Saturday, February 09, 2008

This Day In Music History: Elvis Presley and Too Much

For nine weeks Guy Mitchell had the #1 hit on the Billboard Charts with "Singing the Blues." On this day in music history, February 9, 1957 Elvis Presley thought that nine weeks was too much and he reclaimed his position at the top of the charts with..."Too Much." :) It was the first #1 hit for 1957.

Now Elvis had appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show three times and Elvis went from being a regional to national celebrity. The first time Elvis was on the show Ed Sullivan was sick and not on his own live broadcast. Actor Charles Laughton filled in for him on that broadcast. Ed was on the others and on his third and last appearance on January 6, 1957 Elvis was only shot from the waist up and he sang seven songs. One of those songs was the premiere of "Too Much."

The song was part of a three day recording session that began on September 1, 1956. Musicians Scotty Moore, Bill Black and D. J. Fontana were flown to Hollywood to back up Elvis on the songs that would be his second album for RCA Records. The album, simply titled Elvis, was released in October of 1956 but they held "Too Much" for release in January of 1957.

One moth before Elvis released "Too Much" he took part in a recording session at Sun records that became legendary. In December Sam Phillips of Sun was producing a record for Carl Perkins. Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis were there to record and Johnny Cash stopped by. A picture of the four famous musicians was taken and released to the newspapers.

For years this was known as the Million Dollar Quartet but no recordings were known to have survived. Then in 1981 the recordings surfaced and an album was released in England. It then became known that Cash was there visiting when the picture was taken but left later to do some shopping.

After "Too Much" was released Elvis bought a home in Tennessee from Mrs. Ruth Brown Moore for $100,000. It was built by her husband Dr. Thomas Moore and named after her Aunt Grace. Elvis liked the name and kept it. The name of course was Graceland.

Here is a video of Elvis singing it live on television.

My Second 45

Not long ago I recalled when I got my first 45. It was a second hand one of the Monkees Daydream Believer. Today I recall my second 45. It was the duet between Elton John and Kiki Dee singing "Don't Go Breaking My Heart." I bought it at Elsmere Drugs in Elsmere, Ky. Now the owner of the place was named Sid and he and my Grandad where friends. So everyone in my family called it Sid's. For the first 20 years of my life I never heard anyone call it Elsmere Drugs. It was when I was in college and I was talking to my friend Chuck and I told him I was going to Sid's and he didn't know what I was talking about. I told him where it was at. I remember saying "It was the place on Dixie Highway in Elsmere next to the bakery." His eyes lit up with recognition and he said "You mean Elsmere Drugs?" That was when I realized not everyone called it Sid's.

Anyway I bought this with my own money and I believe it was the first one I bought with my own money. I remember listening to it with my friends Dave, Chuck (another Chuck) and Doug. We all enjoyed it. I remember Dave wondering if Elton and Kiki were dating as they positioned him on the picture sleeve looking at her. Oh if we only knew then.

I have loved many of Elton John's songs. Two of my favorites of his early songs where "Someone Saved My Life Tonight" and "Don't Go Breaking My Heart." I will never for get how could it felt to hear them for the first time.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

80 Page Giant Memories

The late 1960's were a fun time in comic books. One part of the fun for me was the DC comics 80 page Giant comic books. Mostly they were reprints of stories that came out years before I was born but they were new to me. Most of the stories I don't recall that well to this day but I remember enjoying them. On Batman #182 my favorite story was the one with the Rainbow Batman. I don't remember the story but after seeing Batman in drab gray and dark blue it was fun to see Batman in bright colors. I usually saw them at my cousin Steve's house. He was, actually he still is, 3 years older and we would play together and he would let me sit on his bed and read his comics. I could tell he was wanting to play more games as he could read these anytime he wanted. For me reading these books opened up other worlds to me that I didn't have access to any other way. I lived too far from stores that carried them and had to depend on Mom and Dad to bring them home to me or wait till we were in town to get them. So to see these books at my cousins house was always exciting.
One time after leaving there I was in the car reading a book that had the origin of Robin. I don't remember if Steve let me borrow it or if I got it from Mom and Dad. I had never read the origin of Robin till then. I had also never saw the word origin before. I asked Mom and Dad how to pronounce it. They told me to try to say it phonetically. I did but I said orange. My Dad pronounced it correctly but it still sounded like orange to me.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

A Glass of Milk

One day, a poor boy who was selling goods from door to door to pay his way
through school, found he had only one thin dime left, and he was hungry. He
decided he would ask for a meal at the next house. However, he lost his
nerve when a lovely young woman opened the door.

Instead of a meal he asked for a drink of water. She thought he looked
hungry so brought him a large glass of milk. He drank it so slowly, and then
asked, How much do I owe you?"

You don't owe me anything," she replied. "Mother has taug ht us never to
accept pay for a kindness."

He said ... "Then I thank you from my heart."
As Howard Kelly left that house, he not only felt stronger physically, but
his faith in God and man was strong also. He had been ready to give up and quit.

Many year's later that same young ! woman be came critically ill. The local
doctors were baffled. They finally sent her to the big city, where they
called in specialists to study her rare disease.

Dr. Howard Kelly was called in for the consultation. When he heard the name
of the town she came from, a strange light filled his eyes.

Immediately he rose and went down the hall of the hospital to her room.
Dressed in his doctor's gown he went in to see her. He recognized her at once.

He went back to the consultation room determined to do his best to save her
life. From that day he gave special attention to her case. After a long struggle, the battle was won.

Dr. Kelly requested the business office to pass the final bill to him for
approval. He looked at it, then wrote something on the edge and the bill was
sent to her room. She feared to open it, for she was sure it would take the
rest of her life to pay for it all. Finally she looked, and something caught
her attention on the side of the bill. She read these words ... "Paid in full with one glass of milk"
(Signed) Dr. Howard Kelly.

Tears of joy flooded her eyes as her happy heart prayed: "Thank You,
God, that Your love has spread broad through human hearts and hands."

There's a saying which goes something like this: Bread cast on the waters
comes back to you. The good deed you do today may benefit you or someone you
love at the least expected time. If you never see the deed again at least
you will have made the world a better place - And, after all, isn't that
what life is all about?

Monday, February 04, 2008

Superman From The 30's To The 70's

The year is 1974. My Mom and Dad would on occasion drive to Cincinnati, Ohio to go shopping at the McAlpin's department store that is now called Dillards. I was 13 years old and allowed to roam the store on my own and sometimes the downtown area since my parents knew my regular stops. This was in the days before it started being reported that children were being kidnapped in broad daylight.

Anyway on one trip I saw the Bonanza Books Superman from the 30's to the 70's and Batman from the 30's to the 70's. I believe there was one for Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel too but my memory isn't what it should be anymore. I do know those books existed but I am not sure if they were for sale at that store at that time. For some reason I didn't buy it when I was with my Mom and Dad.

Now my Mom and Dad would let me take the bus to Cincinnati. One day not long after seeing the books at McAlpin's I ask my cousin Randy to go with me on one trip. As my cousin Randy liked to read as much as I did I asked him if he wanted to go to Cincinnati with me. His Mom wasn't so sure we should but when my Mom said she would let me wander the downtown area, as back then it was safe to do so, she said it was ok.

We took the bus and arrived at the Dixie Terminal. We walked to McAlpin's and bought the books. I remember Randy buying the Batman book while I bought the Superman one. They were now on sale for $3. Sometimes it pays to wait.

We went to some of the other places I normally went to. The guy who sold newspapers and magazines on the street corner. I bought Nova #1 from him but not on this trip. There was some records shops and the Ohio Bookstore. There must be a story or two I have in me from visits to that store. We got some lunch and then caught the bus home. It was a fun day to share with Randy. We talked on the bus and even read some of the stories on the way home.

Eventually I did buy the Batman book too and even the Wonder Woman one. I don't have the Wonder Woman book anymore. I still have Superman and Batman. I hope to keep them forever as they bring back some wonderful memories.

A few years later I was in the newly built Florence Mall in Florence, Ky with a friend from High School. My friend was deeply into music. He didn't care much for comic books and thought they were childish.He was always asking me when I was going to stop reading them. We were in a bookstore there and I saw the Superman book there selling for $6. I held it up and told him when a regular comic book sells for this price I will stop. Well now that they are selling for $3 or $4 each I have pretty much stopped buying new comic books. I do buy old comics for that price as they may go up in value. But a new one is not worth it to me anymore. So it looks like I kept my promise to my friend.