Heartbreak Hotel.

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I don’t think there isn’t one person on the planet who hasn’t heard of Elvis, the undisputed King of Rock N Roll.

This is the story of his first ever number 1 hit “Heartbreak Hotel”. ‘Why do a story on just one song?’ I hear you say. The answer is easy, there are so many aspects to this song.

For starters, as already mentioned it would be Elvis’s first ever number 1 hit. It was the 2nd song he recorded with RCA Victor. Prior to his recording of Ray Charles’s “I got a woman” ,Elvis had been with Sun records.

“Heartbreak Hotel” was released as a single on January 27.1956.

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It is also the song that inspired John Lennon,Elton John,George Harrison,Keith Richards and Robert Plant to become musicians, just imagine this song is responsible for the Beatles,Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin.

Something that is often overlooked or taken for granted is the actual structure of the song. It starts of with only Elvis’s vocals. Typically a song would start with the instruments first and then the vocals come in, but in Heartbreak Hotel it is turned around. There are very few songs structured that way and I think it may have been the first time or one of the first times this happened in popular music.

Then there is the back story to the song, which remains a bit of a mystery.The song was written in 1955, by Mae Boren Axton, a high school teacher who was also involved in musical promotions, and Jacksonville based singer–songwriter Tommy Durden.

The lyrics were inspired by an article in ‘The Miami Herald’ about a hotel guest who jumped out of a window and committed suicide and left the note, “I walk a lonely street”.

However In 2016, a piece in Rolling Stone magazine suggested that the story originated from a report about a painter and petty criminal, Alvin Krolik, whose marriage had broken down and had written a partial autobiography including the line “This is the story of a person who walked a lonely street.”

 

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Krolik first made the news in 1953 in Chicago. One day in November  he walked into an Albany Park police department and confessed to his part in 10 robberies.

He said his victims could not identify him because he had used oil paints on his face.

He confessed he was driven to crime after his five-week marriage to Agnes Sampson ended in divorce.

He was given a lenient sentence because he had handed himself in and the Police thought he could be rehabilitated.

On August 25th,1955 , just prior to  Durden and Axton  found their inspiration for “Heartbreak Hotel,” which was written in September ,Krolik was about to make news again. On a Saturday night in El Paso, Texas, Krolik attempted  to rob a liquor store.

D.R. Pinney,  a former Texas patrolman.was the owner of the Busy Bee Liquor Store, shot Krolik 9 times. Krolik was not the first person Pinney had killed, he had killed robbers before.Maybe Krolik had  known about Pinney’s record on criminals that held up his store, making this perhaps  a suicide, similar to suicide by cop.

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Whatever event it was, the Krolik or the Miami Herald event, it adds a certain intrigue to the Rock N Roll classic”Heatbreak Hotel”

Ending the blog with the aforementioned song, enjoy.

 

Sources

Rolling Stone Magazine

YouTube

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The significance of August 16 in Music.

Elvis

August 16 is a date like any other date, except when it comes to music. Several events on this date have had a massive impact on the music industry. In fact in musical terms it just doesn’t get bigger than this .

August 16-1915 The birth of Al Hibbler

Al Hibbler

Nowadays the name Al Hibbler will mean very little to most.But if I will mention the song ‘Unchained Melody’ it will trigger a lot of memories to many, especially the pottery scene in the movie ‘Ghost’ the version of the song was by ‘the Righteous Brothers” and a great number of people may think theirs was the original but it was Al Hibbler who brought the song to the number 1 spot of the charts for the first time in 1955.It was composed by by Alex North and lyrics by Hy Zaret.

In the late 1950s and 1960s, was involved in the  civil rights movement. He got arrested in 1959 in New Jersey and in 1963 in Alabama partaking in protest marches with .This didn’t make him very popular with major record labels notoriety and they did not  carry his work, but Frank Sinatra supported him and signed him to a contract with his label.

August 16-1938 the death of Robert Johnson

Robert Johnson

Robert Elroy Johnson is without a doubt the undisputed King of the blues. Legend has it that he made a deal with the devil for his talents.

As a young man living on a plantation in rural Mississippi, he had a burning desire to become the greatest blues musician. He was instructed to take his guitar to a crossroad near Dockery Plantation at midnight. There he was met by allegedly the devil who took the guitar and tuned it. The devil played a few songs and then returned the guitar to Johnson, giving him virtuosity of the instrument.All Robert had to give in exchange was his soul.

That soul was taken on August 16,1938 when he was aged 27, which also makes one of the first musicians to make it to the list of the the club of 27, the cause of his death has never really been solved. Popular believe is that he was poisoned during an altercation in a bar with  the jealous husband of a woman with whom he had flirted. It is said he was given a given a poisoned bottle of Whiskey after another bottle was knocked  out of his hand.

He only recorded 29 songs but there is yet another legend about a 30th song never recorded. This ‘missing’ song is the plot line of the 1986 movie ‘Crossroads’ in all honesty the movie isn’t great but the music is fantastic, especially the guitar duel between Ry Cooder and Steve Vai is something else.

August 16-1958 the Birth of Madonna

Madonna

Love her or loathe her there is no denying Madonna’s place in musical History, she is without a doubt the most influential female artist in decades.

Born Madonna Louise Ciccone on August 16, 1958 she became the leading female singer in the 80’s,90’s, and early 21st century. Although her acting and directing careers both turned out to be fiasco’s, when it comes to music there is no other like her. Staring off with poppy songs like ‘Borderline’ or ‘Like a Virgin’ she constantly reinvented herself and did not shy away from controversies.

She herself was influenced by 2 other strong female performers,Debbie Harry and Chrissie Hynde.

August 16-1962  the sacking of the Beatle, Pete Best.

Pete Best

The Beatles have been and still are one of the most influential bands ever, Their fame did not diminish after they split up. Kids nowadays still know them, and if you were to ask ,anyone to name the 4 band members people would say”John Lennon,Paul McCartney,George Harrison and Ringo Starr” however as the picture above indicates this wasn’t the original line up.

The original drummer was Pete Best but he was replaced by Ringo Starr on August 16,1962. There was no official reason given why he was sacked but according to Brian Epstein, the Beatles’ manager,Lennon, McCartney and Harrison thought that Best was “too conventional to be a Beatle” and added that “though he was friendly with John, he was not liked by George and Paul”

Originally the Beatles had been a 5 piece band, the original bass player Stuart Sutcliffe died in 1961, in Hamburg.

August 16-1977 the death of the King of Rock N Roll,Elvis.

Elvis the King

I am not going to say too much about the King, because I don’t think there is anybody on the planet who hasn’t heard of them.

This is me personal memory of the day he died on August 16,1977.

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I came home from school that day and my mother sat at the kitchen table, and she asked me “Guess who died today?” I replied “I don’t know, just tell me” She said ‘Elvis’. I was 9 at the time and pretended not to care. But I went up to my room and cried my eyes out, it felt I had just lost my best friend.

Leaving you with one of my favourite Elvis songs.

 

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The time Michael Jackson became Elvis’s son in law.

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This is something that had slipped my mind but on this day in 1994, Michael Jackson married Lisa-Marie Presley.

They first met nearly 2 decades before they got married.He was introduced to her when he was 16 ans she was 6.at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino in Paradise, Nevada by her Elvis.

Elvis head brought her there to see the Jackson 5 perform.

Jackson 5

The pair picked up their friendship many years later in 1992,at a private dinner held at the home of their mutual friend the artist Brett-Livingstone Strong.  and two years after that, the ruler of Neverland and the heiress of Graceland were to be wed.

Although no one knew at the time. They got married in secret in n a secluded part of the Dominican Republic. The news about the wedding only leaked 11 weeks later.

MJ and LM

Lisa Marie had been a great support to Michael Jackson,when he became the subject of child sexual abuse accusations in 1993.

Michael Jackson had proposed to Lisa Marie while she was still married to actor Danny Keough. Jackson and Presley wed on May 26, 1994, at a ceremony in the Dominican Republic.Presley had divorced Keough only 20 days before.

The whole ceremony only lasted for 15 minutes and was held by was held by Judge Hugo Francisco Alvarez Perez at his home.

The marriage only lasted for 2 years. They got divorced on August 20 1996.

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Source

Bride

 

 

 

Graceland-Memphis Tennessee

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Graceland is of course forever associated with the King of Rock N Roll, however it wasn’t always the property of Elvis.

Graceland Farms was originally owned by Stephen C. Toof, founder of S.C. Toof & Co., the oldest commercial printing firm in Memphis.

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He had previously been the press room foreman of the Memphis newspaper, the Memphis Daily Appeal. The “grounds” (before the mansion home was built in 1939) was named after Toof’s daughter, Grace. She inherited the grounds from her father in 1894. After her death, the property was passed down to her niece Ruth Moore, a Memphis socialite, who together with her husband, Thomas Moore, built a 10,266 square feet (953.7 m2) Colonial Revival style mansion in 1939.

 

00160b90bf08e9eb8c75a3fb27a11a2fWith a $1,000 cash deposit against a sale price of $102,500, Elvis Presley agreed to purchase the home called Graceland on March 19, 1957.

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It has now become a shrine for many Elvis fans(including me although I haven’t been yet).

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Source

Graceland

The “wow” signal:A scientific event hardly anyone knows about

Wow_signal

The Wow! signal, an intriguing radio signal detected on Aug. 15, 1977 that some thought was a call from extraterrestrials. The 72-second transmission was picked up by the Big Ear radio observatory at Ohio State University, coming from the direction of the constellation Sagittarius.

Because the radio signal was 30 times more powerful than the average radiation from deep space, a volunteer astronomer named Jerry Ehman who was watching the telescope data scrawled “Wow!” on a computer printout, leading to the signal’s moniker. No evidence ever arrived actually linking the transmission to an alien civilization, and no repeat message from the same direction has ever been detected, and the Wow! Signal remains a mystery.

Dr Ehman, who had been working on a project for the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) Institute, noticed the surprisingly strong signal in a column of alphanumerical data.

With a red pen he scrawled the word ‘Wow!’ in the margin and circled the sequence.

Astronomers ruled out that the signal came from Earth and could find nothing in our solar system to have produced it.

Although it is quite a scientific event is has stayed below the radar for one reason. The day after the ‘wow signal, on August 16 1977, Elvis Presley died.

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Seti

 

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Sources

Space.com

The Guardian

 

Do you gaze at your bald head and wish you had hair? Elvis Laughing.

Elvis-Cant-Stop-Laughing-While-Singing-Are-You-Lonesome-Tonight-Featured

Ever since I was a kid I have been a fan of Elvis-The King of Rock N Roll. Not  only was he  a great singer and performer he had also a great sense of humour.

Elvis would often ad lib lyrics during live concerts, as he did during a Las Vegas gig in April 1969. While he was doing a version of “Are you lonesome tonight” he changed one line from “Do you gaze at your doorstep and picture me there?”  to “Do you gaze at your bald head and wish you had hair?”

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As he sang it he started giggling not realizing what was about to happen next. A man in the front row happens to remove his wig and begins swaying to the music. At that point Elvis loses it and can’t stop laughing.

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Elvis- the younger years

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Elvis, the younger years, not only for him but also for me. I was 9 when Elvis died and to me it felt like losing a close family member, His music meant a lot to me in my younger years and even to this day.

Born on January 8,1935 Elvis Aaron Presley was born as part of a twin. Unfortunately his twin brother Jessie Garon Presley did not survive the birth.

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Elvis was haunted by this his entire life.  His mother Gladys used to say Elvis had the energy of 2 people.

For Elvis Presley, childhood and adolescence were difficult and often involved working to help the family with finances. He picked up music early from local gospel groups and picked up the guitar when he was only 11 years old.

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Presley was born on January 8, 1935 in Tupelo, Mississippi, to Gladys Love (née Smith; 1912–1958) and Vernon Elvis Presley (1916–1979),[7] in the two-room shotgun house built by Vernon’s father in preparation for the child’s birth. Jesse Garon Presley, his identical twin brother, was delivered stillborn 35 minutes before his own birth.[8] Jesse was buried in an unmarked grave at Priceville Cemetery in Tupelo

Elvis grewup within a close-knit, working class family, consisting of his parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins, who all live near one another in Tupelo. There is little money, but Vernon and Gladys do their best to provide for their son, who is the center of their lives.

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They move from one house to another in Tupelo. Elvis attends the Assembly of God Church with his family, and the music and preaching register deeplywith Elvis Presley. Childhood influences include black blues-men in the neighborhood and country music radio programs enjoyed by his family.

In September 1941, Presley entered first grade at East Tupelo Consolidated, where his instructors regarded him as “average”.He was encouraged to enter a singing contest after impressing his schoolteacher with a rendition of Red Foley’s country song “Old Shep” during morning prayers. The contest, held at the Mississippi-Alabama Fair and Dairy Show on October 3, 1945, was his first public performance. Ten-year-old Presley was dressed as a cowboy; he stood on a chair to reach the microphone and sang “Old Shep”. He recalled placing fifth.

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A few months later, Presley received his first guitar for his birthday; he had hoped for something else—by different accounts, either a bicycle or a rifle. Over the following year, he received basic guitar lessons from two of his uncles and the new pastor at the family’s church. Presley recalled, “I took the guitar, and I watched people, and I learned to play a little bit. But I would never sing in public. I was very shy about it.”

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In November 1948, the family moved to Memphis, Tennessee. After residing for nearly a year in rooming houses, they were granted a two-bedroom apartment in the public housing complex known as the Lauderdale Courts.Enrolled at L. C. Humes High School, Presley received only a C in music in eighth grade.

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When his music teacher informed him that he did not have an aptitude for singing, he brought in his guitar the next day and sang a recent hit, “Keep Them Cold Icy Fingers Off Me”, in an effort to prove otherwise. A classmate later recalled that the teacher “agreed that Elvis was right when he said that she didn’t appreciate his kind of singing.” He was usually too shy to perform openly, and was occasionally bullied by classmates who viewed him as a “mama’s boy”. In 1950, he regularly began practicing guitar under the tutelage of Jesse Lee Denson, a neighbor two-and-a-half years his senior. They and three other boys—including two future rockabilly pioneers, brothers Dorsey and Johnny Burnette—formed a loose musical collective that played frequently around the Courts.

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That September, he began ushering at Loew’s State Theater.Other jobs followed, including Precision Tool, Loew’s again, and MARL Metal Products.

Elvis works at Parker Machinists Shop right after graduation. That summer, he drops by The Memphis Recording Service, home of the Sun label, and makes a demo acetate of “My Happiness” and “That’s When Your Heartaches Begin” for a cost of about $4.00 as a birthday present for his mother, Gladys. Sam Phillips records Elvis singing “My Happiness” and “That’s When Your Heartaches Begin,” and afterwards tells his assistant Marion Keisker something that made her write down in her notes, “Good ballad singer. Hold.”

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The rest is history.

Finishing with one of my favourite Elvis songs.

Happy Birthday King of Rock N Roll

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Elvis in the Army

Elvis-Presley-In-The-Army

On this day 60 years ago in 1957, while spending the Christmas holidays at Graceland, his newly purchased Tennessee mansion, rock-and-roll star Elvis Presley receives his draft notice for the United States Army.

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Presley was originally scheduled to be inducted on January 20, 1958. However, due to commitments at Paramount and the filming schedule of his latest film, King Creole, Presley had to personally write to the Memphis Draft Board to request a deferment. He explained to them that Paramount had already spent up to $350,000 on pre-production of the film, and that many jobs were dependent on him being able to complete filming, which was due to begin on January 13. They granted him an extension until the middle of March. When news of the extension broke, angry letters were sent to the Memphis Draft Board complaining about the “special treatment” that Presley was receiving. According to Milton Bowers, head of the draft board and angered by the public outcry, Presley “would have automatically gotten the extension [anyway] if he hadn’t been Elvis Presley the superstar”

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After six months of basic training–including an emergency leave to see his beloved mother, Gladys, before she died in August 1958–Presley sailed to Europe on the USS General Randall. For the next 18 months, he served in Company D, 32nd Tank Battalion, 3rd Armor Corps in Friedberg, Germany, where he attained the rank of sergeant.

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Elvis Presley-Special Drugs Enforcement Federal Agent

elvis-badge

What do you need to do to become a special agent for the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous

Well actually not that much. All you do is you book a flight to DC, on board you write a letter to the President of the USA.

Once you land you take a limo to the White House and drop the letters off.

letter

Well that’s what Elvis did and it worked out for him.

Elvis was traveling with some guns and his collection of police badges, and he decided that what he really wanted was a badge from the federal Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs back in Washington. “The narc badge represented some kind of ultimate power to him,” Priscilla Presley would write in her memoir, Elvis and Me. “With the federal narcotics badge, he believed he could legally enter any country both wearing guns and carrying any drugs he wished.

It all started a few days before the photo was taken. In December of 1970, Elvis Presley spent $100,000 on Christmas presents — 32 handguns and 10 Mercedes-Benzes. His wife, Priscilla, and his father both reprimanded the king, telling him that maybe $100,000 was a little much to spend all at once.

So, naturally, Elvis needed to get some space from all that negativity and did what anyone would do. He took his presents and hopped on the next available flight out of Memphis, and headed to Washington D.C. Then, he got bored and hopped on another flight to Los Angeles.

After just one day in Los Angeles, Elvis asked Schilling to fly with him back to the capital. “He didn’t say why,” Schilling recalls, “but I thought the badge might be part of the reason.”

On the red-eye to Washington, Elvis scribbled a letter to President Nixon. “Sir, I can and will be of any service that I can to help the country out,” he wrote. All he wanted in return was a federal agent’s badge. “I would love to meet you,” he added, informing Nixon that he’d be staying at the Washington Hotel under the alias Jon Burrows. “I will be here for as long as it takes to get the credentials of a federal agent.”

After they landed, Elvis and Schilling took a limo to the White House, and Elvis dropped off his letter at an entrance gate at about 6:30 a.m. Once they checked in at their hotel, Elvis left for the offices of the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs. He got a meeting with a deputy director, but not approval for a bureau badge.

Meanwhile, his letter was delivered to Nixon aide Egil “Bud” Krogh, who happened to be an Elvis fan. Krogh loved the idea of a Nixon-Presley summit and persuaded his bosses, including White House Chief of Staff Bob Haldeman, to make it happen. Krogh called the Washington Hotel and set up a meeting through Schilling.

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Around noon, Elvis arrived at the White House with Schilling and bodyguard Sonny West, who’d just arrived from Memphis. Arrayed in a purple velvet suit with a huge gold belt buckle and amber sunglasses, Elvis came bearing a gift—a Colt .45 pistol mounted in a display case that Elvis had plucked off the wall of his Los Angeles mansion.

Which the Secret Service confiscated before Krogh escorted Elvis—without his entourage—to meet Nixon.

“When he first walked into the Oval Office, he seemed a little awe-struck,” Krogh recalls, “but he quickly warmed to the situation.”

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While White House photographer Ollie Atkins snapped photographs, the president and the King shook hands. Then Elvis showed off his police badges.

Nixon’s famous taping system had not yet been installed, so the conversation wasn’t recorded. But Krogh took notes: “Presley indicated that he thought the Beatles had been a real force for anti-American spirit. The President then indicated that those who use drugs are also those in the vanguard of anti-American protest.”

“I’m on your side,” Elvis told Nixon, adding that he’d been studying the drug culture and Communist brainwashing. Then he asked the president for a badge from the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs.

“Can we get him a badge?” Nixon asked Krogh.

Krogh said he could, and Nixon ordered it done.

Elvis was ecstatic. “In a surprising, spontaneous gesture,” Krogh wrote, Elvis “put his left arm around the President and hugged him.”

Before leaving, Elvis asked Nixon to say hello to Schilling and West, and the two men were escorted into the Oval Office. Nixon playfully punched Schilling on the shoulder and gave both men White House cuff links.

“Mr. President, they have wives, too,” Elvis said. So Nixon gave them each a White House brooch.

After Krogh took him to lunch at the White House mess, Elvis received his gift—the narc badge.

At Elvis’ request, the meeting was kept secret. A year later, columnist Jack Anderson broke the story—“Presley Gets Narcotics Bureau Badge”—but few people seemed to care.

elvis-and-nixon

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Elvis Presley and Robert Johnson

Why did I use the names of these 2 artists as the title of this blog? For they had nothing in common.

Well that is not entirely true. Both were born in Mississippi and both died on the 16th of August, Elvis 40 years ago today and Robert Johnson 79 year ago today. Both were pioneers in their music genre.

Also they both shaped my musical taste. It is a simple fact that there will never be any stars of their magnitude again.

Elvis was and is the undisputed King of Rock N Roll.

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Whereas Robert Johnson was and is the undisputed King of the Blues.

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Both men were legends and met untimely deaths and both were victims of circumstance.

I will not go to deep into their lives because there is nothing more that I can add to their stories. Below are 2 blogs though I have done in the past.

https://dirkdeklein.net/2016/02/23/elvis-and-the-colonel/

https://dirkdeklein.net/2016/04/27/did-robert-johnson-sell-his-soul-to-the-devil/

Let’s celebrate their lives with some of their music.

 

RIP Elvis and Robert. Thank you for the music