Hess talks about Elvis
Source: Elvis World-Japan, 24 July 2004)
gospel singer, Jake Hess, was once interviewed by Bill Gaither.
had some interesting things to say about his friendship with
Gaither: You know any serious biography of Elvis Presley would
tell you that Jake Hess was one of Elvis' favorite singer,
if not his very favorite one. Whenever Jake and the Statesmen
would come to Tupelo to sing, young Elvis always came to see
them. Tell me about the early Tupelo days when the Statesmen
would come to town. And how old would Elvis have been at that
Hess: He was just a little bright-eyed kid and they said he
never was talkative around people, but he'd come to that record
table where we had our song books and pictures and everything.
look at me and he'd say, "How many suits do you have?" "How many
times you made a recording?" You know, things like that. I mean,
he was so inquisitive... his little mind, He had to know what was
Gaither: Can you still remember the auditorium you performed in
there at Tupelo? What was it? Was it a high school building or what?
Hess: A high school. And there was... we were just about... every
three months or so, we'd go to Tupelo, because we'd go to Memphis
to the big sing at the Ellis Auditorium. And that was a good date
we'd play on the way to Memphis. And it wasn't... we really had
a crowd... the house filled every night, but the house wasn't too
large. But it was amazing, we didn't know that that was the Elvis
that would later moved to Memphis and become a star, until after
he had become a star... did we know that was the same kid.
Gaither: But he showed up at all programs?
Hess: Yeah, oh yeah. "It Is No Secret" sung by Jake Hess (around
1970 & 1999)
Gaither: Jake loved songs and stories with a message. One of his
dear friends, J.D. Sumner once had a conversation over lunch about
a friend of his who had been in prison. When asked why the person
was in prison, J.D. thought for a second and said "Why does it matter?"
Jake loved that story because that's exactly how Jake felt about
everyone. He didn't care where you'd been or what you had done.
He just cared.