September 27, 2018

We All Must Make Decisions in Life

By the fall of 1972, the Imperials had left Elvis for work with Jimmy Dean. It turns out that our timing was awful!  January of 1973 was the huge world-wide tv special, Aloha, from Hawaii, that was seen by at least one billion people! Unfortunately, we didn’t make it to that special because we were working with Jimmy Dean.  We were busy as we could be fulfilling dates with Dean, singing with other celebrities as well.

We got the chance to be a supporting act for Pat Boone and for Carol Channing for a short time. Our work with Carol was interesting.  She was wonderful to work with but she had a tyrant for a husband who pretty much ran her life. Singing with her meant we had to rehearse dance steps to her songs. You had to see this to believe we even did it. Her big song was “Hello Dolly” and we ended each show with it. We worked many hours on our staging and steps that the choreographer had worked out for us. We did a three-week engagement at Harrah’s in Reno with her and it was memorable for us. We found out very quickly we weren’t cut out for that. At the end of her show, we were moving around on stage to the tune as we sang with her. The final note of that song and the show, we were to be down on one knee, surrounding her and with one hand lifted up in her direction. I was positioned right behind Joe and one knee up meant the other knee was on the floor. As I looked down at the bottom of Joe’s shoe that night, he expressed his exasperation and frustration with being in a setting that was so unusual for us as he had printed the word, HELP, for us to see and to get a good laugh after the show!

I think my point in this is to say, we all must make decisions in life, and many of them are very consequential to our futures. How tragic for us to miss Aloha, from Hawaii, with Elvis Presley,  but it didn’t change the dynamic of this wonderful group that had so many doors opened to us. We had no idea of the future and that decision provided many opportunities for us on network television that we wouldn’t have had if we had stayed. We had the unique privilege of getting to choose which door we would open. Many people never have so many options. I am forever grateful to the Imperials for providing the opportunity to work with the biggest name in the entertainment field EVER! Many lessons were learned and not the least was that, when you make a decision, OWN it. Don’t wallow in regrets and don’t look back because nothing can be changed after that decision is made. Know that God has a plan for each one of us and He knows what path we will take. He is always there, redeeming every decision and turning it around for our good. Blessings to you all!

August 16, 2017

Happy Birthday Elvis

August 16, 1977 is a date that millions around the world still remember. Every year at Graceland, thousands of Elvis fans gather at his graveside, placing flowers and mementos by his grave as a thank you to their hero.  Many remember what they were doing when they heard the news of his death. It sent shock waves through the Elvis world and still brings sadness to those who remember him. I’ve been asked many times, “Do you really think Elvis is dead”? They want to believe it so strongly, they hold on to a lost sense of reality that Elvis just might have escaped death and is now living an obscure life in retirement somewhere. They can’t imagine an 82 year old Elvis, and that’s just as well. I can’t either. Elvis rocketed to Fame and Fortune at a young age and impacted so many lives that it’s inconceivable to think of him at any other age than at the height of his iconic success. Fortunately for me, as lead singer for the Imperials, we worked with him in some of his very best years.
Elvis was in great physical condition and many nights in the penthouse in Vegas, we witnessed karate demonstrations featuring him and his sparring side man, Charlie Hodge, who took the brunt of his pulled punches. Charlie was never hurt that I could tell but Elvis was proud of his accomplishments in karate and he wanted to show us some of the results of his training. For Charlie, it was just part of the job. Combining the workouts Elvis got in the penthouse with the workout he got onstage, after wearing a ten pound jump suit for two one hour shows nightly for a month, served to keep him in excellent physical condition. After two grueling shows a night, he should have been tired, but his adrenaline was pumping so high it took him several hours to unwind. The penthouse also served as a refuge for him to invite the Imperials, the TCB band, the Sweet Inspirations, and all the Memphis mafia, along with their wives or girlfriends for food, singing, and just good fellowship and laughs about what had happened that night. There might be a song that didn’t turn out the way he had intended on stage and we would have a good laugh about it. He was never so uptight and perfectionist that he couldn’t laugh about a mistake. That made easier for us all to laugh with him. And Charlie Hodge was the jokester. Every night he had a new joke to tell. He would get in your face and tell his joke to you. Before the punch line, he was ready to laugh out loud and he wanted YOU to laugh with him.  Charlie had been a frustrated gospel singer when he was a little younger, but then Elvis called and his life changed forever.