Martin D-18 Studio Prop


Colonel Parker, Eddie Arnold, Elvis and Steve Sholes - Dec. 1, 1955
Photo by William "Popsie" Randolph

Elvis officially signed with RCA on November 21, 1955.  On November 30th, he and the Colonel flew to New York to meet with RCA executives on the 1st, including president Larry Kanaga and publicity director Anne Fulchino. While there a photo shoot by New York photographer William "Popsie" Randolph was arranged in RCA's Studio 1 along with Steve Sholes and RCA artist Eddy Arnold, who himself was formerly managed by the Colonel.


Elvis with Martin D-18 in RCA's New York Studio 1 - Dec. 1, 1955
Photo by William "Popsie" Randolph

A series of posed shots of Elvis singing into a microphone were also shot at the time.  A guitar was reputedly purchased locally by RCA to be used in the session since Elvis did not bring his with him. The guitar was a contemporary Martin D-18, not unlike the one Elvis owned before his D-28 and like the one he would use as an alternate in performance during the next few months.



1950s DeArmond sound hole pickup
Photos courtesy eBay

This particular D-18 had a 1950's DeArmond sound hole pickup installed, one of the more common of that era.  


Elvis with Martin D-18 in RCA's New York Studio 1 - Dec. 1, 1955
Photo by William "Popsie" Randolph


Elvis with Martin D-18 in RCA's New York Studio 1 - Dec. 1, 1955
Photo by William "Popsie" Randolph





Elvis with Martin D-18 in RCA's New York Studio 1 - Dec. 1, 1955
Photos by William "Popsie" Randolph

Of the multitude of shots taken by "Popsie," a sampling of which are shown here, only four would be used on the rear jacket of Elvis' first RCA LP released later that year.  Several of the other shots would find their way to promotional use over time.


One the Popsie photos used for the rear cover of Elvis' 1st LP - Dec. 1, 1955
Photo by William "Popsie" Randolph


One the Popsie photos used for the rear cover of Elvis' 1st LP - Dec. 1, 1955
Photo by William "Popsie" Randolph


One the Popsie photos used for the rear cover of Elvis' 1st LP - Dec. 1, 1955
Photo by William "Popsie" Randolph


The rear of Elvis' first LP with photos by Popsie taken Dec. 1, 1956

On December 2, Elvis was back on the road and performing with the band in Atlanta.  Around the end of January, while in New York again, another photo session was scheduled.  This time RCA used their staff photographer, David B. Hecht, at his studio referred to as "the Caruso Room" in Carnegie Hall, named so because Caruso had rehearsed there. It had the northern light that Hecht liked.*


Elvis with Martin D-18 in Hecht's New York Studio - Jan, 1956
Photo by David B. Hecht


Elvis with Martin D-18 in Hecht's New York Studio - Jan, 1956
Photo by David B. Hecht


Elvis with Martin D-18 in Hecht's New York Studio - Jan, 1956
Photo by David B. Hecht

Hecht took many photos during that session, both portraits and posed singing.  Many of the shots would later surface in various publications and promotional materials but one however would be used on the cover of Elvis' second RCA LP released in October of that year.


Elvis' second RCA LP - 1956
Photo courtesy Jay Miller

This session is last time this particular Martin was used or seen with Elvis. Its disposition is not known. Interestingly enough however, Heather Mozart, the avid collector that owns Scotty's L5, Super 400, and one of Elvis' J-200s, also has the shirt worn by him in the Hecht photos.  Larry Moss, who owns Scotty's ES 295 and Bill's Fender bass, among other things, owns Elvis' red jacket seen in the Hecht photos.

page added June 14, 2011

* Special thanks to David English for his research into the David B. Hecht sessions and his accumulation of photos by both Popsie and Hecht, several of which are used here.  Information about the Caruso room is according to RCA's Chick Crumpacker and liner notes from Elvis' second LP.

 

All photos on this site (that we didn't borrow) unless otherwise indicated are the property of either Scotty Moore or James V. Roy and unauthorized use or reproduction is prohibited.

 
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