👑Beauty Missed, Part 1 ~ Written by Janet Bostic
How do you describe beauty? Is it simply a one dimensional term, appealing to the visual, pleasing the senses or mind aesthetically, as in a beautiful painting or statue? Is it something that is merely attractive and fetching and handsome? To be truly beautiful in the highest standard with an arresting, magnificent and engaging way, beauty cannot be narrowly compartmentalized or limited. It is said beauty is in the eye of the beholder but the truth is there are commodities and artifacts that present such a pure and universal sense of wonder that they can never be restricted to a single beholding glance. Their stories accompany their beauty and remain as much a part as the item itself.
While we view people and objects as lovely, those same inherent definitions aptly apply to concepts – as in a beautiful notion or thought, a perfectly splendid idea. Let’s blend the two together, great aesthetic beauty and unequaled reflective thought. The result is far reaching and soul satisfying.
I want to discuss this in relation to our man Elvis, himself a thing of beauty in a visual sense, an ideal sense of vocal pleasantry and perfection, and an engaging appealing charismatic individual who drew others to himself simply by his very nature. He was inarguably beauty personified.
Elvis is considered an American tale, born in abject poverty, rising far above his circumstances, lighting the way for the birth of rock and roll and changing a nation’s rather bland musical and societal reflective tone. As fans, we know the story. But although beginning here, his true tale and worth is much further reaching than our restrictive sea to shining sea.
Throughout the entire planet, our American boy became repeatedly adopted and owned by fans worldwide. When one adopts, it becomes much more than a legally binding contract. It takes hold of every facet and is a completed extension. Elvis was no different. The beautiful thing about a true and honest love, it can’t be held back. Like a candle in the darkness, it must illuminate and shine displacing dark with light. The adopting parent countries of the offspring Presley loved him fiercely, and to this very day, that love remains tight. The ways they showed their love is reflected by their gifts, honor and respect.
Surely you have heard of Sophia Loren, Harry Belafonte, Lena Horne, Dinah Shore – and well, Marilyn Monroe? How does this relate to Elvis? If you study Elvis, you know one of his role models vocally, someone he idolized and held in high musical esteem was Mario Lanza. How does this all fit in with Presley and beauty you ask? Same time frame – maybe. Similar fame and notoriety of the period – possibly? But what does this have to do with adopted love and intrinsic beauty?
RCA ITALIANA LPM 10003 “COCKTAIL DI SUCCESSI N 8”
In December 1957, born out of love for Presley, RCA produced a beautiful 33 LP in Italy, one of which the world has seldom seen and most have never heard of. This album has 12 tracks, Belafonte, Loren, Presley, Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher, Mario Lanza and The Ames Brothers on side A; Monroe, Julius La Rosa, Shore, Perry Como, Horne, and Elio Mauro on side B.
Amazing stuff – beauty, born out of love and admiration. If someone were to tell you of an album featuring fetching artwork on the cover of Horne, Loren, Presley and Belafonte, it’s highly likely you’d think they were at best lying, at worst, crazy. Impossible, you might add, must be a fan complied bootleg compilation. But it is a true and highly rare RCA original, 3000 pressings totally unique to Italy that hit the scene internationally 60 years ago.
Look at those faces, those classic 50’s poses, stunning Horne, glamorous Loren, handsome Presley and suave Belafonte – together. When viewing such an album, the musical empire looms large, but equally as stunning and in some ways more impressive, the care and preservation of the classic artwork which went into designing this album cover. It was not thrown together haphazardly with little to no artistic forethought. It is a work of art unto itself. Sixty years old, only 3000 pressed, how many remain? Of those, just how many perfectly unblemished, untouched, mint, remain? Few I’m sure.
In telling the story of Presley and following his trail of important artifacts, Graceland is the obvious place to see beautiful renderings such as this. Correct? No. Sadly, no. Surely this anomaly, an overlooked and irregular rarity must be on display there. It is not. Nor is the story of how this came to be. EPE and Graceland have been shortsighted in that as of yet, there is no International exhibit where one can view such labors of love and works of art. This is the cause I am laboring for – a chance for Graceland to represent and give back to the world a small portion of what the world gave to Elvis, love unconditional.
With each rare and artistically beautiful work of art that countries other than the U.S. bestowed upon Presley through a detailed, intricate and well thought out loving processes, there is also a companion story that is begging to be told. Other countries possessed great forethought in their design process, going the extra mile and respectfully paying homage to the son they loved as their own. Album design was a work of art rather than an afterthought. Their love shone bright. How did the rest of the world do it so much better?
It is my goal to showcase several such albums in a series of posts, educating and enlightening Elvis fans to a world most do not know exists. This begs to be displayed at Graceland, it’s rightful place, lending respect to those rightful owners outside our borders. EPE and Graceland, as keepers of the flame, are ripe for displaying the worldwide love for Elvis along with the homegrown adoration.
I know of only one such place at the moment where this and so many other rarities are lovingly displayed, but it is my hope that will soon change and EPE and Graceland will host these beauties for all of his fans to enjoy. Love is best served at a buffet as a shared bounty when feasted on and enjoyed by many.
Stay tuned for additional posts on this very important subject. Elvis’ fans deserve to know more.
About the Author: Janet Bostic has been a fan of Elvis since the age of 5 (maybe before that!) and has studied his life as long as she can remember. She saw Elvis four times including once in 1976 when she received a scarf and enjoyed a kiss and some conversation with him. Janet has taken 4 trips to Graceland, with her earliest being in 1976 when Elvis lived there. She is visiting Graceland again in the Spring of 2019. Her favorite Elvis song is “Love Coming Down.” She is the mother of triplets and (just like Elvis) her only daughter’s name…is Lisa. Elvis has always been a huge part of her life.