Memphis, TN. (AP) – On July 8, 1954, Memphis “Daddy-O” DJ Dewey Phillips introduced Elvis Presley to the world (or at least the small part of the world that was within range of WHBQ’s AM signal) when he was became the first person to play Elvis Sun’s first single, “That’s All Right,” on the radio.
On Tuesday afternoon, some 67 years later, WEVL’s deejay – or “programmer,” in the parlance of the volunteer non-profit radio station – Eddie Hankins became the first person in the world to perform “Magnificent Hurt” , the new single from fellow Elvis, Elvis Costello, who was born in London seven weeks after Phillips released that Presley acetate.
After 45 years in Costello’s recording career (a period that matches WEVL’s on-air history), this move hardly seems likely to trigger another rock ‘n’ roll Big Bang. But the event was a testament to former Declan Patrick MacManus’ respect for the city that has long been the home of his professional namesake and for the idea of a non-commercial radio station as an incubator for music appreciation, a benchmark of the history of music and a forum for artists who are not always at the top of the charts.
“We’re going to lock ourselves in here and play it over and over again for 24 hours, like Dewey Phillips,” Costello joked, as Hankins gave away “Magnificent Hurt” – a “rock and roll record,” according to Costello, powered by the signature. passionate about the Vox Continental organ of keyboardist Steve Nieve – its inaugural launch into the ether, from the WEVL studio on South Main.
The disc is not yet commercially available, not even online. Fan of the physical nature of what he called “real vinyl” and the ritual of sliding a plastic plate out of its sleeve and spinning it on a turntable, Costello clearly enjoyed handing the record over to his own hands. promotional limited edition at WEVL. He recalled that at the very beginning of his career, when he signed with punk label Stiff Records in London, “I used to go through with my day-to-day work and help put the vinyl records from the paper sleeves in the photo sleeves, which were sent to the stores. I felt like saying, ‘OK, we’re really in business now, if we touch vinyl here, that’ is really happening. ‘”
THE ‘HELLO AGAIN’ TOUR STARTS IN GRACELAND
A relatively frequent visitor to Memphis and the Mid-South in recent years, Costello – backed by his usual band, the Imposters, as well as guest guitarist Charlie Sexton – launches an approximately 21-month “Hello Again” concert tour. at 8 p.m. Wednesday. at the Soundstage in Graceland, the location across from Presley Mansion (a landmark Costello said he visited “a few times”). The group had been in Memphis for the past three days, rehearsing for the tour at the Memphis Magnetic Recording Studio on Vance Avenue.
The show marks the second time this Elvis has performed at the other Elvis’ home and the 12th time he has performed in Memphis in the 21st century (including the 2004 shows at the old Hi-Tone on Poplar kept on the DVD release, “Club Date – Living in Memphis”).
Because of the name “Elvis,” “I don’t know if Memphis was a place we imagined we would be welcome to, from the start,” Costello said, recalling that on August 16, 1977, the death of Presley came on less than a month after Costello’s first tour began with his original band, the Attractions.
Costello Returns To Show New Music And Tour To Graceland
“I never meant to be disrespectful,” he said of the nickname “Elvis”. “My managers gave me the name as a way to set myself apart. I was so obviously not Elvis on the surface that it would force people to stop and pay attention.”
Labeled “the angry young man of rock” when he grew into a surprisingly lean and educated blacksmith in the punk and new wave era of the 1970s, Costello was gregarious and generous with his time during his afternoon at WEVL, chatting both live and off the air with newly tested COVID (by warrant from Costello’s management team) and virus-free WEVL staff, photographers and reporter – who, in fact, are also a WEVL programmer .
Full Disclosure: Your reporter, who is hardly objective in this case, having enthusiastically attended each of the aforementioned Memphis concerts and many more over the years, hosts a Monday morning 6-8am show on WEVL -FM 89.9 titled “Welcome to Work Week”, named after Elvis Costello’s song that is the theme song.
This week, Show # 1475 aired, meaning your reporter has heard this song more or less 1475 times over the past 28 years, which Costello says could be a world record for listening to this song.
A FAN OF THE LEGENDS OF MEMPHIS MUSIC
Costello understands being a fan of music and musicians. After his on-air interview with Hankins, the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer pulled out his cell phone and shared photos of himself with local music legends such as Jerry Lee Lewis and the late Willie Mitchell, as well. than a video of the songwriter connected to Memphis, Dan. Penn.
He expressed his admiration for the artists of the area, citing Howlin ‘Wolf, Charlie Rich, Bobby “Blue” Bland, Johnny Cash, Sonny Boy Williamson, Jim Dickinson, Deanie Parker and Al Green – “amazing people who have crossed doors in places of this size in this city, “he said, noting the compactness of the WEVL air room compared to the small size of Sam Phillips’ Sun studio. He also praised the students” really incredible “from the Stax Music Academy.
Sporting a short gray beard, a soft green corduroy jacket, and his usual stylish glasses, Costello remembered that the first time his band performed in Memphis, in the 1980s, before Stax was rebuilt as the Museum of American Soul Music drummer Pete Thomas jumped the fence around the ruins of the razed studio and “stole a brick and put it in his basement studio. He said,” That brick heard “Dock of the Bay “. groove.”
MAKING MUSIC DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC
Costello said that some of the cuts from his most recent album, “Hey Clockface” (his 31st studio record) and his upcoming album (which will be released next year) were built “remotely,” meaning the musicians recorded their parts in separate towns, due to travel difficulties posed by COVID-19. Nonetheless, “Magnificent Hurt” and other recent songs respond to the pandemic with hope and challenge rather than fear, he said.
Costello said that some of the cuts from his most recent album, “Hey Clockface” (his 31st studio record) and his upcoming album (which will be released next year) were built “remotely,” which means the musicians recorded their parts in separate towns, due to travel difficulties posed by COVID-19. Nonetheless, “Magnificent Hurt” and other recent songs respond to the pandemic with hope and challenge rather than fear, he said.