|WWE POLICY||INTERVIEWS||E MAIL||ORDER INFO|
(MAY 17, 1998)
PART 3: ERNST TALKS ABOUT:
* THE MARKETING OF ELVIS!
* ERNST'S BACKGROUND!
* JOAN DEARY!
* MUCH, MUCH MORE!!
WWE: BMG is coming out with the 1968 material in September and October. Tell us about these two releases.
ERNST: The first one will be a single CD called TIGER MAN and the second will be a 2 CD set possibly titled MEMORIES but we don't know that yet for sure. The first one is the second sit down show complete and unedited. The double disc will be like the history of the show and will assemble all of the studio production masters but will then go into additional material from the standup and sit down shows and bits and pieces.
WWE: Why won't you release the ENTIRE '68 COMEBACk, unedited and remastered?
ERNST: Basically because if you look at the stand up shows they are not ideal as they are. There are simply too many flaws in some of the recordings so the stand up shows will have to be represented by the best versions of those songs that he performed. He misses the lyrics in "HOUND DOG" or "HEARTBREAK HOTEL" or one of them and makes other blunders so the two shows that are almost identical would not be very interesting to have released from a commercial point-of-view but a combination of the two shows that would cover in principle what they were would be interesting.
WWE: Are the versions of "SAVED" and "UP ABOVE MY HEAD" complete versions as these were blended together in the Special?
ERNST: Elvis parts are complete. I don't know if I'm going to use everything instrumental on the set because there are some very extended instrumental bits as part of the production numbers that I'm not sure are going to work real well on record.
WWE" Have you found a tape of Elvis singing "A LITTLE LESS CONVERSATION"? Will that be on there?
ERNST: Yes. There's a little story to that as the backing track is the original backing track from LIVE A LITTLE, LOVE A LITTLE but it's just a new vocal.
WWE: Why wasn't "MEMORIES" included on the 60's box set?
ERNST: Because it only dealt with Elvis' studio recordings in Nashville and Memphis?
WWE: When will RCA update Elvis' record sales with the RIAA? How can Garth Brooks sell more records than Elvis?
ERNST: What this is is just misinformation from the RIAA and Garth Brooks. It's distorting the truth and that's what the Garth Brooks' camp is doing. Apparently there was an unfortunate statement from the RIAA that confused the issue and they're not willing to correct it.
WWE: Do you personally have anything to say in the marketing of Elvis?
ERNST: The marketing is the responsibility of Michael Omansky and Klaus in Germany. I have input as does every other player but the decisions lie with these two.
WWE: Do you plan any great projects for the year 2000?
ERNST: We are always planning projects but this is too far ahead to talk about right now.
WWE: How did you become a producer of Elvis releases? What is your background? How can a person become what you've become?
ERNST: First, because I had a successful career in the recording that put me quite high up in the hierarchy. Second, because I produced records already. And third, because I knew about Elvis' recordings that anybody else at the time.
WWE: What is your favorite Elvis era?
ERNST: I don't have any particular favorite era. I'm not one of those people who think that Elvis was as great in the last few years as he was during the rest of his career. In other words, the last few years was not my favorite. I could go in and argue that 1964 was a great year because Elvis recorded "IT HURTS ME" but it was also a bad year because he couldn't even be bothered to record a soundtrack for TICKLE ME.
WWE: Do you have any favorite recording sessions (or songs)?
ERNST: Yes I do but it's not like one towers about it all. I definitely think that the ELVIS IS BACK session is an artistic highlight and so is Memphis 1969. Of course the SUN sessions were marvelous but if you talk about whole sessions that I think were very successful those two are the ones I would pick.
WWE: If you could release anything that hasn't been released, what would that be?
ERNST: That would be a triple CD of Elvis' HAYRIDE performances.
WWE: Of all the projects that you've been involved in, what are you most proud of?
ERNST: The 60's box set.
WWE: What do you think Elvis would have thought of these projects?
ERNST: He would have had mixed emotions. Some of it I think he would have been flattered by - some of it he would have disagreed with the judgement of what we had released (outtakes,etc.).
WWE: What masters are you currently looking for? How do things get lost so easily?
ERNST: We're looking for everything we know that we had at one time and is now missing but we haven't lost a tape in the past ten years. This is a situation that has been corrected because of stricter rules but basically what we're trying to find is stuff that we know existed and we had ourselves. The ELVIS IS BACK sessions is a good example. Also, we're looking for what we never had or at least we don't know we had but we could hope that somebody would have a tape of it and that would be rehearsals and early (50'"live" performances.
WWE: Based on Joan Deary's notes, do you think more material is with other RCA employees?
ERNST: That issue is now 12 years old and, for those involved including Joan Deary, it's becoming very, very difficult to remember what could have happened. We're talking about something that didn't work out the way it should have at the time and where it went wrong is difficult to establish especially if none of the people who were around at the time are around anymore and that is basically the issue. There's not a lot of people we can go back to and remember where those tapes were and, at the time, all Elvis tapes were moved from various locations to Indianapolis and that whole shuffle the problem lies. Why were those tapes sidetracked or why didn't they show up in paperwork or why didn't they show up in the vaults. Somebody has got to remember a situation that will uncover this and we all know that none of it is in the bootleg market so it's not a guy walking in from the street stealing the tapes andw anting to make some money on it because they would have turned up by now. So it has to be another explanation. A lot of time and energy has gone into trying to figure this out. We have no reason to say we will find them because we haven't and it's not that a lot of time and money hasn't been spent on trying to find them.
WWE: Are you going by Joan's notes?
ERNST: We're going by every note we have in this company and, as you are well aware, there's a lot of paper work but it's not always complete so it seems like..we talk about, for example VIVA LAS VEGAS, and it can be established that we had all that material. There is no indication anywhere that we ever had all the outtakes from GIRLS! GIRLS! GIRLS! so there's no reason to think that we could ever find them in our own vaults. We probably never got them in the first place. They were probably stuck in some tape facility probably in Los Angeles where the movies were done. I cannot find a piece of paper in New York that gives me proof that we had the GIRLS! GIRLS! GIRLS! outtakes but I can show that we did, at one time, for VIVA LAS VEGAS. Joan Deary was very, very good at maintaining security and control over this so we are confused that we could have a situation where something disappeared but it was NOT under her nose. She had left the company so if somebody did something wrong after she left we didn't have her there to patrol it anymore.
WWE: Well, let's talk about your new book which should be out in book stores in the US in late June or July and which I am now taking orders for. I should have them in stock by June 8th to send out to people.
ERNST: The book is (I think something like) 400 and God knows how many pages and a really good story. It is a chronological story with the session listings in a timely fashion and will tell Elvis' life story based on his musical contributions. It is a detailed book in the session charts but more so it's my take on what happened on before, during, and after each session. It's very much a story about RCA's records and the Colonel as well as about Hill and Range and the music publishing. It's all these stories running parallel to Elvis' own story. There will of course be mistakes because everything is not known. But also, because of the incredible number and interviews and research on paperwork I know so much more. I know why songs were not recorded and which songs were submitted and not recorded and why certain songs were recorded and that gives a lot of behind the scenes information as to how music was created but also the shortcomings of the set up where Elvis' public set up became the very thing that tore him down as well. And, not that anybody wanted it to be like that but that's what it became because everybody it outgrew itself.
WWE: What does BMG think about the book?
ERNST: I've had support on it from BMG in every way. They've been marvelous saying that they like the idea. There's been nobody questioning the way I wrote to book. Nobody's been saying that I shouldn't write negative about RCA because obviously a lot of the decisions in there are questionable from my point-of-view. It's not how I think music should be treated and that is both the fault of Elvis and the Colonel and also RCA. There's overreaching greed in there. There'll be people who will not agree with my take that it was not handled well. They'll say that it WAS handled well because look at all the money that was made. There's always this distance between the commercial exploitation and the artistic view. The wealth of information and the behind-the-scenes information that is available here is beyond what has been done before, not because of any great quality of mine but because of the access I had - the ducuments, interviews and the time I've been able to spend on it is way above what any half sane writer would ever consider spending on his favorite item.
WWE: Well Ernst, it sounds like it's going to a great book. I can't wait to read it. And thanks again for another EXTREMELY interesting interview which is even longer than the one we did before!
ERNST: Thanks a lot Paul. I've enjoyed it. I'm just hoping that this will not close the issue because its' such a fun issue for those who are crazy like I am but it will be a very fulfilling book to 99% of those that own it and this will give people a much better insight into the professional mechanisms that will sometimes confuse you because you'll say why did he do that and it then it turns out that there was a business reason why things were done and it will give people a much better chance to make up their own minds about what happened and I'd love to see in the future discussions on that level where people look at how I determined things and they may have other observations. We all know that when dialogue like that happens there will be guys who really spend a lot of time thinking about this and who come up with other interesting angles on things.