Elvis: The RCA Bonus Photos (1958-69)
By Bob Pakes
Many Elvis Presley records in the 50’s and 60’s were released with a special bonus.
In most cases this was a photo, but the fans were also treated to a pocket calendar, a wall calendar, a fan card, a picture folio, and a poster.
Sometimes the bonus was handed out by the record shop owner, but most of the times the bonus was included within the sealed album. Of course, these bonuses were also another apportunity to advertise the Presley product, and we will often find an RCA catalog on the back. These items are now very collectable and some are quite rare.
Interesting for vinyl collectors is the fact that RCA attached a special sticker announcing the bonus gift on the front of the LP. Since these albums were always sealed in, the stickers are almost as rare as the bonus item itself because the average buyer would throw the plastic seal (including the sticker) away after unwrapping the album.
In this article we will take a close look at these bonus items, in chronological order. Every effort has been made to present all items and their corresponding album, if possible in sealed condition because of the sticker, and also including the album-backcover (in case the photo was visible from the outside) and give as much information as possible.
Elvis’ Golden Records
Not actually a ‘free’ bonus, since an additional $ 0,25 had to be paid to cover postage and packing, but when the coupon that was enclosed with this album was sent to RCA, you would receive an 8 by 10 inch Elvis Presley Photo Booklet.
Note the words “once-in-a-lifetime offer”. The Presley merchandise-train was in high gear.
I have not been able to identify which of the folio’s from around that time ‘belonged’ to this offer.
If anybody would like to share his knowledge on this, that would be very much appreciated!
This photo was given away for free with the purchase of the album.
You may however come across ‘sealed’ copies that include the photo, but in that case the album was sealed in by the shop owner.
It measures 8 x 10 inch, and the back of the photo is white.
A Touch Of Gold, Volume 1
This EP came with a fan card (about 2 x 3 inch).
As soon as you signed the card, you committed yourself to spend your money on Presley products.
Apparently the Colonel made unannounced housecalls to check if the “loyal” fans kept their part of the deal.
Girls! Girls! Girls!
Included with the album was a 1963 wall calendar.
It measures 11 x 11 inch.
The back of the calendar came in three variations:
1. A list of Elvis EP’s and LP’s.
2. A list of Elvis 45’s and EP’s.
3. A picture of the Colonel with a snowman.
This album was also released with a 1963 pocket calendar as a bonus (see the sealed LPM to the right).
It Happened At The World’s Fair
The bonus photo included with the album measures 8 x 10 inch.
Two different versions of the front exist: one with a white border, and one without this white border.
The back advertises 9 other Presley albums.
Elvis’ Golden Records, Volume 3
A very nice 16-page picture folio (measuring 8 x 10 inch) came with the purchase of this album. This folio was handed out by the recordstore owner.
Except for the front (which is from Wild In The Country) all other pictures in the folio are from the Girls! Girls! Girls! and It Happened At The World’s Fair photo-shoots.
Sometimes this album is being offered on auction sites as “Sealed and including the folio”, but since it was not sealed by RCA it must have been sealed by the shop-owner in 1963.
The bonus photo (measuring 8 x 10 inch) that is associated with this title was not sealed in with the album but given out by the record shop owner.
It is the only bonus photo from the 60’s that was not in color.
The back of the photo is white.
This poster (measuring 16 x 20 inch) was given to buyers of certain Elvis albums (around the time Girl Happy was released and therefore connected to this title in particular) at record stores.
The artist responsible for this painting, June Kelly, also painted the bonus photo that came with the Frankie And Johnny album in 1966.
This painting was also used in Harum Scarum:
Frankie And Johnny
The bonus photo, included with the album, measures 12 x 12 inch.
The back is white.
Apparently also copies exist that have an ad for the movie on the back, but I cannot confirm this as I’ve never seen this variation myself.
And here we have again the same artist, June Kelly, who painted the poster that was given away for free with the Girl Happy album in 1965.
The announcement of the bonus photo on the album-front is not a sticker this time, but rather incorparated into the design of the sleeve. Later pressings did not have the bonus photo, and where the announcement used to be we now would find the words TROUBLE DOUBLE.
The bonus photo, included with the album, measures 7 x 9 inch.
The back shows the Elvis RCA LP + Stereo 8 catalog.
Elvis’ Gold Records, Volume 4
There was no sticker attached to the frontcover announcing any bonus photo since this photo wasn’t actually sealed in with the album, it was given away for free when this LP was purchased.
The photo measures 8 x 10 inch.
The back is an RCA Elvis catalog.
The sticker that was used on the frontseal of the album to announce the bonus photo, is exactly the same as the sticker on the Spinout album (except for the color).
The bonus photo was included with the album and measures 8 x 10 inch.
The back is an RCA Elvis catalog.
Singer Presents Elvis Singing Flaming Star And Others
There was no sticker attached to the frontcover announcing a bonus photo since this photo wasn’t sealed in with the album, it rather came with it.
The photo measures 8 x 10 inch.
The back is an RCA Elvis LP + Stereo 8 catalog.
Two different versions exist: the first advertised Elvis’ upcoming NBC Special, the second (printed after the TV Special had aired on December 3, 1968) does not have this announcement.
From Elvis In Memphis
International Hotel, Las Vegas Nevada Presents Elvis, August 1969
LPM-4088 + LSP-4155
This Box Set contained a whole bunch of goodies:
* From Elvis In Memphis LP
* NBC TV Special LP
* color photo (8 x 10 inch) that was also included with the From Elvis In Memphis album
* 1969 pocket calendar
* RCA promo booklet
* two black & white photos
* Elvis RCA catalog
From Memphis To Vegas / From Vegas To Memphis
(2 LP Set)
To Dennis Berry, Cayetano and Bob Furmanek for scanning and sharing.
To Archie Lee and Rod Kinkade for sharing additional information.