February 11, 2020

He Didn’t Know…

I’m sitting in my hotel room in Vienna, Austria, reflecting on the last couple of days with the 2020 group that came with us to Vienna. Our host, Dennis Jale, the Imperials, Glen D. Hardin, the Holladay Sisters, Donna Presley, Elvis’ cousin, and Paul Leim, one of the really great drummers still making it happen on stage. He’s here with his beautiful wife of 51 years, Jeannie. As we sat around the top floor of the Intercontinental Hotel, we shared stories, we listened to Glen D Hardin tell of his arranging history. He told us he developed an interest in orchestration long before working with Elvis. He went to the book store and bought a book for $1.25 on the instruments he would arrange and their ranges. He didn’t know what Coda or the D.S sign meant so he looked them up in that little book. After learning the definitions of the terms used, he went through the L.A. phone book looking for a musician who could help him. He finally found one. The man said I’ll teach you the basics in an hour. So one Saturday. He went to his home, they sat down, and this musician began giving him loads of information on chords, terms to be used for charting, and valuable points to consider when scoring a chart for orchestra. 

Glen D. Hardin

It wasn’t long after that, he began writing for orchestra and without one lesson from a university professor! I’m sure there would be one somewhere who might have been able to help, but Glen didn’t need a semester learning from a professor who knew the same things that little book had already told him. The best instruction you will ever have is sitting under or behind one who has done it well. Experience has always been a better teacher than a classroom professor who couldn’t make it in the real world of music. If you have the talent, you can take it from there. 

By the time he wound up with Elvis, he had already begun to do orchestrations for many artists. One of his first was for the First Edition where he arranged the song, “Ruby”. 

Glen playing for Elvis

We had been in rehearsals with Elvis for several weeks in Los Angeles before the big opening in Las Vegas.  Glen wasn’t in the first month with us. A man named Larry Muhoberac was our first pianist. Our second month-long stay in Vegas, Glen D came on board. We were hashing out a few mistakes in rehearsal and Elvis said to the band, “I sure would like to cut Let It Be Me. We don’t have a chart on it but maybe soon I’ll hire someone to write one out”. Glen told us he went up to his room, took out his pencil and manuscript paper, and wrote the arrangement to that song in four hours! The next night when Elvis came down for soundcheck before the show, Glen passed out his arrangement to the orchestra, and as Elvis walked into the showroom, Glen hit the downbeat to the song for Elvis to hear. IT WAS BEAUTIFUL! From that night on, Glen orchestrated all of Elvis’s songs. 

Glen D. Hardin is a very talented and humble man who merely decided he wanted to do something, so he did it! What a great lesson in that for all of us to learn. We are only limited by our minds. If we think we can do it, we probably can. You never know until you try. Study your craft and be the best you can be and you never know the doors God will open for you. 

October 18, 2018

A Whirlwind Tour of Rome

I know I missed last week’s blog. I was on a slow boat to Rome, Italy from a start in Barcelona, Spain, ending back in Barcelona, and had no internet. You can imagine how frustrated I was not being able to write and get it published in time. The cruise was the TCB Cruise with Dennis Jale as host. Priscilla Presley was on board, Jerry Schilling and his wife, Cindy, were there. James and Louise Burton, Ronnie and Donna Tutt, Glen D Hardin and were included in that lineup. We flew to Barcelona, Spain and did a concert there the first night. The next day, we boarded the ship and set sail for Naples, Italy as our first stop. We arrived there the next morning where we exited the ship and took a taxi to visit Pompeii and Mt. Vesuvius. That was an amazing story. The city was hit with an earthquake in 62 AD and it did much damage to the city. As they were in the process of recovery, Mt. Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD and the eruption was so quick and complete that people were actually buried in volcanic ash before they had a chance to escape. There are actual corpses there to prove that. History records that the city had become very carnal and wicked and though they don’t link it to God’s judgment, for those of us who are Christians, it’s a distinct possibility this was from the hand of God. He’s slow to anger but if He is provoked long enough, He will act. Human nature without God in their plans always devolves to a lower state of moral depravity.  It seems Pompeii was just one more example of that. From the ruins of Pompeii, we took the cab back to Naples where we found a little pizza shop and got online for about an hour. I had so many emails I couldn’t even get to them all. And the pizza wasn’t even that good!

The next day we had a whirlwind tour of Rome. We took a bus to the train for an hour’s ride into Rome. From there we took a guided two-hour tour of the city. We passed the Vatican so quickly I didn’t even have time to say hello to the pope. The tour had to be fast as we had two shows to do that night so we had to get back on the train, and the bus back to the ship. Two shows that night and weary from a long day, we fell into bed that night. It seems the wind from the open touring bus caused problems for my sinuses and I got a very bad cold the next day. I was so sick I didn’t get to explore the next stop in Cannes, France. Tina got off and said it was the most beautiful spot of the tour. It must have been as she came back with several purchases.

The next stop was Palma de Mallorca, Spain. By this time I was better so Tina and I debarked and visited the shops. This town is known for its pearls and so we purchased a necklace for Tina and earrings for Leah, our daughter. We had to get back to the ship as that night was the gospel concert night for us. Priscilla came, Jerry Schilling was there, and James and Louise Burton were there. It was a great night.

Finally, after six days at sea, we arrived back in Barcelona, where we had to get off the boat at 6 am for the trip to the airport. We left Barcelona for JFK airport at 10 am and arrived in NYC just in time to miss our connecting flight home. AA rerouted us to Dulles in Washington and then we got to our final destination around 9 pm. After the luggage was retrieved, we arrived home about 11:30 pm. That meant, counting the time changes,  we had been up for 24 hours straight with no sleep! So how was YOUR week?