Music

July 10, 1957 – Night at the Movies: “The Pride and the Passion”, or, “Loving You”?

On July 10, 1957, American filmgoers had two movie premiers to choose from: The Pride and the Passion, with Cary Grant, Frank Sinatra, and Sophia Loren; or Loving You, with Elvis Presley, Lizabeth Scott, and Wendell Corey.

The Pride and the PassionThe Pride and the Passion, produced and directed by Stanley Kramer, was an adaptation of The Gun, by C. S. Forester.  The setting is Spain during the war with Napoleon, and British Captain Anthony Trumbull (Cary Grant) is on a mission to transport an abandoned cannon to the British lines.  Spanish guerilla leader and hothead Miguel (Frank Sinatra) hates Trumbull but signs on to help, bringing along the sultry Sophia Loren, playing his mistress Juana.  Anthony and Miguel fight for Juana’s affections on screen. Off-screen, Grant was said to be participating in the film to avoid wife Betsy Drake and Sinatra only signed on to be near his wife, Ava Gardner, in Spain herself on the set of The Sun Also Rises.

Opening to mixed reviews, The Pride and the Passion grossed 8.75 million to become one of the twenty highest-grossing movies of 1957.  Two quotes from reviews: “The panoramic, long-range views of the marching and terribly burdened army, the painful fight to keep the gun mobile through ravine and over waterway – these are major pluses,” from Variety; and “overblown, empty, epic nonsense,” from Ephraim Katz of The Film Encyclopedia.

Loving You, which premiered in Memphis and was released nationwide on July 30th, was Elvis’ second movie.  He played truck driver and undiscovered singer Deke Rivers who is “found” and promoted by Glenda Markle (Lizabeth Scott) who becomes his agent (essentially a female version of Colonel Parker).   Glenda sees a financial opportunity in signing Deke to open for her ex-husband Walter “Tex” Warner’s (Wendell Corey) down-and-out country band.  Deke becomes a singing sensation, especially with female members of the audiences, and finds himself attracted both to manipulative Glenda and to Tex’s young and innocent lead singer, Susan Jessup (Delores Hart).

Production on Loving You began January 21, 1957 and finished in early March.  Elvis had his naturally light brown hair dyed black for the film (inspiration: Tony Curtis) and, except during his military service and one brief period in the early sixties, he continued to color his hair for the rest of his life.  Director and screenwriter Hal Kantor spent research time at Presley’s “Louisiana Hayride” concert prior to filming what was orginally titled Lonesome Cowboy, then changed to Running Wild, and finally named Loving You after the song written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller for Elvis to perform in the movie.  Cameo appearances by Elvis’ parents, Vernon and Gladys, as audience-members, and casting of several of Presley’s current band members added to the promotion value of equating fictional Deke and real-life Elvis.  Loving You eventually rose to #7 on the Variety National Box Office Survey.

Image Credits: Wikimedia Free Use; Paramount Pictures (imdb.com)

July 6, 1957 – John Meets Paul

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St. Peter’s Church Hall, Liverpool

On July 6, 1957, the music world shook on its axis as John Lennon and Paul McCartney met for the first time at a Rose Queen Garden Fete at St. Peter’s Church in Woolton Parish, Liverpool.  Following two of the three Quarrymen’s skiffle sets that day – the first from the back of a moving flatbed truck, in a parade that included a Rose Queen float, Morris dancers, and Boy Scouts and Girl Guides; the second later in the afternoon from a stage in a field behind the church, with a Liverpool Police Dog display nearby – John’s friend and stand-in tea chest bassman Ivan Vaughan introduced the future immortal songwriting duo in the church hall before the Quarrymen’s third and final set.  Paul sang Eddie Cochran’s “Twenty Rock Flight” for John, playing his right-hand guitar upside down.  McCartney stayed to watch the last set and, according to current Quarryman Rod Davis, was impressed with John’s ability to ad lib when he forgot the words to “Come Go With Me”.  Rod adds that John didn’t forget; they had never gotten the words right in the first place.  “We were still schoolkids and we didn’t have any money,” he explained, so they had to decipher lyrics as best they could and weren’t always able to figure them out.

Later that evening, Lennon and fellow-Quarryman Pete Shotton walked home together and John suggested inviting Paul to join the band.  Two weeks later, both Shotton and Vaughan talked with Paul, and the rest, as they say, is history.

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“In This Hall on 6th July 1957 John & Paul First Met: The Quarry Men featuring Eric Griffiths, Colin Hanton, Rod Davies, John Lennon, Pete Shotton, and Len Garry performed on the afternoon of 6th July 1957 at St. Peter’s Church Fete. In the evening before their performance in this hall Ivan Vaughan, who sometimes played in the group, introduced his friend Paul McCartney to John Lennon. As John recalled . . . ‘that was the day, the day that I met Paul, that it started moving.'”

Image Credits: Sue Adair (CC-by-Sa/2.0); Kyle Taylor/flickr

June 30, 1957 – The Everly Brothers Appear on The Ed Sullivan Show

On June 30, 1957, Ed Sullivan hosted Don and Phil Everly on his Sunday evening broadcast.  The Everly Brothers sang “Bye, Bye Love,” their first Cadence Records single which had been recorded in February.  An earlier recording, “Keep A’ Lovin’ Me” with Columbia Records in 1956, had been a flop.  Written by Felice and Boudleaux Bryant, “Bye, Bye Love” had been rejected by numerous artists, reportedly including Elvis Presley, before taking the close-harmonizing, guitar-playing duo to #2 on the pop charts and #1 on the country and R&B charts.  The Everly-Bryant team generated many hits, of which “Wake Up Little Susie” and “All I Have to Do is Dream” are probably the best-known.  The Everlys toured extensively with Buddy Holly through 1957 and on into 1958.

Also on this episode of Sullivan’s show: footage from the premier of The Prince and the Showgirl at Radio City Music Hall.  Ed appeared in the clip with Bernard Baruch (financier, stock-market speculator, and economic advisor to Presidents Woodrow Wilson and Franklin D. Roosevelt), Polly Bergen (actress and singer), William Randolph Hearst Jr.(editor-in-chief of Hearst Newspapers), Sugar Ray Robinson (welterweight and middleweight boxing champion), Ethel and Robert F. Kennedy (attorney, currently serving as Chief Counsel under Senator John L. McClellan on the US Senate Labor Rackets Committee), Marilyn Monroe (star of The Prince and the Showgirl), and Arthur Miller (famous playwright and Mr. Marilyn Monroe).  The audience was also treated to scenes from the newly-released movie.

For an extra treat, head on over to Getty Images to see news photos of Ed Sullivan adjusting Marilyn’s earring!

 

June 26, 1957 – Elvis Spends His First Night at Graceland

 

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Elvis takes in the sights at Graceland, with a friend

On June 26, 1957, Elvis spent his first night at home at Graceland.  Fresh off the set of his third movie, “Jailhouse Rock” for MGM, Elvis arrived at the 10,250 square foot, tan limestone mansion set on 13.8 acres in Memphis, Tennessee three months after purchasing it in March for $102,500.  The classical revival-style mansion with large white entrance columns had been built in 1939 by Ruth Moore and her husband, Dr. Thomas Moore.  Ruth was the niece of Grace Toof, who was the daughter of S. C. Toof, founder of the Memphis commercial printing firm S.C. Toof & Co.  S. C. had purchased the property originally and named it Graceland Farms, after his daughter, who gave Ruth a portion of the land holdings after her father’s death.

Elvis had extensive modifications done to the mansion before he moved in, including the addition of the famous waterfall-containing Jungle Room, a swimming pool, and a racquetball court.  Over the years, Elvis expanded the mansion to almost 18,000 square feet, using a decorating philosophy that included swathes of white and red, accented with peacocks and leopard skin.  Friends generously described the interior as “tacky”, while critics used such terms as cheap, “gaudy”, “garish”, “phony”, and “turn-of-the-century bordello” style taken from New Orleans’ French Quarter.  “Tasteless white trash” was a general verdict.

Elvis had his revenge on the critics. Graceland is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and has been designated a National Historic Landmark.  It is the second-most visited residence in the United States each year, after the White House.  Elvis is buried at Graceland, along with his parents and grandmother, in an area he had built and named Meditation Garden.

Image Credit: david/flickr

June 22, 1957 – The Quarrymen Rock (and Skiffle) Liverpool

 

The Quarrymen

From left: Hanton, Griffiths, Lennon, Garry, Shotton, Davis

On June 22, 1957, John Lennon’s first band, The Quarrymen, performed two sets of skiffle and rock at the 750th anniversary celebration of the granting of Liverpool’s charter by King John.  Following warmup appearances at movie intermissions, parties, skiffle contests, a golf club, a youth club, church halls, a school dance, and a jazz club called The Cavern, John Lennon (guitar, banjo), Eric Griffiths (guitar, banjo), Pete Shotton (washboard), Rod Davis (banjo), Len Garry (washtub bass and tea-chest bass), and Colin Hanton (drums) played to a hometown crowd from the back of a stationary flatbed truck.  Having gotten their start in skiffle music, a peculiarly British genre that required little musical technique or expensive instruments, John and Eric’s efforts to include some rock and roll in their repertoire were usually rebuffed by their gig hosts.  John especially liked Elvis and Little Richard songs.

The Quarrymen got their name from John and Eric’s school – Quarry Bank High.  The school song contained the line, “Quarrymen, old before our birth / Straining each muscle and sinew,” and the not-too-interested-in-working-hard-at-school boys liked the ironic twist.  At the time of the 750th anniversary concert, Lennon was 16 years old.

Image Credit: Charles Robert

1957 Boomer Baby

Born in 1957 LimaLimaLtdWere you born in 1957?

If so, we are kindred spirits.

How did entering the world in 1957 affect your life? What are you grateful you experienced? What did you miss? What do you wish you’d missed?

Here’s my list:

I’m grateful I experienced –

  • Great TV shows like Leave it to Beaver, Gilligan’s Island, and Perry Mason
  • The freedom to wander on my own around my Portland neighborhood
  • Scholastic book orders in grade school, which delivered a fresh stack of books to read every month
  • The relief when it was clear that my friends would not go to Vietnam
  • Girls sports teams in high school, after Title 9 took effect
  • Star Wars on opening night in my local theater. Remember the knock-you-back-in-your-seat trumpet fanfare during the opening credits? The stomach-dropping sensation of rollercoastering over the dunes of Tatooine?

I missed –

  • The beginning of the Beatles and the hippie Summer of Love thing
  • Laugh-In, which my parents thought was obscene
  • Owning a Chevy Bel Air before they became an expensive classic

I wish I’d missed –

  • The disco generation! I’m still embarrassed . . . really embarrassed

 

How about you? Please leave me a comment and share.

One more question, Class of 1975: was this The Slow Dance at your senior prom, too?

 

Image Credit: LiraLira Ltd.

November 10, 1957 – Elvis at the Honolulu Stadium

Elvis Presley arrives in Honolulu on November 9th, aboard the USS Matsonia. Photo: Elvis Australia website

Elvis Presley arrives in Honolulu on November 9th, aboard the USS Matsonia. Photo: Elvis Australia website

On November 10, 1957, Elvis Presley gave two concerts at the Honolulu Stadium in the American Territory of Hawaii.  Arriving by the cruise ship USS Matsonia for his first visit to the tropical paradise, Elvis promptly fell in love with the beautiful setting and friendly people.  Hawaii became his favorite vacation destination, the setting for three of his films (Blue Hawaii, Girls! Girls! Girls!, and Paradise, Hawaiian Style), and his chosen venue for several large concerts, including a March 25, 1961 fundraiser to help build the USS Arizona memorial.

On this visit, Elvis planned three concerts, the two at Honolulu Stadium, and another the following day at the U.S. Army’s Schofield Barracks.  Elvis-o-philes will want to know that The King stayed at Henry J. Kaiser’s newly opened Hawaiian Village Hotel, conceived on a “village plan”, where “various sections of the development were designed in specific types of motifs indicative of the culture of the hotel’s surroundings”.  If Room 14A still exists, it may be one of the many pilgrimage sites for enduring generations of Presley’s many fans.

The November concerts in Hawaii would be Elvis’ last concerts in the 1950’s.  One month later, after enjoying Christmas at Graceland, Presley received his long-expected draft notice.  In March of 1958 he would be inducted into the United States Army and assigned to Fort Hood, Texas for basic training.