Elvis Presley was a very smart man – especially when it came to music. The King of Rock and Roll would not have been able to achieve 18 number one songs if he was not an expert in his craft. And over the course of his 24 albums, the star worked out how to really make a hit that would really resonate with listeners.
So then, when Elvis first got together with his girlfriend Wanda Jackson in the 1950s – long before he would meet his future wife, Priscilla Presley – he was keen to give her some helpful advice.
Wanda already had a well-established music career in the 1950s when she first met Elvis. The country singer had a following and was even on tour with Elvis from 1955 to 1956. But once the pair got really comfortable with one another, the King sat Wanda down and told her just where she was going wrong.
She recalled in an interview: “The thing that Elvis did for me was giving me the courage to sing this new music like he was doing.” (Via Fox News)
At the time Elvis was breaking boundaries in the music industry by introducing rock ‘n’ roll music to a mainstream audience. But Wanda did not think it was a genre of music she could delve into as well.
Wanda said: “I would tell him: ‘I can’t do that, Elvis, because I’m just a country singer! Besides, I’m a girl. I can’t sing that stuff.'” But Elvis simply would not hear it. Wanda remembered the King would reply to her: “I know you could if you try.” Wanda added: “He made me promise that I would try.”
And she made sure she was able to keep her promise.
Wanda revealed that she left her original record label in favour of Capitol Records in 1956 in order to carry out Elvis’ task. She said: “When I moved to Capitol Records, that’s when I recorded one of my first rock ‘n’ roll songs: I Gotta Know. It was especially written for me. It has a little bit of a country kickoff.”
The track was very popular, but the official Billboard Hot 100 did not yet exist. Even so, it reached the U.S. Billboard Most Played C&W in Juke Boxes in 1956. However, it did not reach the Official Charts in the UK.
Regardless, the singer later called I Gotta Know a “milestone” in her career. She said: “It was a transition song for me. I recorded a lot of rock ‘n’ roll songs.” But there was a problem with her music.
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Wanda remembered that most of her rock songs were covers because “nobody thought a girl’s point of view would sell”. Eventually, she changed that. She said: “I began writing stuff and they all did well … Seems like I always had to be pushed a little bit.” And Wanda’s constant pushing in her career eventually paid off when she was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2009.
During her acceptance speech for her induction, she praised Elvis for giving her that last-minute nudge to change the direction of her career.
Wanda told the audience: “I’m not standing here alone. I didn’t get here by myself. I probably wouldn’t have made it at all without help.” While listing the people she thanked, she said: “Elvis Presley, just for that bit of encouragement and that push that I needed. I don’t know about y’all, but I feel the presence of Elvis very strongly tonight.”
She concluded: “So, I’ll just say once again: thank you Elvis for encouraging me to try it.”
Published at Tue, 15 Mar 2022 10:41:00 +0000