Bryan Gruszka is a very busy guy. As we announced last week his weekly radioshow Predominately Presley on Flamesradio is back. Unfortunately last week’s show was cancelled but he made it up yesterday with a brand new show. Besides the time Bryan is putting in this radio show, he is also active in "Project Increase".
Project Increase began with the Australian Elvis Information Network, which has been working with BMG Australia to compile a listing of all of Elvis' Australian gold records. It seems BMG lost all of the sales records when they took over from RCA. So Australian fans had to sort through old records and info to find Elvis' awards. They have found over 60 awards, but none are officially credited. The project was born and resulted in a worldwide project to determine once and for all the exact recordsales of Elvis Presley.
As for the U.S., Bryan began researching Elvis' sales several years ago, and he agreed to become the Project Increase North American Coordinator about 18 months ago. Basically, they research Elvis' U.S. sales using various sources and try to pinpoint those records that deserve a closer inspection in terms of potential sales. They are not saying that anything is written in stone, but they try to raise what they believe to be fair arguments about certain albums and singles. There are stories around of the Colonel messing with the figures to provide he had to pay royalties and taxes but that might be just rumours.
The US division of Project Increase published a report in June of 1999 detailing albums and singles that they believe, for various reasons, should be certified (Elvis / Graceland getting official recognition for recordsales, and of course Gold and Platinum records).
Bryan is happy to report that several of the albums they listed and a couple of singles as well were newly certified and/or upgraded in August of 1999, allowing them to take them off of their list. They worked with both BMG and EPE on this project, although most of the work was on their end in terms of research. Project Increase will continue to research past sources of info to find discrepancies that they feel should be looked at. In addition to their researches, they also spearheaded a media campaign, mostly on the net, that targeted all the major Elvis fan clubs and publications. Articles from Project Increase and about it have appeared in a number of Elvis fan publications as well as in Elvis International Forum. They have a web site that badly needs updating (ed: according to their own words, and who are we to argue), but the info is still useful. A good example of their work is the single Don’t Be Cruel/ Hound Dog:
The award above is an "in-house" Gold record award given to Elvis by RCA for sales of 5 million copies of "Hound Dog"/"Don't Be Cruel." It was a special award created just for Elvis, and selling 5 million copies of a single was a feat that was unprecedented at the time. This award currently hangs in Graceland today. However. it has no statistical
value, as it was not officially issued by the RIAA, which did not start issuing gold awards until 1958. So Elvis missed out on quite a few golden and platinum records he certainly deserved.
The real question is why "Don't Be Cruel" is not certified for sales of 5 million copies today when, according to RCA, it had apparently sold that many in 1956 alone. Today the single is credited officially with sales of only 3 million copies, and it is a glaring example of some of the inconsistencies present in Elvis' certifications.
Hound Dog/Don't Be Cruel
Highest chart Position: #1 Pop (11 Weeks), #1 Country.
Weeks on Chart: 57 (total)
Current Status: Multiplatinum (3 million copies)
Projected Status: Multiplatinum (5-7 million copies)
In short, "Hound Dog/Don't Be Cruel" is perhaps Elvis most successful single of the 1950's, residing at #1 longer that any other Elvis single, and, up until 1992, longer than any other single ever. It has been voted the #1 single of the 1950's and has been inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. It has also been awarded for being played over 1 million times over the airwaves. Just a few more figures which tell us a lot about the current situation.
On July 31, 1956, "Hound Dog" was awarded with sales of 1 million copies 13 days after its release. On September 15, 1956, it received its 2 million sales award. By January 9, 1957, Variety, in an article entitled "Presley #1 Music Biz Phenomenon", credited "Hound Dog" with 3 million in sales. It is difficult to believe that in the 42 years since that article, the single has not sold enough copies to qualify for higher certification.
On April 20, 1957, in an RCA ad in Billboard entitled "Elvis' Latest is His Biggest", RCA proclaimed that "Hound Dog/Don't Be Cruel" had sold 5 million copies.
In a 1978 article in the Nashville Banner, Sim Myers, then Manager of Press Information for RCA, announced that "Hound Dog" had sold over 7 million copies.
There can only be one conclusion: it’s time to put the record straight and give Elvis the credits he deserves.