Colin Paul - My Elvis Presley Story


I guess you could say my first introduction to Elvis was in 1969 with the release of Suspicious minds. Unknown to me My parents had bought the single, but I can’t recollect hearing it at all at the time. I just remember the name vaguely and that was it until the summer of 1970 when I had just turned 8 years of age. It was early evening and I remember playing out in the street as us kids did in those days. No internet, multi TV channels, games consoles or YouTube etc... while out on my street in Wythenshawe, Manchester, a neighbour had their window open and a song was blasting away.


I remember stopping in my tracks and thinking what’s that? The sound was completely new to me. My dad loved to sing and play his music, but more Sinatra, Sammy Davies JR, Dean Martin, The Rolling Stones, Tom Jones etc. So I knew what I was hearing was something like never before.


My dad had just returned from work, I could see his car pull up from down the street I ran over and asked him what the song was, his reply was I can't hear anything, as I got to my dad’s car the music had stopped so he didn’t get to hear it.


We went inside and all I could remember was ♫ ♪ ahh ahhh ahhh ahhh ♪, I tried my best to sing that line to him but wasn’t making much sense, again I said it goes ♪ ♪ ahh ahh ahh ahh,♪ he actually made out I was sounding like I was at the dentist or something. Then I guess the penny dropped, I know what it is he said, it’s "Elvis". I said it’s who? "Elvis, Elvis Presley".


Wait a minute I’ve heard that name before, just as my mother said.. it’s the wonder of you and it's number one in the charts, here you go, my dad said, We had one of those record racks on the sideboard with 45’s in, singles to you and I. He looked through it and pulled out not one but two singles err 45’s one being the afore mentioned Suspicious Minds the other being The Wonder of You. Then he placed the record on the record player and suddenly. ♫ ♫ When no one else can understand me ahh ahh ahh ahh etc.♫ ♫ THAT’S IT that’s the song... wow.


My mum was an Elvis fan and she had bought the record a week or so before. I can honestly say up to that moment I had never heard either singles let alone what Elvis sounded like. I played all four songs A side B side non stop. My parents must have played them, but I just can’t recall hearing them or that great voice before. I still have those singles to this day and whenever I pull them out it just takes me back to that summer evening when my life changed forever. Because that’s exactly what happened. Looking back, Elvis became like a member of my family and I still feel the same today. From that day on everything changed.

COLLECTING THE KING



I wanted to know everything about this guy and my fascination with Elvis and all thing Rock 'n' Roll began to grow. Records, Books, Magazines, I wanted them all. I saved up my pocket money each week and when I had enough my dad would take me to our local record store and buy the latest singles.


I think one of the things that stands out most is remembering how different Elvis sounded on certain recordings. For instance as an eight year old you don’t really have a concept of time, and one Sunday afternoon my parents were taking my brother Steve, Sister Julie and I to our grandmothers house. The car radio was on and the DJ said Elvis’s name. he had my attention.

Then something strange happened, well strange to me. With having no concept of time the DJ played Jailhouse Rock. I remember saying to my dad that’s not Elvis. He doesn’t sound like that. He replied it is and he did in 1957. Well you can imagine the conversation, 1957? I had a lot to learn and I started to learn fast. I couldn’t believe how different someone could sound and it took a while to figure out about time let alone something being recorded five years before I was born.


My record collection started to grow and it would be another four years before I owned my own record player in 1974. But in 1972 I started to collect LP,s. My Dad took me to Woolworths in Piccadilly, Manchester and I purchased my first two Elvis albums. Elvis Sings hits from his movies volume 1 and Elvis sings Burning Love and hits from his movies volume 2. Not only did I have my first two albums but I discovered Elvis made movies too. This is just getting better and better. Christmas 1974 My parents bought me Elvis 40 greatest hits on the arcade label.


Such great and special memories for me and countless other fans to see what was the first TV advertised Elvis album in the UK. This album had countless songs I had never heard before and I loved every one of them. My fascination with this album still has preference today for many reasons. I recently wrote an article about this album for the Essential Elvis Magazine.






woolworths manchester
Woolworths, Manchester 1970's






Sale, Manchester 1970's

DREAMS


Upon hearing Elvis for the first time it kind of mapped my life out really and pointed in me in the right direction of where to go and what to do. My career speaks for itself with that story. Although I must admit and it is well known just how shy I was growing up. I would have a lot of hills to climb before conquering any stage fright. In fact I was 19 years of age before I crossed that barrier apart from the odd school concert that is. Throughout my teens I would continue to collect everything and anything Elvis while also discovering more about his contempories and all who came after him. To name a few Eddie Cochran, Ricky Nelson, Jerry Lee Lewis, Chuck Berry, Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison and of course our very own Billy Fury.


I loved Rock ‘n’ Roll music and often dreamed of being up there onstage never really knowing if I would or not. Looking back, not only did I accomplish my dreams but I would share the stage with many of our rocking heroes and legends of the fifties and sixties later on with both The Stormbeats and The Persuaders. A new record store opened up in Sale, Manchester where I lived and for several years, it became the hub of my ever growing Elvis collection. There was nothing on earth like hearing the DJ on the radio playing Elvis's latest single. upon hearing songs like Promised Land and T.R.O.U.B.L.E in 1975 it was like wow Elvis is back rocking again. I couldn't wait to get to Groves Record Store to purchase these singles, and they kept on coming.


1976 heatwave

THE SUMMER OF 76


I remember the long hot summer of 1976 and the release of two of Elvis’s early sixties recordings 'The Girl of my Best Friend' and 'Suspicion' Both top 10 hits for the king but again songs I had never heard of at the time, so again they were new to me and great songs too. I still had so much to learn and so many recordings to add to my ever growing collection. I remember visiting Woolworths regularly with my dad and always leaving the store with another album in my hands. Another classic I remember leaving the store with was Elvis in Person/Back in Memphis. The double album consisting of Album 1 being recorded live in Las Vegas, I loved album 1 and still do, such great raw energy recorded live in front of a crowd living the dream.


Album 2 being tracks recorded at American sound studio in Memphis Tennessee, But album 2 had something very special too. Elvis sounding so different, to me at least but just proving over and over again he could sing anything and make it his own. I would love to go to Memphis I would often say especially when I would see photos of Elvis on his bikes and in his cars outside Graceland while looking through my dads newspapers. I loved being on this journey of discovery and I still do today with all things Elvis and Rock ‘n’ Roll.


LONG LIVE THE KING


1977 and little did we know things were about to change forever. In March of that year Elvis was riding high in the charts with Moody Blue a great song and tipped to be a massive hit in my weekly music newspaper record mirror. I also remember seeing front page news of a promoter offering Elvis a Million pounds to play 2 nights at Wembley arena.


Could it actually be happening was Elvis about to play The UK? Well we all know that gig didn’t happen for several reasons and unfortunately it never would, as on August 16 1977 our lives were changed forever. Checkout my documentary on YouTube 42 @ 42 as I go into more detail with info and facts about that fateful day and the days and weeks that followed.


Elvis's latest single Way Down jumped to No' 1 in the charts and stayed there for six weeks. The top 50 was filled with Elvis albums and my visits to Groves record store was almost daily with just seeing the amount of albums being released and re-released. Moody Blue, Welcome To My World to name a couple and a re-release of Elvis 40 Greatest that shot straight to the top of the charts.


I visited countless news agents for every newspaper I could find with Elvis on the front or inside. My subscription to Elvis Monthly was growing and so was my collection of Elvis Books. I remember the BBC and ITV showing seasons of Elvis Movies on tv, well into the late 80's. The Christmas of 1977 the BBC screened Elvis Movies every day the season titled the twelve days of Elvis. It was great to see Elvis movies for the first time in that season, especially his last scripted movie Change of Habit.


Who remembers New Years day 1980 in the UK when the BBC screened Elvis That's The Way It Is early evening, I remember telling all my family to be quiet as I sat in front of the TV with my tape recorder so I could play back the soundtrack whenever I choose. Now in 1982 when we rented a Ferguson Video Star Video Recorder it took things to a whole new level, those were the days. A day after we got our video recorder The Elvis Movie Girls Girls Girls was shown on TV, now we could watch Elvis anytime we wanted. Elvis in person may be gone but his presence and music was never gonna go away. Here we are in the 21st century and I rest my case

AND SO IT BEGINS


In 1978 I left school and started out working in several stores and two years later as a trainee manager for a well known supermarket chain. I was doing very well too, but by then I was also out drinking with my mates and dating girls. I completed my management course and headed out to several Northwest locations to manage shops on a temp basis, one for the experience and two until a shop of my own would become available.


This went on for a couple of years almost, but also at that time I had started getting up onstage with a pint in hand and singing a couple of Elvis tunes. Back then I wasn’t interested in singing anyone else’s songs just Elvis. On May 1st 1982 I jumped up onstage with a local band and entered a talent competition. To my surprise I won but to be honest I can’t remember much about it as I was quite drunk by the end of the evening.


The next morning I was flying out to Toronto, Canada and Cleveland Ohio in the States for three weeks to visit my relatives. I had such a great time meeting up and seeing my distant family and they made sure I didn’t want for anything. Such treasured memories of a very special time in my life. I was hoping while I was in Cleveland, I would get to take a trip to Memphis, but not realising at the time just how big the States is, It just wasn’t possible and it would be another 18 years before I would get to Memphis and stand on that hallowed ground.


On my return to 'Blighty' my parents met me at the airport and instantly told me that folks were saying what a good voice I had and I should sing more. Wasn’t me I replied, I don’t sing. My parents just smiled and agreed as they knew even at 19 going on 20 just how shy I was. Within’ the next few weeks I began to go out and get up singing as much as I could after a few drinks of course while at the same time keeping it from my parents. [or so I thought].


One evening I was about to go on stage when my parents walked in. They hadn’t heard me sing before but as I said they knew through talking heads what was going on and they decided to check me out for themselves. I was horrified and I asked what they were doing there, My dad said we are here for a drink, smiling and saying what are you doing here. I said well er I’m here for a drink too. So when are you leaving I asked, My dad and Mum trying not to let me see them laugh said, we have only just got here, are you trying to get rid of us and sat down.


What am I going to do now? I thought, just as Derek the keyboard player from the regular band said you're on in five mins. NO I said, Sorry what was that, er No I said again quietly. Derek glared at me and said why not. give me half hour I said, Why? You have ten minutes or you won't be going on at all, So I did what any other young man with his parents in the audience did, I drank a couple of whiskys and jumped onto the stage and said ok lets do it, trying not to look in my parents direction. Well the evening went down great and by the end of the evening admittedly by drink my shyness had worn off and I walked home with my very proud parents.


Towards the end of 1982 my career had really started to take off, by now I had ditched the idea of having a few drinks before I went onstage and gradually gained my confidence, I attended several auditions and was booked into quite a few clubs. My dad was a singer and although he didn’t sing for a living, he loved to sing and did shows when asked. I wasn’t driving at the time so my dad drove me to my gigs. I have some wonderful memories of going to gigs together especially when we did a couple of shows together. I remember one show in particular in Winsford in Cheshire. All I sang was Elvis all night, My dad sang the hits of Tom Jones, Mick Jagger, Frank Sinatra and a whole lot more. I was in awe. The show was filmed, but unfortunately we never got to see it. I am still hopeful it will turn up one day.


PCM Club, Sale, Manchester August 1995

Between 1982 and 1988 I worked a lot of the Manchester clubs and was a regular at the famous Manchester Regiment club, Again great Memories of my dad singing in there too. I was approached by a committee in a local social club called The PCM Club in my home town of Sale in Cheshire. They asked me would I be the compare every Sunday evening. I accepted as I didn’t do many gigs on a Sunday, it was regular work and more importantly a way of gaining much more experience and interacting with an audience, By now my show had evolved from singing Elvis songs to singing other songs I liked mostly from the Rock ‘n’ Roll era. I played a lot of Ricky Nelson, Eddie Cochran, Cliff Richard and Billy Fury songs and obviously they were a hit. I was finally offered my own store to manage, but by then I didn't want it. I knew I wanted to make a living singing and I was determined that's exactly what I was gonna do. I really needed a part time job so I left my supermarket and started working as a pool attendant, and later a swimming teacher. My mums brother George lived in Scotland and was Manager of Newbattle Leisure Centre in Dalkeith near Edinburgh. As a family we used to visit regular and I went on several swimming courses during visits. George managed to get me an interview with the Manager at Altrincham Baths and the job was mine. It was fun and I enjoyed it but after a few short years the shifts got longer and there was a fine line between balancing this job and my singing career.


BANDS

In late April early May in 1988 I decided I needed a boost and that boost was going to be my very own band. I placed an ad in The Manchester Evening News and within 2 weeks I was rehearsing with four fantastic musicians. Between May and November 88 we rehearsed continually and eventually became THE STORMBEATS .


But it was also in May of that year my family and I would learn my father was seriously ill and unfortunately passed away aged just 52 on October 3rd. My Dad never got to see the band play but he did hear us rehearse via a tape we made. His name Paul McGrath and his memory would live on through me and my music. My middle name Paul would also pave the way for the future. I was determined even more that my band career was going to work and by November The Stormbeats were on the road and that dream of getting to Memphis was just a matter of time.


By the 90's I left my job at the swimming baths, and started working for a satellite TV company and while hoping to performing as a professional artist. It was a 9 to 5 job and I was based at a shop in Urmston, Manchester called Clearview. My job was to travel around the Northwest installing satellite dishes on peoples homes. Then I was offered a part time job working for a private detective. I loved it and eventually it became full time.


In 1995 things were changing musically once again. I had a new band The Persuaders and it was time to spread my wings within the UK and Europe. We all had the same attitude of wanting more within the music business and we were on a roll. My ever growing Elvis collection was impressive and now adding to my collection of vinyl and tapes it was CD's and very soon DVD's. Oh the joys of being an Elvis fan.


It was 1997 and my diary with The Persuaders was full, We were approaching a new century, new starts and all, Singing for a living was all I ever dreamed of and now finally it was becoming a reality. I worked as a PI for almost ten years, PI by day singer by night, but in the end I had to choose. Singer it was. I could now focus and what was important to me. I actually loved the PI job, it was very interesting, but that’s another story for another time. I was now a professional singer and it was time to set my sights higher and start living the dream.



On February 28th 2000 my Memphis dream came true and a new chapter in my Elvis story began, it continues to thrive and TCB.