Juke Box Favorites: 2017 Texas Tribute to Elvis Presley Festival Opens in May

The recorded voice of Elvis Presley has been heard by more people than anyone in history.

The Texas Elvis Festival features the top tribute artists in the world. Photos by Jack Dennis

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Throughout his career Texas constantly welcomed Elvis Presley with warm and enthusiastic receptions. On May 26-28, the Lone Star State will pay a special tribute to the King of Rock n’ Roll as the legendary Dallas South Fork Ranch opens its gates for the biggest Elvis Presley festival in Texas history. The 3-day event promises to be a superior music and entertainment spectacular with the festival being officially approved by Elvis Presley Enterprises (EPE).

This second annual Texas Tribute to Elvis Championship and Festival is hosted by Tees Events USA LLC, noted for their successful and very popular Europe’s Tribute to Elvis events. Fans will be entertained with special guests and the competition worthy of being one of global official heats for the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest.

In 2016, News Legit researched the meticulous records of the late William G. Moses, a well-known juke box operator in south central Texas during the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, to determine the most played Elvis Presley records in restaurants, bars, dance halls, drive-ins and other establishments across the state. The results reveal an ideal list of some of Texas’ best loved Elvis songs.

Some notable songs in the Elvis Presley repertoire of single records played in Texas jukeboxes include the Leon Payne penned classic, “I Love You Because” from 1954, to the 1976 Dennis Linde composition, “For the Heart.” Of course, Elvis played tribute to many Texas songwriters as well as to the state. In the 1963 movie, Viva Las Vegas, he performed a rousing medley of “The Eyes of Texas” and “The Yellow Rose of Texas.”

In 1966, he recorded “San Antonio Rose,” by Bob Wills, and in 1970 he sang Wills’ “Faded Love” for the Elvis Country (I’m 10,000 Years Old) album. That same year he recorded “Ghost Riders in the Sky” by Stan Jones and “Make the World Go Away” by Hank Cochran.

According to all known written accounts and records kept, Presley performed in 243 different communities, towns and cities in North America during his lifetime. Officially he recorded 700 songs for Sun Records, RCA, movies and television shows. If the rehearsals, private sessions, live shows and alternate takes are included the total adds up to at least 990 songs.

Following are the five top most played Elvis Presley records in Texas jukeboxes during his career.

“Burning Love”

When critics began hinting Elvis was slowing down as he approached age 40, the King proved them wrong again with the chart topper “Burning Love.” Introduced to the April 1972 San Antonio concert performance being filmed for the “Elvis On Tour” movie, the “Hunk a hunk of burning love” was the ultimate rock n’ roll song that more than solidified the Superstardom of Elvis. Penned by Dennis Linde, who later wrote “Far the Heart,” Elvis threw everything at the audience with a boogie piano, horn-blasting chorus, choir-like vocals, pounding drums beats and fretwork by master guitarist James Burton.

“Jailhouse Rock”

“Jailhouse Rock,” with the flip side being “Treat Me Nice,” is considered by many to be the most incredibly coolest 45rpm record to ever be released in the 1950s. Scotty Moore’s innovative and strenuous solo, paired with the hard driving and uncompromising rocking grit of Presley, turned this Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller song into a classic Rock n’ Roll masterpiece. “Treat Me Nice” was so filled to the brim with Elvis’s legendary surly swagger, fans could sense the iconic curled lip by just listening.

The Texas Elvis Festival is on the grounds of South Fork Ranch near Dallas.

“Hound Dog”

Although released in 1956, “Hound Dog” stayed in hundreds of juke boxes playing for over two decades. Moses mentioned he would have to replace this record (with Sam the Sham and the Pharoah’s “Woolie Bully” coming in a distant second) more than others because eventually “they would wear out.” “Hound Dog” became something of an anthem representing the highest form of success in Rock n’ Roll. The cool thing was that anyone who bought the single, received an added bonus because on the flip side was “Don’t Be Cruel.” The harmonized vocals of the Jordanaires and D.J. Fontana’s rolling drum beats helped make this record Number One for 11 weeks.

“Don’t Be Cruel”

This Otis Blackwell-penned song was recorded on July 2, 1956 in New York and released 11 days later as a single, backed with “Hound Dog.” The song topped the pop, country and R&B charts and was performed multiple times on “The Ed Sullivan Show.” Moses said he wasn’t quite sure if it was “Hound Dog” or “

Drake Milligan plays the role of Elvis in the current TV series, “Sun Records.”  Photo by Jack Dennis

Don’t Be Cruel” that caused it to be played so much, but “both sides were plenty worn by the time I got around to replacing them.”

“Little Sister”

Elvis recorded this Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman classic for 1961’s “Elvis Golden Records, Volume 3” album. “It was no wonder Dwight Yoakum recorded it much later after Elvis died,” observed Moses. “All he had to do was walk into any club or beer joint in the sixties and he’d know ‘Little Sister’ was popular.”

Bill Moses also noted “I Love You Because” (1954), “Teddy Bear” (1956), “All Shook Up” (1956),
“It Hurts Me” (1964), “After Loving You” (1969), “Polk Salad Annie” (1970), “Separate Ways” (1972) and “For the Heart” as records that where big spinners on Texas jukeboxes.

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