For the first time ever, the King's first-ever recording will be available to the public on Record Store Day

By Nancy Kruh
April 14, 2015 12:45 PM
GAB Archive/Redferns/Getty. Inset: Jonathan Leibson/Wireimage

It’s been called the “holy grail” of Elvis Presley music – the very first song recorded by the man who would be the King – and it will be available in all its vinyl glory on Record Store Day this Saturday.

For this rare treat, you can thank Jack White, the rocker who also happens to be a celebrated champion of vinyl records. The 39-year-old turned out to be the anonymous bidder who paid $300,000 for the one-of-a-kind recording of “My Happiness” at an auction this January at Graceland, Presley’s Memphis home.

The ballad was recorded on an acetate disc on July 18, 1953, by Presley, then 18, at Memphis Recording Service, the home of Sun Records.

White (who played Presley in the 2007 comedy Walk Hard) recently turned up at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum to have its ace music archivist, Alan Stoker, carefully make a digital copy of the fragile disc. Stoker has his own Presley connection as the son of Gordon Stoker, one-fourth of the legendary Jordanaires, a quartet that backed Elvis on dozens of his hits.

A limited-edition vinyl facsimile of the acetate will go on sale Saturday at independent record stores around the country, including White’s Third Man Records shop in Nashville. The 10-in. record also features Presley’s second recording, another ballad called “That’s When Your Heartaches Begin,” on its B-side.

The suggested retail price is $20, which is $16 more than Presley paid to cut the songs. They reportedly were intended as a birthday gift for his mother, but according to Memphis newspaper The Commercial Appeal, researchers suspect Presley also was hoping to impress Sun Records producer Sam Phillips, who would later sign Presley to the label.

The Presley family didn’t own a record player at the time, so Elvis left the acetate at the Memphis home of Ed Leek, a high school classmate, who kept it until his death in 2010. A Leek relative put the record up for auction.

See the video documenting the digital transfer of the King’s first recording here:

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