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