Paul Dowling is without doubt one of the major names in the Elvis World. He started collecting and selling Elvis vinyl over 40 years ago and has one of the world's largest Elvis Presley record collections.
With such a fascination with Elvis, Dowling not only became a big name in the early years of Elvis bootlegs but later became friends with Ernst Jorgensen and helped RCA / BMG with various official releases including their three superb 90's Elvis 50/60/70s box-sets, as well as all of the 1994 "Double Features" CD box sets.
EIN's Piers Beagley recently caught up with Paul Dowling for a lengthy talk about his incredible life, his fantastic bootlegging legacy, his fascination with Elvis and much, much more ...
|In Part One of our interview Paul Dowling previously discussed.
- How he became part of the Elvis World
- How he became one of the world's most famous Elvis bootleggers
- The shock of Elvis' death
- The classic bootlegs, THE DORSEY SINGLE , TV GUIDE PRESENTS ELVIS, The 68 COMEBACK LP, The ROCKIN REBEL LP.
- Unreleased Elvis material - includes the possibility of 'Don't Be Cruel' outtakes!
- Unreleased material noted on RCA paperwork
- Famous Elvis Bootleg customers such as Elton John and RCA's 'Elvis producer' Joan Deary
Go here for PART ONE an essential read for Elvis collectors.
|In Part Two of our interview Paul Dowling previously discussed.
- Being caught & jailed for his bootlegging business
- Where he obtained some of the bootleg tapes
- Meeting Janis Martin the famous “female Elvis”
- Meeting Felton Jarvis
- His official solo projects with BMG
- Working with Ernst Jorgensen
- Seeing Elvis live in concert
- Paul Dowling & Life nowadays
Paul Dowling is without doubt one of the major names in the Elvis World.
In 2012 the wonderful book 'Bootleg Elvis' was published which helped explain how a group of super-keen Elvis fans from around the world, including Paul Dowling, created the fascinating world of Elvis vinyl bootlegs to satisfy demands of Elvis collectors who were being ignored by RCA at the time.
In the book Dowling is credited as "revolutionizing the Elvis bootleg scene" due to his desire to create high-quality product that could compete or even be better than the official RCA output.
Dowling also contributed four delightful stories to the Bootleg Elvis book and while he left the bootleg scene decades ago but still runs "WorldWide Elvis" selling official FTD releases as well as rare Elvis vinyl and books.
It has been a long time since fans read an interview with Paul Dowling and EIN wanted to find out what he was up to - and what he thought of the Elvis scene after all these years.
Now the story continues in PART THREE of our in-depth interview...
Click above for full size version
EIN: Apart from Mail Order did you sell vinyl at any Elvis or Rock'n'Roll conventions?
WWE: Oh yes I did tons of Elvis conventions besides my own in December 1979. I did Memphis 1978 as well as Memphis 1992 and 1997. Also Paul Lichter's convention in New York in 1978 which was definitely the BEST Elvis convention ever. I also remember going to Philadelphia, Pa in 1978 and either York or Harrisburg, Pa and quite a few others but honestly I just can't remember them all! The main reason I stopped doing them is because it was more trouble than it was worth - literally! I found out YEARS ago that most people go to conventions to get things at bargain prices and don't pay much. The one I did in 1997 in Memphis was the one that did it for me.
I could have made either the exact same amount of money had I not gone there as most of the people I sold records to were on my list and were customers anyway and would have bought what they did from me by mail and by not going would have saved me all kinds of money like renting a BUDGET truck, gas, paying 5 employees, hotel rooms, food, etc etc. However I will admit I am not sorry I did them because I met many many people who were my customers and whom I had never met in person and that was great plus I had a lot of fun each time so in that sense it WAS worth it.
Memphis Elvis Convention 1978
EIN: So weren't you always trying to dodge the authorities at these conventions? Are there any good stories of the police coming in one door as you rushed out the back packing boots into the car and dashing away ...
WWE: Interesting question. The only convention where I was visited by the FBI was my own in December 1979 in Baltimore, 9 FBI agents came in and they tried to get in for nothing but I had told my friend Skip NOT to let anyone in unless they paid their $9 and guess what? THEY DID! Anyway one agent who obviously had no idea what I looked like) came up to me with a piece of paper that said "Agents will look for and track down Paul Dowling and Sam Theaker"! Of course I told him I had no idea who "Paul Dowling" was.
The next thing I did was to grab my girlfriend at the time (Barbara) and we drove as fast as we could back to my home in Towson, Md and packed every bootleg LP in my garage in the station wagon my mother had given me and took them to a new storage place. But anyway over the 3 + years they were investigating us they NEVER EVER confiscated anything from my home or storage places (I had three at the time) and I must say the agents I met were always very nice and one of them even told me that, had I put even a few hundred dollars in a bank account for royalties, they could have done nothing at all but I have no idea if that was accurate or not!
EIN: Your and Sam’s story – dodgy deals, the police & FBI chasing you – it would make a great movie. Have you ever considered it?
WWE: Amazingly this was actually first proposed by my lawyer in Calif - the one who won the Supreme court case for me - in July 1985 after he had won the case. I was vacationing in Cape May, NJ at the time and it just happened that my lawyer was going to spend a week in Atlantic City (about 45 min from where I was staying) and he wanted me to come up there and have dinner with him and his next door neighbor from California. The neighbor was and still is a very famous movie star.
My lawyer thought that our story would make a great movie and he said this guy was interested at that time as his career wasn't going that well and he was looking for something different to do. By the way that interest lasted maybe only 2 weeks! He was kinda’ of a strange guy in a way. Seemed very nice but mainly just listened and only asked a few questions. Also, maybe 5 years ago, a friend Bob Parente from Massachusetts was also trying to get someone interested in doing a movie but it never worked out although he hasn't given up!
(EIN NOTE - Paul did tell me who the actor was but I am not allowed to use his name as Paul wasn't sure that he would want his connection to the movie publicized)
EIN: How did you and Sam / Vic divide the up workload when you were working together – it must have been hectic?
WWE: Well honestly for many of the early years we were partners Sam did most of the work as we had switched mailing addresses to Glendale, Ca where he lived and I still lived in Baltimore, Md. Eventually when we had a new LP made he would have them sent to me and I would do all the wrapping. It was also my job to design the covers, think of the LP title, pick the songs to use and write a good portion of the liner notes although I don't want to say that Sam didn't have any input with these either as many times we would use his ideas and his graphic designer in California who was very very good.
EIN: You were on the East Coast while Sam was based on the West coast.. transport wasn't as easy & cheap back in those days. How did you manage to ship heavy vinyl everywhere?
WWE: As I just indicated I think it was mid 1979, Sam sent everything to me and I did all the wrapping and shipping.
EIN: Talking of dodgy deals, was there any other unreleased Elvis material that you were offered which still hasn’t come out?
WWE: There was an e mail from a guy who got in touch with me around 2004 or 2005!!
He said, "Have $50,000 lying around? If so, I can get you the December 15, 1956 Hayride show PLUS the afternoon rehearsal!
This is what's written on the box:
DEC 15, 1956 SHOW: HOTEL; LT SALLY; WAS ONE; LMT; DBC; L ME; WOMAN; BLUE MOON GOLD; PARALYZED; H DOG
REH (afternoon): HOTEL; WORLD TREATING (spoken bridge); CRUEL; LMT; MUCH; AFFAIR; LTS; H DOG
- "AFFAIR" must be One Sided Love Affair!!"
EIN: Jeez, the Hayride show has been released plenty of times but no rehearsals.
WWE: Obviously NO ONE has the rehearsals - or sound checks as I think they call them now! I heard the entire tape back 10+ years ago. It was the same quality as the Tupelo shows that were on RCA’s Golden Celebration. The source is the same as Ernst's EXCEPT he wouldn't sell it to Ernst! … It’s a long story. Actually, although I never knew it, this was where the versions I used on a ROCKIN REBEL boot, came from. Two reasons why I never bought it - 1) I didn't have a spare $50,000 lying around and 2) I was no longer in the bootleg business so there was no sense on spending that kind of money just to say I had something no one else did.
EIN: Ernst has said in other interviews that he sometimes doubts whether the material you have mentioned exists. He said “It’s also the same Paul Dowling who heard a bunch of 50’s concerts, including Elvis singing ’Fools Hall Of Fame’, ’Only You’ and ’Don’t’, and this guy disappeared as well. This may be true, but as long as I haven’t heard it I’m not going to believe it. You can only spend so much time, and if people disappear on you all the time then there’s something wrong with the story.” What is your reply to that?
WWE: Well I actually have talked about that before a long time ago. I think it was in an article I did on FECC or something like that but anyway my answer was, and still is, that I like Ernst a lot but in his mind if HE hasn't heard something then it doesn't exist.
While I can understand that reasoning a little bit, especially if it relates to someone who has had no history of finding unreleased material telling these stories. However, I found it incredible that he wouldn't think what I said had any credence. I mean, I believe my case is totally different. And besides why in the world would I want to make up stories like that? What sense would it make?
I have nothing to prove and am not the type of person who lies. I think I have proven myself and my track record for finding unreleased Elvis gems speaks for itself. I just can't believe that he hasn't been offered things he couldn't get because the owners wanted too much money. Anyway, that's Ernst opinion and of course he can think anything he wants. I still love the guy!
EIN: What about the much talked about Golden Gate Quartet tape from Paris in 1960? Why hasn’t it appeared by now – or does someone have it in their personal collection?
WWE: I really wish I knew Piers. The last thing I heard was that Rick's (WHITESELL) tape collection was at the James A Cannavino Library at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, NY but that's all I know. Oh and that's another thing that our friend Ernst didn't believe even after I told him to call collector Howard Banney (who was also a friend of Rick's) and who also I believe had heard the same songs Rick played for me!
I know Tunzi used to claim he had "Rock Around The Clock" but yet he played it for no one. Just like Sherif Hanna who had been telling people for years about Elvis’ "Little Mama" that he had - but didn't want to sell it as he just wanted to own something no one else had and didn't want money for it. Of course he eventually played people the song at the Memphis convention in 1997. I'm sure Ernst never believed that one either when he was first told.
EIN: Back in 2001 you announced an official book / CD release 'For The First Time Ever' but I am not sure if it was ever released. What happened, did it ever come out?
WWE: In January 2001 I came up with a great CD idea and proposed it to BMG. It was to be a 12 track limited edition (1000 copies) CD with an even more limited 3 track promo as well as a 1 track premium promo CD. The name came from the fact that, at that time, NONE of the 12 songs had been released by BMG on CD! I put out a flyer at thhe time advertising it. There was also to be a special 3 track CD and a special 1 track promo CD. As can be seen by the attached BMG letter it was approved.
Why it never came out was getting Joe Tunzi involved with the project! At that time selling a CD along with a book insured fantastic sales so I decided to include a book with it with the same name and I mistakenly got him involved with this project because, after I got the permission to do the CD from BMG, when they found out I was also going to add it to a package with a book by him they immediately cancelled it because at that time BMG was trying to work with EPE and get along better and EPE hated Tunzi so Michael Omansky (who gave me the ok to begin with) called and said that the entire CD idea had to be withdrawn. A pity because it would have been a great one.
The flyer I did said:
"It's amazing but, even after almost twenty years of Elvis CD releases, there are songs that were originally released on vinyl LP that have not STILL yet been issued on CD. The 12 songs on this special limited CD are being issued here FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER. They have never been released anywhere until now!
- This CD is a first as it contains songs from vinyl LP's that are not yet (and not planned to be!) on CD! The tracks are taken from LEGENDARY PERFORMER VOL. 3; THIS IS ELVIS and GREATEST HITS VOL. 1 (yes, we know that this CD was issued in Australia years and years ago but it is so RARE and hard-to-find it might as well be un issued!). PLUS - EXTENDED VERSIONS of three songs (First Time Ever I Saw Your Face; Fool and It's Only Love) have been taken from the cassette master tapes of the ELVIS ARON PRESLEY box set. These versions were EXTENDED only for this configuration and have NEVER BEEN RELEASED BEFORE, EVEN ON VINYL!!!!!
- All songs have been digitally remastered from the ORIGINAL VINYL or CASSETTE MASTERS!! "
CD 12 TRACK LISTING
1) First Time Ever I Saw Your Face (March 15, 1971 Nashville, Tn)
(EXTENDED VERSION from CPS8 / CPK8 3699 ELVIS ARON PRESLEY)
2) It Hurts Me (June 20, 1968, Western Recorders, Los Angeles, Ca.)
(ALTERNATE TAKE from CPL1 3082 A LEGENDARY PERFORMER VOL. 3)
3) Let Yourself Go (June 20, 1968, Western Recorders, Los Angeles, Ca)
(ALTERNATE TAKE from CPL1 3082 A LEGENDARY PERFORMER VOL. 3)
4) Let It Be Me (Feb. 15, 1970 Las Vegas)
("LIVE" VERSION from CPL1 3082 A LEGENDARY PERFORMER VOL. 3)
5) Always On My Mind (March 30, 1972 rehearsal Hollywood, Ca.)
(Remixed with overdubs February 18, 1981)
(ALTERNATE OVERDUBBED MIX from CPL2 4031 THIS IS ELVIS)
6) An American Trilogy (April 9, 1972 Hampton Roads, Va.)
(OVERDUBBED VERSION from CPL2 4031 THIS IS ELVIS)
7) Don't Cry Daddy (Feb. 17 , 1970 Las Vegas)
("LIVE" VERSION from AHL1 2347 GREATEST HITS VOL.1)
8) A Big Hunk O' Love (Feb. 16, 1972 Las Vegas)
("LIVE" VERSION from AHL1 2347 GREATEST HITS VOL.1)
9) It's Only Love (May 20, 1971 Nashville, Tn)
(EXTENDED VERSION from CPS8 / CPK8 3699 ELVIS ARON PRESLEY)
10) Fool (March 28, 1972 Nashville, Tn)
(EXTENDED VERSION from CPS8 / CPK8 3699 ELVIS ARON PRESLEY)
2 ADDITIONAL SONGS TO BE ANNOUNCED SOON!!
(These were recorded after 1972 and are still awaiting clearance from GRACELAND!! Both are from either the vinyl or cassette masters!! Details soon!
(NOTE - looking back from 2016, unfortunately, I forget which songs I had picked!
3 TRACK PROMO CD!!! - - - (BMG paperwork above)
This special 3 track promotional premium CD (containing MORE UNRELEASED SONGS NEVER BEFORE RELEASED ON CD!!!) is ONLY AVAILABLE when ordering multiple copies of the FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER BOOK / CD set! (NOTE: The title on the CD cover to the left is NOT the final title although the photo will be the one used!) Please get in touch with us for more details!! (This CD cannot be sold separately by agreement with BMG New York)
1) I'm Left, You're Right, She's Gone
March 5, 1955 SUN Studios, Memphis, Tn.
(ALTERNATE TAKE 8 from 6414-1-R THE COMPLETE SUN SESSIONS)
2) Fame And Fortune
March 21, 1960 Nashville, Tn
(ALTERNATE TAKE 2 from CPL1 3082 LEGENDARY PERFORMER VOL. 3)
3) Merry Christmas Baby
May 15, 1971 Nashville, Tn - overdubbed Feb. 1981
OVERDUBBED VERSION from CPL2 4031 THIS IS ELVIS)
ONE TRACK PROMO CD!!!
- When The Snow Is On The Roses
ALL SONGS DIGITALLY REMASTERED FROM THE ORIGINAL VINYL MASTERS.
Paul Dowling with Bruce Haulstalk in the RCA vaults.
EIN: When you were allowed to go through the entire RCA archives in 1992 did you find a lot of information on records that no one has ever heard about and if so can you share some of this with us?
WWE: Oh my god....YES!!! But first, as I have mentioned in this interview I started working on a WORLDWIDE ELVIS VINYL DISCOGRAPHY back in the early 1990's and Bernadette Moore (who was in charge of the RCA's archives) invited me to come up to New York to go through any and all files I could find. As mentioned, I found all kinds of things that are only known to me. I have included scans of some things which, as I think I said elsewhere, I have shared before. But I will just give you a few examples of box sets that were intended to be released but obviously weren't or, if they were, no one has ever found them. Wayne Stierle, a huge Elvis fan, was the owner of CANDELITE MUSIC and had issued quite a few 5 LP box sets on Elvis but in 1983 he had proposed four special 3 LP box sets to be released in March of that year, It is unknown as to whether he was going to release them at the same time as indicated by the listing notices or space them out. They were to be sold only on TV stations throughout the U.S.
Jim Curtin, Paul Dowling, Paul Lichter - May 1977
EIN: There are so many famous or infamous people in the Elvis World, a few readers have asked your opinions of several other big names you might have known.
JIM CURTIN - what did you have to do with him? Didn't he get Elvis to give him a jumpsuit - what happened there?
Piers, without going into 20 pages on my friendship with the "Darby devil" as I called him (he was from Darby, Pa.) I'll try and make this short, ok.
First I first met Curtin in September 1973 through a mail order catalog that an oldies dealer from upper Darby Pa, Val Shively put out. Curtain had an advertisement in it looking for a whole bunch of Elvis vinyl. Now I had been seriously collecting since March of that year but I started out on foreign releases like from Japan Australia South Africa and other countries. Even though I obviously knew they were U.S. pressing when I read Curtin's want-list it was like reading a scientific manual on how the heart functions. I never heard of TV Guide Presents Elvis. I had never heard of SPD 23. I never heard of the Dinah Shore promo. I could go on and on and on but anyway he opened up an entirely new world for me.
When I called him the first time I of course had no idea how my life would change with the "Godfather of Elvis collecting" as Paul Lichter and I named him.
Apparently he had been collecting fairly seriously since maybe 1962. But he was not only a record collector but he collected vinyl, frisbees, photos, buttons, movie material and any and everything you could possibly think of on Elvis. We got along very well because I would get him foreign records and he would in return trade me U.S. records for them. If we didn't talk two or three times a day for God knows how many years it's hard to believe. Some days he would call and we would talk for SEVEN (yes!) hours but I also would do that with Paul Lichter. Anyway the point is I probably kew Jim Curtin better than anyone else did except for his family.
Now, in regards to the jumpsuit! I was constantly on the phone with him when he was going through the making of the guitar, the crown and jewelry for Elvis' closest friends and many other items. His goal, besides of course to meet Elvis, was to basically trade Elvis these items for a jumpsuit. At the time everything Curtin told me was 100% true although many many many years later he would come up with all kinds of elaborate stories as to how he was good friends with Elvis etc, etc which was not true at all as I think Elvis, Vernon and the Memphis mafia hated the guy. But he was able to meet Elvis and he told me exactly what happened.
What he told me was that yes he gave Elvis the guitar, crown and everything else but that Elvis simply thanked him and made no attempt whatsoever to offer him anything. So Curtin being Curtin essentially treated Elvis like he was me or Paul Lichter or some other Elvis collector and said "Elvis to be honest with you I had these made so that you would give me a jumpsuit". He then said Elvis looked straight in his eyes and he didn't know if Elvis was going to kick him in the face or knock him out but apparently Elvis came to his senses, left the room and Curtin thought that that it was over but a few minutes later Elvis came back with the jumpsuit and that Elvis practically threw the jumpsuit at him. Now I think I've read other details of this story which may be a little different but this the 100% truth! Anyway he was and still is the most unusual Elvis collector that I've ever met in my entire life there will never be anyone like him.
Rex Martin - who was a serious Elvis collector in the UK with plenty of taped concerts. How much did you have to do with him and did you release any of his material?
WWE: No I never released anything from Rex’s collection. I did meet him once in 1979 in New York at Paul Lichter's Elvis convention which by the way was the best convention I ever went to. Rex was very nice. He seemed like a very nice guy. A few months before he unfortunately died he e mailed me a lot and it was good to hear from him but I was very sorry to hear about his passing.
EIN: It was very sad that Rex Martin died only four years after re-connecting with Elvis fans on-line. Did you ever get to talk to him again before his death?
WWE: I think we may have spoken to each other on the phone in the 70's and 80's but unfortunately, other than letters, we never had any more contact until a few months before he died.
Sherif Hanna - have you met him and seen through his Elvis collection? Did you ever think of working with him on any releases? Did you ever suggest to him you release 'Little Mama'?
WWE: Yes I met him at an August Convention in Memphis I think in 1997 and liked him a lot and he played me and many others "Little Mama" and no I never suggested anything to him about putting it out as by then my bootlegging days were over.
Sean Shaver - when did you last talk with him? There were a few rumours that he passed away a while ago.
WWE: Good question. Honestly It may have been in 1978 at the ALWAYS ELVIS convention in Vegas although I am not 100% sure. I used to see him at a lot of conventions and he even did my CHRISTMAS WITH ELVIS December 1979 convention in Baltimore. He was one great character. Wish I knew where he is now!
Paul Lichter & Paul Dowling
Paul Lichter – You said he put on such a great convention - how much did you have to do with him?
WWE: Oh my God, Paul and I go back years and years and years ago. I think the first time I got in touch with him was late 1973. I used to go up to his home in Huntington Valley, Pa many many times and trade records with him and he also came down to my home in Towson, Md. I probably know him better than anyone in our Elvis world. We still talk a few times per month. He is one fun character and has a HUGE Japanese vinyl collection - maybe the best in the world.
EIN: Regarding Paul Lichter, over the years there have been a fair few fans angry about the way he runs his business. I have to ask you - do you know if Paul Lichter ever met Elvis and chatted with him? There are a couple of photos of him with Elvis but most people think they are photo-shopped.
WWE: First, I have seen the photo shopped pics of Paul and Elvis and obviously this was done as a joke by someone but I can definitely tell you that Paul REALLY DID meet Elvis and there are REAL photos of this meeting taken I believe by Claude Laliberte. As to what happened when they met I have absolutely no idea.
EIN: People have often praised his excellent Elvis books but there are also comments that the stuff he sells is fake - ie Elvis' signatures. Your thoughts?
WWE: I wish I could shed some light on this for you but I can't because I have never ever seen ANY of the ones that he has sold.
EIN: Moving on to a more emotional thought. It is incredibly sad how so many important names in the Elvis world have passed on.
The death of Scotty Moore recently upset a great many people, I know that you put on shows with Scotty Moore did you get to know him well?
WWE: Well even though he said he would come to my Convention in Baltimore in 1979 and he told me to include his name on the huge cardboard flyer at the last minute he couldn't make it which was a big disappointment but I did spend 5 days with DJ and The Jords and they were the nicest 4 guys you could ever want to meet.
EIN: What about your time with Allan Fortas. Did he have good stories to tell?
WWE: Oh my God Piers! All Alan did was TALK!! And he talked a lot. His stories were very interesting and it was fun hanging around with him. But one conversation I will never forget is when he asked me if I knew who made some of the great Elvis bootlegs that Elvis had shown him like the NY EVE LP and the 68 COMEBACK and I was honest with him and told him it was ME and it was like he idolized me or something after that and said that Elvis loved them and wished RCA would do things like that. (It was almost exactly the same thing Felton Jarvis said to me the only time we spoke a few months after Elvis died although I never told Felton I was the one who did them!) Little did he know that at that exact same time Sam and I were planning the 61 HAWAII; COMMAND PERFORMANCE and other LP which I forgot the name of now. So anyway I asked him if he had anything on tape unreleased on Elvis and he said he did have loads of reels that Elvis recorded in Germany.
Obviously I asked him if he could send me copies and he said he would but he never did but I never pressed him again for them. But I assume everything he had eventually came out. He did order from me for quite a while after that (mostly my bootlegs) but then I never heard from him. He was certainly a fun, fun character.
EIN: Talking of Paul Lichter, I have heard that he discovered the Million Dollar Quartet tape and then gave it to you. Is this correct?
WWE: There are a lot of stories about MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET 8 track, but this is the truth.
(Note - This answer has been updated as there were a few mistakes in the initial answer)
In Sam's book about our bootleg days that he did over three years ago (and hopefully one day will be published) he gave his recollections as to how we got this tape. I think I pointed this out to him after I read it that a good part of this was wrong although I never did tell him the true story (see next question and answer!). When Piers asked me this question I should have read what Sam had written years ago both in his book and the copy of the article that was reprinted in Felix' fantastic BOOTLEG BOOK but I didn't and I need to correct it now! Sam for some reason was under the impression that I got it from Paul Lichter but that never happened. Paul had nothing at all to do with this. When you think about it if Paul did have access to this super rare tape, even though we were and are very good friends, why would he have given me the scoop? The answer as I said is that never happened. What DID happen is written below.
EIN: So what about the story of the MDQ tape being swapped for prints of Elvis movies or something?
WWE: Listen, I am now going to tell you for the first time - the REAL TRUTH as to who actually got the MDQ tape and you will see why I never told you before. I was initially told about it by a Beach Boys collector friend from Texas (first name Kevin and I can't remember his last) who told me one day of a woman in his area who he thought had it. He gave me her phone number and I called her and she gladly gave me this guy's phone number who said yes he had it and would sell it. He said it was on an 8 track he bought at a truck stop and it said something like "GOSPEL JAM SESSION" on it. So we agreed on a price (no idea what it was but $500 rings a bell) and I told him I would fly there to pick it up but honestly I did not want to take a flight to see this character - he refused to send it by mail - as he sounded weird. And by the way my feelings about him ended up to be 100% true.
However I did not fly to Texas to buy it but got someone else to do it but I will NEVER mention his name because he turned out to be a lying cheat con artist who ended up stealing God knows how many records, boots and legit RCA, from me. I have never told anyone this for one simple reason which is that I didn't want to give the jerk who did fly there the true credit because he turned out to be a con artist who not only stole money, records literally thousands from me and Sam - and made a fortune from by doing so.
He somehow conned the RCA RECORD CLUB and people like Wayne Stierle (who owned CANDELITE RECORDS) into selling us their product wholesale which is something that these companies NEVER EVER did. However, since I let the clown do the deals with us giving him the money, he was actually making tons of money by buying LPs like COUNTRY MEMORIES etc for maybe $3 or $4 each and then telling us that they cost $8 or so! Now I may be off on the prices but I am not off on the fact that he made at least $3+ on each LP and box set and since we sold THOUSANDS of each (or maybe not that many but a shit load). This jerk made thousands and thousands of dollars off of us with absolutely NO cost to himself. It was pure profit! He did other things like that too but I'm not going to bother even trying to remember them now because just his name alone makes me sick! Anyway that is the REAL truth as to how I ended up with the tape and the rest is history!
So that rumor that I swapped copies of TTWII and Elvis On Tour in exchange for the Million Dollar Quartet boot is 100% totally totally UNTRUE.
EIN Everyone wants to know that you were offered so much rare Elvis material, do you still have any rare unreleased gem that you have saved for yourself.
WWE: No, I never did keep anything just for myself.
EIN: You previously mentioned the possibility of doing a ‘Loving You’ outtakes album – what happened there?
WWE: I tried to convince Sam to do an LP just with ALL of the LOVING YOU (slow and fast) takes on it but he didn't think it would sell but, believe it or not, he called me just recently and said that one of his regrets was that we didn't do that!!
EIN: So are there any other good stories about your bootleg LPs that you've never told anyone before?
WWE: Well yes there are and I’ll tell you a couple more for the record!
First let me tell you a little more about the DORSEY BOOT LP and what is in Felix's bootleg book.
As I have said before I definitely did this LP by myself after I did TV GUIDE PRESENTS ELVIS using the same NASHVILE RECORD PLATING COMPANY in Nashville. I used the BLUE lettering which I shouldn't have done because it did not stand out that well. As I mentioned before we did change it to YELLOW when we became partners a year + later. (see Part TWO of the interview)
I have attached the original flyer I sent out for the DORSEY LP. I think this was late 1975 as I'm pretty sure the DORSEY single came out in the winter 1975 - like Jan or Feb and the TV GUIDE around summer. So my DORSEY blue lettering cover version was released in the fall or maybe close to Thanksgiving that year. So you can now see that this first pressing was sold only by me with this rather boring childlike flyer! Amazing I got orders! Ah the old Box 10!! Also I have attached a sheet that a guy named named "Mike" (no idea who he was, do you?) asked me to send him as to the sources of the LP's. My comments on it regarding the DORSEY LP was based on MY version not the later VIC COLONNA one. BUT at any rate this sheet doesn't matter that much. It's the flyer that says it all. Felix, in his book, shows the Yellow lettering DORSEY LP flyer and refers to the 68 COMEBACK. Of course that is because this version came out AFTER the 68 had. And the reason there was no photo of the actual second pressing on it is because I would guess we hadn't finished doing the artwork. The real truth is that after we got together Sam got a hold of better quality DORSEY tapes so we decided to re press the LP and, to distinguish it from mine version, we changed the lettering color and switched the photos around.
Oh well I think that should settle the true story which I must admit can be confusing!!
Secondly, about the 68 REHEARSAL TAPE - there are a few versions of how/who got this tape and I will tell you why! Rick Whitesell knew Jerry Hopkins and knew that he had the tape but he never asked Jerry for it so he kept begging and begging me to call him (no idea at all why but I remember this like it was yesterday) but I put off doing so for months but somehow one day I did and we had a fascinating talk and at the end of the conversation he said he had a tape he would send me and he told me it was the 68 Jam Session on cassette. Of course I made a copy for Rick. That IS how the tape got to me and, at that time, only Jerry and I (and then Rick) had a copy! It was possible (as Sam has suggested although honestly I don't buy this but I'm not trying to say Sam is making it up. It's just that it's been many years and people's memories do get fooled!) Michael Ochs having it because Rick and Mike were best friends and it's possible that Rick may have sent him a copy either right after he got it from me or later on. Who knows! Oh well it made no difference anyway because we were out of the legging business and couldn't put it out out anyway so who got it first or second or third means nothing anyway!
EIN: So what do you think is the best official release that has been put out using your previously released bootleg material? (apart from the complete Million D Quartet)
WWE: I think the 61 HAWAII LP. It has been recently put out by both by MRS and by Ernst on FTD and with MRS releasing yet another upgraded vinyl copy this year. I guess it is my favorite because I still love it and still can't believe that it exists and that Sam found it. Truly one historic concert! My favorite cover that I did design was ROCKIN REBEL VOL. 1.
EIN: Do you still have any original pressings of your vinyl releases for sale? Did you find that the 'Bootleg' book increase collectors interest in them?
WWE: Yes I do. I still have them all. STILL SEALED copies even! Felix's BOOTLEG BOOK was incredible. In fact I'm STILL going through it but no I don't think it created anymore interest in my LPs any more than usual.
EIN: Thanks so much for sharing so many great stories, it has been a delight chatting about old times. Any final comments?
WWE: Yes I would like to add some final things Piers. Over the last God-knows how many years I have been asked many, many times to do in-depth interviews like this before but I have always thanked the person as I honestly didn't want to spend the time doing it. And besides I didn't really think what I had to say would be that interesting to people especially collectors and fans who are fairly new and who don't know a lot about what has happened in the last 45 or so years.
But I can honestly say it has been tons of fun and I even found myself remembering things I had totally forgotten about! I hope fans enjoy reading everything I have written!
EIN truly thanks Paul Dowling for all the time he took in answering our unending questions as well as one's sent in by EIN readers, it was great fun hearing all his stories and memories.
Interview by Piers Beagley.
-Copyright EIN August 2016 -
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