Tuesday, February 17, 2009

On tour 16 with the King

I recently bought a couple of back issues of the excellent Elvis The Man And His Music magazine, among them No. 74 from December 2006. In it was an interesting interview with Shane Keister who played piano for Elvis on his first tour in 1976.

Shane did some synthesiser overdubs on a couple of tracks from February 1976, and was asked to go on tour with Elvis as a replacement for Glen D. Hardin who had handed in his notice (along with Ronnie Tutt).

He happily accepted (who wouldn't!) and spent a day rehearsing together with the rest of the band in the racquetball court at Graceland. On the second day Elvis came in and greeted everybody. He and the band then did about a third of the show, maybe ten songs at the most, then Elvis said something like, "These guys are ready, man. I love it!" and left.

Another episode I enjoyed reading was what Shane calls "probably the most embarrassing moment of my life." It happened during the concert in Cincinatti, when Elvis did his "Teddy Bear"/"Don't Be Cruel" medley.

The cue for Shane Keisker to start playing the intro to "Teddy Bear" was Elvis punching his right hand out, but this time Charlie Hodge was standing in such a way that Shane couldn't see Elvis. About 10 seconds went by before Charlie stepped out of the way and "there's Elvis lookin' at me. And, man, he could have melted a battleship with that gaze." (Shane later found out Elvis had thrown out his arm three times waiting for him to start the intro.)

The above story reminded me of when Glen D. Hardin plays the wrong intro on the Lost Performances video, choosing "I Can't Stop Loving You" instead of "Release Me" (from April 9, 1972). He too, earns himself a withering stare from Elvis!

Still, Elvis was happy with Shane Keisker and wanted him on the next tour as well. Due to family reasons, Shane had to turn him down. But that one tour with Elvis in March 1976 "was probably the highlight of my live career." I would imagine so.

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