A pal of Elvis Presley’s as much as the King’s demise in 1977, nation singer T. G. Sheppard lengthy held off on singing about his buddy. That modifications along with his new single "I Wanna Live Like Elvis.”
The upbeat tune, which Billboard premieres beneath, comes out Tuesday, on what would have been Presley's 84th birthday. "I had discovered this tune, which was written by Chip Davis, Billy Davis and Doug Graham, and it was so comical," Sheppard tells Billboard over the telephone. "It was Elvis' life story advised in 4 minutes. It made me need to go within the studio and report extra music. It was simply one thing I felt compelled to do.” It additionally led to Sheppard’s determination to report his first nation solo album in additional than 20 years, anticipated in April.
"I Wanna Live Like Elvis" lightheartedly particulars the usually glamorous life that Presley lived at Graceland with Priscilla Presley, amid his many Cadillacs, personal jet, entourage and blue suede sneakers. In reality, it was the lyric about mendacity round with Priscilla in silk pajamas that received fun out of the late singer's ex-wife, in addition to her approval.
“'I Wanna Live Like Elvis’ has a catchy beat, nice lyrics and is cleverly written," Presley tells Billboard. "Don’t really feel alone, T. G. ... I’m certain there are others who really feel the identical means.”
Sheppard's determination to launch "I Wanna Live Like Elvis" this 12 months got here merely from his want so as to add extra pleasure to the world.
"There's a little bit unhappiness in life. There's numerous anger. But what's good in life and what's wanted in life is laughter," he explains. "Sometimes it will probably come within the type of a tune, and this tune simply makes you chuckle."
Sheppard is aware of what individuals need to hear, having amassed 14 No. 1 hits on Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart throughout the ‘70s and ‘80s, together with such smashes as “Slow Burn,” “Only One You” and “War is Hell (On the Homefront).” He says it took some time for him to complete recording "I Wanna Live Like Elvis.” As he studied the observe for a number of days after recording it, he lastly realized the tune wanted a brass part.
"I used to be lacking these horns that Elvis used to have, the large brass," he remembers. "There's a horn part that Kelly Clarkson makes use of on her tour. My greatest pal, Leif Shire, he's the horn chief and he's the one which got here up with these unbelievable horn strains and put them in there for me."
In celebration of Presley’s birthday, Sheppard, 74, shared his 5 favourite reminiscences of Elvis with Billboard. "When I'd sit with him, I at all times knew to drink all of it in… to recollect the second as a result of I knew every time that I used to be within the presence of greatness," Sheppard admits.
Skating till daylight with Elvis: "When I first met Elvis, I used to be 16. I used to be at a skating rink one night time in Memphis and about midnight I stroll exterior pondering that they had been closing the curler rink down and a few Cadillacs pull up. Elvis will get out from behind the wheel of the primary Cadillac and walks over to me and appears me proper within the eye with these blue eyes and he stated, 'Where you going?' I stated, 'Well, they're closing the rink down.' He stated, 'Oh, no. They're opening it up for me.' I used to be in shock as a result of Elvis Presley was speaking to me. I'm standing there and he stated, 'Would you are available in and be on my group? I'm a person quick on my group.' I stated, 'Team? What are you doing?' He stated, 'We play a little bit sport in right here known as Kill. It's soccer on skates.' So I went in and skated till about daylight after which afterwards he put me within the automobile and drove me as much as Graceland and we ate peanut butter and banana sandwiches and I gave him my telephone quantity. I used to be his pal from then on till the day he died."
Singing within the Jungle Room: "When I first began out my profession, my actual identify was Bill Browder. I used to be a report government and a promotion man for RCA. Elvis was my artist so I received an opportunity to tour with him. I received a contract from Berry Gordy at Motown who found me. I stored pondering, 'Well, if I'm going to be recording for [Melodyland, Motown’s short-lived country label], I'm drawing a paycheck from RCA. That's form of a battle of curiosity with totally different labels.' So, I picked an assumed identify to report beneath, T.G. Sheppard. Lo and behold, my first report [“Devil In the Bottle”] went No. 1 and Elvis would run round the home singing it as a result of he listened to nation radio...One day I walked within the again door of Graceland and Elvis was sitting within the Jungle Room along with his toes propped up on the desk. I heard, 'Bill?' And I stated, 'Yes, sir?' He stated, 'You know, you possibly can have advised me that you simply had been that T. G. Sheppard man on the radio with that tune I like a lot. Why didn't you inform me it was you?' I stated, 'Well, Elvis, I couldn't inform anyone as a result of I used to be afraid that if anyone discovered that I'd lose my job at RCA.' His reply to me was, 'Well, you idiot. Don't you realize that I am RCA?' And he was. He was the most important artist they'd.”
On the highway and within the air with The King: "He truly gifted me with my first tour bus. He had simply purchased a small jet that's parked subsequent to the large Lisa Marie jet at Graceland now. In midair on this small jet, we had been sitting knee to knee, and he seemed me straight within the eye and he stated, 'You know, your profession's beginning to do very well. I purchased you a bus at the moment…It’ll be at Graceland tomorrow.' I stated, 'Elvis, I don't actually have a band.' And he stated, 'Well, now, look, I'm going to pay for the bus, however I ain't paying for no rattling band.’ I used to be simply blown away. I couldn't consider that he would purchase me such an costly present. The humorous half was he stated, 'Come on, let's take it to your home.' So he will get behind the wheel and drives the bus to my home, operating over each cease signal and hearth hydrant between Graceland and my home in East Memphis. He truly drove it to my home after which received within the limo and went again to Graceland. It was simply an unbelievable day."
Christmas at Graceland: "I used to be out and in of that home every day for seven years. There are so many reminiscences, however I feel the best reminiscences of Graceland for me had been at Christmas. Because Elvis, he cherished Christmas, that was his favourite time of the 12 months. Graceland was at all times so embellished, so stunning, and I feel it gave him the okay to present costly presents away. He became a child at Christmas time and he cherished to present presents to individuals. He was so giving. I requested him sooner or later, I stated, 'You give individuals extravagant presents. I do know you will need to get pleasure from it, however what do you get pleasure from essentially the most?' He stated, 'When I give somebody one thing actually large I benefit from the response on their face after they discover out what I've given them.' That was the payoff for Elvis. He cherished that fast response from individuals when he would give them a Cadillac or a home or a bus. What an unbelievable human being he was…I feel individuals would have been stunned to learn the way all the way down to earth he was, that he got here from humble beginnings, Mississippi, and didn't have something. He was nonetheless, even when he was so large, he was so appreciative and sort to individuals. He'd by no means let the ego management him. He at all times had it intact."
Elvis, the Dreamer: ”I requested him sooner or later, 'Gosh, Elvis, how does it really feel to be you?' And he stated, 'Are you loopy? It feels nice!' And he simply laughed. I don't suppose he ever received used to it. I requested, 'How did you get to be who you're?' He stated, 'I'd drive round Memphis within the previous Crown Electric truck, as a result of I used to be an electrician apprentice. Whether I used to be driving the truck or no matter I used to be doing, I at all times imagined strolling out on stage and there can be lots of people there to listen to me sing… I considered it so lengthy and so onerous and for therefore a few years that sooner or later, I walked out on stage and there they had been. You may say that I willed it as a result of it grew to become the whole lot to me.' He by no means gave up. He by no means stopped dreaming. He stored interested by what he wished and lo and behold, sooner or later he walked out and there the individuals had been. [His success] reveals us all in life that you need to by no means give up dreaming as a result of while you cease dreaming, you die.