It was on this day, Dec. 13th 1962, yes, 56 years ago today, when Elvis Presley went to number One on the singles chart with ‘Return To Sender’” His thirteenth Number One! And one of our top 5 favorite Elvis songs! Elvis performed ‘Return To Sender’ in the film “Girls! Girls! Girlsl” His Eleventh film! (The King starred in three films in 1962 alone) The “Hookey” opening bars and backing on baritone saxophone was performed by the great Boots Randolph!
Little could anyone know that the crown was already resting too heavy on the King’s head.
Return to Sender was recorded on March 27, 1962, at Radio Recorders in Hollywood and featured Presley’s longtime cohorts Scotty Moore on guitar and D.J. Fontana on drums Barney Kessel on electric guitar, Tiny Timbrell on acoustic guitar, Ray Siegal on double bass, Dudley Brooks on piano and of course Boots on baritone saxophone performing that great opening Sax riff that punctuates the record, PLUS, The Jordanaires on backing vocals.
Another saxophonist, Bobby Keys, claimed he performed the solo at the instigation of pianist Glen D. Hardin, in his 2012 memoir Every Night’s A Saturday Night. However, Hardin did not meet Presley until February 1970, when he joined his touring band. In addition, his claim is not supported by RCA, Ernst Jorgensen (the official archivist for Presley’s recordings), or session logs.
Return To Sender was written by Otis Blackwell w/ Winfield Scott. A slight musical departure for Otis, but still GREAT SONGWRITING!
Take a look at this clip of Elvis from the film. Look closely, and you can actually see that even as early as 1962, it’s obvious that “career fatigue” is setting in! He actually checks his watch during the performance. The first time that I can remember seeing his crowd pleasing facade crack. I wonder which take it was?
This will always be the moment to me, when Elvis Presley first visibly began his downward spiral.