Hello Friends and Family,

Link to this year's index by clicking here.

Musical Instrument Museum, Part 10

For my younger friends who do not remember Elvis, here is a nice write-up from Wikipedia.

"Elvis Presley served in the United States Army between March 1958 and March 1960. At the time of his draft, he was the most well-known name in the world of entertainment.

Before entering the U.S. Army, Presley had caused national outrage with his rock and roll music. Many parents, religious leaders, and teachers groups saw his draft as a positive thing. Despite being offered the chance to enlist in Special Services to entertain the troops and live in priority housing, Presley decided to serve as a regular soldier. This earned him the respect of many of his fellow soldiers and people back home who had previously viewed him in a negative light.

During his service, Presley's life was affected in many ways, beginning with the death of his mother. Not long before he was to be stationed in Germany, Gladys Presley died of a heart attack brought on by acute hepatitis and cirrhosis at age 46. When he was stationed in West Germany, he met his future wife Priscilla Beaulieu and became dependent on stimulants and barbiturates. This unhealthy addiction eventually led to his divorce, and ultimately his death at age 42 in 1977.

After his release from military service, Presley found a new fan base among an older age group, thanks in part to his army career and releases of ballads over rock and roll songs."

On display here is one of his Army fatigue shirts and an amplifier that he bought in Germany and brought back on his return to civilian life in the U.S.

This photo shows a Gibson J-200 acoustical guitar that Elvis played during the filming of his 1968 NBC television special, Elvis.

The next display pays tribute to recently departed Glen Campbell, a performer who called Phoenix home for some 20 years. The outfit was his and he played this same guitar during his "Goodbye Tour" — a sad occasion due to his diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease. Even with that handicap, his performances were still excellent.

One afternoon in 1964, Roy Orbison's wife Claudette asked for money. In response, Bill Dees — Orbison's songwriting partner — joked, "Pretty woman never needs any money."

Dees tapped a rhythm on the kitchen table, while Orbison sang, "Pretty woman, walking down the street." Orbison's famous opening guitar riff was added last. Within an hour, the pair wrote "Oh, Pretty Woman." The song hit number one in the U.S. and U.K. charts weeks later.

From 1960 to 1966, 22 of Orbison's singles made the Billboard Top Forty. Here is his Grammy for "Pretty Woman".

His best-selling album came after his induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. In 1988, Orbison, Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Tom Petty, and Jeff Lynne formed the Traveling Wilburys; their Grammy-winning debut album sold more than 3,000,000 copies.

R. Carlos Nakai is one of the true treasures of American music. Born and still residing in Arizona, he is the master of the American Indian flute. In this photo, we can see two examples, both are replicas of Nakai's first flutes and were made by Dr. Oliver W. Jones, "Tah-ma-ku-pah" (Kiowa-Comanche).

The shorter instrument is a "PF Series" whistle, constructed of plastic by Nakai — and is a replica of an eagle-bone hunter's whistle.

I have two of Nakai's albums. The first is Canyon Trilogy which is a collection of his flute music — you can almost hear the echoes as the notes reflect from the canyon walls — beautifully relaxing. The second is Our Beloved Land, a collaboration between Nakai and Hawaiian musician Keola Beamer, one half of the Beamer Brothers. This album is an interesting blend of music from two Native cultures from our country (although both were subjugated by European Americans who controlled the U.S. government and thus the military at the time).

If you have never listened to his music, I urge you to go to Youtube.com and search for "Carlos Nakai" and enjoy one of his performances. By the way, I attended one of his evening performances at the Desert Botanical Garden here in Phoenix. It was held on one of their patios but was interrupted by rain (I know, rain in Arizona?). Fortunately, they quickly moved all their gear inside and continued the concern. Fortunately for me, many of the attendees decided to leave so that the remaining fans had an intimate musical affair with Nakai. I sat on the floor in the first row just a few feet from the performers. AWESOME!!!

This display shows Nakai's "performance regalia", made of animal skin, beads, porcupine quills, horsehair, dye, and plastic. In the show that I attended, he did not wear such an elaborate outfit and I suspect it is primarily intended for gatherings of Native Americans.

Here we see a guitar belongs to Henry John Deutschendorf Jr., better known by his stage name of John Denver. This guitar was made by Gibson and was used by Denver to compose "This Old Guitar" in 1974 after being reunited with it.

Some interesting details from Wikipedia, "Starting in the 1970s, he was one of the most popular acoustic artists of the decade and one of its best-selling artists. By 1974, he was firmly established as one of America's best-selling performers, and AllMusic has described Denver as 'among the most beloved entertainers of his era'.

Denver recorded and released approximately 300 songs, about 200 of which he composed, with total sales of over 33 million records worldwide. He recorded and performed primarily with an acoustic guitar and sang about his joy in nature, his disdain for city life, his enthusiasm for music, and his relationship trials."

As I was leaving the "famous musical artist" exhibit, something caught my eye — the room where MIM repairs and refurbishes the instruments in their collection. The room is closed to visitors but a large viewing window allows us to observe their work.

I stood there for a while, not much was going on, but I did really appreciate this lute — similar to one on exhibit that I shared with you in an earlier blog post. There was someone working inside and I caught her eye — I thought that maybe she might invite me in since I was photographing what I could see from outside the window. I must have been dreaming — no such invitation was extended.

Nearby was a work bench set up for future repair or restoration work. Funny, when I had a work bench, it was never that neat.

Well, my latest trip to the Musical Instrument Museum was winding down. Standing outside in the sun were two slit drums (called Atingting) from Vanuatu, volcanic islands in the Pacific Ocean east of northern Australia. It would have been cool if they had a drummer come outside and provide a short demo — maybe five minutes on the hour?

Anyway, I hope you have enjoyed seeing all the instruments and costumes.

Life is good.

B. David

P. S., All photos and text © B. David Cathell Photography, Inc. — www.bdavidcathell.com