Elvis Tribute Artists Radio

_________interview with Terry Blackwood

Throughout this interview, Terry Blackwood touches on some wonderful memories of his years with Elvis.

He recalls the opening night show in Las Vegas in July l969. As he says, being a part of this exciting concert, which marked Elvis’ return to live performances, “was one of those star-studded evenings you never forget.”

Terry also discusses the rehearsals, how much fun they were, and how Elvis loved to sing and rehearse. Always a perfectionist, Elvis would often have everyone sing the songs over and over for 6-8 hours until they were the way he wanted them.

We learn, too, about Elvis’ not-so-conventional approach to recording in the studio. Elvis, not content to merely stand still and hold the microphone, would walk around as he sang and do all his “moves,” in order to get the feel of the song on the recording.

Click Here to hear Joanna’s interview with Terry Blackwood,
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At Bellevue Baptist Church, Memphis,
Tennessee November 2002

Terry Blackwood was a member of the Imperials gospel group from l967-l976. As all Elvis fans know, the Imperials were among the vocalists who worked with Elvis on his How Great Thou Art album in the 1960's; they backed Elvis on stage from 1969 to late 1971, and they were the male back-up vocalists for Elvis’ He Touched Me album. The Imperials can also be seen in the footage of the documentary “That’s The Way It Is.” And -- they’ve also won 4 Grammy awards and have had l7 #1 songs!

In addition, Terry’s name, “Blackwood,” has long been synonymous with southern gospel music, and, indeed, Terry’s father, Doyle, was one of the founders of this form of music, and of the Blackwood Brothers Quartet which was formed in l934.

In this marvellous interview, Terry talks about Elvis’ long association with and admiration for the Blackwood Brothers’ Quartet -- starting when Elvis was just a child attending their church with his mother, Gladys, and continuing all through the years when he was the King of Rock and Roll and a superstar.

Elvis and Terry first met when Terry was a teenager. Elvis used to go backstage at the Quartet Conventions, and although Colonel Parker wouldn’t allow Elvis to sing, Elvis would often be introduced and would come on stage to be acknowledged. Elvis’ love of gospel music, and the southern gospel quartets, was a genuine one which remained with him all his life and influenced much of his music.

Elvis was also a huge admirer of the Imperials, founded in l964 by one of his gospel “heroes,” Jake Hess. In l969, following the success of his ‘68 Comeback, Elvis began his Las Vegas concert appearances, and he asked the Imperials to join him. In addition, in l970, when Elvis and the Imperials worked on the Grammy-award-winning
He Touched Me album, Elvis chose to record at least 5 of the songs that the Imperials had already recorded on their own albums as he liked the songs so much.

Terry has performed in many of the Elvis the Concert productions and he recalls what it was like to be at the spectacular concerts in Memphis during the 20th and 25th anniversary years. He also gives his views as to why Elvis remains so popular today, all over the world, discusses the ETA phenomenon (“imitation is the greatest form of flattery”), and gives some good advice to ETA’s.

In recent years, Terry and several members of the former Imperials have re-established themselves as the “Classic Voices.” In addition to performing at
Elvis the Concert productions, Terry also performs and talks at many church services around the country, has solo recordings, works with other singers, and continues his studio session work in Nashville.

When asked for his memories of Elvis as a man and as a human being, Terry gives a most eloquent answer, which brought tears to my eyes. Although Elvis was a superstar, he was also insecure, shy, and had a tremendous load to carry as the King of Rock and Roll. Terry remembers Elvis working through his doubts and insecurities with great determination -- always trying to overcome obstacles and not letting “mountains stand in his way.” Above all, Terry also remembers Elvis Presley as kind, thoughtful, generous and loyal and says that Elvis possessed many of the qualities that are, indeed, the mark of a very great man.

Many thanks to Terry Blackwood for this wonderful interview.

Related Websites:
Terry Blackwood
Jake Hess

Blackwood Brothers Quartet

Terry’s family Christmas 2001

Foreword written by Carol Hunter
Audio interview conducted by Joanna Johnson