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By Jack Hackley
In 1953 in Memphis, a young 18-year-old Elvis Presley went in to a studio and paid $2.75 to make a demo record of his mother’s favorite song, “My Happiness.”
He did not own a record player, so he went over to Ed Leek, a friend and former classmate, to play the record, didn’t like the sound, and left the record with Leek.
In 1947, Lou Blasco, a musician who worked at Jenkins Music Company, had asked his wife Betty to write some lyrics to a tune written by a fellow musician.
And write a song she did. “My Happiness” is almost as popular today as it was in 1948, when for the first and last time, a song would be written by local Kansas Citians (Bornie Bergantine, Betty Peterson Blasco) performed by local artists (Jon and Sondra Steele) and recorded at Damone Studios on 14th Street (Vic Damone) and be named the No. 1 song of the year.
It has been recorded by hundreds of artists since 1978, including Ella Fitzgerald, The Pied Pipers, Andrew Sisters, Andy Williams, Fats Domino and country stars Jim Reeves, Hank Snow and Red Foley, to name a few.
Betty became a widow in 1953 and lived and raised her family on royalties from the song. In 1958, it was a huge hit for Connie Francis and Betty paid off her mortgage.
In 1986, nine years after Elvis’ death, Ed Leek released the demo record he had kept for 33 years.
Betty’s son, who lives in Blue Springs, told me those 80 words his mother wrote in 1947 had provided the Blasco family with royalties for 65 years.
For the past 16 years, I have written 320,000 words and the only time I have had a chance to make any money was when a guy offered to pay me if I would quit writing.
Jack can be reached at PO Box 40, Oak Grove, MO 64075 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit www.jackremembers.com