BILL & SUE-ON HILLMAN: A 50-YEAR MUSICAL ODYSSEY


Hillman Book Project:  ~ Roots Section and Gigs Section
Presents



www.hillmanweb.com/elvis
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1. GRACELAND MANSION I
Arrival
2. GRACELAND MANSION II
Main Floor: Dining Room ~ Music Room ~ Jungle Room
3. GRACELAND MANSION III
Lower Level: TV Room ~ Pool Room
4. THE GRACELAND GROUNDS
Vernon's Office ~ Smokehouse ~ Corral ~ Mansion from rear
5. THE TROPHY BUILDING I
Elvis Gold ~ Gold Records ~ Trophies ~ Awards
6. THE TROPHY BUILDING II
Elvis on the Silver Screen ~ TV & Film ~ Costumes
7. POOLSIDE & RAQUETBALL BUILDING
Memorabilia ~ Guitar-Shaped Pool ~ Costumes ~ Records
8. The Meditation Garden
Grave Markers: Elvis & Parents ~ Statues ~ Floral Tributes
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9. Elvis Presley Boulevard Attractions
Elvis Car Museum ~ Gift Shops ~ Aircraft
10. A Lifetime in Photos I: Pre-Army
A photo mosaic documenting a life from cradle to grave
11. A Lifetime in Photos II: Post-Army
A photo mosaic documenting a life from cradle to grave
12. A Lifetime in Photos III: Early Years
First Guitar ~ The Mystery Kiss ~ First of Elvis
13. A Lifetime in Photos IV: Best Girls
Mother Gladys ~ Minnie Mae ~ Priscilla ~ Lisa Marie
14. A Lifetime in Photos V: Army Years
Private #53310761 US Army ~ Training ~ R&R ~ Press ~ Priscilla ~ Back Home
The Hillman Virtual Tour of
SUN RECORDING STUDIOS, MEMPHIS
130 Photos of the Birthplace of Rock 'n Roll
Louisiana Hayride, Shreveport, Louisiana
Elvis' First Major Radio Appearances
Elvis was a regular 1954-1956
ELVIS IN THE PRESS
Scotty Moore at 82
 Million Dollar Quartet 
Sun Studios ~ Dec 4, 1956
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Elvis: The Early Years
The Tupelo Kid
Elvis: Early Years II
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Elvis and Friends I
Webpage :: Collage
Elvis and Friends II
Webpage :: Collage
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Elvis and Friends III
Webpage :: Collage
Elvis: A Lifetime in Photos
A Series of Poster Collages
Elvis and the Blue Moon Boys
(Scotty and Bill with DJ)
Elvis Fun Pics
50 Photos
Collage 1 ~ Collage 2 ~ Collage3
www.hillmanweb.com/elvis/fun/fun01.html
A Photo Tribute to Elvis's Mom
GLADYS LOVE SMITH PRESLEY
80 photos across two Webpages 
and five poster-size collages
www.hillmanweb.com/elvis/gladys

CHRISTMAS WITH ELVIS
Over 50 Photos
Christmas Day with Elvis
1954-1976
www.hillmanweb.com/elvis/xmas
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Me and Elvis
A few Gig Notes excerpts from our 50-Year Musical Odyssey project
I was raised on a farm in rural Manitoba, Canada. My window to the world in the '50s was radio and I spent many hours surfing the radio dial. Our local stations were fine through the day, but each evening I marveled at the wonderful reception of radio signals from the American South . . . all the way to Mexico with a multitude of points in between.

I looked forward to hearing the Grand Ole Opry from WSM Nashville and enjoyed the many other stations specializing in Southern music. In 1954/55 I picked up a Memphis station that played music like none I had heard before. The singer was Elvis Presley with his band Scotty and Bill - The Blue Moon Boys. Before long his record label - Sun Records - was releasing similar music by other Southern artists. I was hooked . . . and have been ever since. 

My first record purchases were all the 78 singles I could find by Elvis . . . and later by the other Sun artists: Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, et al.  Christmas '56 brought a record player that would play LP albums and my first long playing record was ELVIS - the second album. 

My dad showed me a few things on his guitar so that I could join in on the family jam sessions and try to strum along with Scotty and Elvis. When I was forced to take piano lessons they were made more bearable after I found the sheet music to Love Me Tender. Since that time music has been a consuming passion which was shared by my amazingly talented wife, Sue-On, after we married in 1966.

We first visited Graceland in the early '70s and of course we couldn't get past the gates at that time, although we did travel on to Las Vegas where we saw Elvis at the International. We learned of his death in 1977 while we were in London, just after finishing our seventh record album and a 6-week music tour of English clubs. I managed to stock up on all the Elvis UK releases before we flew home. I'm also a great fan of British rock artists, and interestingly, many of them including The Beatles also cite Elvis as a major influence.

We returned to Memphis in the late '70s to take the Graceland tour -- and again in 2009 when these photos were taken.



My sister Bonnie worked for a travel agency in the early '70s. When we told her we were planning to drive to Las Vegas after our 1970 summer tour she obtained tickets to one of Elvis's shows in the International Hotel. When we arrived in Tinsel Town we were suddenly immersed in Elvismania. . . we soon learned that the whole town went through this furor every time "The King" came to town. 

On the night of the big show we queued for the late night performance and naively followed the Maitre'd into the theatre without tipping him. Everything about the show was fabulous from the opening strains of Also Sprach Zarathustra through to the final curtain . . . even though we had a rather dismal view of the stage. The somewhat arrogant Maitre'd seated us near the back of the theatre, behind a post, and with a table of over-excited Japanese tourists. Lesson learned. Ya gotta tip the head waiter. 

We attended a special early '70s Elvis show in a much more intimate Vegas showroom setting than what was featured over in the huge International. Instead of the King's big show band, with full orchestra and large array of backup singers, this show featured the stripped down band that had backed Elvis in the '50s: Scotty Moore, DJ Fontana and The Jordanaires. 

Scotty, one of my guitar idols, played all the famous Sun records echo guitar riffs. The Jordanaires sang the backup vocals we had heard so many times on so many hit records in their perfect gospel/pop harmonies. There was no Bill Black on doghouse bass -- he had died back in 1965 -- but original drummer DJ Fontana and a fill-in bass player kicked out the rhythms that had supercharged Elvis on so many tours of the Southland, the Louisiana Hayride shows and his historic TV appearances all through the '50s. 

There were numerous authentic costume changes, the vocals were right on for all the hits, and all the familiar moves were there. For anyone who had come under Elvis's magic in the '50s this was a dream come true -- a trip back in time to the glory days of rock 'n' roll. There was only one small problem with this show. Elvis was played by look-alike, sound-alike, move-alike tribute artist Rick Saucedo. . . but. . .  "It was a night oo-oo what a night, It was it really was such a night." 



Following our second music tour of England we had checked into a London B&B. On the last night we returned to our B&B room just as a terrific storm hit which coincided at 10:30 with shocking news on the radio -- the death of Elvis Presley.
A surreal evening: the hotel keeper and roomers were crying in grief, thunder and lightning crashed, the storm flooded the streets and even closed down much of the tube system. To add to the solemnity of the evening, BBC-TV reverently signed off with Elvis' How Great Thou Art. 

On the morning after the news of Elvis' death we hit the streets of London early. Every newspaper displayed, "King is Dead" headlines. We bought papers and all the English-pressed Elvis records I could find before we took a train to Gatwick Airport. 


From the Hillman / Blues Connection
My greatest early musical influences were Elvis and his fellow Sun Records artists out of Memphis. A few of the obvious blues titles in Elvis's repertoire include: That's All Right Mama, Good Rockin' Tonight, Milkcow Blues Boogie, Baby Let's Play House, Mystery Train, I Got a Woman, Heartbreak Hotel, Money Honey, My Baby Left Me, Tutti Frutti. Shake Rattle and Roll, Lawdy Miss Clawdy, Hound Dog, Long Tall Sally, Mean Woman Blues, One Night of Sin, Blue Christmas, Trouble, Reconsider Baby, What'd I Say, Hi-Heeled Sneakers . . .  these and many more of their songs were 
 . . . the Blues. 

Elvis's success launched the birth of a music form that would change the world: rock & roll. This "new" music form was really just a fusion of blues, country and gospel. Indeed the main criticisms of this new R&R music were actually of the elements that make a good blues song or performance: simple chord structure and words, repetitive lyrics and hooks, heavy backbeat, "muh babee dun me wrong" themes, racy lyrics full of double entendres, slurred southern accents, slang and bad grammar, over-reliance on distorted guitars and pounding pianos, singer-penned lyrics, gospel/blues screams, suggestive body movements, gospel choruses. . .  all characteristics that every blues aficionado looks for in 
. . . the Blues. 


More Hillman Musical Odyssey Features
Hillman 50 Years of Gig Notes
The Hillmans Visit SUN Records Studio
Million Dollar Quartet: Elvis | Jerry Lee Lewis | Carl Perkins | Johnny Cash
Bill Hillman Tracks the Beatles in Hamburg
Elvis' Graceland - Memphis, Tennessee
Chad Allan and The Guess Who
Johnny Cash Connection
Hillman Vintage Guitar Collection
The Hillman / UK Connection
Bobby Curtola | The Hillman Connection
The Russ Gurr Connection
Lonnie Donegan Connection
The Hillman Blues Connection
Bill and Sue-On: The Recording Years
Bill and Sue-On Hillman 100 Recorded Songs Archive
Hillman Vintage Guitar Collection
Hillman 50-Year Career Archive
Bill and Sue-On Hillman: A 50-Year Musical Odyssey

THE BEGINNING

THE FIRST SESSION
On Jan. 4, 1954, while still working as a truck driver,
Elvis Presley went to the Memphis Recording Service in Memphis, TN,
to record a song for his mother's birthday which was many months away.
He recorded "It Wouldn't Be The Same Without You" and "Iíll Never Stand In Your Way."
This was this recording that would lead Sam Phillips
to call Presley back to record for his Sun Records label.

 
Much Later . . .
 
A View from Above

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Hillman 50-Year Career Odyssey

plus
A Series of Poster Montages

ROCK ROOTS

BACK TO OUR ROCK ROOTS PROJECT

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Bill and Sue-On Hillman