Saturday, August 13, 2022

August 13 - TV Special Elvis, Steve and Ron

Steve Binder announced the 2023 release of a new documentary on Elvis Presley’s electrifying ’68 Comeback Special.

By 1968, Elvis Presley had gone from America's biggest musical act, the man whose swiveling hips set many young girls' hearts aflame, to a has-been with a floundering career. But that all changed when, on December 3, 1968, Elvis performed in a television special that would go on to cement his status as The King. And to celebrate the life of a musician whose life and legend has recently been subject to overwhelming public interest, Steve Binder, the man behind the original special is helping to create a new documentary to be titled 'Elvis & Steve: The Making of the '68 Comeback Special'.

The new special will explore the crucial event from a perspective not often available to documentarians, as Binder was, in fact, the director of the 1968 special. He is also, in part, the subject, as he explains how the critical pop culture event came to be.

Publicity statedHot on the heels of the success of Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis, the third-highest grossing music biopic since the 1970s, Steve Binder, the Emmy-winning director of Elvis Presley’s electrifying ’68 Comeback Special, is producing a documentary about the experience.

'Elvis & Steve: The Making of the ’68 Comeback Special' will delve into the behind-the-scenes drama that seemed to loom over almost every frame of the NBC program that catapulted Presley back into people’s homes and hearts.

Of the project Binder said,“over the last half-century, there’s been so much written and created about Elvis." He continued, "but when it comes to the 1968 special, I’m truly the only one who can tell the behind-the-scenes story of how it came to be – because I’m the only one who was actually there for all that happened.”

Binder and his Rodan Productions have begun pre-production on the 2023 documentary that will celebrate the 55th anniversary of the show. “I’m truly the only one who can tell the behind-the-scenes story of how it came to be – because I’m the only one who was actually there for all that happened,” says Binder, 89.

Even in a brief conversation, it’s clear that Binder, who directed the rock n’ roll film The T.A.M.I. Show, as well as Diana Ross Live At Central Park, Olivia Newton John’s 1978 special Olivia and the groundbreaking 1968 special Petula, which controversially featured Petula Clark with Harry Belafonte, has total recall of his time with Presley and his near constant battles with Presley’s manager Colonel Tom Parker from day one.

The first meeting was a disaster because the first thing [Parker] said was, ‘We’ve already decided on what the special is going to be. NBC agrees with me and the sponsor agrees with me and we’re going to do a 20-song Christmas special,’” Binder says.

Presley had focused on movies since he’d gotten out of the Army in 1960, and Binder knew the special needed to show Presley’s legendary stage charisma and range instead of turn in a sedate holiday croon-fest like Andy Williams or Perry Como would make.

As he and Parker butted heads, Binder says he couldn’t figure out why he wasn’t fired, and didn’t find out until years later that Presley had his back. “I never knew until Priscilla [Presley] told me after Elvis had passed away that after the first meeting that I had with Elvis, he came home and told Priscilla, ‘I don’t care what the Colonel says. I got a gut feeling I’m going with this guy Binder. I just have a feeling that he might be the right guy for me.’”

Presley was right. The special, which featured the star performing in a variety of styles and settings and birthed the acoustic “unplugged” concept, drew a now unimaginable 42% of the viewing audience when it aired on Dec. 3, 1968.

Binder continued, explaining the importance of the subject, and of his own relationship to Elvis saying, “this new documentary will take viewers behind the scenes into the making of the special, and the close bond I developed with Elvis – and the courage and strength he found to defy Col. Tom Parker and take his career into a totally different direction, none of which would have been possible without the special." He continued, “my documentary 'Elvis & Steve' will show the immense drama and enormous passion that went into the making of the special."

Binder chronicled much of the stories that will be in the documentary in his 2018 coffee table book Elvis ’68 Comeback: The Story Behind the Special. The book was re-issued in 2021 with an introduction by Luhrmann. Binder, who served as a creative consultant on Elvis, is portrayed in Luhrmann’s movie by Australian actor Dacre Montgomery, and the scenes about the special are considered some of the film’s most riveting.

Since its June 24 release, Elvis has grossed more than US$136 million in the U.S. and Canada, according to, putting it only behind 2018’s Bohemian Rhapsody and 2015’s Straight Outta Compton. It has revived interest in Presley and introduced him to a new generation.

Binder says at this point, Luhrmann is involved in the documentary “only as a friend and a consultant,” but that “he certainly has an offer from me to join in any capacity that he would even consider.

Binder expects to announce a director and distributor soon, and has enlisted Spencer Proffer, whose acclaimed documentary 'The Day the Music Died: The Story of Don McLean’s ‘American Pie'', is airing on Paramount +, to help produce.

I’m proud to continue my decades-long professional and personal association with Steve Binder — one of the most innovative creators in entertainment,” Proffer says. “Steve broke molds, thought outside the box, and lived in relentless pursuit of making electrifying, bar-raising magic on the television screen. And now, in revisiting one of his more stunning achievements — the making of the Elvis comeback special — Steve opens the vault to share a buddy story that is revealing, poignant, and an explosive time capsule that offers a new perspective on the inner workings of Elvis, Colonel Parker and a director who took risks and made history in the process.”

The documentary will place in context how vital the ’68 Special was to Presley’s career by, in part, showing the status of his career leading up to the special. “Right now I’m digging for permission to use footage from his movies and so forth that use as an exclamation point what his life was like from the time he went into the Army in Germany to coming make and working in movies,” he says.

When asked if the Presley estate is cooperating with the documentary, Binder says it’s too early to have had that conversation yet. “I haven’t even opened that door right now. The most important thing is what’s going to make this documentary so unique,” he says. “We all know bits and pieces at the very least about Elvis, his career and his life and so forth. But that’s not enough. I’ve really got to get in behind the scenes and tell stories that people will be knocked out with.”

Radio Recorder Releases

The Radio Recorders import record label released the 2-CD-set 'Frankie and Johnny' and the single CD 'Elvis For You (The Album That Never Was)'. 

Publicity stated: It's May 1965 and Elvis is again at the Radio Recorders studios in Hollywood California.  

After recording the Girl Happy soundtrack at the legendary studios in June 1964 now he is recording the soundtrack for an upcoming motion picture named ‘Frankie & Johnny’ which is set for release in 1966. It’s the twelfth soundtrack album and the original soundtrack album hardly hitting 27 minutes of playing time. 

This release contains approximately 2 hours of outtakes and film versions. All recordings are carefully restored and remastered. They never sounded better, it’s like you are right there in the studio.

Tracks disc 1:

01. Come Along – film version

02. Petunia, The Gardener’s Daughter – film version

03. Chesay – film version

04. What Every Woman Lives For – film version

05. Frankie And Johnny – film version

06. Look Out, Broadway – film version

07. Beginner’s Luck – film version  

08. Down By The Riverside - When The Saints Go Marchin’ In - film version

09. Shout It Out – film version

10. Hard Luck – film version

11. Please Don’t Stop Loving Me – film version

12. Frankie And Johnny – film version #2 (edit)

13. Everybody Come Aboard – film version

14. Please Don’t Stop Loving Me – Take 4-6

15. Petunia, The Gardener’s Daughter – Take 1

16. Everybody Come Aboard – Take 6,7,8

17. Everybody Come Aboard – Take 14 & 16

18. Chesay – Take 2,4,5

19. Please Don’t Stop Loving You – Take 8 & 9

20. Petunia, He Gardener’s Daughter – Take 3

21. Look Out, Broadway – Take 1 & 2

22. Look Out, Broadway – Take 10 & 11

23. Look Out, Broadway – Take 9

24. Everybody Come Aboard – Take 3,4,5


Disc 2

01. Petunia, The Gardener’s Daughter – Insert 1 Take 1-3

02. Petunia, The Gardener’s Daughter – Take 4

03. Everybody Come Aboard – Take 11-13

04. Shout It Out – Take 4-6

05. Please Don’t Stop Loving Me – Take 11-18

06. Frankie And Johnny – Record Version – Take 2 & 5

07. Frankie And Johnny – Movie version (acetate)

08. Frankie And Johnny – Movie Version Part 1 – Take 1

09. Frankie And Johnny – Movie Version Part 1 – Take 2 & 3

10. Frankie And Johnny – Movie Version Part 2 – Take 1 (take call only) Movie Version section 3 – Take 1 & 2 (take call only) 

11. Frankie And Johnny – Movie Version section 4 – Take 1,2,3 (take call only)

12. Frankie And Johnny – Movie Version section 5 – Take 1 & 2 (take call only)

13. Frankie And Johnny – Movie Version section 6 – Take 1 & 2 (take call only)

14. Frankie And Johnny – Movie Version section 7 – Take 1,2,3 (take call only)

15. Commercial Spot 

16. Commercial Spot #2 

17. Commercial Spot #3


'Elvis For You (The Album That Never Was)'. 

Back in June of 1964 The Elvis Monthly reported that this album was due at any time & also listed the 10 tracks that would be featured. This would contain the tracks from Loving You (which by then was deleted) + the added bonus songs Summer Kisses, Winter Tears & Flaming Star as the latter 2 songs had not yet been issued in the U.K.

Once again in 1964 The Elvis Monthly reported the release date unknown but possibly September or the latest October of that year (this never happened).

In the April of 1965 Albert Hand (The Elvis Monthly Editor / Owner) reported that he had received a demo copy of the RD 7586 album with another 2 added songs making it a 12 track album, the added 2 songs were Are You Lonesome Tonight & It’s Now Or Never.

On release the album was issued only this time it was as RD 7723 Flaming Star & Summer Kisses, also worth noting there was never an SF (stereo) version of this.

Later a Decca engineer had a few demo albums he wanted to sell, G.I Blues / 2 Single sided LP’s from Blue Hawaii and the RD 7586 Elvis For You.  Now you can enjoy the album that never was. It's the cd version of the album that never was. We hope you enjoy this anomaly.

Tracklisting: Flaming Star / Mean Woman Blues / Teddy Bear / Loving You / Got A Lot O’ Livin’ To Do / Summer Kisses, Winter Tears / Lonesome Cowboy / Hot Dog / Party / True Love

Bonus songs: Loving You – farm version 2 – master take 14 / Loving You – main version 2 – fast movie version take 11 / Got A Lot O’ Livin’ To Do – alternate master / Party – movie version – take 7 – alternate master / Flaming Star – take 5* / Summer Kisses, Winter Tears – take 15 & 16* / Summer Kisses, Winter Tears – take 19* / Flaming Star – take 3* / Black Star – take 5* / Flaming Star – mono version as featured on the Flaming Star & Summer Kisses LP. 

* stereo

Destined to be Released

Marlowe’s was the place to be tonight for the launch of a special first exition of Sally A. Hoedel’s new book ‘Destined To Fly - The Story of Pilot Ron Strauss'. Ron was Elvis’s pilot on the Lisa Marie.

SynopsisSally Hoedel, author of the book 'Destined To Die Young' announced the release of her second book, titled 'Destined to Fly'.

She posted on Facebook: I have some exciting news to share today. My second book, Destined to Fly: The Story of Pilot Ron Strauss – From Iowa to Elvis, has been submitted to the printer! As a writer, it’s a day of celebration that the work is complete and can soon be shared. As a friend, it’s a privilege to tell Ron’s life story, as I know it will inspire all of you as much as it has me.

Stories of a simple childhood in rural Iowa, twelve years of service in the United States Air Force during Vietnam, a hijacking as an airline pilot and flying Elvis Presley from tour to tour are all captured in this book. Ron’s story is one of bravery, patriotism, hard work, perseverance, love, family and flying.  

The journey of this book began one year ago. I spent a week interviewing Ron at his home in Florida. It was clear from day one that there was a story there worth telling and it went far beyond his two years co-piloting the Lisa Marie. The months that followed included research and interviews, all with the full support of his family and friends. The most daunting day was sharing the first draft with Ron himself. Thankfully, he liked it.

For Elvis fans, this book offers new information not only about the airplane itself, but also provides a glimpse of Elvis Presley as a boss. A professional relationship was maintained with the crew of the Lisa Marie that was vastly different from others around him. Destined to Fly will also become a resource for fans as it features incredible documentation, including never-before-seen photographs and a complete flight log detailing Elvis’ tour and travel schedule aboard the Lisa Marie.

(Source: Billboard / Collider / Various / Sally Hoedel)