Elvis and RCA... an introduction to Elvis' RCA Records

  • November 21, 1955 is an important day in the career of Elvis Presley. On this day Elvis signed his record contract with the RCA label. To be accurate, it was Gladys and Vernon Presley who signed the agreement, since Elvis was not old enough to do this on his own. Steve Sholes, at that time working as an artist manager at RCA, had made his life's dodgiest decision; he had spent 40,000 dollars to buy the contract that the boy from Tupelo had with Sam Phillips and his Sun Records ($ 35,000 to Phillips, and $ 5,000 for Presley). This was an unheard of amount of money in 1955. The management of RCA made Sholes understand that this "high-risk project" had to be a success if he had any plans for still being a part of the RCA company. It turned out that Sholes had found King Midas.
    On January 10th Elvis and the band gathered in the RCA studio in New York, and just hours later they had recorded “I Got a Woman”, ”Money Honey” and “Heartbreak Hotel”. A couple of weeks later, “Heartbreak Hotel” was selected as Elvis’ first RCA single. After just one week the first million copies had shifted owner, and the above-mentioned Steve Sholes secured his job and his reputation with RCA forever. As a matter of fact, RCA have probably recouped their $ 40,000 so many times, that not even the accountants of the company have any idea about the numbers.
    During Elvis' career RCA released 76 LPs, 30 EPs, and 100 singles. After Elvis' death on August 16, 1977 the amount of releases increased. Every year a truck load of reissues, new collections, and concert recordings find its way to the buyers. The market literally floods with both official and unofficial Elvis records all over the world.
    Elvis was a very productive artist. He did indeed create 711 master recordings over more than 20 years, making him one of the world's most prolific artists.
    Sales figures show that Elvis probably has sold more than one billion records (source: Wikipedia). We can confirm that Elvis is the world's best-selling recording artist, closely followed by The Beatles.
    Elvis is listed with 18 #1 singles in the United States, just as many as Mariah Carey, and only surpassed by The Beatles with their 20 #1 singles. Now, however, there has been a strange alteration of the rules regarding the Billboard chart. In 2011 Billboard decided to remove singles from the statistics older than August 1958, when the Hot 100 was introduced. As a consequence of this Elvis was downgraded to only holding 7 #1 singles on the Billboard chart. In my opinion this is a depraved and cynical decision! The Billboard chart has existed since January 4, 1936 (Music Hit Parade), and it is totally incomprehensible that someone got the means to just erase the lists from the first 22 years of the charts existence! I hope the decision-makers comprehend the mistake committed, and pull this decision back. Elvis got 18 #1 singles on the Billboard chart. PERIOD!

  • 21. november 1955 er en merkedag i Elvis’ karriere. Den dagen signerte Elvis Presley kontrakt med RCA. For å være helt korrekt så var det Gladys og Vernon Presley som signerte avtalen da Elvis ikke var gammel nok til å gjøre dette på egen hånd. Steve Sholes (artist-ansvarlig hos RCA) hadde gjort sitt livs mest risikable beslutning; han hadde brent av 40.000 dollar for å kjøpe ut unggutten fra avtalen med Sam Phillips og hans Sun Records (35.000$ til Phillips, og 5.000$ til Presley), en uhørt høy sum i 1955. Ledelsen i RCA hadde gjort det klinkende klart for Sholes at dette «høyrisiko-prosjektet» måtte han lykkes med hvis han hadde tanker om fortsatt å være en del av RCA-kompaniet. Det skulle vise seg at Sholes bokstavelig talt hadde skutt gullfuglen. 27. Januar 1956 ble Elvis’ første RCA singel lansert, og «Heartbreak Hotel» brukte bare en uke på å selge den første millionen, og Sholes sikret sin jobb og sitt renommé hos RCA for alltid. Faktumet er at RCA sannsynligvis har tjent inn sine 40.000 dollar så mange ganger at ikke en gang regnskapsførerne i selskapet har den fulle oversikten over dette.
    Bare i Elvis’ aktive karriere slapp RCA ut 76 LP-plater, 30 EP’er, og 100 singler. Etter Elvis’ død 16. august 1977 har ikke dette plateskredet på noen som helst måte avtatt. Hvert eneste år gis det ut et vell av reutgivelser, nye samlinger, og konsertopptak. Markedet formelig overflømmes av både offisielle og uoffisielle Elvis-plater verden over.
    Elvis var en svært virksom artist. Han rakk faktisk å skape 711 masterinnspillinger i løpet av drøyt 20 år, noe som gjør han til en av verdens mest produktive artister.
    Salgstallene viser at Elvis i alle fall har solgt 1 milliard plater (kilde; Wikipedia). Her er det store mørketall, på grunn av det enorme antallet uoffisielle utgivelser, men vi kan med stor sikkerhet bekrefte at Elvis er verdens mestselgende plateartist, tett etterfulgt av The Beatles.
    I forhold til #1 singler har Elvis registrert 18 stk i USA, like mange som Mariah Carey, kun overgått av The Beatles med sine 20 stk. Nå har det dog skjedd en besynderlig endring i regelverket når det gjelder akkurat dette. I 2011 bestemte Billboard at liste-singler eldre enn august 1958 da Hot 100 ble innført, skulle strykes fra statistikken. Dette medførte at Elvis ble degradert til kun å inneha 7 stk #1 singler på Billboard-listen. Dette er etter min mening en helt syk avgjørelse! Billboard-listen har eksistert siden 4. januar 1936 (Music Hit Parade), og da er det for meg totalt ubegripelig at man bare stryker listene fra de første 22 årene! Jeg håper beslutningstagerne bak dette innser den feil som er begått, og trekker denne avgjørelsen tilbake. Elvis har 18 stk førsteplasser på Billboard-listen. Basta!

Sources; Wikipedia / www.elvis.com.au / Peter Guralnick; Last Train To Memphis / Joseph A. Tunzi; The Complete Chart History Of Elvis Presley / Ernst Jørgensen; A Life In Music

14. mai, 2014

RCA Albums

“An overview of the entire official US LP catalogue between 1956 and 1977”

14. mai, 2014

Worldwide 56–77

“An overview of official Elvis LP’s released outside USA, which differs in cover art and content”

14. mai, 2014

RCA EP’s

“An overview of the entire US EP catalogue between 1956 and 1977”

14. mai, 2014

RCA Singles

“An overview of the entire US singles catalogue between 1956 and 1977”

14. mai, 2014

CD Singles

“An complete overview of all the official CD singles released by RCA/BMG”