Ron Feuer Interview
Ron played keyboards in the Joe Gurcio Orchestra.
JK Can you tell me about the first time you met Elvis?
RF Well Joe (Guercio) gave this nickname in those days - I’m Jewish, and he gave me the nickname “The Electric Jew”, because I play all the electronic instruments. I have an “Electric Jew” hat and a t-shirt with a light bulb and a Jewish star and lightning going through it. He calls me “EJ” for Electric Jew. Joe was so happy to have me, he always loved my playing and we were very close personally too. So the first time Elvis came into the Hilton, he was happy to have me there, and on the first break he says to me, “You want to go meet the King?” And I said, “Sure.” And went up to the front and he introduced me. He says to Elvis, “I want you to meet the Electric Jew.” And Elvis said, “How you doin’?” I shook his hand and said, “Hi.” And that was really the extent of any relationship. Because truthfully I was always running, working two or three gigs at the same time, so I would be running from one hotel to another hotel. I rarely ever spoke to any of his people, ever. Except, I did play piano for the Sweet Inspirations. So I knew them because I would have to rehearse with them at Joe’s house and that. So I was friendly with them. And then I did a couple - I used to fly to LA a lot and do studio work - and I did do some sessions with Ronnie Tutt in LA, and Jerry Scheff at the time. But as far as Elvis, that was it, that one time, and I never spoke to him again.
JK Now, how was it rehearsing? Did he do a lot of rehearsing back then?
RF Well he always had to come in to rehearse with the band. I’ll tell you the truth, I was actually surprised that he was as good as he was. He sang good, he had a great feel, his timing was pretty good, he had great musicians playing the rhythm section. The music was, you know, not extraordinary, but the guys played it, and these are the guys I’ve been working with on the Elvis big screen show for sixteen years - James Burton, Ronnie Tutt, Glen Hardin and Jerry at the time - they played shit-hot at the music! They played it as good as it’s gonna get played.
JK Did you ever think that you would play for Elvis in a big screen show?
RF No, not really, but the amazing thing is the people. If it’s promoted properly and all of that. Let me give you an example, like in some places the show didn’t do all that good because the promoters didn’t do it right. It’s very difficult to really describe it, you know, the way the show is. It’s almost like he’s there, it’s pretty amazing the way it’s been put together. It’s unbelievable, even this last thing in Brazil. The crowd is mostly young people, probably a third to a half are young people, mouthing the words. As soon as Elvis’ name comes on the screen they go nuts! It’s very sad from what I hear now that it’s done. A lot of it has to do with the cost of the show, it’s so expensive to put it on. It’s a big show.
JK They were going to do another show
RF Yeah they have a smaller version, where its projected on a curtain, and I’ve heard its okay. But you know, fans have written us they’ll never go see it. Basically the show with Elvis on screen, the TCB guys are the stars of the show. It’s been a privilege and I have to say I’m sorry now that I didn’t go on tour with them, because - especially James, Ronnie and Glen - I love them personally and I love the way they play the music. So I missed out actually.
JK Now, what do you think about the everlasting popularity of Elvis Presley?
RF I think it’s amazing!
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