Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: Even with trillions of informative pages on the internet, the answer to my question cannot be found.

What I did get from Bing and Google is a way to contact you, which may be all I need.

I'm trying to identify the specific songs where Elvis hits his lowest and highest notes, which would also provide his range.

With about 700 songs, it would be like finding a needle in a haystack for me, and would take years.

Please help me if you can.
—Vickie Payson, Bloomington, Ind.

DEAR VICKIE: As of now, thanks to your curiosity and my good friend Terry Mike Jeffrey, this information will forever be available online.

Terry is the only singer-musician I personally know who can identify any note by simply hearing it, or in many cases, from just his amazing memory!

Of what exists on recordings, Terry Mike's low-note pick is the live version of “I Got a Woman,” the second track on “Elvis Recorded Live on Stage in Memphis.” Specifically it is the first of five wells (“well, well, well, well, well”) that precede Elvis' comment about an ecstatic fan, “she's louder than I am, but I've got the microphone.” On that “well,” Elvis hits an E2, or the second E below middle C (C4).

The other extreme is on the “America” CD, at the very end of “America the Beautiful.” Elvis' usual note at this point is a G4, but for this performance he soars to a C5, a full octave above middle C.

This of course is in full voice and not falsetto, though in “Blue Moon” he hits this same note (C5) in falsetto.

I then double-checked these findings with another professional pianist, Lisa Lanza, who said Terry Mike's note analysis was exactly correct.

This establishes Presley's range (E2-C5) as just two notes shy of three full octaves (E2-E5), and more expansive than most pop singers.

We know thousands of Elvis books and magazines exist, yet I believe this is the first time in print for such a noteworthy examination.

DEAR JERRY: Having abandoned new music over 20 years ago, I doubt I would even recognize more than just a few of the artists currently in the Top 100.

Once the rap crap became popular, I couldn't get away fast enough.

Which makes me wonder how many, if any, of those pre-1990 stars have a hit song or album now?

Might there even be someone from the 1950s-'70s?
—Harold Jones, Biloxi, Miss.

DEAR HAROLD: The answer is either none or 11, depending on which format we examine.

Using the most recent charts available as of this writing (May 14), among the current Top 100 singles are a few names you might recognize, though more from being in the tabloids than for their music. One is Britney Spears.

This former Mouseketeer's first hit, “...Baby One More Time,” came along in November '98; however, two others have seniority over Spears: Usher and Kenny Chesney.

Usher (one man, not a group) first made the Top 100 (singles and albums) in September 1994, and precedes Kenny Chesney's LP chart debut by two years (September 1996).

Now for some more familiar names. There are 11 in the Billboard Top 100 albums that you should recognize.

In order of their first chart hit (with significant earlier appearances noted), they are:

1955: Elvis Presley; Johnny Cash; 1968: Creedence Clearwater Revival; 1970: Eric Clapton (1965 with Yardbirds; 1967 with Cream; 1969 with Blind Faith); 1972: Paul Simon (1957 as Tom & Jerry; 1962 as Tico and the Triumphs; 1963 as Jerry Landis); 1973: Lynyrd Skynyrd; Aerosmith; 1974: Bad Company; 1975: Willie Nelson (1962 on C&W charts); 1975: Emmylou Harris; 1977: Foreigner.

IZ ZAT SO? Here are the current (May 14) rankings and titles of the pre-'80s stars. Only the Paul Simon and Emmylou Harris albums are newly recorded. The others are repackages of 20th century recordings.

10: “So Beautiful or So What” Paul Simon
18: “Hard Bargain” Emmylou Harris
56: “VH1 Storytellers” Johnny Cash / Willie Nelson
74: “The Best of Eric Clapton - 20th Century Masters (The Millennium Collection)
75: “The Best of Lynyrd Skynyrd - 20th Century Masters (The Millennium Collection)
82: “Extended Versions” Bad Company
88: “An Afternoon in the Garden” Elvis Presley
90: “Extended Versions” Creedence Clearwater Revival
92: “The Best of Aerosmith - 20th Century Masters (The Millennium Collection)
97: “Extended Versions” Foreigner

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