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CONCERT DATE: November 8, 1971 (8:30 pm). Philadelphia, PA

Elvis! A First-Class Bargain at Only $125,000 an Hour
by Jack Lloyd
Philadelphia Inquirer
November 7, 1971


Arranging an interview with Elvis Presley is really not very difficult. All you have to do is shell out $125,000, which buys you one hour of Elvis' time. Col. Tom Parker will be happy t make the arrangements - at Elvis' convinience of course.

The way Parker figures it, $125,000 is just about right for 60 minutes of His Boy's time. And at 25 percent of everything Elvis earns, the colonel does okay, too. granted, not too many journalists buy this deal, but the colonel isn't concerned. He and Elvisdon't really need the money, and Parker knows he can work out a satisfactory pay day any time he chooses to permit Elvis to work.

Like Monday night at the Spectrum, where Elvis will spend about an hour on stage, along with an undisclosednumber of backup musicians, and gross somewhere between $120,000 and $140,000. The colonel, of course, knows down to thelast penny.

This, naturally, adds up to a first-rate bargain for those who survived the stampede for tickets at the Spectrum box office. With some 16,000 people poolingtheir money at $10, $7.50 and $5 per ticket, an hour of Elvis' time has been purchased.

The power of people is an awesome thing. But then one must speak of the drawing power of Elvis Presley with equal respect. Partcularly in light of bold headline which appeared in the New York journal American back in December of 1956: "Uninhibited Elvis Hot Now But Can't Last, Expert Says.:

The "expert" had nothing to say about the Journal-American, which died several years ago.

But then a lot of experts and non-experts were eagerly predicting the quick demise of Elvis Presley in an attempt to console an outraged older generation that was stunned by the spectacular emergence of this young backwoods hick with his below the ear sideburns and his ducktail hair and a frantic hip movement that was sometimes labeled vulgar. Eyes lewd.

And, pounding mercilessly on his guitar, this frantic creature out of Tupelo, Miss, and Memphis, Tenn, was singing a strange new kind of music people were calling rock'n'roll. It was the Devil's own music, some of the more genteel souls were saying. Elvis Presley was the evil Pied Picker of Tupelo who would lead our children straight into Hell.

Looking back over the years between then and now- the passing of rock'n'roll, the coming of the Beatles, the birth of hard rock with its hippies and psychedelic implications culminating in the real horror of drugs - one can only ponder the Elvis hysteria with amused wonderment

And now Tom Parker is pedding the "Elvis Mystique," exploiting to its fullest Elvis' tenacious hold on a large degree of the excitement that exploded around him 15 years ago. His Boy survived 10 years of Beatlemania comfortably - luxuriously, in fact - and only Elvis stands high above the frantic scene once again.

Either by Parker's design or Elvis' choice, no entertainer in the historyof show businesshad led a more guarded life than Elvis Presley. Surrounded by Parker, his immediate family and a tight circle of friends labeled the "Memphis Mafia," Elvis has completely shut out the world. his Memphis mansion is enclosed by an electric fence, impenetrable to all except a select few.

During his many stays in Hollywood for work on the long succession of profitable movies he has starred in Elvis has maintained a rigid air of aloofness toward the traditional glamor circuit. On the set, he has been polite and cooperative with co-workers and visitors, but weach night when the shooting ends, he is back into the mysteries of his own little world.

A prisoner of Tom Parker's game plan or simply a recluse in the grandest 1-vant-to-bealone tradition? Either way, Tom Parker recognizes the "mystique" qualities present and he makes the most of it. But then he makes the most of everything. and while his tactics are sometimes crude, it must be conceded that Parker very probabily kept Elvis from sinking in to the oblivion that so many considered inevitable back when Elvis was the latest crazy fad.

EIGHT-YEAR HIATUS

Consider the case of Tom Jones. A year ago, the ladies of the world were on a Tom Jones binge, throwing their undies and bared emotions at his feet in great waves of animal sensuality.

Today it is highly doubtful that Tom Jonescould fill the Spectrum, and the popularity of his television show faded like the tall of a shooting star.

A classic case of over-exposure. A mistake that Tom Parker wisely avoided. Despite fantastic offers, the colonel has agreed to only a few carefully chosen TV shots, and he kept His Boy off the live concert trail for an eight year period that ended only early last year.

The gold, of course, kept pouring in, thanks, to those silly, slicktypatented movies Elvis grinded out. Never mind any of of that nonsense about artistic quality. The colonel himself once admitted, "the'y never win any Academy Awards. All they're good for is making money"

Unfortunatly, this same attitude has come into play too many times concerning the one thing Elvis does best - his singing. It was geenrally ignored in the panic period, but there is far more to the Presley talent than a good bump and grind routine. He sings up a storm - equally at ease with a ballad or a thumper

But during the movie star years, Elvis' albums were turned out with little thought toward the kind of distinctive quality only Elvis Presley can give a song. Material and production were geared generally to what the colonel thought would sell the quickets. As rock music matured and became increasingly creative the King of Rock'n'Roll was conspicuously absent from the inventive front.

This has been corrected to som eextent during the past year with a couple of RCA albums that have taken Elvis back to his rawer roots.

And Elvis is the King. Make nomistake about that. Single handedly, he started the whole thing, and there really wasn't anything too baffling about this strange new music called rock'n'roll

Basically, Elvis' rock'n'roll was 50 percent white country music and 50 black blues. Mix, shake well and we had Elvis Presley.

Elvis' instincts took him into country music, but he grew up with a deep feel for the blues of such people as Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup

And in the beginning the real genius behind Elvis was not Tom Parker, but an ex-radio engineer from Florence, Ala, named Sam Phillips, who became involved in the heavy Memphis blues scene with his Sun Records company.

Phillips recorded such black artists as Howlin' Wolf, Walter Horton, Bobby Bland, Little Junior Parker and B.B. King, but he had an idea in teh back of his head that kept bugging him

PHILLIPS' MISTAKE

Peter Guralnick's book, "Feel Like Going Home," quotes Phillips' secretary a saying, "Over and over, I remember Sam saying, "If I could find a white man who had the Negro sound and the Negro feel, I could make a billion"

Others had the same thought, including a one time country singer from Chester, PA named Bill Halley, who added a saxophone to the basic country band concept and called his group the Comets. But it wasn't until Sam Phillips found Elvis Presley, the original Hillbilly Cat, that rock'n'roll exploided throughout the world.

Phillips quickly found others, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and even Johnny Cash, who took a smewhat different route. He recorded them in hios crudely equipped studio, using a heavy echo effect, achieving what became known as the Sun sound

After a couple of highly succesful Elvis releases, Phillips then made the biggest mistake of his life. Phillips figured the Elvis market was.

An ex-carnival pitchman, he first scored with a littel gimmick called Tom Parker's Dancing Turkeys (put a quarter in the slot and Parker turns up a hot plate unde rthe birds). Parker then earned a bundle promting Louisiana Sen. Dudley Le Blanc's backwoods tonic," Hadacol. Parker then began managing such country singers as Eddy Arnold and Hank Snow, and finally he latched in to the Big One. elvis. My Boy.

And since then Parker has merchandised everything from the barbered hairs from Elvis head (25 cents each to Elvis' time ($125,000 per hou).

Take it or leave it. That's the colonel's deal.

Courtesy of Jeannine Crerand