was SPD-15 the first EP album to feature an elvis track?

Es­ti­mated reading time is 13 min­utes.

ELVIS PRESLEY ON EX­TENDED PLAY! Was the all-Elvis record in the un­ti­tled SPD-15 col­lec­tion the first ap­pear­ance of an Elvis track on an extended-play record? RCA Victor SPD-15 is a set of ten EPs by ten of the company’s country & western artists. Intended for juke­boxes, it re­mains a mys­te­rious record even sixty years later.

While each record in the SPD-15 set has its own cat­alog number, none of the records have an in­di­vidual title. But not printing the title of an EP record on the record’s la­bels was stan­dard for RCA Victor at the time. Com­mer­cial EP al­bums were is­sued with a record housed in­side a custom card­board jacket. Each jacket had the al­bum’s title on it.

This ar­ticle is one in a se­ries about col­lecting Elvis records from late 1955 and early ’56.

For ex­ample, the first com­mer­cially re­leased, stan­dard Elvis EP album was EPA-747. Everyone knows this album as ELVIS PRESLEY be­cause that’s what it says on the front cover of the jacket but the record has only the cat­alog number and the ti­tles of the songs on each side. This ap­plies to every com­mer­cially re­leased Presley EP through the final album in that format in 1967, EASY COME, EASY GO.

As for SPD-15, col­lec­tors have re­ferred to this set of records simply by its cat­alog number for decades. Until re­cently, nei­ther a custom box nor a set of custom sleeves was not known to exist for SPD-15. (Refer to the sec­tion “Jukebox Pro­mo­tion Kit” below.)

The point of this ar­ticle, then, is to an­swer the ques­tion, “Was this the first EP record re­leased by RCA Victor to fea­ture an Elvis track?”

But first, there is a little back­ground information.


Side 7 of the untitled SPD-15 with grey label from 1956.

Side 14 of the untitled SPD-15 with grey label from 1956.
These are the two sides of record 599‑9089 with gray la­bels. This is the Elvis record with Side 7 (That’s All Right and Baby Let’s Play House) and Side 14 (I Forgot To Re­member To Forget and Mys­tery Train).

Untitled EP collection

Here is the tech­nical in­for­ma­tion about this record:

Set cat­alog number: SPD-15
Record cat­alog num­bers: 599‑9083 through 559‑9092

Ma­trix num­bers: G2WH-1061 through 1080
Format: 7‑inch, 45 rpm records (is­sued without a box)
Man­u­fac­tured: Jan­uary or Feb­ruary 1956
Re­leased: Jan­uary or Feb­ruary 1956

Here is a listing of the ten records and the tracks on each: 

Record 1

Cat­alog number: 599‑9083
Ma­trix num­bers: G2WH-1061 and G2WH-1062
Artist: Hank Snow
Side    1:  I Don’t Hurt Any­more / Yellow Roses
Side 20: I’m Moving On / The Golden Rocket

Record 2

Cat­alog number: 599‑9084
Ma­trix num­bers: G2WH-1063 and G2WH-1064
Artist: Chet Atkins
Side   2:  Country Gen­tleman / San An­tonio Rose
Side 19:  Down­hill Drag / Mister Sandman

Record 3

Cat­alog number: 599‑9085
Ma­trix num­bers: G2WH-1065 and G2WH-1066
Artist: Jimmie Rodgers
Side   3:  In The Jail­house Now No. 2 / Peach Picking Time Down In Georgia
Side 18:  Mule Skinner Blues / Mother, The Queen Of My Heart

Record 4

Cat­alog number: 599‑9086
Ma­trix num­bers: G2WH-1067 and G2WH-1068
Artist: The Sons of the Pioneers
Side   4:  The Ballad Of David Crockett / The Three of Us
Side 17:  Tum­bling Tum­ble­weeds / Cool Water

Record 5

Cat­alog number: 599‑9087
Ma­trix num­bers: G2WH-1069 and G2WH-1070
Artist: Johnnie & Jack
Side   5:  I Get So Lonely / Good­night, Sweet­heart, Goodnight
Side 16:  No One Dear But You / Poison Love

Record 6

Cat­alog number: 599‑9088
Ma­trix num­bers: G2WH-1071 and G2WH-1072
Artist: Porter Wagoner
Side   6:  A Sat­is­fied Mind / Company’s Coming
Side 15:  Eat, Drink And Be Merry / Let’s Squiggle

Record 7

Cat­alog number: 599‑9089
Ma­trix num­bers: G2WH-1073 and G2WH-1074
Artist: Elvis Presley
Side   7:  That’s All Right / Baby Let’s Play House
Side 14:  I Forgot To Re­member To Forget / Mys­tery Train

Record 8

Cat­alog number: 599‑9090
Ma­trix num­bers: G2WH-1075 and G2WH-1076
Artist: Homer & Jethro
Side   8:  The Ballad Of David Crew-Cut / Yaller Rose Of Texas, You-All
Side 13:  Sifting, Whim­pering Sands / The Hound Dog In The Windo

Record 9

Cat­alog number: 599‑9091
Ma­trix num­bers: G2WH-1077 and G2WH-1078
Artist: Jim Reeves
Side   9:  Yonder Comes A Sucker / I’m Hurting Inside
Side 12:  Jimbo Jenkins / I’ve Lived A Lot In My Time

Record 10

Cat­alog number: 599‑9092
Ma­trix num­bers: G2WH-1079 and G2WH-1080
Artist: Eddie Arnold
Side 10:  The Cattle Call / Just Call Me Lonesome
Side  11:  Bou­quet of Roses / Anytime

The forty tracks are an in­ter­esting and en­ter­taining cross-section of the country music that RCA Victor of­fered in the mid-’50s. Most are bal­lads and show no aware­ness of the rock & roll rev­o­lu­tion that was about to take place.

As for the Presley tracks, while I Forgot To Re­member To Forget was close to straight country & western, the other three—That’s All Right, Baby Let’s Play House, and Mys­tery Train—sound like they are from a di­men­sion be­yond that which was known to man.


Side 7 of the untitled SPD-15 with black label from 1956.

Side 14 of the untitled SPD-15 with black label from 1956.
These are the two sides of record 599‑9089 with black la­bels. This is the Elvis record with Side 7 (That’s All Right and Baby Let’s Play House) and Side 14 (I Forgot To Re­member To Forget and Mys­tery Train).

Manufacturing date

There are im­por­tant data found in the record’s ma­trix num­bers that tell us a few things about this record, es­pe­cially the four-character prefix for each number. The prefix for SPD-15 is G2WH.

This com­pany code tells us the following:

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 SPD-15 tell us the following:

First char­acter
G = 1956

Second char­acter
2 = RCA Victor

Third char­acter
W = country & western

Fourth char­acter
H = seven-inch, 45 rpm ex­tended play record.

So, the G2WH prefix tells us that the record is a seven-inch phono­graph record that plays at 45 rpm. It is an ex­tended play record with at least two tracks per side It was man­u­fac­tured in 1956 and car­ried the RCA Victor imprint.


Untitled SPD-15: cover of box for SPD-1, "Listener's Digest," from 1954.
RCA Vic­tor’s SPD se­ries was launched in June 1954 with a boxed set ti­tled LIS­TEN­ER’S DI­GEST (SPD‑1). The box con­tained ten seven-inch, 45 rpm EP records and was given to cus­tomers who bought a new RCA Vic­trola phono­graph for as little as $39.95.

Shipping date

De­ter­mining the month when SPD-15 was man­u­fac­tured or shipped is dif­fi­cult al­though it was no sooner than Jan­uary 1956. What­ever pa­per­work that RCA Victor had re­garding pro­mo­tional records like this is long gone. Trade pub­li­ca­tions like Bill­board and Cash Box rarely men­tioned pro­mo­tional records un­less they were part of a spe­cial campaign.

For­tu­nately, SPD-15 may have been part of such a cam­paign. A little spelunking on the in­ternet turned up “Victor Readies EP Packs for Jukes” in the De­cember 24, 1955, issue of Bill­board (pages 13 and 58):

“RCA Victor is preparing the second edi­tion of what might de­velop into an an­nual juke box op­er­ator pro­mo­tion. The com­pany re­port­edly is putting to­gether five spe­cial ‘func­tional’ units of ten EP disks each, to be of­fered as a spe­cial value in late Feb­ruary or early March.

The disks have been de­scribed by the diskery as ‘ideal cou­plings of top stan­dards.’ and these will be ac­com­pa­nied by a per­ma­nent type of title strip, prob­ably of plastic, that will stand up under re­peated shifts. The cost of these strips, in­ci­den­tally, will de­ter­mine the ac­tual price of the disks, prob­ably to run be­tween 70 and 75 cents per, as op­posed to the stan­dard dealer price of 88 cents for a hard-package unit.

The c.&w. pack will fea­ture 10 artists in four num­bers each, in­cluding the top chart-riding bits by these gleaned from the last two years. Porter Wag­oner, for ex­ample, will be rep­re­sented by Sat­is­fied Mind, plus three of his top cat­alog items. Elvis Presley will be rep­re­sented by four sides ob­tained by Victor from Sun Records in its re­cent Presley ac­qui­si­tion deal.

Each of the five packs will be avail­able sep­a­rately and, ac­cording to a com­pany spokesman, there is no law against dealers buying them also, altho the disks will be boxed without sleeves.”

This Bill­board ar­ticle seems to be ad­dressing SPD-15 as the afore­men­tioned second edi­tion. Since RCA was preparing this edi­tion in mid-December, it’s prob­ably rea­son­able to as­sume that they had a ship­ping date in mind that wasn’t too far away.

So, if this is re­fer­ring to SPD-15, then it’s likely that SPD-15 was shipped some­time in the first few months of 1956.


Side 14 of untitled SDP-15 with grey label in company sleeve from 1956.
The gray-label record for 599‑9089 with the four Elvis record­ings from the SPD-15 set is a rather rare record.

Black and gray labels

Col­lec­tors have long be­lieved that SPD-15 was man­u­fac­tured ex­clu­sively for juke­boxes and/or radio air­play. But a few fans also be­lieve that these records may have been sold in re­tail stores. What­ever the case, there are some weird things about this set.

All records were man­u­fac­tured in RCA’s pressing plant in In­di­anapolis, In­diana. The records were pressed with both gray la­bels and with black la­bels. The type­face and layout of the text on both the black and gray la­bels are identical.

Most col­lec­tors be­lieve that the gray-label records were in­tended for juke­boxes while the black-label records were ei­ther shipped to radio sta­tions or sold to the public. Whichever, gray-label records are far more common than black-label records.

Based on Pop­sike’s listing, there have been twenty-eight auc­tions on eBay in­volving one or more gray-label records in the past sev­en­teen years. During that same pe­riod, there was only one auc­tion in­volving one black-label record.


Side 7 of untitled SDP-15 with black label in company sleeve from 1956.
The black-label record for 599‑9089 with the four Elvis record­ings from the SPD-15 set is a ridicu­lously rare record.

Jukebox, radio, or home play

The records were man­u­fac­tured with their sides num­bered to be stacked on an au­to­matic turntable. That is, the first record in the set (559‑9083) fea­tures side 1 on the top and side 20 on the bottom; the second record (559‑9084) fea­tures side 2 and side 19; etc.

Num­bering the records this way is re­ferred to as au­to­matic se­quencing. As jukebox cus­tomers played one side of a record at a time, se­quencing the side num­bers this way pro­vided no ad­van­tage for jukeboxes!

As for radio play, I as­sume that very few jocks were in the habit of slip­ping an au­to­matic 45 adapter onto the turntable at their radio sta­tion, slip­ping a stack of records onto the adapter, and let­ting them play con­tin­u­ously for an hour. So, se­quencing the side num­bers this way pro­vided no ad­van­tage for radio sta­tions either!

Au­to­matic se­quencing was done al­most ex­clu­sively for records made for home use. If the black-label records were in­tended to be sold in re­tail shops, it would make sense for this se­quencing to have been used. If few people pur­chased these records, that would ex­plain the rarity of the black-label records.

Records being made avail­able for re­tail sale are sug­gested in the ar­ticle “Victor Readies EP Packs for Jukes” above where it states that “each of the five packs will be avail­able sep­a­rately and . . . there is no law against dealers buying them also.”


Elvis SPD 15 title sleeve 800
This is the pur­ported record sleeves with the record’s in­for­ma­tion and song ti­tles for the Elvis record (599‑9089) for SPD-15, the un­ti­tled set of EP records.

Title sleeves

An­other rel­a­tively re­cent dis­covery is the ex­is­tence of ten custom paper sleeves for SPD-15. Each sleeve has a re­pro­duc­tion of the jukebox title strip for each record with “Sample Records En­closed” at the top and “Ster­ling Title Strip” at the bottom. The back side is blank.

There ap­pear to be at least two ver­sions of these sleeves: one is made with old-looking paper that some col­lec­tors be­lieve are au­thentic ar­ti­facts from 1956. The other is a re­cent set of re­pro­duc­tions on paper that is ob­vi­ously new.

As I am of the “Show me” sub-genre of the human species, I am du­bious of the au­then­ticity of both versions.


Screen Shot 2022 11 14 at 11.55.50 AM
This paper sheet of jukebox title strips for SPD-15 was made by the Ster­ling Title Strip Company.

Title strips

Each set of ten records for SPD-15 should have in­cluded a sheet of ten title strips, one for each record. The in­di­vidual strips were torn from the sheet and in­serted in the window slots at the front of the jukebox so cus­tomers could see the se­lec­tions. For SPD-15, there are two dif­ferent strips:

•  One strip is made of light card­board and is ap­prox­i­mately 3 x 11 inches. It was made by the Ster­ling Title Strip Com­pany in New Jersey (above) and sup­pos­edly came with the gray-label records. Two vari­a­tions on the Ster­ling sheets exist, one with the com­pa­ny’s street ad­dress at the bottom and an­other without the address. 

•  The other strip is made of a plastic-like ma­te­rial and is ap­prox­i­mately 3 x 11 inches. It was made by Inkweed Stu­dios in New York (below) and sup­pos­edly came with the black-label records. Inkweed Stu­dios was started by Li­onel and Joanne Ziprin to pro­duce hand-crafted greeting cards aimed at the Beat Gen­er­a­tion. In 1955, Inkweed was pur­chased by Fred Mann & Com­pany, who did not have the same goals as the Ziprins and might have taken on jobs such as printing jukebox strips to pay the bills.

Why RCA Victor used two printers on the East Coast for one job is not known.


Screen Shot 2022 11 14 at 12.05.46 PM 1
This plastic sheet of jukebox title strips for SPD-15 was made by Inkweed Studios.

The Avid Record Collector’s price guide

SPD-15 is a very dif­fi­cult “item” to eval­uate on the col­lec­tor’s market. The set of ten records is rare in any con­di­tion! As stated above, there have been only twenty-nine auc­tions on eBay in­volving one or a few records and no com­plete sets of ten in sev­en­teen years! Nonethe­less, here are my es­ti­mated values:

The Elvis record

Here are the most re­cent sales for the Elvis record (599‑9089), all with gray labels:

•  In 2021, a copy graded VG++ (“record looks un­played”) sold for $612.

•  In 2020, a copy graded be­tween VG+ and VG++ sold for $175.

•  In 2019, a copy graded VG+ (“label tear on B‑side”) sold for $100.

Using these ex­am­ples, the Avid Record Col­lector sug­gests a near-mint value of $400–600 for a copy of 599‑9089 with gray labels.

As for a near-mint copy of 599‑9089 with black la­bels, it would be con­sid­er­ably more.

The non-Elvis records

The non-Elvis records are also dif­fi­cult to find in near-mint con­di­tion. They usu­ally sell in the $20–40 range in VG+ condition. 

The sleeves and strips

I have not seen the sleeves or the title strips of­fered for sale sep­a­rately so cannot offer a sug­gested near-mint value for either.

A complete set

A set of the ten records, each in its own custom sleeve, along with the ten title strips all in near-mint con­di­tion would be a major event in the world of Elvis col­lecting. I can’t hazard a guess as to what it might fetch.


Elvis SPD 15 box 800

Jukebox Promotion Kit

In 2014, a seller on eBay ad­ver­tised sev­eral records from SPD-15 plus a custom box ti­tled “Country & Western Jukebox Pro­mo­tion Kit.” The au­then­ticity of this box is a joke.

I de­vote an en­tire ar­ticle to this box. To read that ar­ticle, click here.


Elvis EPA 747 light 800
Elvis’ first com­mer­cially re­leased EP album was the self-titled EPA-747. Re­leased in March 1956, it may have pre­ceded the re­lease of SPD-15.

Question answered

Now, to an­swer the ques­tion at the be­gin­ning of this ar­ticle: “Was this the first EP record re­leased by RCA Victor to fea­ture an Elvis track?”

If we as­sume that SPD-15 was shipped to radio sta­tions prior to EPA-747 being shipped to stores on March 23, 1956, then the an­swer is Yes.

But we don’t know when SPD-15 was shipped, so the best an­swer is Maybe.

This ar­ticle about SPD-15 is one in a se­ries about col­lecting Elvis records from late 1955 and early ’56. Click To Tweet

Elvis caricature 57 Santos 1500 crop

FEA­TURED IMAGE: Since the fea­tured image at the top of this page is a record label that al­ready ap­peared in this ar­ticle above, I am filling this space with a car­i­ca­ture of Elvis. This cool drawing of Elvis in ’57 was done by the artist known as Santos. I have pub­lished eleven col­lec­tions of Elvis car­i­ca­tures on this blog; to view the first one, click here.

Elvis GoldSuit 1959Postscriptually

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 “SPDSeries 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.

Fi­nally, thanks to the fol­lowing for their input to some or all of these articles:

•  Paul Combs (Elvis Records)
•  Frank Daniels (Frik­tech)
•  Dave Reynolds (Elvis Rare Records)
•  Joe Spera (Elvis Presley Tapes)



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