Friday, 5 July 2013

The Elvis In Demand Mystery - Solved!

In my blog post about the Elvis In Demand mystery last week, I concluded my piece by saying what an interesting exercise it would be to try and find out if Elvis did actually sign any copies of the albums, and if any fans did indeed have one. You can probably imagine how thrilled I was to hear from several fans who had won a copy of the album in the  infamous competition that was run in the Daily Express, and still owned the letter from the newspaper verifying the authenticity of the autographed LPs, which proves, once and for all, that Elvis did indeed sign 15 copies of the album in July 1977, just one month ahead of his sudden death, which were then offered as second runner-up prizes in the Express contest. Both the signed album and the authentication letter with the original newspaper clipping detailing the competition results and winners are included in this post for which I have to thank Bernard Roughton for sharing with me, and for allowing me to reproduce them here. 

Bernard confirmed the info about Elvis signing the albums was definitely true, and assured me it was not just hype for the fan club, the album or the newspaper. Bernard also alluded me to what British fan club boss Todd Slaughter had recently told him, that the albums were mailed over to Elvis's father in Memphis for Elvis to autograph, and not what had become a sort of urban legend that Todd was with Elvis, handing him the LPs as they were signed. As Bernard correctly pointed out in his email to me, unlike so many other Elvis autographs, this one, as you can see from the image, is quite a stunning, clean and clear signature, that appears to be a hundred percent genuine, and as I mentioned in my original post would have been one of the last things that Elvis would have signed for fans.  

The competition in the Express asked fans to answer ten questions to test their knowledge about Elvis, and as a tie-breaker to determine the winners, entrants were also asked to come up with a title for an album spanning Elvis’s career to date. There were three prizes in all: a 16-day trip for two to Las Vegas with the fan club to see Elvis in concert, 15 autographed Elvis In Demand albums, and 100 copies of  The Elvis Tapes, an album of Elvis's 1957 press conference in Vancouver. The best album title, chosen by the judges, was Elvis - The Years That Rocked The World that had been submitted by Trevor Haw, who accepted a cash prize in place of the original prize, due to Elvis’s death and subsequent cancelled trip by the fan club. The 15 Elvis In Demand winners were notified by letter on 24 August 1977 in which the winners were told that the album had been donated by the fan club and personally signed by Elvis in July, which would tie-in with what Todd recently told Bernard, and not as previously thought, that Elvis must have signed them in June, when Todd had met him just before his last concert in Indianapolis to present him with a silver disc for the album, another award to recognise two and half million sales of Arcade's 40 Greatest, and to receive his own award from Elvis, a trophy to mark his first ten years of running the British fan club. Asking Elvis to sign the albums at that time, says Todd today, would not have coincided with the trip.

In an Elvis Monthly article, not long after In Demand had been released, Todd explained how proud the fan club was to be associated with the album, and how the tracks had been selected in early 1976 by fan club members, and how at one time, the album had been slated for release that summer on the RCA Starcall label, a mid-price outlet that would have retailed the album at £1.99. In the end, it went out as a regular full price RCA album at £3.99 during the first month of the following year. Talking about the album in EM, Todd confirmed that it was an attempt at compiling an album of fans favourites, which at that time, had been ignored by the compilation people. Todd thought it worked well, and certainly, he was right. As I mentioned in my first blog about it, it was huge selling album, and probably one of the few albums from Elvis’s output in the last year of his life that he had autographed.  

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