Sixties City presents a wide-ranging series of articles on all aspects of the Sixties, penned by the creator of the iconic 60s music paper  Mersey Beat

Sixties City - Elvis - Jailhouse Rock - Bill Harry's Sixties



Sixties City - Elvis - Jailhouse Rock - Bill Harry's Sixties Elvis’ third film was a 1957 MGM movie, 96 minutes in length, produced by Pandro S. Berman and directed by Richard Thorpe, with a screenplay written by Guy Trosper. Award winning writer Nedrick Young penned the story – his other movie stories included ‘The Defiant Ones’, for which he won an Oscar, and ‘Inherit the Wind'.

Elvis played Vince Everett, a young man who is harassed by a drunk and, following a fight in a bar in which a man is accidentally killed, is sentenced to serve a one-to-ten year term in prison for manslaughter. Inside prison, Vince receives a flogging as punishment following a prison riot in which he is accused of being involved. His cell mate is Hunk Houghton (Mickey Shaughnessy), a former country singer, who interests him in the music business and teaches him how to play guitar. He talks him into signing a contract in which he would receive a percentage of Vince’s future earnings as an entertainer. On his release after a year, Vince performs at a local nightclub and is spotted by record producer Peggy Van Alden, who he teams up with to form their own record label, Laurel Records. Things are moving along quite nicely when Hunk is released from prison and approaches Vince for money owed to him under the agreement they made. The argument between them develops into a brawl where Vince’s throat is damaged by a punch and he is hospitalised, not knowing whether he will ever sing again. He does manage to recover and, after renewing his friendship with Hunk and giving him 10% of his earnings, continues his singing career.

The character of Vince Everett was a moody rebel, arrogant and violent. In one scene, when he walks out of a club away from a stuffy discussion about jazz, he is followed by Peggy (Judy Tyler) who he grabs, kisses roughly and says, “That ain’t tactics, honey, that’s just the beast in me.” In another scene he smashes a guitar on a customer who was talking during his act in a nightclub and when he first meets Peggy he rudely tells her, “Buy your own drink.”
Sixties City - Elvis - Jailhouse Rock - Bill Harry's Sixties

Sixties City - Elvis - Jailhouse Rock - Bill Harry's Sixties There were five songs in the movie and the highlight scene was a dance routine inside the jail to the number ‘Jailhouse Rock’ which was choreographed by Elvis and Alex Romero. Gene Kelly was on the set and applauded Elvis’ performance as a dancer. The scene is generally regarded as the best Elvis dance routine of all his movies and was the first time he’d danced on screen. Shelley Winters was to say that Elvis actually hated the movie ‘Jailhouse Rock,’ although Lisa Marie Presley says it is her favourite of all her father’s films.

His romantic interest in the film was played by Judy Tyler who was killed in a car accident, along with her husband, on 7th May, soon after the film was completed. Kenny Baker recorded a tribute record to her, ‘Goodbye Little Star.’
The movie was premiered in Memphis at Loew’s State Theatre on 17th October 1957 at Elvis’ own request, although he didn’t actually attend because of the fatal road accident in which Judy Tyler was killed. The film then opened nationwide on 8th November on a double bill with ‘The Wayward Girl'.
Elvis was called up for army service shortly after completing the film.

The single ‘Jailhouse Rock’ c/w ‘Treat Me Nice’ was released in September 1957 and topped the American charts. It was penned by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, who also penned the other songs in the movie:
‘Don’t Leave Me Now'; ‘I Want To Be Free'; and ‘Baby, I Don’t Care'. Mickey Shaughnessy sang ‘One More Day'.

The music was recorded at Radio Recorders Studio in Hollywood during May 1957 and the musicians were: Elvis Presley, vocals/guitar; Scotty Moore and ‘Tiny’ Timbrell, guitars; Bill Black, bass; D.J. Fontana, drums; Dudley Brookes and Mike Stoller, piano and The Jordanaires, backing vocals.

Sixties City - Elvis - Jailhouse Rock - Bill Harry's Sixties
Sixties City - Elvis - Jailhouse Rock - Bill Harry's Sixties
Sixties City - Elvis - Jailhouse Rock - Bill Harry's Sixties
Sixties City - Elvis - Jailhouse Rock - Bill Harry's Sixties

Also see Sixties City pages: Elvis Films




Mersey Beat Magazine Bill Harry attended the Liverpool College of Art with Stuart Sutcliffe and John Lennon and made the arrangements for Brian Epstein to visit The Cavern, where he saw The Beatles for the first time. Bill was a member of 'The Dissenters' and the founder and editor of 'Mersey Beat', the iconic weekly music newspaper that documented the early Sixties music scene in the Liverpool area and is possibly best known for being the first periodical to feature a local band called 'The Beatles'. He has worked as a high powered publicist, doing PR for acts such as Suzi Quatro, Free, The Arrows and Hot Chocolate and has managed press campaigns for record labels such as CBS, EMI, Polydor. Bill is the critically acclaimed author of a large number of books about The Beatles and the 60s era including 'The Beatles Who's Who', 'The Best Years of the Beatles' and the Fab Four's 'Encyclopedia' series. He has appeared on 'Good Morning America' and has received a Gold Award from the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors.


Article Bill Harry 2017               Original Graphics SixtiesCity 2017

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