T. G. Sheppard Shares 5 Memories of Elvis Presley & Premieres Priscilla-Approved Song 'I Wanna Live Like Elvis'

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From consuming peanut butter & banana sandwiches collectively to Presley gifting Sheppard with a tour bus, the King lived giant.

A pal of Elvis Presley’s as much as the King’s dying in 1977, nation singer T. G. Sheppard lengthy held off on singing about his buddy. That adjustments along with his new single "I Wanna Live Like Elvis.” 

The upbeat tune, which Billboard premieres under, comes out Tuesday, on what would have been Presley's 84th birthday. "I had discovered this track, which was written by Chip Davis, Billy Davis and Doug Graham, and it was so comical," Sheppard tells Billboard over the cellphone. "It was Elvis' life story informed in 4 minutes. It made me need to go within the studio and report extra music. It was simply one thing I felt compelled to do.” It additionally led to Sheppard’s determination to report his first nation solo album in additional than 20 years, anticipated in April.

"I Wanna Live Like Elvis" lightheartedly particulars the customarily glamorous life that Presley lived at Graceland with Priscilla Presley, amid his many Cadillacs, non-public jet, entourage and blue suede footwear. In truth, it was the lyric about mendacity round with Priscilla in silk pajamas that acquired fun out of the late singer's ex-wife, in addition to her approval.

“'I Wanna Live Like Elvis’ has a catchy beat, nice lyrics and is cleverly written," Presley tells Billboard. "Don’t really feel alone, T. G. ... I’m certain there are others who really feel the identical manner.”

Sheppard's determination to launch "I Wanna Live Like Elvis" this yr got here merely from his need so as to add extra pleasure to the world.

"There's somewhat disappointment in life. There's quite a lot of anger. But what's good in life and what's wanted in life is laughter," he explains. "Sometimes it may possibly come within the type of a track, and this track simply makes you chuckle."

Sheppard is aware of what folks need to hear, having amassed 14 No. 1 hits on Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart through the ‘70s and ‘80s, together with such smashes as “Slow Burn,” “Only One You” and “War is Hell (On the Homefront).” He says it took some time for him to complete recording "I Wanna Live Like Elvis.” As he studied the observe for a number of days after recording it, he lastly realized the track wanted a brass part. 

"I used to be lacking these horns that Elvis used to have, the massive brass," he remembers. "There's a horn part that Kelly Clarkson makes use of on her tour. My finest pal, Leif Shire, he's the horn chief and he's the one which got here up with these unimaginable horn strains and put them in there for me."

In celebration of Presley’s birthday, Sheppard, 74, shared his 5 favourite recollections of Elvis with Billboard. "When I'd sit with him, I at all times knew to drink all of it in… to recollect the second as a result of I knew every time that I used to be within the presence of greatness," Sheppard admits. 

Skating till daylight with Elvis: "When I first met Elvis, I used to be 16. I used to be at a skating rink one night time in Memphis and about midnight I stroll outdoors considering that they have been closing the curler rink down and a few Cadillacs pull up. Elvis will get out from behind the wheel of the primary Cadillac and walks over to me and appears me proper within the eye with these blue eyes and he mentioned, 'Where you going?' I mentioned, 'Well, they're closing the rink down.' He mentioned, 'Oh, no. They're opening it up for me.' I used to be in shock as a result of Elvis Presley was speaking to me. I'm standing there and he mentioned, 'Would you are available in and be on my group? I'm a person brief on my group.' I mentioned, 'Team? What are you doing?' He mentioned, 'We play somewhat recreation in right here referred to as Kill. It's soccer on skates.' So I went in and skated till about daylight after which afterwards he put me within the automotive and drove me as much as Graceland and we ate peanut butter and banana sandwiches and I gave him my cellphone quantity. I used to be his pal from then on till the day he died."

Singing within the Jungle Room: "When I first began out my profession, my actual identify was Bill Browder. I used to be a report government and a promotion man for RCA. Elvis was my artist so I acquired an opportunity to tour with him. I acquired a contract from Berry Gordy at Motown who found me. I saved considering, 'Well, if I'm going to be recording for [Melodyland, Motown’s short-lived country label], I'm drawing a paycheck from RCA. That's sort of a battle of curiosity with completely different labels.' So, I picked an assumed identify to report underneath, T.G. Sheppard. Lo and behold, my first report [“Devil In the Bottle”] went No. 1 and Elvis would run round the home singing it as a result of he listened to nation radio...One day I walked within the again door of Graceland and Elvis was sitting within the Jungle Room along with his toes propped up on the desk. I heard, 'Bill?' And I mentioned, 'Yes, sir?' He mentioned, 'You know, you can have informed me that you simply have been that T. G. Sheppard man on the radio with that track I like a lot. Why didn't you inform me it was you?' I mentioned, 'Well, Elvis, I couldn't inform anyone as a result of I used to be afraid that if anyone came upon that I'd lose my job at RCA.' His reply to me was, 'Well, you idiot. Don't that I am RCA?' And he was. He was the largest artist they'd.”

On the highway and within the air with The King: "He really gifted me with my first tour bus. He had simply purchased a small jet that's parked subsequent to the massive Lisa Marie jet at Graceland now. In midair on this small jet, we have been sitting knee to knee, and he appeared me straight within the eye and he mentioned, 'You know, your profession's beginning to do rather well. I purchased you a bus at present…It’ll be at Graceland tomorrow.' I mentioned, 'Elvis, I don't also have a band.' And he mentioned, 'Well, now, look, I'm going to pay for the bus, however I ain't paying for no rattling band.’ I used to be simply blown away. I couldn't imagine that he would purchase me such an costly present. The humorous half was he mentioned, 'Come on, let's take it to your own home.' So he will get behind the wheel and drives the bus to my home, working over each cease signal and fireplace hydrant between Graceland and my home in East Memphis. He really drove it to my home after which acquired within the limo and went again to Graceland. It was simply an unimaginable day." 

Christmas at Graceland: "I used to be out and in of that home each day for seven years. There are so many recollections, however I believe the best recollections of Graceland for me have been at Christmas. Because Elvis, he liked Christmas, that was his favourite time of the yr. Graceland was at all times so embellished, so stunning, and I believe it gave him the okay to offer costly items away. He become a child at Christmas time and he liked to offer items to folks. He was so giving. I requested him at some point, I mentioned, 'You give folks extravagant items. I do know you will need to take pleasure in it, however what do you take pleasure in probably the most?' He mentioned, 'When I give somebody one thing actually large I benefit from the response on their face once they discover out what I've given them.' That was the payoff for Elvis. He liked that rapid response from folks when he would give them a Cadillac or a home or a bus. What an unimaginable human being he was…I believe folks would have been shocked to learn the way all the way down to earth he was, that he got here from humble beginnings, Mississippi, and didn't have something. He was nonetheless, even when he was so large, he was so appreciative and sort to folks. He'd by no means let the ego management him. He at all times had it intact."

Elvis, the Dreamer: ”I requested him at some point, 'Gosh, Elvis, how does it really feel to be you?' And he mentioned, 'Are you loopy? It feels nice!' And he simply laughed. I don't assume he ever acquired used to it. I requested, 'How did you get to be who you might be?' He mentioned, 'I'd drive round Memphis within the previous Crown Electric truck, as a result of I used to be an electrician apprentice. Whether I used to be driving the truck or no matter I used to be doing, I at all times imagined strolling out on stage and there could be lots of people there to listen to me sing… I considered it so lengthy and so laborious and for therefore a few years that at some point, I walked out on stage and there they have been. You may say that I willed it as a result of it grew to become the whole lot to me.' He by no means gave up. He by no means stopped dreaming. He saved excited about what he needed and lo and behold, at some point he walked out and there the folks have been. [His success] exhibits us all in life that you need to by no means give up dreaming as a result of if you cease dreaming, you die.