JIMI AND ELVIS
Several biographies have told the story of Jimi attending an Elvis Presley concert at Sick's Stadium in Seattle 2 September 1957. This story probably originated from Jimi's brother Leon Hendrix (but I can't at the moment find a direct original verbatim quote attributed to any particular person) and some sources vary the story a bit by stating that Jimi couldn't actually afford a ticket and hence watched the concert from a field nearby with a view of the stadium.
There seems to indeed have been a well know spot called "Tightwad Hill" 1 located next to the stadium left field. It was probably the slope located between the stadium and a road in the foreground in this picture:
SICKS' STADIUM IN 1967
By Seattle Municipal Archives [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)],
via Wikimedia Commons
The Elvis Presley concert took place at Sick's Stadium on Sunday 1 September 1957 at 8.30 p.m. Tickets cost 1.50$, 2.50$ and 3.50$, 16200 people 10 attended the concert. The first part of the show consisted of various support acts: "Before Elvis came on we were treated to a whole group of singers, dancers, comedians, jugglers, marimba players and orchestral numbers - all performed by those whom the management assured us were "personal friends of Elvis" (Do you suppose a Major Bowes unit ever got stranded in Tennessee?" 2 ("Major Bowes Amateur Hour" was an US talent show with radio programs and tours).
The first hour of support acts was followed by an intermission, then after 10 p.m. Elvis appeared with his band Scotty Moore (guitar), Bill Black (bass), D.J. Fontana (drums) and the Jordanaires (vocals). Two contemporary reviews of the show give a very good idea what the evening was like:
Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 2 September 1957 http://blog.seattlepi.com
Seattle Daily Times, 2 September 1957 http://auction.graceland.com
There are no audio recordings of the concert but concert attendee Myrna Crafoot wrote down "Songs Elvis Sang In Person" in her diary. 9 The list may be incomplete or contain errors and is out of sequence (she apparently first wrote the songs down, then tried to give them sequence numbers so the list must have been made after the concert) but it does give us a good idea of what was performed. I'll list the songs here in the sequence that she numbered them:
1. Heartbreak Hotel
2. All Shook up
3. I Got a Woman
- Mean Woman Blues (no sequence number noted, follows "I Got a Woman" in the listing)
4. That's When Your Heartaches Begin
5. I Was the One
6. Teddy Bear
7. Don't Be Cruel
- Hound Dog (no sequence number noted, follows "Don't Be Cruel" in the listing, according to a concert reviews this was the last song performed)
8. Love Me
9. Fools Hall of Fame (written down in the listing as "New Song" followed by a some text that has been crossed over and "Fools Hall of Fame" written above it)
10. Blue Suede Shoes
11. Blueberry Hill
"Fools Hall of Fame" was rarely performed by Elvis and never (as far as currently known) recorded by him. Even though the back of the stage was covered with a huge "Jailhouse Rock" -banner advertizing his upcoming movie & single Elvis apparently didn't sing the song as no mention is made of it in the diary or the reviews.
THE ELVIS DRAWING
A picture attributed to Jimi of Elvis playing guitar and surrounded by titles of well known songs of his has been published in several books and shown at various exhibitions, with some Googling you can find relatively good photos of it on the internet.
This drawing is often said to have been made by Jimi after attending the Elvis concert in Seattle but is this really true and is there any evidence to back this story up?
Can it be proven that the drawing was made in 1957, let alone after the concert, and was Jimi the author?
Let's start with dating the drawing. Pretty much the only way to do this is to check the various song titles written on it so I cross referenced the release dates and original artists (not all of the tracks were recorded by Elvis).
Original song titles are listed first followed by the title(s) as written on the drawing in parentheses (some songs appear multiple times in the drawing with variations in the spelling). The original release dates for the Elvis recordings (on 45, EP or LP) of these tracks have been taken from the liner notes for "The Complete 50`s Masters" boxset.
Playing For Keeps (I'm Playing for keeps) 01/57
Honey Don't (Honey Don't) - not recorded by Elvis, released by Carl Perkins on a Sun 45 in 12/55
Hound Dog (Hound Dog, Hound Dog) 07/56
I Need Your Lovin` (I need your lovin`, I need your Love)
The track listed on the drawing as "I need your lovin`" and "I need your Love" is a bit problematic. Elvis released only one track in the 50s that (almost) fits the title on the drawing and that's "I Need Your Love Tonight" released 03/59. However, all other tracks listed in the drawing were released in 1957 or earlier and the two versions of this song don't quite match the title of the Elvis track (or the lyrics as the word "tonight" is very clearly mentioned several times in the lyrics) whereas other songs listed in the drawing have quite accurate titles.
It seems unlikely that the songs listed on the drawing would include one solitary song from 1959 and none from 1958 if the drawing was made in 1959. Jimi would have been 16 or 17 at the time, that a teen of that age would only have named one hit song from the preceding two years seems very unlikely.
There was however a song released in 1957 that does match both the title and the time frame, "I Need Your Lovin` " by Conway Twitty released on a Mercury 45 in 03/57.
The vocal delivery on the track by Conway Twitty is also very much reminiscent of Elvis and the drawing does include tracks by Carl Perkins and Gene Vincent, not exclusively Elvis. It of course can't be confirmed that this is the correct track but I believe it's a very strong contender.
Too Much (Too Much) 01/57
Love Me Tender (love me Tender, love me tender, Love me Tender) 09/56
Blue Suede Shoes (Blue Suede shoes, Blue Suedes Shoes) 08/56
My Baby Left Me (my Baby Left me, My baby left me) 05/56
Don't Be Cruel (Dont be Cruel, Don't be Cruel, Don't be Cruel) 07/56
Be-Bop-A-Lula (Be Bop -A Lul) - not recorded by Elvis, released by Gene Vincent on a Capitol 45 in 05/56
Rip It Up (Rip it up) 10/56
Paralyzed (Parilized, Parilized) 10/56
I Want You, I Need You, I Love You (I want you I need you I love you) 05/56
Heartbreak Hotel (Heart Break Hotel) 01/56
You`re A Heartbreaker (Heart breaker) 12/55
(There'll Be) Peace In The Valley (For Me) (Peace in the Vally) 04/57
So taking the release dates of all of the songs listed into consideration it seems that the drawing probably WAS made in 1957 as four of the tracks were released that year and all of the others predate 1957 (discounting the uncertainty about the artist/date of "I Need Your Lovin` "). Also, all of the 1957 songs were released before the 1 September Seattle Elvis appearance so it is entirely possible that the drawing was made after the concert.
The drawing pretty accurately pictures a guitar used by Elvis in 1957, nicely captured in this shot:
ELVIS IN OTTAWA, CANADA 3 APRIL 1957
Courtesy of BytownMuseum https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/
Though of course anyone watching the concert from "Tightwad Hill" couldn't have seen any details of the instruments being played and pictures of Elvis were easily obtainable so it's not proof of the author actually attending the concert - but certainly an indication that he or she had paid close attention to the guitar. Note also that in the drawing the text "Elvis" is not located at the top of the body of the guitar but at the bottom, either the picture was drawn from memory and the text misplaced or the text was moved to the bottom so that it can be seen, otherwise Elvis's arm would have obscured it in the drawing.
So did Jimi actually make the drawing and write the song titles on it? For the drawing itself it's impossible to tell, we don't have any reliable way of comparing it to Jimi's other drawings. But we can compare the handwriting on the drawing to later examples and the results are quite interesting.
I'm by no means an expert or even a novice in the field but it looks to me that at least 3 different persons wrote the song titles:
The title "Too Much" (bottom left in the picture) can be compared to a later example of Jimi's handwriting, the exact same phrase appears in the lyrics for "Belly Button Window" and it's a very close match (taking in consideration that some 12 years separate the two pieces of paper from each other if indeed both were written by Jimi). In the Elvis drawing "Too Much" appears for a 2nd time though (top right in the picture) and this title does not resemble to other one very much at all and might therefore have been written by a different person than the first example. In conclusion, I do believe the "Too Much" located at bottom left in the picture was written by Jimi.
The title "Parilized" appears twice in the drawing and again the two versions would seem to have been written by two different persons. Pretty much all of the letters in the two titles have been drawn in a different way when compared to each other, especially clear with the letter "z". Neither resembles Jimi's handwriting so by now I'd say at least two persons in addition to Jimi were writing down the song titles.
"Peace in the Vally"
Note the misspelling of "Vally" for "Valley," Jimi's handwritten lyrics for "Valleys Of Neptune" dated 7 June 1969 have the same spelling mistake with the song title misspelled "Vallys Of Neptune," . Also, when you compare the two written "Vallys," the 1957 and the 1969 version, next to each other they are in my eyes a perfect match and very likely both the handwriting of the same person, Jimi.
THE ED SULLIVAN SHOW
Elvis made his third appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show on the 6th of January 1957. You can find most of the show on YouTube and the audio has been released on the 2 cd set "Elvis On Television" (Memphis Recording Service MRS10056060). Though Jimi's father Al had a record collection there's nothing to suggest Jimi ever had money to buy records when he was young so he most likely would have heard Elvis on the radio and TV. We do not know if he watched this particular broadcast but it's highly likely that he or his friends did.
Elvis performed the following seven songs on the show:
Love Me Tender
Don't Be Cruel
When My Blue Moon Turns To Gold Again
(There'll Be) Peace In The Valley (For Me)
Very interestingly of these seven songs six are listed in the drawing, the only one missing is "When My Blue Moon Turns To Gold Again". Elvis also during the show played the same acoustic guitar with the "Elvis" engraving that is pictured in the drawing. None of this is conclusive proof that the drawing would have been made based on this TV broadcast but it does suggest there's a strong possibility that the drawing was done in early 1957 sometime after the Ed Sullivan Show appearance. Certainly it's much more probable that the drawing was inspired by the Ed Sullivan Show than the Seattle concert as only four of the songs listed in the drawing were performed at the 1957 Elvis Seattle show. That's 4 out of 13 songs for the concert and 6 out of 7 songs for the TV show that appear in the drawing.
So could the date of the drawing be January 1957? All of the release dates of the various songs would fit this theory except for two:
"(There'll Be) Peace In The Valley (For Me)" - only released by Elvis in April 1957 but as it was performed during the Ed Sullivan Show there's no conflict with a January 1957 date for the drawing
"I Need Your Lovin`" - I theorized that this title probably refers to a track released by Conway Twitty in March 1957. It's quite interesting that this song is again problematic and might be a hint that my theory is wrong and the song listed in the drawing is not the Conway Twitty track after all. Then again as the drawing features some titles twice and in different handwriting styles and done with different pens the titles might have been added over a period of time, there's no reason that the drawing should have been worked on during one date only. So January 1957 is a possible date but some titles could have been added later or the whole drawing might have been made in or after March 1957. It does however look more likely that the picture was made before the Seattle Elvis concert, not after it.
A had a chance to show Leon Hendrix a copy of the Elvis drawing in person in September 2016 11 and before I could even ask him about it he said that he did the drawing, not Jimi. According to Leon Jimi was much better in drawing than him and the Elvis picture, being a bit crude, is clearly Leon's handiwork, not Jimi's.
WHO MADE THE DRAWING?
Conclusions? Leon Hendrix makes a good case about it being him who made the drawing but it all took place more than 60 years ago. Al Hendrix whose collection the picture came from apparently said it was done by Jimi (though I haven't got a direct quote for that ) so we have two conflicting stories from people who were both there. Leon was born 13 January 1948 and Jimi 27 November 1942, thus in early 1957 Leon was 9 and Jimi 14 years old. The drawing does look a bit primitive and one might expect that a 14 year old Jimi would have done a better job of it. Then again realistic drawing wasn't something that Jimi ever really did, even later in life. The attention paid to the guitar suggests that the author was very interested in the instrument, could of course have been someone else as well other than Jimi but there isn't any proof for that either.
I believe that Jimi definitely did write down some of the titles but that at least two other persons participated in the making of the picture as a whole. Not hard to imagine at all, a group of children spending time together, one or more make the drawing, all children add song titles to it together. Leon Hendrix is of course an obvious candidate to have participated but I believe that at least one additional person took part in the making of the picture. Based on the evidence that we currently have the drawing could have been done by Leon but as some of the handwriting is Jimi's and as there are at least 3 different handwritings used on the drawing there must have been at least one more unknown author.
So I believe that Jimi was involved in the making of the drawing, exactly which parts were his contribution cannot be confirmed but it isn't that important either. Regardless of who may have been involved in addition to Jimi the drawing very well illustrates the impact that Elvis had on Jimi and his whole generation.
IT HAPPENED AT THE WORLD'S FAIR
An Elvis film, "It Happened At The World's Fair", released in 1963 was set at the 1962 World's Fair (officially known as "Century 21 Exposition") in Seattle. Of course not all of the scenes were actually filmed on location but parts of the movie were shot in Seattle in 1962. Jimi had left Seattle in 1961 when he joined the army so it's unlikely that he saw any of the filming but he couldn't have missed the news of Elvis shooting a movie in his home town.
I've ordered myself a dvd of the film and will add more details when I actually see the film...
As far as I can recall Jimi never mentioned Elvis in interviews (if anybody can come up with references to Elvis made by Jimi please let me know) but he didn't have to, any late 50s teenager in the US would have been influenced by Elvis and indeed many references to Elvis do pop up in Jimi's later music. He recorded cover versions or quoted snippets of "Hound Dog", "Blue Suede Shoes", "One Night With You", "Blue Moon", "Heartbreak Hotel" and "Trouble" ( these tracks are all documented, Jimi may of course have referenced Elvis on any number of occasions that we currently have no reliable record of).
Elvis additionally recorded his own version of several tracks that were also recorded and performed by Little Richard and it's quite likely that Jimi played at least some of these tracks live with Little Richard as a member of his band but for these there is no recorded proof: "Hound Dog", "Rip It Up", "Tutti Frutti", "Lawdy, Miss Clawdy", "Long Tall Sally", "Ready Teddy" and "Money Honey"
Elvis probably also influenced Jimi's stage performances, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported in its 2 September 1957 issue in a review written by John Voorhees: "Toward evening's end, Elvis gave everyone a turn by feigning a serious look, standing relaxed and quiet and announcing that the next number would be the National Anthem. Wham! He sang "Hound Dog" instead and the roof came down with a scream that sounded like 12.000 girls all having their heads shaved at once." 2
Jimi later often included a similar joke during his own live performances, "Wild Thing" was preceded by an introduction with Jimi referring to it as a National Anthem and the guitar solo included a quotation of "Blue Moon", like for example on the version recorded in Worcester 15 March 1968. 3
"One Night With You" was recorded "live" by Curtis Knight & the Squires in 1965/1966 (though the vocals were by Curtis Knight and we don't know who selected the track). 4
"Hound Dog" was recorded several times, for BBC Radio 6 October 1967, at a soundcheck at the Royal Albert Hall 24 February 1969, a studio version at Olympic Studios 22 February 1969 and even as part of a filmed acoustic jam at his London apartment in February 1969, clearly a track that Jimi was very fond of. 5
The Band Of Gypsys recorded an after hours jam that one could call an "Elvis medley" on the 21st of January 1970, "Trouble (snippet) / Heartbreak Hotel (snippet) / Blue Suede Shoes," Jimi also recorded a soundcheck version of "Blue Suede Shoes" on 30th of May 1970 at Berkeley. 6
On the 26th of July 1970 it was Jimi's turn to play the Sicks' Stadium 8 in Seattle, he doesn't seem to have made any reference to seeing Elvis there in 1957 before, during or after the concert (which was recorded from the audience and circulates among collectors in very poor quality).
Elvis also popped up at Jimi's final public appearance, the jam with Eric Burdon and War at Ronnie Scott's in London 16 September 1970. As far as can be ascertained Jimi wasn't present at the club for the first set only joining the band halfway through the second set so he most likely did not hear the band play "Mystery Train" at the end of their first set but the performance has still become part of the Hendrix legacy as both sets were recorded from the audience. 7
Eric Burdon preceded the song with an ad libbed introduction: "You know sometimes, when your girl gets up and walks away, and you don't have no friends to roll around your head, when things are getting really bad, sometimes, sometimes you know, sometimes it's hard, sometimes in your thought first thing you wanna do is get on the next train, take yourself home, get on the next train, take yourself home, hear my train a-coming baby, hear my train a-coming now, hear my train a-coming people, coming down the line right now - get! [Get yourself a?] ticket?"
2 Seattle Post-Intelligencer review in the 2 September 1957 issue, written by John Voorhees http://blog.seattlepi.com/thebigblog/files/library/1957_Elvis_in_Seattle_clips.pdf
3 Released on the Dagger Records CD "Live At Clark University"
4 "One Night With You" circulates among collectors, not officially released
5 Where to find the various versions of "Hound Dog"
- BBC Radio 6 October 1967 version available on the Sony Legacy CD "BBC Sessions"
- Royal Albert Hall 24 February 1969 soundcheck versions (multiple takes) are available on the (semi)official Charly 3 CD box "The Last Experience" but are in much better quality on the collector 2 cdr set ATM-227/228 "Experience"
- The studio version recorded at Olympic Studios in London 22 February 1969 was released on the Sony Legacy 4 CD boxset "West Coast Seattle Boy"
- The acoustic jam version from Jimi's apartment February 1969 was filmed for a never finished concert movie, circulates among collectors
6 An incomplete version of the Band Of Gypsys studio jam (which does include the relevant parts) was released on the Polydor CD "Loose Ends", a complete version circulates among collectors. The 30 May 1970 Berkeley soundcheck version can be found on the Sony Legacy CD "In The West"
7 The complete recording circulates among collectors on the 2 cdr set ATM-249/250 "Eric Burdon and War at Ronnie Scott's - master"
8 Quote from Wikipedia: "After Emil Sick died in 1964, and various members of his family shared ownership, the name of the park was changed to reflect that fact, from the singular possessive form "Sick's Stadium" to the plural possessive form "Sicks' Stadium" https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sick's_Stadium." Hence, when Elvis played the stadium in 1957 it was called "Sick's Stadium" and when Jimi played there in 1970 the official name of the venue was "Sicks' Stadium". There seems to have been quite a lot of variation to the spelling though, a lot of Seattle 1957 memorabilia auctioned by Graceland Auctions 7 January 2016 included a ticket stub, newspaper ads and articles and all these together featured three different spellings of the Stadium name: http://auction.graceland.com/september_1__1957_elvis_presley_seattle__washingto-lot491.aspx
10 concert review by Marjorie Jones Seattle Daily Times 2 September 1957 http://auction.graceland.com/september_1__1957_elvis_presley_seattle__washingto-lot491.aspx
11 Leon Hendrix visited the Handel House Museum at 25 Brook Street in London for a meet and greet on Saturday 24 September 2016. I attended but unfortunately I didn't have time for a longer discussion and only managed to get his comments on the drawing, didn't get a chance to talk about the Elvis concert