June 28, 2018

A Message That Resonated Loudly and Clearly

By this time in our careers and after the second release, Imperials Now, we had really begun to establish a reputation. That can be good and that can be bad! Fortunately, it was mostly good. Yes, we had long hair and were a bit unconventional in appearance but our music spoke to a wide variety of listeners. With every Imperial release, you didn’t know what you were going to get. I remember well, going to a very conservative Christian college which shall remain nameless. We were warmly welcomed by the students and tentatively accepted by the faculty. While the students loved us and our music, the faculty endured us. Though they didn’t understand the music, they couldn’t argue with the message contained in the songs. I think they couldn’t get past our clothes! No suits, no ties, but a message that resonated loudly and clearly to all the listeners.

We got the call from Colonel Parker’s office in the spring of 1969. We were singing with Jimmy Dean, working in huge venues around the country as a supporting act for Jimmy and getting great reviews. National television was opening up for us and it seemed that God was smiling on us. I think our appearance on the Merv Griffin Show when we got a chance to sing, we chose He Touched Me. We could have chosen a more contemporary song with a watered down message but we decided to go with our heart. It seemed that God smiled on us that night. Unsolicited positive responses from the actress, Greer Garson, only served to enhance our appearance. So, in June of 1969, we flew to LA to begin rehearsals with the TCB band and the Sweet Inspirations at Universal Studios in Hollywood. You can witness some of those rehearsals in Elvis’ movie, “That’s The Way It Is”. We would arrive in the morning and spend two to three hours on vocals and then Elvis would drive up either on his motorcycle or his Mercedes Benz. Elvis always made a statement when he walked in.

May 2, 2018

The Imperials and Jimmy Dean

During our almost three years with Elvis, we were also heavily booked with Jimmy Dean. I told you about our first engagement with Jimmy here. It was a three-week run and sold out almost every night. We did many dates on the road with Jimmy. Many were fairs but most were hotels in Las Vegas. We appeared with Jimmy at the Desert Inn, The Frontier, and The Landmark Hotel. We would do one full month with Jimmy with two shows a night with no nights off. In 1970, we wound up doing two months of the year with Jimmy and two months with Elvis, so we practically lived in Las Vegas that year.

The Imperials with Mike Douglas and Jimmy Dean

It was that same year that the Imperials were blazing new trails on television with Jimmy Dean. We were featured on a nationally syndicated show filmed in Philadelphia called The Mike Douglas Show. We did The Merv Griffin Show out of Los Angeles and the Joey Bishop Show on the ABC network. Joey was considered in competition with Johnny Carson but never reached Carson’s ratings. We were on the show with Jimmy and the chance to sing was made available for us. We decided to sing He Touched Me to that national audience. The response was very gratifying. The famous actress, Greer Garson, was on the set as we sang that song. At the close of our number, the cameras went back to Joey and Greer at the desk. Greer Garson offered, without solicitation, her observation of the number she had just heard. Her first words were, “Well, isn’t it nice to know the devil doesn’t have all the good music”.  It was a verification to us that we had picked the right song.