A 1955 rejection letter from record executive Nate Duroff is part of a collection of Elvis Presley memorabilia that will be sold Saturday. (Credit: Henry Aldridge and Son Ltd.)
Photo: Henry Aldridge and Son Ltd.
Photo: Henry Aldridge and Son Ltd.

'It stinks': Record producer's rejection letter about Elvis Presley's early songs for sale

Less than a year before Elvis Presley crashed into the pop charts with "Heartbreak Hotel," record producers were less than enthusiastic about the singer's chances to hit the big time. One music executive went so far as to say that Presley's brand of music "stinks" in Los Angeles.

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That letter is part of a collection that will be auctioned Saturday by Henry Aldridge and Sons, Ltd.

Sun Records executive Sam Phillips wrote a series of letters to music producers and disc jockeys, hoping to generate enthusiasm about the young singer, who released his first single, "That's All Right, Mama," in 1954. Presley was beginning to make ripples in the music business with his singles, released on the Memphis-based record label.

The response to Phillips was lukewarm.

"I have given him samples of your last releases and he is of the opinion that the Elvis Presley records would not sell in Los Angeles," a 1955 letter from Monarch Records executive Nate Duroff reads. "I know for a fact that Western and Hillbilly out here 'stinks' as far as sales."

The 47 letters up for auction cover the 16 months Presley was under contract to Sun Records. Presley was signed by RCA Records in December 1955, and his career took off after that.

The letters cover the time period from July 1954 to December 1955, according to the auction listing.

Letters written detailing the early musical career of Elvis Presley will be part of an auction Saturday. (Credit: Henry Aldridge and Son Ltd.)
Photo: Credit: Henry Aldridge and Son Ltd.

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