One of the most famous rockers of the 20th century did some of his first recordings in a church agency’s global office in Nashville in 1956.
The headline speaks, of course, of Elvis Presley, a man who needs no introduction, and John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist movement. While Wesley never traveled to Nashville (which was founded just several years before his death in England), his legacy lives on in Nashville through the multiple agencies of the United Methodist Church headquartered here.
A feature from the United Methodist News Service about the recording sessions tells about Elvis’ record label at the time, RCA, sharing studio space with the Methodist Church’s Television, Radio, and Film Commission (a predecessor of today’s UM Communications). The building they shared at 1525 McGavock St is now a parking lot for a car dealership. The UM News Service writes that
Moore [Elvis’ first manager and guitarist] recalls that [Chet] Atkins and an engineer created “Heartbreak Hotel’s” forlorn-sounding echo effect by adding a delay to Presley’s vocal and re-recording the song in an office hallway with a speaker at one end and a microphone at the other. Atkins kept out any curious Methodists with a sign on the door that said, “Don’t open the door when the red light is on.”
The feature continues:
The Methodist Church never took an official position on Presley in particular or rock ‘n’ roll in general. Like United Methodists’ views on pop culture today, individual Methodists had varied reactions to Elvis fever.
Retired Bishop Melvin Talbert, who was the same age as Presley, was among his fans.
Pop on over to the UM News Service to read the whole feature about Elvis Presley’s time at the Nashville Methodist building.