AFTER ACQUIRING ELVIS in November 1955, RCA Victor set about reissuing the five singles that Presley had released on Sun Records. Reissuing the then-current hit re-run “I Forgot To Remember To Forget” / “Mystery Train” was the company’s top priority. Exactly when those four records were issued has long been a matter of debate.
The exact dates for the release of the records are unknown. Two pieces of RCA Victor paperwork from that time have been found. The first is an RCA Victor Record Bulletin sent to company representatives and dated December 19, 1955. This memo apprises the reps of the “excellent reaction” to the first Victor Presley single and alerts them to the imminent release of four more Presley platters.
This article is one in a series about collecting Elvis records from late 1955 and early ’56.
But it does not tell us exactly when those four records would be manufactured let alone shipped. That 6357, I Forgot To Remember To Forget / Mystery Train, had been released prior to December 19, 1955, was known; that the four other singles hadn’t been released by then was not known for a long time.
The second is an RCA Victor in-house shipping notice for these four records. According to it, they were not shipped to the reps until late January 1956. I also checked all the issues of Billboard and Cash Box for information about these four singles. As for these records on the charts, only one of the eight sides made an appearance.
All of these things are addressed below.
New kind of hit re-run!
The RCA Victor Record Bulletin dated December 19, 1955, was sent to company representatives. The memo’s title was “New Kind Of Hit Re-Run!” and addressed their acquisition of the “most talked-about new record personality” and the company’s immediate plans.
The memo was signed by John Y. Burgess, Jr., Manager/Sales and Promotion/Single Record Department. Here is the full text of that memo with a few stylistic alterations for this blog:
“Following the excellent reaction to our first Elvis Presley release, I Forgot To Remember To Forget and Mystery Train, we are immediately making available four other Presley releases from Sun label. They are . . .
That’s All Right 20–6380
Blue Moon Of Kentucky 47–6380
Good Rockin’ Tonight 20–6381
I Don’t Care If The Sun Don’t Shine 47–6381
Milkcow Blues Boogie 20–6382
You’re A Heartbreaker 47–6382
Baby Let’s Play House 20–6383
I’m Left, You’re Right, She’s Gone 47–6383
Remember these top performances by the ‘Most talked-about new record personality’ had only spotty distribution on Sun. With the current excitement about Presley you should be able to pick up plenty of plus-business—if you stock and sell these sides.
Use the Hit Rerun Order Form to order, and don’t underestimate on quantity! If Elvis Presley has any performance or sales history in your territory, you have the promise of sure turnover on these four bonus hits!”
So, as of December 19, 1955, I Forgot To Remember To Forget / Mystery Train was doing well and RCA’s intention was to make available the four other Presley Sun singles available as Victor singles “immediately.”
Other RCA records
I checked all the issues of Billboard and Cash Box for the last three weeks of December 1955 and all of January 1956 but found no mention of the release of these records. I did find reviews of several other RCA Victor records with catalog numbers just before and after the Presley numbers (6380 through 6383):
RCA Victor 6378, Joel Grey’s Slow And Easy / Lies, Honey, Lies, was reviewed on January 14, 1956.
RCA Victor 6379, Hank Snow’s These Hands / I’m Moving In, was reviewed on January 7, 1956.
RCA Victor 6385, Sophia Loren’s Woman Of The River / Nyves, was reviewed on January 21, 1956.
RCA Victor 6386, the Wildcats’ Keep Talkin’ / Beatin’ On A Rug, was reviewed on January 14, 1956.
These dates indicate one of two things: that these records were released commercially during the final week of December 1955 or that copies were sent to Billboard for review purposes during the final week of December 1955.
Normally, the seven records with catalog numbers between 6378 and 6385 would have been released at the same time. But, of course, not much was normal about the way RCA Victor handled Elvis Presley, then or now.
Elvis collector Keith Flynn acquired mountains of RCA Victor documentation about their Presley releases. He has made most of it available on his Elvis Presley Pages site. According to the company shopping notice (below), RCA Victor 6380, 6381, 6382, and 6383 were shipped on January 23, 1956.
As this took place more than four weeks after the Burgess bulletin from December 19 (above), I don’t think January 23 qualifies as “immediately.” Nonetheless, I believe we can safely assume that these records arrived in stores for sale to record buyers during the final days of January 1956.
Hot as a pistol!
But the story is not over! I mentioned that one of the eight sides from the four Elvis records made the pop charts. On March 12, 1956, Baby Let’s Play House debuted at #12 on the Billboard C&W Best Sellers In Stores survey. It dropped off that chart only to return for three more weeks in the Top 20 during April and May 1956.
This happened after the article “A Winnah—Presley Hot As $1 Pistol On Victor” appeared in the March 3, 1956, issue of Billboard. It addressed the amazing success that RCA Victor was having in selling all six Presley platters:
“The hottest artist on the RCA Victor label this week has been none other than the amazin’, young country warbler, Elvis Presley, who has been on the label for only about two months.
Presley has six singles in the company’s list of top 25 best sellers, five of which had been issued previously on the Sun label where they enjoyed excellent mileage before being taken over by Victor. The coupling of Heartbreak Hotel and I Was the One, cut by Victor, is the label’s #2 seller, right behind Perry Como’s Juke Box Baby. Action appears to be about equal on the two sides.
Next for Presley, #9 seller on the label, is another two-sider originally on Sun, of Mystery Train and I Forgot to Remember. #14 is Good Rockin Tonight. #15 is Baby, Let’s Play House. #21 is That’s All Right, which was Presley’s very first release on Sun. Victor’s #23 is Milk Cow Blue Boogie.”
So, despite Baby Let’s Play House being outsold by Good Rockin’ Tonight, it was the only one of the eight sides that found its way onto a national chart.This article about ‘A New Kind of Hit Re-run’ is one in a series about collecting Elvis records from late 1955 and early ’56. Click To Tweet
FEATURED IMAGE: The photo at the top of this page was cropped from this photo of Austin Butler portraying Elvis Presley performing Baby Let’s Play House in the 2022 movie Elvis.
The first fourteen articles in this series are almost completed and listed below with links to each. Should you access one of these articles and receive an Error Page, try back a week later.
01 RCA Victor’s “SPD” Series of Specialty Records
02 What Was the First Elvis Record That RCA Victor Released?
03 The Biggest Country & Western Record News of 1955
04 The First RCA Elvis Record Was “I Forgot to Remember to Forget”
05 The RCA Victor Cartoon Picture Sleeves of the ’50s
06 The Elvis “This Is His Life” Cartoon Picture Sleeve
07 RCA Victor 47–6357 Bootleg Picture Sleeves
08 The “Record Bulletin” Picture Sleeve for RCA’s First Elvis Record Is a Fake
09 Did RCA Release Other Versions of Elvis’ Songs to Compete With Elvis’ Records?
10 A New Kind of Hit Re-run With Elvis Presley
11 Was “E‑Z Pop Programming 5” the First LP to Feature an Elvis Track?
12 Was “E‑Z Country Programming 2” the First LP to Feature an Elvis Track?
13 Was SPD-15 the First EP to Feature an Elvis Track?
14 Is the Country & Western Jukebox Promotion Kit a Fake?
More articles addressing the early RCA Victor releases are planned. Each will contain the blockquote, “This article is one in a series about collecting Elvis records from late 1955 and early ’56,” like the one at the beginning of this article.
To find all the articles in the series, copy the blockquote, paste it into the Find option (the magnifying glass in the navigation bar at the top of each page), and then press Return or Enter on your keyboard.
Mystically liberal Virgo enjoys long walks alone in the city at night in the rain with an umbrella and a flask of 10-year-old Laphroaig who strives to live by the maxim, “It ain’t what you know that gets you into trouble; it’s what you know that just ain’t so.
I’ve been a puppet, a pauper, a pirate, a poet, a pawn, and a college dropout (twice!). Occupationally, I have been a bartender, jewelry engraver, bouncer, landscape artist, and FEMA crew chief following the Great Flood of ’72 (and that was a job that I should never, ever have left).
I am also the final author of the original O’Sullivan Woodside price guides for record collectors and the original author of the Goldmine price guides for record collectors. As such, I was often referred to as the Price Guide Guru, and—as everyone should know—it behooves one to heed the words of a guru. (Unless, of course, you’re the Beatles.)