Shelby Singleton Jr.

(courtesy Dave Penny - - May 24, 2005).
           There is a very interesting interview with SS in this month's Country Music People from his marriage to (and management of) Margie Singleton when she was just 13, through his association with Starday/Mercury and Smash and characters like Roger Miller and Jerry Kennedy.
           Of particular interest is the account of his purchase of the Sun catalogue in 1969. It seems that Sam Phillips was then busy with Holiday Inn and had no interest in his old label - indeed everybody including Singleton's bank manager tried to persuade SS not to waste his money on it - nevertheless he bought it for a steal (SS doesn't divulge exactly how much - does anyone know?), but the canny Shelby was aware of a new ABC-TV series from Johnny Cash and within weeks after the purchase he had compiled and released Johnny Cash's "Original Golden Hits" volumes one and two, had made licensing deals with interested record companies all around the globe, and "had made back ALL the money I had paid within three months"!
           Then when Elvis died in 1977 he rushed out the various bits and pieces that he had found in the purchase as the LP "Interviews and Memories of the Sun Years With Elvis" ("I had album covers ready within 24 hours of his death...we sold 600,000...then RCA got an injunction against me to stop sales. I agreed with them and paid a fee of $4000 and they went away...").
           The Million Dollar Quartet release worked out even better; RCA again brought an injunction against SS, but this time he fought it - for 15 years - and finally made a deal that the now BMG could manufacture it and market it, but they had to pay *him* a royalty because, in his words, "I proved to them that I clearly owned 3/4 of it and the most they could own was Elvis' part".
           A good read with some nice old photos of him in the studio with the likes of Margie, Ivory Joe Hunter, Jerry Kennedy and Patti Page.

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