Blue Suede Connection

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American Sound Studio - The Memphis Boys

827 Thomas St, Memphis Tennessee, might not have looked like much in 1964; a run down building at best. But inside those walls careers were made! Or in Elvis' case, they were rekindled.

Fresh off the well received Singer 68 Comeback Special, Christmas of 1968, Elvis wanted to keep the fires burning. He wanted, no needed, a hit record. Several months before, his good friend, and fellow member of the "Memphis Mafia," Marty Lacker had told Elvis about a the new recording studio, fresh in town--American Sound Studio's--where shinning stars, like Aretha Franklin, Neil Diamond and BJ Thomas, were already cranking out hit after hit. And guess what? It was not far from Elvis' front door steps, right in Memphis!

At first, Elvis merely listened. He was loyal to RCA. No need to rock the boat, and more conflict with the studio and Manager Col Tom Parker was the last thing Elvis wanted. However, Elvis' most recent act of rebellion, by way of Steve Bender and the 68 Comeback Special, had taught Elvis that some fights were worth fighting.

Elvis was in the best shape of his life, both physically and vocally, and he was ready for a 12th round stand off. When the bell rang in January of 1969, The Memphis Boys, or as they were fondly coined, the 827 Thomas St Band, were present and waiting for their artist to enter the building. They had been told it was Neil Diamond. They'd worked with Neil before, creating hits like "Sweet Caroline" and "Brother Loves Traveling Salvation Show." It was a cold Memphis night, and only Chips Moman and Don Crews, producers and owners for American Sound Studio were aware that Elvis Presley was about to entered the room and music history was soon to be laid down, track by track.

For the weeks that followed, January to February, their hard work produced Elvis' first number one hit since "Good Luck Charm" in 1962! When Elvis first heard "Suspicious Minds," written by song writer/singer Mark James, he simply said "Play it again." To this day, the song goes down as one of Elvis' most played song on the airwaves. It's guitar strumming opener rings familiar to all music lovers!

Elvis came alive during these sessions; the artist within him obviously satisfied. Such gratification can be easily heard in the two albums released from this period, "From Elvis in Memphis" and "Elvis back in Memphis." Elvis and Chips Moman worked well together, Chips encouraged Elvis to stretch his wings and reach into the far corners of his creativity. And just like with Steve Bender in 68, Elvis opened like a flower in spring; an artist, needing room to be all he can be. There was no Tom Parker to tell him what he should and shouldn't sing, friends and colleges were keeping him at bay, giving Elvis the space he longed for--to create.

As a life long fans of Elvis Presley, we owe much to the crew at American Sound Studio; many thanks for letting our star shine. For allowing him to feel good about what he was doing and explore his talent in a way that has lasted long after his passing. I have to admit, these albums and all the albums that have come about from these recordings over the years, are some of our favorites here at Blue Suede Connection. Many of these songs, are my go to songs. And they are without a doubt some of Elvis' finest hours in the studio. "In The Ghetto,"  "The Grass Wont Pay No Mind," "I'm Moving on," "Strange In My Own Home," "Any Day Now," the hits go on and on, inspiring and lifting us with each note. No Elvis music collection is complete without these gems.

120 hit songs came from American Sound Studio, charting the Billboard Top 100, from 1967 to 1972. Sadly, in 1972 the studio folded and the building was town down in 1989. If you drive by 827 Thomas St in Memphis today, you will see a Dollar General Store. I like to think that if you stand in aisle 4, lights out, maybe just maybe, you will hear the echo's of time long past. Maybe Elvis' voice will reach out from the clouds of yesterday and lift your spirits one more time. But if you aren't the sort to believe in the supernatural, just pop in "Rubbernecking" and let the music carry you away.

Dan and TL

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