An estimated 50,000 or more of those who knew him, those who saw him and those who are fascinated, perplexed, possessed and troubled by him will gather. And during that week they will discuss, debate, trade, sell, buy, imitate, ridicule, eat, drink, laugh and be laughed at in his name. They'll certainly be listening to his music. And they'll all do their damnedest to try to make some sense about who the hell Elvis Presley was and why they still reverently care about him some 47 years since he first recorded. But while the answer will probably still elude them, they'll have no trouble enjoying a rockin' good time.
Highlights of Elvis Week 2000 include the premiere of "Elvis, That's the Way It Was - Special Edition," a remastered, re-edited edition of his MGM 1970 concert film. Also scheduled are seminars with friends and musicians including his backing group, the Imperials; an Elvis barbecue cruise; the Elvis Golf Tournament and the annual Elvis Impersonator Contest. There'll be the annual judging of the best-decorated motel or hotel room: It's a tradition for visitors to dress up their rooms as Elvis shrines and to leave the doors open for visitors. There'll be parties, dozens of musical events and screenings of Elvis movies. Elvis followers will flock to 706 Union St., where the tiny Sun Records studio, in which he made his first records, is still open. And they'll troop to 1034 Audubon Dr., the ranch house where the Presleys lived before buying Graceland in 1957. And they'll march even further back in history, to 185 Winchester Ave., the address of the Lauderdale Courts, the federal housing project where the Presleys lived for four years.
And, ultimately, they'll stage the solemn candlelight vigil on Elvis Presley Boulevard,
with lines of worshippers waiting to walk through the big wrought-iron Graceland gates with
their large musical notes marking this as Elvis' home, and they'll slowly walk up the hill
and past the Meditation Garden, next to Graceland's tiny kidney-shaped swimming pool. And
they'll pause in that garden, to meditate before the graves of Elvis; his father, Vernon;
his mother, Gladys; and his grandmother, Minnie Mae; and a plaque in honor of Elvis' stillborn
twin brother, Jessie Garon.
The question begged is what, in his 65th year, Elvis would have been up to. Would he have been jamming with the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Eminem or Randy Travis? Hosting a psychic TV infomercial? Would he have approved of Lisa Marie and Michael Jackson's marriage? Would he be on the Grand Ole Opry? Would he be lonesome tonight? Some prefer to contemplate the flip side of that question: What would the world have been like if Sam Phillips hadn't taken a chance on the pimply-faced kid with the mumbled voice who kept hanging around his studio? But whatever the answers to these questions, Elvis now lives on as part of the collective unconscious. Mojo Nixon sings about it in "Elvis Is Everywhere," and what he's saying is that there's a little Elvis in each and everyone. Elvis Week 2000 runs Wednesday (Aug. 9) to Aug. 16 in and around Graceland and Memphis, Tenn.
Also check out Jim & Lisa Dutchers great 50's website!
They have several pages of photos from The 8th Annual
Rockabilly Rebel Weekend!
Produced by Ernest Jorgensen, Elvis Presley: "That's The Way It Is" contains 66 immortal Elvis performances. Disc One includes the original "That's The Way It Is" album, as released on December 1,1970, along with some additional cuts. Tracks 1-12, all original mixes and digitally restored, include: "Bridge Over Troubled Water," "How the Web Was Woven," "I've Lost You," "I Just Can't Help Believin'," "Just Pretend," "Mary in the Morning," "Patch it up," "Stranger in the Crowd," "The Next Step is Love," "Twenty Days and Twenty Nights," "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'," and "You Don't Have to Say You Love Me." The additional recordings are taken from the same 1970 Nashville sessions and Las Vegas concerts as the original album.
Disc Two is the "concert" disc. It includes all of Elvis' performances from the midnight show at the Las Vegas Hilton on August 12, 1970. Forty five of the performances are previously unreleased, and the entire show has been remixed. Disc Three is the "rehearsal" disc. It includes nine additional performances from the same Las Vegas season and many rehearsals that provide a rare look into preparation for the movie and music making of Elvis Presley. At the time of its 1970 theatrical release, "That's The Way It Is" was hailed as one of the best music documentaries of its kind. Directed by Denis Sanders, the film features Elvis in an electrifying concert appearance, singing many of his immortal hits. The film also boasts cameo appearances by Sammy Davis, Jr., and Cary Grant, as well as fascinating behind-the-scenes glimpses of Elvis backstage. Now, the film is being recut and will have its world premiere on Turner Classic Movies in January 2001. It will be released later on home video and DVD by Warner Home Video. RCA will be launching a cross-promotion effort in August with the Turner Classic Movie Channel, Musicland, Elvis Presley Enterprises, and Gibson Guitar. Currently being planned are extensive in-store displays and consumer contests, on-air announcements/promotions on Turner Classic Movie Channel, and a month-long airing of Elvis movies on Sundays.
Each artist performed the song on their individual shows. This marked the first time an original artist/writer and a recording artist who 40 years later covered a song, have appeared at the same international rockabilly event - each performing his own version of the same tune. The Viva Las Vegas weekender was held 44 years after the first record of "Something I Said" was released.
In 1968, Carl Perkins re-signed with Columbia Records, and immediately released one of the best records of his career, Restless. Already a star of the Johnny Cash Show, Carl was now back in the charts, and his career was once again on the upturn. The 4 CDs in this box cover all of his recordings from his second tenure with Columbia (1968 to 1972) and all of the Mercury recordings (1973 to 1975). There are his regular session recordings, 20 of which are previously unissued. These include the complete recordings with NRBQ and the complete 'My Kind Of Country' sessions (generally hailed as his finest LP).
The set also includes Carl's much-lauded tribute to Elvis, The EP Express, as well as his hit for Johnny Cash, Daddy Sang Bass. There is also a bonus CD of demos, featuring some of Carl's best recordings of all time! These include his original demos of So Wrong (a hit for Patsy Cline) and A Man On His Own (a hit for George Strait), as well as some of the tightest, rockin'est recordings from the Sixties and Seventies. All previously unreleased, these demos show the true musical soul of Carl Perkins, the "King of the Shakin' Music.'
The titles include Cotton Top, Restless, Take Me Back To Memphis, Sing My Song, and Big Bad Blues. This set also includes a __-page book, including a newly researched biography by Colin Escott, and a complete discography, as well as many previously unpublished photographs.
CD 1: Constantly - Restless - 1143 - Little Cowboy Suit - Blue Suede Shoes - Match Box - Honey Don't - Turn Around - Daddy Sang Bass - That's Right - Boppin' The Blues - Your True Love - Folsom Prison Blues - Mean Woman Blues - Take It Or Leave It - Walk With Your Neighbor - For Your Love - Four Letter Word - Soul Beat - Baby, What You Want Me To Do? - Superfool - Champaign, Illinois - Riverboat Annie - A Lion In The Jungle - Power Of My Soul - Brown Eyed Handsome Man - C.C. Rider (You're So Bad) - I'm Gonna Set My Foot Down - Boppin' The Blues (& NRBQ) - Sorry Charlie (& NRBQ)
CD 2: Allergic To Love (& NRBQ) - Turn Around (& NRBQ) - All Mama's Children (& NRBQ) - Step Aside (& NRBQ) - Just Coastin' (& NRBQ) - My Son, My Sun - State Of Confusion - The Big City Sleeps - True Love Is Greater Than Friendship - What Every Little Boy Ought To Know - Just As Long - I'll Fly Away - Me Without You - Always Be Mine - Red Headed Woman - Take Me Back To Memphis - About All I Can Give Is My Love - You Won't Have To Say You Love Me - Cotton Top - High On Love - Always Be Mine - Let Me Be The One You Love - Baby's Gone - So Warm - The Trip - I Still Miss Someone - The Last Letter - Someday
CD 3: Help Me Dream - Bless The Children - You Tore My Heaven All To Hell - One More Loser Going Home - Goin' To Memphis - Lord I Sinned Again Last Night - Just As Long - (Let's Get) Dixiefried - Honky Tonk Song - Love Sweet Love - Ruby Don't Take Your Love To Town - Never Look Back - Sunday Dinner - Sing My Song - I Want To Be Your Man - You'll Always Be A Lady To Me - Rise And Shine - Mean, Mean Martha - Low Class - I Ain't Mad - The E.P. Express - Big Bad Blues - Goin' Down The Road Feeling Bad
CD 4: Cotton Top - Good Times Are Just Around The Corner - Born Equal - Step It Up And Go - The Big City Sleeps - Bottoms Up - Poor Boy Blues - When You're A Man On Your Own - Take A Good Look At Me - Restless - The Bottom Of The Bottle - Sorry Charlie - Rise And Shine - Wild Card - So Wrong - The Lord's Fishing Hole - Going To Memphis
Near the Sky Church Window on the third floor is EMP's largest exhibit, Milestones. Milestones contains several exhibits that focus on important songs, such as Little Richard's "Tutti-Frutti," which visitors can listen to on the headset. The room also honors punk rock with a sizable collection of photos, albums and even skateboards from artists such as the Descendents and the Ramones. "I think it's the best thing to happen to Seattle since the World Fair in 1962," 38-year-old Seattle resident Lynn Etchison said. "I've been waiting for something like this. It's amazing. I'm going to come a lot during the summers. You have to experience it."
"Many of the Opry's fans were first introduced to it through the airwaves of WSM-AM," said Pete Fisher, Grand Ole Opry general manager. "We're delighted that fans around the world will now be able to listen to the Opry just as radio listeners throughout much of the United States and Canada have for nearly 75 years." Internet users can stream the WSM broadcast by logging on to www.opry.com or www.wsmonline.com. Broadcasts will also be available at www.musiccountry.com, the newest addition to Gaylord Digital's family of websites, launched this week as the online destination for the serious country music fan.
WSM first began broadcasting in October 1925. Less than two months later, it introduced what would become its flagship program, the Grand Ole Opry, from the fifth floor WSM Studio A of the National Life & Accident Insurance Co. offices in Nashville. The first performer on the Opry's broadcast that night was Uncle Jimmy Thompson, an 80-year-old fiddler who launched the show with the tune "Tennessee Wagoner." The Opry has moved several times in its 75-year history, most recently to the Grand Ole Opry House in 1974. Last week, the Opry began a year-long 75th anniversary celebration by unveiling a new, cutting edge set design -- its first new set in more than 20 years.
About 1,100 people turned out to watch the film and praise Phillips, whose famed Sun studio and label made lasting music by seminal blues, country and rock musicians from Howlin' Wolf, Rufus Thomas and B. B. King to Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley, the person considered to be Phillips's most important find. "It's good that the film couldn't fit into the A&E one-hour slot," said writer Robert Gordon at the show's pre-party. "They fit scientists and historians and doctors into one hour but Sam's achievement is so great, they needed two hours to fill it up."
Memphis Convention & Visitors Bureau president Kevin Kane said, "As a father of rock and roll, Sam Phillips epitomizes what the spirit of this city is all about." He helped present Phillips with a Spirit of Memphis award from the city and county. Kane said he was convinced that the documentary - scripted by Presley biographer Peter Guralnick and narrated by filmmaker/actor Billy Bob Thornton - will ultimately lead to a major motion picture about Phillips. During the film, the audience reacted to its own city's history with enthusiastic applause for the many musical figures that were cast bigger than life on the Orpheum screen. The film's content illuminated why they, and Phillips, were bigger than life in the music books as well.
A post-screening Sun revue peeled back the years for performer and fan alike. Jim Dickinson did his Sun side, Cadillac Man by the Jesters and Rock 'n' Roll Ruby by Warren Smith before being joined by Billy Lee Riley, who gave a medley of his Sun classics Flying Saucers Rock 'n' Roll and Red Hot. Ike Turner performed his landmark Rocket 88, often cited as the first rock and roll song. The stage then went to Jerry Lee Lewis who whipped through his slice of rock infamy, Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On. The concert ended with Johnny Bragg, who sang an a cappella version of the Sun song he cut with Prisonaires, Just Walkin' in the Rain. Backstage, singer Reba Russell summed up the night: "Sam has been an important part of everybody's life who is a musician in Tennessee. I don't think there would be all this hoopla about Memphis music if it wasn't for Sam."
The Memphis Flyer also had an great article on Sam Phillips. Click here: The Memphis Flyer: Cover Story - June 8 - 14, 2000
In addition to its 1,500 guest rooms, the hotel will offer 400,000 square feet of pre-function, meeting and exhibition space. Its meeting and exhibit space will include a 178,000-square-foot exhibit hall and three ballrooms, the largest of which will cover 48,000 square feet, more than an acre. It will employ approximately 1,700 people and have an annual economic impact of more than $400 million on the region. The Opryland Hotel Texas will be the third hotel to fly the Opryland flag. The original is the 2,884-room Opryland Hotel Nashville, and the second is the 1,400-room Opryland Hotel Florida, which will open in February 2002 in Kissimmee-St. Cloud near Walt Disney World.
The groundbreaking ceremony was highlighted by a pyrotechnic branding of the Texas Lone Star onto a specially constructed barn facade. A crane suspended a 3000-pound branding iron above the wood, which had been laid flat on the ground. After the branding, ceremony participants pulled ropes to "raise the barn" and show off the eight-foot-wide Lone Star. The Lone Star image will be carried over into the completed hotel. The signature architectural element of all Opryland Hotels is a substantial glass-roofed atrium, and the one for the Opryland Hotel Texas will cover four acres of indoor gardens, Texas-themed restaurants and other amenities. The crown of the atrium will feature a gigantic Lone Star design, clearly visible to airplane passengers arriving at DFW.
"The Opryland Hotel Texas will be strategically located in the middle of the country. Its hometown of Grapevine is charming, and its neighboring cities of Dallas and Fort Worth are first-class. The hotel itself will make Texas proud, and it will offer everything that convention guests and vacationers could want," Jones said.
This May's festival (number 24 in the on-going series, which thankfully shows no signs of abating) kicked off on the Wednesday with performances by the Smalltown Giants and The Infernos. One different feature of this Hemsby was there was a big name American star on the Thursday night, namely one of the r 'n' r originators, Tommy Sands. He was backed up by The Killer Dillers, augmented by John Lewis of the Rimshots on piano and rhythm guitar, and who did a real fine job as well as playing a pleasing set of their own. Tommy clearly was still suffering from effects of the mugging he sustained a little while back, in which he was left for dead by the perpetrators, and so it was great just to see him standing on the famous Hemsby stage. Opening up with a sparkling version of "Maybelline", he swept into tasty interpretations of "Blue Ribbon Baby" and "Hearts Of Stone" before launching into "Tweedle Dee" which just did not work as he was singing it into too high a key. However all was redeemed with the next two numbers, "Soda Pop Pop" and "Chicken And The Hawk" which really worked. Special mention must be made of the lead singer of The Killer Dillers who did splendid work on back up harmony vocals. From here it was into so so versions of "Sing Boy Sing" and "Bigger Than Texas" before going into a fine "Hawaiian Rock" and then on to "The Worrying Kind" which was first rate. The set closed out with a reprise of "The Worrying Kind" and a good workout of "Little Mama". Tommy showed good stage presence throughout and was a real gentleman to talk to.
Randy Rich & The Poor Boys started the proceedings on Friday before making way for Seattle's own Thomas La Velle who is a piano thumper in the best Jerry Lee Lewis tradition. He worked his way various JLL numbers such as "Milkshake Mademoiselle" and "Breathless" plus Ben Hewitt's "I Need A New Girl Now" and mixing in some original ditties. No doubt about it, this guy is good but does need some work on his act - plenty of potential and may be a force to be reckoned with in the future. However this begs the question as to why we have not seen Jason D. Williams over here as yet?
Next up was Johnny Faire who has also recorded under the names of Donnie Brooks, Dick Bush ("Era Records gave me
two choices, either Bushy Dick - I can't think why - or Dick Bush, I chose the latter") and Johnny Jordan.
He is an excellent raconteur who makes his living today as a promoter of oldie shows and boy does he possess
a fine set of singing tubes. Commencing with "Great Balls Of Fire" he went into his Dick Bush alter ego
for "Hollywood Party". This was followed by "I Fell For Your Line" and a faithful rendition of "Til The
Law Says Stop", the flip-side of "Bertha Lou", before dishing up a tasty treatment his real big smash
hit "Mission Bell" (under the name of Donnie Brooks). Back to the Johnny Faire songbook with "Betcha I'll Getcha" before
delivering "Chantilly Lace" and an outstanding "Stagger Lee". It was now time for "Bertha Lou" which was performed
faultlessly and drew a large ovation. The set closed out with reprises of "Hollywood Party" and "Bertha Lou".
No doubt about it, this guy is a consummate performer and who will be welcome back to these shores at any time.
The final act for the evening was also from the USA, namely the Blue Moon Boys who proved to be an audience pleaser.
After an early evening talent show, the first name band on Saturday in the main ballroom was The Playboys performing their last ever stage show together. For this occasion, they called on to the stage various one-time members of the Playboys and it resulted in an evening of nostalgia. Rob Glazebrook led the band through all their cult favourites and drew a deserved crowd response. However, it was not quite the final performance by The Playboys as they returned to the stage to back Larry Donn, making his welcome UK return after eight years. Sitting at the piano, he rocked his socks off from the outset with "Too Much Monkey Business" and "Big Fat Mama" followed by the first of three raids on fellow Vaden Records artist Bobby Brown's songbook with "Please Please Baby". Next was a sparkling' rendition of "Crawdad Song" followed by an ecstatic "That's What I Call A Ball" - boy Larry really rocked out on this one, sufficiently so that the sole of his shoe dropped off around this time probably due to not being able to stand up to the frantic foot stomping going on. It was then a return to Bobby Brown tunes with "Down At Big Mary's House" and "I Get The Blues", both of which bopped along like crazy. An unusual choice of number then ensued with "Chattanooga Shoeshine Boy" but it came across real well as did his tribute to Carl Perkins with a marvellous reading of "Forever Yours on which he was backed up only by the upright bass. Now it was time for his cult classic "Honey Bun" and the only way to describe the performance was fevered rock Žn' roll, wonderful stuff. Larry just had to do the song again and by this time he was up off the piano stool jumping around the stage like a demented eternal teenager with sweat pouring off him. All in all, a powerhouse performance.
Next up was probably the main headliner with Ronnie Dawson and his American band, although it was a different lead guitarist from whom I had seen in Las Vegas a couple of weeks earlier. The set was similar to that at Viva Las Vegas 3 and the crowd just went ape shit over the performance with Ronnie drawing some of the best response I have ever seen at Hemsby - but boy the music was loud Žn' heavy, certainly quite a way away from the Ronnie Dawson of ten years back. In that time, he has developed his own unique style. The show in the main was raucous with long time favourites such as "Shim Sham Shimmy" and "Ford Boogie" being mixed in with the likes of "Fish Out Of Water", "It's Party Time" and "Rockin' In The Graveyard". The tempo was varied on "Congratulations To Me" and "Veronica", both of which were tastily served up. Ronnie attempted to finish up with "Rockin' Bones" and "Action Packed" but then had to come back for three encores which included "Rockin' In The Graveyard" and "Monkey Beat". Saturday night's live music closed out with a show from the German band Hot And Cold, a performance which people were favourably talking about the next day.
The final day for this Hemsby commenced with a rockin' blues performance for the co-editor off "Blue Suede News" magazine Marc Bristol who was followed by UK rockers Johnny Fox & The Hunters and jump jive outfit Jive Aces. The last mentioned also provided an excellent backing for veteran Freddie Bell who came on and demonstrated what 47 years of experience in show business was all about, this guy gave a fabulous performance. Freddie moved about the stage in an exciting way, belting out tunes such as "Teach You To Rock", "Rompin' Žn' Stompin' ", "Voo Doo" and "First Train". He demonstrated why Elvis lifted his treatment of "Hound Dog" before dropping on to a couple of standards in "Alright, O.K." You Win" and "I Said It And I'm Glad". After "Hey There You", he adopted the crouched position seen in the movie "Rock Around The Clock" and dazzled all with a sparkling "Giddy Up A Ding Dong" which was followed by "Big Bad Wolf", "Stay Loose Mother Goose", The Huckle Buck" before closing out with his version of "Rock Around The Clock". Naturally, Freddie had to come back and he served up another splendid go at "Giddy Up A Ding Dong". This was a real highlight act.
Hemsby 24 closed out with the European debut of the rockin' vocal group The Olympics. I really enjoyed their performance butŠ something was not quite right. Maybe it was the stiff backing provided by The Swing Kings, maybe it was the under amplification of the saxes, piano and bass voice or maybe it was the incomplete choreography. However this sounds too negative as the delicious raspy voice of lead Walter Ward was perfectly in tact as the group served up long time favourites such as "The Bounce", "Big Boy Pete", "Dance With The Teacher", "Dooley" and "Dodge City". I closed my eyes and was in second heaven, especially with "Private Eye", "Hully Gully", "Shimmy Like My Sister Kate" and "By The Light Of The Moon". There was a great acapella rendering on a tune which I believe was called "Your Love" plus a tasty doo wop medley. Also included in the set was "Mine Exclusively" and "Good Lovin' ", which was theirs originally. No Olympics set would be complete without "Western Movies" which they performed twice. Perhaps not the greatest group to grace the Hemsby stage but still enjoyable.
Phew, then it was all over and it was back to the reality of every day living but then there is Hemsby 25 to look forward to between 5th and 9th October 2000, especially with The Comets, Rocky Burnette & Paul Burlison, Alvis Wayne, The Jacks/Cadets, Vernon Taylor and Canada's own Ray Condo &The Ricochets headlining. Will I be there, for sure - even if I have to move two mountains.
© Tony Wilkinson
"There is hardly a festive enough way to convey just how thrilled we are to be working alongside Elvis Presley Enterprises on behalf of our father," the family said in a statement. "Our father would have felt great joy and great peace in knowing his name and likeness was to be overseen by EPE, the company that has so brilliantly cared for the late Mr. Presley's comprehensive career. As Rick's children, we know our father's legacy is in capable hands."
"We have been friends with the Nelson family for several years and have always been impressed with their passion and commitment to their father's legacy," EPE CEO Jack Soden said. Along with Graceland, the Heartbreak Hotel and Elvis Presley's Memphis restaurant/night club on Beale St., Memphis-based EPE handles worldwide licensing, merchandising, music publishing, and TV, film, video and Internet projects for Elvis.
"If you want to experience the roots of modern music, this is the place to start," said Steve Masler, managing curator for Memphis Rock 'n' Soul Museum. "Memphis is the city where America's black and white cultures met and sometimes collided throughout much of the 20th century. That convergence gave rise to the sounds we know today as rock 'n' roll and soul music, sounds that still influence most popular music heard around the world today. Memphis Rock 'n' Soul not only pays tribute to that legacy, but for the first time clearly and compellingly explains it. We call this museum a 'primer' for anyone wanting to learn more about America's rich musical history."
Visitors to the museum will travel through a century of rock 'n' roll and soul music. The journey starts in a sharecropper's cabin in the '20s and then travels to urban Memphis in the '40s. The 1950s segment shows the birth of rock 'n' roll and then the visitors hit the turbulence of the 1960s, with the civil rights struggle and the advent of soul music. The exhibition concludes with the musical trends of the '70s and '80s, as well as showcasing today's Memphis music scene.
The Memphis Rock 'n' Soul Museum is housed inside the newly constructed Gibson Guitar Factory in the Beale Street Entertainment District. Memphis Rock 'n' Soul is located at 145 Lt. George W. Lee Avenue, half a block south of the musically symbolic intersection of Highway 61 (a.k.a. Third Street) and Beale Street. The museum is open Sunday-Thursday, 10:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m. (last entry), Friday-Saturday 10:00 a.m. - 8 p.m. (last entry). Tours last approximately one hour. Ticket prices are: adults-$6, senior citizens (60+)- $5.50, youth (5-17)-$4.00. Group discounts are available. Call 901/543-0800 to learn more.
To continue your musical pilgrimage, head to Sun Studios at 706 Union Avenue. Best known as the recording studio of Elvis Presley, Sun also recorded music with artists like Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison and Johnny Cash, to name a few. For more information and ticket prices, call 901/521-0664.
What musical journey to Memphis would be complete without a stop at Graceland? Once the legendary home of the King himself, it is now a national and international attraction. Come see the many costumes of Elvis and the "Jungle Room." Also, check out the "Lisa Marie," -- the private plane Elvis named for his daughter. For more information and ticket prices, call 800-238-2000.
For musical nightlife, few spots rival Beale Street in downtown Memphis. You could stay out all night and still not hit all the clubs. Here are a few you don't want to miss: B.B. King's Club is located on 139-145 Beale Street. It opens at 11:30 AM Monday through Saturday and at 4:00 PM on Sunday. For information, call 901-524-5464. At 138 Beale Street, visit Blues City Cafe, open daily. For information, call 901-526-3637. And, don't forget Rum Boogie Cafe at 174 Beale Street. For information, call 901-525-3891.
After your musical mystery tour in Memphis, you'll be a rock 'n' roll, soul and blues expert. You can share your wealth of knowledge with the gang back home. But, you'll need to come back often for a re-education. Memphis is a musical town, and the scene is always evolving and changing. So, make plans to come back and discover new musical secrets in the birthplace of the blues and the home of rock 'n' roll.
This Internet Rockabilly Hall of Fame website will be working together with the new Memphis Museum. Watch this page for
The Nashville "A-Team" guitar great received some of his much-deserved due Wednesday night (April 5) at the Ryman Auditorium during "Witness History III: The Twang Years," the keynote event of the annual, four-day Chet Atkins' Musician Days festival in Music City. Martin and Eddy were honorees of the concert. Atkins, frail after suffering some mild strokes, made a brief appearance on stage to give the tribute show his blessing. Eddy, perhaps the most successful instrumental rocker of his time with 15 Top 40 hits between 1958 and 1963, was on hand to swap guitar licks with Vince Gill and John Fogerty and to receive accolades from Peter Frampton and Nashville Mayor Bill Purcell. Martin, 71, ailing and lately unable to play the guitar, missed the hometown tribute paid to him. Gill, Willie Nelson and Marty Stuart presented the "Chetty" award -- named after Atkins -- to Martin's son, Josh. Accepting the trophy, he acknowledged his father appreciates the honor but was unable to attend because he is "not doing well these days."
Nelson, backed by a large band that included Gill on guitar, performed an instrumental medley of big hits associated with Martin's guitar sound, including the insistent riff of Roy Orbison's "Pretty Woman" and the flamenco-flavored guitar of Marty Robbins' "El Paso." After the Chetty presentation, Nelson kicked off his vocal set with "On the Road Again," a No. 1 hit the singer recorded alongside Martin in 1980.
In 1979 Martin, a native of Chapel Hill, Tenn., recorded the guitar parts for Nelson's film Honeysuckle Rose and shortly afterward joined Nelson's "Family" band. The guitarist had a considerable influence on both Nelson's use of the nylon-string guitar and his playing technique. Martin remained in the band until he was forced to retire for health reasons in 1994. "Grady's an old friend, and I'm probably his biggest fan. So, I'm glad to be here," Nelson told country.com a few minutes before show time. "Grady has a touch on the guitar that you really don't hear from any other guitar player. It's a very distinctive tone. Players like Chet Atkins and Django Reinhardt have their own tones and sounds, and Grady Martin has his. It's a sweet tone; the notes are huge. I've tried to rip him off, and I never could," Nelson said with a laugh, acknowledging the subtleties of Martin's playing are hard to reproduce. Other artists -- and producers -- must have recognized Martin's special touch, too.
Martin is known, at least in recording industry circles, as one of the most versatile and one of the most recorded session guitarists in Nashville. He's among a select group of musicians in Music City known as the original A-Team, a group of masters including guitarists Atkins, Hank Garland, Harold Bradley and Ray Edenton, bassist Bob Moore, pianist Floyd Cramer, drummer Buddy Harman, saxophonist Boots Randolph, fiddler Tommy Jackson and multi-instrumentalist Charlie McCoy. Martin's studio work includes hundreds of sessions; he has backed artists ranging from Hank Williams to Bing Crosby to Elvis Presley. On many sessions, he served as band leader and de facto producer, meaning he led the musicians and directed the impromptu arrangements that became a trademark of Nashville sessions.
The guitar slinger's contributions to chart-topping recordings span several decades, from Red Foley's 1949 "Chattanoogie Shoe Shine Boy" to Merle Haggard's 1983 "That's the Way Love Goes." Martin's other classic credits include Johnny Horton's "Honky-Tonk Man" and "Battle of New Orleans," Loretta Lynn's "Coal Miner's Daughter," Lefty Frizzell's "Saginaw, Michigan," Ray Price's "For the Good Times," Jeanne Pruett's "Satin Sheets," Little Jimmy Dickens' "May the Bird of Paradise Fly up Your Nose," Conway Twitty's "Linda on My Mind," Sammi Smith's "Help Me Make it Through the Night" and Kris Kristofferson's "Why Me."
Hardly a Nashville rockabilly session passed without the ever present guitar-work of Martin, be it for Buddy Holly, the Johnny Burnette Trio or Janis Martin (no relation). Martin signed to Decca as a solo artist and cut over 170 titles through the 1950s and the first half of the '60s. However, the guitarist preferred to stay in the background and was most active as a sideman. By the late '70s, Martin had become somewhat disillusioned with the methods and fads he believed had come to dominate the session scene. He cut down drastically on his work but still played sessions for friends like Twitty and Nelson. In 1978 Martin briefly joined Jerry Reed's band, making a living on the road for the first time in many years, before beginning his long tenure with Nelson.
Wednesday night's guitar honorees never worked together -- Eddy recorded his best-known work in Phoenix and Hollywood -- but Eddy was happy to share the six-string salute with Martin. "He's one of my favorite guitar players, and the countless contributions he's made over the years are amazing," Eddy said during a backstage interview."He's one of my heroes."
COMMENTS from RaB HoF staff reporter Steve Lester - LESTERSD@aol.com - I just wanted to report that the induction of Billy Lee Riley into the Arkansas Walk of Fame was a smashing success. In spite of off and on rain showers, spirits were high in Hot Springs. Billy was joined on stage by his wife Joyce and daughter Angela to accept the honor. I had the privilege as nominator to say a few words about how and why the nomination came about. Billy's old bass player, Joe Parker, from the Whiskey A Go-Go days then gave an inspired talk about the old days and wished his friend the best. Then various members of the Hot Springs Chamber of Commerce read letters from Sam Phillips, the Smithsonian Institute and Bob Dylan praising Billy as a pioneer, an influence, a great artist and a proud Arkansan. The mayor then presented a plaque to Billy and proclaimed it Billy Lee Riley day in Hot Springs. Billy said that "this is one of the greatest honors ever bestowed upon me." After this the crowd walked across the street for the unveiling of Billy's marker amongst all the other famous Arkansans in the sidewalk of the Walk of Fame. The crowd then regrouped in Tom Wilkins' "Bath House Theatre" for a fantastic acoustic blues set from Billy followed by an autograph session. "Farthest traveled" honors go to Mr. Mark R. Deaver of Los Angeles who made the trek from the West coast to meet Billy and observe the ceremony after reading about it on the Internet's Rockabilly Hall of Fame.