"Elvis Presley is the greatest cultural force in the 20th century."

(Leonard Bernstein)


"If you're an Elvis fan, no explanation is necessary; If you're not an Elvis fan, no explanation is possible."

(George Klein)


"For a dead man, Elvis Presley is awfully noisy."

(Professor Gilbert B. Rodman)


"History has him as this good old country boy, Elvis is about as country as Bono!"

(Jerry Schilling)


"Absolute id crashed into absolute superego...as the uptightset man in America shook hands with just about the loosest."

(Mark Feeney on the 'Elvis meets Nixon' meeting)


"Elvis is everywhere"

(Mojo Nixon & Skid Roper)


"...especially in the South, they talk about Elvis and Jesus in the same breath"

(Michael Ventura, LA Weekly)


"The image is one thing and the human being is another...it's very hard to live up to an image"


(Elvis Presley, Madison Square Garden press conference, 1972)


"Elvis was a major hero of mine. I was actually stupid enough to believe that having the same birthday as him actually meant something"

(David Bowie)


"No-one, but no-one, is his equal, or ever will be. He was, and is supreme"

(Mick Jagger)


"I wasn't just a fan, I was his brother...there'll never be another like that soul brother"

(Soul legend, James Brown)


"Before Elvis there was nothing!"

(John Lennon)


"There were rock 'n' roll records before Heartbreak Hotel, but this was the one that didn't just open the door…it literally blasted the door off its rusted, rotten, anachronistic hinges…. producing....no propelling, an unstoppable, fundamental and primordial shift in not only musical, but social, political and cultural history"

(JNP, BBC website)


"Elvis, the musician, is largely a relic belonging to the baby boomer generation...Elvis, the icon, is arguably one of the most potent symbols of popular culture"

( Dr. John Walker)


"It [rock & roll] was always about Elvis; not just because he was Elvis, but because he was the big star"

(Bono from U2)


"If they had let me on white radio stations back then, there never would have been an Elvis"

(Little Richard)


"Elvis loved opera, and he especially liked Mario Lanza. He would watch The Student Prince which was set in Heidelberg, over and over again. He loved the power of the big voices. And he loved big orchestras. He liked real dramatic things"

(Marty Lacker in 'Elvis and the Memphis Mafia')


"If life was fair, Elvis would be alive and all the impersonators would be dead"

(Johnny Carson)
















































































































































































































































































Barbara Pittman, Elvis and Sun Records

Further to our news story on 6 November about the passing of Barbara Pittman, is this interesting article from 1989:

Although she never came within striking distance of a national hit record, Barbara Pittman's place in rock & roll history is assured. Her four year affiliation with the legendary Sun label during its peak years more than qualifies her.

Barbara Pittman recorded four singles for Sun and Phillips International between 1956 and 1960, as well as leaving a host of unreleased material for future generations of musical archaeologists. Quite apart from her recording activities, Barbara is known for her long relationship with Elvis Presley at a time in both their lives when stardom was barely a dream.

Thirty-five years later, it is obvious that Barbara Pittman was never simply a two dimensional rockabilly singer, a "female Elvis" or "Sun's answer to Janis Martin", as she was variously called. Her life story has taken some unexpected turns and through it all Barbara Pittman has retained a healthy perspective and sense of humor uncommon to veterans of the early days of Memphis rock & roll. Barbara sums up herself clearly with the observation, "There's neverbeen anything typical about me from day one."

Indeed, Barbara's career has been the proverbial press agent's dream. As a kid, she spent time behind the scenes at her uncle's pawn shop on Beale Street where she listened to jam sessions with legendary bluesmen like B.B. King. Barely in her teens, Barbara appeared along with their classmate, Elvis Presley, at the Eagle's Nest, a Memphis nightclub, until she was fired for being underage. " I was making $5 a night. Big money at the time." Barbara's association with Elvis grew naturally out of shared history and the central role music played in each of their lives.

"I sang with him, I knew him, I lived down the street from him when we were kids in North Memphis. His mom and mine used to get together to have what they used to call Stanleyparties, they call them Tupperware parties now. I practically lived out at Graceland in the '50s before Elvis went into the service. He was going to take me on the road with him, then he got drafted." Barbara offers some fascinating recollections of Elvis in the earliest days of his Sun affiliation.

"I remember we were playing at a Catholic School on Jackson one evening. This was back in '55 before Elvis had dyed his hair black. It was still blond. He had his dad's old "pushmobile", we used to call it. You used to have to push it to get it started. It was pouring down rain when we came out of the show. Elvis had this black shoe polish in his hair. This was before he could afford to dye it properly. And it was raining and the shoe polish was running down his face and all over his clothes. And all these little screaming girls were after him and here'sElvis looking like Al Jolson in makeup. It was awful. "The King" standing there with black dye running all down his face." Barbara also recalls time spent at 706 Union Avenue.

"Elvis and I used to go down to the Sun studio in the afternoons after he got off from work. Sam had given him the key to the studio and he and I used to go down there. Sam was never there, he and Marion were off somewhere ... and Elvis used to answer the phone. There was really nothing going on there in the afternoons at that time. Everything was done at night. So Elvis and I were taking care of the studio. A lot of people were talking to Elvis on the phone at that time and never even knew it."

If the Memphis authorities believed Barbara was too young for night life in the local clubs, Barbara accommodated their wishes by going out on the road. She began touring withcowboy star Lash LaRue. I was with him for a year. The late part of '55 and the early part of 1956.

We went all over the country. He had quite a show. He really could use that bullwhip. They used to do fight scenes, he would knock ashes off cigarettes with his whip, knock guns out of guys' hands. He hired me on as a baby sitter and then he let me sing. I performed whatever was selling at the time. Songs like 'Let Me Go Lover' and 'Just Because'."

Barbara's career with Sun began in earnest when she returned to Memphis, a seasoned veteran of life on the road and still a teenager. "Actually, I had auditioned for Sun before I ever went on the road with Lash. Sam told me to go out and learn how to sing. I had only been singing for about two months at the time. He said 'Come back when you know how t sing.' So, I did. When I came back from the road with Lash, I met Stan Kesler and he had thistune he wanted to get to Elvis, called 'Playing For Keeps'. I did the demo. When Stan played it for Sam, he didn't even recognize it was the same girl he had sent away a year earlier.

Barbara continued to record demos throughout her career at Sun. Curiously, she has no firm recollection of recording Sentimental Fool, a song represented here by three distinctly different versions, which date from obviously different sessions.

"I was also singing over in West Memphis with Clyde Leoppard's band. There were no age problems over there 'cause they didn't serve drinks. Their clientelle was sometimes 13 or 14 years old. So, I got with Sam and signed a contract in the late part of 1956. I still have a cancelled check from Sam for $100. He paid it to me when I signed and the check is dated October 9, 1956."

After her affiliation with Sun ended, Barbara Pittman headed west. She continued to support herself in the entertainment business, recording a host of movie soundtracks under a variety of names (Barbara and the Visitors, The Thirteenth Committee) which hardly conjured up images of her tenure with Sun. Few Sun fans who went to see a Vincent Price film called "Dr. Goldfoot and the Girl Bomb" realized they were listening to Barbara Pittman singing the theme song. While on the coast, Barbara continued to rub shoulders with the famous, gigging with luminaries like Johnny and Dorsey Burnette, the Righteous Brothers, but major stardom continued to elude her.

It is now years since Barbara left Sun Records. Not surprisingly, the four years spent at a tiny Memphis label continue to be inordinately important to her and her fans. Barbara continues to sing and to tour. When asked of her plans to record, she replied without hesitation, "At this point in my life, "I'd love to do some blues. Just blues. An album of gutsy blues. Just like I wanted to do when I was at Sun, but I couldn't. You know, Sam wanted me to do Connie Francis stuff. Little girlie tunes, cutesy, petite and pretty, and I just wasn't there. I came from North Memphis. I was beating up the boys by the time I was three. I just refused to sing that stuff. I never did like Connie Francis and Frankie Avalon, all that bunch, the Bobbies..."

(Source: Hank Davis, Canada/John Lee)






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"Elvis Presley is the supreme socio-cultural icon in the history of pop culture"

(Dr. Gary Enders)


" Elvis is the 'glue' which holds our society together....which subconciously gives our world meaning"



"Eventually everybody has to die, except Elvis"

(humorist Dave Barry)


"He is the "Big Bang", and the universe he detonated is still expanding, the pieces are still flying"

(Greil Marcus, "Dead Elvis")


"I think Elvis Presley will never be solved"

(Nick Tosches)


"He was the most popular man that ever walked on this planet since Christ himself was here"

(Carl Perkins)


"When I first heard Elvis' voice I just knew I wasn't going to work for anybody...hearing him for the first time was like busting out of jail"

(Bob Dylan)


"When we were kids growing up in Liverpool, all we ever wanted was to be Elvis Presley"

(Sir Paul McCartney)


"You can't say enough good things about Elvis. He was one of a kind"

(Johnny Cash)