Saturday, 8 December 2007

Report of Imperials Concert in Brighton

Congratulations to Andrew Hearn and his team from Essential Elvis ( for organising such a great event at the old Market Hall in Hove near Brighton UK.

The headliners for the event, which took place on November 17th, were the Imperials; four wonderful singers, Sherman Andrus, Terry Blackwood, Joe Moscheo (all of whom knew and sang with Elvis) and “new boy” Gus Gaches. There were also other treats to enjoy.

The photo shows - back (left to right): Terry Blackwood, Doug Flett and Guy Fletcher (Elvis’ songwriters), Joe Moscheo and front: Gus Gaches and Sherman Andrus

To start the event they had gathered together some rare film footage of Elvis, which was very interesting. The Imperials were then introduced and immediately launched into a real rocking southern gospel song This Train, which rather took the audience by surprise as it isn’t one which Elvis was known to sing publicly.

There was then a very interesting question and answer section with Terry, Joe and Sherman sharing their memories of Elvis. Although Gus was not a member of the Imperials when they sang with Elvis, he has taken part in the Elvis the Concert tour, so in one sense has sung with Elvis!

There were two surprise guests, Guy Fletcher and Doug Flett, British song writers who had enjoyed big success with names like Cliff Richard and The Hollies, among others. Guy is a past chairman of the British Academy of Composers & Songwriters and now heads up MCS Music. Guy and Doug enjoyed considerable attention from Elvis when they were contracted as songwriters to Carln. Doug recalled:
"The first of our songs, Wonderful World, was pitched via Freddie Bienstock," Guy said. "We had already had two versions out in the UK - by Hamilton Jones & the Happy Band, and Cliff Richard (whose version came third in 'A Song For Europe'). Elvis needed some lyric changes, which we did and the song went into his last MGM movie and on to the 'Flaming Star' album. After they got to know about Doug and me, Elvis's office called and asked for more songs. We supplied seven and Elvis recorded two of them - The Fair's Movin' On ('Memphis To Vegas' album) and the biggest one of all, Just Pretend ('Elvis - That's The Way It Is album). Just Pretend is used in current Elvis 'live' shows and has appeared on hundreds of compilation albums. We've also heard that it's Lisa Marie Presley's favourite song by her dad!" They were "delighted" by the Elvis’ treatment of their songs. Joe Guercio, musical director, did the arrangements and became a firm friend of the duo. His favourite is also Just Pretend

Shayne Driscoll who works with Essential Elvis as Events Manager is a singer in his own right and often performs at events. He said that he does not usually sing gospel songs, but had a favourite that he had quickly rehearsed with the Imperials. He was clearly honoured to be able to have them “backing” him and gave a wonderful performance of Where No One Stands Alone which was also very much appreciated by us all.

The final part of the show was the Imperials giving rousing performances of gospel songs including How Great Thou Art, Sweet, Sweet Spirit, He Touched Me and Oh Happy Day. Each member of the quartet has a wonderful voice and stage presence, and they are amazing, both as soloists and in harmony. It was especially great to see and hear Sherman Andrus really let rip on Oh Happy Day.

What I really love about gospel songs is that although they address such serious issues as life, death, and eternity, they are the good news about eternal love and always seem to touch a part of our being which responds to the hope and joy expressed in the songs.

A Terry Blackwood says, “We just love to share the good news of Jesus Christ.”

The audience certainly responded to the good news, as each song was given rapturous applause and lots of hootin’ and hollerin’.

Because of the relatively small venue, those who wanted to had the opportunity to meet and greet the guys and several of our fan club members who were present did so. Special thanks go to Elvis Gospel Fan Club member, Catherine Hingston from Leicester for providing us with the photo.

Joe Moscheo was signing copies of this book The Gospel Side of Elvis – a great book which includes some lovely personal stories about Joe’s times with Elvis. Available via or

The Imperials are planning on coming over to Europe for several dates in 2008, hopefully including UK. We’ll let you know when we know definite dates and venues.

Madeleine Wilson – Fan Club President

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

One Fan’s Report of Elvis Week 2007

I recently interviewed one of our Fan Club members, Oliver Fosker from England, about his time at Elvis Week 2007. (See below). Thank you Oliver. Our grateful thanks also go to Oliver and others who kindly sent us their photos of our Floral Tribute (pictured right) which consists of a red Christian cross with writing in gold on three ribbons. The writing on the horizontal ribbons is: "LOVE NEVER FAILS" and THANK YOU LORD FOR THE LIFE OF ELVIS PRESLEY on one vertical ribbon and ELVIS GOSPEL FAN CLUB ENGLAND on the other vertical ribbon.

Madeleine Wilson- President of Elvis Gospel Fan Club

What was the most memorable part of Elvis Week for you?
The 30th Anniversary Concert at the Fed Ex forum on August 16th.

The whole show was fantastic. I was six rows from the front in the VIP stand and the view was amazing. The whole placed just rocked ! The TCB Band were on top form as usual, The gospel groups were just phenomenal ! We had The Jordanaires (Gordon Stoker, Ray Walker, Louis Nunley, Curtis Young), The Imperials (Terry Blackwood, Joe Moscheo, Sherman Andrus, Gus Gaches), The Stamps (Bill Baize, Donnie Sumner, Ed Hill, Larry Strickland, Richard Sterban), The Sweet Inspirations (Myrna Smith, Estelle Brown, Portia Griffin) & Millie Kirkham. There was a guest appearance by Priscilla, and Lisa Marie sang the duet with her Daddy In the Ghetto, which featured a guest appearance by Bishop Al Green of the Full Gospel Tabernacle. The show comprised of everything from the early years until the 70's. It was a truly memorable night, I would even go as far as to say that it was a better show than the 25th Anniversary.

What other events did you attend ?
Candlelight Vigil - where my sister and I stood in line for six hours ! It took us 1 1/4 hours to get from the gates till when we passed the grave.

Movie & Music on the lawn (more of this to follow !)

Scotty Moore at the Peabody - One of the fan clubs organised a show with Scotty. He came out and gave us a conversation, An English group who he champions then played. A guest appearance by The Jordanaires occurred, and they sang a couple of songs. We had a small obituary for Boots Randolph, then Billy Swan and his band played. Scotty came out for the last two numbers and played Heartbreak Hotel.

The Midnight Concert - Same format as the Anniversary Concert above, but trying to recreate the atmosphere of the midnight concerts in Las Vegas. All the material was from TTWII-SE.

Were there many gospel events or events with gospel input?
Movie & Music on the lawn at Graceland was the only one I think I saw advertised, but I might be wrong.

Can you tell me something about that please?
EPE organised a big inflatable screen where we watched Elvis – That’s The Way It Is SE. But before that, we had a fantastic show by the gospel groups who sang with Elvis. The Imperials, The Stamps & The Sweets. They all did about 20 minutes of their own material and Elvis gospel material, then sang for about 10 minutes as a group. It was a truly remarkable evening with great music and a fantastic film.

Did you get to meet any of Elvis' family, friends, co stars, musicians?
I saw the above people, but didn’t get to talk to them as such. All that is, except Jerry Scheff, whom I met in Walgreens in downtown Memphis, buying Pepto-bizmal !!! Also saw Joe Esposito on his ‘phone in the Peabody’s Hotel lobby, George Klein presenting his radio show from the Plaza and James Burton being harassed by some fans in the Peabody! Being a VIP at the concert, The Band, Priscilla & Lisa all came up to the bar and said Hi to everyone and signed autographs.

Was there anything different about this particular Elvis week compared to others (apart from the heat!)?
There were a lot more people there this time. More impersonators, less British TV crews but a lot of the Americans ones. The heat never dropped below 101 degrees F all of the time we were in the States. There is a new exhibit of Elvis jumpsuits in one of the museums, The jumpsuits in the raquetball court have now been enclosed in cabinets, There is another new exhibit in one of the shops in the Graceland crossing plaza. The last shop right at the end now holds an exhibit about when Elvis met President Reagan. Some of the shops have changed also. There also seemed to be a lot more events than I can recollect from 5 years ago.

How often do you visit Memphis?
Elvis Week 2002, Birthday Week 2005 & Elvis Week 2007 are the times I have visited Memphis.

When do you plan to visit again?
I’d like to, but I don’t know when the next time will be. I’d like to go for the Birthday Week 2010, but we'll see.

Any thing else you would like to say about Elvis Week and why you go?
I go purely for the love of Elvis Presley. Getting to know people from all around the world is a great thing to do, and it’s all down to one man! I also don’t know of any other person, where 50,000 people, I would guess, took all night to file past the grave 30 years after that person died.

I also love the Southern hospitality you get there. Getting a "Hello Sir" from the shop staff every time you go in anywhere is a great feeling. You never get it in this country!!

I don’t know if its my age (don’t think so though only being 24 :o)). But I think I enjoyed the Birthday Week in January better then than Elvis Week, because there were less people there. Don’t get me wrong on that though, I had a fantastic time!! On the organised tour I was with, they took 1000 people.

The organised tour also went to Tupelo for 3 days before we headed to Memphis. It was great there also. We had the tour of Tupelo, which included the school he attended, Tupelo Hardware, the sight of the fairgrounds and his house. As I was there a day before the contingent arrived, my sister and I went to the house when there was hardly anyone about.

The next day was the Elvis Day and there were 1000s of people there! They laid on entertainment for everyone, which included The Landmarks gospel quartet in the church opposite the house. A brilliant group whom I have seen before and this time I bought the CDs !!! There was also a rock & roll group in the sports hall behind the church, and to one side of the house, near the picnic benches were a Bluegrass band called String Theory.

I was in Heaven that day, Elvis Presley, Gospel music & a Bluegrass band !!!

Thank you so much Oliver for your time. You have certainly painted a wonderful atmospheric picture of Elvis Week for those of us who could not be there.

Tuesday, 21 August 2007

Gospel Song Story

Gospel Song Story - The Lighthouse (Jesus is the Lighthouse)
Words and Music by Robbie Hinson © 1971

There's a lighthouse on the hillside that overlooks life's sea.
When I'm tossed it sends out a light that I might see.
And the light that shines in darkness now will safely lead me home,
If it wasn't for the lighthouse, my ship would sail no more.

Chorus And I thank God for The Lighthouse, I owe my life to Him.
Jesus is The Lighthouse and from the rocks of sin,
He has shone the light around me, so that I might clearly see.
If it wasn't for The Lighthouse, Where would this ship be?
Everyone that lives around us, says tear that old lighthouse down,
The big ships don't sail this way anymore, ain't no use in it standing round.
But then my mind goes back to that stormy night, when just in time I saw the light
With the light from that old lighthouse, that stands there on the hill.
Repeat Chorus

The Scripture, which is the inspiration for this song is: Jesus said to the people, "I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won't be stumbling through the darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life." John 8:12 (NLT)

I don’t know if Elvis ever sang this on stage, but it is wonderful to watch him singing it in an impromptu session with the Stamps and others of his entourage. I think it is in a hotel lobby, in the film Elvis On Tour and also in Bill Gaither’s video He Touched Me – The Gospel Music of Elvis Presley. It is clear that Elvis really appreciates having seen the light and that Jesus is always there to protect him. We may ask why then did Elvis suffer so much? My belief is that sometimes we suffer because we live in a fallen world and are often victims of the evil which surrounds us, but also we can cause our own suffering by not staying under God’s protection. It is called sin. Elvis knew and loved the Lord and was grateful that the light of Jesus had often saved him from “many dangers toils and snares”. He was also aware that he sometimes strayed from the path of righteousness and stumbled, because of his own wrong choices. My prayer is that each one of us will always have our eyes open to see that wonderful light of Jesus, which not only warns us of danger, but also leads us into life everlasting where there is no darkness and the light is so brilliant and beautiful. Madeleine Wilson

Thursday, 21 June 2007

Elvis Gospel Service in Truro Cathedral, England

"Elvis Lives " at Truro Cathedral - fully booked and more!

Johnny Cowling, Elvis tribute artist, was back by popular demand at Truro Cathedral for another performance of Elvis Presley’s gospel music on Sunday 19th August 2007.
It was 30 years since Elvis’s death in August 1977, and the ‘Elvis Lives’ service celebrated the gospel music and inspiration that is Elvis Presley.

Johnny, who worships at St Merryn Parish Church, is a well known performer and entertainer on the pub and club circuit in Cornwall. He can trace his love for Elvis back to a very young age, “Elvis has always been an inspiration to me ever since I saw him on TV when I was 5 years old. I just wanted to be Elvis! As time went on I got more and more interested in his music and my first Elvis performance was at a Harvest Supper at St Merryn when I was eight!

Canon Perran Gay said, “It was tremendous fun last year and we got a tremendous amount of positive feedback from people who were there. It was a genuine spiritual experience, very uplifting and we’re expecting even more people this time around”. Well he was correct. The cathedral holds 900 people and applications for the free tickets were over 1200.

To watch a clip of Johnny perfoming at theservice this year visit:

(Photo shows Canon Perran Gay, Madeleine Wilson and Johnny Cowling outside Truro Cathedral.)

To obtain your free tickets to the Elvis Gospel service which will be held on Sunday 31st August 2008 please send a SAE to The Cathedral Office (Elvis 2008), 14 St Mary's Street, Truro TR1 2AF

Tickets will be distributed in July 2008

For further details Contact:
Colin Reid, Communications Officer, Truro Cathedral, 01872 276782