The last song Elvis ever recorded was by Jim Reeves
Posted by Larry Jordan on May 24, 2015, 11:53 am
I don't know how many of you are aware of it or not, but the last song Elvis Presley ever recorded was Jim Reeves' 3 million-selling signature song, "He'll Have To Go." The two men had known each other since back in the "Louisiana Hayride" days, and as I report in my 672-page book, "Jim Reeves: His Untold Story," the night that Elvis became an official member of the "Hayride," he asked Jim to literally push him out on stage, because he was so afraid. (See photo above).
Elvis and Jim remained friends the rest of Jim's life, often exchanged telegrams of support and encouragement, Christmas cards, corresponded, and helped each other. As I also report in my book, Col. Tom Parker tried to sign Jim before he secured a management contract with Elvis Presley, but Jim decided not to go with Parker, based largely on Mary's advice. She was sure the two men would not get along. (I believe she was right). But Parker lived near Jim and Mary in Madison and they all remained friends.
When Presley came back from the service in 1960, there was so much hoopla (he had traveled across the country from the east coast by train and countless thousands of fans had lined the tracks to see him), that RCA was worried about their ability to get him into the studio in Nashville. Yet they were desperate to have him record more material.
To help Elvis out, Col. Tom Parker asked their friend Jim Reeves if he would book a recording session under his own name, and Jim readily agreed to do so. The musicians were none the wiser as they assembled on the night of March 20, 1960. But Jim never showed up, and it was uncharacteristic for him to be late (for a session that is; he and Mary ran chronically late for other appointments). Suddenly, the studio door opened and in walked Elvis! Mr. Presley later wrote Jim a wonderful message thanking him for his help and modestly saying he was humbled that a star of Jim's stature would help him!
I released 3 songs from the March 21-22 recordings on a new CD I produced for Elvis's 80th birthday anniversary in January, that has far exceeded expectations and become one of the best-selling CDs I've ever done. It's called "Elvis: The New Recordings."
The songs are "Soldier Boy" (to which I added a couple of jazzy saxophones that have transformed this song and caused Lee Dawson of "Elvis Express Radio" to say he LOVES the new treatment whereas before, he didn't care for the song). Also "Fame and Fortune" and "Stuck On You."
Fans young and old are praising the new CD because we brought Elvis' voice forward, subdued or got rid of extraneous original instrumental and/or vocal backings, and then added new music to make these songs sound fresh and new.
You can hear samples and order the new Elvis CD at: http://good-music-store.myshopify.com/products/elvis-the-new-recordings
By 1976, Elvis had lost interest in recording (though he was still making personal appearances). So RCA was forced to take their mobile recording equipment to Graceland, Elvis' home in Memphis, Tennessee. On two successive nights, Presley recorded some rough vocals, which his producer Felton Jarvis later overdubbed with mixed success. (Many fans HATE the Jarvis overdubs). The first night, the session was interrupted by the sound of a dog barking and a telephone ringing, and Elvis was in good humor and can be heard laughing about that on the master tape.
But as fate would have it, on February 3, 1976, Elvis walked down to the "Jungle Room" from his bedroom upstairs. The last song he ever recorded was "He'll Have To Go."
Most artists who have attempted to cover this song have fallen far short of Jim's version. But I have to say Elvis did a good job. And this at a point when he was suffering from various health woes and was said to have declined as a singer. I don't think there is anything in his performance of this song that is anything less than good!
I thought you might like to hear a real bluesy version of Jim's famous song, which I really like, as sung by "The King" of rock 'n' roll. I think the treatment works well, though it is a completely different approach than what Reeves took. Both men were great artists and "true originals" -- hence stylists in their own right. They could take a song and put their own stamp on it, and make it their own.
Click the link below to hear Elvis sing Jim, but also be sure to click the link above and listen to a medley of some fresh new overdubs I did on Elvis tracks that feature current members of the Grand Ole Opry band, musicians from Atlanta's jazz scene, and even from Europe. I think you're going to want to order a copy as fans have been effusive in their praise and XM/Sirius satellite radio, I am told, has even been playing selections from the CD frequently on their Elvis-only channel...
Link: Elvis "He'll Have To Go"