The Auction at Graceland•January 8, 2019
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This lot is closed for bidding. Bidding ended on 1/8/2019

From the Bill Porter Collection

Bill Porter, born in St. Louis in 1931, moved to Nashville at a young age. He aspired to be a cameraman, but at his first job in 1954 with WLAC-TV in Nashville, they assigned him the soundboard, and mixing sound was a job no one wanted at time. Bill took the art of sound engineer to a new level during his career, with over 300 chart-topping records from his more than 7,000 recording sessions. He worked with famed artists such as Louis Armstrong, Sammy Davis, Jr., Roy Orbison, Barbra Streisand, Diana Ross, Tina Turner, Elvis Presley and more. He worked the soundboard at Elvis’ concerts in Vegas and on tour throughout the ’70s. Bill was also instrumental in creating the first college programs in sound engineering to ensure the skill would live on. 

It was in December 1969 when Elvis made his return to live performances and began his engagements in Las Vegas that he reached out to Bill Porter to request assistance with fixing the poor sound in the showroom of the International Hotel. Elvis was so pleased with the results of Bill’s solution that he requested he stay on to mix his live show. The show’s sound was so well received that Bill stayed on with Elvis throughout his ’70s performances and Bill made sure to acquire only the best technical gear available at the time to ensure the highest quality sound. 

Offered is an Elvis stage-used Electro-Voice CS15, Electret Condenser Cardioid Made in USA Serial number 7740 microphone. This microphone was used during Elvis’ live concerts in Las Vegas and is similar in style to the microphone Elvis is using on the cover of the album On Stage. Numerous images of Elvis exist in which he can be seen using this or a similar style and model microphone. The microphone has a piece of small white tape near the head that is marked “EP3” and the base of the handle is hand etched with the initials “EP.” The Electro-Voice model CS15 is a professional, remotely powered electret condenser cardioid microphone that is designed for performance and studio recording where a smooth yet wide-ranging response is desired. The rugged design and steel case enable the microphone to withstand the abuse it might endure in a live setting. The cardioid isolates immediate vocals and instrumentals from unwanted ambient noise creating a bright, crisp sound with accuracy and versatility. 

This incredibly historic microphone emanates directly from the collection of Bill Porter and comes with a plethora of period documentation, correspondence, and receipts relating to a variety of microphones, including this model. These documents serve to bolster the belief that this was Elvis’ preferred style of microphone during this point in his career. The offered Electro-Voice CS-15 measures 8 1/2 inches (21.59 cm) in length and was loaned by Bill Porter in January 1996 to the Country Music Hall of Fame where it resided until April 2006 when it was returned. The detailed documentation from Bill Porter’s files that are also being offered in this lot include:

  • Pink Electro-Voice invoice with order date as 3-13-72 for “RE-15 less cable Ser #7402 & 5402”;
  • September 1972 typed memo from Porter Industries to Bill Raventos at Electro-Voice Inc, that references two other Elvis microphones that Bill Porter is sending to be “put into ‘top’ shape,” measuring 7 by 8 1/2 inches (17.78 x 21.59 cm);
  • November 1, 1972 typed memo from Porter Industries to Tom Diskin referring to the RE15 microphones, measuring 7 by 8 1/2 inches (17.78 x 21.59 cm);
  • November 6, 1972 letter on MGM letterhead from Tom Diskin to Bill Porter stating, “Thank you for the filter and we did receive the microphones. Bruce Banke advises that the hotel has made payment on the bill for these microphones. Thanks so much. Elvis has some good records going in the charts.”;
  • September 24, 1974 letter to Bill Porter from William Raventos of Electro-Voice that states in part, “You will hopefully receive this letter just prior to starting on the road with Elvis. You should have received the CS-15 Microphones (you had one, two Lou gave you, and we shipped six more). If there is anything I can do before you get started on your tour, don’t hesitate to give me a call (if I’m not there, my secretary, Mary, knows where to get hold of me) and I’ll do what I can.”;
  • August 6, 1977 Airbill from United Airlines with consignee listed Electro-Voice and shipper listed as Bill Porter;
  • June 19, 1994 three-page contract of loan fax from the Country Music Foundation regarding the CS-15 Electro Voice microphone of Elvis Presley;

January 16, 2003 two-page letter (with envelope) from John Rumble, Senior Historian, Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum verifying the current and on-going loan of the offered microphone which states in part, “This letter is to confirm your loan of one (1) microphone used by the late performer Elvis Presley during his stage performances. The microphone is an Electro Voice model CS 15, with ‘EP3’ written on a piece of white tape just under the metal mesh windscreen, and etching into the base of the handle. The mike is mounted on a plastic support joint (with EV decal and the number 312 on unit), which screws into a separate 6 and 3/4 inch metal stand. As you will recall, you loaned this microphone to the Country Music Foundation, Inc., which owns and operated the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville, Tennessee, on January 1, 1996. At the time, you warranted to the Foundation that you were the owner of the microphone and had acquired it in your role as sound engineer for Elvis Presley’s appearances in Las Vegas and on road tours. The microphone was displayed to the public for several years at the original location of the Museum at 4 Music Square East, Nashville, TN 37203, and was taken off display when the Museum moved to its present location at 222 Fifth Avenue South, Nashville, TN 37203, in 2001. Since that time, the microphone has been stored in the First Library and Archives of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum located within the Museum Building. The microphone and stand may be found in Box 001 on shelf 2W 3.1.6.”;

  • April 1, 2006 Outgoing Receipt from the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum noting the expiration of loan and return of the CS-15 microphone to Bill Porter;
  • Two (2) Testing Graphs (for EP6 and EP7), measuring 5 by 9 3/4 inches (12.7 x 24.76 cm);
  • Electro-Voice label to Bill Porter measuring 3 by 5 inches (7.62 x 12.7 cm);
  • Yellow Memo regarding a package to be picked up at the airport addressed to Bill Porter, measuring 7 1/4 by 8 1/2 inches (18.41 x 21.59 cm);
  • Magazine page with image of Elvis using a microphone (mislabeled as CS-15);
  • Two (2) mailing receipt forms, the larger measuring 3 by 5 inches (7.62 x 12.7 cm); 
  • Five (5) modern photos of the microphone; and 
  • A modern display stand.

This incredible stage-used microphone with the enormous amount of period documentation outlines the integral history of Bill Porter and his role as sound engineer for Elvis Presley in the 1970s. It is evident from these meticulous records that Bill took his job of creating the best sound possible for Elvis very seriously and used only the highest quality tools at the time to ensure Elvis’ sound would resonate among fans. The grouping is accompanied by a letter of authenticity from Graceland Authenticated.

The microphone is in excellent condition with signs of use with expected buildup of oxidation from heavy stage use.
Elvis Presley Owned and Stage Used ElectroVoice Microphone with Incredible Provenance from His Concert Sound Engineer Bill Porter*
Current Bidding (Reserve Has Been Met)
Minimum Bid: $7,500.00
Final prices include buyers premium.: $17,500.00
Estimate: $15,000 - $20,000
Number Bids: 11
Auction closed on Tuesday, January 8, 2019.
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