Frank Sinatra's Welcome Home Party for Elvis Presley
- TV Special
Variety show starring Frank Sinatra, welcoming home singer Elvis Presley after his U.S. Army tour of duty in Germany.Variety show starring Frank Sinatra, welcoming home singer Elvis Presley after his U.S. Army tour of duty in Germany.Variety show starring Frank Sinatra, welcoming home singer Elvis Presley after his U.S. Army tour of duty in Germany.
The show aired on May 12th, and featured an all-too-brief live 6-min appearance, for which Elvis received the then-record sum of $125,000. He wore the one thing he swore he never would after Steve Allen's straitjacketing ploy: a tuxedo. However, while the Allen Show made a mockery of Elvis' youthful innocence 4yrs before, this fitted tux was sensually stylish. It accentuated his hips and shoulders, which became his major form of self-expression here--the clothes he wore often transformed his performances. This wonderful TV interlude constitutes Elvis' first reinvention of himself. The tailored-tux look may prove his most timeless, since it not only captures his "thoroughly connected" charm, but looks like early 1990s funk! Nerves or not, it's instantly clear that in the weeks since his release from the army, Elvis polished all kinks from his performance. Mixing a touch of Dean Martin with high pompadour hair, he sings two songs with highly contrasted styles. Fame and Fortune is a ballad, during which he humbly joins the Jordanaires in a soft "waoo-waoo"/"bawdle-dedum"; but during the cut-loose bop of Stuck On You he becomes a powerful, brand-new Elvis. It's his smouldering yet ice-skater-perfect choreography, finger- and thigh-snapping to his beat, that supplied a level of confident and POLISHED energy he never achieved before. A watered-down version of this style can be seen on Return to Sender, in Girls! Girls! Girls!(1962). Elvis' last number was the (gratis) medley/duet with Sinatra, singing Witchcraft/Love Me Tender. They take turns swapping a few bars of each other's hit, ending in a well-blended harmony of LMT.
Unfortunately Sinatra never matched Elvis' feel for an unfamiliar style. Whether this was intentional on Sinatra's part to flatter his guest, we may never know; but Frank certainly comes off looking second-best. We can well-imagine Elvis' now famous Wall of Charisma hitting even Sinatra reasonably hard, as a sartorially elegant 25-yr-old Presley towers over him. During the intro to their duet, Elvis' demurring handshake rather disarmed Sinatra; the best Frank could do was to make light of Elvis' magnetism: "We work the same way, only in different areas" he shrugs, as they get into some mutual shoulder-action. My personal favourite is Elvis' headswing back to Sinatra to indicate he'd finished his bit from Witchcraft - it makes Frank giggle, too. Elvis' initial hopes for a music career involved singing in a male quartet. His favourite part was base baritone; and he himself had an almost 3-octave vocal range. Yet to posterity's surprise, such a superlative and magnetic natural talent of the 20thCentury always remained humble--perhaps too humble to keep performing forever.
- May 28, 2003