Joe Guercio, Elvis' long-time conductor and musical director has died
Joe Guercio has enjoyed a prolific career, but he is probably best known and admired for his work with Elvis Presley. He was musical director and conductor for Elvis' concert shows from the summer of 1970 to the summer of 1977 when Elvis made his last concert appearance. Elvis was known for spontaneity and improvisation on stage and the cast had to be ready for anything. Guercio remembers 'He'd just turn around and start a tune. The rhythm section knew him backwards and forwards, but when you're up there conducting a twenty-six-piece orchestra, what are you gonna do?' In describing that experience, Guercio once commented good-naturedly that conducting for Elvis was 'like following a marble down concrete steps.' This led to his being a target for a particular practical joker. Guercio later found his stage tux stuffed with marbles and a few hundred more rolling around in his dressing room. Along with the marbles was a note: 'Follow the marble - E.P.'.
Joe Guercio was musical director for the International Hotel in Las Vegas when the work with Elvis began. Along with the obvious contributions he made to Elvis' shows, including many of the triumphs of Elvis' 'concert era', it was Joe Guercio who created the now almost iconic six-note theme for Elvis' stage entrances and bows. It was also Guercio who suggested that Elvis' shows open with Theme from 2001 - A Space Odyssey (Also Sprach Zarathustra). The inspiration came when Guercio and his late first wife saw the now-classic science fiction movie in a theater, for when the music began Mrs. Guercio whispered to her husband 'You'd think Elvis was about to enter'.
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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. + Plus Bonus DVD Audio.
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.
Tupelo's Own Elvis Presley DVD Video with Sound.