From the archives, I was 17 when I wrote these articles back in 1992 for The Elvis Beat #2, the second edition of an official Elvis Presley Fan Club newsletter that I started earlier that year. Read about The Elvis Beat #1.
And the winner is. . .
“Here are the results . . . it is the young Elvis by a mile,” former US Postmaster General Anthony Frank announced on June 4 at Graceland. The media, and, most importantly, many Elvis fans were present for this historic occasion.
In the month of April, over one million people voted for their “favorite” Elvis. The 50s Elvis defeated the 70s version by a wide 3-to-1 margin. The winning artwork was painted by Mark Stutzman of Maryland.
Also present at the ceremony was Priscilla Presley, who said, “I think that of all the awards and honors that he has received, and he has received many during his lifetime, I’m confident to say that this would probably be the most special award for him. Elvis loved his fans very, very much, and I think that he would have just been totally overwhelmed by all of your support. And I think that having you celebrate here at Graceland would have been very special for him, too.”
The “Elvis Presley Postage Stamp Campaign” began in 1983 and was spearheaded by Ms. Pat Geiger of Vermont. She says that she voted for the 70s Elvis. “As Elvis grew older, he got better looking and became a more polished performer. That’s the way I remember him,” she said in a post-ceremony interview with ABC News. Nevertheless, she said she was “delirious” over the Elvis stamp anyway.
She also defended Elvis against critics who feel he doesn’t deserve a stamp. “They don’t honor people for their private lives,” she said. “If they did that, a lot of them would never have gotten stamps – Ernest Hemingway and W.C. Fields are two examples. You honor these people for their accomplishments and the impact they made on the world. Elvis is known by his first name all over the world. Only the name ‘Elvis’ appears on the stamp. It doesn’t say ‘Elvis Presley’.”
The stamp’s first day of issue will be January 8, the 58th anniversary of his birth. It will be available in single sheets of 40 stamps each for $11.60. (Quotes obtained from ABC, CBS, CNN, and NBC news.)
New releases examine two phases of Elvis’ career
Wednesday, June 24 was, perhaps, the best day for Elvis fans in the past 15 years. It marked the debut of two long-awaited releases.
The first new release is RCA’s ELVIS: The King Of Rock ‘n’ Roll – The Complete 50s Masters (List Price: $79.98), a five-disc set which contains every master studio take recorded in the 1950s, several alternate takes, live tracks, and previously unreleased material. (140 songs in all.) Included is “My Happiness” and “That’s When Your Heartaches Begin,” the songs an 18-year-old Elvis paid to record for his mother in 1953. 500,000 units were pre-shipped to record stores meaning the set has already gone gold.
The other release is even more monumental. The Turner Entertainment video Elvis: The Lost Performances (List Price: $19.98) contains an hour’s worth of never-before-seen outtakes from the 70s concert movies That’s The Way It Is and Elvis On Tour. Twenty-five songs are performed on this video.
Elvis lives on in the 90s
1992 is a revolutionary year for Elvis on CD. With the release of The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, a five-disc set containing the complete 50s masters (140 songs) and the new “Elvis In The 90s” series, RCA seems to have finally made a commitment to release quality Elvis recordings on the CD format.
The “Elvis In The 90s” series is dedicated to bringing back all the key albums yet to be released on CD or which have been deleted from the RCA catalog completely. Also planned for the future are boxed sets for his 60s and 70s material. Work on this massive project is expected to be finished by 1996.
REVIEW: Elvis – The Lost Performances
Turner Home Entertainment, starring Elvis Presley, produced by Patrick Michael Murphy.
“There was a guy who said one time, he said, ‘You never stood in that man’s shoes or saw things through his eyes. Or stood and watched with helpless hands while the heart inside you dies. So help your brother along the way, no matter where he starts. For the same God that made you made him, too – these men with broken hearts.’ I’d like to sing a song along the same line,” Elvis finishes his beautiful speech and the band breaks into “Walk A Mile In My Shoes.”
Elvis: The Lost Performances is, by far, the best Elvis video ever. Hours of unseen footage from Elvis: That’s The Way It Is (1970) and Elvis On Tour (1972) were rescued from an MGM vault in Kansas. From this footage, one hour was chosen for The Lost Performances.
Part one gives the viewer a front row seat at Elvis’ August 1970 engagement at the International Hotel in Las Vegas. These are the most spectacular parts of this video, allowing fans to relive the excitement or perhaps experience it for the first time. This is Elvis at his best.
The next segment gives a rare, behind-the-scenes glimpse of Elvis in rehearsal for the aforementioned concerts. These clips demonstrate Elvis’ magnificent personality and sense of humor. Also of interest, Elvis sings several 50s songs which have never been released as 70s versions.
Finally, the clock turns to 1972, and Elvis is spotlighted on tour in Hampton, Virginia, and Greensboro, North Carolina. The highlights of this part are Elvis singing “Are You Lonesome Tonight” and “How Great Thou Art,” proving he was still King.
A lot of effort was made to produce this video, and it shows. Turner Entertainment Company and Elvis Presley Enterprises are to be commended for their dedication to releasing “pure” Elvis on this video. The songs have not been cut and there is no annoying narration. It’s just Elvis, and that’s all his fans ever wanted.
This video really shows “the great performances,” and no fan should be without it. (Rating: 10 out of 10)
All right, it’s been twenty years, but I still remember how mad I was about the whole Elvis stamp thing. In typical fashion, the mainstream media unfairly slammed the 70s Elvis stamp. At that time, I strongly preferred Elvis’ 1970s music over everything else, so I really wanted it to win.
While my views of his music have leveled out in many ways since then, I have to admit, I still prefer the 70s stamp. It just looks more like Elvis. The squinty-eyed 1950s stamp still does not look right to me.
However, I can understand, now, all these years later, that it was probably most appropriate to recognize his many groundbreaking achievements in the 1950s. Too bad no one created a better 1950s stamp image, though.
Anyway, my animosity about the treatment of the 70s Elvis actually colored many of my articles over the first two or three years of the newsletter. For instance, note how I said in the “New releases” article, “[Elvis: The Lost Performances] is even more monumental [than ELVIS: The King of Rock 'n' Roll - The Complete 50s Masters].” I would not so easily dismiss The Complete 50s Masters these days.
Speaking of The Lost Performances - wow, what a video! Not only did it solidify my view that the 70s Elvis should have won the stamp election, but I still consider watching it for the first time the best hour of my entire Elvis fan experience to this point.
I came to the end of the VHS tape that first day, rewound it, and played it again. I’m sure I watched it at least three, maybe four times that first day.
At the time, I envisioned a whole series of these videos with multiple volumes of footage. Unfortunately, it was not meant to be. Today, most of the footage captured for That’s The Way It Is and Elvis On Tour continues to waste away in the Turner/Warner vaults. The Lost Performances never made it to DVD, though a few of the same outtakes appear on the “special edition” version of That’s The Way It Is.
[Incidentally, the flyer posted above was included within The Complete 50s Masters set. Note how they reversed the image of Elvis.]
Back to 1992, here’s a look at some of the other content from The Elvis Beat #2.
In A Flash (pages 2-3): Covered twelve additional news stories, including:
- Artist John Berkey reacts to criticism of his 70s Elvis stamp [Richmond Times-Dispatch]
- Ronnie McDowell to sing “Jailhouse Rock” on a Hats Off To Minnie television special honoring Minnie Pearl
- Elvis Presley museum to open in Tupelo near his birthplace [Graceland Express]
- 1979 Beale Street Elvis statue to be restored, relocated, and replaced [Graceland Express]
- RCA and RIAA to present “the largest number of certified gold and platinum record awards ever given at one time to any recording artist or group” to Graceland for Elvis [Graceland Express]
- Super Elvis Trivia, including, “In what year was Elvis first recorded singing ‘Little Cabin Home On The Hill’?”
- Tenth anniversary of Graceland opening to the public (over six million visitors to that point)
- Elvis’ “Don’t Be Cruel” voted as “Virginia’s All-Time Favorite Song” for a local radio station’s “Memorial Day 500″ special
Editor’s Corner: (page 4): Noted the fifteenth anniversary of Elvis’ death. Also proclaimed 1992 as a pivotal Elvis year: “35 years from now, when there are six or seven Elvis stamps and all audio and video material has been officially released, as fans mark the 50th anniversary of Elvis’ death, they will look back at 1992 as a landmark year. RCA began a new dedication to quality Elvis releases, and Elvis finally began receiving some of the recognition he deserved.”
Reviews (pages 5-6): Also reviewed three television specials:
- Elvis: The Great Performances, CBS television version (Rating: 6 out of 10)
- Hardcopy Presents, I Elvis (2 out of 10)
- Viva Elvis (5 out of 10) [This was a documentary about Elvis imitators, not related to the more recent Cirque du Soleil show of the same title]
Pot Luck (page 7): This was stuff that I could not fit on the other pages, mostly free advertisements for Elvis fan club publications that I enjoyed (The Wonder of You-Maryland, That’s The Way It Is-Chicago, Graceland Express-Memphis, Elvis Business-Illinois, and Elvis International Forum-California). Also, a few more news stories:
- New music video for the song “All Shook Up” to be released to market The Complete 50s Masters set [I never did see this video]
- When Elvis Died book by Janice & Neal Gregory to be re-released [I never read the updated version, but enjoyed the 1982 version]
- New book, On Tour With Elvis by Christopher Brown, to be released – covering one of Elvis’ 1975 concert tours [I never obtained this]
Elvis Week ’92 (page 8): This was the complete schedule of events for Elvis Week 1992, as provided by Graceland in a pamphlet. I actually re-typed the entire pamphlet because I wanted all of the pages of The Elvis Beat to look consistent. It took forever. There was no Elvis web site back then to copy and paste this kind of text.
Help Wanted and Memories (page 9): The top half of this page consisted of me begging for people to send content. The bottom half consisted of 21-year-old Lori E. of Coopersburg, Pennsylvania, sharing how she became an Elvis fan. If I remember correctly, she and I became “pen pals” through the Graceland Express prior to me starting the fan club. I have not kept up with her since then. I wonder if she’s still a big fan?
Elvis In Concert 1977 (page 10): I’m sure some of you who saw this on the cover page were extremely curious as to what this would be. Nothing too exciting, just a word search consisting of all of the songs on the 1977 album Elvis In Concert.
In Dreams Of Yesterday (pages 11-12): Elvis wrote this last article, at least that is what the byline says. In reality, I combed through all of the audio, video, and print sources I had at that time to create Elvis’ “life story” from his point-of-view. Reading over it now, I see that some of the print sources were probably dubious (unfortunately, I attributed none of the sources). I also suspect I may have filled in some blanks with a few words of my own every now and then, though I cannot tell for sure. These days, I prefer to actually hear audio evidence of Elvis saying something before I consider it a quote. This piece took an enormous amount of time as well. I closed it out with the epitaph from Elvis’ tombstone. I only recently learned that Vernon Presley commissioned this piece from Janelle McComb (who also wrote “The Priceless Gift”).
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This issue was literally jam-packed with content. I remember putting tons of effort into it in observance of the 15th anniversary of Elvis’ death. Though readership of The Elvis Beat at this time was slim to none outside of family and friends, this was probably the best edition of the newsletter.