Interview with Joe Tunzi #2 - Part II
March 8, 2005 - 6:07:00 PM
Elvis Articles, Elvis Interviews
Elvis - Sessions III is J.A.T. Publishing's biggest seller since their first publication in 1991. Don't wait too long if you don't have your copy the book is almost sold out.
Included are some images of documents provided by J.A.T. Publishing. Near each image - Except the first - is a link you can click on to bring you to a larger version. Some documents aren't directly related to the questions / answers but to the subject only.
In the book 'The Way It Was', Mary In The Morning is listed as 'performed, but not professionally recorded' during the August-September 1970 Vegas engagement. The song isn't to be found on any audience recordings I have heard of. So, what is Ernst's source for this? Does BMG own amateur recordings from this engagement?
Joe: Sony/BMG owns several amateur or audience recordings. The basis for this listing would most likely be from an audience recorded tape.
You mentioned in your book 'Sessions III' you were confident that an 'Elvis On Tour' project should feature the original movie, previously unreleased performances, rehearsals and candid footage,etc. This type of project sounds similar to EPE's project on '68 Special we've got this past year. Did you hear something about this in the highest circle about such project ? If so, do you think it might be release in the very near future ?
Joe: I believe when the time is right, an Elvis On Tour project will happen. When it's done, it will definitely play on the success of EPE's '68 Comeback Special and Aloha From Hawaii DVDs released last year. This would be a financially feasible way to include all the footage without paying a huge overhead cost. The footage has already been cataloged within the Turner/Time-Warner vaults and is ready to go. Finally, don't be surprised if some of this footage doesn't wind up on an FTD release.
'Sessions III' book contains some very rare and interesting photographs taken at some Elvis recording sessions. A good example would be the ones taken at the 'Harum Scarum' and 'Frankie And Johnny' sessions. The latter were taken by Ray Walker and we can safely assume many others exist and taken by people involved in those sessions. Do you know if some photographs were taken in studio during the December '73, March '75 and October '76 recording sessions ? Was it very common for persons involved to take those pictures or not at all since it's possible Elvis didn't appreciate much to be bother with that while working ?
Joe: It's a fact that snapshots were taken at several sessions in the 70's including December '73, March '75 and the February '76 sessions. The people who own some of those photos have obviously decided not to share them. I also believe other sessions snapshots were taken.
Joe: There are some rehearsal recordings in private hands. Some of the ones I know of include one from 1971, and ones from 1973 and 1974. I don't specifically know the track listings for these rehearsals simply because the individuals that own them have declined to share that information. I am familiar with the individuals that have claimed to own them however. For certain reasons, these individuals believe that they should not sell these rehearsal recordings because they feel Elvis is not in a proper setting. Remember, these tapes were given to these individuals to listen to, not to be sold to make money. Fans feel differently about this, no doubt. As for how many rehearsals were recorded, I don't think anyone knows for sure although I would guess that there are several others out there. As time goes by, it's our hope as fans that some of the individuals would reconsider their stance but at the same time I understand their point.
The soundboard section contains several additions and many of those are from the last two 1977 tours. Did you have the chance to hear some of these ? Without revealing your sources, do most of these tapes are strictly into private hands or BMG vaults might have some as well ?
Joe: In the soundboard section of Elvis Sessions III as well as a couple of other sections, we are not just focusing on what's in Sony/BMG's vault but rather a combination of what Sony/BMG has as well as what's in private hands based on credible sources. We believe the information supplied to us is accurate. In Elvis Sessions II we only listed soundboards up until April 30, 1977. I found it odd that in 1977 they would have stopped making soundboards then with none done on the last tour of June 1977. While researching Elvis Sessions III, we spoke to individuals formerly from Clair Brothers and they indicated that in fact soundboards were made of the last tours in May and June.
The details about the filming of 'Elvis On Tour' contains some additions when compared to your previous Sessions book such as extras from rehearsals and April 10th, 1972 Richmond, VA concert to name a few. We guess this is safe to assume here that all the ones contain in 'Sessions III' were filmed without a shadow of a doubt and paperwork / films exist of those performances, and thus included in the book. Having said that, is it possible that several reels and/or performances haven't been catalogued yet and accumulating dust into the MGM/ Turner's vaults ? The book 'Sessions II' stated that on this very same subject and I quote '.... more footage may not even be developed'. This statement of yours dated from 1996. Does this statement is still valid and are there some hopes for extra materials filmed in March / April '72 to show up in the future ?
Joe: Since Elvis Sessions II, a lot of work had been done by Time-Warner to accurately document what they have in their archives, hence it becomes obvious that what we've listed in Elvis Sessions III is quite definitive. If the question is can there be any more surprises, the answer would be absolutely. This footage was not in one specific location; rather it was located in several vaults, which leads to the possibility that at one or more of the vaults more footage may not be cataloged. The same may hold true for ' That's The Way It Is ' as well.
Joe: We researched this quite a bit and found that there was no footage of the August 10, 1970 rehearsal. However in the new book we're doing on 'The Documentaries' we will have an opportunity to analyze and discuss the matter even more with a few surprises.
As an example, on a paper reproducing film breakdown of some of the filming and recording for 'Elvis On Tour' for the March 31st, 1972 RCA rehearsals. It specifies for Can #20 that 16mm picture and tracks were recorded. This roll 3 of 5 contains 'Burning Love' twice and 'Lawdy, Miss Clawdy' with a clear mention that there is ' No Pix ' on the latter track. Yet the total duration of this film is 16 minutes according to the paper, two complete renditions of 'Burning Love' were most likely shorter than 16 minutes. Does it mean that a lot of the talking before / after these songs were mostly filmed for obtaining footage for 16 minutes although those aren't specified in the breakdown ?
Joe: Good observation. Most of the film loads are approximately 15 minutes in length. Most of these camera loads were intermittent with picture and sound. A lot of complete rehearsal performances were filmed and a good many were not. This may explain why some film loads are missing. This may also explain why some elements need to be pieced together with a secondary camera load to make it a worthy film. I'll give you an example with regard to 'Oh Happy Day' from the rehearsal of 'Elvis, That's The Way It Is'. Let's say Camera A is focused on Elvis and the band on stage while Camera C is focused on Joe Esposito and Lamar Fike sitting just in front of the stage. Its believed one of the cameras would continually run picture and sound throughout the performance we'll call this camera D....finally it was the practice when filming documentaries that an isolated camera in this case camera D would continually focus on the performer with as many as 5 or 6 cameras in other places etc. When it was shown on the internet from Warner Bros. they used Camera A and Camera C leaving many to believe some camera angles are missing. This is possible.
In the first part of the interview you provided evidence (musician's contract from previous interview) that 'Yellow Rose Of Texas / The Eyes Of Texas' was recorded on September 13th, 1963 instead of July 10th, 1963. The book 'Sessions II' featured 'Plantation Rock' as being recorded on March 28th, 1962 and in your latest Sessions book the date has been changed to March 23rd, 1962. Since most of the songs for the soundtrack of 'Girls ! Girls ! Girls !' were recorded between March 26th and the 28th, do you have the same type of evidence pertaining to ' Plantation Rock ' since it appeared as having been recorded three days before the official sessions began ?
Joe: 'Plantation Rock' was recorded on Friday, March 23, 1962. With Saturday and Sunday off, they resumed recording on Monday, March 26, 1962. 'Plantation Rock' was initially considered to be the title track of the motion picture but obviously it was changed due to the fact that it was not strong enough for either the title track, let alone the motion picture itself.
On page 631 of 'Sessions III' (The Rumor Mill) you mentioned that 'Another rare recording, similar to 'I'm A Roustabout' possibly could still be contained in one of the picture company's vaults'. Do you know to what movie this song could be related ? If not, do you have a clue in what company's vaults this recording might be ?
Joe: I believe that another recording similar to 'I'm A Roustabout' may be in one of the motion picture vaults. I don't want to elaborate on something that is unsubstantiated and really just a rumor. However, there are several films to which not all the session tapes are accounted for, including 'Loving You', 'King Creole', 'Girls!, Girls!, Girls!' and 'Roustabout'. And until all those tapes are accounted for, I will still stick to my statement that another unheard song is possibly out there.
Another question related to the movie 'Elvis On Tour' if you don't mind. There are some evidence that some footage has been filmed during the matinee performance in Hampton Roads, VA. One of them is a photograph of Elvis during his introduction to 'Hound Dog' with a camera man at the edge of the stage on Elvis' right side, and also a few others where the camera man is nearby the piano and also filming Elvis from only a few feet away while he drinks water/Gatorade. The movie equally contained very short clips of other shows from that tour but none of these are really mentioned in 'Sessions III' as such. If we assume that they did film only short clips at various shows (incomplete performances) and some were definitely used in the movie, then wouldn't it be normal that MGM had those also catalogued back then ? How do you explain that no evidences of these showed up during your research ?
Joe: In 'Elvis Sessions III' we have tried to list all the clips that were used in the film on pages 548-549. Some of these clips are incidental clips. With regard to 'Elvis On Tour', obviously it wouldn't have been feasible for MGM to film and record every show from a thirteen show tour starting in Buffalo, New York and ending in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The film would have easily gone over budget. So what Pierre Adidge and Robert Abel decided was to film and record four of the shows. For the other shows they would send a crew to film a few minutes at selected shows. This would be necessary because it's not like 'Elvis, That's The Way It Is' in the sense that Elvis is stationary and for the most part at one location. With Elvis being on the road in 'Elvis On Tour' it was even more important to get incidental clips of Elvis at different places, whether it be meeting a city mayor, a marquee sign, or a limo ride. Obviously the hope of the producers was that when these crews came back with their footage that they had caught something exciting that they hadn't filmed before, like a woman rushing the stage or a woman throwing her panties on stage. These film clips do not in any way suggest that any complete performances from these shows were either filmed or recorded. We discuss this matter on pages 539-540.
In the December '73 Stax sessions you noted that Elvis' harmony vocal for 'Promised Land' was eliminated, does that mean never to be used again? I believe this should have been resurrected for the 2nd To None project.
Joe: When we say in Elvis Sessions III that Elvis' harmony vocal was eliminated from 'Promised Land' we do not mean to insinuate in any way that it was erased. It is still contained on the master of 'Promised Land'. 'What we mean when we say that it was eliminated is that Elvis did in fact record a harmony vocal but that it was taken out of the mix of the song, in essence eliminated. Several years ago on the soundtrack to 'This Is Elvis' an edited version of 'Promised Land' did include Elvis' harmony vocal.
I read a review on the DVD 'Remembering Elvis' and it was mentioned that it had brief professional film footage of Elvis on stage during his Aug/Sept.1972 season. How much of this is available? and is it technically usable for commercial release?
Joe: I have not viewed 'Remembering Elvis' to be honest. I don't think any professional film footage on stage of Elvis was done during the August/September 1972 engagement. Footage does exist of Elvis receiving gold records backstage. This is candid footage that is found both in the Sony/BMG as well as the Turner/Time-Warner vaults. M.G.M. was assigned to go to Elvis' August/September 1972 engagement to shoot publicity photos for the film 'Elvis On Tour'.
In the 'Unreleased highlights' section there are undated tapes from Elvis' Aug./Sept. 1971 & 1972 and February 1973 Vegas seasons, is it possible to actually determine the exact dates should FTD decide to release them?
Joe: Since Elvis Sessions III has been released, we have gotten even closer to pinpointing exact dates for these soundboards. I'm sure that if FTD wanted to release these performances, further research could be done to get even more specific about the dates.
Which 1976 soundboard was considered for release on the 1984 Golden Celebration box set?
Joe: Several shows were under consideration for the soundboard from 1976 that Joan Deary wanted to use for the 'A Golden Celebration' box-set. Two shows that may surprise some people are October 14, 1976 in Chicago, Illinois and December 29, 1976 in Birmingham, Alabama.
When you published 'Sessions II' in 1996 you probably didn't think to make another one seven years later. We know this is possibly very early to ask this question shortly after the publication of 'Sessions III', but do you think a fourth volume can see the light of day in 6-7 years from now ? If not, is there a possibility for some kind of companion to 'Sessions III' in the future that might contain some new information, more details on certain topic, etc... ?
Joe: The possibility of a companion piece to Elvis Sessions III is not likely although we may do a book of session photos with updated information. As for whether or not we will do a Elvis Sessions IV, that is dependent on several factors beginning with if I feel up to the challenge of tackling another sessions book.
Among other issues that come up is finding enough new information to make a fourth sessions book worthwhile, finding rare candid photos of Elvis preferably from the sessions, as well as what has been released as far as audio and video releases for the duration between when Elvis Sessions III came out and when a proposed Elvis Sessions IV would come out, whether that would be 3 or 4 years down the road or 6 or 7 years. I have a hard enough time figuring out what I'm going to do next week, let alone 3, 4, 6 or 7 years from now.
The book 'Sessions III' mentioned at the end 'Coming Soon - Hot Shots And Cool Clips vol.2' DVD ? Is it your next project ? What can we expect on this DVD in terms of contents ?
Joe: The DVD 'Hot Shots And Cool Clips - Volume 2' is for the most part finished. We just have to get all the clearances for the footage. Our release date will be determined in the next few months.
Since the DVD is now planned for a bit later then does it mean that you are working on a new book ? If so, what can you tell us about this project and what is the tentative release date for the book ?
'Elvis - Sessions III' is J.A.T. Publishing's biggest seller since their first publication in 1991. Don't wait too long if you don't have your copy as J.A.T. Publishing is almost sold out.
- Buy Sessions III
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