Ken Mansfield may not be a household name, but the artists he spent extensive quality time with most certainly are. As the former U.S. manager of the Beatles’ Apple Records, Mansfield multi-tasked incessantly during his creative peak in the ’60s and ’70s, alternately promoting, producing, or writing for such luminaries as Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Glen Campbell, and “Ode to Billie Joe” chanteuse Bobbie Gentry. Incidentally, Mansfield produced Jennings’ wildly surging outlaw rendition of Marshall Tucker’s “Can’t You See.”
In an exclusive phone interview plugging the release of Rock and a Heart Place: A Rock ‘n’ Roller-coaster Ride from Rebellion to Sweet Salvation, a captivating Christian tome depicting the epic rise, fall, and redemption of 15 music icons in their own words with accompanying contextual narrative, the five-time author and motivational speaker regaled this writer with the tale of his extremely close encounter with the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll.
In case you wish to examine the entire conversation [i.e. “Fascinated by Faraway Places: An Interview with the Multifaceted Ken Mansfield”], simply click on the highlighted link. The born-again Christian revisits his checkered past, songwriting, ongoing struggle with cancer, conquering a fear of public speaking, and daily prayer regimen.
- The Ken Mansfield / Elvis Interview
Since you were good friends with the Beatles, did you have an opportunity to meet Elvis Presley?
Unfortunately I didn’t. Ringo Starr, who I met during my Capitol tenure and later befriended when the Beatles personally asked me to oversee Apple, called me from London and said Elvis was performing at the International Hotel in Las Vegas.
This happened during the last weekend of January 1970, just six months after Elvis’ triumphant return to live performances. By then I had resigned from Apple and joined MGM Records as vice-president.
Ringo hadn’t seen Elvis since the Beatles’ historic summit at the singer’s exotic Perugia Way home in Bel Air [Aug. 27, 1965]. Ironically, I had also spent that day with the Beatles at their rented house in the Hollywood Hills. The day ended with them getting ready to go to Elvis’ house.
Ringo said, “If I fly in, can you take care of us and arrange seating arrangements at one of Elvis’ shows?” Of course, I jumped at the opportunity as I was a serious Elvis fan. I thought, ‘Great, I’m going to get to meet Elvis because I’m going to be with Ringo’.
Long story short, we snuck Ringo in the back of the hotel and into the showroom. Afterwards, Elvis sent for Ringo to visit his penthouse suite, but his people wouldn’t let me go up with him. They only let Ringo go up. I was really disappointed.
I knew the musicians in Elvis’ TCB band, including drummer Ronnie Tutt and guitarist James Burton. And I ultimately worked with the Imperials, a superb vocal quintet best known for backing Elvis, on their Big God album . By then, Armond Morales was the only member still in the group who had worked with the star. Believe me, I asked him plenty of questions about Elvis [laughs].
- DON’T GO ANYWHERE YET! The Pointer Sisters effortlessly blended sweet, gospel-laden harmonies on a plethora of pop nuggets during the ’70s and ’80s including “Fairytale,” “I’m So Excited,” “He’s So Shy,” and “Slow Hand.” Based on a true story about Anita Pointer’s illicit affair with a married KSAN radio deejay in San Francisco, the jilted country saga within “Fairytale” apparently connected with listeners, becoming the Pointer Sisters’ second hit. To acquire further insight on how it opened doors for the harmonically gifted quartet by securing them a spot on the the illustrious Grand Ole Opry, spurred in part by a faithful Elvis cover, consider investigating a newly written article exploring the matter entitled “Inside ‘Fairytale,’ the Pointer Sisters’ Defiant Country Kiss-Off Covered by Elvis Presley.”
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Exclusive Interview: Marshall Terrill has written three captivating Elvis Presley tomes with close friends and a ravishing former flame of the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll. Terrill readily admits, “I’ve always tried to approach the Elvis story from an outsider’s perspective with a lot of common sense and no excuses. Many people in the Elvis World come to the subject matter with their minds made up, lines drawn in the sand, and have pegged everyone as either a hero or villain.” In “Gauging Elvis Presley’s Shakespearean Destiny from an Outsider’s Perspective,” the celebrity biographer scrutinizes how Elvis’ inspired performances often hinged on his level of instrumental commitment, why the artist didn’t compose more material, how lifestyle choices gradually diminished his recording career, the often pointless Elvis vs. Beatles debate, the shocking degree of entanglement degenerate gambler Colonel Tom Parker became mired in with the Las Vegas Hilton Hotel to his client’s detriment, and eons more.
Exclusive Interview No. 2: Clint Black, a best selling new traditionalist country artist throughout the 1990s, experienced a Top Five country single with “Untanglin’ My Mind” in 1994, incidentally co-written by none other than Merle Haggard. The duo yielded a second, albeit unlikely collaboration the following year with a Christmas ballad entitled “The Kid.” Black’s primary songwriting compadre by a wide margin is Hayden Nicholas, a Fender Telecaster guitar slinger who has penned somewhere in the neighborhood of 68 released compositions with his “Class of ’89” buddy. In an enjoyable conversation entitled “Talkin’ About the Rain, Merle Haggard, Elvis Presley, and an Imaginary Girl,” the soft-spoken Houstonian relives his tour encounters with the oft-unpredictable, hard-to-find “Okie from Muskogee” troubadour and the undisputed King of Rock ‘n’ Roll.
Exclusive Interview No. 3: “I’ve watched John Denver captivate 20,000 people with just his acoustic guitar and soft voice. Similarly, the more laid back Don Williams sings a song, the closer it draws the audience in.” A decade after the tragic passing of the “Annie’s Song” balladeer in an experimental, amateur-built aircraft crash, his final touring pianist, Chris Nole, teamed up with Williams. In “Chris Nole Captures the Dynamics and Subtleties of the Gentle Giant,” Nole offers a play by play account of his musically challenging stint in the Gentle Giant’s band of veteran road dogs, including the appropriate mode of action to implement whenever a piano bench unexpectedly collapses—with you on it—during a live performance.
- Exclusive Interview No. 4: Mark Lindsay, the ferocious former lead singer of ’60s garage rockers Paul Revere and the Raiders, left home at the tender age of 15 to pursue a rockabilly career in southern Idaho. Lying about his age so he could play seedy nightclubs, Lindsay ultimately met the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll during the filming of the iconic ’68 Comeback Special. When personnel changes threatened to derail the band’s appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1967, Lindsay and Revere acted immediately and planted the seeds for a swampier, more organic band incarnation perhaps best exemplified on their first gold-selling single, “Let Me.” Dubbed the Rebel Raiders, Lindsay has rarely explored this criminally ignored band era in-depth. That is, until now.
Further Reading: “Had I focused on worry or resentment every time I had a setback, or on anger toward those I perceived were responsible for my woes, it seems clear to me now that I would have only gotten better at worry, resentment, and anger.” In a hybrid interview-review conducted with Bobby Hart, the songwriter examines his debut memoir, Psychedelic Bubble Gum: Boyce & Hart, The Monkees, and Turning Mayhem into Miracles and partnership with the late, effervescent Tommy Boyce. Responsible for an astonishing 25 contributions to the Monkees’ songography like the iconic “Last Train to Clarksville,” “(Theme From) The Monkees,” “(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone”, “She,” “Words”, and “Valleri,” Boyce and Hart’s Monkees collaboration lit a chain reaction to a lucrative solo career on late ’60s pop-rock radio.
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