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Thread: Did Elvis have a vocal coach?

  1. #61
    TCB Mafia KPM's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ricky View Post

    He had the Greatest vocal coaches all around him.....The Black blues & Gospel singers that he listened to from a child....BB King, Ray Charles the great Frankie Laine & Johnny Ray no doubt about it guy's they left their mark on Elvis (Listen to Laines "I Believe"or Johnny Ray's "Such a Night" and the Church check out how many singers Worldwide all started in the Church..

    I have been a working Musician all my working life, it's a gift from the Greatest Coach of all God Almighty coaches are for classical singers who have to be right on the button, Elvis was vocally, unique covering all the Male vocal ranges ie: Tenor,Baritone and (His Favourite) Bass....and he posessed the greatest gift for a singer, he could Scat and Improvise.

    He needed a coach like we need Pneumonia,unique,multi talented' power to die for......ELVIS!!!! never again will we see the like....:
    Lets Not forget Dean Martin, Mario Lanza, Eddy Arnold, and a host of others.
    He was influenced by them all-but its not really the same as formal vocal lessons.

  2. #62
    Coming On Strong ricky's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Leroy View Post
    I'm afraid you are missing the point Ricky.... those are not vocal coaches. If you are a musician yourself you should know that a vocal coach is someone who sits with you, listens to you and then point out what you can do to improve your vocal range, make better use of the power and breathing techniques.

    You can listen to every singer you like and and admire and they will probably influence your musical direction.... but they will not coach you. Neither does God. He might give you the talent but without good guidance you'll be a loose canon on deck.
    Leroy with respect, I bow to your obvious superior knowledge on what I should and what I should not know as a working Musician(and Singer),and I have not missed the point..

    The question was" Did Elvis ever have a vocal coach ?" then the blunt answer is no, and that is from as near to the horses mouth as you would want to be..

    Memphis, late 40's early 50's on the breadline, coach = $,I don't think so, and if you read my thread you will see that I mentioned coaches are for Classical singers ie: Opera Singers, Musical Artists, and from experience I stand by that...

    And as for Charlie Hodge mentioned by many members as his coach, the Guy got money under false pretenses, one member of the TCB Band who will remain anomynous actually cut his guitar strings onstage. because of the noise insessantly in his ear, a very unpopular member of the Band, and as for being Elvis's coach laughable, Court Jester yes.. MUSO: No way.. if anything he to tried to learn from Elvis.

    He learned from Lanza thats where his love of power singing came from, and as for God you should have a chat with Sir Cliff Richard he will tell you God is behind everything?

    Leroy, Elvis was, is and always will be R'n'R, there is no breathing control, its natural adrenolene that drives you to near exhaustion. (Check pictures of him after any performances you are fired up before you step onstage and totally switched off to anything but the explosion to come) I started in 1956 not only did I want to sound like him, at that age (I was16) like every other guy who could sing I wanted to be him, he was the Coach to 100's of would be singers,so I think we should stick with that one, I sung in the Church Choir from the age of 8 to when I was 14. I learnt more from Elvis,Jerry Lee,Chuck Berry etc than any so called Coach could ever have taught me there. ..Influences, yes, but he was the Master Coach he had a unique talent..And thats why we are all on this site and 1,000's of others, 31 years after his passing .. and as for people guiding you, forget it, from mine and obviously Elvis's career, we were all ripped of with avengance by the many Col Parkers who were out there ready to help take you apart (Financially & Percentage wise) piece by piece.

    To round this reply off Leroy, I have been there and I have paid my dues,I still work with the best guys around, each day after 50 years of it I am eternally grateful to the man who taught me how to "do it"ELVIS.. I appreciate your comments, but when I get told "You should know your a Musician" my hackles get riled, the Internet is a great way to have a swipe at someone,as you cannot talk face to face.. perhaps when I travel through Holland and I do many times we can share a Beer together..

    I went on to Record for Columbia EMI in the late 50's & through the 60's under my real name not the name I use on this site that one is a tribute to my late friend of 26 years, Ricky Nelson. thank you for your reply....
    Last edited by ricky; 10-13-2008 at 12:40 PM.

  3. #63
    TCB Mafia EnigmaticSun's Avatar
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    shock and awe

    Quote Originally Posted by Tony Trout View Post
    the 'gay' routine during "Are You Lonesome Tonight?" is just absolutely horrid. It may be funny to some but it's very embarassing to watch during the EIC outtakes.
    Just put a tag over it that says "parental advisory".
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  4. #64
    TCB Mafia beckelvis's Avatar
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    Seriously to need and entrenador for the voice?I donīt belive

  5. #65
    Resident SP! Tony Trout's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Leroy View Post
    It's impossible to create a list of what Charlie did for Elvis but here are a few things:

    He did Elvis harmony vocals. On recordings during the 60's and 70's he not only sang harmony with Elvis but also made the vocal arrangements. Because he was capable of impersonate Elvis voice his harmony vocals were as perfect as if Elvis did it himself.

    We already discussed the vocal coach topic. As some other members stated, nobody had to teach Elvis how to sing. His voice was incredible but Charlie was able to direct Elvis.

    Charlie was Elvis musical stage director from 1969 until the end. Every change that was made went through Charlie. He communicated with the band and the orchestra. A perfect example was what happened during just before the taping of Aloha. The TV director needed a few extra songs for the special and confronted Elvis. Elvis looked at Charlie and said: "Give me a few extra!" an walked away. Charlie had to come up with the extra songs and place them somewhere in the show.

    Whenever something went wrong on stage and improvising was needed it was Charlie who took over and made shure the whole thing went on. Like the time in Las Vegas in December 1976 when Elvis had his bath room accident and sprained his ankle. Or when things went wrong in Baltimore in 1977.

    I agree on most things said here, Leroy. As far as 'harmony' vocals, though, Charlie didn't do all of the harmony vocals - at least not in the studio. One can easily hear Elvis himself overdub harmony vocals on the song "There Goes My Everything".

    And while we're on the subject of 'harmony vocals', can anyone tell me who did the harmony vocal with Elvis on "Don't Cry, Daddy"? My ears may be deceiving me but I could swear that I hear Elvis's overdubbed harmony vocal on that song as well....(and no, it doesn't sound like Ronnie Milsap, either - Ronnie is/was only credited for the 'overdub' sessions later that year in spite of what he's said in interviews - he never played during the actual sessions while Elvis was there in Memphis during January/February, '69).

    Any ideas??

  6. #66
    Cadillac King mozzarella's Avatar
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    Oh... I didn't want to cause any argument on this, I was just curious... I share your thoughts, Leroy about the Charlie Hodge issue. And I also believe that he needed some guidance after the '50s when he switched to more 'technical' songs (It's Now or Never, Surrender, so forth)
    Poke a little sock salad...

  7. #67
    TCB Mafia KPM's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Leroy View Post
    It's impossible to create a list of what Charlie did for Elvis but here are a few things:

    He did Elvis harmony vocals. On recordings during the 60's and 70's he not only sang harmony with Elvis but also made the vocal arrangements. Because he was capable of impersonate Elvis voice his harmony vocals were as perfect as if Elvis did it himself.

    We already discussed the vocal coach topic. As some other members stated, nobody had to teach Elvis how to sing. His voice was incredible but Charlie was able to direct Elvis.

    Charlie was Elvis musical stage director from 1969 until the end. Every change that was made went through Charlie. He communicated with the band and the orchestra. A perfect example was what happened during just before the taping of Aloha. The TV director needed a few extra songs for the special and confronted Elvis. Elvis looked at Charlie and said: "Give me a few extra!" an walked away. Charlie had to come up with the extra songs and place them somewhere in the show.

    Whenever something went wrong on stage and improvising was needed it was Charlie who took over and made shure the whole thing went on. Like the time in Las Vegas in December 1976 when Elvis had his bath room accident and sprained his ankle. Or when things went wrong in Baltimore in 1977.
    I think that Charlie may have been Elvis's "vocal sounding board" and Charlie in turn helped Elvis when he was working on new songs or old songs in finding the path to how Elvis wanted to do them. The home recordings show that many songs he jammed on at home eventually made their way to the stage or recording studio. Charlie understood who Elvis was musically -or I would assume he did since Elvis liked the sound Charlie had with the Foggy River Boys and invited him after the Army to come to Graceland.
    Charlie may have been less important on stage to some-but not to Elvis.

  8. #68
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    Quote Originally Posted by ricky View Post
    Leroy with respect, I bow to your obvious superior knowledge on what I should and what I should not know as a working Musician(and Singer),and I have not missed the point..

    The question was" Did Elvis ever have a vocal coach ?" then the blunt answer is no, and that is from as near to the horses mouth as you would want to be..
    I appreciate that you have been a working musician -- good going, in itself -- for longer than I have been alive, but I'm not sure that it's the horse's mouth that you're channeling here. That doesn't mean that you don't know what you're talking about -- far from it, with the exception of your being wrong about Charlie Hodge -- but, actually, more likely, you and some of we others are talking at cross-purposes.

    You seem to be referring to Elvis having a vocal coach who shaped his voice and who did so at the outset. Nobody's suggesting that. And, in that sense, you are absolutely right in that if he had any 'coaching' it was via the recordings of his pop, gospel, blues, and country favorites. I don't think we're talking about that, so the whole point about him being too poor to afford vocal coaching is revealed as a straw man. The real blunt answer is that, yes, Elvis did have vocal coaches. That doesn't mean that they taught him how to sing 'properly' or fundamentally altered his voice or delivery, but they further refined his innate talent and gave him the means through which he could channel it to achieve more with his voice while, presumably, safeguarding his most important professional asset.

    As my one experience suggests -- just one hour with a voice coach who did nothing to change my voice's basic nature but who in that short time helped me more fully maximize its potential -- having the input of a voice teacher does not necessarily mean that Elvis would have had to have long series of formal lessons or start from the very basics and learn to sing as perhaps a classically-trained vocalist would. He had vocal coaches, informally -- the likes of Charlie Hodge, Gordon Stoker, and others -- and they helped him more finely tune the vocal instrument that he possessed. Fine tuning, not a complete overhaul and learning to sing like a carbon-copy of some Metropolitan Opera lead, is what we're talking about here. And, yes, Charlie Hodge was an important part of this and if Elvis was the only one who appreciated his value on stage then that is, in the end, all that mattered.
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  9. #69
    Coming On Strong ricky's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 1100ccRider View Post
    I appreciate that you have been a working musician -- good going, in itself -- for longer than I have been alive, but I'm not sure that it's the horse's mouth that you're channeling here. That doesn't mean that you don't know what you're talking about -- far from it, with the exception of your being wrong about Charlie Hodge -- but, actually, more likely, you and some of we others are talking at cross-purposes.

    You seem to be referring to Elvis having a vocal coach who shaped his voice and who did so at the outset. Nobody's suggesting that. And, in that sense, you are absolutely right in that if he had any 'coaching' it was via the recordings of his pop, gospel, blues, and country favorites. I don't think we're talking about that, so the whole point about him being too poor to afford vocal coaching is revealed as a straw man. The real blunt answer is that, yes, Elvis did have vocal coaches. That doesn't mean that they taught him how to sing 'properly' or fundamentally altered his voice or delivery, but they further refined his innate talent and gave him the means through which he could channel it to achieve more with his voice while, presumably, safeguarding his most important professional asset.

    As my one experience suggests -- just one hour with a voice coach who did nothing to change my voice's basic nature but who in that short time helped me more fully maximize its potential -- having the input of a voice teacher does not necessarily mean that Elvis would have had to have long series of formal lessons or start from the very basics and learn to sing as perhaps a classically-trained vocalist would. He had vocal coaches, informally -- the likes of Charlie Hodge, Gordon Stoker, and others -- and they helped him more finely tune the vocal instrument that he possessed. Fine tuning, not a complete overhaul and learning to sing like a carbon-copy of some Metropolitan Opera lead, is what we're talking about here. And, yes, Charlie Hodge was an important part of this and if Elvis was the only one who appreciated his value on stage then that is, in the end, all that mattered.
    ccRider, you also seem to have all the answers, I joined the discussion to try and give a Musicians point of view so I have learned a lesson, it doesn't really matter..

    You can have your views on Charlie it's a free World, I know he was a passenger in the Band, and definately not his Voice Coach so rather than upset anymore people lets just leave it at that.

    It has taught me to speak just as a follower of Elvis on the Forum, and not as a Musician, as obviously you guy's have inside information that I don't..

    Take Care....Ricky

  10. #70

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    Quote Originally Posted by Col Jon Burrows View Post
    Elvis was Charlies bestfriend to him, he loved serving his time and life for Elvis, he looked up to him like a brother, and was always there to lift Elvis up through the hard times and always there to give him a good laugh and put a smile on Elvis' face.
    No argument there.

    Charlie was, indeed, one of the best friends Elvis ever had.

    I just don't believe he was needed on stage at all ... especially in '68.
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  11. #71
    Backstage Pass 1100ccRider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ricky View Post
    ccRider, you also seem to have all the answers, I joined the discussion to try and give a Musicians point of view so I have learned a lesson, it doesn't really matter..
    Your point of view is a refreshing one and one that could be a real asset here, and all I was pointing out was that you were a bit off track in being so adamant about Elvis not needing or having a vocal coach. And by 'vocal coach' I mean, again, not a formal teacher nor anybody at the start of Elvis' career or aspirations to be a recording singer but people he knew along the way who could help him perfect his primary instrument and do so in a manner such that he was less likely to blow his voice out.

    That certainly doesn't in any least part minimize Elvis' vocal prowess that was there, if ever-changing and developing, right from the start. He may not have needed much in the way of guidance but, like everyone else, he would definitely have profited from some handy pointers (and, more specifically, advice such as that he received on how to extend and work within his range, advice that helped him nail songs like those 1960 Neapolitan ballads that were the sort of song he hadn't tackled before).

    Quote Originally Posted by ricky View Post
    You can have your views on Charlie it's a free World, I know he was a passenger in the Band, and definately not his Voice Coach so rather than upset anymore people lets just leave it at that.
    I'm not some rabid fan of Charlie Hodge, but I do think his contribution's downplayed by many, to whom he has lately become an object of ridicule. Was he as important to the live act as the bass player or drummer? No. But it's a matter of record (literally) that he worked on harmonies with Elvis from his first association with him and he did a lot of the logistical work related to presenting the songs in Elvis' repertoire, and it's also established fact that he was a very experienced musician when they first met and that Elvis benefited from his input on how to care for and work with his incredible voice.

    Again, it's neither a shameful secret nor a criticism of Elvis' talent to acknowledge that Elvis picked up, from informal vocal coaches, some useful guidance on how to preserve and explore his vocal capabilities. Nobody is so good -- at anything, not just singing -- that they are above learning. Anyone who thinks otherwise of themselves hasn't learned much from life.
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  12. #72
    TCB Mafia EnigmaticSun's Avatar
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    agree

    Quote Originally Posted by 1100ccRider View Post
    Again, it's neither a shameful secret nor a criticism of Elvis' talent to acknowledge that Elvis picked up, from informal vocal coaches, some useful guidance on how to preserve and explore his vocal capabilities. Nobody is so good -- at anything, not just singing -- that they are above learning. Anyone who thinks otherwise of themselves hasn't learned much from life.
    Very well said, I couldn't agree more. Elvis didn't raise himself on some lonely island in the ocean. Even he needed people around him to live with and to learn from.
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  13. #73
    TCB Mafia KPM's Avatar
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    I guess some have differing views on the term "vocal coach"
    So here is a formal definition of the term:

    A vocal coach is a person who works with singers on their singing technique, care and development of the voice, performance and preparation of a work. The coach may give instruction to the singer in private lessons, on stage, or during a recording session. A vocal coach is sometimes responsible for writing and producing vocal arrangements for a music production. Also with providing support for the singer.
    In my way of thinking and having a slight brush in my life with playing in a band-many people along the way would fit the definition I just posted.
    My brother is a professional musician of 25 years and I asked him what a vocal coach would be in his estimation-he said anyone you learn from on the subject of singing.
    So in my own humble opinion I do not think you have to hire someone with the formal title of "vocal coach" to get coaching. I also don't think that you can only learn proper breathing, or proper techniques from only a "formal vocal coach" I think Elvis learned his trade in jamming with others and listening to many many styles of other singers-then trying to duplicate what he heard. Listen to his take on Bill Monroe when hes clowning around-he knew that mans voice from listening and learning from his records.
    Elvis was not the type it seems to me-to learn from formal lessons. Jamming for the fun of it-was probably the best learning experience Elvis had vocally.
    Last edited by KPM; 10-16-2008 at 12:04 PM.

  14. #74
    Graceland Mail Room U.S. Male's Avatar
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    "Foul words" are not necessary in this (or any) conversation.
    Lets keep our comments "clean" shall we.
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  15. #75
    Elvis Presley Blvd Unchained Melody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mozzarella View Post
    Oh... I didn't want to cause any argument on this, I was just curious... I share your thoughts, Leroy about the Charlie Hodge issue. And I also believe that he needed some guidance after the '50s when he switched to more 'technical' songs (It's Now or Never, Surrender, so forth)
    Agreed as in the 50's Elvis basically went out there and yelled and screamed, but then changed it almost completely with songs like Fame and Fortune and Its Now Or Never, and he had to control the voice more and definitley believe Charlie Hodge helped him do alot of that, they said in Peter Gurlanick's first book while Elvis was in Germany he spent alot of time doing this using his voice in different ways etc.
    "How do I get placed in situations like this? Ah hell, I guess it's all part of showbusiness "~ Elvis in his limo on his way to perform in Omaha, NE on June 19th 1977


  16. #76
    Elvis Presley Blvd Unchained Melody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Getlo View Post
    No argument there.

    Charlie was, indeed, one of the best friends Elvis ever had.

    I just don't believe he was needed on stage at all ... especially in '68.
    Maybe he wasn't but elvis wanted him there and I guess thats all that matters at the end of the day...whether it was for comfort, support or what, Elvis saw the need to have him on stage and thats that!
    "How do I get placed in situations like this? Ah hell, I guess it's all part of showbusiness "~ Elvis in his limo on his way to perform in Omaha, NE on June 19th 1977


  17. #77
    Down In The Alley shelley.m.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Col Jon Burrows View Post
    Agreed as in the 50's Elvis basically went out there and yelled and screamed, but then changed it almost completely with songs like Fame and Fortune and Its Now Or Never, and he had to control the voice more and definitley believe Charlie Hodge helped him do alot of that, they said in Peter Gurlanick's first book while Elvis was in Germany he spent alot of time doing this using his voice in different ways etc.
    Elvis was aiming for a much wider audience,once he came out of the army.The face of Rock'n'Roll changed after singers like Buddy Holly and Eddie Cochran died.The music scene changed in 1960 and Elvis had to change with it.
    The One and Only King of Rock'n'Roll.

  18. #78
    Elvis Presley Blvd Unchained Melody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shelley.m. View Post
    Elvis was aiming for a much wider audience,once he came out of the army.The face of Rock'n'Roll changed after singers like Buddy Holly and Eddie Cochran died.The music scene changed in 1960 and Elvis had to change with it.
    Agreed, and I like the direction Elvis went in the 1960-1963 period.
    Some of his best music was made IMO!!
    "How do I get placed in situations like this? Ah hell, I guess it's all part of showbusiness "~ Elvis in his limo on his way to perform in Omaha, NE on June 19th 1977


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