(photo source: Lee Cotten's obituary ...
Lee Cotten (1942-2016), although born
in Philadelphia, was a product of Southern upbringing. In 1948 he and his
parents arrived in Newton, Mississippi, some 130 miles south of Tupelo,
about the same time that Elvis was moving north to Memphis. Lee lived in
small towns in Mississippi, Georgia and Tennessee for the next sixteen
years before graduating from the University of Georgia with a B.A. in journalism.
Lee has enjoyed a lifelong
involvement with Rock 'n roll music. He received his initiation in the
blues listening to WLAC radio, a clear-channel station broadcasting from
Nashville. He vividly remembers hearing Maybellene in the fall of
1955 as it played on the jukebox at the back of the local soda shop on
those waning evenings after his Boy Scout meetings. He readilly recalls
the reaction when Tutti Frutti and Long Tall Sally were sneaked
onto the turntable at summer church camp dances in North Carolina.
As a teen-ager, he was the
kid who brought the latest records to the parties. He always knew what
artist recorded for which label, and he could regale about musical influences,
styles, and backgrounds. He played piano in a high school rock 'n roll
band, flat-top guitar in a college folk trio, and electric guitar in a
long-forgotten rock 'n roll / rhythm and blues band. In the years since,
his interest in rock 'n roll music has never diminished.
Lee's first recollections
of Elvis center around the summer of 1956 and the community swimming pool
in Monroe, Georgia. It was nighttime, and someone dropped a nickel in the
jukebox. My Baby Left Me came popping out of the speakers with the
hard drum riff from D.J. Fontana and the slapping baseline of Bill Black,
followed by Scotty Moore's unequaled rockabilly guitar lead. Then there
was the vocal - that high, demanding, pleading wail as Elvis intoned, "...was
it something I done, something that she heard?" Lee spent a week's allowance
that night, playing the record over and over. This was the turning point.
He became fascinated by the fact that another person, a performer, could
touch the inner parts of his being in the way Elvis and this song had done
that night. My Baby Left Me remains Lee's personal favorite of all
the songs recorded by Elvis.
Following college, Lee was
a member of the U.S. Air Force's strategic reconnaissance program, stationed
first in Wyoming and then in Alaska over a period of five years. On completion
of this tour of duty, he settled in Sacramento, California, to study under
world-renowned photographer Glen Fishback. In the midst of a successful
career as a free-lance photographer, Lee launched a retail record business
dealing in the hits from the past. For fourteen years, Golden Oldies was
one of the most unique record stores in the country, specializing solely
in 45rpm singles. His reputation as an expert in the field of collectable
records spread around the world. His expertise led to numerous appearances
on both radio and television. In January 1979, Lee produced one of the
finest Elvis fan festivals ever presented in this country, the first such
event in Sacramento's history.
In 1981, Lee self-published
his first book on Elvis, a sixty-four-page compendium of chronological
dates and facts titled
Elvis: His Life Story.
That led to a contract with Pierian Press and to his long association with
Howard A. DeWitt. In 1983, the two men collaborated on
Jailhouse Rock: The Bootleg Records of Elvis Presley, 1970-1983.
Lee then went solo again for the original edition of
All Shook Up: Elvis Day-By-Day, 1954-1977, published in 1985.
A year later, in 1986, Lee closed the door of Golden Oldies to concentrate on
writing full time. At that moment, he was under contract to Doubleday to
complete The Elvis Catalog
in time for the tenth anniversary of Elvis' death. In 1989, Pierian Press
publised Lee's Shake, Rattle and Roll: The Golden Age of American R&R, Vol I: 1952-1955.
This first in a planned multi-volume set dealing with American rock music's
Golden Age, 1952-1963, the pages of
Shake, Rattle and Roll begin Lee's monumental
undertaking with a detailed look at the events, personalities, and the
music from which rock 'n roll sprang - rhythm and blues. After a scene-setting
look ahead into each of the years covered in this volume, 1952-1955,
Shake, Rattle and Roll recounts the day-by-day
activities of the headliners and record companies that gave the early fifties
their uniqueness and created the foundation upon which rock music built
its house. Each monthly chronology is further supplemented by weekly summaries
of record release activity, a listing of the mont's top ten songs, and
a brief portrait of the important "Artist of the Month".
At this time, Lee was working for a major chain of retail record stores. Three
years of corporate life convinced him to return to writing post-haste,
however, and he completed the second volume of the projected three-volume
set for Popular Culture Ink -
Reelin' and Rockin': The Golden Age of American R&R, Vol II: 1956-1959
in 1995. Nearly 150 pages larger than its predecessor, Reelin' and Rockin' picks up the
story of rock music's early-fifties, rhythm-and-blues-based odyssey from
the mid-fifties through to the close of the decade, chronicling not only
the progress of black r&b but also further development of its emergent,
white dominated musical progeny called rock 'n roll. Continuing the format
of the first volume, the author's monthly chronologies focus on daily musical
events, weekly listings of new record releases, an inventory of the top
records of the month, and a multi-page biography - with a photograph -
centered on an "Artist of the Month", and nearly 200 mini-biographies of
many of the lesser luminaries of fifties rock.
Reelin' and Rockin' concludes with two appendices,
a bibliography, a performer index, and a song title index.
The final volume,
Twist and Shout concludes Lee's monumental chronicle of American
music's pre-Beatles "Golden Age", with similar coverage from 1960 to 1963. This volume
was publised in December 2002.
The same year that he completed
Reelin' and Rockin' saw Lee's return to Elvis
studies with a title published by High Sierra Books called
Did Elvis Sing in Your Hometown (1995).
This was the first major investigation into Elvis' many performances in
the fifties. It was followed by
Did Elvis Sing In Your Hometown, Too?
(1997). The sequel begins with the video taping of his blockbuster 1968
TV special and ends with the final tour exactly nine years later. Lee
researched thoroughly every concert, including every Las Vegas and Lake
Tahoe stand. He has poured over newspaper reviews and fans' comments,
coming up with day to day highlights for every show.
The second edition of
All Shook Up
was published by Popular Culture Ink in 1998. Over twelve years of research
and revision had passed since the first edition, and the updated chronology
again boasted many previously unearthed, newly discovered events and details
about Elvis. All Shook Up begins with chapters devoted to Elvis' formative years,
1935-1953, and continues its unparalleled coverage through twenty-four
more years, 1954 through 1977. Additional reference features conclude the
volume, together with an exhaustive index.
Each of Lee's books received overwhelming critical aclaim from reviewers and
high praise from fans of Elvis and rock 'n roll in general.
Sadly, Lee passed away on August 19, 2016.
Source: unknown (if you know the source let me know and I will mention it here)
Text updated: 13 August 2021