Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Temple Riser Is Alive And Well

One of my greatest Elvis moments so far this year was attending 'The Original Elvis Tribute 2012' opening show in Vara, Sweden, on April 7. Therefore I was excited to receive the following press release from tour manager Arjan Deelen: 
The moment he came into the studio, I was in awe” 

For many years, the name Temple Riser was a bit of a mystery in the Elvis world. Not much was known about the dark-haired beauty with the deep, strong voice other than the fact that she had sung backup for Elvis at his early 70s Nashville sessions, and that she got to record a duet with Elvis live in the studio on ‘The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face’. Her whereabouts were unknown, and it seemed like she had simply vanished off this planet. Nobody seemed to know where she was located or whether she was still amongst us. Earlier this year, Elvis expert Arjan Deelen decided to try and locate her, and just a few weeks ago, his research paid off when he found her alive and well and even looking pretty much the way she did 40 years ago! 
Temple Riser, who is now 63, feels that she has been blessed in life, and cites working with Elvis and singing at President Nixon’s inauguration as her (singing) career highlights. About meeting Elvis for the first time, she says: “I was a little stuck up… I didn’t want to give him the impression that I was starstruck. But the moment he came into the studio, I was in awe… He had such a charisma about him, and he was so handsome. And he was very flirtatious!”, she says with a smile.

When asked about her nicest memories of him, she answers: “There’s several… I remember that he invited me and Ginger & Mary (Holladay) to come to his hotel room in Nashville - and we did. He was just so nice to us. Very easy to talk to, very talkative. He grabbed his guitar and we sang Gospels together. He didn’t sing any of his hits, just Gospel music… he loved that”.

About the duet, she says: “He asked me to do the duet with him. He was really having a good time while we recorded it. I just tried to do the best I could. You know, I used to be embarrassed about it. I didn’t think I sounded so good. These days with the internet it’s turning up everywhere, and people ask me about it. I’m proud of the fact that I got to sing with Elvis Presley. It doesn’t get any better than that!”.
The really exciting news is that Temple Riser will be joining the ’Original Elvis Tribute’ show together with a.o. Mary and Ginger Holladay for a Euro tour in May 2013! 
People have told me that the Elvis fans in Europe know about me, and I have always said: ‘You’ve got to be kidding!’. I’m really excited about coming to Europe for the very first time, and meeting the fans and performing for them. We may even do that duet, ‘The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face’. Hopefully, I will do a better job on it this time around!”, Temple laughingly says. “It’s a priviledge to be able to pay tribute to the greatest performer ever and I will do my best to make this tour memorable for the fans. See you all in May 2013!”.

After reading the above e-mail I wanted to know more. So, after pressing the “reply” button, I wrote a couple of questions that Arjan Deelen was kind enough to answer right away. 

Elvis Today: How did you get the idea to search for Temple Riser?

Arjan Deelen: The name Temple Riser has always fascinated me, combined with the few photos that we have of her. Plus, there was virtually no information available anywhere, and that’s where things usually get really interesting for me! Somehow searches like this become more interesting when you know that they are virtually impossible – for me at least! Temple is one of the few people who actually recorded a duet with Elvis live in the studio. For me, it was also the logical next step after finding Mary and Ginger Holladay (who will also be on the next tour).

Elvis Today: How did you find her?

Arjan Deelen: Through a contact – and more or less by coincidence, believe it or not.

Elvis Today: What has she been doing all these years?

Arjan Deelen: Temple raised a family and now has children and grandchildren. She left the music business in the early 70s. She has lived a quiet life, but has been very active in church. Her second husband died a few years ago, and I think my timing was right when I contacted her. She says that she wants to show her grandchildren that there is more to her than just being a grandma, and she is really looking forward to the tour. She says that this will mark her first trip outside the U.S.

Elvis Today: What do you think her contribution will mean to 'The Original Elvis Tribute' when it tours Europe next year?

Arjan Deelen: Temple still has a very strong voice – and it’s well trained due to her singing in church. I think she is going to add a whole lot to the show. She has lots of nice stories to tell and I think the combination of her voice together with Mary and Ginger is going to sound tremendous. Just like they did together back in the early 70s. Temple says that she is really looking forward to being reunited with the Holladays. Like them, she is a vibrant and charming woman, and I think the audiences are going to enjoy her. It’s going to add a whole new energy to the show.

Elvis Today: Finally, when will the show return to Europe and will you play Sweden again?

Arjan Deelen: We will be touring in mid-May and yes, I definitely hope so!

So do I, as the opening show in Vara without question was the best Elvis tribute show I've ever attended. And I'm sure Temple Riser will add icing to the cake when 'The Original Elvis Tribute' returns, just as Mary and Ginger Holladay did when then joined the tour last year.


Denise Trammell Alverson said...

I used to work with Nell "Temple" Riser at a drs office in St. Clair county AL. She had told me that she used to sing backup for Elvis Presley, Jerry Reed and Ray Stevens. I would love to get in touch with her. My name is Denise Trammell Alverson.

Thomas said...

Hi Denise,

if you e-mail the producer of the show, Arjan Deelen, your adress, he will forward it to Temple Riser. You can contact Arjan on:

Good luck and all the best,