the haircut picture sleeves of the sixties

MY RESPONSE when first seeing the picture sleeve for Elvis Presley’s new single Spinout / All That I Am in the summer of ’66 was befuddlement. He looked ridiculous and almost didn’t look like Elvis bloody Presley! His face was puffy and round, he was wearing make-up, and he had the most outlandish, “retro” hair-do imaginable?

I was a 15-year old and one of my school’s few Elvis fans, which was not something that one bragged about in most circles at that time. Presley’s fall from grace was of his own doing but was made worse by the arrival of the Beatles and the rest of the British Invasion.

One of my customers casually referred to these as the “haircut sleeves,” a designation that I have thought was both hilarious and too apt. I have used it ever since!

While one could argue with Beatles fans in 1964, by ’66 there was no debate: Elvis was a joke to most serious rock and roll fans. Any wrong move he made just made him and his fans look more foolish. And, for the most part, Presley made very few good moves in the mid ’60s . . .


Spinout LSP-3702

Posthumous feeding frenzy

When I began selling records through the mail via ads in Goldmine magazine back in 1980, and Presley had been dead less than three years. The impact of his death on collectors was to create a feeding frenzy on anything Elvis. People who knew nothing about collecting anything were suddenly “Elvis Collectors,” paying absurdly inflated prices for readily available items. 

Records that had sold for $10-20 on August 16, 1977, were selling for $50-100 on August 18 and this mayhem continued three years after the fact—although not to the degree it had for the first eighteen months after Presley’s death. This was unprecedented then and remains unmatched by any other artist’s death since. 

The jump in some values was justified, but in most cases, the new values reflected the hysteria of the post-death market and should have been a temporary aberration. Such was not the case: this aberration was magnified by the publication of Jerry Osborne and Bruce Hamilton’s Presleyana price guide by O’Sullivan Woodside in 1980.

While the book introduced collectors to countless variations of Presley product, the book also cemented into place the staggeringly inflated prices that this new breed of Elvis collector had been paying for Elvis items in the years 1978-79, when the buying and selling of Elvis collectables was at its most unhinged.


Elvis1965

Elvis as he appeared posing for a publicity photo for the movie Tickle Me, shot in the first half of 1965. Compare this Elvis with the Elvis on the haircut sleeves . . .

By 1980 things had tamed down

I am NOT knocking Presleyana for assigning many of the values that it did: that first edition more or less reflected the market in 1978-79. But the market for any kind of collectable can be volatile and price guides should be done in the spirit of the daily stock market results in your local newspaper rather than as a set of never-ending rules or proclamations regarding supply and demand.

By 1980, things had tamed down considerably, but this was not reflected in the book. While the majority of values assigned to the majority of records (the more common items, which is most of them) in that first edition were ludicrously high, many items were inexplicably undervalued.

This was especially with a number of less-than-highly-sought-after picture sleeves from the 1960s and ‘70s that were then and remain now hard to find in nearly mint condition (NM), although they are easily found in VG+ condition.

Haircut picture sleeves of 1966-67

Grommett only knows what Elvis and Larry Geller, Elvis’s hair stylist and friend, were thinking: it’s difficult to describe the ‘do’ in words. It’s combed back and appears heavily sprayed into place. It’s round, giving it a motorcycle helmet look from the ears. Instead of Beatle-like bangs, a large lock of hair is combed down onto his forehead and then sprayed into place. 

 Mr. Geller was always a controversial figure in the Presley cam: as the man who encouraged Elvis’s interest in the non-Christian versions of spirituality and non-rational learning, he was almost the ultimate interloper among a group of men essentially untutored in anything outside of Southern Christianity and urban Judaism.

Elvis himself appears to have been on a high-carb diet (too many of the ‘whites’—white bread, white potatoes, white rice, etc.), as his face is somewhat bloated and also round. The make-up is pancake-ish. The overall effect is weird: I used to say it reminded me of an over-the-hill gay male model but I am not certain that a male model or a gay guy would come out into public looking like this!


The values in the early price guides reflected the hysteria of the post-death market and should have been a temporary aberration.


And remember, this ‘look’ was Elvis at a time when the young groups were adopting a more natural look: longer hair, no expensive stylists or gels or sprays, and those using make-up were often doing it for a more outrageously androgynous effect . . .

Back in the early 1980s, when I was selling records in the mail via monthly ads in Goldmine magazine (I went under the name of Pet Sounds Records), I specialized in finding near mint copies of those Elvis items that were hard to find in that condition and consequently had a following of collectors seeking such items out (and willing to pay more than everyone else thought such items were worth).

One of my customers casually referred to these as the “haircut sleeves,” a designation that I have thought was both hilarious and too apt. I have used it ever since!

Many of these value issues (both too high and too low) were corrected in my book Elvis Presley Record Price Guide (O’Sullivan Woodside, 1985). Those that weren’t were subsequently addressed in my second book, A Touch Of Gold – The Elvis Presley Record & Memorabilia Price Guide (White Dragon Press, 1990).

For this article, I want to call readers’ attention to five picture sleeves released in the mid-‘60s: this was a time when Presley’s sales were dropping but were still significant enough to place his records in the Top 40. By mid-’68, sales were too insignificant to place his records in the Top 60 . . .

For the sake of getting it all in, I have included the US sales figures for each record according to Ernst Jorgnensen’s data in Elvis – Day-By-Day (Ballantine Books, 1999) and peak chart positions from Billboard and Cash Box magazines. I have also included the peak positions of each side on the UK charts to show that for a while, Elvis did considerably better there than here.

Record values

All values below are based on a definition of Near Mint (NM) that is recognized by intelligent, experienced collectors and dealers everywhere (see “On Grading Records“) but which apparently only comes into play on the Internet coincidentally. White label promo copies of the records vary significantly, so I assigned a suggested NM value of $30-60 per title. The black label commercial records are rather common with a suggested NM value of $10-15 each.




09/1966  

RCA Victor 47-8941   Spinout / All That I Am

 

Spinout

US Charts: #32 on Cash Box, #40 on Billboard.

UK Charts: This side did not make any UK survey.

All That I Am

US Charts: #39 on Cash Box, #41 on Billboard

UK Charts: #18

US Sales: According to Ernst Jorgensen, 47-8941 sold “the now predictable 400,000” copies in the US.

First printings of the sleeve have WATCH FOR ELVIS’ “SPINOUT” LP ALBUM at the bottom (above, top). Second printing sleeves have ASK FOR ELVIS’ “SPINOUT” LP ALBUM at the bottom (above, bottom). These are much harder to find than the first printings.

•  Suggested VG+/EX value for the WATCH FOR sleeve: $10-15
•  Suggested NM value for the WATCH FOR sleeve: $25-35

•  Suggested VG+/EX value for the ASK FOR sleeve: $10-15
•  Suggested NM value for the ASK FOR sleeve: $40-50

On Popsike, the WATCH FOR sleeve sold for as much as $53 in 2010 (with record), while the ASK FOR sleeve peaked at $76 in 2011.




10/1966

RCA Victor LPM/LSP-3702   Spinout

Spinout LPM-3702

Spinout_BonusPhoto

US Charts: #18 on Billboard

US Sales: According to Ernst Jorgensen, this album sold 300,000” copies in the US. As it has not been certified by the RIAA for a Gold Record Award, accumulated sales must still be under 500,000.

First pressing records have black labels with Nipper on top. There were no second pressings for either LPM-3702 or LSP-3702.

•  Suggested NM value for the MONO album: $20-25
•  
Suggested NM value for the MONO album in shrinkwrap with sticker: $25-35

•  Suggested NM value for the STEREO album: $20-25
•  
Suggested NM value for the STEREO album in shrinkwrap with sticker: $25-35

•  Suggested NM value for the bonus photo: $10-15

This is the only LP from this period that features the ‘do,’ which is funny as Presley looked reasonably fit in the movie.




11/1966

RCA Victor 47-8950   If Every Day Was Like Christmas / How Would You Like To Be

 If Every Day Was Like Christmas

US Charts: Did not qualify on either Cash Box or Billboard’s pop charts as both magazines ran annual Christmas surveys for records of a seasonal nature.

UK Charts: #9

How Would You Like To Be

US Charts: This side did not make either Cash Box or Billboard’s pop charts.

UK Charts: This side did not make any British survey.

US Sales: According to Ernst, 47-8950 sold “only 200,000″ during its first year of release but it would be “a long-term seller in many subsequent releases.”

There was only one printing of the sleeve with ASK FOR ELVIS’ NEW RCA VICTOR STEREO 8 CATALOG at the bottom. There is no difference in the artwork on either side of the sleeve.

•   Suggested VG+/EX value for the ASK FOR sleeve: $10-15
Suggested NM value for the ASK FOR sleeve: $25-30

On Popsike, the ASK FOR sleeve sold for as much as $53 in 2011 (with record).




01/1967

RCA Victor 47-9056   Indescribably Blue / Fools Fall In Love

Indescribably Blue

US Charts: #26 on Cash Box, #33 on Billboard

UK Charts: #21

Fools Fall In Love

US Charts: This side did not make either Cash Box or Billboard’s pop charts.

UK Charts: This side did not make any British survey.

US Sales: According to Ernst, 47-9056 sold approximately 300,000 copies in the US.

There was only one printing of the sleeve with “Coming Soon! Elvis’ new Sacred LP Album How Great Thou Art” at the bottom.

•  Suggested VG+/EX value for the COMING SOON sleeve: $15-20
•  Suggested NM value for the COMING SOON sleeve: $50-75

On Popsike, the COMING SOON sleeve sold for as much as $122 in 2008 when advertised as “as good as it gets.” Another one sold for $89 in 2014 as mint with white label promo record.




04/1967

RCA Victor 47-9115   Long Legged Girl (With The Short Dress On) / That’s Someone You Never Forget

Long Legged Girl (With The Short Dress On)

US Charts: #35 on Cash Box, #63 on Billboard

UK Charts: #49

 

That’s Someone You Never Forget

US Charts: #92 on Billboard, but did not make the Cash Box chart.

UK Charts: This side did not make any British survey.

US Sales: According to Ernst, sales of 47-9115 “barely approaches 200,000” copies in the US.

First printings of the sleeve have COMING SOON “DOUBLE TROUBLE” LP ALBUM at the bottom (above, top). Second printing sleeves have ASK FOR “DOUBLE TROUBLE” LP ALBUM at the bottom (above, bottom). These are much harder to find than the first printings.

•  Suggested VG+/EX value for the COMING SOON sleeve: $10-15.
•  Suggested NM value for the COMING SOON sleeve: $30-40

•  Suggested VG+/EX value for the ASK FOR sleeve: $20-25
•  Suggested NM value for the ASK FOR sleeve: $40-60

On Popsike, the ASK FOR sleeve sold for $103 in 2014 (with record).




08/1967

RCA Victor 47-9287   There’s Always Me / Judy

 

There’s Always Me

US Charts: #45 on Cash Box, #56 on Billboard

UK Charts: This side did not make any British survey.

 

Judy

US Charts: #78 on Billboard, but did not make the Cash Box chart.

UK Charts: This side did not make any British survey.

US Sales: Since Ernst does not mention sales figures for 47-9287, I am guessing that they were approximately 100,000 in the US.

There was only one printing of the sleeve with no border at the bottom calling attention to anything.

•  Suggested VG+/EX value for the sleeve: $10-15
•  Suggested NM value for the sleeve: $30-40

The last of the haircut sleeves was actually a rather weird record: RCA pulled a pair of fine if less-than-exemplary tracks from the 1961 album SOMETHING FOR EVERYBODY and unceremoniously dropped it onto the market with the predictable lack f commercial results. 


Elvis_GoldSuit

POSTSCRIPTUALLY, please note that many of the images above are from the fantastic website 45cat, where they are attempting a massive discography of more artists than I care to count. Submissions, corrections, editions, comments, etc. are made by members, and of course anyone can join.




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