Joe Guercio was the musical director of the International Hotel in Las Vegas when he was approached to direct Elvis in his third season of Las Vegas.
His style had nothing to do with the artistic world of Elvis, so he was a little skeptical at first in relation to his music or the way he interpreted. He had directed for artists like Diana Ross, Gladys Knight, Pattie Page, etc.
Composer of songs such as "Distant Shores" or "" I won't cry ", he was also an arranger. Although with Elvis the arrangements were normally in charge of Glen D. Hardin, his pianist.
When he met Elvis, even though he thought he was very talented and a great artist... his way of being had him very confused in rehearsals, because he was a fresh, spontaneous and variable artist. ...
He realized that he made changes according to his thoughts and directed everyone and everything as it came out at the time... It is clear that his musicians followed him every time he proposed something, changing what was said or giving a new indication... For a conductor like him, this was disconcerting.
The best-known anecdote of Joe Guercio occurred in the first days of acting...
Someone asked him what he thought of Elvis, if he liked working with him? So his comment would be: "It's like a marble rolling down a marble staircase"...
The next day when Joe walked in and opened the door to his dressing room, in the dark, he heard a strange noise as he walked in. He turned on the lights and what was his surprise when he saw everything flooded with marbles! The whole floor full of marbles, everywhere, even in the sink... he imagined how the mafia boys, all their slaves... last night buying all the marbles in the world. In addition, he left a sign on the mirror that said: "Follow the marble. Signed: E.P"
Guercio would be the one who inspired the beginning of the show in 1970, a theme of six rising and falling notes, known as the passing notes to the stage, for Elvis Presley to come out before the public. The characteristic entry of him... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IhZTTFckux8
Guercio is credited with proposing at the entrance, the theme made popular in the movie "2001 A Space Odyssey." "Thus Spake Zarathustra"
Op. 30 was a tone poem composed by Richard Strauss.
But this was not really the case, his Mafia companions said that the idea was Elvis's. This movie, 2001, he saw it a year before and he liked it a lot. Always a movie buff and enthusiast, they contradict the version by assuring that it occurred to him because he wanted to have an entry that marked something great... and that's how it was. This overture would give way to a grandiose image that would transcend time and would be linked to his own show.
Although Guercio said that his wife gave him the idea when they saw the film ... obviously it could not have been true, simply because the film was released two years before he met Elvis and directed for him.
He worked with Elvis from August 1970 to 1977. His memory of Elvis was that he got to work with a great family of professionals, the musicians, the choir. He always commented that he opened up a completely different musical world to him than the one he was used to.
Over time, Joe Guercio came to understand Elvis and love him like everyone who worked with him.
"Following the Path of the King..."
Joe Guercio, Orchestra Director.