for a biopic on Gunthrie's life,

Bruce Springsteen borrowed the theme of ''This Train'' on his song ''Land Of Hope And Dreams'', which was written in 1998 or early 1999, and debuted live with the E Street Band in March 1999. According to some reports Elvis also sang ''You Belong To My Heart;;, which was also sung later on, when the tapes were rolling.

As this was an informal jam session a number of songs are done only half, while some are mere attempt that all to soon disintegrate. The above has become known as the "Million Dollar Quartet". Probably more songs were recorded, but the owner of the tapes, Shelby Singleton's Company, with holds further information due to the many legal problems surroundings these tapes.

With the exception of the last six titles, all the above have been released on bootlegs and in some parts of the world even officially by local licensees of Singleton's catalogue, but nothing has been released officially in the U.S. Remarkably enough, Johnny Cash is not featured on any of the material so far available. Elvis sings lead or co-lead with Jerry on all songs, except on "Keeper Of The Key", which has Carl singing lead. Carl's band (Perkins, Perkins and Holland) can be heard on the first five songs.

The first four of the last six songs have been cited by both Carl Perkins and Johnny Cash as having recorded on this occasion. The last two were mentioned on a promotional single for a bootleg that apparently never was released, and "You Belong To My Heart" was in fact one of the items on that promo-single.

For Biography of The Million Dollar Quartet see: > The Sun Biographies <
The Million Dollar Quartet's Sun recordings can be heard on their playlist from 706 Union Avenue Sessions on > YouTube <

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

DECEMBER 5, 1956 WEDNESDAY

THE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET

From TV News And Views - Memphis Press Scimitar by Robert Johnson December 5, 1956.

"I never had a better time than yesterday when I dropped in at Sam Phillips' Sun Records on Union and Marshall. It was what you might call a barrel-house of fun. Carl Perkins was in a recording session, and he has one that's going to hit as hard as "Blue Suede Shoes". We're trying to arrange an advance audition for you Memphis fans before the song is released in January. Johnny Cash dropped in. Jerry Lee Lewis was there, too, and then Elvis Presley dropped by.

Elvis headed for the piano and started in on "Blueberry Hill". The joint was really rocking before they got truth. Elvis is high on Jerry Lee Lewis. "That boy can go', he said. "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". I never saw Elvis more likeable than he was just fooling around with these other fellows who have the same interests as he does. If Sam Phillips had been on this toes, he'd have turned the recorder on when that very unrehearsed but talented bunch go to cutting up on "Blueberry Hill" and a lot of other songs".

This was the first intimation the world had of the existence of what was to become known as The Million Dollar Quartet. Rumoured, speculated upon; it was the ultimate mystery, the ultimately unobtainable recording for a quarter of a century. Even now the whole mystery isn't solved but at least our voracious appetite for anything pertaining to the Million Dollar Quartet is partially appeared; at least we now know what they sounded like.

I suspect that the Robert Johnson piece didn't arouse the intense interest that the M.D.Q. was to subsequently generate. The American '16 Magazine' obviously picked up on the Johnson story for in their May issue of 1957 they had this to say about the event: "Here's how the jam session came about: One afternoon recently Elvis dropped in to see his old friend, Sam Phillips, owner of Sun Records, where Elvis got his start. With Elvis were two friend, Marilyn Evans and Cliff Gleaves. In a nearby studio, Jerry Lee Lewis, who records for Sun, was rehearsing for a recording session; and with him were Carl Perkins and Johnny Cash, who had stopped by to hear the tape on Carl's newest, "Matchbox Blues".

After talking for a while, Elvis moved over to the piano in Jerry's studio and started pounding out "Blueberry Hill". Then he began singing it. Carl and Johnny drifted over and they and Jerry joined in. making it a quartet. Marilyn leaned on the piano, listening to this fabulous group. From "Blueberry Hill" Elvis swung into "Isle Of Golden Dreams" - and there followed perhaps the most fantastic vocal concert ever heard as these four young artists just let loose and enjoyed themselves, singing old songs, new songs, soft songs, rock "n" roll songs - and hymns.

The article in the Memphis Press Scimitar establishes the exact date of this momentous occasion as the 4th December 1956. Odd then that there is no such date filed for a Perkins recording session. Could this just be an error in the Sun files, or is there another explanation?. Bear in mind that Carl and his brother were involved in a near fatal accident on their way to New York the previous March. (For Jay Perkins it was ultimately to prove fatal). The band hadn't played or recorded for some nine months. So finally they're ready to record and go in for another session.

One of the songs they have lined up, an old Blind Lemon Jefferson number (last recorded by the Shelton Bross. in 1947), is called "Matchbox Blues". Sam had suggested a young blonde kid who'd just cut his first single, Crazy Arms", to augment the group on piano. They cut "Matchbox", maybe another tune or two and in walks Elvis, a knock-out dolly on his arm. "Hey, Elvis man who's that chick...". Elvis is back home for Christmas. He's just swept the nation with his second appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show a month ago. He chats to Carl, after all whilst Carl's been languishing in hospital Elvis has taken his song "Blue Suede Shoes" up the top of the charts. Jerry Lee demand to be introduced. The musicians sit back, waiting to get on with the session. But instead Elvis strolls over the piano, hits a few desultory notes, carries on chatting, the guys start reminiscing; the Million Dollar Quartet session is under way. After Christmas Carl returns to the Sun studio to do a full session and records "Matchbox" again along with "Your True Love", "Put Your Cat Clothes On", "You Can Do No Wrong", and "Caldonia". Purr speculations of course, but its interesting that a whole lot of new tapes by Carl have just recently been discovered amongst the Sun archives. There's two versions of "Matchbox" and a whole host of "Put Your Cat Clothes On", but back to December 4th.

Once it had become obvious that Elvis was in no hurry to leave, Sam Phillips never one to miss an opportunity, phoned the local press who sent along photographer George Pierce along with columnist Robert Johnson. "Everything was off mike. If it was on mike, it was by accident", recalls Sam. "I told Jack Clement, "Man, let's just record this. This is the type of feel, and probably an occasion, that who knows? - we may never have these people together again'". Jack Clement remembers it much the same way; "it was rather a momentous occasion''.

''The only reason I taped it was we just decided: all that carrying' on ought to be recorded". And recorded it most certainly was, but what became of the tapes?. Well, one of the reasons for recording it was "to send everybody a copy. Which I never did get round to doing".

The tapes then seemingly disappeared. The speculation as to their contents filled many a magazine over the years. One popular contender, "Big Boss Man" wasn't even written as the time of the session.

Published articles obviously accounted for the inclusion of "Blueberry Hill", and "Isle Of Golden Dreams". Other suggested titles included "I Won't Cross Jordan Alone", The Rugged Old Cross", "Cry Cry Cry", "Down The Line" and "Peace In The Valley". In fact out of that list of titles only "Peace In The Valley" has emerged on the hour tape at present available. It is interesting to note that at the time of the M.D.Q. Elvis hadn't recorded any religious songs. At his very next session he was to do so, cutting "I Believe", "Take My Hand Precious Lord" and, yap you guessed it, "Peace In The Valley" in Hollywood by Radio Recorders on 12/13 January 1957, having sung it on the Ed Sullivan show six days earlier. Now I wonder what prompted him to sing it there?. Everybody recalls Jerry Lee singing the Sister Rosette Tharpe number "Strange Things Happening", but it doesn't appear on this tape. Obviously then there was more. Jack Clement puts it at two to three hours, in which case, somewhere there's another 4 to 5 albums still to be revealed. But what of the songs that we actually have?.

We kick off with "Just A Little Talk With Jesus"; Carl, his brother, W.S. ''Fluke'' Holland provide the instrumental backing, Elvis and Jerry Lee harmonise. Most of the time Carl's tenor harmony is consigned to oblivion. Says Carl, "I sat down beside Elvis on the piano stool and we shared a microphone. Jerry Lee had a microphone by himself, and he - as always - did get in there. I remember most of the things he was singing would be too high or too low, but they was in the one or two keys that Elvis could play in. That's why on some of the stuff it was almost impossible for me to sing tenor rhythm". And where does Johnny Cash figure in all this?. Well, Carl recalls that once the photographic session was over he went shopping!. Just a Million Trio then perhaps?. They chat, they prompt each other through "Walk That Lonesome Valley", "I Shall Not Be Moved", "Peace In The Valley", "Down By The River Side". Gradually the band drop out. Maybe they come to the conclusion that the session just isn't going to be continued now and they've got better things to do. Elvis sets about imitating Hank Snow's nasal tones with uncanny accuracy on "I'm With The Crowd But Oh So Alone", after all he's toured with Snow quite extensively. When he first introduced himself to Snow at the Grand Old Opry, Snow asked him what his real name was. Now everybody knows the name Elvis Presley. He's the kid who has shocked and outraged middle-aged America. He's the Devil incarnate. And yet here he is singing "Father Along", "Blessed Jesus Hold My Hand", "As We Travel Along On The Jericho Road" and "I Just Can't Make It By My Self". And singing along with him are those other two exponents of the godless music, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis.

Bill Monroe's "Blue Moon Of Kentucky" was one of the songs that helped launch the Presley legend. Elvis demonstrates his familiarity with Monroe's music by not only singing "Little Cabin On The Hill" but also giving a passable imitation of Monroe's vocal. (It would be another 14 years before Elvis actually recorded the number on his "Country" album). Then its back to the religious tunes that they were all weaned on: "Summertime Has Passed And Gone", "I Hear A Sweet Voice Calling", a touch of country lament on "And Now Sweetheart You've Done Me Wrong" and a lovely rendition by Carl of Wynn Steward's "Keeper Of The Key". A snatch of "Crazy Arms" (after all Jerry Lee has just recently recorded it, he'd be bound to bring it in), and then perhaps the biggest surprise of all. Pat Boone has just hit with "Don't Forbid Me". (Bear in mind that Boone is still something of a rival to Presley). Elvis explain with a touch of bravado that he's had the song for months but never really bothered with it. He proceeds to prove the point by singing the number accompanying himself at the piano. At some point Jerry Lee took over the piano stool for Carl remembers Elvis saying, "The wrong man's been sitting here at the piano". To which Jerry Lee riposted, "Well, I been wanting to tell you that. Scoot over". But that must have happened later. Exactly what happened later is still a closed book. but let us be thankful for this brief moment of history being made, now after all these years, available to us. Sam was right, all these people never would all get together in a studio again".

With acknowledgements to Peter Guralnick - "Million Dollar Memories", New Kommotion no 25, and Nick Tosches "The Million Dollar Quartet Marked Down", Goldmine No. 56.

Adam Komorowski, editor New Kommotion

SOME MINOR RECOLLECTIONS ABOUT THE SESSION OF
THE PRODUCTION PEOPLE BEHIND THIS DOOR

Jack Clement he says, ''Well, first of all Carl Perkins was cutting a session, Sam was engineering it and I am sitting in the control room and Jerry Lee had been in town for a few weeks and then I was using him on session, and I had convinced Sam and Carl to hire Jerry Lee to play the piano and that is the reason Jerry Lee was there. He was hired to do piano. The thing we did that day that was memorable was "Matchbox''. Johnny Cash was there because Carl had invited him and they were good buddies.

The session was about to end and Elvis walked in with a small entourage and of course everything just sort of stopped. Sam went next door to Dell Taylor’s Restaurant''. ''They were talking and pretty soon started jamming on some old gospel tunes, and the mikes were still out there so I turned on the volume because I was still in the control room. I was thinking that I would be remiss not to record some of this so I put on a tape and walked out into the studio and moved a couple of the mikes around where the people were jamming and stuff and let it roll.

Every time the tape would end I would put another one on. So I think that there was about a total of about one and a half hours of it recorded that day. Nobody thought much about those tapes and they just set there in the control room and now it has found it’s way onto a record. I think they are going to prerelease it'', said Clement.

Carl Perkins recalled, "I had hired Jerry Lee Lewis to play piano, he got $15 for playing on ''Matchbox'' and ''Your True Love''. Johnny Cash was there 'cause we'd often sit in on each others' sessions. Then Elvis came in just after we finished recording those songs and my session fell apart. We were all glad to see Elvis because by that time he was the biggest thing in the country. He'd just been out to Las Vegas and he was tellin' us all about how exciting it was and everything, and we just start singing old spirituals, gospel songs and things we all knew. We all loved to sing those gospel songs. We had no idea it was being recorded. I went back to the studio the next day and Sam Phillips played some of it to me but I had no idea there was so much of it. It sounds a lot better than I thought it would. Looking back on it now, it was probably one of the highlights of my time at Sun Records".

More Johnny Cash recollections, "That particular session was a Carl Perkins recording session, and when I went in Elvis Presley had just arrived and the session practically ended when Elvis walked in. He sat down at the piano and then Jerry Lee Lewis came in later. Elvis played the piano.. and the microphone was one of those old RCA Victor microphones way down to Elvis' left. I was down at the other end of the piano, that's the reason you don't hear me much, but we sang Bill Monroe songs and a little bit of everything, mainly gospel. It was a big time, it took about two hours of Carl Perkins' recording session and we didn't know at the time it was being recorded. I didn't leave,I was there for the whole thing. I was singing the high part, the tenor part, I was singing Bill Monroe's part''!

From Johnny Cash's 1997 biography where Johnny Cash describes, "I was there. I was the first to arrive and the last to leave. . Contrary to what has been written my voice is on the tape. It's not obvious, because I was farthest away from the mike and I was singing a lot higher than I usually did in order to stay in key with Elvis, but I guarantee you, I'm there".

And in the book 'Johnny Cash The Life of an American Icon' by Stephen Miller Jack Clement said, "Elvis was cruising Memphis in his Cadillac with then girlfriend Marilyn Evans when he saw that something was on at Sun and decided to drop in. An informal jam session started up, and Sam Phillips, wise to the commercial possibilities of such a gathering, called up a reporter from the Memphis newspaper the Press-Scimitar and told him to get along quickly. He also phoned Johnny who was now the biggest star at Sun and he and Vivian called by shortly after woods.

In no time at all. Elvis was at the piano with Carl, Jerry Lee and Johnny grouped around him. Some reports that Johnny only stayed for a short time and then left, possibly to do some Christmas shopping, though Johnny himself doesn’t accept this for a minute. He reckons he was there pretty much for the duration and that he took part in a lot of the songs, more than the eight to ten he is sometimes credited with. He recalls the gathering singing hymns and folksy gospel type things like ''The Old Rugged Cross'', ''Will The Circle Be Unbroken?'' and ''Blue Moon Of Kentucky'' on which he sang high tenor, and that the microphone was at the far end of the studio, and that's why he can't be heard clearly".

TAPES - BOOTLEGS - RELEASES

When the final goodbyes had been said and everybody had left the studio on December 4, 1956, it was, for Jack Clement, the end of another day's work, albeit quite a special one. He put the tapes on the session in metal containers and then put them away in a cupboard. He told the participants that he would send them acetates of the session but has said in subsequent interviews that he never got round to it. However it seems likely that somebody, perhaps Sam Phillips, made arrangements for this to happen. Copies were later found in Elvis vault at Graceland, after his death, and Carl Perkins is thought to have possessed a copy as well.

There was a frisson of excitement in the press the day following the session as a result of Bob Johnson's article in the Memphis Press-Scimitar but after that it was business as usual; there were always more artists to record and aspiring hopefulls to consider. In the months that followed, Jack did listen to parts of the tapes occasionally, but says that Sam Phillips never showed any particular interest in them.

Sam grew less interested in the studio business as the years went by. Jack Clement said he became bored by it. In part at least this was because he no longer discovered artists who created that magical buzz that made him believe he could once more take the music world by storm.

From time to time he received offers for the business and the back catalogue but these initiatives came to nothing until 1969 when Sam Phillips agreed a sale to Shelby Singleton, a successful and shrewd music producer and record label executive. He had started up and run a number of labels and had a knack for identifying hit material from unlikely sources. He produced the ''Boll Weevil Song'' for Brook Benton in 1961 and ''Harper Valley PTA'', a massive worldwide hit for the then unknown Jeannie C. Riley, in 1968.

As part of the deal to purchase Sun, Singleton took delivery of a large quantity of boxes full of badly catalogued tapes running to around 10,000 hours. Singleton began trawling through this material; in the mid to late seventies he embarked on a major programme of re-releasing material by Sun artists including the big names of Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins. He agreed a licensing deal with the British Charly label which released material in Europe where the music from the Sun archives went over particularly well.

It was during his searches of the tapes that Shelby Singleton came across the Million Dollar Quartet session. If he had chosen not to go through all the countless Ampex tapes from Sun in this way, it is possible that these priceless tapes might simply have festered at the back of a cupboard, eventually becoming unusable, and thus lost to the world forever. It seems the tapes, or at least about 35 minutes worth of them, came to light in about 1978. Interest in items of this sort became intense after Elvis' death; there was a huge worldwide desire for recordings, information and artefacts relating to all aspects of his life and career.

When it became known that Singleton was planning to release extracts from the Million Dollar Quartet session, there were suggestions in some quarters that thousands of copies had already been pressed but this has never been substantiated, lawyers acting on behalf of Elvis' estate, Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins quickly swung into action in an attempt to prevent this happening. A protracted court battle followed. Elvis' label (RCA Victor) took the view that when the session was recorded in 1956, albeit in the most casual way, Elvis was under contract to them and nobody other than them had the right to releases the resultant material. Nobody was in any doubt that the main value of the tapes lay in the presence of Elvis. Apart from preventing release of the recordings, RCA was seeking an order that they were the rightful owners of all recordings which featured Elvis and that they and they alone were entitled to market them. Further, they sought an order that they had the exclusive right to use Elvis' name, image or biographical material in connection with the promotion and marketing of records and tapes which featured him.

Johnny Cash' and Carl Perkins' representatives stated in the course of the proceedings that the recordings were private and that there had never been any intention that they be issued publicity. Carl Perkins put forward the argument that since the ''practice'' session that day was his session then he had at least some claim on the material that was recorded, even though on a commonsense view it was clear that as soon as the Million Dollar Quartet session started the Carl Perkins session was over.

Johnny Cash's position was complicated by the fact that his voice was not audible on the tapes; however his name was associated with the session and photographs proved he was there at some point and so he joined the legal attempts to prevent release of the material. The point of all actions was not that the recordings should never be released, simply that they should not be released by and for the exclusive benefit of Shelby Singleton. Carl said that once they were released he would like at least some of the income to be used to help underprivileged children, a particular passion of his and a cause he felt sure Elvis would have approved of.

At some point, when exactly is not clear, some of the tapes were stolen and bootlegged and released in Europe. According some aficionados and collectors were extremely excited to be afforded the opportunity to listen to parts of the 1956 session for the first time in more than 20 years; to eavesdrop on a vital moment in history that up until then had been for most of them a matter of speculative conjecture rather than absolute fact.

Following a legal settlement of the court case and an appropriate licensing deal, an LP, ''The Million Dollar Quartet'', was released in Europe on Charly/Sun in 1981. It featured a section of the recordings with 17 tracks, mainly religious material, lasting about 35 minutes. Additional material came to light in the following years and double albums (in LP and CD formats) entitled ''The Complete Million Dollar Session'' were released on Charly/Sun in 1987. The lack of any evidence of Johnny Cash's voice on the recordings resulted in the word ''quartet'' being dropped for his particular release which contained 40 tracks, close to the entire amount of commercially usable material that has ever some to light. In 1990 RCA released the same recordings for distribution in America as ''Elvis Presley- The Million Dollar Quartet''.

In 2006, the fiftieth anniversary year of the session, Sony BMG released what is almost certainly the definitive version of the Million Dollar Quartet session. It included a further 12 minutes of previously unreleased recordings which were apparently found on a recording of the session in an archive in Graceland. Strenuous efforts were made to ensure that the tracks appeared in the order they were originally recorded so that the album is as true to the actual events of the day as humanly possible. That said, not everything that was found was used, the tapes included items like Carl's band tuning up for instance, of interest to real anoraks but not commercially justifiable.

The 2006 double album runs to 79 minutes and includes certain items omitted from previous releases, for instance nearly a minute of the song ''Jesus Walked That Lonesome Valley''. This is a real boon since it adds in a section of the song when Elvis and Jerry Lee work themselves into a religious lather when trading some of the lines. There have been other releases of the Million Dollar Quartet session including a two-disc picture vinyl edition on the Universe label in 2007.

TV News and Views
_________________

by Robert Johnson
Press-Scimitar Staff Writer

… His purpose in coming to Memphis is to investigate how this tremendous important work can be spread to other sections of the country. You can get an idea of what Streamlined Reading is about by watching Channel 1 0 at 8 tonight. It's not entertainment. It is teaching. And it is wonderful in concept and execution.

On Ted Mack Show
Billy Boren, 19, of Verona, Miss., won our Mid-South Fair's annual Youth Talent contest this fall, and Billy will be on the Ted Mack show on Channel 13 Sunday night. Billy is the younger brother of Charlie Boren, owner and manager of Radio WAMY in Amory, Miss.

Charlie was the first person ever to put Elvis Presley on the air. He used to have a station in Tupelo, and Elvis made his debut there singing in an amateur contest about 1945 or 1946. Didn't even have a guitar, then. If Charlie had a movie of the event, he could get rich. But this is about Billy Boren.

He idolizes Elvis, but he sings a different type of music. He formerly attended Mississippi Southern, the Memphis State rival down in Hattiesburg, but go so many requests to sing here and there he has left school. He was worked as an announcer for the past three years on Charlie's station.

Send in a Vote
Listen to out local boy Sunday night, and send in a vote for him, we're really getting to be a musical center – everything from Elvis to Phineas Newborn to Marguerite Piazza, even tho did disown us on the Herb Shriner show last night. (Said New Orleans is her home town, which it was but isn't any more, she's ours). I ever had a better time than yesterday afternoon when I dropped Sam Phillips' Sun Record bedlam on Union at Marshall. It was what you might call a barrell-house of fun. Carl Perkins was in a recording session... and he has one that is going to hit as hard as ''Blue Suede Shoes''. We're trying to arrange an advance audition for you Memphis fans before the song is released in January, Johnny cash dropped in. Jerry Lee Lewis was there, too, and then Elvis stopped by.

Elvis headed for the piano and started to Fats Domino it on ''Blueberry Hill''. The joint was really rocking before they got thru. Elvis is high on Jerry Lee Lewis. ''That boy can go'', he said. ''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''.

Elvis debunked the newest rumor. ''No I haven't bought 200 acres at Collierville'', he said. ''How do those stories get started''?

He talked earnestly about the Toledo incident. ''I talked to that fellow for at least 15 minutes, trying to be nice to him and keep him from starting anything, but finally it just got out of hand''. I never saw the boy more likeable than he was just fooling around with these other fellows who have the same interests he does.

If Sam Phillips had been on his toes, he'd have turned the recorder on when that very unrehearsed but talented bunch got to cutting up on ''Blueberry Hill'' and a lot of other songs. That quartet could sell a million.

This article was originally published in the Memphis Press-Scimitar on December 5, 1956.

DECEMBER 1956

After the Christmas break, Elvis Presley went out to Hollywood to cut some sessions for RCA. In January 1957 he recorded four of the songs from the December jam session, ''Blueberry Hill'' (reported by Johnson as having been sung, but as yet undiscovered on tape), ''Peace In The Valley'', ''Is It So Strange'', and ''That's When Your Heartaches Begin'' (one of the first songs he had recorded for Sam Phillips almost three years earlier). In February he recorded ''When It Rains It Really Pours''.

Toward the end of his life, in an effort to get Elvis Presley to record something - anything - RCA brought truckloads of recording equipment into Graceland. Twenty years earlier, though, Presley had needed no encouragement to pick and sing all night. ''That's why I hate to get started in these jam sessions'', he says on the tapes, ''I'm always the last one to leave''. The surviving tapes from the ''Million Dollar Quartet'' sessions (as it was dubbed by Robert Johnson in his feature the following day) hold some of Presley's least-guarded moments on record. The tapes also say more about the origins of rock and roll than a thousand treatises. Presley is loose, effortlessly in command, unself-consciously blending a host of musical disciplines in what amounts to a primer on the creation of rock and roll.

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

TV show recordings on the local ABC affiliate in Odessa, Texas, where Roy Orbison & The Teen Kings played guest to visiting rock and roll pioneers like Elvis Presley and Carl Perkins.

16 performances were recorded in 1956 at KOSA-TV and capture the Teen Kings plowing through the rock and roll hits of the day, high-energy, fiery versions of "Blue Suede Shoes'', "All By Myself'', "Brown Eyed Handsome Man'', "Lawdy Miss Clawdy'', "Rip It Up" and an absolutely savage rendition of "Bo Diddley", as well as live takes of their "Ooby Dooby'', "Go! Go! Go!" and "Rockhouse''.

Orbison's cleanly picked guitar work (and yes, he was a great rockabilly guitarist) is highlighted on the instrumentals "Racker Tacker'', "Jam'', "TK Blues" and "St. Louis Blues'', while Roy duets with Morrow's electric mandolin on "Pretend," producing a dual tone so empathetic it's hard to tell where one instrument starts and other begins. Billy Pat Ellis (co-writer of "Go! Go! Go!") may just have been the greatest rockabilly drummer of all time, and Jack Kennelly's whoops and slappin' bass brings the Bill Black, with Elvis quotient to the mix in a big way.

The last track on here is an answering-machine-quality interview with the surviving members of the band that goes on for almost 40 minutes, presumably added to beef up the running time of what would have been a 34-minute disc. While it's worth a one-time listen, most will want to program their way around it on future listenings. Aside from that small intrusion, this is a marvelous document of rockabilly's early heyday, and we should be thankful that such an early one exists at all.

Recordings Published for Historical Reasons

TV SHOW RECORDINGS FOR ROY ORBISON & THE TEEN KINGS

RECORDINGS MADE FOR THE LOCAL KOSA-TV, ODESSA, TEXAS, 1956
TV SESSION: UNKNOWN DATE FALL 1956
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - UNKNOWN

> OOBY DOOBY <
Composer: - B.M.I. - Wade Lee Moore-Allen Richard Dick Penner
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued (2:02)
Recorded: - Fall 1956
Released: - 1995
First appearance: - Rollercoaster Records (CD) 500/200rpm RCCD 3012-1 mono
ARE YOU READY? - THE TV SHOWS RECORDINGS
Reissued: - 2001 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16423 GL-3/1 mono
ROY ORBISON - ORBISON 1955 - 1966

> RACKER TACKER <
Composer: - Billy Pat Ellis-Jack Kennelly-James Morrow-Roy Orbison
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued (2:08)
Recorded: - Fall 1956
Released: - 1995
First appearance: - Rollercoaster Records (CD) 500/200rpm RCCD 3012-2 mono
ARE YOU READY? - THE TV SHOWS RECORDINGS
Reissued: - 2001 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16423-3/2 mono
ROY ORBISON - ORBISON 1955 - 1966

> BLUE SUEDE SHOES <
Composer: - Carl Perkins
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued (1:54)
Recorded: - Fall 1956
Released: - 1995
First appearance: - Rollercoaster Records (CD) 500/200rpm RCCD 3012-3 mono
ARE YOU READY? - THE TV SHOWS RECORDINGS
Reissued: - 2001 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16423-3/3 mono
ROY ORBISON - ORBISON 1955 - 1966

> BROWN-EYED HANDSOME MAN <
Composer: - Chuck Berry
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Arc Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued (2:17)
Recorded: - Fall 1956
Released: - 1995
First appearance: - Rollercoaster Records (CD) 500/200rpm RCCD 3012-4 mono
ARE YOU READY? - THE TV SHOWS RECORDINGS
Reissued: - 2001 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16423-3/4 mono
ROY ORBISON - ORBISON 1955 - 1966

> ST. LOUIS BLUES <
Composer: - W.C. Handy
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Public Domain
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued (1:55)
Recorded: - Fall 1956
Released: - 1995
First appearance: - Rollercoaster Records (CD) 500/200rpm RCCD 3012-5 mono
ARE YOU READY? - THE TV SHOWS RECORDINGS
Reissued: - 2001 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16423-3/5 mono
ROY ORBISON - ORBISON 1955 - 1966

> ALL BY MYSELF <
Composer: - Antoine Domino-Dave Bartholomew
Publisher: - B.M.I. - EMI Publishing
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued (1:57)
Recorded: - Fall 1956
Released: - 1995
First appearance: - Rollercoaster Records (CD) 500/200rpm RCCD 3012-6 mono
ARE YOU READY? - THE TV SHOWS RECORDINGS
Reissued: - 2001 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16423-3/6 mono
ROY ORBISON - ORBISON 1955 - 1966

> LAWDY MISS CLAWDY <
Composer: - Lloyd Price-Horage Logan
Publisher: - B.M.I. - ATV Music Publishing
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued (2:18)
Recorded: - Fall 1956
Released: - 1995
First appearance: - Rollercoaster Records (CD) 500/200rpm RCCD 3012-7 mono
ARE YOU READY? - THE TV SHOWS RECORDINGS
Reissued: - 2001 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16423-3/7 mono
ROY ORBISON - ORBISON 1955 - 1966

> JAM <
Composer: - Billy Pat Ellis-Jack Kennelly-James Morrow-Roy Orbison
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued (2:00)
Recorded: - Fall 1956
Released: - 1995
First appearance: - Rollercoaster Records (CD) 500/200rpm RCCD 3012-8 mono
ARE YOU READY? - THE TV SHOWS RECORDINGS
Reissued: - 2001 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16423-3/8 mono
ROY ORBISON - ORBISON 1955 - 1966

> ROCK HOUSE <
Composer: - Harold Jenkins-Roy Orbison
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued (1:53)
Recorded: - Fall 1956
Released: - 1995
First appearance: - Rollercoaster Records (CD) 500/200rpm RCCD 3012-9 mono
ARE YOU READY? - THE TV SHOWS RECORDINGS
Reissued: - 2001 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16423-3/9 mono
ROY ORBISON - ORBISON 1955 - 1966

> SINGING THE BLUES <
Composer: - Melvin Endsley
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Acuff-Rose World Music
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued (2:07)
Recorded: - Fall 1956
Released: - 1995
First appearance: - Rollercaoster Records (CD) 500/200rpm RCCD 3012-10 mono
ARE YOU READY? - THE TV SHOWS RECORDINGS
Reissued: - 2001 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16423-3/10 mono
ROY ORBISON - ORBISON 1955 - 1966

> PRETEND <
Composer: - Lew Douglas-Cliff Parman-Frank Lavere
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued (2:12)
Recorded: - Fall 1956
Released: - 1995
First appearance: - Rollercoaster Records (CD) 500/200rpm RCCD 3012-11 mono
ARE YOU READY? - THE TV SHOWS RECORDINGS
Reissued: - 2001 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16423-3/11 mono
ROY ORBISON - ORBISON 1955 - 1966

> RIP IT UP <
Composer: - Robert Blackwell-John Marascalco
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Venice Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued (3:04)
Recorded: - Fall 1956
Released: - 1995
First appearance: - Rollercoaster Records (CD) 500/200rpm RCCD 3012-12 mono
ARE YOU READY? - THE TV SHOWS RECORDINGS
Reissued: - 2001 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16423-3/12 mono
ROY ORBISON - ORBISON 1955 - 1966

> TRYIN'TO GET TO YOU <
Composer: - Charles Singleton-Rose Marie McCoy
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Motion Music Corporation
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued (2:22)
Recorded: - Fall 1956
Released: - 1995
First appearance: - Rollercoaster Records (CD) 500/200rpm RCCD 3012-13 mono
ARE YOU READY? - THE TV SHOWS RECORDINGS
Reissued: - 2001 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16423-3/13 mono
ROY ORBISON - ORBISON 1955 - 1966

> TK BLUES <
Composer: - Villy Pat Ellis-Jack Kennelly-James Morrow-Roy Orbison
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued (2:20)
Recorded: - Fall 1956
Released: - 1995
First appearance: - Rollercoaster (CD) 500/200rpm RCCD 3012-14 mono
ARE YOU READY? - THE TV SHOWS RECORDINGS
Reissued: - 2001 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16423-3/14 mono
ROY ORBISON - ORBISON 1955 - 1966

> GO! GO! GO! <
Composer: - Roy Orbison-Billy Pat Ellis
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued (1:32)
Recorded: - Fall 1956
Released: - 1995
First appearance: - Rollercoaster Records (CD) 500/200rpm RCCD 3012-15 mono
ARE YOU READY? - THE TV SHOWS RECORDINGS
Reissued: - 2001 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16423-3/15 mono
ROY ORBISON - ORBISON 1955 - 1966

> BO DIDDLEY <
Composer: - Ellas McDaniels
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Arc Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued (2:03)
Recorded: - Fall 1956
Released: - 1995
First appearance: - Rollercoaster Records (CD) 500/200rpm RCCD 3012-16 mono
ARE YOU READY? - THE TV SHOWS RECORDINGS
Reissued: - 2001 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16423-3/16 mono
ROY ORBISON - ORBISON 1955 - 1966

> INTERVIEW (DO YOU REMEMBER) <
James Morrow, Jack Kennelly, Billy Pat Ellis talk about the Teen Kings
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued (38:34)
Recorded: - Unknown
Released: - 1995
First appearance: - Rollercoaster Records (CD) 500/200rpm RCCD 3012-17 mono
ARE YOU READY? - THE TV SHOWS RECORDINGS
Reissued: - 2001 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16423-3/17 mono
ROY ORBISON - ORBISON 1955 - 1966

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Roy Orbison - Vocal and Guitar
Johnny ''Peanuts''Wilson - Guitar
James Morrow - Electric Mandolin
Jack Kennelly - Bass
Billy Pat Ellis – Drums

> TUTTI FRUTTI <
Composer: - Richard Penniman- Dorothy LaBostric
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Venice Music
Matrix number: None - Previously Unissued (2:33)
Recorded: - Unknown Date 1956 - TV Broadcast
Released: 2021

For Biography of Roy Orbison ee: > The Sun Biographies <

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

> Page Up <

> Continued: 1956 Sessions 12 (2) < 

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©