August 16, 2017

Happy Birthday Elvis

August 16, 1977 is a date that millions around the world still remember. Every year at Graceland, thousands of Elvis fans gather at his graveside, placing flowers and mementos by his grave as a thank you to their hero.  Many remember what they were doing when they heard the news of his death. It sent shock waves through the Elvis world and still brings sadness to those who remember him. I’ve been asked many times, “Do you really think Elvis is dead”? They want to believe it so strongly, they hold on to a lost sense of reality that Elvis just might have escaped death and is now living an obscure life in retirement somewhere. They can’t imagine an 82 year old Elvis, and that’s just as well. I can’t either. Elvis rocketed to Fame and Fortune at a young age and impacted so many lives that it’s inconceivable to think of him at any other age than at the height of his iconic success. Fortunately for me, as lead singer for the Imperials, we worked with him in some of his very best years.
Elvis was in great physical condition and many nights in the penthouse in Vegas, we witnessed karate demonstrations featuring him and his sparring side man, Charlie Hodge, who took the brunt of his pulled punches. Charlie was never hurt that I could tell but Elvis was proud of his accomplishments in karate and he wanted to show us some of the results of his training. For Charlie, it was just part of the job. Combining the workouts Elvis got in the penthouse with the workout he got onstage, after wearing a ten pound jump suit for two one hour shows nightly for a month, served to keep him in excellent physical condition. After two grueling shows a night, he should have been tired, but his adrenaline was pumping so high it took him several hours to unwind. The penthouse also served as a refuge for him to invite the Imperials, the TCB band, the Sweet Inspirations, and all the Memphis mafia, along with their wives or girlfriends for food, singing, and just good fellowship and laughs about what had happened that night. There might be a song that didn’t turn out the way he had intended on stage and we would have a good laugh about it. He was never so uptight and perfectionist that he couldn’t laugh about a mistake. That made easier for us all to laugh with him. And Charlie Hodge was the jokester. Every night he had a new joke to tell. He would get in your face and tell his joke to you. Before the punch line, he was ready to laugh out loud and he wanted YOU to laugh with him.  Charlie had been a frustrated gospel singer when he was a little younger, but then Elvis called and his life changed forever.
August 9, 2017

The Story Begins

Welcome to my world! We will explore a past filled with unexpected twists and turns in my life I could never have planned.  I will start more at the end and we will resume the early days of my experiences in later chapters. I will go back to the beginning and tell you how I started out and how I know God had led me all the way to where I am today. As we approach Elvis week in Memphis, it’s noteworthy that I am still very active singing and sharing my life now more often with Elvis fans who loved him and because I sang behind him, that love has been transferred to those of us who sang with him.  I am humbled by it but I love the opportunity to meet and greet Elvis fans from all over the world. As a shy kid who never would have even considered singing in public before a crowd, I can truly say that God has brought me a mighty long way!

This week will be a seminal week for Elvis fans for we are celebrating the life of the man most would say affected the music world like no other. Knowing him and working with him, I can truly say I saw the real man with his amazing talent but the tentative little boy who always sought the approval of others to validate that talent. I saw many of the same traits in me though I never achieved his level of success. I saw a man who overcame many obstacles and in spite of them all, he did it HIS way. He changed the course of rock and roll music by his bold courage to be different. I always admired that. Of course, it didn’t hurt that he was a man of stunningly good looks. That charisma with the voice and the looks, the humble attitude that accompanied his talent, was wrapped in a package too big to contain. He exploded onto the music scene long before my involvement with him but his talents left an indelible mark on the world.

This week we will celebrate his life, his music and the man himself. The Imperials were very fortunate to have been there that opening night, July 31, 1969 at the Las Vegas Hilton International Hotel. It was a night I will never forget.e end and we will resume the early days of my experiences in later chapters. I will go back to the beginning and tell you how I started out and how I know God had led me all the way to where I am today. As we approach Elvis week in Memphis, it’s noteworthy that I am still very active singing and sharing my life now more often with Elvis fans who loved him and because I sang behind him, that love has been transferred to so many of us who worked with Elvis.. I am humbled by our fans, but I love the opportunity to meet and greet Elvis fans from all over the world. As a shy kid who never would have even considered singing in public before a crowd, I can truly say that God has brought me a mighty long way! This week will be a seminal week for Elvis fans for we are celebrating the life of the man most would say affected the music world like no other.

Knowing him and working with him, I can truly say I saw the real man with his amazing talent but the tentative little boy who always sought the approval of others to validate that talent. I saw many of the same traits in me though I never achieved his level of success. I saw a man who overcame many obstacles and in spite of them all, he did it His Way. He changed the course of rock and roll music by his bold courage to be different. I always admired that. Of course, it didn’t hurt that he was a man of stunningly good looks. That charisma with the voice and the looks, the humble attitude that accompanied his talent, was wrapped in a package too big to contain. He exploded onto the music scene long before my involvement with him but his talents left an indelible mark on the world. This week we will celebrate his life, his music and the man himself.

The Imperials were very fortunate to have been there that opening night, July 31, 1969 at the Las Vegas Hilton International Hotel. It was a night I will never forget.

Until next time,

Terry Blackwood

 

February 23, 2016

New Album Released!

The Journey Album CD
The Journey Album CD
Songs included: God's Love, Sweet Jesus, The Secret, Talk About the Good Times, David's Psalm, He Touched Me, No Shortage, If My People, How Rich I Am, and Elvis Medley ( special guest James Burton)

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August 28, 2015

Tour Update

Screen Shot 2015-08-28 at 6.07.48 AMThe Imperials just returned from Bad Nauheim, Germany where the European Elvis Festival was celebrated. Our hosts were the EPG fan club headed by Maria Hesterberg. The crowds were fantastic and the enthusiasm was contagious. Saturday night, the Imperials were the opening act for the show featuring Dennis Jale from Vienna, Austria. He was backed by James Burton, Elvis’ guitarist and Glen D. Hardin on piano, Elvis’ keyboard player and arranger of many of his hits. Dennis has his own band as well, all excellent musicians. What a great Saturday night.
Sunday morning the Imperials did their gospel concert to a full house of devoted fans. The response was more that anything we could have imagined. We do hope that as a result of the tremendous response we received for Sunday morning, we will be invited back to other venues in Europe where we can share our music once again. Thanks to Dennis Jale, and thanks to Maria Hesterberg for having the Imperials as part of the Elvis European Festival for 2015.

 

 

 

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February 8, 2014

The Vienna Boys Choir

The Vienna Boys Choir with James Burton, Ronnie Tutt, the Imperials and our great host, Dennis Jale, who brought us all together for this occasion. They sang two songs, we sang Sweet Spirit for them, and is was a special moment for all of us. Thanks to Dennis Jale for being such a gracious host.

vienna boys choir

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