Currently writing a new book of short stories “Elvis And Other Incredible Stories” which will feature an Elvis Tribute Contest held annually in River Bottom, Mississippi [just a stones throw from Tupelo, the birthplace of Elvis Presley].
It Ain’t Over ‘Til The Old Fat Guy Sings!
No one would have predicted years back that Clyde and Delton, partners in the CD Recording Studio and CD Records and desperate for a break, would have become so successful with their ‘tribute’ idea.
Back then with new technology available in the music industry their business fell off faster than water flowing down the Mississippi after a spring rain. The last recording artist they had signed for their label was a local woman whose opus was recording dogs barking and cats meowing Christmas songs. Its sales were slower than a possum climbing up a magnolia tree. Not being a big seller would be putting it mildly.
With new software being bought on the cheap, along with bargain basement computers, garage band record producers by the thousands had cut into their business. Clyde and Delton knew they were fighting a losing battle against recording software that emulated what old studio consoles and tape recorders could do at a fraction of the price. After a few beers they would begin cursing the most widely used programs like GarageBand owned by Apple.
“Why oh why Clyde, do we not have any luck, hell even clocks tell the right time twice a day,” Delton lamented.
When the pair got down in the dumps they liked to recall the story of what happened at Sun Records many years earlier when someone walked in and knocked the socks off the owner. They always hoped it would be their salvation as well.
As the story goes, it seems as if Jerry Lee Lewis was playing the piano for a Carl Perkins recording session when Elvis Presley walked in unannounced. At the end of the Perkins session, the owner of Sun Records Sam Phillips took Elvis aside and had him do a quick audition. What happened next turned out to be an incredible story in its own right.
Impressed with the Elvis audition, Phillips then asked Johnny Cash, who just happened to be hanging out at the studio, to join the others in an impromptu session with Elvis, Lewis and Perkins. It wasn’t long after hearing the quartet that Phillips then challenged the four that if they got to the level of having gold record sales he’d give a free Cadillac to whomever did it first. Of course he signed all four to individual recording contracts and the rest is history.
So looking back, this bit of nostalgia for the old days prompted Clyde and Delton to brainstorm how they were going to avoid having their small time company go into Chapter 11. So in a period of exasperation and frustration, they started thinking of how they could bring back the magic of legends like Elvis, Johnny, Jerry Lee, and Carl.
Of course Elvis was long gone, Johnny and Carl had passed, and Jerry Lee was getting on in years. But Elvis’ songs were still being played on the radio and they knew his former Memphis home had a steady stream of Elvis fans visiting it.
Delton’s girl friend Mary Sue Yarborough was tight with some folks in Memphis. It was Mary Sue who told the boys to remember what happened so many years ago and maybe bring back the memories live and in color. As a matter of fact, Ms. Yarborough told them she heard that the Elvis estate was now making more money than when he was alive.
Clyde and Delton knew they were onto something but how could they capitalize on it? And then Viola! Elvis might be dead they pondered, but his legacy lives on and on. Why not bring a facsimile of him back “live and in color” as the old saying went and as Mary Sue suggested.
So the first “River Bottom Elvis Tribute Contest” was born. But Clyde and Delton had no idea what they had gotten themselves into nor what would lie ahead. Oh brother!
To be continued………..