While on duty with the Army in Germany, Elvis Presley wanted to reach out to his fans. So his manager Col. Tom Parker publicized the following telegram in November, 1959. Elvis’ military hitch may have slowed, but it hardly derailed, his nearly unmatched career.
Although worried about maintaining Elvis’ sky-high popularity back home, Parker and RCA Victor were well prepared for Presley’s absence. After all, he had scored nine number one hits in the two years before his draft call in March of ’58. To keep the home fires burning, five previously unheard Elvis 45s were strategically released between early April, ’58 and late June ’59.
Elvis montage (running time 1:28)
Two of the “A” sides reached Billboard number 1, three others were in the top five. In addition, four of the “B” sides charted in the top 15.
Parker and RCA had done well. Many American pop radio listeners hardly noticed (or may have forgotten) Presley was thousands of miles away. But because he was overseas, the above telegram (sent November 6) reflected Presley’s concerns — especially since his last record release during his Germany tour had been a long five months earlier. But not to worry. Presley’s career hardly missed a beat. After his separation from the Army – within 10 months – he smashed the charts with four consecutive number 1 records, and had a TV appearance with Frank Sinatra that set high viewership records. Also, in his first movie in two years, Elvis scored a box office success with G.I. Blues.
Since this posting is intended to be Christmas-themed, here’s Elvis’ Blue Christmas, a song he actually recorded for a Christmas album in 1957. But it didn’t get much radio air play until released on a single in 1964.
Blue Christmas (running time 2:05)
[Reference help thanks to Alan Hanson of Spokane, an author, former school teacher and Elvis Presley historian]