Saturday, February 23, 2013

Elementary, ...

...My Dear Watson. Love that show about a latter-day Sherlock Holmes (Jonny Lee Miller) and his Wonder Dog, mighty Watson (Lucy Liu). Holmes is, of course, as was Doyle's character, an addict, and Watson is his "Sober Companion" who watches over him to keep him sober, accompanies him to AA meetings, etc.

All this is to preface my experience with a "real" Sherlock. Bethel Carrington was a Campus Cop. I met him during my first week on the campus of Tennessee Tech my freshman year. My dad had told me to look him up; he was there when Dad went to school there thirty years earlier. Of course no one used his given name. He was simply (and affectionately) known as Sherlock. He was perhaps the most beloved figure in the history of the school. And he was second generation--his father had been Sherlock before him.

I searched him out soon after I arrived at Tech. I was wandering around the campus (probably scouting out the women's dorms) when I bumped into a uniformed gent locking up the buildings for the night. I asked him if he was Sherlock -- "No," he said; he was Mr. Allen -- "but I'll take you to him."

Sherlock could have hung the moon, as far as the students were concerned. He was involved in all manner of student activities, including blazing the path for a hay ride. I drove the tractor for that one, and had to back the wagon several hundred feet when Sherlock inadvertently led us down a dead end dirt road. (There was also a hay-loaded 10-ton Coke truck, which I drove back 30 miles to Livingston at the end of the night.)

The Civil Rights activist group, Freedom Riders, arrived at Tech, and were promptly pursued and run off campus by a large contingent of students, where they holed up in a local Baptist church. The situation looked dire, until old Sherlock climbed up the steps of the church and raised his hand. When the crowd quieted down, Sherlock said, "Now, kids, y'all go on home." And they did. That's all it took with Sherlock.

The measure of esteem with which he was regarded in the eyes of the students was perhaps epitomized when the university held a contest to name the newly constructed married students housing (which replaced the rat-infested World War II "temp" buildings). The overwhelming winner? "Sherlock Homes," of course!*

*The University powers-that-be reneged and chose the mundane title of "Tech Village," cowards that they were. No respect...

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Elvis lives!

I just saw him at the corner 7-11 buying a bag of chips and a Slurpee. I guess he's everywhere, judging from the number of impersonators I see advertised. There's a big celebration taking place in Hawaii this week, commemorating the 40th anniversary of the world's first satellite-live television broadcast, Aloha From Hawaii. It's claimed that it's the most watched television show ever. It was also a quintuple-platinum album on RCA label. It's been released on video tape, CD, DVD, and even had a chocolate version (non-playing, of course) released. In 1988 RCA released The Alternate Aloha, a CD of the dress rehearsal.

Elvis Aron Presley died in 1977, four years after the huge extravaganza in Honolulu. Reportedly his estate makes more money today than he made while he was living. The imitators wasted no  time in jumping on the bandwagon. I had just moved to Nashville when he passed, and got called to do a recording session featuring a singer named Elvis Wade, singing his composition, The King Is Gone. He wrote it in a day, and it roared to number three on the charts being replaced by another singer's recording, Memories of the King. It seems a lot of entertainers are making a living by giving fans their Elvis fix.

All this leads to why I brought all this up: I had the pleasure of playing on that performance/broadcast. It was a huge deal, hours of rehearsal crammed into a very short time, late nights (I copied the orchestra parts for one number he wanted to add at the last minute, pulling a near one-nighter then having to work the show the next day). The staging was spectacular, and Elvis was really on, performing at his best. An announcement was made in the press that both versions of the concert, Aloha From Hawaii and The Alternate Aloha are to be released this spring as a remastered double CD set. Mmm... Royalties!

My brother Dan researched and listed all the musicians who played in the orchestra in the Wikipedia article about the concert . Thanks, Dan!