Jerry Carrigan’s drum discography with Elvis Presley

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Image Credit: Modern Drummer Publications

Jerry Carrigan’s Ultimate Elvis Discography by Chronological Release Date

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June 4, 1970, was the first day of a marathon Elvis Presley session at RCA Studio B in Nashville that yielded a staggering 35 masters including “You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me,” “I Really Don’t Want to Know,” “I’ve Lost You,” and other cuts destined for such albums as “Elvis: That’s the Way It Is,” “Elvis Country,” and the abysmal “Love Letters from Elvis.” On the bottom row are producer Felton Jarvis, rhythm guitarist Chip Young, harmonica-organ-marimba-rhythm guitarist Charlie McCoy, and Telecaster ace James Burton. Standing are keyboardist David Briggs, bassist Norbert Putnam, Elvis, engineer Al Pachucki, and drummer Jerry Carrigan. The Follow That Dream collectors’ label issued 20 alternate, undubbed session takes on “The Nashville Marathon” 2002 CD. Image Credit: Sony Music Entertainment / eBay

Carrigan’s Session Dates with Elvis

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Drummer Jerry Carrigan, bassist Norbert Putnam, keyboardist Shane Keister, American Sound lead guitarist Reggie Young, Austrian singer Dennis Jale, Billy Swan, Mary Holladay, and younger sister Ginger Holladay bid a fond adieu on August 12, 2010, at the “Back in Memphis” benefit for Sweet Inspiration Myrna Smith held at the Michael D. Rose Theater, part of the University of Memphis. The original Muscle Shoals rhythm section were prolific Elvis session cats, Keister played on Elvis’s March 1976 tour and overdubbed Moog synthesizer on the Jungle Room sessions including “Moody Blue,” Young was the guitar linchpin of Elvis’s comeback 1969 sessions at Chips Moman’s American Sound as well as the July 1973 Stax recordings, Swan’s “I Can Help” composition was a smash number one which Elvis later tackled in March 1975 at RCA Studio C in Hollywood, and the Holladay Sisters sang on “Suspicious Minds” and “Rubberneckin’,” among loads more. Carrigan never returned to Memphis and played few, if any, gigs until his June 22, 2019, death at age 75. Photography by Jeremy Roberts
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On August 12, 2010, Jerry Carrigan capably mans his Ludwig drum kit onstage at the Michael D. Rose Theater, part of the University of Memphis, during a poorly attended but unquestionably memorable benefit sponsored by the Elvis Unlimited Denmark fan club for founding Sweet Inspiration Myrna Smith, then in the final stages of kidney dialysis compounded by a stroke. Speaking to Modern Drummer correspondent Robyn Flans for their September 1986 issue, Carrigan reflected, “I first worked with Elvis Presley in 1970. What a thrill that was! The first thing we did was ‘I’ve Lost You’ [Carrigan was slightly off — ‘Twenty Days and Twenty Nights’ was in fact his debut recording with Elvis, tracked just a few hours prior to ‘I’ve Lost You’ on June 4, 1970, at RCA Studio B in Nashville during sessions for the MGM theatrical documentary ‘Elvis: That’s the Way It Is’]. I never was crazy about what I played on that stuff, but Elvis always wanted you to have a charging feeling about everything. He wanted you to push him to the wall. I thought it sounded like I was rushing all the time, but they loved it. He would stand out in the middle of the studio, just like being on stage, and he would face you. He would wiggle and point to you when he’d want you to do a fill or something. The first week I worked with him, we did 35 tunes. One of them was ‘Sylvia.’ We blasted through that stuff. We started at 6:00 at night and worked until 6:00 the next morning. Elvis was definitely nocturnal. He was wonderful. I’ll tell you, when he walked into that studio and I saw him for the first time, there was no doubt that a real star had just appeared…” Photography by Jeremy Roberts
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Circa 1981, Jerry Carrigan candidly told Elvis Presley’s first biographer Jerry Hopkins, “The first couple of times I went to work for Elvis, people [i.e. from the Memphis Mafia] told me, ‘Man, when Elvis smiles at you, you smile back or he’ll think you don’t like him.’ I said, ‘I’m not a man that smiles all the time.’ They said, ‘Well, if he said somethin’ funny, laugh, man.’ I said, ‘If it’s not funny to me, I’m not gonna laugh.’ Each night during sessions Elvis would send out for cheeseburgers and French fries. He’d always get his in a separate box, the same as anybody else’s, but in a separate box. We were eating our cheeseburgers, and I noticed this big quart milkshake cup of dill pickles sitting on the little console. I love dill pickles. I’d seen several guys go get a pickle, so I went over there. Just as I got my hand over the cup, one of his guys went, ‘No, no!’ I said, ‘What?’ He said, ‘Those are Elvis’s pickles! Don’t you touch ‘em!’ He took a big ole towel and covered ’em up. I just punched the talk-back button and said, ‘Elvis, would you mind coming in here for just a second?’ He came in there, and I said, ‘This man tells me I can’t have one of these pickles.’ Elvis replied, ‘Is that right?’ Elvis turned to the guy and said, ‘You give him that whole thing of pickles and go get me some more if I want ’em, okay?’ Charlie McCoy started to go into the restroom, and they said, ‘Don’t you go in there!’ Charlie said, ‘What?’ They said, ‘Don’t go in there!’ Charlie said, ‘But I have to go to the bathroom.’ They said, ‘You’ll have to wait — Elvis is in there.’ Yes-men ran Elvis’s whole life.” Seen here on August 12, 2010, Carrigan capably mans his Ludwig drum kit onstage at the Michael D. Rose Theater, part of the University of Memphis, during a poorly attended but unquestionably memorable benefit sponsored by the Elvis Unlimited Denmark fan club for founding Sweet Inspiration Myrna Smith, then in the final stages of kidney dialysis compounded by a stroke. Photography by Jeremy Roberts
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Country Music Hall of Fame curator Bill Lloyd interviewed Jerry Carrigan before an intimate audience for “Nashville Cats: A Salute to Jerry Carrigan” in February 2009. At one point the drummer extraordinaire admitted, “I’m of the opinion that we got above the groove on a lot of what we played for Elvis Presley. On his cover of Jerry Lee Lewis’s ‘Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On,’ it was my fault that it was so fast. I was just sittin’ there playing my tom-tom and stuff. Elvis started singing ‘Whole Lotta Shakin’’ with that beat. I thought, ‘My word, don’t tell me we’re gonna do this.’ And we did. They kept saying, ‘It’s too slow, it’s too slow!’ Just about every artist I worked with would cut the record. Man, it would have a groove a mile wide…then you go to play it live…‘ah it’s a little too slow.’ I’d say, ‘Well, that’s the exact setting that I took off the record we did.’ ‘I don’t care. It’s just too slow. Gotta speed it up.’ We’d speed it up. No groove. You couldn’t play your parts. There’s some things played at certain tempos that don’t sound good on any instrument.” Seen above on August 12, 2010, Carrigan capably mans his Ludwig drum kit onstage at the Michael D. Rose Theater, part of the University of Memphis, during a poorly attended but unquestionably memorable benefit sponsored by the Elvis Unlimited Denmark fan club for founding Sweet Inspiration Myrna Smith, then in the final stages of kidney dialysis compounded by a stroke. 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