E‑Z POP PROGRAMMING was the title of a series of promotional LPs manufactured by RCA Victor in the 1950s. Each record collected sides from current singles by various pop artists. One of these records featured “I Forgot To Remember To Forget” and “Mystery Train” by Elvis Presley. It is a rather rare and valuable record.
Exactly when this record was shipped from RCA to radio stations across the country has long been believed to have been as early as November or December 1955. If true, that would make this record potentially the first long-playing record to feature a Presley recording and therefore make it important, especially to completist collectors.
This article is one in a series about collecting Elvis records from late 1955 and early ’56.
In this article, I answer the question, “Was E‑Z POP PROGRAMMING 5 the first LP record to feature an Elvis track?” The answer is complicated because the question also applies to another record.
That record was part of another series of promotional compilation albums from RCA Victor titled “E‑Z Country Programming.” These records featured the latest singles from the company’s corral of country artists. The second LP in that series featured the same two Presley sides. That record is addressed in a separate article (see below).
E‑Z Pop Programming No. 5
Here is the technical information about this record:
Catalog number: none
Matrix numbers: F7OP-9681 / F7OP-9682
Format: 12-inch, 33⅓ rpm record (issued without a jacket)
Manufactured: probably November or December 1955
Shipped: probably December 1955 or January 1956
Here is a listing of the sixteen tracks on the record:
Eddie Fisher: Dungaree Doll
Dinah Shore: Stolen Love
Rhythmettes: Take My Hand (Show Me The Way)
Jaye P. Morgan: Not One Good Bye
Vaughn Monroe: Don’t Go To Strangers
Kay Starr: The Rock And Roll Waltz
Elvis Presley: I Forgot To Remember To Forget
Henri Rene: The Little Laplander
Mike Pedicin: The Large Large House
Perry Como: All At Once You Love Her
Eddy Arnold: When You Said Goodbye
Jaye P. Morgan: My Bewildered Heart
Elvis Presley: Mystery Train
Dinah Shore: That’s All There Is To That
Chet Atkins: Jean’s Song
Eddie Fisher: Everybody’s Got A Home But Me
Here are the same sixteen tracks listed in order of their catalog numbers:
6294 Perry Como: All At Once You Love Her
6329 Jaye P. Morgan: Not One Good Bye / My Bewildered Heart
6337 Eddie Fisher: Dungaree Doll / Everybody’s Got A Home But Me
6349 Rhythmettes: Take My Hand (Show Me The Way)
6357 Elvis Presley: I Forgot To Remember To Forget / Mystery Train
6358 Vaughn Monroe: Don’t Go To Strangers
6359 Kay Starr: The Rock And Roll Waltz
6360 Dinah Shore: Stolen Love / That’s All There Is To That
6361 Henri Rene: The Little Laplander
6365 Eddy Arnold: When You Said Goodbye
6366 Chet Atkins: Jean’s Song
6369 Mike Pedicin: The Large Large House
The last track, RCA Victor 6369, Mike Pedicin’s The Large Large House, was reviewed in the December 31, 1955, issue of Billboard. This would normally indicate a release date in the middle of that month.
These tracks are an interesting and entertaining cross-section of the popular music that RCA Victor offered in the mid-’50s. Most are ballads and show no awareness of the rock & roll revolution that was already in its nascent stage.
Certainly, the major record companies kept abreast of trends: Kay Starr’s Rock And Roll Waltz and Eddie Fisher’s Dungaree Doll were the types of recordings that the major companies thought would sell to teenagers. And it worked—to a degree.
Then there is Presley’s Mystery Train, which doesn’t sound or feel remotely like anything else on this album. In fact, it makes the Fisher and Starr tracks sound anemic! Still, the Starr and Fisher records were big hits in the early months of 1956.
While billed as a pop sampler, the LP included a nod to the country market with tracks by Eddy Arnold and Chet Atkins along with the Presley sides.
There are important data found in the record’s matrix numbers that tell us about this record. The numbers for E‑Z POP PROGRAMMING 5 are F7OP-9681 for the first side and F7OP-9682 for the second side. The first four characters consist of three letters (F, O, and P) and one number (7). The third character was often erroneously printed as a numeral (0 instead of O). Consequently, F7OP (F‑seven-O‑P) often looks like F70P (F‑seventy‑P).
It’s the first four characters that matter:
1. The first character tells the year that the record was made.
2. The second character tells the RCA imprint it was released under.
3. The third character tells the record’s category.
4. The fourth character tells the size, speed, and groove of the record.
To determine the information below, I used “Matrix Numbers Explained” on Keith Flynn’s Elvis Presley Pages website. (The article “RCA Victor Master Serial Number Codes” on Discogs may be easier to understand although it has less detail.)
The first four characters of the matrix number for E‑Z POP PROGRAMMING 5 tell us the following:
F = 1955
7 = custom job
O = phonograph
P = twelve-inch, 33⅓ rpm record
So, the F7OP prefix tells us that the record is a twelve-inch phonograph record that plays at 33⅓ rpm. It was manufactured in 1955 as a custom job—here, for RCA Victor to use for promotional purposes.
Whatever paperwork that RCA Victor had regarding promotional records like E‑Z POP PROGRAMMING 5 is long gone. Trade publications like Billboard and Cash Box rarely mentioned promotional records unless it was part of some special campaign. Consequently, I was unable to find any direct information about this record in the old copies of these magazines. But there is some indirect information that might help:
• An ad for RCA Victor’s “Coming or Going It’s RCA Victor” appeared in the December 31, 1955, issue of Billboard magazine. Nine of the fifteen sides on this record can be found in this ad. I assume that the advertisement and the record are related.
• The latest single on the record is 47–6369, Mike Pedicin’s The Large Large House, which was coupled with Hotter Than A Pistol. The Pedicin record was reviewed in the December 31, 1955, issue of Billboard, which would normally indicate a release date during the second week of that month.
So, copies of E‑Z POP PROGRAMMING 5 were probably shipped in December 1955 or January 1956.
The Avid Record Collector’s price guide
E‑Z POP PROGRAMMING 5 is a rather rare record in any condition! Discogs does not list any copies having been sold there. According to Popsike, there have only been sixteen sales on eBay in the past fourteen years! Here are the most recent sales:
• In 2022, a copy graded VG- sold for $94.
• In 2020, a copy graded G sold for $71.
• In 2020, a copy in “horrible condition” nonetheless sold for $165.
• In 2019, a copy graded “good to very good [with] several large scratches” sold for $57.
• In 2018, an ungraded copy with a “nice sheen but some scratches” sold for $105.
Using these examples, I extrapolate a suggested near-mint value of $500–1,000 for E‑Z POP PROGRAMMING 5.
About that question
At the beginning of this article, I said that I would try to answer the question, “Was E‑Z POP PROGRAMMING 5 the first LP record to feature an Elvis track?” That question needs to be rewritten as two questions with two answers:
“Was E‑Z POP PROGRAMMING 5 the first LP record to feature an Elvis track that was manufactured by RCA Victor?”
“Was E‑Z POP PROGRAMMING 5 the first LP record to feature an Elvis track that was released by RCA Victor?”
These questions are complicated because of another record manufactured and released around the same time, E‑Z COUNTRY PROGRAMMING 2. That record was manufactured in 1956 so it was definitely the second LP record to feature an Elvis track that was manufactured by RCA Victor.
Until better evidence surfaces, I am of the opinion that E‑Z POP PROGRAMMING 5 was the first LP with an Elvis track to have been both manufactured and released by RCA Victor in late 1955.This article about ‘E‑Z Pop Programming 5’ is one in a series about collecting Elvis records from late 1955 and early ’56. Click To Tweet
FEATURED IMAGE: Since the featured image at the top of this page is a record label that already appeared in this article, I am filling this space with a caricature of Elvis. This cool drawing of Elvis on stage in the ’50s was done by David O’Keefe. I have published eleven collections of Elvis caricatures on this blog. To read the first article (which includes a list of the other ten articles with links), click here.
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.)