Memories of supporting Elvis in December 1977

Pretty self-explanatory
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Memories of supporting Elvis in December 1977

Postby johnfoyle » Sun Apr 09, 2017 2:33 pm


Photos by Joe Sia

Jon Davis -
Facebook - 15 October 2015
'I found this photo online of the first time I saw Elvis Costello on December 11, 1977. The Oxford Ale House in New Haven, Connecticut, held about 75 people; I think there were 30 or 40 of us that night. I was there to review the show, which I loved. At the last minute my editor decided he wanted the review. He panned the show. I remember he wrote something like "Elvis Costello fingered an E chord all night long." G.E. Smith, later of Saturday Night Live, and the Scratch Band (his local band at the time) backed up Elvis. New Haven clearly was not ready for Elvis. Nor was Elvis ready for New Haven: when he walked through the crowd to the dressing room, Elvis held his guitar like a shield.'

The opening act, The Scratch Band, also included future KOA percussionist Mickey Curry, and Christine Ohlman. - she is the long-running vocalist for the Saturday Night Live Band.

I contacted Ms Ohlman via Facebook , asking if she had any memories of the show in December 1977.

Yesterday she sent this very generous reply -

John, forgive me for taking so very long to get back to you on this...

Some thoughts I collected from the members of the Scratch Band upon the occasion of our opening the show for Elvis in New Haven at the Oxford Ale House. You'd kindly sent along some photos in a FB message and asked me for any reminiscences...

Replying this day from NYC...

CHRISTINE OHLMAN , lead singer, The Scratch Band:

We'd learned of Elvis via a music writer named Jon Tiven from New Haven (now of Nashville), who gave us a copy of the first pressing of "Less Than Zero." We had no idea who Elvis was but quickly became huge fans. Jon had gotten the record from a record cat in NY, he'd said. The record company cat told Jon that he didn't understand Elvis's thing at all, but maybe Jon would, and would Jon like the record? That was our entree to the world of Elvis!

The night of the show, we asked one of the band members to tell Elvis that we played several of his songs regularly in our set. One was "Miracle Man," which I sang. We were reluctant to play any of those songs, but Elvis urged us to at least play "Miracle Man" so that he could hear a woman sing it....

GE SMITH, guitarist, The Scratch Band:
"We later played 'Watching The Detectives'. We'd gotten a British pressing of the LP early, so we had access to that song. I don't think we played it on this gig, though...

GE, of course, went on to record with Elvis. He further says: "I've talked to him about this gig. He remembers it well as it was only their second or third US show ever. Do you all recall we told him that we did a couple of his songs? He said, "Great, you play them and I won't have to"...

Robert Orsi, second lead singer (with me), harmonica, The Scratch Band:

"I remember now. American version of the first LP didn't have 'Detectives' on it. We'd probably have played that whole LP if we could have. We loved it that much. I remember this gig. I had a long conversation with the bass player. It was rambling and pretty much about his take on being in the States. I had a button with a photo of Brian Jones in a Nazi uniform and he was intrigued by that. I explained how I found it offensive. He declared Brian's haircut 'perfect'"

Paul Ossola, bassist and later (with Christine and GE) member of The Saturday Night Live Band. Has played with Levon Helm and many others….

" Isn't that some of our gear, on the side, in both photos? How starstruck were we, to remember little tidbits like these?'

Posts: 14401
Joined: Wed Jun 04, 2003 4:37 pm
Location: Dublin , Ireland

Re: Memories of supporting Elvis in December 1977

Postby johnfoyle » Sun Apr 09, 2017 3:23 pm

In my thank you note I commented -

' I see that the confusion that surrounds the inclusion of Watching The Detectives on My Aim Is True continues to a certain extent. It wasn't on the first version , on Stiff in the U.K.. I gather that was imported in large amounts before the Columbia release in the U.S. , which did include 'Detectives. Robert & GE's memories of that point seem to be different. Whatever. Maybe they were familiar with the U.K. single release that appeared between the U.K. & U.S. releases of MAIT. Apologies for nitpicking but I feel that I wouldn't be giving your account the attention it deserved if I didn't mention the point. '

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