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Last Updated: Wednesday, 28 January, 2004, 16:07 GMT
Elvis fans' outrage at tape sale
Elvis Presley
Elvis Presley memorabilia is highly collectable
Elvis Presley fans have expressed their anger at plans to cut up a rare tape of the singer's early songs and sell the snippets for auction.

The tape is said to feature a recording made by Presley during the early 1950s but is now too fragile to play.

The US firm Master Tape Collection says the tape will be cut into two-inch snippets and sold.

Jim Henke, chief curator at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, said the proposed sale was a "disaster".

The sale has been licensed by Elvis Presley's estate.


Michael Esposito, president of the Master Tape Collection, said fans who paid $495 (270) would get a cutting preserved on a plaque.

It has never been unspooled so it is not known how may pieces can be cut from it.

We do not own the tape. It was not our decision to make
Elvis Presley Enterprises
"This is a piece of the history," said Tony Bongiovi, an engineer and record producer involved with trying to authenticate the reel.

"Here's a chance to get something that nobody has."

Rock critic Dave Marsh, who wrote the book Elvis, called the destruction of the tape "outrageous".

"If they were cutting up something that was purported to be the original copy of the Declaration of Independence or an original copy of Moby Dick, we wouldn't even be asking, 'What's the big deal?'," he told the New York Times.

'Key part'

"They're destroying something forever that in the future could have real value."

"To destroy something that's such an important historic artifact is destroying a key part of American culture," said Mr Henke.

The master tape was bought at auction in Tennessee in 1992 and is said to contain the first songs Presley recorded in the early 1950s.

Known as the Sun Sessions, they were released by Sun Records before Presley moved to a big label.


The recordings have already been copied but there are doubts the original will ever be playable because of its poor condition.

Elvis Presley Enterprises said in a statement that unspoiled originals of the session were also held in the vaults of the BMG/RCA record company.

It added: "Whether it's okay to cut up a deteriorated original tape that found its way into a private collection could be debated endlessly.

"We do not own the tape. It was not our decision to make.

"Master Tape Collection presented convincing evidence of the tape's authenticity, and our licensing department thus felt comfortable working with them."

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