Interview With Glenn D. Hardin

By Virgin NetMar 19, 2000
Interview With Glenn D. Hardin
Those of you who visit pubs just to watch Elvis impersonators or book tables in The King-themed restaurants are in for a treat. This month, you have the chance to get the closest technology can take you to an actual Elvis gig. From footage of The King performing at Las Vegas and Hawaii, technicians have removed the music to leave his voice and image. The promoters have also reassembled Elvis' backing band from 1970 onwards - Taking Care Of Business - along with his backing singers. While Elvis struts, karate-kicks and sings on a massive projection screen, the band play along with a 16-piece orchestra. So Elvis has been granted an unfulfilled wish - the opportunity to tour Europe for the first time. Two years ago, he sold out Wembley Arena in a matter of days. Now the show is taken out on the road to Birmingham, Manchester, Newcastle, Glasgow, Belfast and Dublin. Virgin Net met a veteran of the TCB band, pianist Glen D Hardin. Glen, you were in the Taking Care Of Business band for six years. What is your fondest memory of that time? "I have many good memories of those times, but the story I always like to tell was when we were walking towards the stage and I was telling Elvis that my favorite of all his songs was Falling In Love With You. During the set, he turned to me and said 'Glen, play a C chord'. Then he turned to the audience and said 'This is for my pal Glen.'" You must have been aware Elvis' health was deteriorating. Looking back, do you think you could have helped him more? "All that business with drugs had to do with why I left the band. There's nothing I can add to what has been said and written already, but at the time there was nothing I could do. There were a lot of people around Elvis who should have been able to help him. As a musician, I had to keep a professional distance. I couldn't interfere with his personal life so when things got bad, that's when I left the band, in May of 1976." Your band had not played together since 1976. How did Stig persuade you to reform? "Stig knew the only way to do this thing properly was to get the real band back and simply ask what it would cost. We decided to give it a try in Memphis for the 20th anniversary of Elvis' death. After that, we were prepared to take it out on the road." What emotional impact does it have, seeing Elvis up on that big screen? "At first it was very strange and very touching because it was very real, but now we have gotten used to it, for us it's just another gig, apart from seeing the audience though. It's still touching to watch the fans and how it affects them." "People have all sorts of different reactions. You get those that come down the front of the stage and cry their eyes out and other people just scream from their seats. But at the end everyone gives a standing ovation." This can't be like a normal gig for you. What's the main challenge in playing along to a video? "If you miss a cue then the whole thing rolls on without you so you have to be on your toes all the time so you don't get lost." Virgin Net also met concert promoter Stig Edgren, the man behind the whole show. His more minor engagements have included the inauguration of President Clinton and the Pope's Mass in New York. Stig, where did the inspiration come from to put on this show? "Gracelands estate [Elvis Presley Enterprises - run by Priscilla and Lisa Marie Presley] actually came to me to ask me to produce the show. I'd done something similar before when Natalie Cole performed a concert of duets with her father Nat King Cole on screen. "I'd never seen Elvis in concert. It was only when I was going through these tapes that I realized what a unique performer he was and that it could actually work." This new tour features songs never performed in these concerts before - Are You Lonesome Tonight, That's Alright Mama and Blue Suede Shoes. Those are pretty major songs. Why has it taken so long to include them? "We've only just found the footage! Or rather, the film company only recently discovered a box of out-takes from the Elvis concert movies. We had film of those songs before, but we didn't think the quality was good enough for the big concert screen."
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