Jake Hess talks about Elvis

(Interview, Source: Elvis World-Japan, 24 July 2004)

Legendary gospel singer, Jake Hess, was once interviewed by Bill Gaither.

Jake had some interesting things to say about his friendship with The King.

Bill 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 point?

Jake 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.

He'd 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 going on.

Bill Gaither: Can you still remember the auditorium you performed in there at Tupelo? What was it? Was it a high school building or what?

Jake 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.

Bill Gaither: But he showed up at all programs?

Jake Hess: Yeah, oh yeah. "It Is No Secret" sung by Jake Hess (around 1970 & 1999)

Bill 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.