Millie Kirkham Remembers her first Recording Session with Elvis Presley
September 20, 2017
Elvis Interviews, Elvis Articles, Elvis News, Video and Audio
Gordon Stoker of the Jordanaires has been quoted as saying that while Elvis liked Tubb but did not want to recut his song. Ordered to do the song, he told the band to play and sing as badly as possible. 'He argued and cussed with them for a couple of hours and finally told us to make the most horrible background we could, so they wouldn't record it', Stoker was quoted as telling a Nashville newspaper.
The backup singers laughed and sang a whooping 'woo-woo-woo-woo-woo' in the background.
'They said have fun -- do something silly', backup singer Millie Kirkham said in a CNN interview.
Presley chopped words into syllables, singing, 'I-I-I'll have a ba-lue Chrrrr-istmas ...'
'When we got through', Kirkham was quoted as saying, 'we all laughed'.
It turned out to be a repeat No. 1 hit for New York songwriters Billy Hayes and Jay W. Johnson.
Millie Kirkham Remembers her first Recording Session with Elvis Presley (03:03)
About Millie Kirkham
Kirkham's strong, clear soprano can be heard on many of Elvis' pop, rock, gospel and country recordings such as The Wonder Of You, Surrender, How Great Thou Art, Polk Salad Annie, Bridge Over Troubled Water, Don't, Just Pretend, (You're The) Devil in Disguise, See See Rider and many others.
Millie Kirkham also sang with Elvis on many of his movie soundtracks and performed with him on stage in the 1970 documentary, Elvis: That's the Way It Is in Las Vegas. A longtime fixture in the music community, her credits include numerous radio and television appearances, collaborations with the Jordanaires and the Anita Kerr Singers along with her countless recording sessions in Los Angeles, New York City, Las Vegas and Nashville. Her distinctive voice can be heard on classic recordings by Roy Orbison, Dolly Parton, Patsy Cline, Jerry Lee Lewis, Burl Ives, Johnny Cash, Brenda Lee, Willie Nelson, Pete Fountain, Bob Dylan, Perry Como, Carl Perkins, Rosemary Clooney, Little Richard, Reba McEntire, Brook Benton, Tammy Wynette, Vic Damone, Paul Anka, George Jones, Sonny James, Patti Page, Les Paul and Mary Ford, Eddy Arnold, Loretta Lynn, Jim Reeves and of course Elvis Presley to name a few. Kirkham was born in Nashville, Tennessee. She performed in high school bands in the early 1940s before graduating to session work.
On August 17, 1970 Soprano Kathy Westmoreland replaced Millie Kirkham, who has in essence taken over some of departed Sweet Inspiration Cissy Houston's solo duties solely for the filming of 'That's The Way It Is'. Kirkham who is busy with session work in Nashville cannot extend her commitment through the engagement and Kathy signs on initially just for the remaining three weeks - but stays for the next seven years.
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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.