Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Todd Morgan's Memorial Service


I’m here at the sound check for Todd’s service. I was hoping to blog live but since I didn’t make arrangements in advance I can’t get connected. It’s really too bad.

They are singing “Somewhere over the Rainbow” and the tears are already welling up in my eyes. The Imperials are here, Joe Guercio.

Terry Mike Jeffrey is rehearsing now. I’ll do the blow by blow when I blog the actual performance.

I’m sitting in the back of the auditorium now. By myself, near the sound board where I can plug in my laptop.

(note: you can click on a picture to enlarge it. To return, click on your browser's back arrow)


There are a couple of people in the first 2 rows that appear to be family members. I see Jerry Schilling and Gary Hovey chatting.

Scott Williams just came in. This is tough. Big hug, repeating what we’ve already said – wish it could be seeing each other under happier circumstances.

The Service begins

“Peace in the Valley” accompanies lots of pictures of Todd growing up. What a hoot!




More pictures of Todd, voiced over by Bill Rock with the story of his life. There is video of Todd throughout the years with EPE. Background music is “Bridge Over Troubled Waters”. Video of Todd at last year’s 30th Anny concert. Video of Todd with Matt Lauer. Pictures of Todd and his charities. Pictures, many pictures, of Todd and friends. His favorite song now under the voiceover: "My Way".

The Imperials come on stage. Sing “Peace in the Valley”. My throat is tightening again.

Jack Soden – Todd deserved credit for far more than anything you’ve seen him get credit for. From the beginning fans knew they had a kindred soul in Todd. He fought their battles and showed them wisdom when he thought patience was the better path.
Jack’s voice is cracking. He talks about the all-nighters. He talks about rewriting scripts for the next day. Todd would ask about Lisa – would she ever appreciate what we do? Reads statement from Lisa: His heart soul and dedication will never be replaced. I hope he knows how much I appreciated how much he did. Words can hardly describe what we have felt in this time (since Todd's death).

Sound Fuzion plays “A Little Less Conversation”. Awesome! Making me cry just thinking about Todd watching them.

Kevin Kern – Todd was his boss, but more of a friend than a coworker. Todd was the voice of Graceland, Now the voices of Graceland workers. (He quotes a number of them but I hope they post these because I cannot type fast enough. "Nobody did Steel Magnolias better than you." "Quiet kindesses."

Video clips of Todd on camera. Todd with a beard talking about the Graceland wall. Todd in the car museum, Todd with Matt Lauer. Larry King’s tribute.

Jerry Schilling – March 3rd – I needed to call Todd about the end-all documentary he’s been interested in. I couldn’t believe it when Gary Hovey called me later that day to tell me that Todd was gone. Normally at a time like this (the service) I would show Todd what I was going to say. We’ll all never be as eloquent without Todd. (His voice is cracking). Todd knew I had a book in me before I knew it. I thank him for his time, his expertise, and most of all for his friendship. Col. Beaulieu said “what I loved the most about coming to Graceland was to come to hear Todd speak”. I can’t imagine Elvis week without Todd. But as someone said, the show must go on. But because of all the work he did over the years we will always feel his presence.

Priscilla called, too and I’ve never heard her so devastated.


Video from Priscilla - Priscilla’s videotaped message was wonderful. He was a great friend. You could hear her voice cracking as she mentioned that Todd was supposed to have come out to cheer her on in Dancing With the Stars. She said had he been there he would have said “Love your hair. Hope you win”. It was an ongoing thing they had. We’ll miss him, she said.

Gary Hovey – Todd and I worked together. He was the creative guy and I was the one when I tried to make it work. (Voice cracking). I met Todd in 1990. No one cared about Elvis more than Todd. One day he called and said “Can you get Elvis’ voice track out of a video”? Well, why not? … led to the Symphony, then on to the Elvis the Concert. Stig Edgren, the producer, says working with Todd was the most fun he’d ever had. Todd was a perfectionist for all things, big or small. It was a working relationship between us, but also a friendship.

Todd always took the time to explain to the fans why something they wanted couldn’t happen, not just that EPE couldn’t do it. Todd named me Dr. No for all the things I had to say no to. At the end of last year Todd had been moved into my department. We had lots of projects we were going to work on together. We will miss his caring, his Candlelight talks. Nobody will replace Todd. In 2003 we got to do something we had been dreaming about – remastering the ’68 Special. During the edit, we had an hour left in the editing room. That’s when we put together what is now known as the “black and white” If I Can Dream.

Video - If I Can Dream – black and white version.


Justin Morgan, Todd's brother – "he never said 'love your hair hope, you win' to me". Thanks to EPE for the immense support. Growing up Todd was such a support to me and our brother Trevor. A guide, a champion, a refuge for me through my best times, my worst times. Funny cards, a great listener. Great memories. For my 11th birthday Todd was still a tour guide and he arranged for a tour of Graceland for me. It was a huge treat for me, including the special treatment he arranged. At the end of the tour Todd gave me a book on the life and times of EP. All the guides, including Billy Smith signed it, including Rising Sun (!). Later in life, the big tribute concert at the Pyramid, with all the musicians who were heroes of mine. At the end of the show Todd put a VIP pass around my neck. We went upstairs, there was Joe E. Firs tperson in the room is James Burton. I met them all – the Sweets, Ronnie Tutt. I was overwhelmed by the whole thing. I’m usually talkative but I was speechless that night. Todd was not only my brother but my friend. Words cannot describe how much my family misses him right now. We all shared a passion for music and we used to sing all the time. But we couldn’t get him to sing much. But one of the songs we did sing together was “Lead Me”. Todd and I would often sing this together in the car. Being on the stage with some of the people who worked with Elvis at such an event (Todd’s memorial) was not what he had in mind, but this is for Todd.

Justin sings “Lead Me” a cappella. He has a beautiful voice and this is so, so sad.

Terry Mike Jeffrey – I’ve known Todd for 22 years. We used to compete unofficially in Elvis trivia. One of Todd’s favorite Elvis songs was “Wonder of You”. He sings this with the Imperials. Asking the Imperials was impromptu, as they didn’t do it this way in rehearsal.

Joe Mosecho – I haven’t been appointed spokesman for the vocal groups Elvis sang with. But I think I can speak for all of them when I say we’re going to miss Todd. He was our best friend. He had a way of making you think everything was ok. He was someone you trusted. It’s difficult these days to have someone you can trust. He was sympathetic to our cause, which was gospel music. When we were planning the “He Touched Me” DVD he was so instrumental in helping us with details. His life was too brief. We will miss him.

The Imperials: “He Touched Me”. This is so hard.

Larry Edwards – friend of Todd. I direct Sound Fuzion. That’s how I met Todd. Todd had a way of making everyone feel good about themselves. He had the ability to make everyone feel important. Todd refurbished a 2 bedroom 1 bath house in Memphis. He knew what he wanted and was looking for another one. He found one and on closing day he invited some of his friends went with him to see it. He told us “I found the ugliest ranch house in Memphis”. And he did! We were at this house after he died and we were sitting around talking about this house. There wasn’t any “ugly duckling” that he didn’t think was beautiful and he made everyone feel good.

Joe Guercio. Joe told several stories about working with Todd but I couldn't get them all.... "After I did something with the Pope he called me “Pontiff”. When he did something particularly great I “promoted” him to “Cardinal” and that’s the way he signed his emails from then on. "

First time he walked into my condo in Nashville he saw a picture I had of Judy Garland. He was a huge Garland fan. So in honor of his love of Judy, Ruby Wilson sings “Over the Rainbow”.
Imperials – Sweet, Sweet Spirit. Surprise for me! I didn’t hear this at the sound check. I love this song!

Oh my. How beautiful. Makes my heart ache. I requested this song on Bill Rock’s show in memory of Todd, but because Elvis never recorded it, he had to pick my second choice, “He Touched Me”.

“How Great Thou Art” Joe says "the night we finished mixing this I called Todd and we played this version for him over the phone. This is for you, Todd. " Ruby sings with the Imperials and Joe is conducting.

Last vision: Joe Petruccio’s portrait of Todd!

It was a beautiful service. We got the chance to chat a little with everyone afterward. It's clear to me how much the "bigwigs" are missing Todd. Jack said he bets there isn't a soul on earth who didn't have a high opinion of Todd. Jerry is still reeling from not having Todd to bounce ideas off of. Scott tells me they still start many sentences at Graceland with "Todd did.." or "Ask Todd..." etc. Life goes on there, but it's still very surreal that Todd isn't there.

Others who were there, please feel free to add comments and pictures.
Thanks, EPE, for doing so right by Todd.

13 comments:

ELVIS said...

Thank you so very much for doing this for those of us who couldn't make it to Memphis. You are very much appreciated. God bless.

Craig Grandville said...

Hi SSQ- I wish I could have been there. Todd was on my mind and in my prayers throughout the day, so in a way, Todd knew I was present, and that is most important. However, I am sitting here missing the weekly e-mail chats Todd and I had regarding all things Elvis. Todd was able to wear so many different hats, it's a wonder how Graceland will replace him. The answer is; they won't be able to, because he is irreplaceable. Though this August will be especially difficult, it is comforting to know, "that in a way", Todd will be there in Heart and Spirit. And, "that is most important". 'SeattleSusieQ; If I was there with you by the soundboard while Terry Mike and The Imperials were rehearsing, tears would be in my eyes too. It is so great that TMJ and The Imperials were able to be there, because there are few better than those guys at bringing the emotion out. Craig Grandville, from New York

Gigi Ballester - Memphis said...

Thank you for doing this blog, Susan.

So many that loved, admired and respected Todd were unable to attend and by reading this, it will feel like they were there participating in this loving tribute to Todd.

Many thanks to EPE, the Graceland staff and everyone that was a part of this memorial service.

He will be missed and remembered always.

Jacquie said...

Dear Susie
I dont have words enough to tell you how grateful I am for your great job on this.
I first met Todd in 1997 and then at every Memphis/EW's trip if I can remember well. Besides of being a good friend, he gave me so much of his time, inspiration and encouragement to open my own Elvis's Fan Club over here in Brazil. I guess I never thanked him enough. He was such a special human being and I will miss him deeply (alredy do).
As I live so far away, I'd never be able to attend Todd's Memorial Service but somehow you made me feel as I was sitting there w/you, while reading your posts.
Thank you so much for this, once again and hope to meet you at EW2009, friend.

Take care,

Jacquie Ulmo
Brazil - Sao Paulo

Eva Plackner said...

Thank you very much for this blog and making it possible, that even the Elvis fans in such a far away place like Germany can feel like being a small part in this memorial service.
Todd was a wonderful person and it was always a pleasure to hear him speak at the events during tribute week in Memphis! Like we say here: he had the heart in the right place and perhaps he was so special to us Elvis fans, because he always remained being an Elvis fan - it didn't feel like he was working when he spoke to the fans.
So thank you again Susan, for sharing your photos and all the information!

Mike Freeman said...

Susan,

You covered this so well. I felt like I was there. I know how much Todd will be missed. He really cannot be replaced.

Mike

Anonymous said...

HI,
i COULDN'T GO TO HIS MEMORIAL,
CAUSE i HAD TO WORK THAT DAY,
AND IT WAS BEFORE I GOT OFF,
BUT I WAS THINKING OF HIM, AND HIS FAMILY, EPE, ETC.
I WROTE SOME THINGS ON HIS
SITE TO HAVE HIS FAMILY SEE,
SO,
I FEEL LIKE I DID SOMETHING,
HE WAS REALLY NICE
AND I ALWAYS KNEW WHEN HE WAS AROUND,
YOU COULD SEE IT, THE JOY OF HIS LIFE
WAS HIS WORK, AND DOING THINGS
RIGHT FOR ELVIS AND THE FANS,
AND IF THERE WAS SOMETHING THAT JUST COULDN'T BE DONE
HE HAD A REALLY GOOD REASON
AND EXPLAINED TO US THE REASON IN A WAY, THAT SAID,
I'M SORRY BUT IF THIS WAS TO HAPPEN
IT WOULDN'T BE GOOD
AND WE DON'T WANT BAD COMMENTS
ABOUT ELVIS ANY MORE THAN WE HAVE TO HAVE.

THANKS TODD, EPE, LISA, CILLA
AND HIS FAMILY,
AND FRIENDS FOR ALWAYS DOING
THE BEST FOR ELVIS AND FOR US,
IN EVERY WAY,

CARRY ON IN HIS LIGHT!!!

Anonymous said...

TO GOD BE THE GLORY
FOR THE THINGS HE HAS DONE!!!


THANK YOU JESUS FOR LETTING US
HAVE TODD WHILE WE DID,
YOU TOOK HIM TO BE WITH YOU,
AND WE ARE GREATFUL FOR THE TIME
WE HAD WITH HIM.

WE KNOW YOU LOVED HIM BEST
AND WE HAVE TO DO THE BEST WE CAN NOW,
CARRYING ON----

WE KNOW YOU'LL GIVE US STRENGTH
TO HELP US MAKE IT THROUGH THE NIGHT.

IN EVERY WAY, ACKNOWLEDGE HIM AND HE'LL DIRECT YOUR PATH.

Sandi said...

Hi SSQ, so sorry we didn't get a chance to visit after the service. You have done a great job convaying the service. It was extremely emotional for us all, and it was so beautifully done. I borrowed your photos to put with my review which I sent to my fan club members. Thanks so much! One of the things I was so happy to hear was that Jerry, Gary and Jack all mentioned how much of a fan Todd was and that he was a fan before an employee, and that was one of the things that made Todd so special to the fans. Thanks again.
Hugs
Sandi Pichon

Anonymous said...

All I can say is that I miss Todd everyday. He was so much more then just a co-worker. He was a friend..... and always will be.

Anonymous said...

Met Todd briefly at the 30th Anniversary Concert and saw the love he had not only for the fans, but for EPE and the family. What a devastating loss for all! To lose someone so special at such a young age but Todd truly did in life what he enjoyed doing his work will live on and so will his spirit.

bernard n. shull said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Magui said...

Realmente triste uma perda tão prematura.Está com Elvis, agora...