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OK, before anyone gets their hopes up too high, this is NOT news about a lost Elvis acetate being found! However, it is news of an important part of the Elvis story that is now going to be made available to fans for the first time ever.
The above photo shows the original acetate of 'Without You' being worked on by Alan Stoker at The Country Music Hall Of Fame in Nashville.
What is 'Without You'? Marion Keisker, remembered Sam Philips had begun to talk increasingly about finding someone – and it had to be a white man, because the wall that he had run into with his recordings practically proved that in the present racial climate it couldn't be someone black – who might be able to bridge the gap. "Over and over I heard Sam say, 'If I could find a white man who had the Negro sound and the Negro feel, I could make a billion dollars!' " And he would always laugh, Marion said, as if to underscore that money was never the point – it was the vision.
One song continued to haunt Sam, a plaintive ballad called 'Without You' that the song publisher Red Wortham had given him. There was something about it – for all of its sentimentality, there was a quality of vulnerability about it, and he thought that he'd like to have someone come in and give it a try. Which is when Marion asked, "What about the kid with the sideburns?"
Sam was well aware of who the kid with the sideburns was, after all Marion was going on about him. And when Marion brought up his name for what seemed like the thousandth time, he thought, "Oh, Why not?" The boy had the same yearning quality in his voice, attached to the kind of purity and fervor that you might be more inclined to assign to religious music. Sam had no idea of his full potential, but there was no question, he was certainly different. So he had Marion call him.
It's at this point in the Elvis story that the legend was born that the young Elvis arrived at the studio on 706 Avenue before they even put the phone down.
Elvis Presley came into the studio on Saturday, 26 June 1954. Sam thought, he was one of the most introverted people who had ever come into the studio, but for that reason one of the bravest, too. He reminded Sam of many of the great early blues singers who had come into his studio, "his insecurity was so markedly like that of a black person".
They worked on the number all afternoon, with Elvis accompanying himself inexpertly on his own beat-up little guitar. When it became obvious that for whatever reason the boy was not going to get it right – maybe "Without You" wasn't the right song for him....
And so the rest as they say is literally HIStory.
'Without You' is one of the most important points in the story of Elvis Presley. It was this acetate that convinced Sam Philips to give the young Elvis a chance at recording for SUN Records. This is an important artefact that has been missing for years and is now rediscovered and is now ready to take it's place within the Elvis story.
LISTEN to this short clip where you can hear why Marion thought it would suit Elvis' voice.
This recording will be released on a compilation album later this year.