The American Sound Studios

From Tupelo to Memphis 41
The American Sound Studios 1.

From Tupelo to Memphis 41
The American Sound Studios 2.

From Tupelo to Memphis 41
The American Sound Studios 3.


From Tupelo to Memphis 41
The American Sound Studios 4.

From Tupelo to Memphis 41
The American Sound Studios 5.


The American Sound Studios

On the night of January 6, 1969, Elvis met with RCA producer Felton Jarvis at Graceland. They were in the Jungleroom, with the objective of discussing about the next recordings that they intended to do in Nashville. Marty Lacker, friend of Elvis Presley and member of the Mafia, was with them trembling with frustration. He wanted Elvis to record at the American Sound Studios in Memphis, with the prestigious producer and director of the studios, Chips Moman, and he did not want Elvis to miss this opportunity to record with the most prestigious producer and the best musicians of the moment.
Marty He had already talked to Chips several times before and they both wanted Elvis to record at American Sound, but they had never been able to convince him... But that night, Marty finally got it. 
Elvis said, "Okay, Marty, but I have to start recording Monday night. You and Felton set it all up with Chips Moman.
Marty and Felton walked down the hall to the phone and Marty called Chips and said : "Lincoln (which was his real name) do you still want to record with Elvis?" Hell yeah," Chips replied. "Well, you got it! but you have a problem... 
Elvis has to start recording on Monday night and you already have the studio reserved for Neil Diamond". To which Chips replied: "FUCK Neil Diamond!! , we'll just have to postpone it. Tell Elvis that it's okay" Elvis would later promise Neil that he would record a song in gratitude for giving him the recording sessions with Chips. 
This was the beginning, thanks to Marty, for the realization of the legendary recording sessions that would begin on January 13, 1969 and that would be a milestone in Elvis's career. Probably one of his best recording sessions, along with those of Sun Records...

"Following the path of the King...


Chips Moman producer of the American Sound Studios

It is curious sometimes the history and anecdotes that surround the life of a musician

Chips Moman, who was the producer of the sessions held in January and February 1969 for Elvis Presley, began as a guitarist at the age of fourteen...His "discovery" seems like a story out of an old Hollywood script. Sitting in a local drug store, strumming a guitar, he was discovered by rockabilly star Warren Smith who was then with Sun Records...
Warren Smith. "He asked me if he wanted a job," says Chips Moman, who played his first gig with Smith at an Arkansas club, which also featured Carl Perkins and Roy Orbison. 'That's how I got into the business.' Moman quickly became a local guitarist, joining up with brothers Johnny and Dorsey Burnette.
He toured with them, with Gene Vincente... And also did the sessions with them in California at the famous Gold Star Recording Studios. Moman watched and studied the noted engineer Stan Ross behind the board. It is at this moment that his interest in production begins and it counts..."And because of what I learned in California, I decided to take advantage of that experience and put it to work in Memphis"Moman was a different, young and successful producer who had already worked in his studies with the great musicians of the moment and saw in Elvis a jewel in the rough.
He thought that he had wasted many years making movies and he admired him for his previous stage and his voice was an incomparable attraction for him. His experience and the possibility of recording in his studios was a lucky opportunity on the Elvis Presley Path that fortunately he did not miss.

The American Sound Studios 1

"Following the path of the King... "

1969 The American Sound Studios

Anecdotes about the recordings from January to February 1969 at the American Sound Studios. Days after the first sessions in January.
In the words of Marty Lacker ;"The day before he returned to the studio, Red, George, Lamar and Elvis and I were in his office listening to some songs that Colonel Parker's office sent to to these recordings... Nearly all of them were terrible. When we finished, I think there was only one demo that they liked." Of course, he knew that since Lamar was with Hill and Range, anything said in that room about the demos would go back to Freddy Bienstock as soon as Lamar got out of there. And Freddy would then tell Colonel Parker...
Elvis was sitting behind his desk. He said, “Man, I don't know what I'm going to do. We don't have any good songs. I don't know why they keep sending me all this crap. I decided I could go broke. I'm going to tell you, but I know why you don't listen to the good demos." He said, "Why?" And I said, "Let me first tell you that there isn't a songwriter in the world who doesn't like that Elvis Presley record one of your songs. "And then I looked him right in the face and said, 'The reason is that they don't need you. plus.
And the whole room was dead silent. No one had ever said anything like this to him before. Red had a slight smile on his face because he knew what he was doing, and I knew he agreed. I half expected Elvis to pick something up and throw it at me....Instead he said, "What do you mean, 'They don't need me.'" I said, "
There was a time when you were the only person who had a million salespeople every time he walked out of the cash register. And at that point, the Colonel was smart enough, and Hill and Range were smart enough to get a piece of the post." Elvis said, "Well, you know, that's business."
I said, "Yeah , but that was then, and this is now. Today there are many people with a million records sold. And there are many singer-songwriters who don't need other people to write their songs. So when they try to bring a good song to you, they hit themselves over the head with this thing of giving up 25 percent of their post. And they won't do that anymore. "He didn't say anything, so I said, 'But you know what else? The real crime is that you hear but a fraction of what you get. Someone is choosing your fucking music for you.
There's no reason in the world why you shouldn't have been the first person to hear the demo of every hit record that's been cut in the last five years. Writers come to us, but all we can say is, "Send him to the Colonel."
I looked at Elvis, and he was sitting there with his hand over his mouth, like he was thinking about it. Lamar was gritting his teeth because he was taking money out of his pocket. And Red's smile was bigger. Even George agreed with me, but he's a coward, he wouldn't take a look at Elvis. They all let me take the risk. Elvis straightened up in his chair and kicked his foot a mile a minute, which was his habit when he was nervous. He looked around, and said, very firmly, "Well, that's just the way it is. I want everyone to know this, and I don't give a damn who they are. You tell them I'll pick my own damn music from now on.
I want to hear every song they play." I might have, and if I have a piece of the post, that's fine. But if I don't have a piece and I want to do the song, I'm going to do it." Then he pointed his finger at me and said, "I want you to get me some songs." "And he looked at Red and said, 'I want you to get me some good songs too. I want each one of you, if you know someone, to get me some songs." This is the real reason why Elvis finally opened his eyes and finally decided to choose his music...
And it was Marthy Lacker who finally told him the sad reality... Despite all the criticism for years about the members of the Mafia, from his friends they say out of interest,... the truth is that many of them did love him and really helped him in everything they could, when Elvis was willing to help,...but Elvis's complicated and insecure personality had given rise to many past mistakes that were about to change...

The American Sound Studios

Two big decisions were going to be made at the beginning of 1969 that were going to change the course of Elvis Presley's artistic history....The agreement led by Colonel Parker who, with a sharp eye, had chosen the right moment to contact with Alex Shoofey vice president of the International Hotel still under construction for its inauguration in 1969...And the important decision to stop recording in Nashville and bet on American Sound Studios and a young producer Chips Moman, in Memphis, thanks to the insistence of Marty Lacker one of his best friends and a member of the Mafia...The success of the TV show "Elvis" Comeback special has given strength and aspiration and above all has renewed the spirit of the artist,...The story of Elvis Presley is once again about to give a total turnaround of artistic direction... And the world will be able to enjoy live with a new and different Repertoire that will become legendary...

The architect of change
Friends of Heart
Marty Lacker

These recordings were not conceived by chance, one of his best friends, Marty Lacker would be the one who gave Elvis the push to realize that he had to make a change in his path and record in other studios.Marty met Elvis in when he was in the army, he was then working at WHHM Radio and convinced him to join his group, which would become the Memphis Mafia. But Marty always had his own career that he didn't put aside. It would be in 1967 when Elvis got married, when things changed in the group and he decided to separate professionally from Elvis. He was one of his groomsmen and his friendship was present at all times, it did not change and he continued to visit Elvis and he continued to rely on his advice. At this time he received an offer from Pepper Tannen, although Marty Lacker worked with Elvis for a long time.
 In 1967, Lacker helped launch Pepper Records and went on to become vice president and business manager of American Studios, later in the early 1960s. 70, served as chairman of the original music commission for Memphis and Shelby. 
A major gingles company, spots, was then well known. Marty would eventually create his own record label, he got involved in the Memphis industry. He also starts working for Chips Moman at American Studios. he saw that there was a big difference in the way of dealing discographically, with the live voice with the musicians, instead of doing it in parts. 
In this way he saw an advance in the way of making music and evidently Elvis was lagging behind in the way of making records, so he thought it would be a good idea to record at American Studios. Marty influenced Chips Moman to work with Elvis and convinced Elvis himself to give himself a chance to change the musical course of his work.

The recording sessions

On January 13, 1969, everything would begin. To make room for Elvis, Chips Moman reorganized all his work and the projects they had at the time, which included the scheduled sessions of the artist Neil Diamond. Elvis promised to record one of his songs in compensation, because he agreed to postpone in favor of the sessions that Chips had ceded in his place. Elvis learned that these days his boyhood idol Roy Hamilton would also be recording in the studios, He would joyfully enter the studio through the back door of 827 Thomas Street in the evening. The group of musicians that was going to accompany him were the usual ones who collaborated with Chips Moman.
 Bobby Wood the pianist described him with great energy and enthusiasm and above all he was struck by how good he looked then physically. The place was a bit depressing, because of the neighborhood because of how he looked and although Elvis already knew places like this It seemed like a strange place. 
The room seemed to vibrate, just from the illusion and the excitement. Reggie Young the guitarist would remember that the place had rats in the rafters... But the important thing was the sound produced in the American Sound Studios. What was important there were the musicians, their style and their way of making music transcend. 
They didn't have great means but Chips Moman got everything out of these musicians doing a magnificent job during his sessions. Tommy Cogbill was a bass player and producer at American, he was a brilliant jazz musician. 
His melodic quality was his peculiarity in giving rhythmic flexibility and his characteristic in playing his bass. Guitarist Reggie Young was also different and with an absolutely personal way of playing and a peculiar sound. Gene Chrisman on drums and Bobby Wood on piano, with the collaboration of Bobby Emmons on organ. Also John Hughey accompanying on guitar and Ed Kollis on harmonica. 
The experience and quality of these musicians was exceptional, with the same influence and musical heritage that Elvis could have, and more or less the same age. The environment was the best to get the best out of yourself during the sessions.

Chips Moman 

Chips Moman a producer with great qualities, patient, persevering, with the ability to listen and get the best out of each musician. He made corrections, suggestions but above all he encouraged the musician and got to the essence of the song. An artist as special as Elvis Presley would come to give his best in these very special sessions, in which he would feel that he was finally doing something different and music that really reached the bottom of his soul. 
The important thing about these studies was the particular and different sound that would come out of that production. Eight tracks were used and live recordings were made on four, so that later they could be re-recorded. The voice could sing with the band and then it could be re-recorded to seek perfection.
 The repertoire would be proposed and, unlike previous occasions, Elvis' requests were new. His list included songs that, although they had already been taken from hits, he could do great versions of, such as "without love" "I´ll be there", "you don´t have to say you love me" ... and the proposals of Freddy Bienstock with British writers and Lamar Fike for example "My litte friend"... Songs that told personal stories, atypical like "Long Black Limousine" etc.

"Long Black Limousine"

"Long Black Limousine"
Composed by Glen Campbell and Gordon Terry. Elvis recorded it on January 13, 1969 at the American Sound Studios. These recordings that Elvis made at the American Studios are magnificent, the push that Elvis received from the producer Chips Moman, his trust and his desire to do mutual work would be the reasons to get to the depth of this work. Elvis wanted to make sense of his music and at this moment he found it. The song "Long Black Limousine" would be the first song that Elvis would record in these sessions. His version of his song is based on O.J Smith's interpretation, to find his own Way of his. The maturation and roughness that she shows in these moments characterizes her vision of the score that tells the story of a girl from a small town who leaves her place to go to the city, believing that she would return in a luxurious car. Unfortunately, she would fulfill her mission at her own funeral. Her voice again with strength, passion, with sincerity that convinces the listener. A different kind of song, for Elvis it was a start of being able to choose the songs he really wanted to sing and not the ones he was forced to. The song was included on the album "From Elvis In Memphis", "From Nashville to Memphis", "Suspicious Minds": "The Memphis 1969 Anthology" and "The Country Side of Elvis". Two alternate takes were included on the FTD 2001 "The Memphis Sessions". Later on the FTD "Too Much Monkey Business", etc.

Long Black Limousine (Takes 7, 8 & 9) - YouTube

"This is The Story"

"This is The Story"
A song composed by Chris Arnold, Geoffrey Morrow and David Martin. Elvis recorded it at American Studios on January 13, 1969. A song in which Elvis again turns all his interest, songs with true stories, a score different from what was previously done. It was included in "From Memphis To Vegas" "Back in Memphis". "From Nashville to Memphis", also on "Suspicious Minds": "The Memphis 1969 Anthology". Later in 2001 at the FTD "The Memphis Sessions". Elvis also sang it live during the initial Vegas season on January 26, 1969, this version was included on 1991's "Collectors Gold" and 2005 FTD's "All Shook Up", etc.

Elvis Presley - This is the Story (take 2) - YouTube

"Wearin´ that loved on look"

The Score is composed by Dallas Fraser and All Owens. Elvis recorded it in the early morning of January 14, 1969. A risky song at some point in the score, where Elvis can risk safety for the high notes, which he finally masters. He was constipated and this was giving him a mild sore throat, which he would eventually control. Memphis anthology" and "Suspicious Minds: The Memphis 1969 Anthology", etc.

"You´ll Think of Me"

"You'll Think of Me" Song composed by Mort Shuman. Recorded on January 14, 1969 at American Studios. A lyric that tells the story of a man who leaves a relationship because he wants to feel free, even though he knows the girl will think of him.

 It was released as a B-side to "Suspicious Minds". And on various albums like "From Vegas to Memphis, Back in Memphis", "Worldwide Gold Award Hits Vol 2". Also "Elvis sings Mort Shuman & Doc Pomus", "From Nashville To Memphis". Later editions of "From Elvis In Memphis" and Suspicious Minds: "The Memphis 1969 Anthology" and FTD "The Memphis Sessions", "Made in Memphis", etc.

"A Little Bit Of Green"

"A Little Bit Of Green", composed by authors Chris Arnold, Geoff Morrow and David Martin. A great different theme, a ballad of love, but special, not commercial but with a great tone and carried towards a dramatic and sweet tone to At the same time... An artist of the stature of Elvis Presley is normally in search of new sensations, with his voice, through new compositions, more human, real lyrics, everyday stories that could identify the listener more with the interpreter. 
It would be the key to these new sessions that would give rise to a change in the artistic life of Elvis Presley from 1969. Chips Moman's direction was special, he permeates a different sound to the musical accompaniment with Elvis's voice.
 From then on his songs would have a current tone, of the moment and from here a more commercial music, with which to be able to get closer to the real public of this year, and evolve musically. Unfortunately, economic circumstances would distance producer Chips Moman with whom he would only perform these sessions in January and February 1969.

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"I´m Movin´ On"

"I´m Movin´ On" A personal version of Elvis of the success that Hank Snow had in the year 1950. It was recorded on January 14, 1969, at the American Sound Studio. 
A country classic but updated. Included in "From Elvis in Memphis", "The Memphis Record", "From Nashville to Memphis", "The Country Side of Elvis", also in "Guitar Man" with a new instrumental track. Also on the FTD "Too Much Monkey Business", etc.

Songs of the Heart.

Elvis recorded this wonderful song composed by authors Burt Bacharach and Bob Hilliard at The American Studios on February 20, 1969.
A hit that Chuck Jackson had already recorded in 1962 and later would be for Ronnie Milsap two decades later.
The song was released as the B-side of "In The Ghetto" in April 1969, and can be found on "From Elvis in Memphis", "Worldwide Gold Award Hits Vol. 2", "From Nashville to Memphis", and "Suspicious Minds": The 1969 Memphis anthology.
An alternate version is the FTD release "The Memphis Sessions". etc, etc "Any Day Now" was an emotional and moving song because of the story it tells.
The lyrics tell the artist who is in mourning for a love story that has not yet ended. But it is evident that his end is near, so he begs his love not to fly away... Elvis plays her in a wonderfully expressive way accentuated by his voice.
During the recording sessions it is true that they had to insist because the expected objective was not achieved. For some reason it would be hard to get. Chips Moman, the producer in these recording sessions came to express at one point ""We got it, man, we got it!" Let's record it like we feel it... I don't want to lose it, we got it, right now.
The result is a track which is hard to forget in the voice of its interpreter..

"Following the way of the King..."

Songs with soul


The history of each song always has curiosities and anecdotes that we can tell, from various points of view, the Singer, the composer, the producer, the accompanying musicians,... the musical mechanics and the recording of a success sometimes does not depend only on of a good score, of a production, ... or of a performer.... Proof of this is the history of this well-known song by all admirers of Elvis Presley. "Suspicious Minds" Composer Mark James recounts that one day he was playing organ bass pedals in an apartment he lived in and he was getting some kind of riff, the same riff, and he was getting the rhythm of it, playing.
Inspiration would come, then when he got a certain part, he went into the studio and finished it off with a grand piano. And when Chips Moman heard it, he was like, 'Man, I want to record this song,' and he was really excited. Although the song was recorded with vocals by songwriter/singer Mark James with good accompaniment, it didn't catch on. by M. James

When Chips showed the song to Elvis, he realized that he had found his number one, it was like seeing a gold record, .. knew that this was the song they were looking for... In the voice of the interpreter, through his heart, he could reach the top... And so it was... When Elvis heard it he said, "Let's listen this again".
Composer Mark James stayed away, because he didn't want to bother the recordings and of course Elvis heard it several times, he liked it so much that Chips made him a recording to take home.
Mark James says that when he went to the study and listened to the version sung by Elvis, at first it seemed slow, but when he heard the voice he was so impressed or for that special interpretation of his work that would give meaning to his composition, and would inspire him in new songs.
The composer wrote, sang and issued his own version of Suspicious Minds, also produced by Chips Moman, on Scepter Records in 1968, but without success and in the same arrangement, the song became a worldwide hit for Elvis Presley in 1969. Curiously, the demo that was recorded for the backing song would be almost identical to the one used in the recordings of the day on January 23, 1969 at American Sound Studios.
Chips Moman says that Felton Jarvis was never happy that Elvis recorded on American. It was a control thing. So when Jarvis took the tape of 'Suspicious Minds', he added this crazy 15-second disappearance towards the end, as if the song was ending, and brought it back over-recorded to extend it... losing its original meaning. But the general public did not dislike this and neither did the composer.
Marck James composed more songs for Elvis, but his greatest success would be "Always on my minds" not only because it became another of the best known songs that Elvis Presley performed , also because with this song he would win the Grammy Award for Song of the Year for Willie Nelson's version.Ironies of the recording world.
Elvis makes it eternal and someone else wins the Grammy.
There are many legends and more anecdotes about this song Suspicious,... and about the economic influence that jeopardized the future of this sure hit... due to abusive copyrights... but that's another story...

"Following his path King..."Takes /watch?v=UcFvZ5VRn98
In Las Vegas...

Suspicious Mind - Elvis Presley - YouTube

The other side of the Mirror. "Suspicious Minds"

A wonderfully close theme, the musical score that would become eternal in the voice of Elvis Presley...Its composer and performer Mark James was amazed at the magical interpretation with which Elvis gave life to his own work, and like everyone who heard Once the recording was made in the early hours of January 23, 1969, they had a sure success with this song. Chips Moman the producer who had the rights to "Suspicious Minds" showed Elvis the song, and immediately Elvis who heard it several times fell in love with this song. Mark James acknowledges that Elvis Presley made it his own and acknowledges having witnessed even larger versions in his concert performances in his live performance...

A strength and essence of the song and the artist before his audience, ... this theme would be a legend in the voice of Elvis Presley. The lyrics about trust, the suspicion of infidelity, ... a complicated and profound theme that Elvis could be facing this possibility. Although her marriage was apparently happy, Priscilla was now another adult woman, more independent, and she was beginning to take a different attitude towards her husband. All actions have consequences, and this would be one of them... The other side of the mirror, the commercial side would always be an obstacle for Elvis Presley. Colonel Parker and RCA demanded the famous 25% of the rights, the royalties,... for which the majority of composers did not negotiate songs for Elvis, due to these abuses and the possibility of recording hits was lost for years due to this economic demand. . Elvis would never question this commercial maneuver until this session, (Marty Lacker his friend explained all this to him) and from now on he wanted to sing good compositions, he realized that he was being handcuffed once again by economic issues.Chips Moman and American Studios they were chosen to bring their own distinctive sound to Elvis recordings, to give it a current sound and usher in the new Elvis Presley who wanted to reach a young audience and keep the fans as well. But the financial demands they were offered were humiliating: Chips Moman's name would not appear as the album's producer, and he would receive no royalties from the producer—from Chip's point of view, this was both an insult and an injury. At some point during the selection and shuffling of the titles for the album, which was done afterwards, allegedly when he was once again pushed to give up part of the release on "Suspicious Minds", Chips told everyone they could give a big jump, that they should just consider the whole business "a very expensive demo session". The song was a sure hit and everyone knew it, and they played to see who could take the cake... But Chips Moman had the rights and he didn't want to give up... He would even be able to give up and keep the recording because of ambition by Colonel Parker... From January 22nd to 23rd these sessions would end, with the songs "Without Love", "I'll Hold You In My Heart", "Let's Be Friends" and the last one at dawn "Suspicious Minds "Finally an agreement was reached that the rest of the tracks would be recorded in February... the damage had already been done, and Chips Moman, a successful young producer, would never record with Elvis Presley again. FROM TUPELO TO MEMPHIS 41 The American Sound Studios 

"Following the path of the King..."