The Auction at Graceland•Elvis Week•August 12, 2018
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This lot is closed for bidding. Bidding ended on 8/12/2018

From The Tar-Zen Collection

The Files of Hill and Range: Elvis Presley's Music Publisher

Lots 26-29 represent an unprecedented opportunity in the annals of Elvis Presley collecting. Based on their content and context to each other, these documents emanate from the files of Hill and Range Songs, Inc. They document historical, even seminal, points in the career of the 20th century's most important entertainer. We see the agreement for arguably his most recognizable hit song and the contracts with the publishing company and the man, Colonel Parker, that would help drive his career to never before seen heights. Furthermore are documents that give a glimpse into the inner workings of Elvis' early empire. Graceland Auctions is proud to present this incredible assemblage of truly important and exciting artifacts.

Before Elvis signs Colonel Parker as his manager and before his Sun records contract is sold to RCA, Elvis signs an agreement with Hill and Range Songs, Inc. (which covered Hank Snow and other country musicians) for use of Elvis’ name, likeness and biographical materials for the sum of 5 cents plus 10% royalties. Julian Aberbach, head of Hill and Range, was introduced to the talents of Elvis through Hank Snow and it was Julian who was instrumental in connecting Colonel Tom Parker with this new young talent. This early signed agreement, dated July 8, 1955, was signed by a 20-year-old Elvis and his parents “Vernon Presley” and “Mrs. Vernon Presley.” Judging by the terms of the agreement, it was evident that the nimble negotiator Colonel Parker was not yet crafting deals for who would become his number one client.

The two-page, typed contract addressed to Elvis simply in “Memphis, Tennessee” outlines the terms in nine numbered points, with the first set covering the meat of the agreement, and states in part, “You hereby grant to us and our assigns the exclusive right and privilege throughout the world to use your name and likeness and biographical material concerning you on song folios and composite works for a period of three years from the date hereof.” The contract continues, “In consideration of the above grant, we agree to pay you the sum of FIVE (5c) CENTS in respect to such song folios and composite works sold by us and paid for in the United States and Canada.” Hill and Range had access to a large stable of country music writers to supply songs for the young star, yet it also recognized that this new musician was capable of writing his own tunes as well so it included the terms, “With reference to songs written by you and controlled by us and/or any of our subsidiary or affiliated companies, we shall pay you a royalty of TEN (10%) PER CENT pro rata of the net wholesale selling price pro rata as the composition(s) written by you and included in such song folios and composite works shall bear to the total number of all compositions and their respective writers published therein.” Hill and Range agrees to ship Elvis, free of charge, 2,000 copies of the first Elvis Presley song folio within sixty days after publication and royalties would not be paid on these copies or on any additional copies requested by Elvis, for which he would be required to pay 15 cents per copy. In 1956, the Elvis Presley song folio for Love Me Tender was released for sale and included words and music to four songs— “Love Me Tender,” “Poor Boy,” “We’re Gonna Move,” and “Let Me”—as well as several images and captions of Elvis.

This original document signed by each of the Presleys and Joachim (Jean) Aberbach representing Hill and Range, marks a rare early agreement signed at the birth of Elvis’ career and during his first steps to superstardom. The stapled document contains the handwritten notations “file” in black ink in the upper right corner and “Vol. 937 / p. 118-119 / Aug. 5, 1955” in fading ink in the lower left corner of the front page. Both pages have been stamped with the number “13495.” Remarkable for the period during which this was executed, this agreement predates Elvis’ representation by both Colonel Parker and RCA at a moment when this historic entertainer was in the infant stages of his incomparable career. Elvis would continue a relationship with Hill and Range for several years as the company managed his song catalog. The pages of the agreement measure 11 by 8 1/2 inches (27.94 x 21.59 cm) and are accompanied by a letter of authenticity from Graceland Authenticated.

The documents exhibit mild toning, some edge wear, wrinkles and small folds. Excellent to Mint condition.
July 8, 1955, Publishing Agreement Between Elvis Presley and Hill and Range Songs, Inc. Signed by Elvis, Vernon Presley, Gladys Presley and Jean Aberbach*
Current Bidding (Reserve Has Been Met)
Minimum Bid: $10,000.00
Final prices include buyers premium.: $37,500.00
Estimate: $20,000 - $40,000
Number Bids: 13
Auction closed on Sunday, August 12, 2018.
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