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July 18 1953
(+ means you need both    ~ means same material    °° means stereo or binaural    ° means mono)
(SFS = Short False Start | FS = False Start | LFS or BD (Breakdown) = Long False Start | PB (Playback) or Complete = Complete Take)

SUN Studio (Memphis Recording Service) - Memphis, Tennessee
Engineer : Marion Keisker

Guitar: Elvis Presley  

My Happiness   July 18 1953 (Sat)
Take NA M 2:33 (WPA5 2531) A Boy From Tupelo 1°~Comp. Elvis Presley Masters 30 (Sony)°
~Elvis 75 - Good Rockin' Tonight 1 (Legacy)°~Comp. Single Collection 1°
~Sunrise°~50s Box 1°~The Great Performances°~Memphis Recording
Service Volume 1°~The Complete Works 1953-1955 (MRS)°

That's When Your Heartaches Begin   July 18 1953 (Sat)
Take NA M 2:52 (WPA5 2532) A Boy From Tupelo 1°~The Complete Works 1953-1955 (MRS)°
~Memphis Recording Service Volume 1° (complete)+The Complete Elvis
Presley Masters 30 (Sony)°~Complete Single Collection 1°~Sunrise°
~50s Box 5° (1st guitar strums missing)


Although there has always been discrepancies in the versions told by the lead participants (Marion Keisker and Sam Phillips), the most credible one is that Sam wasn't in the office when Elvis came into the Memphis Recording Service on his first visit.

In fact, it was Marion Keisker, along with two friends, who was in the control booth when Elvis came in to cut his acetate. Part way through the song, however, one of the friends mentioned she was "getting goose bumps" listening to Elvis so Marion set a tape going, catching the last third of 'My Happiness' and all of 'That's When Your Heartaches Begin'. It was these recordings she played to Sam later and made a note that Elvis had a good "ballad" voice. Unfortunately, the same tape was apparently used again for another artist at a later date, so nothing from this first visit exists on tape.

However, the story behind how Elvis' first recording found its way into Ed Leek's possession and how it all came to light many years later is an interesting, though somewhat confused one. Briefly, at the outset in 1953, having paid approximately four dollars to record the private disc, at some point later Elvis played it to Ed Leek, one of his friends from Humes High School (who later claimed that he had persuaded Elvis to record it in the first place), and somehow or other the recording ended up in his private possession for a great many years until the late 1980s when finally he agreed a deal with RCA for them to copy it and thereafter release it commercially.

What purports to be the full story of how the acetate was found and shared was actually printed in the US magazine Goldmine (issue 211). The story repeats the emphatic assertion by Marion Keisker (and supported by Leek who says Elvis told him it was Marion) that it was she who made the acetate in the first place and not Sam Phillips, as he long maintained. However, there is still some time discrepancy as to when Elvis actually left it in Ed Leek's possession. Elvis made reference to his first private recording at the studio during the Million Dollar Quartet session on December 4 1956 - basically saying it was lost - but Leek professed to be confused by that as he asserted that Elvis would know full well where it was.

Leek also went on to say that he had tried to return the disc to Elvis at a concert in Chicago, probably in 1957, presumably without success.

On the other hand, a newspaper story from a US magazine in 1956 entitled On The Record throws another element of uncertainty into the equation. Writing about Elvis' first private recording – and quoting both Sam and Marion - the writer says the following: "He chose a slow ballad. In the recording, Elvis' singing style changes very eight bars. He swings from a high, thin tenor to a resounding bass, but most of the time the voice sounds merely undecided. The platter is worn and cracked today. But to his parents, it is still a most precious possession, to be played only on special occasions." This description of Elvis' delivery is most accurate and surely has to be the result of having heard the actual disc. The reference to its sentimental value to the family is most pertinent too.

At an auction at Graceland in January 2015, the acetate was sold to bidder Jack White (Third Man Records) for two hundred and forty thousand dollars plus commission (three hundred thousand dollars).

In March of 2007, Sony decided to go through all of Elvis' masters. They retransferred everything and remastered all tracks including repairing as many clicks, pops, bad edits and dropouts as they could. They have used these newly mastered recordings on their new releases since 2007 including budget soundtracks, Legacy releases, the 30 disc Complete Elvis Presley Masters collection and the Franklin Mint package.

Mystery surrounds the actual date of this first private demo session, as the date has always been thought to have been in July 1953, with July 18 being most likely. However the label on the acetate was the reverse side of the Sun 189 ('Softly And Tenderly' by The Prisonaires) disc label, which according to many sources, was recorded on August 3 1953 and released in late-August / early-September 1953.

According to the Memphis Recording Service Volume 1 and The Complete Works 1953-1955 the date of this demo session was August 22 1953, so this appears to be another possible recording date.

Thanks to Kevan Budd for information regarding Marion's friend.

Music Sheets
Music Sheet
My Happiness
My Happiness (Thanks to Christopher Brown)
Music Sheet
That's When Your Heartaches Begin
That's When Your Heartaches Begin (Thanks to Christopher Brown)