Tommy Sands, the Elvis prototype

When Colonel Tom Parker was fired by Eddy Arnold in 1953, he immediately started working with young hillbilly singer Tommy Sands.

Aged just sixteen, he was already a eight-year showbusiness veteran and had sung on The Louisiana Hayride radio show and recorded a single for Freedom Records in Texas.

Parker had high hopes for the boy and steered him towards RCA Victor Records in the hope that his long-term colleague, Steve Sholes, could produce some recording magic. This was the third time Parker had given a new singer to Steve Sholes ... and both of the previous artists had been notably unsuccessful.

Over the next two years, Parker and RCA invested serious time and money in Tommy Sands, recognising that a young hillbilly singer could indeed be the next big thing.

Right idea, wrong singer.

[Picture located at Pine Grove Press, but copyright unknown: deejay Biff Collie with a pre-teen Tommy Sands at Magnolia Gardens, Houston, 1950.]

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