Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne



FOR THE WEEK OF AUGUST 18, 2008

DEAR JERRY: I was only nine when Elvis married Priscilla Beaulieu (May 1, 1967) but I cried because he didn't wait for me to grow up.

Ten years later to the day, I finally attended an Elvis concert, one of three he gave in Chicago. Sadly, that would be the only time I ever saw him in person.

About three months later he died (August 16, 1977).

I would love to know how many total shows Elvis gave, broken into each of his three decades: the 1950s, '60s, and '70s.
—Barbara Jean, Riverside, Ill.

DEAR BARBARA JEAN: Drat! Another five years and you would have been the same age as Priscilla when she entered his life. It seems you were, as the Poni-Tails once lamented, “Born Too Late.”

Rough estimates abound of the number of concerts, but I have not found a specific total.

So we calculated our own, one at a time from scratch.

Included are Elvis' radio and television appearances, all of which are live performances in front of a real audience.

From July 17, 1954 through November 11, 1957, Presley gave 453 shows. Most of these dates were within driving distance from his Memphis home.

Thanks to the military draft, the count ends there for the 1950s. His next performance would be March 25, 1960.

For the 1960s, there are 66 shows from March 25, 1960 through the end of his first Las Vegas International Hotel booking. This breaks down to four shows in 1960 and '61, six in June 1968, and 56 in Vegas, from July 31 to August 28, 1969.

Most of the '60s are the Hollywood years when he was under contract to make one film after another. As soon as he got out of those contracts he returned to the stage.

During the following decade, Elvis gave an astonishing number of concerts. From January 26, 1970 through June 26, 1977, we count 1,075 shows.

Las Vegas and Stateline Nevada (Lake Tahoe) hotel showrooms are the site of 680 concerts, and 395 took place in arenas and coliseums coast-to-coast.

This brings his career total to 1,594.

I'm sure you did not know the Chicago show you attended (May 1, 1977) is concert number 1,568.

DEAR JERRY: From a previous column I discovered some hit songs with very long titles, including the longest one.

From 1981, by Stars on 45, it contains 56 words: "More Stars: Papa Was a Rolling Stone/Dance to the Music/Sugar Baby Love/Let's Go to San Francisco/A Horse with No Name/Monday Monday/Tears of a Clown/Stop in the Name of Love/Cracklin' Rosie/Do Wah Diddy Diddy/A Lover's Concerto/Reach Out I'll Be There/Sounds of Silence/Stars on 45."

This makes me wonder about recordings overall, without regard to chart success, style of music, or anything else. Just the longest title, period.

Can any top the "More Stars" medley?
—Kyle Kaufman, Dallas, Texas.

DEAR KYLE: I have one that easily laps the rest of the field.

Upon reading this 99 word title, which hilariously includes a three word subtitle, one's first reaction is to think these words are merely extracted from the lyrics — but they are not!

In fact, the actual lyrics do not contain any of the phrases used for the title.

Written and recorded by Christine Lavin for her “Future Fossils” LP (Philo 1104), originally issued in 1985, the full title is:

"Regretting What I Said to You When You Called Me at Eleven O'clock on a Friday Morning to Tell Me That at One O'clock Friday Afternoon You're Gonna Leave Your Office, Go Downstairs, Hail a Cab to Go out to the Airport to Catch a Plane to Go Skiing in the Alps for Two Weeks. Not That I Wanted to Go with You, I Wasn't Able to Leave Town, I'm Not a Very Good Skier, I Couldn't Expect You to Pay My Way, But After Going Out with You for Three Years, I Don't Like Surprises (A Musical Apology)."

In a spoken introduction preceding the track, Lavin confirms the prolonged title, then offers a comment about her clever composition:

"In the song I attempt to take back everything I said while standing in a [Manhattan] phone booth at the corner of 49th [Street] and Third [Avenue]."

Rounder Records reissued "Future Fossils" (011671110424) on CD in 1994.

Both the vinyl edition and CD are easily available for under $10.

IZ ZAT SO? The only states in which Elvis did not perform are: Alaska; Delaware; Idaho; Montana; New Hampshire; New Jersey; North Dakota; Vermont; and Wyoming.

Presley also appeared in the District of Columbia (March 1956), as well as three Canadian cities (April 1957): Ottawa; Toronto; and Vancouver.

He never entertained professionally outside of North America.




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