|ELVIS AT AMERICAN SOUND...THE TRUTH
By Marty Lacker
In his new book, ‘Elvis: My Best Man’, George Klein appears to have taken some moments from Elvis history
and removed other people involved in the story and replaced them with himself?
One of those moments is the American Sound Sessions of 1969, “Basically, what George has done is he
has taken part of my description of the night I talked Elvis into recording at American Studios in January, '69
and replaced me with himself, plus some unbelievable and totally untrue embellishments.”
Here, Marty Lacker tells the true story behind what went on with those classic sessions that helped shoot
Elvis back into the music world as a credible recording artist.
“This is exactly how it happened word for word, blow by blow and Sonny and Lamar are my witnesses.
Unfortunately Felton is no longer with us or he'd verify it. Chips has publicly stated a number of times that it
was me who did it.
The time was the evening of Thursday January 9, 1969 the day after Elvis' birthday. We were sitting in what
is now known as the Jungle Room, although we called it The Den. Elvis was sitting in the big chair next to the
window facing the waterfall stone wall. Felton Jarvis was sitting on an ottoman in front of and facing Elvis.
On the couch next to Elvis' chair sat George Klein, Lamar Fike and Sonny West. I was sitting in the chair up
against the wall to the left of them.
Much to my chagrin Felton was discussing with Elvis about his session coming up the next Monday in
Nashville and Felton was asking Elvis what musicians he wanted. Because I was tired of Elvis continuing to
record with those same old tired Nashville musicians who were primarily country and played the same old
licks on almost every record...I wanted Elvis to record with Chips Moman and his American Studio rhythm
section, because after becoming part of the Memphis Music Industry a couple of years before then I had
quickly realized how creatively great those guys were which is why by that time they had produced over 100
big hits in that tiny studio using the same six man rhythm section.
It's also where I produced Rita Coolidge's, (who I had discovered and signed to my new record label) first
couple of hits using those guys. I felt that Elvis, and them would be a perfect match because they all came
from the same southern background. I just wanted Elvis to once again have big hit records and be back on
top of the charts where he belonged.
So while listening to Felton, I unconsciously was shaking my head back and forth as if to say, "Oh NO not
again!" Elvis saw me, looked over and said,"What the hell's wrong with you?" I once again, as I had mention
Chips to him before said, "I just wish for once you'd try Chips Moman and his rhythm section, they're great
Elvis." he gave me his usual answer, "Maybe someday?"
Not once did George make a peep. The comment George makes in the book about none of us would speak
up to Elvis because he gets mad, is a crock....That was solely George's mentality because he was scared
that if he said something Elvis might not like it and cut George off when it was gift giving time. Some of the
rest of us original guys had no problem suggesting things to Elvis...especially if we thought it would benefit
him. Most of all we weren't there for gifts or money.
Just then Lottie the maid came out of the kitchen and said dinner was ready. Everyone got up to go in the
dining room but me because I did not want to go in there and listen to them discuss the Nashville session.
Elvis said to me,"C'mon, let's go eat." I told him I wasn't hungry and he knew I was lying because he knew I
never saw a meal I didn't like,especially steak which was being served that night. So I kept sitting in the chair
talking to myself about that session.
It wasn't more than thirty seconds when Felton came out and said, "Elvis wants to see you in the dining
room." I told him,"With all due respect Felton I have no desire to sit there and hear any more about your
Nashville session." He then said,"No, Elvis wants to cut in Memphis." I asked if he was kidding me and he said
no...With that, I was out of that chair in a flash and in the dining room. With Felton standing next to me I said
to Elvis,"Is he kidding me, you want to cut in Memphis?" he said,"Yes, but I have to start Monday night." He
then said,"You and Felton set it up with Chips Moman."
Felton and I went to the front hallway to the phone and I called the studio, they told me Chips was at home so
I called him there. I said, "Lincoln, (his real name), do you still want to cut Elvis", he said, "Hell yes." I then
said, "Well you got him but you have a problem. He has to start Monday night and you already have Neil
Diamond booked." Chips said, "Screw Neil, he'll just have to be postponed." I then told him the session had
to be a closed one and nobody who does not have anything to do with it cannot be invited. He said,"No
problem, you can handle that." He said that even though I was not working for him at that time I didn't
become General Manager of the studio until a few months later when he asked me to. I then handed the
phone to Felton who made the financial deal with Chips on behalf of RCA.
When he got through with that we went and sat at the table where I sat next to Elvis on the right. The chair
that George now says Elvis told him to sit in. I waited until he finished eating and then I said, "Elvis would you
do me a favor?" He asked what?
I then said, "With this session you're gonna have a great and talented producer and some of the most
creative and talented musicians, the sound of the studio is fantastic and we all know you can sing, would you
please get some good songs this time?"
He looked at me and said, "Well I was waiting to finish eating and then I wanted you to come upstairs and
listen to some new songs by this new songwriter, Scott Davis." That was Mac Davis' real first name...We went
upstairs to his room and he played a tape of songs to me and the guys including, 'In The Ghetto' and 'Don't
Cry Daddy' I was happy because they sounded like hits to me. there was also another song I liked called,
'Home' but he didn't do that one, I wish he did.
That is the full and complete story of how Elvis got to record at American Studios in 1969.”
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