Interview with Glen Glenn
Source: Elvis Australia
July 8, 2017 - 10:11:00 AM
Elvis Articles, Elvis Interviews, By David Adams
Glen's music started in c.1952/1953 and his first professional appearances came shortly thereafter, though he didn't become a recording artist until 1957.
Before his recording career began in 1957, he appeared live on various local and national radio and TV shows from which several songs were recorded live, including a convincing version of 'Shake Rattle & Roll' on the ABC-TV Show 'Ozark Jamboree' from July 1956.
Q: Glen, how did you met Elvis?
A: Okay. Well, the first I heard of Elvis was, I used to buy the Billboard Magazine. Cause I was looking for my type of music, country music and stuff. And, I always read about Elvis, all the shows he was doing down south, tearing everybody up. And, the Maddox Brothers and Rose was working him at the Shreveport, Louisiana Hayride. And, they'd worked six months at the Hayride, they worked six months in California. See, they lived out in California. And, every time they came out here, they would tell me about this young rock 'n' roller down there in. They called him the Cat in those days, that young cat down in the Hayride is tearing them up. But I couldn't figure him out, and they said he shook all over and all that kind of stuff. And, then I watched him when he was on the Dorsey Show. I knew he was on the Dorsey Show those six Saturday nights. And, man I thought he's great.
And so, he was coming to California and the first big show he ever played, in fact, I'm almost positive, this is the first time he was ever in California. And, he came to California to do the Milton Berle Show, down in San Diego and, he played two shows at the San Diego Arena.
Well, Fred Maddox knew Elvis real well, so, he said, 'Why don't you guys come down and meet Elvis'. I want to meet Elvis, I want to see him in person. So, me and my guitar player went down to San Diego, at the San Diego Arena. And, 'Heartbreak Hotel' had only been out two or three weeks, but it was already number one I believe at that time. But, two months before that or a month before that, Elvis was just playing down south. Just playing the clubs down there. This was the first big arena show that he had played.
And, when we got down there, the place was packed. And, so, we said, 'We want to see Elvis'. So, there's a guard to let you back stage. I said, 'Can you look at me and see what I look like, cause I want to-- I've never seen Elvis. I want to go out and watch him in person and after he gets done I want to come backstage and visit with him'. He said, 'I can remember ya'. And so, we went out and watched the show. And, after the show was over, the girls surrounded the building. Elvis couldn't get out of the building. We were backstage about two hours. The regular cops could not get him out of the place. So, we were backstage with Elvis for over two hours. They had to call the Shore Patrol to get Elvis out of the building. And so, that's what started Elvis has left the building. Cause the next show that Elvis did, he was gone right after the show. But, we were backstage and took a lot of good shots of Elvis while we were back there, pictures of me and Elvis and Elvis and Scotty and Bill Black and DJ Fontana. That's the first time I met Elvis, in San Diego.
Q: What type of things did you and Elvis talk about, like music or?
A: We talked about music and some of the people I knew. Porter Wagoner had been doing a lot of tours with Elvis down south and the Maddox Brothers were doing a lot of shows in the Hayride. We talked about them and we talked about the Browns, cause I did some shows with the Browns, Jim Ed and Maxine Brown. And, we talked about them, cause Elvis was good friends with them. Most of the people on the Hayride. And, Elvis was asking, I'd just done some stuff with Johnny Cash and he asked me how Johnny was going over out here in California. Stuff like that. And he was real nervous. Cause see I don't think Elvis had ever been through this big of a thing before. He was back there biting his lip and he was walking around real nervous and everything.
Q: So, Porter Wagoner, did he open for Elvis or how did that work out, do you remember?
A: Well, during those times, Porter would have been the star over Elvis. This was before Elvis had, oh, he still had the Sun records, like when he opened up for, but the trouble with Elvis, he was so good like if he did shows with Ferlin Husky or somebody, Ferlin would be the star of the show. But he would say I don't want to go on after Elvis. Even though I'm the star I want to go on first because I'm, I don't wanna follow Elvis, that's before Elvis, we never heard of Elvis in 1954 or 55 in California; they didn't play his Sun records. And I remember I wanted this record, and I had to order Sun records, I wish I still had 'em, but I ordered the Sun records and it took like a month to get the records, the little record store ordered them and I finally got the Sun records. Then, I started doing Elvis stuff.
Q: So, were you in recording at the time that you met Elvis?
A: No, I was doing a television show then, but I wasn't recording then. I didn't make my first record until 1958.
Q: Well, with Elvis, when was the next time you'd seen him?
You watched him on the Ed Sullivan Show between that time?
A: Well, I watched him on everything after that. Anytime he was on, he wasn't on too much. Elvis did very little TV, but I watched him on the Ed Sullivan Show and I watched him on the Steve Allen Show. And, then he came to California to make the movie and he was staying at the Knickerbocker Hotel. And Bill Black is a bass fiddle player, he played for Elvis, the slapping bass, we called rocking billy slapping bass. And, Fred Maddox is a slapping bass menu that's what he plays. And, Bill idolized Fred Maddox, but he just thought Fred was the greatest thing in the world. Cause Fred, he was great back in the 1940s and, so he found Fred and he wanted to go on a tour with us. He went on a little tour I was working with the Maddox Brothers and Rose and Bill didn't want to sit around while Elvis was making all those movies.
Q: At the Knickerbocker.
A: At the Knickerbocker, right. Yeah, Elvis was at the Knickerbocker and he had the whole top floor of the Knickerbocker, see. That was his area. And, about two floors down was Scotty Moore, and Bill and DJ. And, Bill loved Fred Maddox, and we were touring quite a bit then, we were playing all over California with the Maddox Brothers and Rose. And, Bill said, 'Can I go on a--', he couldn't go on a long tour because he had to be there, he was in. Elvis, at that time, was making Loving You, his second movie. And, Bill was supposed to be there all the time because he was in the movie, he even had a speaking part in the movie. But, he wanted to go on tour with us, so he did. We on about a four-day tour and he went with us. We went up to Bakersfield and Fresno and Bill went with us. And, we'd bring Bill up on stage and Fred would say, 'This is Elvis Presley's bass player, Bill Black'. Well, half the people didn't believe that he was Elvis' bass player. And, the other half that did believe, they wanted to go up and touch him just because he was Elvis bass player. 'Can we touch you', cause Elvis is hotter than fire at that time. I mean, everybody in the world knew who Elvis was.
Q: So, how did Bill react to all of that?
A: Bill was just as calm as can be. He didn't talk about Elvis unless he had to.
Q: Well, he used to ride the bass.
A: You bet he did. He would lay it down and he would ride in on it. Oh, yeah, he was the one that worked all over the bass, yeah, yeah, yeah. And, Elvis rode the microphone? In the early days.
Q: Tell us about that.
A: Well when I was young, I used to want to do my left leg like Elvis. I always said Elvis had a rubber left leg the way he would do this. And, I never could get that leg going. And, now I can't do it. But, yeah, Elvis was nothing compared to the wild, as wild as they are today, these heavy metal people, but Elvis would do, ride the microphone. He would get the microphone right between his legs, and he would do his thing with the mic. Well, and Elvis, man, the girls would go crazy over Elvis.
But Bill, he thought the world of me. Bill was wanting to help me a lot, as far as, in fact, he got me a recording contract, but I was drafted before that. And, Bill was really trying to help me get into the music business, Bill Black. And, he would always make sure I saw Elvis when I came up. If I go up to Knickerbocker, I didn't want to sit down there with Scotty and Bill and DJ, I wanted to go see Elvis. And, so Bill would take me up and he'd knock on the door and I think his cousin Gene, I think that's the one that was with him then.
Well, he would open the door and Bill would be standing there. He'd say, 'Glen wants to see Elvis'. And, then they'd let me in, I'd go in and mess around in there, watch Elvis. He would walk around and he'd talk to us and then he'd go into the bedroom there and you wouldn't see him for about an hour.
Q: This picture of you and Elvis when he was reading the paper, was that taken at the Knickerbocker?
A: That was the Knickerbocker, yes.
Q: Can you tell us whatever happened that afternoon?
A: Okay. Well, that's one of the times we went up to see Elvis.
And, when I walked into the room, that's his living room in the Knickerbocker. Well, he was sitting down, there's a divan behind, and Elvis reading the newspaper. So, went down and kneeled down by Elvis. And, my guitar player walked right around and took the picture of Elvis.
Well, that's the night that Elvis played us. He had-- I call 'em dubs, but they call 'em acid tapes, of the 'Loving You' soundtrack. He had them all there and he had a little old record player in those days, not a real nice one. And, we set there and listened to everyone of those tracks, 'Teddy Bear', everything that was in 'Loving You'. And, he also had 'One Night With You', which wasn't in the movie, but he had cut it and he kept saying, 'Man I love that song and that's me playing guitar'. Cause he was playing the guitar on that record, see. And, I wish I had those dubs now. But, anyway, we set there all night and played those dubs. And, he had two or three girls in there that night. I don't know who their names were, but they sat on the couch and they were setting there, just me and Elvis and Gary Lambert, my guitar player. We set there and listened to those records for a couple of hours. And, he kept playing them over and over and over.
Then every time you went to see Elvis up at the Knickerbocker, there would always be two hundred girls or so out in front, and they wouldn't let them inside. They had a special guard when Elvis was at the Knickerbocker, to make sure that girls could not get inside the hotel unless they were actually staying there at the hotel. And, they would stand out front, hoping they could see Elvis or Elvis would come out. Well, they started bringing Elvis in a back room, see, area and take him up so they couldn't see him come in. Cause you couldn't get Elvis through all those girls. Well, Elvis would go out and look out the window. And, they couldn't see him, he was up on the top floor and when he'd look down he could see those girls and he was wanting to see what was going on out there. And, he'd look down there and he'd see them. He'd say, 'Glen there's a lot of girls down there'. I'd say, 'Elvis I came through those girls tonight, I know they're down there'.
Q: I'm sure Elvis was happy about it.
A: He was happy, he was happy about it, yeah. And, Elvis was such a nice guy. For me being a nobody in those days, a young little rockabilly that nobody in the world knew, Elvis treated me good. And I've had other entertainers that weren't near like Elvis that didn't treat you, but Elvis treated you just like a normal person. Bill Black told me once, he said, 'Elvis acts like he likes you a little bit, why don't you get in with him, you can be one of the boys'. I never did try to do that, cause I wanted to be a singer on my own, I didn't want to be, but, Bill Black said, 'Why don't you try to get in with Elvis there, he'll take you in'.
And, I didn't want to do that, I wanted to be myself, Glen Glenn.
Q: So, other things, what would Elvis do just to kill time or whatever?
What things did he like to do if he was up in the Knickerbocker?
A: Well, he couldn't get out, he tried to get out one time, and walk down Hollywood Blvd. and he got all the people recognized him and pretty soon he had a mob down there and they had to call the cops to get him back to the Knickerbocker. And, one night, it must have been about 10 or 11 o'clock, where the Pantages Theatre, it's around the corner from the Knickerbocker. And, across the street from the Knickerbocker was a car, I mean a parking lot. So, people would park their car there and go to the movies at the Pantages Theatre. So, all the people were walking down Hollywood Blvd. and they'd walk across the street to go to their cars, so they wouldn't actually walk right past the Knickerbocker. So, me and my guitar player were leaving one night and Elvis had his shirt off and just his pants on. He said, 'I'm going to walk you guys down there, there's nobody down there now. The girls leave about 10 o'clock, there are not girls down there'. So, he walked us down to the front and we were standing out front of the Knickerbocker talking, we were getting to leave and Elvis wants to go down. And, the people were walking on the other side of the street, they didn't know it was Elvis, they were going to their car. But, a couple of girls walked by our side of the street and they walked right past me, my guitar player and Elvis. And they, you know how girls would do in those days, they stick their nose up and just kept walking. And, that was Elvis, and Elvis whistled at them and one of the girls happened to turn around and the guy that whistled at them and she realized that's Elvis. And, they both turned around, they run back, 'Elvis, Elvis, Elvis, you're Elvis'. And, on the way home that night, I told my guitar player, 'See, if they didn't know that was Elvis, they'd just kept going, once they found out it was Elvis they came back, see'. Yeah.
Q: Elvis wasn't shy at all when it came to say hello to the ladies?
A: Elvis was not shy around women, no, no. Yeah.
Q: Now, did you get to see Elvis again after Knickerbocker?
A: Yes, then I saw him again after Bill and Scotty had quit Elvis.
I was around him at the time he was, because of the money bit and all that. And, DJ stayed with him. When he played the last show he ever played before he went into the army, he played at the Pan Pacific. Do you know about that? I was at that show two nights.
Q: Tell us about it.
A: Okay. Well, Elvis, at that time, didn't want to stay at the Knickerbocker, he stayed, I think, at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. And Bill and Scotty still wanted to stay at the Knickerbocker, they stayed at the Knickerbocker. And, they had a Cadillac of Elvis or something and they had his credit card. Bill was really talking about, 'I got his credit card, I'll spend this'. He kept showing me Elvis credit to buy the gas for the car. They did a western turf, Seattle and down the coast and the last show was at the Pan Pacific. And, we went down with Bill and Scotty to the Pan Pacific that night. And, that's the night that the cops came out, the first night they didn't. They came out to film Elvis because they said he was too wild and that's the night that Elvis just wiggled his fingers when he sang 'Hound Dog'. And, we saw him that night.
And, Faron Young, I remember was there. He came out from Nashville to see Elvis at the Pan Pacific, yeah.
Q: Actually Faron had done some shows with Elvis as well.
A: Oh, yeah.
He did shows with him and Ferlin, they all did shows with Elvis when he was doing the Hayride.
Q: Do you have any more memories of the Pan Pacific, what happened, how was the crowd and so forth?'
A: The Pan Pacific, you couldn't even hear Elvis. The girls screamed through the whole concert. And, then it was wild, both nights were wild-- sold out night the Pan Pacific Auditorium and it was something else. You never saw an entertainer in those days like Elvis. The first night he got wild on stage, but the second night he couldn't because the cops were there filming and everything. And the next day after the Pan Pacific, we had breakfast at the Knickerbocker with Bill and Scotty and DJ and Luther and Marshall (The Tennessee Two). Cause Johnny Cash was in town the same time, he was playing shows in California, but not with Elvis and they were all staying at the Knickerbocker. And, Johnny Cash was staying at the Knickerbocker. And, we were reading the Los Angeles Times about the first show. We were sitting in there having breakfast, Bill Black bought breakfast, me and Gary Lambert. And, so we were sitting there reading the review of the show of the night before, about the cops coming in and going to come the next night and all this stuff. And, the Jordanaires were there, they were there having breakfast with us at the Knickerbocker.
Q: Do you remember any comical things that happened around Elvis?
A: Oh, yeah. I remember one time, someone knocked on the door and some woman had a little boy, show you how nice Elvis is see, and he was setting around the corner. See this divan, that you see me in the picture with Elvis, that's around the corner from the door that lets you into his room at the Knickerbocker.
And, so, I think it was Gene that opened the door and this woman said, 'Could my little boy see Elvis'.
I don't know how she got the room number. And, he said, 'Oh, no you can't, he isn't here or something'. And, Elvis heard her and he said, 'No, no, no, let the girl in, let the boy in'. And, he comes in and Elvis talked to him and everything. The little boy was excited.
Q: Oh, yeah.
Q: What other memories do you have of Elvis after the Pan Pacific?
A: Well, none after the Pan Pacific cause that's when he went into the army.
Q: Oh, was that right before he went?
A: Oh, that was his last show he did before he went into the army. And I went into the army too. I think Pan Pacific was either, I forget the exact dates, October, November and I went in in January and Elvis was supposed to went in the army in January, but he went in March or something, cause he got a deferment. But that was the last show he did. Then he didn't play again for thirteen years or something.
Q: You kept in contact with Bill and DJ and all those guys?
A: Yes, I did, yeah. I'm still in contact with DJ pretty good, because I brought him out for the House of Blues. And, me and Bill Black was probably the closest, because Bill really liked me. When they quit Elvis, Bill said, 'We're going to start our own band'. And, this is the truth, you said, we're going to call ourselves the Continentals. Elvis like Continentals. He said, 'We're going to call ourselves the Continentals'. Said, 'Me and Scotty are going to start our own band'. And, they asked me, Bill said 'You're going to be our singer, you're going to sing Elvis songs and we're going to go out on the road'. And, I was drafted. I say shafted but drafted. And, Bill went back to Memphis and got the Bill Black Combo.
Q: Did Elvis talk to you about when he was going to make 'King Creole' or anything like that?
A: Yeah, he talked about the movies and stuff and what he was making and 'Loving You' mostly. Because that was about the time I was up there the most, was when he was filming the 'Loving You' movie. And, he used to watch us. I used to have a television show in 1957, that's when we were up there. And, I was on every Sunday on a local channel in Los Angeles. And, Elvis couldn't go anywhere. He'd watch our show every Sunday. And, I'd always sing and Elvis song on my show. It was mostly a country show and I'd do mostly country, but I'd always throw in an Elvis. I always did an Elvis song on my show. And, Elvis would always say-- tell me he like it, and 'What song you're going to sing of mine next Sunday?' He used to watch my show.
Q: So, what did you think of Elvis, the Las Vegas performer, the 1970s performer?
A: I liked that too. He was a different Elvis, but anything he did was good. Everything Elvis does is Elvis, he doesn't copy nobody, he was Elvis. He doesn't look like he did in the 1950s, but he comes out a different Elvis. With the big capes and stuff and he's Elvis.
Q: So, when was the last time that you saw, probably 1970, do you remember the year?
A: Oh, the last time I saw him perform was probably, about 1972, around that time when he was in Vegas.
Q: Well, could you tell us what Elvis means to you personally?
A: Oh, he means, look through my den here, you can see Elvis everywhere. He means more to me than any singer. He's done more for music to me than any singer. Him and Hank Williams was my favorite country singer, but Elvis was just. My wife said, 'Man you love Elvis more than me'.
Q: What is it about Elvis, you think, that made him so unique?
A: Nobody like him. What do you call it, charisma or something, Elvis had something that the impersonators just don't have that. They look like, you could look Elvis, I could look Elvis putting on that, but they don't look like him on stage. There's only one Elvis Presley. And, I saw him in the early days. And, man, when he played in San Diego that day, he had a jacket on, see. And, when he was singing, he did about ten minutes with just DJ playing the drums. And, Scotty and Bill stopped, and Elvis was just doing his gyrations. And, when Elvis got done with a show at the San Diego Arena, when he got off the show, the jacket was completely like he jumped in the swimming pool. And, the sweat coming off Elvis' face and the jacket was wet. That's how hard he worked.
Q: He always gave 150%?
A: He gave, at least 150, maybe even 200%. No entertainer like Elvis.
Q: Where were you when you found out he passed away?
A: I got a call from home and I was at work. And, I was working a job then, but that's where I left the music business and I came back into it. And I was at work and I got a call at work that Elvis had passed away. And, I came right home, yeah. I went out and bought the newspapers, watched the news all night long.
One of my best friends wrote 'Long Black Limousine' in the back seat of my car, we was at an all night jam session out here in Colton, California. He was a great songwriter called Bobby George. And, I went inside and I was playing all night, all night jam sessions playing music and Bobby said, 'I'm going to sit out here and I've got a song I'm writing and I'm going to finish this song'. He stayed out there all night. On the way home, I drove him home, he started singing me the 'Long Black Limousine'. And, everybody's recorded that song.
Q: Elvis recorded that.
A: Yes, he did, that's what I was getting at.
In fact, when I was watching television the night Elvis died, they were playing different parts of Elvis and they were playing the 'Long Black Limousine' that Elvis recorded. Oh, yeah, Elvis loved that song, yeah.
Q: What do you think it is about Elvis, a quarter of a century after his passing, that he's bigger than ever?
A: Well, my thoughts is, Elvis Presley is the most famous human being that has ever lived, other than Jesus. And, he is. Presidents, they forget about presidents after a certain length of time, or kings and stuff. Everybody knows about Elvis. And, I play all other the country, Rockabilly, I've played every country. And, everywhere you go, you can't get away from Elvis' face. When you're in London, you're walking down the street shopping or going somewhere, you see a big picture of Elvis. You can not leave Elvis Presley, he's everywhere. You go to countries that don't even know who our president is, they don't know, but they know who Elvis Presley is. Well, and, also Graceland has been visited more than any grave there is, I think, or house other than the White House. And, I opened for Bob Dylan and Dylan even loves Elvis. Everybody loves Elvis.
Q: Is there any quote that you think that you can tell us from Bob that he wouldn't mind, about how he felt about Elvis?
A: Well, I can talk about Bob. Well, when I opened for Bob at the Hollywood down there, at the Hollywood Palladium. Well, he wanted to know about that picture of me and Elvis, where was that taken.
I said, 'It's the Knickerbocker, just down the street from here'. And, yeah, he wanted to know about Elvis and asked me a little bit about him and stuff.
Q: When he told you he really loved Elvis and--
A: I do, I do love Elvis, yeah.
Q: Is there something in closing that you'd like to tell his fans that they might not know about Elvis?
A: Oh, I'm trying to think, yeah. I know Ricky Nelson really liked Elvis. You knew that. Ricky came up there one time when we were there to see Elvis. And to show you how big Elvis was to everybody else, Ricky had made his first record, I think it went to number one. And, he came up there to see Elvis, he had some girl with him. And we were sitting on that same couch that the pictures in. And, Elvis left the room, he was gone for about a half and hour and Ricky kept telling that girl, 'Man, ain't this neat, this is neat, this is neat, we're up here with Elvis'. He was really nervous being with Elvis. I was nervous being with Elvis.
Glen Glenn's Meeting With Elvis (With photos)
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Tupelo's Own Elvis Presley DVD + 16 page booklet.
Never before have we seen an Elvis Presley concert from the 1950's with sound. Until Now! The DVD Contains recently discovered unreleased film of Elvis performing 6 songs, including Heartbreak Hotel and Don't Be Cruel, live in Tupelo Mississippi 1956. Included we see a live performance of the elusive Long Tall Sally seen here for the first time ever.
This is an excellent release no fan should be without it.
The 'parade' footage is good to see as it puts you in the right context with color and b&w footage. The interviews of Elvis' Parents are well worth hearing too. The afternoon show footage is wonderful and electrifying : Here is Elvis in his prime rocking and rolling in front of 11.000 people. Highly recommended.