The Auction at Graceland•January 6, 2018
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This lot is closed for bidding. Bidding ended on 1/6/2018
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Stephen Sholes worked for RCA and was instrumental in signing Elvis Presley to the label in 1955. In 1957, Stephen convinced RCA to build its own recording studio in Nashville and became their pop singles and albums manager before becoming vice president of A&R, which is responsible for the artists and repertoire, overseeing artistic development and scouting new talent. It was in this role for RCA that he sent Colonel Parker a letter concerning possible recordings for Elvis’ next single release. In it, Sholes lists six titles in order of his preference that include: “A Big Hunk O’ Love,” “A Fool Such As I,” “I Need Your Love Tonight,” “When It Rains It Really Pours,” “My Wish Came True,” and “Tell Me Why.” In the correspondence, Sholes suggests that the first three titles are used and refers to the last three as “all pretty weak.” He says that he is “particularly opposed” to “Tell My Why” because it is similar to the gospel hymn “Just a Closer Walk With Thee.” Of the other two “weak” songs, Sholes writes: “The other two are not only weak songs, but not very well performed by Elvis.” This last sentence is circled in black ink and handwritten beneath is "Please return this letter to me - Col." with "Col" underlined four times. The handwritten response from the Colonel, who also had strong ideas about records, likely reveals no small measure of irritation over Sholes’ dismissive remarks. 

This document provides a glimpse into the struggle between RCA and the Colonel over the release of Elvis’ works while he was serving in the Army. Three months after this missive, in March 1959, RCA released the single, “I Need Your Love Tonight / A Fool Such As I” and then a few months following, released a single with a Sholes-preferred song, “A Big Hunk O’ Love” coupled with one he deemed weak, “My Wish Came True.” “A Big Hunk O’ Love” reached number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart where it remained for two weeks, while “My Wish Came True” peaked at 12 on the same chart, supporting Sholes’ preference. 

The typed letter on RCA letterhead is dated December 22, 1958 and comes with two RCA reference recording 45 RPM records, one for “A Fool Such As I” and the other for “I Need Your Love Tonight” that measure 9 3/4 inches (24.77 cm) in diameter. Also included is a copy of the released 45 record for these songs. The letter, measuring 11 by 8 1/2 inches (27.94 x 21.59 cm), emanates from the 1999 Graceland Archives Auction (lot A227) and is accompanied by a letter of authenticity from Graceland Authenticated.

The letter has several areas of wrinkling, and the acetates present with some scuffing and scratches, but are in playable condition. Excellent condition overall.
1958 Letter from RCA’s Steve Sholes to Col. Parker Concerning Elvis Presley’s Next Single Release Plus Acetates of “A Fool Such As I” and “I Need Your Love Tonight” - 1999 Graceland Archives Auction
Current Bidding (Reserve Has Been Met)
Minimum Bid: $250.00
Final prices include buyers premium.: $1,625.00
Estimate: $500 - $1,000
Number Bids: 7
Auction closed on Saturday, January 6, 2018.
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