Instead of roaring around L.A. this month, there’s a little spleen-venting your normally easy-going scribe feels compelled to do about Elvis’ passing and what’s happened since.
Granted (albeit grudgingly) it’s almost inevitable that anyone who becomes a legend in their own time is a prime candidate for posthumus exploitation of every sort. But nothing in recent years-aside from that crazy Asian war and Ford’s presidential pardon-has jacked me out of shape more than the crassly commercial sickness that continues to sweep through the record and publishing industries like some plague carried by parasitic vultures. “Last pictures” of Elvis. Flacks, flunkies, and “fans” relating their “intimate kr)owledge” of the man those same people drove to withdrawal from the rest of the world. They know who they are. They’re sick, sick, SICK, and here’s hoping every flake that has consciously gone out of its way to cap on Elvis’ death for personal gain chokes on the green before they can take it to the bank.
That said, my intention this month is to offer a breather from that kind of jive. There are a few things in the works that are valid parts of the Elvis legend, and therefore shouldn’t be lumped with stuff that exploits his memory.
For example, Alan’s Tribute To flvis really is a tribute, done out of an all-consuming respect for the man he quite credibly emulates onstage. Alan started touring while Elvis was still active and has gotten the thumbs-up from dyed-in-the-wool Elvis fans and jaded critics alike all over the planet. So, it’s not surprising Alan’s in greater demand now than he was before Elvis split. Because he’s one of the few who can credibly trace Elvis’ career, he deserves that attention much more than the vast majority of jerks now embarking on “Tributes to Elvis.” If you’re in Las Vegas, he’s headlining at the Tropicana through the end of October-he was held over for seven weeks, and while there he played the MD Telethon before handing Jerry Lewis a check for S10,000 in Elvis’ memory ( which hardly makes him a parasite). After Vegas, Alan resumes his tour of the States, and we’re expecting to hear details soon on tours of Europe, the Orient and elsewhere.
Not long before Elvis split, Carl Perkins signed a production/label deal with Jet/ UA, and Felton Jarvis (Elvis’ producer) started gearing up for Perkins’ first Jet/UA project, due to begin this month in Nashville. The album’s title will be The History of Rock and Roll, with focus, of course, on Sun Records’ golden days. There are but a handful of artists who could use that title on an album and avoid hopeless audacity, and even without hearing any tracks I daresay Perkins is one of those few.
Carl Perkins wrote “Blue Suede Shoes” and recorded it for Sam Phillips at Sun in Memphis late in ’55 or early ’56, and the tune became the first to nail down number one positions on pop_ country and R&B charts. But Perkins’ fast-rising career was severely nipped by an . inopportune car accident that killed his brother Jay and laid Carl up for nearly a year. Elvis, who’d already had some success with his Sun version of Arthur Crudup’s, “That’s All Right, Mama,” recorded “Blue Suede Shoes” and stood the world on its ear on his first national television broadcast as