Although all the performers were dressed casually and had fun rehearsing, again, the overriding impression I got from watching this rehearsal was of the immense talent on stage, the careful attention to detail, and the genuine fondness of the performers for each other, their mutual admiration for each other, and their willingness to help each other .......It was a privilege to be there watching this rehearsal.. and, .as the quote above says about all the “legends”..... “their work with Elvis Presley places them in special unique chapters of music history and in a very special place in the hearts of Elvis fans everywhere.”

Watching the actual Legends show later that night...it all came together perfectly..it was like they’d performed together every night for years...history in the making...Memphis and Elvis fans from all over are still talking about this show.... it was received with great enthusiasm and applause and standing ovations by the international audience made up of fans from all over the world who were there to pay homage to the “Legends” that they love so much.

As if this weren’t enough, I was also present at the rehearsal for the next day’’s "Salute to Elvis" concert with
Eddie Miles, Ed Enoch and Golden Covenant, and Myrna Smith of The Sweet Inspirations. Again, I was impressed by the great talent on stage and by the attention to detail, how relaxed the performers seemed to be, and how easy they all made it seem. What stood out here was the similarity to the rehearsal footage I’ve seen on "Elvis - That’’s The Way It Is"....Eddie Miles, in person, as himself, bears a marked resemblance to Elvis...and when he was sitting sideways or with his back to the theatre, on a stool, with microphone in hand, rehearsing "Bridge Over Troubled Water" with all the performers on stage, it really gave me a sense of "deja vu". Watching this rehearsal with Eddie Miles, Myrna Smith (who doesn’t look a day older than she did 25 years ago) and the former Stamps Quartet with their wonderful voices, along with the showband and backup singers, certainly brought back memories of those glorious "concert years" and gave me a sense of what the rehearsals must have been like.

Over the course of the next few nights, I saw more “Legends” on stage at other concerts...
Sam Phillips (a complete legend all by himself)); John Wilkinson and his TCB Band-mates (Glen D. Hardin, Ronnie Tutt, Jerry Scheff, James Burton)....and at the Elvis the Concert on August l6...all the rest, including the members of the Imperials, Voice, The Sweet Inspirations, and announcer, Al Dvorin (Elvis Has Left the Building)...... The best of the best.
Thanks to all of you for coming to Memphis for Elvis Week 2002, to provide us with such wonderful entertainment, and to “make history” once again. May God bless you all and keep you well.

THE LEGENDS


After trying to think of an introduction to the “Legends” and how important they really are, I came across this perfect passage in the program booklet I purchased at Elvis the Concert, on August l6, 2002. I would like to quote the following, from page 6:

Few things glorify a great talent more than surrounding it with other great talents. Elvis Presley was the best and he worked with the best – some of the music industry’s finest singers and instrumentalists. The collaboration was powerful, important and magical. The resultant body of work and its influence will live forever. Most of these artists had fine careers before their time with Elvis and have continued with great success since. But, their work with Elvis Presley places them in special, unique chapters of music history and in a very special place in the hearts of Elvis fans everywhere.

I was fortunate enough to be able to go to the rehearsal for the big “Legends” show, and to sit in the presence of such greats as Scotty Moore, DJ Fontana, Millie Kirkham, The Jordanaires, Boots Randolph, David Briggs, Buddy Harmon, Bob Moore, Stan Perkins, Billy Swan, Lee Rocker, and Eddie Miles while they rehearsed.

The overriding impression I came away with after watching the rehearsal was that these people didn’t get to where they are and didn’t have the careers they’ve had without being supremely talented, hard working and perfectionistic..paying attention to all the little details, taking the rehearsal seriously, and working on a number until it was RIGHT. The thought also crossed my mind that Elvis definitely had the best of the best working with him.

I was also impressed by the teamwork I saw on stage and by how genuinely each of the performers seemed to like the others.

Like any long time Elvis fan, I have long been familiar with and in awe of the legendary Scotty Moore, the Jordanaires, and DJ Fontana. It was just great to see them all working together again and sounding as good as ever....ever the professionals. Scotty Moore, highly respected as “the guitar who changed the world” - innovative and brilliant right from the beginning of his career and remaining so today, makes it all look so easy. The Jordanaires... their harmonies, especially on the gospel songs, never fail to thrill me. I also noticed how much attention to detail they pay and how closely and how well they work together. Ray Walker and Gordon Stoker are now joined very capably by Curtis Young and Louis Nunley.. Then there is DJ Fontana... I just love him. I always feel as if I’m in the presence of a true legend and hero to several musical generations. Along with the others, they are humble, unassuming and respected by musicians the world over. Millie Kirkham, at age 81, absolutely floored me with her wonderful high voice and talent. It was a pleasure listening to her and the Jordanaires rehearsing songs such as “I Was The One” and “Swing Down Sweet Chariot”. And I wouldn’t want to mess with Millie by hitting a wrong note...she knows exactly how exactly how a song should be sung... and won’t accept anything less. Boots Randolph, at 74, plays the saxophone with the energy and enthusiasm of someone at least 30 years younger..what a joy to hear. I enjoyed listening to him and Billy Swan as they rehearsed a terrific, bluesy version of “Reconsider Baby”. Boots Randolph also has a terrific stage presence and quite a sense of humour! Watching Buddy Harmon and DJ Fontana playing the two sets of drums and having so much fun doing so was a sight to behold. The talented David Briggs on piano and Bob Moore on bass guitar rounded out the ensemble beautifully.


Singer Billy Swan (of If I Can Help fame) rehearsed a number of songs, including “Heartbreak Hotel” as did Lee Rocker of the Stray Cats. Lee, currently touring with Scotty Moore, is one talented performer both instrumentally and vocally......as he rehearsed, I could see the admiration that Scotty Moore had for him. One song by Lee that stood out was You’re Right, I’m Left, She’s Gone.

Someone else who caught my eye was the effervescent Stan Perkins, son of the late, great Carl Perkins...he has quite a personality and seemed to really enjoy being up on the stage and having fun with the rest of them. And he can rock! I really enjoyed listening to him and watching him rehearse Blue Suede Shoes.

Eddie Miles, the headliner for the next night’s show, was completely at home on the stage as he rehearsed his 6 songs with the Legends. Possessing the smooth voice of Elvis' concert years, Eddie also delivered the "young Elvis" songs beautifully as he rehearsed songs that focused on the guitar of Scotty Moore (King Creole), the saxophone of Boots Randolph, the drums of DJ Fontana and Buddy Harmon, the wonderful harmony of the Jordanaires (It’s Now or Never) and the glorious high voice of Millie Kirkham (My Wish Came True) though they had never performed together on one stage before, it took only a short time for all the entertainers to sound as though they had worked together for years.