I was really hoping this would go the other way, folks, but Warner Brothers has released the following statement in response to an inquiry from a source of mine about the replacement of “Johnny B. Goode” with “Don’t Be Cruel” in the opening of Elvis On Tour.
Regarding the change on the opening song on the ‘ELVIS ON TOUR’ blu-ray and DVD release to Elvis’ ‘Don’t Be Cruel,’ after many months of effort, Warner Home Video was unfortunately not able to obtain the rights to include the song ‘Johnny B. Goode.’ Therefore, there was no choice but to change it so this amazing example of Elvis’ work could be released. With full approval of Elvis Presley Enterprises, a song was chosen that reflects the essence of Elvis and the nature of his performances during this time. That is the only change on this new release other than the amazing clarity the video now has and the incredible sound of Elvis in concert.” –Warner Brothers statement
I still support the Elvis On Tour release, though I strongly feel this alteration should have been communicated to the fans much sooner. I’m going to save further thoughts and comments about this for my reviews of the theatrical event and Blu-ray release.
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Update July 31, 2010: According to a post I later read on the FECC forum, an EPE associate also placed the above Warner Brothers statement on the Elvis Insiders forum (I’m not a member) on July 26. Three days later, ElvisMatters obtained further clarification from Warner Brothers on this situation:
ElvisMatters contacted Tom Lucas, VP Marketing manager of Warner USA, and asked for an explanation. The moment Warner decided to release a restored version for ‘Elvis On Tour’, they contacted all the composers and publishers for the songs that are included in the movie. In case of ‘Johny B Goode’, they never received any reaction from composer Chuck Berry or his publisher. Warner tried to contact them for a very long time, but never received any reply or contract. It is not the case that Warner did not want to pay enough money to include the song, they simply did not receive an offer to pay for it. Warner had two options left: forget the whole project and put it back in the vault, or release it with another intro. The fact that they choose ‘Don’t Be Cruel’ and the editing that was used on it, is food for another discussion.” –Source: ElvisMatters