DEAR JERRY: While attending a record and CD convention, in Texas, much of the buzz was about the newly discovered “Stay Away Joe” LP.
Everyone finds it unbelievable that any record made in the mid-'60s, especially one by Elvis Presley, could remain unknown and undiscovered for over 30 years!
What insight do you have into this fascinating unearthing? Is this in the same category now, pricewise, as the Beatles Butcher Cover album?
Victor Dawson, Waco, Texas
DEAR VICTOR: Your letter has been near the top of my stack for about two months, but since this is the week of Elvis' birthday (January 8, 1935), the topic is as timely and appropriate as a letter from Victor about a Victor release.
Before October 1999, any music collector including yours truly would have bet that no LP titled “Stay Away, Joe” existed.
Such a closely kept secret was this LP, we had not even a rumor of its existence.
As with most of RCA Victor's promotional releases in the '60s, “Stay Away, Joe” (UNRM-9408) has a white label with black print. It is a single-sided disc, side two being blank.
The label reads: “Special Location Radio Program. MGM's Stay Away Joe on Location Sedona, Arizona Compliments of Elvis and the Colonel.”
The disc is in a plain paper inner sleeve with the track titles typewritten, along with the following note: “For KVIO broadcast, Sunday, November 5, 1967. Property of All Star Shows. Return to Col. Parker's office after airing.”
All evidence indicates only one copy exists, and the late Colonel seemed determined to get it back after the program aired. That he did, and it surfaced 32 years later as part of his estate.
Unbelievably, this 12-inch album is for a one-time broadcast by only one radio station KVIO in Cottonwood, Arizona, a tiny community southwest of Sedona. Ensuring the show ran exclusively on this station is the mention by the host during the show itself of the call letters: K-V-I-O. This fact alone clearly negates the need for more than one copy.
The self-contained 30-minute program features eight of Elvis' gospel tunes, along with announcer Joe Adams thanking Sedona and Cottonwood for the hospitality shown the cast and crew during production of the film, “Stay Away, Joe.” Also heard is publicity for two Presley gospel albums “His Hand in Mine” and “How Great Thou Art” and for the upcoming (December 3, 1967) “Special Christmas Radio Program.”
For this one-of-a-kind item, there have been no sales upon which a value can be based, nor is the only known copy even on the market. As the rarest commercial or promotional RCA (non-experimental) disc, its value is clearly comparable to any other record.
As for comparing it to the most valuable Beatles LP, three of which have sold for $25,000, keep this in mind: 25 copies of that album exist, whereas there is only one of “Stay Away, Joe.”
Should a sale occur, I will have a full report for you.
See this extraordinary LP right here!
I was sure the group would have more hits in the future, but they were never heard from again. Did they record again, maybe using a different name? Did the lead singer go out on his own?
Ken Roszak, Milwaukee
DEAR KEN: Not quite as popular as you suggest, but “Softly Whispering I Love You” did peak at No. 29, making it a bona fide hit, issued the last week of 1971.
While this English congregation had no other hits, they did have a few more releases in 1972: “Lovers of the World, Unite” (Signpost 70002); “Jesahel” (Signpost 70004); and an album, also titled “Jesahel” (Signpost 8405).
We know the lead singer to be Brian Keith (not the actor), but have no post-E.C. news of him.
IZ ZAT SO? Perhaps the most surprising thing about the Holy Grail-like “Stay Away, Joe” LP is that it does not contain one track from, or connected with, that film.