< Part Three: 1958-1959 (Out of Sight)

2017 marks the fortieth anniversary of the sudden death of Elvis Presley. The singer, movie star and globally-known entertainer had been a mainstay in popular culture since he burst onto the scene over twenty years prior. Known for his southern charm, his manic on-stage gyrations, his many cookie cutter film roles (with accompanying soundtracks) and countless hit records, Elvis is considered by many the greatest entertainer ever to live. Numerous outlets hailed him as the Greatest Artist of the 20th Century, despite only operating for a fifth of the century and only living for less than half of it. The acclaim is deserved, not only for the work he did between 1954-1977, but also for the impact he continues to have on the world today. “Elvis” today is no longer just the name of a singer/actor. “Elvis” is an icon. “Elvis” is an institution.

Elvis is the king, transcendent above other singers, actors or otherwise-entertainers.

As fellow Memphian and legendary musician B.B. King quipped, “Elvis is worth more dead than he was when he was alive.” Today, in the fortieth year since his death, his life and legacy remain a source of great interest to longtime fans as well as neophytes. A look back on his history as a musician, an actor, and just as a man pulled in every direction by the rapid winds of fame, is proper on this anniversary year.

You can read the previous installments in this series here:

Part One: 1954-1955 (In the Beginning…)

Part Two: 1956-1957 (Peak Presley)

Part Three: 1958-1959 (Out of Sight)

PART FOUR: TUG OF WAR

By 1960, Rock and Roll had been firmly established as a genre-to-last. Despite parents and parent-aged musicians decrying the new sound as a fad, by the time the new decade arrived it had become the new standard on the radio and in the record stores. It was also a rapidly evolving style: The three piece, stripped down “rockabilly” sound that Elvis, Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry and other single-vocalists made famous had been smoothed down by groups such as The Everly Brothers and The Drifters. Within just a few years Phil Spector’s “wall of sound” technique would become the new “it” thing on the radio, with groups such as The Crystals, The Ronettes, The Chiffons and more taking advantage of it to great success. In the meantime solo acts like Neil Sedaka, Roy Orbison, and Chubby Checker were dominating the billboard. The sound was still called rock and roll, and for the most part in terms of its tempo, subject matter and target audience, it was. But it was such a departure from the sounds of the late-50’s that it eventually came to be thought of as a different beast entirely: Pop music. Whatever you called it, there was no denying that music was changing rapidly, after fifteen years of stagnation in the post-war era. Elvis’ instant-success kick-started it, but then he was drafted just as the movement he was leading went mainstream.

As he returned to the United States in early March of 1960, Presley—who had been following the evolution of rock and roll from afar—was confronted with the sobering reality that he was, just four years removed from his first number one hit, already in danger of being seen as a novelty act. His once-shocking and taboo brand of music was already passe. When he entered RCA’s Nashville recording studio on March 20th, he had two choices before him: He could try to revive the rockabilly sound and pick up right where he left off, or he could evolve and show that he was still a contemporary artist.

He decided to evolve, and gave the half a dozen songs prepared for him a modern flair, sounding entirely different from the singer who recorded “All Shook Up” and “Love Me Tender.” Up first was Otis Blackwell’s “Make Me Know It,” which could have easily been given a simple rockabilly flair, but in the hands of this new Elvis it had a softer edge to it, despite having all the uptempo fun of his 1950’s works. After twenty takes, Elvis had it perfect. The production was the most robust ever featured on an Elvis record, easily besting the big band sound used on King Creole. DJ Fontana’s drumming kept the beat alongside Floyd Cramer’s piano. The electric and rhythm guitars are still there but unlike in 1957, you have to listen carefully to pick them out above the (more prominently featured than before) baking vocals of the Jordanaires.

A perfectly fitting ballad called “Soldier Boy” followed and after fifteen takes Elvis was satisfied with the output. The finished product is similar to 1950’s ballads like “Don’t” and “My Wish Came True,” but here it is RCA’s renovated studio (with new three-track recorder) and recording engineers that give it a fuller sound. As with “Make Me Know It,” Cramer’s piano and the Jordanaires backing give the tune a more modern flair than anything Presley recorded just a couple years prior.

After that Presley tackled a pair of blues numbers, “A Mess of Blues” and “It Feels So Right.” The latter had a more traditional blues tempo and sound, although it was new to Elvis and made “Heartbreak Hotel” sound practically ancient in comparison. The former is the real standout, combining bluesy sounds with a rock tempo and Elvis’ silky smooth vocals. This was the first song of the night that really showed that Presley’s gift of interpretation had not dwindled while overseas.

Two more songs were recorded before calling it a night. These last two numbers were set to be performed on his first TV special since being drafted. “Stuck on You” and “Fame and Fortune” would eventually be selected as his first single of 1960, a record which secured advanced sales of one million copies (the first single in music history to be certified platinum by the RIAA before it was even released). The latter was a by the book ballad meant to show off the singer’s tremendous baritone voice. The former was to be the formal unveiling of his new sound, with lyrics full of 1950’s rock and roll fun wrapped up in a more grown up 1960’s pop presentation.

That “new sound, new look, new Elvis” made its big debut on a Frank Sinatra-hosted, Timex Watch-sponsored, ABC-produced TV special entitled “Welcome Back Elvis.” The slender Presley sported a fancy tuxedo just three years after swearing he’d never let the Steve Allens of the world tell him how to dress or how to perform. A lot changed in three years; now it was a look he was cultivating. Both songs from his new single debuted here (to great response) and Presley even shared the spotlight with former rival Frank Sinatra as the duo performed a medley of the each other’s respective hits.

Elvis’ vocals and swanky getup wasn’t the only thing new about him. As Sinatra joked on the show, his sideburns seemed to be a thing of the past. They were cut for the Army and Elvis didn’t seem in a hurry to bring them back. And then there was the matter of his hips. The gyrations and gesticulations that captivated a younger generation and appalled an older one were much more subdued now. In fact, his whole performance seemed more in line with Bobby Darin than the Elvis Presely everyone knew so well. For comparison’s sake, watch this clip of Darin on American Bandstand from a few months before the Timex special and and see the similarity in style.

Different though it was, his new look and style was warmly received by the live audience (and the ABC ratings). As a result, the always-insecure Elvis found the confidence to press on with his evolution and a week after the show, he was back in the studio with a new batch of songs to record.

As with the March 20th songs, the rest of the recordings from the Elvis Is Back! album featured a mixture of smooth pop, soft ballads and classic blues numbers. Once they were all recorded, the biggest source of contention among Elvis, Parker and RCA was which songs to hold off the album for single-release. The studio wanted four songs (not counting Stuck on You/Fame and Fortune which had already shipped) to be withheld (two A-sides and two B-sides) but there were a lot more than four single-worthy songs to choose from. Elvis was partial to “Such a Night” (an up-tempo hybrid of blues, rock and pop). Parker liked “Soldier Boy,” whose title and obvious connection to the newly-returned veteran he thought would sell itself. RCA favored “Mess of Blues” and “I Gotta Know” (which they thought offered a good mixture of styles for better radio appeal), and those were the two that were selected as B-sides.

Unlike the much-debated B-sides, the A-sides to his next two singles were agreed upon by everyone: The two strongest cuts of the session were an Italian flavored love song that featured, arguably, Elvis’ best vocal performance of the session, and a slowed-down ballad with an unusual spoken-interlude…

1960 featured a wealth of great material from a variety or artists and groups, but when the charts were finished after Christmas, the top-two best selling songs of the year belonged to the same man: Elvis Presley, with his songs “It’s Now or Never” and “Are You Lonesome Tonight.” The songs were unlike anything he’d recorded before, but their instant success solidified Elvis’ “new” sound as the new normal.

Ironically, from the eighteen tracks that were recorded for the album and singles, the only song that really sticks out like a sore thumb is the most “classic rock and roll” tune of the bunch. Leiber and Stoller’s “Dirty Dirty Feeling” was actually written for Elvis to record for King Creole but he never got around to it (the Colonel and his feud with the songwriters likely played a part in that). It was recorded and included here simply out of obligation (they needed a twelfth song to finish the album). The arrangement and sound offers a taste of what Elvis’ 1960 output might have sounded like had he decided to stick to his “rockabilly” roots that first made him famous. It’s not a bad song, it’s just a thin and insignificant one, very different from the others in the wrong kind of way.

Unfortunately, the LP was not a big hit, selling only 300,000 copies in its initial run. The singles were strong in sales because his target audience was still cash-strapped youngsters, but RCA hoped that Elvis’ more grownup image might make his LP appeal more to older buyers (with the money to spend on the more expensive records). And yet, on a personal level, Elvis considered it a triumph. It was one of the few LPs of his that he played on regular rotation at Graceland. In many ways it was the first full album he recorded without any controversy or drama.

His first LP was a mix of new material and leftover Sun recordings. His second was produced in such a rush they didn’t even have a full album’s worth of material to record; they were forced to lay down three Little Richard covers to fill it out. His soundtrack albums, though great in the 1950’s, were still bogged down by the occasional throwaway “movie tune.” Even the beloved Christmas album had to be supplemented with nearly year-old Gospel tracks. Elvis Is Back! was the first studio album Presley recorded where the entire track-listing was approved by him, fine tuned by him, and essentially produced by him too. Even though the credits list Steve Sholes as the producer, the man himself says Elvis was the one running the studio, demanding take after take until they got each song exactly right. Initial sales may not have been strong, but time has been good to it; today it’s regarded one of the greatest albums in his catalogue and a definitive LP of the 1960’s.

But sales are what matters and the GI Blues soundtrack would blow it away.

The soundtrack was Elvis’ first of the 1960’s and was the first of fifteen soundtrack LPs that he would release in the decade. That doesn’t count another half-dozen EPs released in connection to movie releases and other “bonus song from his new movie!” tunes that were slapped onto single releases as B-sides or as bonus tracks on compilation albums. Elvis filmed twenty-seven movies in the 1960’s and all of them featured at least one song, and all of them had some kind of soundtrack accompaniment.

Early on the plan, at least in terms of music releases, was to keep his soundtracks “separate but equal” to his studio albums. After finishing Elvis Is Back, Presley reported to Hollywood to begin filming GI Blues for Paramount Pictures.

Elvis’ first three movies were all big successes but critics mostly derided them. His final movie of the 1950’s, King Creole, was the first to earn him positive acclaim from newspapers. Unfortunately, GI Blues was never meant to duplicate the “serious actor, serious movie” feel of King Creole (which was his lowest-grossing movie of the four). Parker and producer Hal Wallis wanted something fun for his fans and the result was a musical comedy about an Army man who dreamed of owning his own nightclub and winning the heart of a nightclub dancer. Naturally, the critics loathed it and his fans adored it. The film’s premiere in Mexico City, in fact, drew such a raucous crowd that a riot broke out when there weren’t enough seats at the theater to accommodate everyone. The country of Mexico ended up banning all future Presley movies for the remainder of the decade.

The soundtrack featured mostly throwaway songs. Standouts include the now iconic title track, and a remix of “Blue Suede Shoes.” The rest are mostly army-themed ditties like “Did’ja Ever” and “Frankfort Special”, which feature a heavy percussion accompaniment to simulate the marching of soldiers in formation. Ballads like “Tonight is So Right For Love” and “Doin’ the Best I Can” try their best but fail to leave an impression, although the song “Wooden Heart” was a number-one hit in Europe (Presley even sings German midway through the number). There really isn’t much to write home about, however; the album is as light and inoffensive as the movie. That’s what RCA wanted and that’s what they got.

It of course sold like hotcakes and RCA’s expectations (that Elvis’ fans don’t buy LPs) went right out the window. The album shot straight to number one and was certified gold with sales exceeding 500,000 copies.

After working on GI Blues, Elvis went almost immediately into another shoot. He filmed Flaming Star, a drama about a mixed-blood Native American/Texan that the singer hoped would highlight his serious acting side. Four songs were picked for him to perform in the movie, but he refused to record three of them, and insisted on making it a straight-acting movie. In the end he recorded the title song (later featured on a special release four-track LP) and a short tune early in the movie. His hope was to balance serious films with musicals the way he wanted to balance his studio albums with his soundtrack work. Flaming Star was a bomb however, and though critics praised Elvis’ performance in particular they mostly panned the rest of the movie. Elvis’ fans were not so loyal to him that they would pay to see him in a dramatic, no-singing movie just a month after the release of the more lively GI Blues.

Colonel Parker used the failure of Flaming Star to hint that Elvis’ dreams of being the next James Dean were coming to an end, although it would be another year before the message finally sunk in. In the meanwhile, Flaming Star flamed out and Elvis turned his attention back to the recording studio.

He had wanted to record a Gospel LP ever since the release of his successful Gospel-themed EP back in the Spring of 1957. After the success of his Christmas LP (which sold well throughout 1957-1959), he made recording a full Gospel album a priority for 1960. Though the studio wondered about its limited appeal as an LP, they agreed to produce the album after Parker said the album could be a big seller at Christmas time, and a steady seller for years to come.

Fourteen songs were selected (thirteen were Gospel-themed; one was recorded for his next single) and all were recorded in a marathon twelve hour session in Nashville. The songs ranged from traditional, slower performances to up-tempo bouncing songs that he liked to sing when in church in Memphis. Several of the numbers were old standards reworked and arranged by Elvis personally, mostly in the style he had been singing to himself for years. While it wasn’t the smash hit that his Christmas album was, His Hand In Mine did sell reasonably well, especially for a religious-themed album. It peaked at number thirteen, (eventually) went gold and just as predicted it remained a constant-seller for a decade.

As 1960 ended, Elvis had plenty of reason to celebrate. He spent his entire stint in the Army wondering and worrying about his career, both as an actor and as a musician. By the time he turned the calendar over to 1961 he had proven he was still a major player, both on the Billboard charts and at the Box Office. There was reason for caution (the poor sales of Elvis Is Back! and the poor performance of Flaming Star) but there was also reason for happiness (thanks to the success of GI Blues on screen and in record stores).

The studio and the manager were both trying to push Elvis more to frivolous movies and soundtracks, but Presley was having too much fun in the studio to listen. His next single, “Surrender,” went right to number one upon release, proving that his 1960 success was not just a “comeback story” fluke. The song, like the uber-successful “It’s Now Or Never,” has an Italian/Latin-feel to it, as well as an unusual song structure. It lacks a traditional “verse-chorus-bridge” arrangement. Instead the opening verse, as it were, transitions (at about the thirty-three second mark) smoothly to what sounds at first like a refrain, only it keeps going, with Elvis’ voice rising and rising to a crescendo (at one minute, eighteen seconds) before leveling off seemingly into another quasi-verse. After that his voice rises suddenly to another crescendo and the song ends, not even two-minutes after it began. It’s the most alien-arrangement a pop music song had experienced thus far. Half a decade before the Beatles were rewriting the book on song structure and what you could do with a melody, “Surrender” was throwing those rules out the window. After its February 1961 release it sold (and sold and sold) well around the globe, eventually crossing the five-times-platinum mark, and ended up one of the best selling 45s in music history.

The success of “Surrender” silenced all talk of turning more attention away from studio recordings. Elvis arrived in Nashville in March to record another album of pop, rock and ballad tunes, determined to match the quality of Elvis Is Back, which he had recorded one year prior. Twelve songs were recorded between 6pm and 5am, with basically one new master being finished every hour.  As the sun rose the next day a full album was completed, which Steve Sholes arranged unusually with all of the ballads on one side of the record and all of the uptempo tracks on the other. That spawned the album’s title, Something for Everybody. Bolstered by the success of “Surrender” and the album’s lead single “I Feel So Bad” (which reached #5 on the Billboard Hot 100), the album peaked at number-one on the LP charts, becoming his sixth album to do so.

Something for Everybody’s status in history is less prestigious, however, than Elvis Is Back. The 1960 record was a disappointment upon release, but over time has become highly respected. The 1961 follow up was a big hit but its success quickly flamed out and disappeared in the giant shadow of Blue Hawaii. Still, there are a few tracks worth remembering. “There’s Always Me,” which opened the album, was the song Elvis spent the most time perfecting, as he ate up the lyrics and obsessed over hitting the big final note perfectly. He also played his own acoustic guitar part on the song “Judy” (a rarity for a formal recording). “I Feel So Bad” was withheld as a single, so the album ended up being one track short. To finish the record, the song “I Slipped, I Stumbled, I Fell” was taken from the Wild in the Country movie (no formal soundtrack was planned for the throwaway western) and tacked on to the end of the album to promote the film. It ended up being a great rocker to end the album.

Other than those few noteworthy songs, the album was far less ambitious than Elvis Is Back and the quality of the lyrics was certainly weaker than those from the 1960 album. Elvis’ songwriting team was cranking out tunes for a lot of movies, and there were only so many old favorites of Elvis’ to supplement the new material. The well was drying up but Parker had too many irons already in the fire to scale things back. Not even two weeks after finishing the Something for Everybody recordings, Elvis was back in Hollywood working on the soundtrack for his next movie, Blue Hawaii.

Blue Hawaii is Elvis’ fourth movie of the 1960’s and second film released in 1961, but for many it was his second movie after the Army. So many of his films failed to leave a lasting impression but a few have stayed memorable. Blue Hawaii is remembered alongside others like Jailhouse Rock and Viva Las Vegas as movies of Elvis that anyone can identify. A large part of its continued-standing is due to the fourteen-track album that accompanied the film’s release. Granted a fair number of the songs are flimsy and pointless, and Elvis breezed through their recording with as few takes as possible. Others, however, commanded his attention.

Considerable time was given to “No More” (a take on the Spanish classic “La Paloma”) which Elvis hoped could catch fire the way “It’s Now or Never” had done a year prior. Most of Presley’s attention was devoted to “Can’t Help Falling in Love,” over which he slaved through twenty-nine takes, determined to get it right. After he finished, he declared the song a favorite and swore it would be remembered alongside his most famous recordings. Even without the song becoming his go-to show-closer throughout the 1970’s, the song was still destined for greatness. It reached number one on the Easy Listening chart, number two on the US billboard chart, number one in the UK, and ended up selling over one million copies as a single release.

It’s also “our song” for me and my wife.

Blue Hawaii (the movie) ended up one of the bigger hits of the year, but Blue Hawaii (the soundtrack) was the real gem. It spent twenty weeks at number one, and another forty weeks in the top ten. It went triple platinum and ended the decade as the second-biggest selling soundtrack album of the 1960’s (behind West Side Story).

There was no time for Elvis to celebrate, however. Not one day after finishing the record, Elvis and his crew flew to Hawaii to take part in a World War II benefit honoring the newly-opened USS Arizona Memorial. Fifteen songs were performed to a raucous crowd, as Elvis played hits going all the way back to “That’s All Right.” It’s interesting to listen to the show today, as so many of the little quirks and habits he brought to the stage throughout the 1970’s were present here, nearly a decade earlier.

The concert was a huge success but it’s also a bittersweet reminder of what might have been. The show would be the final on-stage appearance by Elvis until the end of the decade. After this, he could only be seen by purchasing a movie ticket. That was what Tom Parker wanted; to turn Elvis into a new kind of traveling attraction, one not tied to hour-long concerts, performed in one city at a time, but to ninety minute musicals (of increasingly poor quality, but I digress) shown in theaters simultaneously from coast to coast.

As it was in 1960, the soundtrack outsold the studio album. Even though Something for Everybody sold more than Elvis is Back, it’s numbers were marginal compared to Blue Hawaii. Furthermore, the success of the Blue Hawaii movie in comparison to the more dramatic films Elvis had made (such as Wild in the Country and Flaming Star), further provided Parker with the means to steer Elvis away from his true passions, interpreting songs and serious acting.

The rest of 1961 offered more of the same. There was another studio session which yielded a few strong singles (“His Latest Flame” and “Little Sister” was a double A-side single that hit number-one), followed by another soundtrack session (for the Follow That Dream movie) that offered little he could sink his teeth into. That was followed by more studio work in order to produce his next non-Hollywood album.

There was no longer any denying, however, that the quality of the material he had to work with was diminishing with each passing year. Whereas the Elvis Is Back sessions produced a grandslam album with brilliant song after brilliant song, the Something For Everybody album was more of a mixed bag. The songs to be featured on 1962’s Pot Luck had even more stinkers. Songs like “Night Rider” and “I’m Yours” (actually a rejected track from Blue Hawaii) were the kind of melodies Elvis would have abandoned for better material in years past. For every great song like “Anything that’s Part of You” (my personal favorite Elvis song) or “Good Luck Charm” (which hit #1) there was an embarrassment like “Sound Advice” or “A Whistling Tune.”

Probably the only song during the second half of 1961 that Elvis really took the time to perfect was a tune he co-wrote in honor of his late-mother. “That’s Someone You Never Forget” was tucked away on the Pot Luck LP and never saw a single release until 1967, but due to the subject matter it’s a significant song.

The tug of war cycle that had been going on since 1960 continued into 1962 as Elvis alternated between studio commitments and soundtrack work. He finished his next studio album in March of that year, with only a few songs worth mentioning. One of them was another which he co-wrote, a latin-infused tune entitled “You’ll Be Gone.” The song “She’s Not You” was recorded near the end of the session and was immediately selected by Elvis as his next single (it went to number one, continuing his streak of personally selecting chart-topping tracks). It’s one of the few he recorded this year that was good enough to stand alongside the suburb material he produced in 1960.

The only other notable recording was a track called “Suspicion.” The arrangement, especially it’s almost-haunting refrain, made it almost a guaranteed hit, but it was never given a single release. With so many other albums and songs being released, there wasn’t enough room on the calendar to put out “Suspicion” and “She’s Not You” both as singles. The latter song was released and even though it went to number one, the quality of the former song was confirmed a year later.

Presley sound-alike Terry Stafford recorded a cover of “Suspicion” and turned it into a one-hit wonder. His version reached number three, but that number three came in the Spring of 1963, when the newly-discovered (in America) Beatles had a monopoly on Billboard’s top five spots. Passing on “Suspicion” as a single was the first big missed opportunity for Elvis but it would not be the last; a similar situation would occur a couple years later, when he declined to release a cover of Chuck Berry’s “Memphis, Tennessee” and watched as Johnny Rivers turned the forgotten 1950’s song into a #2 hit.

Girls! Girls! Girls! was the Blue Hawaii-inspired followup movie that was destined to disappoint in comparison to the charming and instantly-beloved original. Its soundtrack was equally as second-rate, with only a few of the eighteen tracks carrying any quality worthy of radio play. The title track was fun but hallow. There was another Latin-sounding tune, “We’ll Be Together,” that had some promise but nothing like “It’s Now or Never” or “Surrender.” The transcendent “Return to Sender” was probably the only song recorded that had any potential to be a hit, and it peaked at number-two. The less said about “Plantation Rock” or “Earth Boy” the better.

None of his three 1962 films reached the success of Blue Hawaii or GI Blues. And as he returned to the studio in the fall of 1962, to record the soundtrack for his 1963 film It Happened at the World’s Fair, it was clear—if the quality of these songs was any indication—that his next film would not captivate the world either. None of Elvis’ movies throughout the early-to-mid 1960’s failed to turn a profit. To the extent that they kept his name famous and kept Hollywood and RCA happy, they were successes. In terms of their artistic achievement, however, rarely did they ever rise above “good enough” and most of the time they were simply “not good.”

The music from It Happened At the World’s Fair was case-in-point.

Twelve songs were recorded, but two were held off the album to be released as a single…and those are the only two songs worth noting. The ballad “They Remind Me Too Much of You” probably would have been cut from Elvis Is Back, but it would have been good enough to make it onto Something For Everybody. The uptempo “One Broken Heart For Sale” was called out by Elvis as his next big hit, but his predicting-streak ended here as it only reached number-eleven and became the lowest charting single Elvis had released since “Shake Rattle and Roll” in 1956. The song wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t good enough to pull him out of the decaying spiral he had found himself in.

As he ended 1962, Elvis passion for performing on stage had been taken away from him, and his passion for acting was being sucked out of him. His only remaining passion—taking a well-written song and working it over and over in the studio until it was uniquely his—was also running out of steam. 1963 offered more movies, more soundtracks, and—at least initially—more studio albums to work on. There was a tug of war going on between Elvis and his handlers: He wanted to do what he loved; they wanted him to be a machine that cranked out more and more “product.”

The beginning of the 1960s demonstrated Elvis’ initial willingness to try new things. This was not new, in fact; even before joining the Army, Presley was already experimenting with new sounds and styles beyond “rock and roll.” After all, his first number-one hit “Heartbreak Hotel,” was nothing like “That’s All Right,” or anything anyone would call “rock and roll.” His biggest single of the 1950’s (the double A-side “Hound Dog/Don’t Be Cruel”) featured two “up-tempo” songs that could not be more distinct. His 1958 recordings just before and just after being drafted showed off an eagerness to expand the arrangements and instruments in his music. His 1960 recordings offered the culmination of that desire to experiment and evolve.

But as he moved into 1961 and 1962 it became clear that Elvis was the only one between himself, Parker and RCA that wanted to make the art of music his priority. The tug of war that had been waged throughout the opening of the decade was coming to an end and unfortunately the art of his music was losing. As the middle of the decade approached, Elvis was nearing the ten-year anniversary of the start of his musical career. It was a career that had already reached heights some of the more famous entertainers in popular culture only dreamed of.

But the bottom was about to fall out.

(next month is part five: Ten Years In)

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  • David Gibbs

    Great article.

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