Saturday, 27 September 2008
September 27, 2008
TOKYO — Former Japanese prime minister Junichiro Koizumi, known for his flamboyant style and love of Elvis Presley, says he's retiring from politics.
The 66-year-old was Japan's third-longest-serving post-Second World War leader.
He told his supporters Saturday that he would give up his parliamentary seat in the next elections, which could take place as early as November.
Kyodo news agency reported that Koizumi's 27-year-old second son, Shinjiro, would run for the seat from his father's constituency in the next elections.
During his five years in office from 2001 to 2006, Koizumi enjoyed stellar public support and took major policy steps.
Tuesday, 23 September 2008
By Steven Heywood - Parksville Qualicum Beach News
Published: September 22, 2008 4:00 PM
Elvis has left the building.
His fans didn’t want to see him go, but you see, he had contractual obligations. The kind a major U.S. corporation likes to hold its clients to. Never mind that the King is long gone and that his name is synonymous with rock and roll.
The name Elvis is, however, no longer synonymous with coffee beans — more specifically, the Elvis Espressoly brand of coffee by Coombs’ Karma Coffee.
This week it’s being rebranded as Midnite Espresso — the same beans, just a different name and still available in local stores.
Karma Coffee owner Melanie van der Stock said they were contacted last March by a lawyer out of New York, representing CKX Inc., owners of the exclusive rights to all things Elvis (and America Idol, even). Despite van der Stock and her partners having bought Karma Coffee in Sept. 2007 — including the Canadian trademarked name Elvis Espressoly — they saw the writing on the wall and could not fight such a large entity. An e-mail interview request to CKX has so far gone unanswered.
On Sept. 20 Karma Coffee relaunched those same, popular beans as Midnite Espresso, having been given six months’ grace to come up with new labels and marketing for the change.
Despite losing the name of their most popular brand for almost 10 years, the owners and staff at Karma Coffee are taking it in stride and are enthusiastic about their beans. They are roasted in small batches at their roastery in Coombs. A few days a week gives them the beans to fill orders up and down Vancouver Island and over to the mainland. Sales manager Marti McLeod said they are doing well in stores like Quality Foods and Thrifty Foods, as well as some smaller stores in the region.
The last bag of Elvis Espressoly will not pass without a bit of fanfare.
Production manager Tara Smith-Hodgson said it will, in all likelihood, be sold to Karma Coffee’s previous owner — Michael Clarke — and the proceeds will be given to charity.
In an e-mail to The News, owner van der Stock stated the change will spark others at Karma Coffee — including a new look to the bags. More details can be found at www.karmacoffee.com .
By LUCHINA FISHER
Sept. 19, 2008
It became known as the "Dakota Fanning rape movie."
Hijacked by controversy for the one scene in which Dakota Fanning's 12-year-old character is sexually assaulted by a teenager, the movie "Hounddog" finally lands in theaters today, nearly two years after it was first screened at the Sundance Film Festival.
The controversy was brought on by a disgruntled producer who went to the media before shooting wrapped with a false report that Fanning was naked in the film and had shot a graphic rape scene. That night, CNN was asking its viewers whether a 12-year-old actress should be doing a rape scene.
Soon after, the film was being debated by Sean Hannity and protested by evangelical groups, including the Catholic League, which urged the Justice Department to investigate whether any child pornography laws had been broken.
"I was totally thrown off by it. I had no idea it was coming," said Deborah Kampmeier, the film's writer and director, about the media storm. "I was not making this film to create controversy and social commentary. I was writing this story from my heart, in hopes that it would touch someone else's heart."
The film, a Southern gothic tale set in 1959, is about a motherless 12-year-old girl named Lewellen who finds solace in the music of Elvis Presley. In exchange for two tickets to a Presley concert, she agrees to do a seductive dance for a teenager who robs of her innocence.
Kampmeier asked the district attorney's office in Wilmington, NC, where the film was shot, to do its own investigation. After viewing the film and interviewing cast and crew, the DA found no grounds for prosecution, she said.
In the completed film, the rape scene lasts less than one minute. To shoot it, Kampmeier said there was no simulation of a sex act. Instead she shot closeups of faces, hands and feet. She stood a foot away from Fanning's face and told her when to hold her breath, when to gasp.
"I have a daughter, I am a daughter, I care about the soul of girls," Kampmeier said. "If Dakota had been harmed in any way, if this had been exploitative, it would have betrayed the reason I made this film."
Instead, Fanning was "dancing on the bridge" after she shot the scene, "because she knew she had just hit the zone," Kampmeier said. "She was exquisite."
That didn't seem to matter to the people making death threats at Kampmeier or signing petitions demanding that she and Fanning's mother, Joy, be arrested for child pornography.
By January 2007, when Kampmeier arrived at Sundance, with bodyguards in tow, the FBI was standing by just in case any threats were carried out. Instead it was the film that got flayed by critics and booed by the press. Any possible distribution deals vanished.
"The problem with all this international controversy the film garnered is that it's really a small, small film, too small of a film to carry all of this controversy and hype," said Scott Franklin of the Motion Picture Group, which raised funds to complete the film. "It really raised expectations for this film. It's an intimate film and it got as much press as 'War of the Worlds' did."
Kampmeier took heart from the response she got from the Sundance audience: "lines of women, sobbing and thanking me for making the film, one man in his 60s who hadn't cried his whole life and said the film helped him face something in his life he had never faced."
At Sundance, Fanning spoke out about the scene at the heart of the controversy. She told USA Today that the people attacking the film "were attacking my family and me, and that's where it got too far. Pretty much everybody who talked about it attacked my mother, which I did not appreciate. That was extremely uncalled for and hurtful."
Kampmeier said, from the beginning, Fanning was one of her greatest allies, along with the film's other star, Robin Wright Penn, who signed on as an executive producer in 1996, when Kampmeier first showed her the script.
"There was a connection that happened between us that was so deep, so wordless, and it came out of our love of this character," she said about Fanning. "It was as if we both reached across the table and took each other by the hand and walked through this difficult world together and didn't let go until it was done."
By the time Kampmeier had signed Fanning, she had already seen financing for the film fall through four years in a row and made another film, her award-winning debut "Virgin," also with Wright Penn.
"It would always fall through because investors wanted the rape scene taken out," Kampmeier said. But she refused to take it out.
"I couldn't have done this film without the scene, but that's not what the film is about," she said. "The film is about so many things: motherlessness, healing, art, female sexuality, finding your true voice and the most important things, what the character Charles said in the movie, taking that which can poison you and changing it into something good."
After Sundance, Kampmeier recut the film to show how Lewellen goes from being silenced after the rape to ultimately connecting to her true voice.
Empire Film Group purchased "Hounddog" in March for a $1 million advance but has struggled to book it in theaters, including the three major chains, according to the New York Times. The film, which is rated R, opens today in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago and rolls out nationally over the next three weeks.
Kampmeier was surprised to find that her real-life journey had begun to parallel Lewellen's in the film.
"It's a story about a girl whose voice is silenced and that's what was happening with this film," Kampmeier said. "I can't ignore the politics of being a woman filmmaker. Ninety percent of the stories on screen are being told by men. The silencing of this story, of women's voice in general, is so disturbing."
Instead of running from the controversy, she has embraced it, enlisting prominent figures like Gloria Steinem and advocacy groups, such as Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), to support the film.
"It's become a controversial film," she said, "and I'm trying to embrace that and bring light to an issue that's been silenced in our culture. Dakota is giving voice to millions of silent women and girls. This is an epidemic in our country, and it's so courageous of Dakota to take on this role. It's a story of triumph and hope in the end."
According to Justice Department statistics, one in six women are sexually assaulted in their lifetime and 44 percent of sexual assault victims are under age 18.
Jennifer Storm a survivor of child sexual assault and the author of "Blackout Girl: Growing Up and Drying Out in America," is looking forward to seeing the film.
Raped at 12, and again at 17, Storm said the assaults "stole my voice, took away my childhood first and foremost, changed me from a vivacious girl who loved school to a dark vacant numbed-out person. Only drinking made me feel better and that led me further down the path of destruction."
She said films like "Hounddog," when done right without sensationalizing rape, can break the national silence on this subject. "It sounds like it's going to create some much-needed awareness and create a dialogue that needs to happen at the dinner table," Strom said.
Saturday, 20 September 2008
I personally really like this "REMIX"...
What are other's opinions of this, I am interested in hearing them.
my son is 21 years old and he is autistic, he has had many
challenges in life since the day he was born, until I found the
perfect place for him that makes him happy and comfortable.
Also one where he is able to learn daily life-skills. Charmaine
September 18, 2008
by Tony Collins - Birmingham Mail
THE parents of a boy of four diagnosed with autism have turned to Elvis to launch a fundraising campaign aimed at providing the youngster with the special help he needs.
Penny and Warwick Kay, from Sutton Coldfield, have taken the step of educating their son Henry at home with the aid of a specialist learning programme.
And to help fund the programme, they have organised a charity event to be held at Pier 39 in Mere Green, Sutton Coldfield, on November 20.
Called One Night With Elvis, it involves tribute artist Kevin Paul, who was runner-up in a GMTV Elvis competition.
Henry is being educated with intensive one-on-one sessions in a specially adapted room in the family home, designed to allow minimal distraction.
Developed in America by other parents of autistic children, the Son-Rise programme aims to empower parents to develop their child’s social skills of eye contact, communication, flexibility and interactive attention span.
Henry’s parents said he had made amazing progress in the last few months, including an increase in his vocabulary from just 20 words to 500.
But, after failing to obtain financial support from the local authority for Henry’s home-education, Penny and Warwick are now embarking on a fundraising campaign with the help of their two daughters Isabelle, aged ten, and Maddy, six.
Penny said: “We have seen such an amazing change in Henry that we feel we cannot give up just because we can’t get funding.
“We are committed to raising the money and hope the community will get behind our cause in any way they can.”
Warwick, a graphic designer, has set up a website, www.helpinghenry.co.uk . Tickets for One Night With Elvis cost £35. To book, call 0121 355 1465 or visit the website.
Fine Kettle 'O' Fish
Legends Concert Series
Dinner 7pm Show 9pm
'The King and Cash'
with Eddy Prince & Ricky 'D' Cash
3641 Portage Rd. Niagara Falls ON
Dinner and show $25, Show only $10
Choose from four show stopping entrees!
1-Haddock Dinner, prepared Boston style, pan fried, baked or grilled. With your choice of baked or mashed potato, french fries, or rice.
2-Chicken Parmesan, with linguinne and vegetable
3-Sirloin or Chicken burger with your choice of potato
4-Chicken Nuggets and fries in a basket
Limited seating-make your reservations today! 905-371-3474
Friday, 19 September 2008
Come join us in Cocoa Beach for one of the first
ULTIMATE ELVIS CONTESTS
of the 2009 Season!
October 17, 18, & 19, 2008
Cocoa Beach Hilton
Cocoa Beach, Florida
Special evening perfomances each night by
and the LST Band and Vocalists
See attached flyer for more details
and check out
LST Productions now accepts VISA & MasterCard at all show sites
Thursday, 18 September 2008
From: Emma Oldham
Sent: Monday, September 15, 2008 3:25 PM
Subject: Latest news
I have attached some of the official photos of the Bolton Arena Concert for you all to enjoy!
The website (http://www.elitetributes.com/) is soon to feature a FANS PAGE. So if any of you were taking pictures at the Bolton concert (especially the after-show party) you could soon find yourself featured on the website! Simply email your best pictures either to me or directly to email@example.com. Please include your comments on the show plus your name and location.
Here is the latest news from the website....
NEW YEARS EVE
Announcements concerning an Exclusive New Years Eve show starring Shawn Klush in the North West of England are expected very soon. Availability is expected to be very limited but there is still time to put your name on the waiting list before the show is announced publicly. Simply send your details and state how many tickets you would like to reserve to firstname.lastname@example.org
BOLTON ARENA DVD
The DVD is underway but is still expected to be several weeks until it is made available.
MAJOR 2009 UK ARENA MOVES A STEP CLOSER!
Successful preliminary talks were held today with a major UK Arena to host The World’s Greatest ETA Concert in 2009 with further talks expected later this week.
Thanks everyone, take care.
The World's Greatest Elvis Tribute Artiste Concert
Sunday, 14 September 2008
Elvis' Desk For Sale!: Elvis' office desk is for sale on Ebay for current bid US $25,000.00 with the reserve not met. Following on from our previous news stories about Elvis' Meditation Garden windows (see below) designer Bernard Grenadier's son is selling Elvis' original desk.
As reported: "Elvis commissioned Bernard to build a futuristic wood desk for him to use in his study. A desk that would represent Elvis’s style and the grandeur of Graceland. Elvis wanted a desk that brought to life his creative vision of how electronics would be married into our everyday world.
The desk would hold a radio, television, 8 track player, telephone directory and calendar to mention several of Elvis’s futuristic ideas. Elvis and Bernard drew out on a piece of paper their thoughts for this desk. Bernard took the drawings to RCA and asks them to build a television that would fit into the design. At the time RCA said that it was impossible. When Bernard went back to Elvis with the response from RCA, Elvis stated impossible is not an option! Bernard went back to RCA again and convinced them to rethink their decision. Bernard told them “money was no problem” - so the vision began to take form. RCA took the diagram to their research and development department to build the small television to fit into the console of the desk.
Elvis was so pleased with the design of the desk that he requested not one but two desks to be built. He used and enjoyed both desks for a long time.
Elvis decided after Bernard had turned down many gifts over the years from motorcycles to cars, that he would give Bernard the second desk as a token of their friendship. Bernard accepted and treasured the desk for many years.
After my Dad died (Bernard Grenadier) in the mid 80's the desk was left to me. I have enjoyed the desk ever since. It has always given me true joy to sit at Elvis’s desk and do my work, just as Elvis did many years ago. It has allowed me feel close to Elvis, and know that he worked on this desk – it is a special feeling that I will never forget.
This is truly a unique treasure. The sister twin to this desk is on display at Graceland and is viewed by millions of visitors who tour the grounds of Graceland yearly.
I am presenting the desk for auction in the hopes of finding someone that will feel as my Dad and I have, and cherish this special part of Elvis Presley’s everyday life. The first 2 pictures posted are of the sister desk located at Graceland. The fourth picture is of a memorial plaque in the meditation gardens. It has my fathers name listed as the designer and builder of the gardens." Go here for details. (News, Source;EIN)
Click to enlarge
Christmas Madness: Three Elvis christmas albums all out in the next 3 weeks. 'Christmas With Elvis' with 12 tracks from Pegasus Entertainment due out 11 Oct 2008. 'Christmas With Elvis Presley' with 18 tracks (including Love Me Tender) from the Xtra label due out 6 Oct. 'Elvis' Christmas Album' from Hallmark with the regular 12 tracks due out 15 September. (News, Source;Santa)
Elvis we all miss you so much
You were our true hero, we loved you so
We were so sorry you had to leave us this way
Our memory will always stray to the great and happy times
When we all saw you show your magic on stage
Now all the places where you performed
Leave us haunted with the thought
With the thought we`ll never see you again
Our hearts are filled with pain
Wish that you could come back again
Dear Elvis we all miss you so very much
Our hearts are filled with pain
Wish that you could come back again
Dear Elvis we all miss you so very much
You were magic, your life was on the stage
With each show you gave us your very best
We all fell in love with you at first glance
You sung your songs so beautifully
And you never missed a cue
Suddenly though you seemed to change
And you acted a little strange
Why didn`t we know, why were't we told
Elvis if only we knew all the strain you were under
If only we knew all the pain and suffering you endured
Our hearts are filled with pain
Wish that you could come back again
Dear Elvis we all miss you so very much
Elvis we would have rather that you cancelled all your shows
To have you well again, in body, mind and soul
Than us going on in life without you
Now the stages are all bare
As we are all standing there
With emptiness in our hearts and our souls
Now that you are gone
If only you could come back to us
And see the curtains raise again for you
What joy this would bring
To our hearts and our souls
Oh Elvis wish that you could come back to us once again.
Listen to "A Song for Elvis" from Anne Maree
Elvis Presley: Released September 11, 2008 is the budget double CD simply entitled "Elvis Presley".
It was released on the Proper Records label. (News, Source: Elvis News)
Monday, 8 September 2008
Mon, Sep 8, 2008 (2 a.m.)
Tribute artist, girlfriend were shot 15 years ago in Vegas ‘Mini-Graceland’
Dana MacKay was a successful Elvis impersonator looking to leave the business. His girlfriend was a pageant queen, a divorced Mrs. Nevada, living with the King in a fixer-upper Vegas mansion they called “Mini-Graceland.”
When police arrived at the house, they found the couple dead on the floor, shot after coming home with groceries — laundry detergent, T-bone steaks, bananas and a box of Junior Mints.
The steaks had gone bad. MacKay and his girlfriend, Mary Huffman, had been dead for a day or two.
Police concluded the couple had walked in on a burglary and had died for it. Fifteen years later, a different cop disagrees.
“I don’t believe it,” homicide Detective George Sherwood said. “Somebody was lying in wait for them.”
And only one important item, as far as anybody can tell, was missing.
Dana MacKay looked an awful lot like Elvis. When he sang, he sounded like Elvis. He had a backup band, and he didn’t lip-sync. When his slaying was splashed across the tabloids, they called him “America’s first Elvis impersonator.”
He was the kind of celebrity impersonator who bristled at the title. In his mind, he was a tribute artist. He played the Dunes before it was dusted. He was the first to play Elvis in “Legends in Concert” at the Imperial Palace. He played a 35-year-old King in the movie “This Is Elvis,” considered one of the better documentaries on the subject. It was rereleased last year in a special two-disc collectors’ edition. But sweating and grinding in rhinestones isn’t the easiest way to make ends meet. MacKay had been working as an impersonator for years, and though he was good at it, he wasn’t happy enough to spend the rest of his life onstage, squeezed into a white jumpsuit. He had other plans — palm trees.
MacKay had a landscaping business on the side — not driving around in a pickup truck with a lawn mower, but designing and planting large tracts for high-end homes and hotels, friend Danny Koker remembers. MacKay had an in with a guy in California who raised quality palm trees and sold them at a discount to the Elvis impersonator. This is clear when you look at aerial crime scene photos of Mini-Graceland, his Spring Valley stucco home: The place is covered in palm trees, a foolish number of them — a sort of Vegas desert answer to Greek columns.
The house needed work, though. MacKay, known for being clever with his hands, was in the middle of remodeling the place, which had a recording studio on the top floor with picture windows that overlooked the Strip. And someone looking down on Las Vegas Boulevard at that time, the early ’90s, might have noticed something: no palm trees.
MacKay thought this was his chance. Las Vegas and Clark County officials were looking, his friends and family remember, for someone to line the Strip’s median with palm trees. It was a big contract, and one MacKay thought he could win. He had the trees, but he didn’t really have the financing. So he brought in a friend — Tim Stone-
street, of the now-defunct auto dealer Stonestreet Motor Cars.
With Stonestreet providing the financial backing, the friends formed Paradise Palms Co. in December 1992. They bought expensive toys, about $100,000 worth of landscaping equipment — a backhoe, a 40-foot storage trailer, crane equipment, the works. Together, friends recall, the two were determined to get the Strip contract.
The partnership was dissolved five months later. The ex-partners quickly ended up in court, fighting over the company’s equipment. MacKay represented himself. Stone-
street hired an attorney from Goodman and Chesnoff, the firm co-owned by the man who would go on to become Las Vegas’ mayor.
Things were bitter. In one of MacKay’s court filings, he wrote: “In retrospect it appeared that all Tim was trying to do was obtain my contacts for trees, learn my expertise and establish his own palm tree company.”
MacKay didn’t want to part with the equipment, even after Metro Police were dispatched to his house to remove it. They were unsuccessful, and MacKay was optimistic. He told his pal Koker he had information that would help him win the case. But before he could go to court with whatever that information was, MacKay was dead. The tabloids described it as a “gangland-style execution.”
Roughly two weeks later, Stonestreet was awarded the dissolved company’s assets.
Robbers don’t leave guns behind. This is common knowledge to police, homicide Detective Sherwood said. They don’t typically leave behind jewelry, either. And when the person you’re robbing has cash and a wallet openly on his person, as MacKay did when he died, failing to snatch it up is just another sign that you’re a lousy robber, or not a robber at all.
The couple died near the front door of their house — shot several times at close range. Rumors floated that MacKay was involved with drugs, was hanging with a rough crowd, but the coroner’s report reveals there wasn’t a single illicit substance in his body.
“His friends said he didn’t even drink very often,” Sherwood said.
The detective has been working Metro’s cold cases for the past two years. He has been in homicide for going on eight. He’s planning to leave the section in a few weeks, but he’s so certain he can solve the Mac-
Kay killing, he’s taking the case with him.
“I’m not going anywhere,” he said.
His new boss will read this. Hopefully he won’t mind. Sherwood is the kind of guy who lets a thing eat at him. He has been chewing on the MacKay case for months, has conducted a dozen interviews, traveled out of state several times. He has visited a few jails, had a few behind-bars conversations with a few persons of interest. Next he’s going to the police DNA lab to see what they can squeeze from the available evidence. That’s about all he’s going to tell you, too.
Well, besides this: “This case is solvable.”
The only item of interest that was taken from the Mac-
Kay house was a manila folder the Elvis impersonator carried with him everywhere. Koker, who had plans to get into the palm tree business with MacKay when Stonestreet was out of the picture, remembers him dragging it out every time they talked business, which was often, and flipping through the pages. He kept everything too. He was a meticulous Elvis.
Sherwood is a meticulous detective. He drags out the cold case file, which consists of two hulking black three-ring binders, and flips through the pages.
“Dana always kept a file with him that outlined all his business, whether it was his musical endeavors, the palm tree business, his home and personal information, his life finances. And that was the only notable thing that was missing,” he said. “Somebody wanted that folder, and somebody wanted Dana.”
Several hundred black binders line Metro’s cold case shelves. Sherwood opened this one because MacKay has a daughter, a girl who saw her father during the summer and remembers the last time she saw him: at a family funeral, with a Marilyn Monroe impersonator for a date. Then he was killed. On a whim a few months ago, his daughter, Misty Vargas, searched for her father’s name online, found a blurb about his case, discovered it was being called a burglary gone bad and flipped out. She called Metro, and from there, they started poking around. At the time of the killing, Koker came out hard against Stonestreet. He brought America’s Most Wanted right to the front door of his house, knocked on the front door, and let the cameras roll while Stonestreet said he had no comment.
Stonestreet said the same thing, through his attorney, John Spilotro, to the Sun last week. He refused to meet with Sherwood as well. At the time of the slaying, it’s widely known, Stonestreet was out of town. Police cleared him of any wrongdoing when the case was first investigated.
Sherwood says he’s following up on about three angles, working just as hard to eliminate bad information as to confirm the good. He’s not a divulger of details. MacKay’s remaining family, Misty’s grandparents, have come forward with a reward, $25,000, for anybody who knows anything useful about the killing of the King and his beauty queen at Mini-Graceland.
His palm trees are still there. Someone else’s are up and down the Strip.
Article Source: http://www.lasvegassun.com/news/2008/sep/08/detective-wont-let-case-murdered-elvis-die/
Thursday, 4 September 2008
Producer Robert E. Relyea, a fifty-year veteran of the movie industry and assistant director on Elvis Presley's most iconic film, Jailhouse Rock, will appear at a world famous book store on the Sunset Strip this month to promote his new action-packed autobiography.
The two-hour signing will take place 7 p.m. Wednesday, September 10 at Book Soup, 8818 Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood. Relyea will be signing copies of Not So Quiet On The Set: My Life In Movies During Hollywood’s Macho Era, which promises to become a must read for anyone who yearns to know the “real” stories about the movies.
Co-authored by son Craig Relyea, Not So Quiet On The Set provides a fascinating behind-the-scenes, first person look into Hollywood’s movie-making landscape during the turbulent pre-and post-Kennedy years in America. The book also chronicles Relyea’s relationship with Elvis Presley on the set of Jailhouse Rock and Kid Galahad.
– When Relyea rushed Presley from the MGM soundstage to Cedars-Sinai Hospital because the singer had swallowed a tooth cap.
– A behind-the-scenes look at the famous dance sequence that became Presley's most enduring image on celluloid.
– How Presley won over the film's veteran cast and crew with his polite manners and sincerity.
– Relyea's take on Presley's romance with co-star Judy Tyler, who died in a tragic automobile accident shortly after Jailhouse Rock was finished.
– Having fun with Presley and the Memphis Mafia on the set of Kid Galahad.
The 348-page work includes candid photos of Relyea on the sets of epic films and presents rare insights into the mechanics and politics of film making, defining a dynamic period in motion picture history. A unique collaboration between father and son, Not So Quiet On The Set not only illustrates how the movie industry really works, but also provides a revealing portrait of Hollywood’s loss of innocence.
For more information, go to http://www.booksoup.com/ or http://www.notsoquietontheset.com/
Tuesday, 2 September 2008
September 2, 2008
Jerry Reed, country music’s howling virtuoso and a star of stage, studio and screen, died Sunday, Aug. 31, just before midnight, at his Brentwood home.
Born Jerry Reed Hubbard, Mr. Reed suffered from emphysema and was in hospice care. He was 71, and he leaves an unparalleled legacy of laughter and song.
“All of us pickers owe him so much,” said recording artist and guitar player Brad Paisley. “Jerry Reed’s instrumentals are required learning if you want to play country guitar. And every move he made was to entertain, and make the world more fun. Because he was such a great, colorful personality with his acting and songs and entertaining, sometimes people didn’t even notice that he was just about the best guitarist you’ll ever hear.”
By the time Mr. Reed came to popular attention as Burt Reynolds’ truck-driving sidekick “The Snowman” in the Hollywood trilogy Smokey and the Bandit, he was already a musical deity to the guitar players who admired the syncopated flurries he unleashed with a casual gleam. He was also a hit-making singer-songwriter by then, having topped the charts with “When You’re Hot, You’re Hot” and “Lord, Mr. Ford,’ and having written songs for Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Porter Wagoner, Brenda Lee and others. Then there was his work as session guitarist for Presley, Waylon Jennings, Bobby Bare and many others.
Mr. Reed enjoyed his comedic Hollywood roles (which included a part in the 1998 Adam Sandler film, The Waterboy), and he often smiled when movie fans would ask for an autograph without realizing that he was a singer and guitarist of significance. Music was most important to him, though. Asked by interviewer Frank Goodman which facet of music he preferred – songwriter, solo guitarist, session man or entertainer – Mr. Reed said, “Hey, that’s like trying to pick out your favorite leg.”
“There’s nothing on earth as powerful as music, period,” he told Goodman. “I mean, it’s pretty hard to fight and hate and be angry when you’re making music, isn’t it?”
As Mr. Reed’s health declined in recent years, he focused on spiritual studies and on bringing attention to veterans’ issues.
“For 50 years, all I’d done was take, take, take,” he told The Tennessean’s Tim Ghianni in 2007. “I decided from now on it is going to be giving. And I’m way behind. We’re all way behind. We live this life like what’s down here is what it’s all about. We’re temporary, son, like a wisp of smoke.”
“Nothing else made any sense.”
Mr. Reed was born in Atlanta, Ga., on March 20, 1937. He was the son of cotton mill workers Robert Spencer Hubbard and Cynthia Hubbard, who divorced in their son’s first year. From fall of 1937 until 1944, the boy lived in orphanages and foster homes. He rejoined his mother when she married mill worker Hubert Howard in 1944.
Already transfixed by music, Mr. Reed listened to the Grand Ole Opry on the radio each Friday night, jumping around on a woodpile in lieu of a stage, and playing a hairbrush as if it was a rhythm guitar. Noticing his enthusiasm, Cynthia Howard bought a used guitar from a neighbor for $7, presented it to her son and taught him two chords. He began striking the strings with a thumb-pick, a practice he continued throughout his career. When a guitar teacher told him to discontinue that method, an already headstrong Mr. Reed dropped the teacher rather than the pick.
Hearing finger-style guitarist Merle Travis play “I Am A Pilgrim” caused young Mr. Reed to aspire to something beyond simplicity.
“I thought when I heard it, ‘Boy, there it is! That man is walking with the big dog. He knows where the bodies are buried, and I want some of that,’” Mr. Reed told Bob Anderson in a 1979 interview.
Another hero was banjo great Earl Scruggs, and Mr. Reed ultimately arrived at a guitar style that fused Scruggs’ rapid torrents of notes with the rhythms heard in Ray Charles’ “What’d I Say.” That is the style that made Mr. Reed an inspiration to generations of guitarists. Though he would not fully realize his signature sound until the 1960s, he spent his high school years honing his musical and performing chops and displaying a talent and magnetism that set him apart from others at school.
In 1954, he played a self-penned song called “Aunt Meg’s Wooden Leg” for Atlanta publisher and radio host Bill Lowery, who began managing and booking the young man. A 30-day tour opening shows for Ernest Tubb and the Texas Troubadours ensued, and the experience was enough to convince Mr. Reed that high school was of little use to him.
“I knew what I was going to spend my life doing,” he later said. “Nothing else made any sense. Nothing else made any difference.”
“It really broke his heart”
In 1954, a 17-year-old Mr. Reed played a show in Atlanta in honor of country star Faron Young, who had been discharged from the Army. Ken Nelson, who ran Capitol Records, attended the Atlanta show. Lowery, who had hired Mr. Reed as a disc jockey at Atlanta’s WGST, told Nelson that Capitol could do worse than to sign the cotton mill boy from Georgia.
Reluctant to sign such a young act to Capitol, Nelson acquiesced. He told Mr. Reed to wait until his 18th birthday before recording, and in October 1955 the men entered a Nashville studio and made a record. First single “If The Good Lord’s Willing And The Creeks Don’t Rise” did not make any great commercial waves, and neither did follow-up single “I’m A Lover, Not A Fighter.” And neither did any others of Mr. Reed’s Capitol recordings, as he flailed about for a form that rang true. He moved through country, pop and rockabilly, to little avail.
“My records were selling like hot cakes: About fifty cents a stack,” he often joked in later years.
In 1958, Mr. Reed ended his association with Capitol. He enlisted in the United States Army in 1959, the same year he married Priscilla “Prissy” Mitchell. Army brass thought Mr. Reed’s talents better suited for a stage than a battlefield, and the would-be warrior became a member of the army’s Circle A Wranglers band.
Brenda Lee — a member of both the country and rock ’n’ roll halls of fame — remembered that Mr. Reed was in full military uniform when he saw her at the Atlanta airport and mentioned that he had a song that would be good for her. That song, “That’s All You Gotta Do,” was a Top 10 pop hit for Lee, and it was the “flip” side of Lee’s wildly popular single “I’m Sorry.” That success was a change for the better, as was a 1961 military discharge and the development of a unique guitar-playing method that would later be called “Claw style.”
“If (Merle) Travis’ thumb and index finger picking style was first generation, and Chet Atkins’ use of thumb, index and middle finger was second, Reed’s use of his entire right hand to pick (the famous “claw” style) was the wild, untamed and dauntingly complex third generation,” wrote historian and journalist Rich Kienzle.
Mr. Reed switched from a steel-stringed acoustic guitar to a nylon-stringed Baldwin model, with an electronic “pickup” that allowed the guitar to be heard above a full band. He signed a Columbia Records contract in 1961, but that deal yielded no hits. His songwriting and session playing proved more lucrative, as he performed on hits for Bobby Bare and he penned Porter Wagoner’s 1962 No. 1 hit, “Misery Loves Company.” And Mr. Reed attracted a high-powered fan in Chet Atkins, the guitar star who ran Nashville’s branch of RCA.
“Chet and I had got friendly, and he told me, ‘You ain’t never going to have a hit recording what’s not you. Just go in there and be what you are.’ Chet thinks I’m funky,” Mr. Reed told Morton Moss of the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner.
Atkins expressed interest in Mr. Reed signing to RCA, and Mr. Reed broke the news to a Columbia Records executive that he would like to go to RCA. “It really broke his heart,” Mr. Reed recalled, later. “Took him about 30 seconds to let me go.”
The only way to sound like Jerry Reed…
Atkins was determined to record Mr. Reed as an atypical artist rather than molding him into a pre-established model. In his guitar work and in the songs he wrote, Mr. Reed revealed a humor and a wit that set him apart from other performers and endeared him to audiences.
The key was capturing that in a way that didn’t dull spontaneity or intelligence, and Atkins figured quite correctly that he knew how to do this. Rather than asking Mr. Reed to write or record for a particular audience demographic, as he’d done on Capitol and Columbia, Atkins insisted that Mr. Reed be Mr. Reed.
“I owe almost every bit of success that has come to me to Chet Atkins,” Mr. Reed told the Associated Press in 1999. “He’s a nonconformist, and he suggested that I just play my guitar and sing my songs and he’d release singles.”
The first best result of Mr. Atkins’ prodding was instrumental showcase “The Claw,” so named because of the way Mr. Reed’s hand looked when playing in his intricate style.
Then, Mr. Reed came up with “Guitar Man,” which showcased his guitar work, his voice and his storytelling ability. “Guitar Man” was followed by “Tupelo Mississippi Flash,” which became Mr. Reed’s first Top 20 hit, in 1967. “Tupelo Mississippi Flash” was a funky laugher that poked fun at an industry executive who didn’t understand the power and reach of Elvis Presley.
In fact, Presley recorded two songs from Mr. Reed’s pen, “U.S. Male” and “Guitar Man.” Presley was unhappy with others’ attempts to recreate Mr. Reed’s guitar sound, and Mr. Reed received a telephone call from producer Felton Jarvis, asking how he did what he did. Mr. Reed told Jarvis that the only way to get the Jerry Reed sound was to have Jerry Reed on the session, asserting that most studio players are “straight pickers,” while, “I play with my fingers and tune that guitar up all weird kind of ways.”
Jarvis, and Presley, took note, and Mr. Reed performed on the Presley sessions. It all made sense: The only way to sound like Jerry Reed was to be Jerry Reed.
A gentle “wild man”
Mr. Reed wrote “Alabama Wild Man,” a Top 50 country hit in 1968 that gave the native Georgian a fun but geographically incorrect nickname. Anyway, Bare said the only thing wild about Mr. Reed was his onstage persona.
“He was actually the opposite of the ‘wild man’ thing,” said Bare, who spent hundreds of hours fishing with Mr. Reed on placid lakes where wildness isn’t in demand. It should be noted that Mr. Reed, the product of a broken union, stayed married to Prissy Hubbard until his death.
“Jerry was as funny as the day is long, but he was a gentle, kind, sweet family man,” Lee said. “He was precious.”
A breakthrough career moment for Mr. Reed came in late 1970, when the funny, funky and swampy “Amos Moses” landed in the Top 10 of the pop charts and in the Top 20 of the country charts. An instrumental with Atkins won a Grammy in 1971, and the following year Mr. Reed won a best country male performance Grammy for his first No. 1 country smash, appropriately titled “When You’re Hot, You’re Hot.” Two years later, he hit No. 1 again with the modern times lament, “Lord, Mr. Ford.”
During this time, Mr. Reed was also appearing regularly on friend Glen Campbell’s Goodtime Hour, and television types took notice of his charisma. In 1974, he played a joke-cracking role in W.W. and the Dixie Dance Kings. His best-loved film role came in 1977, when he starred as Cledus Snow, a.k.a. “The Snowman,” in the Reynolds’ flick Smokey and the Bandit. Mr. Reed co-wrote the movie’s theme song, “East Bound and Down,” which spent two weeks at No. 2 on the Billboard Country singles chart.
“We were fishing out at Percy Priest Lake and Jerry told me about a movie coming out called Smokey and the Bandit,” Bare said. “I didn’t think too much about it at the time. We were chasing rockfish. But when I watched him on the screen, I realized he was a really good actor.”
The Hollywood success and country hits provided smiles for Mr. Reed’s casual fans, but musicians also took notice of the staggering virtuosity behind the records. Brent Mason, now a top session musician in Nashville, calls Mr. Reed “my favorite guitar player of all time.”
“He called himself a ‘guitar thinker,’ not a ‘guitar player,’” Mason said. “He would find new ways to play things, and you can play his songs over and over and hear something new inside them every time. I’ve been stealing from Jerry Reed for years. It was extraordinary, brilliant playing.”
Mason and scores of others sought to decipher the secrets behind Mr. Reed’s rocket-fueled licks. As Guitar Town struggled to catch up, Mr. Reed notched another No. 1 hit with “She Got The Goldmine (I Got The Shaft)” and a No. 2. effort with “The Bird,” in which Mr. Reed displayed his spot-on impressions of Willie Nelson and George Jones.
In terms of chart runs and guitar innovation, that was it. Mr. Reed had no Top 20 hits after 1983, and his triumphs following that were limited to live performance and movie roles. But the sound he got out of his guitar in the years between 1967 and 1983 is an influence that is more than temporary, more than a wisp of smoke.
“Like Django (Reinhardt), Chet and a few others, Jerry Reed created a unique style of guitar playing, one which will be carried on by admirers for generations to come,” said musician David Hungate. Scholar John Knowles told Thomas Goldsmith, “His playing has the complexity of classical music but the rhythmic sense that comes from country, rock and gospel.” And bass man Henry Strzelecki, who played on “Amos Moses,” “Lord, Mr. Ford” and other Reed hits, said, “Jerry brought rhythm and blues and country together, and it came out funk. He’s one of the finest talents we’ve known. And he made people happy. You couldn’t be sad around Jerry.”
Mr. Reed’s own assessments of his career involved smiling, head-shaking disbelief.
“I got to write hit songs,” he told interviewer Calvin Gilbert in 2005. “And I got to be on phonograph records… I’m a cotton mill boy, and I got to go to Hollywood. Can you imagine that? Why, yeah, my goodness gracious. Go figure.”
There were plenty who never knew of Mr. Reed as anything more than “The Snowman,” or as the coach in The Waterboy. He was funny, and an entertainer, and in terms of movie-making that was enough. He fully understood that most of the general public didn’t know that he was one of the most compellingly original guitarists of all time, and he fully understood that many session guitarists not only understood it but also attempted to replicate his feel and technique. And he was fine with all of that.
In the end, Mr. Reed sought neither acknowledgment nor celebration, to the point that he requested a quick and private funeral. He was buried Tuesday afternoon in Nashville, and he is survived by wife Priscilla Hubbard, by daughters Seidina Hinesley and Charlotte Elaine “Lottie” Stewart and by grandson Jerry Roe and granddaughter Lainey Stewart.
Mr. Reed’s only regret regarding the guitar was that his declining health meant he could no longer play. Making music would have been a comfort in his final months. Instead, he enjoyed the company of family, and the visits from old friends like Lee and Bare.
They told stories and jokes, and Reed sometimes got to laughing so hard that he had to pause and try to be serious in order to catch his fragile breath. They talked about the good times and the dumb luck, and the fullness of some lives. And on an August day, Reed told Bare something he’d been thinking a lot about: the fact that everything he’d ever dreamed had come true.
Monday, 1 September 2008