Thanks Ellie, this is a great article.
The King and I
The Stamps Quartet's frontman reflects on his long history with Elvis
Thursday, October 11, 2007
There are lots of people who list Elvis as their favorite singer. But who were Elvis' favorite singers?
The King of Rock 'n' Roll appreciated all kinds of music, but gospel was especially close to his heart. He called the Stamps Quartet, which formed in Nashville in 1924, some of his favorite singers. He liked them so much, in fact, that he hired them to sing backup for him in concert and on recordings. The Stamps are part of Presley's "Aloha From Hawaii" video and his television special "Elvis on Tour," among other projects.
The Stamps will bring their gospel sound to Peoria when they collaborate with Elvis aficionado Lee Hall of WEEK-TV for a concert to benefit St. Jude on Sunday. Cue caught up with Ed Enoch, lead singer, manager and owner of the Stamps, to talk about the band's accomplishments, the Nashville music scene and what it's like to have Elvis as your boss.
- Danielle Hatch -
The Stamps' history goes back to 1924. What year did you become involved?
I became part of the Stamps Quartet in 1969, and I've been with the quartet ever since. I'm fixing to be here 40 years; it's just amazing. I now own the Stamps Quartet, and I've been carrying it down the road ever since. I'm about the only one actively on the road out of the original members that joined Elvis.
Elvis is the undisputed King of Rock 'n' Roll. But gospel had a place in his heart as well, didn't it?
The only thing he ever won a Grammy for was for his gospel music. He loved to listen to it, he said it motivated him, and he enjoyed it. It was something that he really loved.
What kind of person was Elvis to work with?
He was very sensitive. Of course, you can tell that by his music. He was a giving person and a caring person, but he was very astute at what he did. He was very professional and demanded the same thing out of us when we were working.
Had you been working with Elvis at the time of his death? I can imagine that was a major shock and disappointment for you.
Yes, it was. First off, you lost a dear friend - a family member. And second to that, it was an employer that paid you well and kept us working.
The last three years of his life, we were averaging 14 days a month working for him. And, of course, being able to work the venues and see the crowds ... every night you go to work, there's going to be (up to) 20,000 people there. We (worked with Elvis) for almost seven years, so trying to adjust without him was very difficult.
Do you perform a lot of Elvis' music?
Occasionally we'll do a gospel song that we did with him, or something that he liked. There's a song we do called "Sweet, Sweet Spirit," it's an a cappella number. I tend to do "Sweet, Sweet Spirit" almost every night because (the audience) kind of tends to expect it.
On the Stamps' bio, I see lots of accomplishments: Grammy Awards, Dove Awards, performing at Radio City Music Hall, Grand Ole Opry. Are there certain moments that stand out when you look back on your career?
There was a time span there with Elvis that was almost a fantasy time in my life, a dream that came and passed. Working with him was the ultimate - and I'm not looking at that as financial success. I'm looking at it as an all-around time to be part of a great show, a great period of time.
How did you get started in music?
I started singing when I was a kid. I got with some folks in my church when I was real young, and I could sing harmony. I didn't know how I did it, I could just do it.
By the time I got to be 18, 19, 20, we became kind of popular within a 100-mile radius of Nashville. We traveled as kids, and we didn't know what we were doing, but we were having a nice time. Then I began doing a lot of record sessions in the '60s. Felton Jarvis - Elvis' record producer- heard me sing. He liked what I did.
How does today's Nashville compare to the Nashville of the 1960s?
Nashville was real small back then. It didn't have but three or four studios at that time. Now there's a studio in everybody's house, and every corner down on Music Row, we've got a studio in it.
It doesn't have a quaint feel at all anymore, it's very corporate now; such is most everything. And the music business today is not what I call homespun music. I think there's better music coming out of Nashville now than there ever was, but I don't think with heart.
Tell me something you've learned about Elvis after working so closely with him.
Elvis just adored music, any type of music. He listened to opera, country music, of course gospel, rock 'n' roll. He had a number of records he carried with him. His favorite, of course, was gospel, and I'm not saying that because we're a gospel quartet. But he did speak of opera.
And he was a common man. A lot of people see him in the movies or read something and see him on his motorcycle, in his limousine or whatever. But you know, Elvis would have been comfortable driving a pickup truck, he was one of those kinds of people.
- - -
"Lee Hall's Gospel Tribute to the King" featuring the Stamps Quartet, is set for 2 p.m. Sunday at Riverside Community Church, 207 NE Monroe. Doors open at 1:30 p.m. Tickets are $20 in advance, $25 at the door and $10 for children 12 and younger, available at Kroger stores or Morton Community Bank. For $35 VIP tickets, call 698-3729.
i don't suffer from insanity - i enjoy every minute of it
Thanks Ellie, this is a great article.