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Nov 3, 2022

The true value of friendship and the price of fame


The true value of friendship and the price of fame

From Tupelo to Memphis

We know that Elvis Presley was generous, considerate, thoughtful, and noble. From 1954 to 1956, he traveled everywhere with Scotty Moore, guitar, and Bill Black, bass, with whom he shared dreams, work, fellowship, and music.

They were friends and partners from Elvis's start at Sun Records. Then DJ Fontana would arrive, a drummer who was added to the group.
They were his pillar on stage and at the beginning they had an economic agreement, with time and fame, everything would change radically. Not only were they ignored in terms of the financial deal, but they were also increasingly isolated from Elvis, whom they could only see on stage or in rare instances.

Elvis Presley was very special and really the real friends he had could be counted on one hand. He was rightly suspicious, since he was a child, because all the boys he knew always saw him differently. That isolation that would make him maintain a barrier with people, he also had to do with his parents because he was overprotected.

Scotty and Bill should have been considered friends, because they not only supported him, they shared good and bad times with him. His situation in 1957 was no longer good, but Elvis was not aware of it. This would create not only mistrust, but also financial insecurity and expense. Elvis had disregarded the agreement, although it is true that for him, the money, the contracts... none of this ever controlled him and he could not really know the agreement that Scotty and Bill had signed. But it is true that he could have influenced the Colonel, to be able to increase his salary, which was unfair.

In September of 1957, Scotty and Bill wanted to give up their contract. This was communicated to Elvis himself, who desperately called Tom Parker. He told him that they were going to resign, the Colonel replied that he would look for another band. But it was the end of the world for Elvis, and he hung up and said, "What am I going to do?" He knew they were part of his success too, for many reasons. new musical style and Bill gave a lot of play in the show, while Elvis established himself on the scene. 

Everything would be born with them, the recordings on Sun Records, the concerts, the energy and strength, the improvisation and comparsa, more than four hundred appearances on stage together.

 It was a bond that united them more than a simple friendship. At first they won with the agreement, during 1955 and it promised to be better. Everything changed because Bob Neal, who was his first manager, considered that Elvis Presley was the attraction and the rest could not earn more than €100 a month. This was communicated to him before telling the musicians and Elvis did not object. So they stayed out of loyalty and thinking that Elvis would help them, paying more money outside the agreement, they talked about having a weekly salary even if they didn't work, they would even have a royalty for the recordings and charging would have been the right thing to do, but it wasn't.

It is true that no musician gets paid when not working, since it has always been like that, with exceptions, but the fair thing would have been to charge more for performance and payment of expenses, than for example the Jordanaires, if they negotiated it and charged correctly for their performances. But Scotty and Bill were just as naive as Elvis and also had no manager and no bargaining power. His only hope was Elvis, who did not know how to help, nor did he fulfill anything that was promised.

Unfortunately with the Colonel it got even worse since nothing was recorded in the contract. The only raise the boys got during that time period was a raise of $200 a week when they were on tour with Elvis and $100 a week when they weren't working. But it was not enough to survive, they had living expenses, travel, etc. Elvis didn't know anything about contracts, he didn't even control his own, but he never considered anything else. He didn't think about the money, he only compensated if they asked for it, but this was a matter of salary and respect for his work.

The money they received in studies compensated somewhat for the losses, but they couldn't take it anymore.

Elvis tried to solve it by calling Scotty, who proposed a raise of $50 a week, and accumulated payments that they both owed, he asked for time.
But the main mistake they made was an interview where the "Commercial Appeal" in Memphis interfered by running a story in which Scotty and Bill voiced their grievances: "He promised us that the more he made, the more we would make, but it hasn't turned out that way. ".
Although it was true Elvis, he would feel a lot of shame, this would never have been expected from his faithful Scotty and Bill, he felt betrayed and finally sent a letter to Scotty in which he said:

"I hope you have good luck. I will give you good recommendations, fellows. If you had come to me, we would have worked things out. I would have always taken care of you. But you went to the papers and tried to make me look bad, instead of coming to me so that we could work things out. All I can tell you is 'good' luck."

Vernon Presley's letter to Scotty accepting his resignation was effective the same day as the article published on September 13, 1957, but was dated three days earlier. This shows that the Colonel had already accepted his resignation, without consulting Elvis and before Elvis could read the press. Steve Sholes, his producer, told the Colonel that these musicians made Elvis slow down on the recordings because they listened to him. and they supported him in everything and that with other musicians the production would be faster and less expensive for RCA. As a consequence, all this made Elvis very sad, despite being the indirect cause of this loss. If that newspaper article had not come to light, surely Elvis would have supported his friends and reached an agreement. Although they acted with him in subsequent performances, his departure was already irremediable, but Elvis did not react firmly, nor in time, which caused him to lose two friends who had always supported him.

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