Rare Elvis Presley Recordings Go Up For Auction

Some of Elvis Presley's first RCA recordings from nearly 50 years ago, including never-before-heard takes of "All Shook Up" and "Jailhouse Rock," will be put up for bid on Sunday at an auction of show business memorabilia. The six unedited reel-to-reel tapes -- "pre-master" originals from the private collection of the studio engineer who recorded them, are valued at between $30,000 and $50,000, according to international auction house Bonhams & Butterfields. Highlights will be played on Saturday for potential bidders at the Bonhams gallery in Los Angeles, marking their first public exhibition, auction spokesman Erik Simon told Reuters. The more than two hours of audio consist of 57 musical tracks, including multiple takes of songs Presley performed in the studio, as well as casual banter between Presley, members of his band and the engineer, Thorne Nogar. It was Nogar, working under contract for RCA at Radio Recorders studios in Los Angeles, who ended up in possession of the reels and whose family has put them up for bid through Bonhams & Butterfields. "We've had them for a lot of years, and I think the people should enjoy them," said Nogar's son, Stephen, 57, a retired trucker who now resides in Kentucky. "And frankly, we could use the money." Because they do not hold the underlying copyright to Presley's music, Nogar said his family may sell the physical recordings to another party for "personal enjoyment" only. The tapes cannot be copied for commercial gain, he said. The tapes were made from September 1956 through September 1957 during the singer's initial sessions at RCA, which had bought out Presley's contract from Sun Records for $35,000. Nogar, who died in 1994 at age 72, made a habit of rolling two tapes simultaneously as he recorded Presley so he would have a backup of the sessions in case RCA producers changed their minds about which version of a song they preferred after the master was cut. It was the backup that Nogar kept. "He called them his ass-saver tapes," his son said, adding that the quality is noticeably crisper than even a new vinyl record, which is four "generations" removed from sound made in the studio. "You ought to hear a first-generation tape. It's so much fresher," Nogar said. When bidders here the playback on Saturday, he said, "They're going to find out what a 22-year-old Elvis sounds like." The recordings include such early Presley hits as "Jailhouse Rock" and "All Shook Up," all the material he recorded for his original Christmas album and a batch of religious tunes. Stephen Nogar said his personal favorite is a ballad titled "Have I Told You Lately That I Love You." The Presley tapes are part of a larger auction being held by Bonhams, which also will include the original suits worn by the Beatles on their first album cover, a guitar owned by rock legend Jimi Hendrix, rare Disney animation celluloids and a collection of more than 300 vintage movie posters. From the Bonhams & Butterfields site A collection of 6 original uncut inches reel to reel tapes of Elvis Presley This is an absolutely unique and extraordinary find, historically and culturally. Elvis's recording career really began in 1954 at Sun Records in Memphis with the famous producer Sam Phillips. Out of those sessions came "Heartbreak Hotel," "Don't be Cruel, "Blue Suede Shoes" and "Love Me Tender," among others. It was Sam Phillip's vision to create a complete fusion between white country music, and black blues. In Elvis (the Atomic powered singer, as he came to be billed), he had found the perfect instrument to disseminate the new art form. No one had ever seen or heard anyone like him. The sessions were characterized by an edgy nervous drumming, white session players like Scotty Moore and Bill Black tore out all the stops, and Elvis, when it came to the Arthur Crudup Song "That's All Right", went on full attack, turning it inside out. Phillips knew they had something. Elvis' success caught many old hands unaware. They were dumfounded when Presley occupied the No. 1 singles spot on the charts for 19 weeks in 1956, and then both EPs went to number one. Next, Colonel Parker engineered the buy-out of Elvis' Sun contract by RCA. There was an initial session in New York, and by September 1956, Elvis was recording for RCA at Radio Recorders on Santa Monica Boulevard in Los Angeles, one of only two studios in LA at that time. The sessions ranged from September 1956, to September 1957, one of the most creative periods in his career. The engineer for all of his Hollywood sessions was the best man on the West Coast, the legendary Thorne Nogar, who happened to be the father of our consignor. These sessions were highly important and 1956 and 1957 were two of the most key years in Elvis' rapid ascent to superstardom. The way the sessions worked was this. There was no multi-tracking in 1956 and all the recordings are mono. Elvis would sing into a single microphone the signal going directly to the reel to reel tape. Hogar would then cut and splice together the tape and send the finished product to New York for mastering. Once the tapes left Hogar's hands there were no more changes possible, in New York or anyway else. That was the way the record would be released. New York wanted the tapes immediately as they were done, and would often have a record out within a few days. With the sessions barely begun Hogar heard back from New York that they liked the beginning of one take and the end of another. His response "too bad, that's on the cutting room floor." From that moment on, Hogar set up an identical deck and made two simultaneous originals of every take, one to cut together and send to RCA headquarters, and the other for insurance. What we have here are the 'insurance' tapes. A full set of originals, completely unmolested. Raw footage, with awesome sound quality including conversations and comments between the tracks. Essentially a clean and perfect record of everything that transpired in the studio, between the engineer, the producer, Elvis and the session players. This record exists no where else and, as such this really is an extraordinary find. The tapes are all in original boxes, and contain session labels indicating the date, the personnel, the titles and other identifying information. There are many takes that became hits. There are, over the 6 tapes some 57 tracks, over 2 hours, including the entire "Elvis Christmas Album", with "Blue Christmas", there's "Jailhouse Rock," "Long Tall Sally," "All Shook Up," "Blueberry Hill," "Teddy Bear," "Love Me," and many others, a complete list of the 57 tracks is available on request. These are "Radio Recorders," tape numbers 349-354, and some of these actual tapes are depicted in Jorgensen's "Reconsider Baby: The Definitive Elvis Sessionography," Pierian Press, 1986. To hear a 23-year old Elvis direct to tape in this 1st generation state is amazing. Nevermind the fact that this is a one-only original group of sessions. With this lot is a copy of a letter to the consignor from Elvis Presley Enterprises Inc. in which the Director of Entertainment and Music Publishing indicates that the recordings may be sold, but that music rights reside with BMG/RCA. But although they have the rights, without these recordings only the purchaser may enjoy what is on these tapes. A Signed printed photograph is also included "To Barby from Elvis Presely" which Thorne had Elvis sign for his daughter. A member from the FECC messageboard conracted the auctionhouse for the tracklisting. They replied:- Tape 1 Blue Christmas, the complete album (10 tracks) Tape 2 Jail House Rock (Begin fade at 1:50) Jailhouse Rock (Begin Fade at (2:15) Treat Me Nice Don't Leave Me Now Don't Leave me Now I Want to be Free Young and Beautiful (3 tracks) And then there are copious notes Tape 3 Precious Lord It is no Secret Blueberry Hill Have I told you Lately
Source: Various / Updated: Nov 20, 2004 
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Gladyslove (profilecontact) wrote on Nov 22, 2004
Invisible because there was abuse of the keyboard
lray (profilecontact) wrote on Nov 21, 2004report abuse
I did not notice that they added the list of songs, until after I wrote my message. These are just the masters, or so it appears. So all the excitement from yesterday is over.
lray (profilecontact) wrote on Nov 21, 2004report abuse
If the session with All Shook Up and the Christmas recordings were really part of this, RCA would have bought them all years ago. This is probably the same tapes, great though they are, that we have been privileged to hear over the last several years on many FTD and RCA releases, like the Jailhouse Rock sessions. I'm sure Ernst talked to all of Elvis' recording engineers, and families, years ago to find out what they had. Hey, I'd like to be wrong, but I think it is best to use a little common sense.
secondrichard (profilecontact) wrote on Nov 21, 2004report abuse
A follow up to my first comment on these finds; when I first commented the article from the Bonham's site was not included in the text. Somehow I'm not that enthousiastic anymore about these tapes. Not that they're not interesting (they're still original tapes), but I don't think that there's anything on it we don't have yet. Bonham's site mentions that the boxes are shown in Ernst Jorgensens 'Reconsider Baby' book from years ago. Which means, BMG ALREADY HAS THIS MATERIAL! And so do we; I think they're nothing more or less than safety copies (Nogar's words) from the Binaural '57 sessions and other Master Tapes with Master Takes with Outtakes we got from BMG/FTD over the past years. I don't think there's a new take on those tapes. Or it must be that there is a tape included which -finally- contains the All Shook Up Outtakes as mentioned in the article. I sure hope that one of these tapes is the Session Tape from january 12th 1957 or the ones from September 1st and 2nd 1956. But I wouldn't be surprised if they were the tapes from january 13th/19th/21st/22nd 1957 (we have 90% off that already).
Gladyslove (profilecontact) wrote on Nov 21, 2004report abuse
I just woke up and find these fantastic news on this site. It´s amazing. I can´t believe it, or can I ? In the last years there are some tapes tht have been found. Just remember the ELVIS 56 CD. A german label, BEAR FAMILLY, purchased some tapes and when they listen to these tapes they hear HEARTBREAK HOTEL, the outtakes. BMG bought these tapes and we get the CD to hear it. So I think they should get these "new found" tapes, because they have the rights for Elvis music legacy. I just don´t understand how this guy could keep these tapes for so many years and didn´t gave it to BMG ? Isn´t that illegal ? So BMG should halt this auction and bring these tapes to Indianopolis, to our men at BMG, Ernst, Semon and the other folks. They will listen to these tapes, so they know what was really recorded back then. Later we´ll know it too! Elvisly yours.
Cruiser621 (profilecontact) wrote on Nov 20, 2004report abuse
FANTASTIC! BMG should buy these tapes no matter what the cost and get them out on CD either FTD (I strongly suspect) or BMG/RCA. They would recoup the cost tenfold I strongly believe. These sessions in particular are well worth the cost and the issue to the general Elvis fan. It's amazing we get all the crappy soundtrack reissues and here is the real treasure trove. Does it sound like I'm an ardent 50's Elvis fan? Believe it. I shall hold my breath and wait to see what happens. If FTD can get $75.00 or $85.00 for Flashback just imagine what this will bring. I'm 59 and holding. Bring 'em on FTD. We deserve it.
FJE (profilecontact) wrote on Nov 20, 2004report abuse
So, if Thorne Nogar made a habit of rolling two tapes simultaneously as he recorded Presley, why are tapes from other sessions not in his son's possession? If I'm not mistaken Nogar was engineer in most, if not all of Elvis' recording sessions during the 50s and early 60s. Or is this just the first batch to be auctioned? If only...!
Anyway let's hope RCA/BMG and Ernst & Co get hold of this goldmine.
Paul Sweeney (profilecontact) wrote on Nov 20, 2004report abuse
Ernst - talk to the powers that be at RCA/BMG and buy these reels!
GEORGE (GK) (profilecontact) wrote on Nov 20, 2004report abuse
I just re-read the article carefully and I now understand the situation. Because of Copyright and such. The family has to sell it to a person for "pure enjoyment" and not for "Commerical use". However RCA, should buy the tapes from the Family, and get the "legal clearances" to release the material. The Fans, would Love to hear it! And by the way, if anyone out there has "Elvis audio & Film"
not yet released. Sell it to the major companies and share
the "Enjoyment" with the fans. who are always looking for things, that they have not seen before !
GEORGE (GK) (profilecontact) wrote on Nov 20, 2004report abuse
It seems that, the Family wants to sell it to a regular Fan or collector and not to a "big organizarion" whom may use the tapes, for "commerical use or gain". which is shame, because if RCA bought the tapes. it would be "happily enjoyed" by more than "one fan" or "Collector".
If RCA-BMG does not have this material, on tape, in the vaults already then. I so hope RCA-BMG, can convince the Family to sell the tapes to them. which in my opinion belongs to RCA, anyhow ! I'm sure RCA paid for all the recording tapes used !
frenchguy (profilecontact) wrote on Nov 20, 2004report abuse
Unbelievable and completely amazing ! Look, the alternate takes of All Shook Up and from the Christmas Album were said to be lost forever and iternity...and here we suddenly learn that they do exist thanks to Nogar Thorne's decision to roll two tapes simultaneously while recording Elvis in the studio ! ( a proceeding never mentioned previously in the abundant Elvis literature...). This is a kind of miracle !
If BMG really hasn't these tapes, they have to buy them !
If I even can have much pleasure (and I really do !) listening to alternate takes of songs like the ones from the Double Trouble soundtrack, it would be a life's time dream come true discovering early takes of Santa claus is back in town, or Blue christmas, Santa bring my baby back to me, Silent night...and of course All shook up ! And who knows what other songs are on these tapes...!
So Ernst, our savior, it's up to you !
harmston (profilecontact) wrote on Nov 20, 2004report abuse
Legally, not sure how these can said to belong to the Nogar family. Whilst they admit they don't own the copyright, legally they don't own the tapes either - if RCA paid for the session, Nogar worked for them at the time (regardless of whether as a freelance or an employee) and they were recorded using RCA equipment, the tapes belong to RCA and it's legal successors. Even if The Colonel and/or Elvis allowed Nogar to keep them (which no one is suggesting) they still belong to RCA/BMG...Wonder if the tapes will actally make the auction - if I worked for BMG I would halt the sale immediately.
thijs77 (profilecontact) wrote on Nov 20, 2004report abuse
Wow, this is amazing. New material. Can't wait to hear outtakes of all shook up and the christmas songs. BMG should buy these.
secondrichard (profilecontact) wrote on Nov 20, 2004report abuse
This could be a heaven! If the material is really what it seems it is, we'd finally be able to hear outtakes from long lost sessions. Jorgensen/Semon/BMG: BUY IT !!
circleG (profilecontact) wrote on Nov 20, 2004report abuse
absolutely priceless ! but what would they be played on ? would the buyer also have to won a recording studio to enjoy these tapes ? i'm curious, these are supposed to be 'back up' tapes' so that must mean BMG already has them. have they been released to the public yet ? if not, Ernst .... what are you waiting for ?

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