I understand that Elvis was a big influence in your music. What was it specifically that attracted you to his music?
The first time I saw him on the Ed Sullivan Show. I knew that I wanted to make people feel with my music the way I felt when I watched him perform. He was so natural. He felt every note he sang. So natural, yet naive! Just like many aspiring performers, I spent many hours in front of the mirror. It had to be perfect!
Where were you when you heard of Elvis' death?
When I first heard the news that Elvis died, I guess I was in shock. I was visiting my mom in the hospital when the news came on. " Elvis has Passed away!' the announcer said. I heard it, but it just couldn't sink in. It can't be true, but it was! Suddenly there was a big void inside. I felt like I lost my brother, or best friend. Helpless, but there was nothing I could I do!
What did you think about some of the tribute songs (Ronnie McDowell/The King Is Gone, John Fogerty/Big Train from Memphis, etc.) that arose in the time following his death?
I was pleased with some of the tribute songs that were recorded in his memory, if they were from the heart and not for some financial gain.
How did your song "Lisa" come about?
It is all very strange how our the song came about. My wife of 48 years, Mimi, who I would not have traded for any music career, wrote it for me. She was not comfortable with me pursuing a career in show business; she was most content with our nice little country home and soon, our large family with 6 children. She knew how helpless I was feeling about Elvis' passing. While I was away on business, she wrote "Lisa" for me. Here is where it gets strange. She said "I sat down to write it, and if was as if someone was telling me what to say!" It took her about 25 minutes to write. Finally, I could help to fill the void. I could now do something for Elvis that he could no longer do himself. The message to his daughter, Lisa, is just what we feel Elvis would say if he could.
Where was it recorded?
Bob Yaeger's UCA Studio on Lenox Ave Utica. It was recorded 2/25/78.
Among the musicians on the recording were Carmen Caramanica & Rick Montalbano. How did they get involved in the project?
I did not know Carmen Caramanica. I had heard of him, but we never met. When we did meet, he was exactly what I was looking for.When he listened to the cassette I had recorded, he replied, "Man, that's a heavy tune. I don't know if I can do anything with it." I responded "Why is that?" He said "The cat is dead; if we are going to do it, it must be done in reverence!" That is exactly what I needed to hear. Carm took control, brought in some of his key people, Rick Montabano, Sam Maggio, Pat Basile, and Cos Cosamonto, and into the studio we went.
The B-side was an Elvis number. Why did you choose that song?
I recorded "I Was the One" on the B-side as I felt this was how things were between Elvis and Pricilla. She was so young when they met, and he was deeply hurt when he lost her.
There are 2 pressings of the single - a blue label & a gold label plus a picture sleeve. Why 2 versions?
The original master went to Nashville (Gold Label), this is by far the best quality. The second pressing came about as we wanted to have additional copies available when we went to Memphis. The same master was used on both.
Tell us the story about trying to promote the single. I believe you went down South to push it. right?
We decided to take a trip to Memphis because we were receiving many inquiries, which was the result of airplay, especially from local radio personality, Hank Brown, who is the best! While in Memphis, we, Mimi and I, were interviewed by the BBC who was on location shooting a film, "Elvis Lived." We are proud to say that "Lisa" was used in the production of that film. I actually received some fan mail from England Fan Clubs.We also met with a record producer. He was very impressed. He said, "If you had this song available immediately after his passing, you would have had a Gold Record." His rationale was, all we needed was national air play. The DJs were playing all the Elvis tribute songs and most of them were terrible. He said, "You have something special there!" But, timing is everything!
Are there still copies of "Lisa" available?
I do have copies available. There may be some at Off-Center Records in Utica.
Have you recorded anything else?
As far as other recordings, I could never produce anything to top "Lisa"! For me that says it all. The lyrics, arrangement and production are as good as it gets from me. I have recorded 4 CDs, mainly covers from Morrison to Mraz, just for personal friends and family, not to release.
Do you still perform?
Now that I am retired and have the time to devote to my music, so much has changed. If I had dedicated musicians with the same desire as I have, I would definitely be out there performing now. Fortunately, I do have some great memories of some of the shows I did do during the late 70s and 80s. Trinkaus Manor Dinner Shows, Hanna Park, Utica / Rome Speed Way, Trade Wind, plus many Special Corporate performances in various hotels in the Syracuse area. Even a few field days.
What do you do now?
I do not actively pursue performing, however, I will upon request. My sons are also musicians; we have done some shows together, but not on a regular basis. I still love show business and still ask Jesus to take the desire away and give it to someone else that can use it. Unless he still has something in mind for me, the feeling is still there!
Your sons are also musicians. What words of wisdom or philosophies have you instilled in them towards the field of music?
My advice to my sons and other aspiring musicians is as follows:
1. Put yourself into the lyrics, feel them!
2.Make every performance better than your last.
3.Always leave them wanting more.
4.Love what you are doing.
5.Never lose the butterflies,just get them to fly in formation.
6. Never give up on your dream.
Doug, thank you for talking with us about your wonderful contribution to our local music scene. Is there anything you would like to add?
I honestly feel that if Elvis could have heard "Lisa", it would have made him happy. There will never be another Elvis! He changed our lives and the world!
January 8, 2012
January is the birth of a new year. It also marks the anniversary of Elvis' birthday on January 8th. The King of Rock and Roll gave the world tremendous love and music. August 16th 1977, Elvis died. His passing affected a great many lives. In the wake of his death, dozens of Tribute songs were released by all ranks of artists.
In 1978, a local musician recorded one of the finest Elvis Tribute songs, "Lisa." Sung from the viewpoint of Elvis singing to his daughter, from Heaven, it is very heartfelt and tender & with a memorable melody. This was the only recording by Doug DeMarche' Sr., but it is a great contribution to local music and to Elvis' memory. I recently spoke with Doug about his career and "Lisa."
Are you originally from Central NY?
I was born in Utica and have lived in this area all of my life.
What are your musical beginnings?
As a youngster, I sang country music, as that's all that was available, except the big bands, Glenn Miller etc. Then, Elvis came along.
Did you perform regularly in the area?
With raising a family, it was impossible to pursue a career in show business which was my dream. It still is. I would pray "Jesus, if I can't do this, then please take away the desire, give it to someone else that can use it. But he never made it go away!
"Lisa," an Elvis tribute song by Doug DeMarche, Sr.