The January 8 Birthdays

A number of performers were born on this date, such as Jose Vincente Ferrer (1912-1992), Larry Storch from F Troop (b. 1923), CBS Sunday Morning’s Charles Osgood (b. 1933), singer Shirley Bassey (b. 1937), singer R. Kelly (b. 1969) and actress Sarah Polley (b. 1979), not to mention scientist Stephen Hawking (b. 1942).

But there’s a “Big Three”. And two of them have an odd link.

Elvis Presley, 1956

Elvis Aaron Presley (1935-1977) would have been 75 today. Maybe IS 75, if you believe the sightings.

I found this question somewhere:

Which mega-popular rock band of the ’70s not only met Elvis but got along with him so well that its members were guests at his concerts and received gifts from the King?
a) The Who
b) Led Zeppelin
c) Eagles
d) Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Answer below.

As I was quoted in the local paper back in 1997: My father hated Elvis. He resented this white artist stealing/exploiting/ profiting from performing black music. (But then half of the musicians in the ’50s and ’60s from Pat Boone to Led Zeppelin “borrowed” from black music). So I never owned any Elvis music as a child or teenager.

Still, I did like some of his songs (“Jailhouse Rock,” “Little Sister”). So I watched the ’68 “comeback special” and became grudgingly, a mild fan. [My father must not have been home, it occurs to me.]

When Elvis died, I thought, “Oh that’s too bad.” The Elvis cult that’s developed since 1977 I view with fascination and utter bemusement.

But I’ve discovered that I have more of an interest in The Pelvis than I thought. He shows up in this blog from time to time, whether it’s dissecting one of his tunes or noting his posthumous wealth, talking about his link with Joe Stalin, or reviewing a DVD of his performances on Ed Sullivan.

Bob Hope (L) with Soupy Sales (2nd R) and Shirley MacLaine (2nd L), their faces covered with remnants of cream pies, 1962

Then there’s Milton Supman Heinz (b. 1926). You might know him better as the comic actor Soupy Sales. I must admit that I didn’t watch his shows, but I always enjoyed watching him on several game shows such as Match Game, What’s My Line and the various permutation of Pyramid; go to YouTube and you’ll find dozens of examples.

Unfortunately he died last year. I happened to be listening to his Motown album A Bag of Soup this week. Among the jokey songs, there was a rather touching song called Though I’m A Clown (I Need Love Too). I couldn’t find it, alas, on the Internet, but I found it rather poignant.

David Bowie, 1983

The living member of this trio is David Jones. Since the musician did not want to be confused with Davy Jones of the Monkees, he changed his name to David Bowie. I won his Honky Dory album during my freshman year of college and I’ve been a fan ever since. He shows up in my musings quite a bit. This what I wrote two years ago when Bowie turned 60.

The local newspaper had a tournament of carols. It came down to Bing Crosby’s White Christmas and the Crosby/Bowie Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth. Crosby/Bowie won!

Oh, the linkage: Bassist Tony Sales and drummer Hunt Sales are sons of Soupy Sales. Along with Bowie and Reeves Gabrels, the Sales brothers were in rock band Tin Machine.

And the answer to the Elvis question is Led Zeppelin. BTW, LZ guitarist Jimmy Page has HIS birthday on January 9 (1944).


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