March of 1960 was a busy, eventful month for Elvis Presley. On March 1st, Elvis shipped off from Germany, returning home after a two year stint in the U.S. Army. Colonel Parker scheduled a train ride from New Jersey to Tennessee, alerting towns along the way that Elvis would be rolling through. Throngs of fans greeted him at every stop.
On March 20th, Elvis and his entourage chartered a bus to Nashville for the first recording session that would become part of the Elvis Is Back album. “Stuck on You” and “Fame and Fortune” were two of the songs recorded, and within 72 hours, 1.4 million records were pressed and shipped out. Along with regulars Scotty Moore and DJ Fontana, some of Nashville’s top session pros were brought in to help – including jazz guitarist Hank Garland and piano man Floyd Cramer.
Less than a week later, on March 26th, Elvis was in Miami for a taping of The Frank Sinatra show. Elvis performed “Fame and Fortune” and “Stuck on You”. Sinatra then came out for some awkward banter, followed by a joint medley of tunes: Sinatra’s “Witchcraft” and Presley’s “Love Me Tender.”
What a month… Within 26 days, Elvis had returned from Germany, recorded his first singles, and performed them on Sinatra’s TV show.
How’d he do it? Well, the truth is that by this time, Elvis had discovered amphetamines – the little white pills that were introduced to him while on tank maneuvers in Germany. It’s hard to gauge to what extent drugs had become a part of his life, but there was no turning back at this point.
It doesn’t diminish his stature as a performer though – not in my opinion. Yes, fast forwarding 10-15 years, it’s clear that his lifestyle choices were taking their toll. But in this moment in time – March 26th, 1960 – it’s amazing to see how natural and at ease he is as a performer. Keep in mind that during his 2 years away, he didn’t perform at all. And to deliver something like this just a few weeks after returning stateside… it’s still incredible – fifty years later.