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Freddy Bienstock (04/24/1923 – 09/20/2009) was an American music publisher.  He was born  in Switzerland, then moved to Vienna with his family when he was three years old.  Later, he immigrated to the US in 1938, with his brother Johnny. The family ended up settling in New York City.

 He began to build his career in the world of music, being the person responsible for contacting songwriters to obtain material for Elvis, and selecting the songs for his first albums and films.

 In 1956, while the “Elvis” phenomenon was sweeping and revolutionizing culture and society around the world, Freddy Bienstock joined the New York division of “Hill & Range” (Elvis’s publishing company firm). Bienstock was given the task of finding songs distributor of his songs.  He was hired by Hill & Range in the 1950’s.  It was a music publishing firm, owned by his cousins ??Jean and Julian Aberbach.  The music publishing company had long specialized in country music.  There, Freddy Bienstock carried out the task of searching for songs for the company’s most innovative and promising performer: Elvis Presley.  In these early days, he provided Elvis with songs of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, like “Don’t Be Cruel” and “Jailhouse Rock,” among many others.


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He was the person that Elvis always had by his side when it came to recording his studio songs.  Freddy was essential when choosing his songs.  He was his music editor, the person who chose the songs to present to him, for 12 years.

Although Elvis would make his choices., Freddy was Elvis’ “ears.”  Freddy developed an ear for the music that Elvis liked to perform.

 Throughout Presley’s career, he was his link to dozens of the most prestigious songwriters of the time.

 Freddy was constantly looking for good quality material suitable for Elvis to perform.

Bienstock’s job was also to maximize Elvis’ income.  For this reason, songwriters were often pressured to give a large part of their royalties to the “Hill & Range” company and to Elvis.  These economic transfers is what would be called “the Elvis tax”.

 When Freddy started working with Elvis in 1956, his first hit with him was “Don’t Be Cruel.”  His duties on “Hill & Range” were primarily, as I said, finding songs for Elvis and presenting them to him before each recording session.  He would take it upon himself to collect songs from various songwriters and then go to Memphis and show them to him.

 Freddy tells us : “Elvis’s reaction to the songs I presented to him was always the same. If he liked it, he would say: ‘Leave it there, I like it’. But he didn’t go crazy about things. And if he didn’t like a song, he rejected it and said “It’s not for me”.

Bienstock said in an interview:

“For the first 12 years of his career, Elvis wouldn’t look at a song unless I’d seen it already.”

 Freddy and Elvis had many beautiful moments together.

 On Tuesday, June 16, 1959, Elvis arrived in Paris from Germany, where he was doing his service in the army,  accompanied by Charlie Hodge, Lamar Fike and Rex Mansfield.  Freddie Bienstock was waiting for him on the station platform, along with his cousin Jean Aberbach, co-director of “Hill & Range.”

 “This is the first time you’ve been to Paris?”  Freddie asked Elvis.  Elvis nodded.  Freddie insisted on taking them for a ride to visit the French capital at dawn.

 “Elvis, start by watching the sun rise over the city,” Freddy suggested.  They went to see Notre-Dame, the Sacred Heart…in the first light of dawn.” They were still numb from last night on the train, but the show was wonderful!

 Freddie then turned to Elvis and asked:

 – “Upset?”.

 – “Very beautiful,” said Elvis.

 He then winked at Charlie, “I’ve never been anywhere like this in Tupelo…”

Information provided by ELVIS. El Chico De Tupelo.



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