Elvis Costello Sings “Alison” on Elvis Presley’s Gibson J-200 Acoustic

November 4th, 2015


By Christopher Scapelliti

It was a case of Elvis Meets Elvis when Elvis Costello played his 1977 hit “Alison” on Elvis Presley’s Gibson J-200 acoustic.

Costello appeared on The Jonathan Ross Show on Saturday, October 31, alongside Priscilla Presley, where he serenaded the host and guests with a solo performance of his tune.

Born Declan MacManus, Costello was given the name Elvis by his then manager and combined it with Costello, a stage name sometimes used by his father, a professional singer and trumpeter. Ironically, Presley died about one month after Costello released his debut album, My Aim Is True, in 1977, on which “Alison” appears.

The Gibson J-200 Costello is playing was Presley’s favorite acoustic guitar, providing him with plenty of volume and clarity. Though it was designed in the late Thirties (as the SJ-200) to be a punchy rhythm machine for country musicians, Presley found the J-200 to be the perfect instrument for playing his hard-driving style of rock and roll.

Presley received the 1956 J-200 in October 1956 and quickly adopted it as his main guitar. A year later, he had a custom tooled-leather cover made for it, which can be seen in live concert photos and films. The J-200 made appearances in several of his feature films, including Jailhouse Rock, King Creole and G.I. Blues (shown right). Over the years, he added custom appointments to it, including the pointy pick guard and his name inlaid on the fretboard.

The guitar is now on display at his Graceland mansion in Memphis.

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