Dickey Lee, Mike Stoller, and Mark James wow during Elvis Songwriters Showcase

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Read the lowdown on what happened when a trio of Elvis Presley songwriters — Dickey Lee [i.e. “She Thinks I Still Care”], Mike Stoller [“Jailhouse Rock”], and Mark James [“Suspicious Minds”] — convened during Elvis Week 2012 to reminisce about the King of Rock ’n’ Roll through story and song. Seen above during opening number “See See Rider,” a drop dead gorgeous 37-year-old Presley slyly strums his 1969 Ebony Custom Gibson Dove acoustic guitar and sports a casual white two-piece suit on June 20, 1972, at the Civic Assembly Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Photography by Ed Bonja
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Classic country weeper “She Thinks I Still Care” author Dickey Lee pauses for a moment and grins at yours truly during his August 11, 2012, mini concert at the Elvis Songwriters Showcase at Graceland during Elvis Week in Memphis, Tennessee. Photography by Jeremy Roberts
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Mike Stoller of the legendary Leiber and Stoller songwriting team has a grand time at the Elvis Songwriters Showcase on August 11, 2012, at Graceland during Elvis Week in Memphis, Tennessee. Leiber and Stoller penned 24 massively popular tunes for Presley — eight climbed into Billboard’s Top 20 pop chart and three of those were number ones — “Hound Dog,” “Jailhouse Rock,” and “Don’t.” Photography by Jeremy Roberts
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Frequent B.J. Thomas and Elvis Presley songwriter Mark James performs an intimate acoustic tune during the Elvis Songwriters Showcase on August 11, 2012, at Graceland during Elvis Week in Memphis, Tennessee. James’ parents both lived long enough to see him first find success with Thomas’s “Eyes of a New York Woman” in 1968. In an exclusive conversation, James recalls, “My Italian parents didn’t comprehend the Grammy that I got years later for Willie Nelson’s 1982 cover of ‘Always on My Mind,’ produced by Chips Moman, the same man responsible for overseeing ‘Eyes of a New York Woman,’ ‘Hooked on a Feeling,’ ‘Suspicious Minds,’ and even the original version of ‘Always on My Mind’ that Elvis cut. Both of them were very well educated — Mom was a schoolteacher — and prosperous. They didn’t understand what I was doing because nobody really knew that you could make a living as a songwriter or musician. When I grew up in the ’50s, not many artists made solid money unless they were established in New York or California. They came to see me a couple of times in smoky clubs where there was a lot of drinking going on. They didn’t envision me living very long. They just wanted the best from me. They hoped that I wouldn’t continue that line of work. But they didn’t ask me to stop or anything. My dad gave me some good advice — ‘I don’t know what you’re doing [laughs]. But you’d better know your trade.’ I understood what he meant. Dad was a contractor. He knew what stone cost, what cement cost, what trucks cost, and all the elements that went into bidding on a job. He had done it all.” Photography by Jeremy Roberts
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Sixwire lead singer, “Nashville” TV series music contributor, and occasional Elvis tribute artist Andy Childs interviews “Moody Blue” songwriter Mark James during the Elvis Songwriters Showcase on August 11, 2012, at Graceland during Elvis Week in Memphis, Tennessee. Photography by Jeremy Roberts
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The renowned, really tall Mark James penned five single A-sides for Elvis Presley between 1969 and 1977 — “Suspicious Minds,” “It’s Only Love,” “Always on My Mind,” “Raised on Rock,” and “Moody Blue.” James is seen performing at the Elvis Songwriters Showcase on August 11, 2012, at Graceland during Elvis Week in Memphis, Tennessee. Photography by Jeremy Roberts
Listen to Elvis Presley tackle the occasionally awkward lyrics of “Raised on Rock”— e.g. “Listening to the music that my idols made, I knew every single record the deejays played, a honky tonk, a ‘HOUND DOG,’ a ‘Johnny B. Goode,’ ‘Chain Gang,’ ‘Love Is Strange,’ ‘Knock On Wood’” — a rare rocker from the latter stage of Presley’s career. The tune was written by Mark James of “Suspicious Minds” fame and recorded during an overall lackluster session at Memphis’s Stax Studios in July 1973. Music + Video Credit: Sony Music Entertainment
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Singer-songwriter Dickey Lee, who stockpiled 19 Top 40 Billboard pop and country hits between 1962 and 1981 like “Patches,” “Laurie [Strange Things Happen],” “Never Ending Song of Love,” “Rocky,” and “Angels, Roses, and Rain,” mounts an intimate mini set at the Elvis Songwriters Showcase on August 11, 2012, at Graceland during Elvis Week in Memphis, Tennessee. Mike Stoller of Leiber and Stoller and Mark James followed Lee. Photography by Jeremy Roberts

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Retro pop culture interviews & lovin’ someone fierce sustain this University of Georgia Master of Agricultural Leadership alum. Email: jeremylr@windstream.net

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