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ELVIS PRESLEY :: Blog

Scotty Moore Papers and Elvis Presley at the Library and Archives

Tuesday, January 8: 4 p.m.
Posted by Jennie Thomas
Image of Elvis Presley, Scotty Moore, Bill Black and DJ Fontana from the Scotty Moore Papers

To celebrate what would have been Elvis Presley’s 78th birthday on January 8, 2013, the Library and Archives is highlighting some of its collections related to the undisputed King of Rock and Roll. These collections include books; magazines, journals, and fanzines; article clippings; handbills, album flats, and posters; photographs and slides; correspondence; record executive artist files; financial records; and commercial audio and video recordings. Of particular note among these is the Scotty Moore Papers.

Scotty Moore participated in the historic early sessions at Sun Records that arguably marked the birth of rock and roll. Moore led a group called the Starlite Wranglers before Sun founder Sam Phillips teamed him up with Elvis Presley – a relationship that would continue from 1954 to 1958. Moore’s early background was in jazz and country, and he put these influences to use by counterpointing Presley’s vocals with melodic guitar solos that helped launch the rockabilly revolution. In addition to working as an engineer and session musician, he played on many of Presley’s Nashville sessions at RCA’s Studio B. Moore, bassist Bill Black and drummer D.J. Fontana served as Presley’s band onstage and on record until March 1958, when ...


continue Categories: Hall of Fame, Inductee, Library and Archives

Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll: "That's All Right"

Monday, January 7: 5 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Elvis Presley's That's All Right is one of the Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll

Tuesday, January 8, 2013 would have been Elvis Presley's 78th birthday. Presley was among the first ever inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986, an honor befitting his standing as the undisputed King of Rock and Roll. Presely rose from humble beginnings to launch a musical revolution, helping guide the trajectory of the rock and roll genre for deacades. But is "That's All Right" where the legend of Elvis began? What's certain is that "That's All Right" was Elvis Presley's first commercially released recording. He had previously made two private recordings, whose four songs give absolutely no hint of what was to come. Neither did two additional songs Presley tried before "That's All Right" during a faithful July 5, 1954, recording session. That Presley was recording at all is a tribute to Sam Phillips. Phillips' Memphis Recording Service was where Presley had cut his private acetate records and where he would sometimes hang out, trying to find an opening in the music business. Phillips contacted Presley after receiving a song demo he thought might suit the shy teenager. It didn't, but Phillips persevered. He called for the July 5 ...


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Video: Elvis Presley Exhibit at the Rock Hall

Monday, January 7: 4 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Elvis Presley's "King of Spades" jumpsuit is among the items in the Rock Hall's Elvis exhibit

In 1974, Elvis Presley returned to his adopted hometown and the city that gave him his start: Memphis, Tennessee. More than two decades after his first recordings at Sam Phillips' Memphis Recording Service, Presley performed five sold-out shows, the fifth and last of which was recorded and released as Elvis Recorded Live on Stage in Memphis by RCA. In this video, curatorial director Howard Kramer shares the stories behind some of the artifacts in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum's Elvis Presley exhibit in Cleveland, Ohio, including the "King of Spades" jumpsuit Presley wore and the handwritten setlist he penned for that memorable performance.

To learn more, visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum on Tuesday, January 8, 2013 – what would've been Elvis Presley's 78th birthday – when curatorial director Howard Kramer will lead a special "Gallery Talk," sharing stories behind some of the rare Presley artifacts on exhibit at the Museum. Click here for more info!


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Rock and Roll vs. Censorship

Thursday, August 23: 9 a.m.
The original version of the Beatles' Yesterday and Today was withdrawn from stores in 1966

Given the recent fervor over Russian feminist punk rock collective Pussy Riot's arrest and subsequent sentencing and incarceration after staging a performance art protest in a Russian Orthodox cathedral, the Rock Hall started thinking about how censorship has always been a hot button issue in rock and roll. What’s happening in Russia now is not terribly far removed from repressive reactions to the emergence of rock and roll in the 1950s, and reactions to various other manifestations of the artform throughout its history.

Pussy Riot member Yekaterina Samutsevich said this in her closing statement at the group’s trial: “On the one hand, we expect a guilty verdict. Compared to the judicial machine, we are nobodies, and we have lost. On the other hand, we have won. The whole world now sees that the criminal case against us has been fabricated. The system cannot conceal the repressive nature of this trial.”

The National Coalition Against Censorship (with thanks to Eric Nuzum) notes these milestones in the infamous history of music censorship. Many of these milestones are covered in the Museum’s Don’t Knock the Rock exhibit, a video-driven exhibit about the protests against rock and roll ...


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Interview with Little Milton Campbell

Wednesday, August 15: 3:05 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Little Milton Campbell talks about Elvis Presley in a rare 2005 interview

"Back then, people weren't saying this is a new thing, rock and roll," said blues guitarist and vocalist Little Milton Campbell in Memphis, Tennessee, during a March 2005 interview with members of the Rock Hall's education staff. "I think what brought that to focus was the fact that Elvis [Presley] did it. He was the only white boy at that time that had the guts to do what he felt, the movements. A lot of folks don't realize that this man caused pure hell doing the kind of music that he was doing." Campbell, who was first noticed by talent scout Ike Turner as a teen and launched his recording career under the direction of Sam Phillips at Sun Records in the early 1950s, had a profound understanding of the blues and unique perspective and insights on the evolution of rock and roll. At the time of the interview, the Rock Hall's education department had started recording interviews with artists and seminal figures in the history of rock and roll as part of an oral histories project to help develop the Museum's distance learning program in order to bring rock and roll education to ...


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Donna Jean Godchaux, Grateful Dead and Elvis Presley

Friday, July 20: 11:24 a.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Donna Jean Godchaux during an interview at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland

This summer, Donna Jean Godchaux of the Grateful Dead spoke at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, Ohio, as part of the Museum's Hall of Fame Series. During an engaging interview with the Rock Hall's VP of education Lauren Onkey, Godchaux shared stories from her impressive career, including how she met her late husband Keith Godchaux, and how a conversation with the Grateful Dead's Jerry Garcia after a concert led to Donna and Keith joining the band.

In this interview clip, Donna Jean Godchaux shares "one of the most amazing events in my life" and describes what she felt when Elvis Presley first came in the studio – "I have never seen a human being that gorgeous in my life" – during the sessions for "Suspicious Minds." Grateful Dead: The Long, Strange Trip, a major exhibition devoted to the group, is on display at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, Ohio, through 2012. 

WATCH: Donna Jean Godchaux on Meeting and Recording with Elvis Presley


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Sharing the Charts: Pop, R&B and Rock and Roll's Meteoric Rise

Tuesday, May 1: 11 a.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Little Richard

When the May 12, 1956 issue of Billboard magazine hit newsstands, its pages cataloged a monumental shift in the charts. The issue reported the chart positions for the week ending May 2, 1956, with the usual suspects of the era holding steady positions in the Top 10 of the pop charts: Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Little Richard, Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers and the Platters, among them. More telling, however, was the fact that each of those five artists also had singles in the Top 10 of the R&B charts. The chart positions reflected greater sociological movements in the United States, to wit the burgeoning civil rights movement, and an emerging respect for African American culture and identity as being truly American, but there would be a backlash. 

Presley had signed with RCA Victor in 1956, and his first release under his new label was "Heartbreak Hotel." Producer Steve Sholes had worked to recapture the "Sun sound" for "Heartbreak," enlisting guitarist Scotty Moore, bassist Bill Black, drummer DJ Fontana, guitarist Chet Atkins, pianist Floyd Kramer and three members of the Jordanaires on backing vocals. On May 2, 1956, the song was at Number One on the Billboard pop ...


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Finding The Pied Piper of Cleveland

Monday, March 19: 4:30 p.m.
Posted by Chris Kennedy
Bill Haley and Elvis Presley

On Thursday, October 20, 1955, at approximately 1:45 pm, 20-year-old Elvis Presley’s rebel yell of “Wellll, I heard the news, there’s good rockin’ tonight!” smacked off the auditorium walls of Brooklyn (Ohio) High School, as cameras from Universal – International Pictures filmed, in color, the flashpoint of the birth of rock and roll.

This unseen footage, know today as The Pied Piper of Cleveland, remains the lost, Holy Grail of rock and roll. But not necessarily because of Presley’s performance, one of his first out of the South, which by most eyewitness accounts wasn’t so spectacularly mind-blowing, or by the appearances of the other, more established acts on the bill. The Pied Piper of Cleveland retains its mystery and allure simply because it has eluded capture for so many years, and because its producer and star, Cleveland top jock Bill Randle, made sure never to answer questions about the film's fate candidly, never letting its tantalizing specter fade from the rock and roll consciousness. 

For the last eight years, I've dedicated a considerable amount of time peering through nearly 60 years of Randle's smoke and mirrors, attempting to discern exactly what transpired ...


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