Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Texas Tea & Other Feel Good Revenge Songs

I know as much about Elvis as I do John Wayne Gacy. I can always get a laugh by prefacing a story with "Back when I worked with the Elvis band," a job I indeed held during my college years. My cousin Dennis and I exchange emails as Deke Rivers (LOVING YOU) and Lucky Jackson (VIVA LAS VEGAS), respectively, and this coming 30th anniversary of Elvis Death Day marks an incredible fifteen years since our visit. I wrote a novella called "Elviscera" for THE KING IS DEAD: TALES OF ELVIS POST-MORTEM which I consider one of my best works for the message it gives (it involves sacrificial murder) and until the cassette died, a mix of truly horrid Elvis-themed songs, the best/worst is the brilliantly horrible "Candy Bars For Elvis" by Barry Tiffin, who sobs--SOBS--his way through a story of a guy living in his pickup behind RCA Studios and Elvis gives him $20.00 to buy him some Hershey bars. Well, Elvis only ate Heath bars, from what I know; maybe Tiffin needed the extra syllable. The song ends with Tiffin wishing Elvis could come back to life if only that the homeless guy could buy Elvis some more *sob* (dramatic pause) candy...*sob* bars. This all needed to be said before I typed about Jimmy Ellis and the CD that I received in the mail courtesy of Bob Smith. I was more aware of him as Orion, a name he used as a gimmick when he started impersonating Elvis, as he was more known as this character in Kentucky and Indiana. But, Bob knew him from his rockabilly days in Georgia, by his given name, Jimmy Ellis. I am listening to the CD now, and he does a few covers besides those of Elvis, like Freddy Fender's "Before The Next Teardrop Falls," but in his early years, he never impersonated Elvis even though his voice is so similar. (The name escapes me, but remember the guy who sang "Suspicion" back in the 60s? He's that good). Ral Donner, from Chicago's SW side, could easily have become better known if he had recorded Elvis songs. He did do the Elvis voice overs in the 1980 THIS IS ELVIS documentary, and died of cancer in his late 40s. I'm very happy to have received this CD, certainly as Death Day nears. The sad thing about Jimmy Ellis is that he opened a pawn shop in his home town of Orrville, Alabama and was shotgunned at the age of 53 on December 12th 1998. "Texas Tea" is one of Bob's favorite songs on the CD mix, and I agree. Revenge songs are good. I hope the three bastards who killed him had something nice and crappy happen to them over the last decade...Wayne


Charles Gramlich said...

We were in Florida once, hitting the bars, when a stretch limo pulled up at one bar and disgorged a dozen Elvis impersonators. Lana piped up with: "it's a limo of Elvi."

HemlockMan said...

When I think of Jimmy Ellis, I don't hear his voice--I hear Dave Edmunds' high, whining keen singing "A1 On the Jukebox".

Ral Donner's "The Girl of My Best Friend" is my favorite of his. (Didn't that one chart?)

Other than Conway Twitty, did any other Elvis "stylists" ever make it to the big time?

SQT said...

I would love to be able to open a coversation with "when I was in an Elvis band....."

Michael Fountain: Blood for Ink said...

Sorry, hermano, I never caught the Elvis fever, but I do own the Sun Sessions and will bring them along next time I'm in Chicago. Big Mama Thorton's version of "Houndog" suits me right down to the ground. I did, however, gain new respect Presley after reading this reminder, "How Did Elvis Get Turned Into a Racist?", that in the climate of the 1950's, Elvis wasn't seen as "stealing black music" but creating crossover hits that made black music acceptable in white society. After the fact, when everybody forgot what a shithole the Fifties really were that it became an urban myth that Elvis was racist.