CONTAINS 1955 ELVIS PRESLEY SUN SESSIONS 2

Live Broadcast Recordings for Elvis Presley, July 2, 1955
Studio Session for Elvis Presley, July 11, 1955
Live Broadcast Recordings for Elvis Presley, August 20, 1955
Interview for Elvis Presley, August 31, 1955
Live Broadcast Recordings for Elvis Presley, October 1, 1955
Studio Session for Elvis Presley, November 1-4, 1955


 
Lou Millet >

JULY 1, 1955 FRIDAY

"Elvis Prestley", as he was advertised, pushed on with Scotty Moore and Bill Black as they  made an appearance at the Casino Club in Plaquemine, a small Louisiana town southwest of  Baton Rouge. Elvis Presley performed from 8:30 to 1:00 p.m. Admission was $1.50.  Appearing with Elvis Presley was the club's owner, Lou Millet and his Melody Makers.


After  the show, Elvis Presley drove to Waco, Texas, for a radio interview. The music industry  weekly Cash Box had just selected Elvis Presley as the best "Up and Coming Male Vocalist" in  the country music field. Elvis wearing a red sports coat that night at the Casino Club.

According to Shirley Fleniken, ''I'd known for a few weeks that Elvis was coming back to our area, to a nightclub near Baton Rouge, called the Casino Club. It was in Plaquemine, about twenty miles away from Baton Rouge, where I lived. About two months earlier, I had started going steady with a boy, Donald, and we were still dating. I wanted badly to see Elvis again, and for Donald to see him also, even though Donald was a bit jealous of Elvis, since he'd seen his picture on the wall in my room, and he knew I played his records all the time''.

''July 1st came at last, but the unthinkable happened, I woke up that morning sick as could be, with a very hot fever. I felt miserable. But I KNEW I had to get better, because I just had to go see Elvis that night. My mother knew how much it meant to me. She called the doctor and had him come to the house. He gave me a penicillin shot. Within a few hours, I was feeling better. My mother let me go. I was so happy that I wouldn't have to miss seeing Elvis! Donald and I rode in his light blue '39 Ford Coupe to the Casino Club. The Casino was a large dance hall, with tables on both sides of it, and a bar in the front. There was a fairly large crowd. Elvis, Scotty, and Bill played atop a low stage at the back of the hall. None of us dances, we surrounded the stage and watched, screaming, yelling, and clapping, we just couldn't get enjoyed it. Elvis put on a great show, as usual. He sand all the records he had out, plus some other rhythm and blues songs. The band took a short intermission. i noticed Elvis standing alone, leaning up against a wall in the back of the hall. he seemed a little bit downhearted, or maybe in deep thought, there was a faraway look in his eyes. I went up to him and started talking to him. He was very nice and friendly. I told him about us seeing him in New Orleans, and he said, 'I remember you and your sister. Y'all were driving a red Pontiac'. I said, 'It wasn't a Mercury, it was a Lincoln'. I couldn't believe he remembered meeting Gayle and me on the highway. I told him how much we were enjoying the show. He asked me if that was my boyfriend. I said yes, and Elvis said, 'He's got a nice set of ducks'. Later I told Donald what Elvis said, and he wasn't as jealous of Elvis after that. A girl walked up and asked Elvis to dance. He said, Í can't dance'. A guy came up and said, 'Elvis, can I buy you a drink'? He said, 'I don't drink'''.

Melvin Seneca says, ''The Casino Club was the most popular club around in the mid-fifties. When you walked in, there was a bar, and on each end of the bar were doors to walk into the dance hall. There were restrooms on either side of the stage. On each side of the room you had tables and chairs where you could sit, and there was dancing in the middle''.

Theresa Rome says, ''My brother went up to the stage and got Elvis. He came over and said, 'How y'all doing, folks'? He shook hands with everybody, and you would have though he was everybody's friend. Everybody stood up and screamed when he started his song. The club was packed. There were cars parked along the highway. He played requests, and some songs he played over and over''. Anonymous female attendee say, ''I didn't care if I ever saw Elvis again. I was disgusted when I saw him. I couldn't even look at him. He didn't act normal by standards''.

According to Orney Hebert, ''He brought his guitar out to his car, and we followed him. In general conversation he invited us to sit in the car and told us, 'I'm going to play something for y'all'. I can't remember being in the backseat, think there were fife of us, and Elvis sat up front on the passenger seat with his guitar. Elvis sang parts of five or six songs he was fixing to come out with. He told us he was going to change his style. We were in his car about 10 to 15 minutes, I think during the first intermission. There were people standing outside all around the car''.

And Dealis Vaughn says, ''Elvis was at Alexander's Drive-In. I had a 1955 Ford Victoria that was pink and white. Elvis asked whose car that was, and I told him it was mine. That's how we started talking. Elvis told me he had one also. He said his was the same color but was a Crown Victoria. Those sold for a little more''.

LOU MILLET - was a Columbia recording artist whose first two records included the similarly titled "Weary, 
Worried And Blue" and "Worried, Lonesome And Blue". Lou Millet was born in 1926 in Baton Rouge, 
Louisiana. He learned to play the guitar when was 16 years old and soon formed his own band called "The 
Melody Ramblers". That band stayed together for about four years and appeared on several radio stations in 
the area including WLCS and WJBO as well as WLBR in Lebanon, Pennsylvania. 

Lefty Frizzell gave him his first big break and in 1953, he was still associated with Lefty, by fronting the 
band during one of Lefty's tours. Lou was with the Standard Oil Company for seven years before getting into 
the entertainment business.

Previous his Go release, pressed in 1961 by Rite Records, Lou Millet recorded for Feature in 1951), 
Columbia (1952-1954), Ace (1955), Ekko (1956) and Republic (1956). His ''Uncle Earl;; is a tribute to 
Louisiana Governor Earl K. Long (1895-1960). ''Uncle'' Earl Long was committed to a mental institution 
following his scandalous involvement with Bourbon Street stripper Blaze Starr and an “incoherent and 
irrational public outburst” where he denounced opponents and shouted obscenities.


Elvis Presley with his band on stage, Louisiana Hayride, Municipal Auditorium, Shreveport, Louisiana, July 2, 1955. >

JULY 2, 1955 SATURDAY

Cash Box, another national music trade weekly, voted Elvis Presley the "Up and Coming Male  Vocalist" in country music. Elvis placed an ad in the magazine thanking all of the disc  jockey’s for voting for him while plugging his latest release, "I'm Left, You're Right, She's  Gone"/"Baby Let's Play House". Elvis Presley made his weekly visit to the Louisiana Hayride  in Shreveport.

Elvis Presley had been on the road constantly since Christmas, and Bob Neal arranged for him to take a break in early July. Besides, Neal needed time with Elvis to discuss the issue of his record company, and the record company needed a new single for August 1955.

Elvis himself had to get a new car. He bought a brand new black 1955 Cadillac, requesting that it be re-painted pink. Scotty Moore bought a new guitar, replacing his Gibson ES 295, while Elvis picked up a custommade leather cover for his guitar, to protect it from getting scratched by his belt buckle.


JULY 1955

"House Of Sin"/"Are You Ashamed Of Me?" (SUN 225) by Slim Rhodes is released at about this  time.

UNKNOWN DATE JULY 1955

Elvis Presley purchased the mirror in a Memphis store one day after watching Lowell Fulson  use a backstage mirror to perfect his moves in the Club Handy, located at 195 Hernando  Street, Memphis, Tennessee.

UNKNOWN DATE SUMMER 1955

Elvis Presley and his group performed in Wichita Falls, Texas. Reliable witnesses recall a  show by Elvis Presley at Cotote Stadium the football field for a local High School. Elvis  Presley performed at mid-field on a stage constructed from what may have been an oil-field  flatbed truck. No known performance by Elvis Presley in Wichita Falls took place at a school.


© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

Elvis with his band live on stage, July 2, 1955 >

A turning point occurred for Elvis Presley on July 16, 1955. This was a special day because it marked a significant steo forward in his career. His fourth single, ''Baby Let's Play House'', had entered the Cash Box's country and western chart at number 15. This marked Elvis appearance on the National charts, as opposed to the State charts he had been in previously.


This National appearance coincided with an evening Hayride performance and in celebration of his national hit; he sang the flip side of the single to his Hayride audience ''I'm Left, Your Right, She's Gone''.

LIVE BROADCAST RECORDINGS FOR ELVIS PRESLEY
FOR KWKH'S LOUISIANA HAYRIDE, SHREVEPORT, LOUISIANA, 1955

MUNICIPAL AUDITORIUM, 705 GRAND AVENUE AND
MILAM STREET, SHREVEPORT, LOUISIANA
JULY 2, 1955 - VIEWING TIME TV-STATION KWKH
SESSION HOURS: SATURDAY 8:00PM-11:00PM
PRODUCER - HORACE LOGAN

01 - "I'M LEFT, YOU'RE RIGHT, SHE'S GONE" - B.M.I. - 1:50
Composer: - Stanley Kesler-Bill Taylor
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - FRA1-8152 - Acetate courtesy of Joe Kent, Louisiana Hayride
Recorded: - July 2, 1955
Released: - February 5, 1999
First appearance: - February 5, 1999 RCA BMG (CD) 500/200rpm 07863 67675 2-2-14 mono
SUNRISE ELVIS PRESLEY
Reissued: - November 2011 Memphis Recording Service (CD) 500/200rpm MRS 30001256-12 mono
THE COMPLETE LOUISIANA HAYRIDE ARCHIVES 1954-1956

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Elvis Presley - Vocal and Acoustic Rhythm Guitar (Martin Dreadnought 18)
Scotty Moore - Electric Lead Guitar (Gibson ES 295)
Bill Black - Acoustic Upright Bass (Kay Maestro M-1)

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©



Newspaper advertisement The Corpus Christi Times, July 3, 1955. >

JULY 3, 1955 SUNDAY

Elvis Presley appeared from 4:00 to 8:00 p.m. at the Hoedown Club a t 4320 South  Lexington Boulevard in Corpus Christi, which is now South Padre Island Drive. In fact the site  where the Hoedown was is a strip mall today home to a furniture store, between Weber and  Everhart on SPID.


Advertising mentioned his trio and "stars of the Louisiana". Tickets priced at $1.50 in  advance and $1.75 at the door, were available a both locations of Kelly's Music Stores.  That would be at least three sets. There were other performers on the show that day that  were not listed in the ads. It's reasonable to think that Elvis stretched his show a bit to  accommodate the requirements of the gig.

In fact there are reports that he did at least two  songs that were not in his usual set list, ''Born To Lose'', originally done by Ted Daffin's  Texans and ''Do The Mess Around'' which was an rhythm and blues hit for Ray Charles in  1953.

According to travel companion and bodyguard, Red West, remembers an incident in Corpus Christi, ''I couldn't play the drums worth a shit. That was before D.J., and there's a set of drums on stage. Elvis says, 'Get up there and keep a backbeat'. Shit, I can't play drums, I play trumpet. 'Well, just keep a backbeat', Elvis says. I played that whole song with one stick, ''Maybellene'', why can't you be true''.

This concert was a warm up for the gospel jubilee the following day.


  Stephenville Recreation Hall, Stephenville, Texas. >

JULY 4, 1955 MONDAY

Still in Texas, Elvis Presley played his one-and-only "triple header". The first pair shows, in  Stephenville and nearby De Leon, were billed collectively as the Battle Of The Songs, an  annual event promoted by W.B. Nowlin, Mayor of De Leon.

Each year the Battle offered the  finest in country music and Southern gospel singing. A $1.00 ticket was good for a full day of  music at either venue.

Elvis Presley began his day with a 10.00 a.m. appearance at the City Recreation Hall in  Stephenville. He performed his regular rockabilly routine and was followed by Slim Willit,  with whom he worked in Abilene the previous February. The remainder of the morning show  was an all-gospel review featuring the Blackwood Brothers Quartet, R.W. Blackwood, Jr., and  the Statesmen Quartet. The Stephenville show was stage-managed by Raymond Carter, W.B.  Nowlin's son-in-law.


Also at 10:00 a.m., on an outdoor stage at Hodges Park, just east of De Leon, another full  day of country and gospel music got underway. Featured during the morning portion of this  show were the Farren Twins, a country act, followed by three gospel acts, the Deep South  Quartet, The Stamps Quartet and the Ozark Stamps Quartet.  As each group finished their  portion of the show, they would drive the 23 miles to Stephenville, to be replaced by the  acts from Stephenville who were arriving in De Leon to play the afternoon performance. In  show-biz jargon, this was known as "bicycling the talent".


Elvis Presley at Hodges Park, DeLeon, Texas, July 4, 1955. ^

When Elvis Presley arrived at Hodges Park he was driving a white Cadillac that he had  recently purchased to replace the pink one that burned a couple of weeks earlier. Not only  did he have Scotty Moore and Bill Black with him, but Vernon and Gladys as well. During the  lunch break in De Leon, the entertainers and the Presley's took refuge from the summer  heat in the Blackwoods' new air-conditioned bus.



Newspaper advertisement, Stephenville Empire Tribune, July 1, 1955. >

By the time the Statesmen Quartet opened the second portion of the De Leon songfest the  crowd numbered 5,000 at the Memorial Hall in Brownwood. The Blackwood Brothers Quartet  followed, offering a touching tribute to the members who had died in a light plane crash a  year earlier in Alabama, on a tour that was to have included a show in De Leon.



Elvis Presley  was so moved by their performance, that he decided to perform only gospel music during his  set. He sang "The Old Wooden Church", "Precious Memories", "Known Only To Him", and "Just  A Closer Walk With Thee". Teenagers who had waited patiently through hours of gospel music  for their first change to see Elvis Presley, the rock 'n' roller, were disappointed.

Slim Willet  was scheduled to close the show, but his band failed to make it to De Leon because of car  trouble. Scotty Moore and Bill Black tried their best to fill in, but after a song or two, Willet  dismissed them and continued on, accompanied only by his guitar.

Even in 1955, there was some confusion surrounding these two shows. When it first began,  the July Fourth Battle of Songs was held only in De Leon. However, for a few years before  1955, the shows had been all-day extravaganzas taking place in both De Leon and  Stephenville. Advertisements in 1955 mentioned that, in the event of rain, there would only  be the show in Stephenville, which could be held indoors at the City Recreation Hall. During  June, De Leon was struck by a tornado and for three weeks prior to July Fourth the weather  was terrible. Just a week before the show date, another severe storm stuck the area. Upon  hearing this news, R.W. Blackwood, Jr., published a local notice that the De Leon portion of  the day's events was cancelled. This was not the case.

Nowlin put together an estimated 5,000 gospel shows all across Texas from the 1940s into  the late 1980s. Over those years, the only serious problem he had with his promotions was  the time he booked Hank Williams for a July Fourth show in De Leon. Good Ol' Hank arrived  four hours late, too drunk to go on stage.

Colonel Tom Parker was an old friend of Mayor W.B. Nowlin, dating from the first Battle of  Songs in 1948. At that time, the Colonel managed Eddy Arnold, who was the featured  performer. Hank Snow had also appeared at one of the Battle of Songs when he was managed  by the Colonel. In July 1955, Parker visited with the Nowlin family for a day or two before  the Fourth. It was on this trip that Colonel Parker hoped his contact with Elvis Presley  parents would bring Elvis under his managerial wing. Mayor Nowlin, his daughter and his  niece all remember seeing both Vernon and Gladys, but Cecil Blackwood, a friend of both  Elvis and Gladys, recalled talking to only Vernon while on the Blackwoods' bus.

Finally, at 8:00 p.m. that evening, Elvis Presley, the Farren Twins and Slim Willet performed  at the Soldier's and Sailor's Memorial Hall in Brownwood in a benefit show for Engine  Company No. 1 of the local Volunteer Fire Department. Tickets were $1.00 for adults and  50-cents for children. Although not listed in pre-show advertising, Wanda Jackson states that  she also appeared on this show. It was the first time that she met Elvis Presley.

"When I started really getting to know him. I have some photographs with him were taken on  this tour. It's strange that I didn't take too many pictures of Elvis because I took a lot of  pictures in those days. I took photographs in school and I've always loved the subject. Maybe  I was a little embarrassed because the opportunities".

"He was a southern gentlemen and my folks liked him a lot, so I figured that he must be all  right! He was always a gentlemen and I flipped over him like a million other girls".

"Some photographs are from the Texas tour and I also have a couple that were taken in  Missouri. One was taken by a poster and the other was taken by his car, his pink car, with a  bass on top of it".

According to Red West, I remember Bob Neal booked him at an gospel show. Elvis didn't know it. He got there and saw Blackwood Brothers and the Statesmen Quartet and said, 'What the hell has Bob Neal done'? Luckily Elvis was a great fan of gospel music, that's what he wanted to be in the first place, so he got up and sang three or four gospel songs, like the rest of them, and left. He didn't even sing one of his records''.

Following this show, Elvis Presley and his parents returned home to Memphis where Elvis  scheduled for a two-week vacation. Elvis Presley was happy that Billboard had rated "Baby,  Let's Play House" number 15 on the Country Best Selling In Stores chart. The record  remained on the chart for ten weeks, peaking at number 10 in late July 1955, another sign  that Elvis' hard work and constant touring was paying off. To capitalize on the Billboard  listing, Colonel Tom Parker prepared a late summer, early fall booking schedule.



WANDA JACKSON - Female rockabilly singer of the 1950s born Wanda Lavonne Jackson in  Maud, Oklahoma, on October 20, 937. She was a High School senior in Oklahoma City  where she had been discovered by Hank Thompson. She began recording for Decca  Records in mid-1954.

A year later, her father contacted Bob Neal after seeing one of Neal's  ads in Billboard. Neal thought it would be a good idea to add a female singer to Elvis  Presley's tours.



Wanda Jackson appeared on the same bill with Elvis Presley on the "Hank  Snow Jamboree" in July and August 1955, and a two-week tour that travelled from  Abilene, Texas, to St. Louis in October 1955 and again in early 1956.

Miss Jackson would  be become known as a female rockabilly star after she switched to Capitol Records in  1956. In 1960 Wanda Jackson recorded a version of Elvis Presley's "Party" called "Let's  Have A Party" (Capitol 4397). Her biggest hit was "Right Or Wrong" in 1961.


JULY 5, 1955 TUESDAY

Elvis Presley returns to Memphis for a two-week vacation. During this week his next-door  neighbor, fifteen-year-old Jackson Baker, recalls hearing Elvis rehearse the song ''Mystery  Train''', and then, after recording it, listen to the acetate over and over again.

JULY 7, 1955 THURSDAY

Scotty Moore trades his Gibson ES 295 guitar for a Gibson L5 at O.K. Houck Piano Company.  The new guitar will go with the custom-built Echosonic amplifier he purchased for $495 in  May, which he is currently paying off in installments.

It is most likely at around this same time that Elvis Presley, too purchases a new guitar, a  Martin D-28, which will be seen in pictures taken in Tampa on July 31. The new guitar has a  tooled leather cover which, in addition to its decorative qualities, prevents the back of the  instrument from being scratched during performances by Elvis' belt buckle.

Elvis also buys a pink 1955 Cadillac Fleetwood Sixty with a black top to replace the Cadillac  that has burned. A removable wooden roof rack is used for the band's instruments.

JULY 9, 1955 SATURDAY

Even though he was "officially" enjoying rest and recuperation, Elvis Presley honoured his  contract with the Louisiana Hayride and made an appearance this evening.

UNKNOWN DATE SUMMER 1955

Local residents remember that Elvis Presley performed in a tent in Shelbyville, Tennessee.

JULY 11, 1955 MONDAY

Elvis Presley went back into the Sun studio. In about a week he would be out on the road  again, and it seemed like he had scarcely been home at all. He went around on Beale Street.  Only in the studio were things still the same; Marion Keisker in the outer room, with the  venetian blinds slanted to fight the heat, Sam Phillips in the control room, always ready for  something to happen. For this session Sam Phillips had brought in another original number  and another drummer. The song was, once again, a country composition by Stanley Kesler,  the steel guitar player who had written "I'm Left, You're Right, She's Gone", and the  drummer was Johnny Bernero, who played regularly with a number of different country  bands and worked at the Memphis Light, Gas & Water Company across the street.


UNKNOWN DATE JULY 10-16 1955

SPEER PHOTOGRAPHY STUDIO - Formerly located on 1330 Linden Avenue, William and  Vancil Speer, professional Memphis photographers and founders of the Speer Photography  Studio, took here Elvis Presley's first publicity stills in 1954 and July 1955, for Sun  Records, at the studio.

In July 1954, Elvis Presley was a skinny kid with light brown hair and bright, star-filled  blue eyes. His photo's was taken with a large format camera. 
William Speer, 1967 >

In his younger days, William  Speer dreamed of working with his camera in Hollywood. Speer was able to indulge his  passion by making portraits of visiting entertainers.

One day, Elvis Presley came to Speer's  shop, a few months later, with his then-manager, Bob Neal, wanted professional stills made  to impress Hollywood studios. William's wife, Vancil, was attracted to Elvis Presley in a  more feminine way. Her role in the portrait shoot was wardrobe and set design. She  persuaded Elvis Presley to take off his shirt for some of the portraits by convincing him the  two shirts he had brought were not enough for the number of pictures they wanted to  take. A sheepish Elvis complied to her request.

The memories of the Speer's: Speer's Elvis series includes a smiling Elvis, although, he says, "I don't usually  take smiling jackass pictures. If you're looking at a person with a smile, all you see is the smile. The smile  kills the whole thing. The picture is in the eyes''. "When he first stepped in front of the camera, I told him,  'You sure would make a wonderful actor''', says photographer William Speer of his most famous subject.

William Speer grew up as a fan of black-and-white movie glamour shots in the glass cases in theatre lobbies  when he was a child. He used what he calls "Rembrandt lighting" with an overhead spotlight casting  shadows downward. Before the photos were even developed, Speer and his wife, Vacil, knew there was  something special going on: "It felt like an electrical charge in the room. You can tell the famous ones or the  ones who are going to be famous. They stand out in a room without you even knowing who they are," says  Vacil Speer. Speer remembers thinking Elvis "looked like Burt Lancaster. He could have played his brother  in the movies''. When the photographs were developed, no one was disappointed. "He came off that dead  film like dynamite. Either you've got it or you haven't'', says the photographer.

A few days after the sitting, at the Loew's Theatre in Memphis, Elvis ran into the Speers in the lobby and  wanted to know how the pictures had turned out, but he was shy talking to Mr Speer. "You don't like me" he  said nervously, "So I guess I better talk to your wife". When he looked at the proofs, he wrote a note on the  back of each of the bare-chested ones, saying, "I don't want this one!" "I never photographed him again, but I  used to see him later on, driving around Memphis on his motorcycle. You know when he got old and let his  hair grow long, he looked like his mother''.



The Speers usually shot two or three portraits, but Vancil pushed for twelve. Perhaps, Elvis   Presley was more relaxed knowing that the photographer was across the room from him,   instead of at close range. Speer had to shoot at a distance because he used an unusually   large camera for portraits - a rare German Goerzdader lens that weighed more than twenty   pounds. Instead of f-stops, the camera had "waterhouse stops", where one drops different   apertures into the lens. Because Elvis Presley moved around so much, William Speer shot  him with the apertures wide open.


A few years later, Elvis brought Anita Wood to have her professional still made. This time   Elvis was a distraction, not the subject. After Speer told him to be quit or go away, Elvis   Presley stopped visiting their studio.

Ten years later, Priscilla Beaulieu, his future wife,   was captured on fill with the same camera, her unmistakably "Presley" bouffant hairstyle   primped to perfection. Nonetheless, the Speers, especially Vancil, remained fans of Elvis   Presley. The couple is retired now and lives in one of the most unusual homes in Memphis,  which is devoted to their artistry. The camera that once focused at the Speer Photography   on Elvis is still on the other Blue Light Studio at 115 Union Avenue. For a reasonable fee,   professionals at the Speer Photography Studio will photograph you using this camera.   Photographer William Speer died on Sunday, December 4, 2006 in Memphis at the age of   89.



For the last few months of his time at Sun Records, Elvis Presley pumped his hormonal energy into country, blues, and just about anything else he felt like. With Scotty Moore on the same type of electric hollow-body guitar favored by jazz and country swing players, and Bill Black playing the same upright bass he used on his country gigs, Elvis Presley sang and beat out rhythm guitar on a worn 1943 Martin D-18. During Elvis' Sun tenure, drums and occasionally piano were added to his sound.



But it was Sam Phillips, creating modern record production at the same time Elvis was inventing rock and roll, who gave the band its really big beat, enlarging the group's sound electronically far beyond its three, four, or five instruments, adding echo and using distortion that made the records sound huge and fierce.

For the most part, those revolutionary early discs that set the style for rock and roll would be considered "unplugged" by today's standards. Elvis Presley's guitar style was strictly country rhythm, open chords with ringings strings strummed with a straight pick. Those who say Elvis Presley did nothing more than rip off black bluesmen need look no further than his guitar playing for proof to the contrary. No bluesmen ever played rhythm like that. Black slapped his instrument, rhythmically striking the fingerboard between each pluck of the strings, creating a stuttering percussive effect akin to a snare drum. It was a common comedic technique in the country bands that he'd performed in, often in vaudevillian "rube" costume complete with blacked-out teeth. For his bass to produce maximum slap. Bill Black tuned the E (string) down and let it slap against the neck. Scotty Moore played a bluesy, fingerpicking style drawn from the work of Kentuckian Merle Travis, tossing in some dissonant Memphis blues licks and jazzy chords.


Put all those parts together in Sun's tiny one-room studio, and producer Sam Phillips got an ensemble sound on record much fuller than three pieces had any right to be. The repertoire of those Sun records was just as remarkable as the sound.

Along with the yin-yang of his Delta blues/Kentucky bluegrass first single, Presley crooned "Harbor Lights", "Blue Moon", belted out rhythm and blues "Good Rockin' Tonight", the Roy Brown/Wynomie Harris, and mixed things up even more with western swing//blues "Milkcow Blues Boogie", a straight blues by fellow Sun artist Little Junior Parker "Mystery Train", and even a country polka "Just Because". 

Reuben Cherry's ''Home Of The Blues Record Shop'' is to the right. ^

A Memphis musician in the classic W.C. Handy tradition, Elvis Presley was nothing if not versatile, and that would remain the single defining constant in his career, as he drew inspiration from a dizzying array of musical sources.  He haunted the Home Of The Blues record shop on Beale Street, and made Joe Guoghi's Poplar Tunes store his second home and all together turned it into pure Elvis.

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

STUDIO SESSION FOR ELVIS PRESLEY
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1955

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION 10: MONDAY JULY 11, 1955
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS


Elvis Presley spent part of his vacation at the Sun recording studio. He waxed "Mystery Train" and "I Forgot To Remember To Forget", which would be paired for his fifth and final Sun Records single. "I Forgot To Remember To Forget" would become his first Number One record, reaching the chart in February 1956 on Billboard's National Country Single chart. The song remained on the charts from October 1955 to June 1956, the longest of any of Elvis Presley's single records.

This side, is no less powerful in its own right. For once, Sam Phillips commissioned a first rate piece of original material for his new star. Again, everything works here to perfection: the lyric, the melody, Presley's sexy crooning, Scotty Moore's memorable solo. Perhaps the strongest element is Johnny Bernero's drumming which, more than anything else, defines this recording. Shifting effortlessly from his trademark shuffle to a heavy backbeat during the guitar so elevates this record to greatness.

01 - "I FORGOT TO REMEMBER TO FORGET" - B.M.I. - 2:28
Composer: - Charlie Feathers-Stanley Kesler
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U-157 SUN - F2WB-8000-NA RCA - Tape Box 1
Recorded: - July 11, 1955
Released: August 1, 1955
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 223-B mono
I FORGOT TO REMEMBER TO FORGET / MYSTERY TRAIN
Reissued - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801 DI-4-10 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1

"He just didn't dig it at first. Maybe it was a little too country, the chord progression, and it was a slow song, too, recalled Sam Phillips, "but I loved the hook line, and I thought it was something we needed at that point to show a little more diversification. So I called Johnny, he was either in there that day, or I called him, 'cause he had played on some other things for me. And we got it going, and he was doing four-four on the beat, and I said, 'That don't help us worth a shit, Johnny'. I told him, 'What I want you to do is do your rim shot snare on the offbeat, but keep it four-four until we go into the chorus. Then you go in and go with the bass beat at two-four'. And by doing that, it sounds like "I Forgot To Remember To Forget" is twice as fast as it really is. And Elvis really loved it then".

Finally, Sam Phillips had his dream: a two-sided masterpiece by his great white hope, and with both sides owned by his publishing company, Phillips was ready to do battle. This single, Presley's last for Sun, eventually became his first #1 country hit.

Charlie Feathers remember, ''I didn't start the song. Stan Kessler came while we were working on a song 'I Been Deceived' where he played steel on. He had a song called ''You Believe Everyone But Me'' he wanted me to do and then take it up and try to get Elvis do the song.

At that time he mentioned a song he had started ''I Forgot To Remember To Forget''. There was something about that title I liked and said 'Man, that title you mentioned on that song is great.' I went over to his house the next day and we got in there and we played a little and I learned ''You Believe Everyone But Me'' but that song didn't move me too well. So I said, let's get in this thing here, ''I Forgot To Remember To Forget''. We finished it up right there. I put the melody to it and Stan put the biggest part of the words down.

I took it up, but Sam didn't think much of it and it stayed up there two or three months until he finally recorded it and it then turned out to be one of the best things he had done at the time. I was up there when they cut it and Elvis wasn't doing it right. He tried it several times, but Sam didn't think it was right. So we went downtown for lunch, came back and all the time I was sitting there. I'd hum the song, I was humming the song to Elvis and I was showing him that he actually did the song wrong. He was doing the bridge in the song wrong. I got out there and when he came to the bridge I motioned at him, kinda indicated and he did it that way and Sam said "Without a doubt, that's it!" He liked it then and that was it.


July 22, 1955, after recording ''I Forgot To Remember To Forget'', Minden, Louisiana. >

It won all kind of awards, it was the number one record at the time. Elvis had never had one in the top ten at that time, so it was his first. Also, ''I Forgot To Remember To Forget'' was the first millionseller, but it was on Sun and RCA combined, you see. They re-released it when he went to RCA because they didn't know how to record him, they thought they had the wrong artist.



''I Forgot To Remember To Forget'' was real big and I've seen a  check down there at Sun records for 2,000 dollars which rightly belonged to Stan Kessler and me. Stan might have got his, 'cause he stayed on there way after me, but I haven't seen one lousy cent yet!''.

According Stan Kesler in 1997, he wrote and produced the song while groping through a painful divorce. Although Charlie Feathers is listed as the co-writer, Kesler made it clear that he alone wrote the song. "Charlie did all the demo tapes and I thought it was only fair to give him the half song. We had an agreement to pool our talents", Kesler remembered. Since Kesler didn't like to sing, he depended upon Feathers to make the demonstration tape. "I think we worked together pretty well", Kesler noted. "We all knew that Elvis was bigger than the local scene", Kesler concluded, "and it was only a matter of time before he was a star". Part of the magic that facilitated that stardom was provided for Elvis Presley by people like Stanley Kesler. At the July 11 session, Kesler, an accomplished country musician, persuaded Sam Phillips to augment Elvis' sound with a piano, and Frank Tolley, a member of Malcolm Yelvington's Star Rhythm Boys, was brought into the recording studio. Not only did Tolley's piano virtuosity provide a new energy for Elvis Presley's recording, it helped break them into the mainstream country market.

In July 11, 1955, Jack Earls stopped by the Sun studio to watch Presley cut ''Mystery Train'', Phillips originally released the song on Sun by blues singer Junior Parker (SUN 192). Phillips owned the song publishing rights, so he was very interested in seeing Presley record it.

02(1) - "MYSTERY TRAIN" – B.M.I.
Composer: - Herman Parker Jr.-Sam Phillips
Publisher: - Memphis Music - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Take 1 - Tape Box 1
Recorded: - July 11, 1955
Released: - Sun Unissued – Probably Tape Lost

"Train I ride fifteen coaches long...", "Hold it", the beat dies away. "Hey Elvis you got that wrong, should bin 'sixteen coaches'". "Uh, wall I dunno Mr. Phillips, sir, I kinda reckon it was fifteen". The argument goes on, suddenly one of the guys hanging around the studio ones up, "I got the Junior Parker record at home, Mr. Phillips". Sam Phillips leans towards the microphone and booms out his instruction; "Well go get it son, go get it". Jack Earls scampers out of 706 Union Avenue roars round to his house and rushes back with SUN 192, "Mystery Train" by Little Junior's Blue Flames. Perhaps it didn't happen exactly like that, but it is a fact that Jack Earls was at the studio in July 1955, when Elvis was cutting "Mystery Train", and he did go home to get a copy of the record so that Elvis could learn the words. Just one of several contributions made by Jack Earls to the annals of rockabilly music. 6 numbers of coaches in Elvis' song "Mystery Train". Ironically, there were sixteen limousines in Elvis' funeral procession.


After Elvis Presley, Sam Phillips, and Scotty Moore listened to Parker's version, they flipped it over and played the b-side, "Love My Baby". Scotty Moore listened intently to the instrumental virtuously of black guitarist Pat Hare, whose guitar work had more in common with Delta bluesmen than with country musicians.  It took half-adozen attempts before Scotty learned Hare's guitar licks from "Love My Baby". Moore used them on "Mystery Train", a re-combination of elements from the record that transformed Elvis' "Mystery Train" enough to make it popular among both country and rock music fans. Sam Phillips was tickled with the result. Revenge was also a motive for recording "Mystery Train".

Billboard Advertisement, September 1, 1955. ^

"There was an extra bar of rhythm thrown in at one point", said Scotty Moore, "that if I sat down to play it myself right now, I couldn't, but with him singing it felt natural". "It was the greatest thing I ever did on Elvis", said Sam Phillips. "It was a feeling song that so many people had experienced, I mean, it was a big thing, to put a loved one on a train: are they leaving you forever? Maybe they'll never back. 'Train I ride, sixteen coaches long', you can take it from the inside of the coach, or you can take it from the outside, standing looking in. Junior was going to make it fifty coaches, but I said, no, sixteen coaches is a helluva lot, that sounds like it's coming out of a small town. It was pure rhythm. And at the ens, Elvis was laughing, because he didn't think it was a take, but I'm sorry, it was a fucking masterpiece!".

"I wrote this thing with Junior Parker, but I really think "Mystery Train" is my personal Elvis Sun track", recalled Sam Phillips. "It's one of the most simple songs in the world, it's one of the greatest vamp beats. This was done, and the take that we used... if you'll notice on the end of that thing you'll hear Elvis laughin' cause he didn't think we had a take and he was laughin' at the end of it. He thought, hell, he'd screwed it up, and it's just fantastic. It's an incredible take to me".


On "Mystery Train", all you have is quintessential rockabilly: a confident, virile vocal, staccato revert lead guitar, audible rhythmic guitar strumming by Elvis Presley, and driving percussive bass. If anyone ever asks you what a slap bass sounds like, just play them this record. There is not much room for improvement here. Even the abortive fadeout, during which Elvis' "Wooooo" disintegrates into unselfconscious laughter, seems part of the magic. The distance between this track and Little Junior Parker's original (SUN 192) is immense, from the telling lyrical change (Parker's "It's gonna do it again" is transformed by Presley into "It never will again") to the tempo change from a sluggish freight to a runaway locomotive.

Both Junior Parker's 1953 original of "Mystery Train" and Elvis' astonishing rethink are perfect in their way. Like "Unchained Melody" and "Come Softly To Me", the title is mentioned nowhere in the song, compounding the enigma. Elvis Presley sets a tempo closer to "Love My Baby", the flip side of Junior's single. As he breaks up near the end, he is clearly thinking that this was a rehearsal. Sam Phillips knew better. "The greatest thing I ever did on Elvis", Sam Phillips insisted. No argument.

02(2) - "MYSTERY TRAIN" - B.M.I. - 2:25
Composer: - Herman Parker Jr.-Sam Phillips
Publisher: - Memphis Music - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U-156 SUN - F2WB-8001 RCA - Take 2 - Tape Box 1
Recorded: - July 11, 1955
Released: - U-156 August 1, 1955
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 223-A mono
MYSTERY TRAIN / I FORGOT TO REMEMBER TO FORGET
Reissued - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801 DI-4-9 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1

In 1989, Elvis Presley is everywhere in the film "Mystery Train", directed by Jim Jarmush, of three separate but interlocking vignettes. A Japanese couple visit Graceland and Sun Studios, Elvis' ghost is seen, a sleazy hustler tries to sell an Italian widow what he says is Elvis' comb, every room in the Arcade Hotel, located at 540 South Main Street, has a portrait of Elvis Presley, and two Elvis songs are heard: "Mystery Train" and "Blue Moon".

''Mystery Train'' did not make pop charts. What's scary about the young Elvis Presley is his assurance, the complete ease with which he swings into action. Here, singing a song in which rhythm and blues singer Junior Parker reworked the folk images from country songs like the Carter Family's "Worried Man Blues", Elvis rides an urgent Scotty Moore guitar lick and propulsive Bill Black bass line with complete confidence: He owns the song and nothing within it is unknowable to him or could ever betray him. Which is pretty weird because he's singing about something close to a death ship, a "long black train got my baby and gone", which may also be looking to snatch him. By the end, he's persuaded himself - and you, too - that it's bringing her back.

The recording itself is a masterpiece, the sound virtually liquid as it hits the car, the legendary Sun echo finetuned like a Ferrari. Junior Parker's version, a minor rhythm and blues hit in 1953, is spooky because it details what fate can do to a man. Elvis makes you want to defy all omens, he to the graveyard and dance fearlessly at midnight.


March 13, 1956 RCA Victor(LP) 33rpm LPM-1254 mono Elvis Presley >

The last cut they did was the rhythm and blues number, "Tryin' To Get To You", that they had tried without success earlier in the year. This time it was as free and unfettered as anything they had ever done, even with the addition of Johnny Bernero on drums and Elvis to use a piano, which was probably played by Elvis himself, and like "Mystery Train" it aspired to a higher kind of, mystery, for want of a better word.


There was a floating sense of inner harmony mixed with a ferocious hunger, a desperate striving linked to a pure outpouring of joy, that seemed to just tumble out of the music. It was the very attainment of art and passion, the natural beauty of the instinctive soul that Sam Phillips had been searching for ever since he first started in music; and there was no question that Elvis Presley knew that he had achieved it.

03 - "TRYIN' TO GET TO YOU" - B.M.I. - 2:31
Composer: - Margie C. Singleton-Rose Marie McCoy
Publisher: - Hill and Range Songs Incorporated
Matrix number: - F2WB-8039-NA - Tape Box 1
Elvis' acoustic guitar drops out of the mix on this track, supporting the suggestion that
the piano part, barely audible in the track, may be his own.
Recorded: - July 11, 1955
Released: - March 13, 1956
First appearance: - RCA Victor (LP) 33rpm LPM-1254 mono
ELVIS PRESLEY
Reissued: - June 1992 RCA BMG (CD) 500/200rpm PD 90689(5)-5-1 mono
THE COMPLETE 50'S MASTERS

It's been reported in 1982 by RCA that Elvis Presley recorded "Oakie Boogie" while at Sun Records in late 1955, they had session notes but couldn't find a tape. He probably sang the song on the "Louisiana Hayride". Perhaps a transcription of one of those broadcast will someday surface. Included in the 1955 folio "The Elvis Presley Album of Jukebox Favourites".

04 - "TENNESSEE SATURDAY NIGHT" - B.M.I.
Composer: - Billy Hughes
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - BOX 11 - Probably Slow Boogie Tempo
Recorded: - July 11, 1955
Released: - Sun Unissued - Probably Tape Lost

05 - "TWEEDLEE DEE" - B.M.I.
Composer: - Winfield Scott - Written in 1954
Publisher: - Unichappell Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Acetate
Recorded: - July 11, 1955
Released: - Sun Unissued - Probably Tape Lost

No content with covering Etta James, Georgia Gibbs ripped of the great LaVern Baker not only on ''Tweedlee Dee'', but also with ''Tra La La'', which LaVern had performed before the cameras in ''Rock, Rock, Rock'' (Vanguard, 1957). LaVern Baker was one of the premier Atlantic (1955) artists during the label's early years, and re-surfaced in 1988 at the Atlantic Records 40th Anniversary Concert in New York. British heart-throb Frankie Vaughan also had his fair share of recording other people's songs from across the Atlantic. Other recordings are Georgia Gibbs (Mercury, 1955); Frankie Vaughan (Philips, 1955); Little Jimmy Osmond (MGM, 1973); Pat Boone (dot); Vicky Young (Capitol); The Mirettes (MBA); Pee Wee King (RCA); Wanda Jackson (Capitol); Bill Haley and His Comets (Sonet); Elvis Presley (Louisiana Hayride/The Music Works).

06 - "MESS AROUND" - B.M.I.
Composer: - Ahmet Nugetre
Publisher: - Unichappell Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Acetate
Recorded: - July 11, 1955
Released: – Sun Unissued - Probably Tape Lost

07 - "OAKIE BOOGIE" - B.M.I.
Composer: - Johnny Tyler
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Recorded: - July 11, 1955
Released: - Sun Unissued - Probably Tape Lost

Frank Tolley of Malcolm Yelvington's band has also been mentioned as the piano player. Backing Elvis were Scotty Moore on guitar, Bill Black on bass, and Johnny Bernero on drums.

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Elvis Presley - Vocal and Acoustic Rhythm Guitar (Martin Dreadnought 18)
Scotty Moore - Electric Lead Guitar (Gibson ES 295)
Bill Black - Acoustic Upright Bass (Kay Maestro M-1)
Johnny Bernero - Drums (Gretsch Round Badge Kit)
Probably Doug Poindexter - Acoustic Rhythm Guitar
Probably Smokey Joe Baugh or Frank Tolley - Piano
Probably Charlie Feathers - Unknown

Within days of the session Sam Phillips had shipped the tape off to be mastered by Bill Putnam at Universal Recording in Chicago with the words, ''Give me ''hot'' lever on both 78 and 45s and as much presence peak and bass as possible!'' written boldly on the Scotch Magnetic Tape box. There were two noteworthy aspects to this transaction. One was that up until now he had done all of his mastering himself, on his own Presto lathe. The other was that he should be willing to trust anyone to bring out the sound in what he recorded, given how much he knew you could lose in the mastering process. But this was Bill Putnam, universally acknowledged as the progenitor of modern studio recording and one of Sam Phillips' true heroes in the business. Bill Putnam not only had the kind of equipment that was needed to get the levels that Sam wanted for this record, Bill Putnam had the kind of ''feel'' necessary to bring out the excitement he felt.

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©


Oscar Davis plugs the sale of ''Elvis Presley Juke Box Favorites'' between acts May 26, 1956. >

THE ELVIS PRESLEY ALBUM OF JUKEBOX FAVOURITES - Folio of fifteen Hill and Range Songs,  sold in end 1955 for one dollar. The four Elvis Presley songs were: "That's All Right", "You're  A Heartbreaker", "I Forgot To Remember To Forget", and "I'm Left, You're Right, She's Gone".  Hill and Range had no idea what frustration they would create over the years when they  decided to "fill out" the book with eleven of their non-Elvis songs, leading to speculation that  Elvis Presley recorded them at Sun Records but they were never released.

The filler songs  were: "Rag Mop", "I Almost Lost My Mind", "Cryin' Heart Blues", "Blue Guitar", "Always Later  (With Your Kisses)", Tennessee Saturday Night", "Gone", "I Need You So", "Give Me More,  More, More (Of Your Kisses)", Oakie Boogie", and "That's The Stuff You Gotta Watch". Elvis  Presley did attempt to perform "Rag Mop" at Sun, and would later record "I Need You So".  The rest is still a mystery, but Elvis Presley may not have recorded them at all.


STANLEY KESLER - Perhaps the single, most underrate person at Sun Records, Kesler, quiet,  professorial - type musician, is arranger and producer of great skill. As an assistant to Sam  Phillips at Sun, Stanley Kesler was a behind-the-scenes genius, who helped to mould the Sun  Sound.

As a steel and bass player, Stanley Kesler remains an outstanding musician, he played with  Clyde Leoppard and the Snearly Ranch Boys and contributed some luminous steel guitar solos  to early recordings by Charlie Feathers, the Miller Sisters, and play on Carl Perkins' first two  Sun Records, and by many others artists.

Kesler also wrote some early material for Elvis  Presley, including "I'm Left, You're Right, She's Gone" and "Playing For Keep". Stanley Kesler  travelling with Al Rogers throughout the South and Southwest during 1949-1951, and begun  to write songs.

After the onslaught of rock and roll, Kesler learned the electric bass and worked countless  sessions between 1956 and 1959, when he left to launch the Echo studio with Jack Clement  and start up Crystal Records. Although Crystal didn't last long, Kesler eventually prospered  during the Memphis recording boom of the mid-to-late 1960s, scoring big with Sam the Sham  and the Pharaohs, whom he cut at Sam Phillips' new studio on Madison Avenue.

In the 1960s, Stanley Kesler produced two albums for Jerry Lee Lewis and after a few years  out of the music business, Kesler came back to roost at the Phillips studio, where he signed  on as an engineer. His renewed involvement with the music business took a new turn when  he dusted off his electric bass in 1986 to join Roland Janes and J.M. Van Eaton in the Sun  Rhythm Section band. Section has been so successful at clubs and festivals in the past few  years is that they capture the irrepressible joy of playing that the real Sun rhythm section  caught in their day. Kesler today remains associated with studio work for Sam Phillips and his  sons, Knox and Jerry.

"I met Elvis at Sun. At that time, he was just another guy, hanging out at the studio like a lot  of others. He was just beginning to pick up steam with his first record, but he was just  another of the guys. He was a cool cat, you might say; very calm, very congenial.

I didn't do any sessions with Elvis. I once came in just after he had recorded "I Forgot To  Remember To Forget". I heard the playback on that one. He would do three more of my  songs after he joined to RCA - "Playing For Keeps", "Thrill Of Your Love" and "If I'm A Fool". I  remember the first time I heard Elvis sing. I was in the car, on my way to the Cotton Club. I  would switch the station between Dewey Phillips and Sleepy Eyed John and I heard this  song, "That's All Right", and, being a hillbilly, I thought, 'Man, what is this" What is this guy  trying to do?

I liked it, but it just didn't sound right to me because I liked what Faron Young and Webb  Pierce were doing at the time. This one was real foreign, but you couldn't help but like it. I  had no idea that by the end of the year this guy, Elvis, would be recording one of my songs.  It never entered my mind. But Sam took my songs to Elvis. They both agreed on it and went  ahead and did it. It went gold over the years, but not then. Then, Sun didn't have the  distribution that labels have now. Elvis was then more or less a "Southern thing".

"I heard Elvis' recording of my first song in the studio. I was thrilled to hear it. The way you  write a song, you can always hear the way you think it should be done, but the way he did  it, it was kind of away from the way I had pictured it. I had pictured it a little more smooth.  If you could hear the outtake of that song they called it "My Baby Is Gone", it's been  bootlegged in Holland; it's probably gold over there on the bootleg - it's a slowed down  version. It's what they tried at first. That's kind of the way we wrote it. He kind of jazzed it  up. He put a feel into it. It's indescribable. We loved it. He more or less did that with all of  my songs that he recorded".

"On "I Forgot", he did it pretty close to the way I had the feel of it. Absolutely, Elvis put his  own signature into most of what he did in the studio. I think he was unique in that way. Most  singers have a certain sound. Elvis' sound was so pat, when you heard his records you  couldn't help but know who he was when you heard the first line, even if you had never  heard the song before.  I didn't attend Elvis' recording sessions at Sun. For one thing, it was so small in there.  Sometimes people get intimidated when they have an audience and they are trying to  record; doing things different; trying different things. For another, the worst thing a writer  can do is go to the session where his song is being recorded, because you hear different  things and it frustrates you and sometimes you'll say, 'Man, I thought you ought to do it this  way", and this is really bad because that's the producer's job. It causes friction. It's best to  wait and hear the finished product".

"When I heard "I'm Left", I loved it. When the royalty checks started coming in, I loved it  even more. It sounded a lot better when it was in the Top Ten. In those days, all recordings  was strictly mono. You did everything live. If you made a mistake, at the end you went back  to the top and started over. There wasn't any going back and punching in, overdubbing this,  overdubbing that (like today). You made a mistake, you did the whole song over again. Or  you'd let it go. Lots of times they'd just let it go if it weren't too out of kilter.

I know Elvis, Scotty and Bill did quite a lot of takes on some of their first songs. Now Jerry  Lee Lewis was different. If Jerry Lee didn't get it in one or two takes, he'd lose interest. I  only toured once with Elvis. I was backing some of the other country artists on a tour he was  on. I never actually played behind Elvis Presley. This was the July 31-August 4, 1955 tour in  Alabama and Arkansas, winding up here at Overton Park Shell in Memphis".


JULY 15, 1955 FRIDAY

Elvis Presley and Dewey Phillips visited the clubs on Beale Street, where Dewey was still  hailed as a conquering hero and this white boy who sang the blues was readily accepted as  yet another of Dewey's ideas.  "Elvis had the feel of Beale Street", said Sam Phillips. "He was probably more at home there  than he was on Main. You know, Elvis didn't walk into Lansky Brothers because someone  suggested, 'Why don't you buy a chartreuse fucking shirt".



Elvis with his mother Gladys, and his father, Vernon Presley, July 1955. ^

"We had a lot of fun with him",  said WDIA's Professor Nat D. Williams, the unofficial ambassador of Beale. "Elvis Presley on  Beale Street when he first started was a favorite man... Always he had that certain  humanness about him that Negroes like to put in their songs".



Elvis Presley and Sonny Neal (top right) at McKeller Lake, Mississippi, July 1955. >

JULY 1955

All went waterskiing on McKellar Lake together and picnicked out at Riverside Park; when  Sonny Neal, Bob Neals' son, ran for student council in the spring, Elvis Presley, Scotty Moore,  and Bill Black appeared at the Messick High Chapel program in support of his campaign.


Elvis Presley often admired the Chris-Craft speedboat that Bob Neal had parked on a trailer in the driveway of the Neal residence. On more than one occasion, he had expressed a desire to try waterskiing, a favourite pastime of Bob Neal's family.

To avaid the crowds, Bob invited Elvis and his parents to joind them on a weekday afternoon for a picnic at McKellar Lake. It wasn't a natural lake, but rather a water channel built as part of the Memphis port area, and as muddy as the Mississippi river it was connected to. Without mother Gladys knowing about it, Elvis persuaded Bob to come back the next day and, bubbling with enthusiasm, he soon learned, under the auspices of Sonny Neal (son of Bob Neal), how to operate the skis. Bob brought a camera, and some of his shots later appeared in the first Presley song folio that Neal secured through publishers Hill and Range.



Elvis Presley backstage at the Louisiana Hayride, Shreveport, Louisiana, July 16, 1955. >

JULY 16, 1955 SATURDAY

Elvis Presley had his first nationally ranked single as "Baby Let's Play House" entered the   Billboard "Music Popularity Charts" at number 15 on the Country And Western Best Sellers In   Stores list for the week ending July 6th.



The single stayed on the chart for fifteen weeks,   reaching a high of number 10. The summer issue of Country Song Roundup, show a picture   of Hank Snow on the cover, featured the story "Elvis Presley - Folk Music Fireball", following  national features in Cowboy Songs and Country and Western Jamboree.

Elvis Presley appearance at the Louisiana Hayride, Municipal Auditorium, Shreveport, Louisiana.

TIME TO EXPAND THE BAND - This next tour marked the permanent expansion of Elvis  Presley's backing musicians.

Up to now, Elvis was backed on his live appearances primarily by Scotty Moore on guitar and  Bill Black on bass. In April 1955, the names of pianist Floyd Cramer and steel guitarist Jimmy  Day began to appear occasionally in ads for Elvis Presley's shows. Cramer and Day were  members of the house band during the Louisiana Hayride shows on Saturday night, and they  were part of the Hayride tour packages on which Elvis appeared. Now they were working  exclusively for Elvis Presley during the week. Cramer would remain Elvis' pianist of choice  on tour until 1961 and in the recording studio in Nashville until the late 1960s, at which  time Cramer was enjoying popularity on his own. Jimmy Day remained with Elvis Presley  through most of 1955. As mentioned earlier, he later became a member of Ray Price's band,  the Cherokee Cowboys.

Elvis only occasionally used a drummer either on tour or in the studio before August 1955. In  April, he even hired a local drummer in Odessa. When it came time to make the position  permanent, D. J. Fontana, the staff drummer of the Louisiana Hayride and a member of Hoot  and Curley's band in Shreveport, was the musician chosen. D.J. has said that he played with  Elvis Presley at least once at Shreveport's Lake Cliff Club, which may have been in November  1954. He may have also played shows with Elvis Presley in east Texas in early 1955. D.J. has  often been quoted as stating that his first playdates with Elvis Presley outside of Shreveport  were Lufkin, Longview, Kilgore and Tyler. Except for Lufkin, the upcoming tour is the only  one that includes the three other towns. Interestingly, in the brief home movie taken during  the Magnolia Gardens show that follows, a drum kit and the dim image of a drummer can be  seen behind Elvis Presley off to stage left. D.J. remained under contract to Elvis Presley  from 1955 to 1968, longer than any other musician. He worked recording sessions, appeared  in movies, and played on tours.

While Elvis was accepting a few small gigs in preparation for his third appearance at the Big D Jamboree and, ultimately, two weeks of Tom Parker and Bob Neal arranged tours, Colonel Parker was monitoring mail sent to select area promoters. While settling the last details of the Andy Griffith tour, the Colonel had Tom Diskin work on the further exploitations of Elvis.

Tom Diskin was told to send materials out to new contacts, from Texas to all across the South, and up to North Carolina. But he also cautioned not to spread out the contacts too wide geographically, to avoid unmanageable driving distances with Sam Phillips and Sun Records was worded in his July 20 letter to Tom Diskin: ''Let's not plug Sun Records at this time. Sun is doing nothing for us''.

Two days later, Tom Parker arranged a conference call with partner Hank Snow and Bob Neal. Parker and Snow offered to buy the Sun contract for $10,000, indicating that Elvis could be on a proposed weekly Hank Snow TV show, The idea was that, instead of Elvis getting a higher record royalty than the three per cent he had with Sun, he would remain at the same percentage, but Parker and Snow would get two per cent for their contributions. Meanwhile, RCA Records came forward with an offer geared at Elvis, with a $5,000 singing bonus, and throwing Sun Records a choice of a flat payment of $12,500 or a $20,000 total buyout, recoupable from royalties.


Wanda Jackson and Elvis Presley, Cape Girardeau, Missouri, July 20, 1955. >

JULY 20, 1955 WEDNESDAY

His vacation over, it was time to get back on the road. En route to his show, he stopped off  to visit Floyd Presley in Sikeston.  Elvis Presley's first stop was a benefit in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. Tickets were $1.00 for  adults with children under twelve getting in for 50-cents. The show raised money for the  Southeast Chapter of the United Cerebral Palsy Fund.

Prior to the ten o'clock concert, there  was round and square dancing beginning at 8:30 p.m.  Appearing with Elvis Presley at the  Cape Arena Building were Wanda Jackson, Bob Neal, Bud Deckelman, "Little Willie" Bryan,  and Johnny Daume and His Ozark Ridge Runners. Before Elvis Presley cane on stage, he  teased the crowd by sticking his head out of the curtains, first on one side of the stage, then  on the other. In the course of the engagement Elvis converts Wanda Jackson to the  rockabilly cause, of which she becomes one of the most prominent and convincing, female  progenitors.

Tom Parker by now is gearing up for full representation, instructing Tom Diskin not to mail  the Presley ''poop sheet'' all over the country at once by instead to send bathches to one  geographic area at a time. This will mean that resulting bookings will not be spaced so far  apart. ''Let´s not plug Sun records for this time'', a adjures Diskin. ''Sun is doing nothing for  us''.



Silver Moon Club, Newport, Arkansas. >

JULY 21, 1955 THURSDAY

Elvis Presley and his group appeared at the Silver Moon Club, located at 167 Highway in  Newport, Arkansas. The Silver Moon was a large building able to hold about a thousand  people. Also appearing with Elvis Presley was Porky Sellers and his Arkansas Playboys. Although not mentioned in the ad, is probably that this unit also performed late into the  night at Seller's club, Porky's Rooftop.

"Betty Craft and some others had seen Elvis over at the country and western and the Silver  Moon over in Newport", said Glen Swindle.

"They were going to be seniors at Bono High  School in September and they were looking for some fund raisers to sponsor the class trip to  Florida. They asked Elvis Presley if he would be interested and he agreed".

According to Mike McGibbony remembers the Silver Moon, ''It was the greatest honky-tonk there ever was. It was a one-story building with a bar up front, opened up into a big room with tables and a dance floor down the bandstand. They had little glowing beer signs around the dance floor on the wall. They were lit up and would turn around and glow. The stage was about two feet tall, and at another level was the drummer''.

Alfred McCullar, manager of the Silver Moon says, ''The Silver Moon had a 1,250 capacity, and had a band about four nights a week. It would often be just a local band playing for a dance, but they were also able to bring in bigger names. We had heard about Elvis. He had been in Newport before at Porky's Rooftop, a smaller club, but I had never seen him. That night was a complete sell-out, and I thought that he was just a very nice young kid''.



JULY 22, 1955 FRIDAY

Elvis Presley performed in the "Pioneer Jamboree" in Odessa, Texas, with Ferlin Husky, the  Browns, Tibby Edwards, and Sonny James. The show was booked by Lee Alexander of radio  station KECK.

The predominantly country crowd continually hollered out for "Baby Let's Play House". Few  people in the audience realized that a black singer was the source of Elvis Presley's latest  hit.


Scotty Moore, Elvis Presley, and Bill Black on stage in  Minden, Louisiana, July 22, 1955. ^

The idea that Elvis Presley appeared in Odessa on this date was spawned by Billboard. An  item in the July 23, 1955, edition mentioned that Elvis Presley, Ferlin Husky, the Browns,  Tibby Edwards and Sonny James had stopped by Lee Alexander's KECK radio show "recently".  Also mentioned in the article, but in a separate context, was Odessa's Friday Night Pioneer  Jamboree. This has led researchers to the assumption that all the performers were part of a  touring group that might have played Odessa on Friday, July 22. It didn't help that Elvis  Presley unaccounted for on that date.

In checking, there was a Pioneer Jamboree on this date. However, the large advertisement  in the Odessa American on the day of the show does not mention Elvis Presley. The actual  performers were on July 22 were Johnny Horton, Betty Amos, Jimmy Day, Dalton and Lula  Joe, and David Houston. Elvis Presley did tour with this package in August - but not July.

According to Peggy Cheshire Baldwin, Elvis Presley and his band performed at Minden, Louisiana, Joy Drive-In Theater on a flatbed truck from the local feed store. One of the things Elvis liked most about the performance was it was the first time he's seen his name in lights, compliments of her uncle, John Cobb, the drive-in's manager, and a Louisiana Hayride fan.


Newspaper advertisement July 16, 1955. >

JULY 23, 1955 SATURDAY

Elvis Presley returned to Dallas play the Big D Jamboree in Dallas, Texas, on this date instead of the   Hayride. Oscar "The Baron" Davis, an advance man   for Colonel Tom Parker, realized early on that the youthful crowd was there primarily to see  Elvis Presley perform. Held at the Sportauditorium, the admission for the show was sixty   cents for adults and thirty cents for the kids. 


The Dallas city government booked the Presley  concert to promote a free bus ticket program for those who came by public transportation. A special newspaper ad read: "you get a FREE bus ticket home... if you COME by BUS" Elvis' show prompted a Dallas newspaper to remark that he was "one of the brightest new stars".)

Johnny Burnette and his Rock And Roll Trio is practising for an appearance on the "Ted Mack  Original Amateur Hour".

According to future Sun recording artist, Roy Orbison, ''I first saw Elvis line in '55. It was at the Big D Jamboree in Dalles and the first thing, he came out and spat on the stage. In fact, he spat out a piece of gum, but that was right away shocking! And he was this punk kid, a real weird-looking dude. Just a real cat, singing like a bird. I can't over-emphasize how shocking he looked and seemed to me that night. He had Floyd Cramer playing piano along with Scotty Moore and Bill Black too. Did ''Maybellene'', then the kids started shouting. There was pandemonium in the audience 'cause the girls took a shine to him and the guys were getting a little jealous. Plus he told some real bad, crude jokes, y'know, this dumb off-color humor, which weren't funny and his diction was real coarse like a truck driver's''.


JULY 24, 1955 SUNDAY

The night after the "Big D Jamboree", Elvis Presley appeared at the Round-Up Club at 2005  South Parkway in Dallas, Texas. A boisterous gathering of adult country music enthusiasts greeted  Elvis Presley, who altered his song selection to include traditional country tunes. Elvis  Presley was as readily accepted by the older, hard-drinking crowd as he had been by the kids  at the Jamboree. The Round-Up Club, a typical Texas honky-tonk bar, forced an entertainer  to meet its demands. If they didn't like your music, you couldn't be heard in the beer-bottleclanking  atmosphere. Fistfights were common. If the crowd behaved, it meant you had  probably established your musical reputation, and that people wanted to listen.

Colonel Tom Parker hed been quick to bring Elvis back to Florida, this time supporting popular comedy and singer Andy Griffith, along with a group of other successful country acts. Tom Diskin had instructed Elvis to ''be on hand'' at Fort Myers radio station WMYR before 5:00 p/m., and not go to any other radio station without first checking with thye Colonel.

Diskin says, ''The Colonel will advise you on the show line up at that time, because there are two shows scheduled for Daytona Beach in one evening, it will be nrcessary to cut a little bit from each act in order to shorten the show''.


JULY 25, 1955 MONDAY

"Back by popular demand", Elvis Presley began a tour of Florida in Fort Myers at the New City  Auditorium, as an extra attraction on the same bill with Andy Griffith. America's favorite  corn pone comedian. In 1954, Griffth's hilarious description of a backwoods country boy's  first view of a football game sold a half million copies of the single, "What It Was Was  Football". Sharing the spotlight with Griffith and Elvis were the duo of Marty Robbins and  Jimmy Farmer; newcomer Tommy Collins, a popular West Coast country performer; Jimmie  Rodgers Snow, who brought along his father's Rainbow Ranch Boys; Glenn Reeves; and Frank  Evans and his Ranch Hands, who were regulars on WALT radio in Tampa. Also on the bill are  Ferlin Husky with His Hush Puppies. At the bottom of each newspaper ad came Oscar Davis'  tag line, "Don't You Dare Miss It".

The entertainment was sponsored by WYMR radio. Admission was $1.50 for adult general  admission seating, $1.75 for reserved seats, and 75-cents for children. This tour was  arranged through Colonel Tom Parker.

When the news got around that Elvis Presley would open in Tampa on Monday, July 25,  1955, at the 116th Field Artillery Armoury, there was considerable excitement. The ground  swell of interest in Elvis Presley was not lost on the show's sponsor, the Seratoma Club. The  organization flooded the Tampa area with attractive handbills advertising Presley's  appearance, and as a result, the crowd was so large that the Armoury filled in less than an  hour.

According to Joan Lacey, ''When Andy Griffith came, he was the star, and he grabbed me backstage and said, 'Joan, Joan, if you get Brad (her husband and local promoter), you tell him I'm not following Elvis. Put him on last'. And of course Andy was supposed to end the shows''.

JULY 26-27, 1955 TUESDAY / WEDNESDAY

Furlin Husky was added to the roster for the remainder of the Andy Griffith tour as it  moved on to Orlando, Florida. Tickets for the 8:15 p.m. show each evening were scaled  down from $1.50 at the Moses Phamacy Western Way Shopping Center. The concert at the Municipal Auditorium was promoted by WORZ radio located at 143 North Orange Avenue.  Billboard reported that "Elvis stole the show". The Florida press also followed Elvis'  appearances enthusiastically.  Also on the bill, Simon Crum, Marty Robbins, Jimmy Farmer, Tommy Collins, Jim Reeves, Jimmy Rogers Snow and His Tennessee Playboys


 
Jacksonville, Florida >

JULY 28-29, 1955 THURSDAY / FRIDAY

Momentum for Elvis Presley was building rapidly in Florida as the tour moved on to  Jacksonville for shows in the New Baseball Stadium. Elvis Presley sing Rufus Thomas'  "Juanita" in his concert repertoire. The doors opened each evening at 7:00 p.m., with the  show beginning at 8:15 p.m. Seats each night were $1.25.


During the second day's show in Jacksonville, the crowd broke through the police barriers in  a replay of the previous May's riot. By the time Elvis Presley could be rescued, he was barely  wearing any clothes.

In a later interview, he said, "The kids took my watch, ring, coat, shirt,  and shoes. I got out with my pants, but the cuffs were gone".

Two new promoters, WQIK disc jockey Marsshall Rowland and Mea Boren Axton, had brought  the show to the Jacksonville minor league baseball park. They nervously watched the large  throng milling around the small stadium. It was an awkward venue for the performers, who  dressed in the baseball clubhouse and came on stage through the dugout.

Jimmy Rogers Snow recalls, ''I remember the girls in Jacksonville, I remember them chasing us across the football field, and we had to run for dear life to the rest room. There were hundreds of women chasing us, and when they couldn't get to him and if anybody else had been onstage, they would have grabbed them too''.

Marty Robbins says, ''They say the first time Elvis was mobbed was in Jacksonville. I remember that well, because I couldn't believe it was happening. They chased him in the dressing room, and he was on top of the showers trying to get away from people, guys and girls alike. They were trying to grab a shoe, or anything. I was getting a big kick out of it. Nobody noticed me. I just stood there laughing. I knew then he was going to be big, because people didn't even know who Elvis Presley was, and they acted like this''.

The Cash Box, August 1955: ''Elvis Presley (Sun) recently was presented with a new sports coat by Colonel Parker, to replace the one torn apart by eager fans in Jacksonville, Florida. Elvis Presley, who creates panic and pandemonium among the female fans, got caught in the middle of a mob od screaming and swooning admirers in Jacksonville, Florida, and before he could get free was minus tie, handkerchief, belt, and a good portion of his coat and shirt, the gals grabbed for souvenirs. Presley has been the talk of the trades for weeks''.

According to Joyce Harols, ''We were in the bleachers, at Gator Bowl I think. They built a platform out there. We followed the crowd into the locker rooms. Elvis' clothes were taken off except his pants, they were pink, possible pink coat. Elvis' mother and father were there and me and my friend were talking to them. My friend remembers his pink Cadillac. Elvis' mother said that it hadn't happened before. She didn't seem scared''.

Zelma Story says, ''He came to the Gator Bowl, and he was behind a fence on a platform, but he was very close to us. He came out, and they started tearing his clothes off him, and we all went back to the locker room with him, they were holding him up above their heads. I went with his mother and father, and she was crying, tears were flowing, and she said, 'Oh, they are going to kill my son'. Her husband was standing beside her, but he didn't say anything. She wanted us to go and do something, but what could we do? He reached out for people, and I think he way of touched both of us. He had on a pink suit, and there was a pink Cadillac sitting outside right at the door''.



Johnny Tillotson first meeting with Elvis Presley, July 1955. >

Johnny Tillotson, then a high school disc jockey on WWPF, wanted to interview Elvis Presley,  as he had tried to do in May. When Tillotson arrived at the ball park, there was a great deal  of excitement. Hundred of people were walking around under the baseball stands, and a  crowd of about thirty people had surrounded Elvis Presley. As Tillotson pondered the  strategy he'd need to get his interview, Elvis Presley began to walk toward the baseball  dugout. 


Realizing that he might not be able to get to Elvis Presley, Johnny Tillotson decided  on a unique strategy. In order to get Elvis' attention, Tillotson began parroting Elvis' version  of "Baby Let's Play House".

Elvis Presley, standing with Scotty Moore, Bill Black, and other  musicians in the dugout, yelled out: "Hold it!. What's that?". Elvis Presley smiled and cast a  quizzical glance at the diminutive high school student. "I introduced myself as a local singer  that needed to interview him, because I had promised my listeners the interview", Tillotson  remarked. "If I hadn't been able to complete the Presley interview, my listeners would have  deserted me".

When Johnny Tillotson told Elvis Presley that his radio future depended upon an interview,  Elvis smelled and sat down for a quick chat. The amiable Tillotson made Elvis Presley very  comfortable, and they actually talked for quite some time.

Afterward, as Johnny Tillotson - who, in a few years, would score with hits of his own  "Poetry In Motion", "It Keeps Right On A-Hurtin" - watched Elvis' show, he was impressed by  Elvis' concert because of the broad cross section of people who attended it. He also picked  up some subtle points about working a crowd. A number of accounts have described this  night as one in which a riot ensued, but Johnny Tillotson doesn't remember a riot at any of  Elvis' appearances in Jacksonville. "Riot isn't the correct adjective to describe the crowd's  reaction to Elvis", Tillotson remarked. "The response to Elvis' music was a very positive,  enthusiastic, totally spontaneous happening of the audience. They were simply leaving their  seat to acknowledge Elvis' performance, there was no violence", Tillotson concluded. After  the concert, Elvis Presley left for a local motel.

On Saturday, July 30, 1955, Johnny Tillotson aired the interview over WWPF, and it was an  in-depth analysis of the reasons for Presley's success. A combination of high energy and a  raucous blues musical style, Tillotson told his listeners, had made Elvis Presley a very special  act, blues and rhythm and blues songs, Elvis Presley emphasized, were key to his musical  appeal to a wide variety of young people.


Elvis Presley and fan backstage at Peabody Auditorium, Daytona Beach, July 30, 1955 (Photo courtesy Shiela Roth) >

JULY 30, 1955 SATURDAY

The Florida tour with Andy Griffith rolled along with two performances in Daytona Beach.  The shows, at 7:30 and 9:30 p.m., were held at the Peabody Auditorium, and Elvis was ready  to go back to the quick, backbreaking one-night stands. Tickets were $1.00 in advance and  $1.25 the night of the show. Reserved seats were available for $1.50.


In the Daytone Beach News-Jounal, Peabody Auditorium manager Henry DeVerners says he needs 12 ushers. Six are needed for the first performance beginning at 7:30 and six for the second, beginning at 9:30. They will have to be dressed in hillbilly costume. And he said, volunteers may call Deverner at CL 2-1441 tomorrow or Monday.

__________________________

Newspaper article in the Daytona Beach News-Journal with the headliner:
Any Griffith Show Slated At Peabody''

Andy Griffith who made his reputation on recordings of such numbers as ''What It Was, Was Football'', and ''Make Yourself Comfortable'' is coming to Daytona Beach next weekend.

His show, which will also include several country and western entertainers, is booked for two performances, at 7:30 and 9:30 p/m. Saturday at Peabody Auditorium. 

Elvis Presley, young singer from the Louisiana Hayride Show, will be one of the personalities in the show. Presley, a singer who combines country music with bop, has made a name for himself with such records as ''That's All Right'', ''Blue Moon Of Kentucky'', ''I Don't Care If The Sun Don't Shine'', and Good Rockin' Tonight''. He'll be accompanied by Scotty Moore, on the guitar, and Bill Black, bass.

A group of Grand Ole Opry artists will include Ferlin Husky, Simon Ceum, and Marty Robbins. Tommy Collins, of Hollywood, and Glenn Reeves are also scheduled to perform.

As a special attraction on the program there'll be Jimmie Rodgers Snow, son of the famous Hank Snow, and his Tennessee Playboys. Griffith, star of the show, made his name in television on the show, ''No Time For Sergeants'' and will have a starring tole in the production when it opens on Broadway in September.



If the Colonel still had any doubts about Elvis' potential, the past week had certainly dismissed them completely.

Understandably, his frustrations escalated with the news that Bob Neal still had not managed to convince Elvis to  leave Sun Records, and that Neal had also made a deal with Hill and Range for a song folio, without ever  mentioning it to him. Tom Parker saw this as a betrayal, not only by Neal, but also by his long-time allies at Hill  and Range.



Elvis Presley on stage Fort Homer Hesterly Armory, Tampa, Florida, July 31, 1955. This performance would become the   cover of Elvis Presley's first LP for RCA Victor in 1956. (LPM-1254). >


In spite of all the discussions between Parker and Bob Neal, tour planning still fell through the cracks. At the end  of the Florida tour, the Colonel realized that Elvis was still doing shows he didn't know of, including a Sunday  August 7 appearance in Houston. However, nothing further was planned for the rest of August, as Bob Neal  expected the Colonel to take care of all bookings, and consequently had done none himself. He informed the  Colonel that the only two things left were the Houston date and a September 3 appearance at the Big D, shows  that he owned local promoters from previous agreements made for these venues.

The Colonel blames Bob Neal, as usual, although he himself six weeks earlier had clearly stated that all bookings  should go through his office.


JULY 31, 1955 SUNDAY

Elvis Presley and the Andy Griffith Show played at 2:30 p.m. matinee and an 8:15 evening  performance at the Fort Homer Hesterly Armoury in Tampa, home of the 116th Field  Artillery Headquarters Battery.

Appearing on this show was local favorite Ernie Lee. General admission tickets were $1.00 in  advance, $1.25 at the door, with the reserved section costing $1.50; children under 12 were  50-cents. The show was sponsored by the Sertoma Club, a civic group.

Fort Homer Hesterly Armory, Tampa, Florida, July 31, 1955. ^

Other performers on  the show, Furlin Husky and His Hushpuppies, Simon Crum, Marty Robbins, Tommy Collins,  Glenn Reeves, and Jimmie Farmer. Elvis is "by popular demand".

It was hot outside Fort Homer Hesterly Armory the night of July 31, 1955, when Leland Hawes saw nothing of Elvis Presley but a lot of the singer's Cadillac. Hawes, a Tampa Tribute reporter since 1952, was watching over Elvis' car as a member of the Tampa Sertoma Club, which sponsored the concert. Tom Parker had offered to help a club charity if its members would work as ushers and take in tickets. Hawes says, ''Tom Parker told the Sertoma Club that there was this young singer that was getting all this attention, and young girls were just following him madly, and he needed someone to guard his Cadillac, which was going to be parked at Fort Hesterly. He didn't want lipstick imprints all over the car''. So, Hawes and a couple of others stood inside the armory compound and kept the pink-and-black Fleetwood free of lipsticked love notes. Easy duty, as Hawes recalls, ''I don't really remember having to ward off swarms of women''. Hawes could hear the concert but couldn't see it. He wasn't impressed at the time with the rising star, ''Just sounded like a lot of howling to me''.


AUGUST 1, 1955 MONDAY

Sun Records released "Mystery Train"/"I Forgot To Remember To Forget" (SUN 223) by Elvis Presley, his fifth Sun release, along with an indiscriminate trio of hillbilly and rhythm and blues records and ''Gone, Gone, Gone'', Carl Perkins official Sun debut.

Webb Pierce headlined the jamboree when Elvis Presley returned to play his hometown of  Tupelo, Mississippi, for the first time since he began his recording career.  The performance  was held at the same Mississippi-Alabama Fairgrounds where Elvis Presley sung "Old Shep"  when he was ten.


Also on the bill for this 8:00 p.m. show were Red Sovine, Wanda Jackson,  Bud Deckelman, Charlie Feathers, the Miller Sisters, Gene Simmons, Bob Ritter, the Dixie Playboys and Bill  Perkins. Bob Neal was the show's emcee and promoter. This short tour also included Sun  artist Charlie Feathers and his band from Memphis, featuring Stanley Kesler on steel guitar  and Marcus Van Story on bass.

Tickets for the hometown folks were $1.00 for adults and 50- cents for children. Reserved seating cost a quarter more. Attendance was estimated at  3,000. According to Barbara Mallory's scrapbook sang Elvis, ''I Got A Woman'', ''I'm Left, You're Right, She's Gone'', ''You're A Heartbreaker'', ''Baby Let's Play House'', ''Shake, Rattle And Roll'', and ''Good Rockin' Tonight''. Elvis didn't sing his two new songs, ''I Forgot To Remember To Forget'' and ''Mystery Train'', responding to audience requests by confessing, ''I don't the words''. Elvis wore a pink linen coat and black pants. 

Robert Montgomery says, ''It was a variety show but the only other person I remember is Wanda Jackson. Elvis, of course, was the headliner (Webb Pierce was headliner). There was an intermission and a couple of friends of mine and I walked down close to the stage and met Elvis. I had a second grade picture of him given to me by Mrs, Clara Griffin, who used to live next door to the Presleys in East Tupelo. I asked if he would autograph it for me. He looked at it and said, 'Boy, I was a puny little thing, wasn't I'? In the photo he had blond hair and had on striped overalls. He autographed it, 'That's Allright, Elvis''. We stood around and talked to him for a little while before the show resumed''.

"He was always late on stage, it seemed", said Bobby Ritter, a disc jockey for WTUP in  Tupelo. "I booked Elvis for those shows in Houlka, my hometown, and in Grenada, Houston, Tupelo, Amory, Bruce, Big Creek, Randolph and Toccopola, Mississippi. On those nights when  he would arrive late, Bob Neal and I would go on stage. Bob would be the comedian and I the  straight man and we tried to keep the folks entertained until Elvis got there, but they didn't  want to hear us".

Elvis Presley brought the crowd of twelve thousand to its collective feet that night in the  Tupelo Fairgrounds and they were still buzzing when Webb Pierce was singing, disturbing the  country star so much that after his performance, he stalked off stage and said he would  never, ever!, follow Elvis Presley on stage again - and he didn't!

Hours before the show, Bobby Ritter says, ''Webb Pierce was the headliner, but never again. It rained about 6, and the show was scheduled to start about 8, I believe, and we didn't open the box office until about 7. Bob Neal was alone in the box office, and he called me before he opened and said, 'There's too many people out here, we need to open both offices'. He gave me a trash can and said, 'Throw the money in there and we will count it later'. It was about 2 or 3 o'clock before we were through counting all that money. They were lined up as far as you could see, and the parking lot was full of cars, and as far as you see down the streets to both sides. There were busses, and that was August 1, 1955. They sold out the concession stand three times, they sold everything in Tupelo. It was at that grandstand, there were no seats. Webb got here about 1 o'clock that afternoon, got a room at the Hotel Tupelo, and immediately started drinking. It was a bad mistake, because at the time when he went on stage, he couldn't perform very well, and Elvis went on before him, and he was the last to go on stage and there was probably only about a hundred people left. Webb Pierce was the biggest country act at that time. There was a pair of girls, Doreen and Lorene Greaves, from Houston. It rained about 6 o'clock, I mean, it rained! You know how it rains here sometimes. They had just dug some holes for telephone poles. And when the people started coming in, there were so many people, there was nowhere for them to go. And these two girls went across there, and one of them fell in one of those holes, full of water. She was up to her neck and nobody would help her out''.


Sue Sugg, Elvis Presley, Linda Sugg, Patsy McNutt, Sheffield Community Center, Sheffield, Alabama, August 2, 1955. >

AUGUST 2, 1955 TUESDAY

Elvis Presley travelled to the tri-cities area of Alabama collectively known as Muscle Shoals.  Webb Pierce again headlined as the group played a pair of appearances at the Sheffield  Community Center in Sheffield at 7:00 and 9:30 p.m. The bill was basically the same as the  Tupelo show with the addition of newcomer Johnny Cash.


Local disc jockey Tommy Van  Sandt did the honors when it came to announcing Elvis Presley. Both performances were  "Standing Room Only" as a total of 2,8000 fans attended. Advance tickets were only 41.00.

If  there were any tickets remaining at the show time, they were $1.25. The trio cities show  was sponsored by the Muscle Shoals Jaycees. The next day's review in the Tri-Cities Daily  called the show "a marvel", adding, "when Presley appeared at the climax of the show,  pandemonium broke loose". Mid-way through his performance, he knocked the crowd off its  collective feet with a rip-roaring version of "Maybellene".

The night was an interesting one because a number of local bands wanted to play with the  touring groups. The Sheffield Community Center was brimming with a musical enthusiasm  and a blend of raucous sounds that would soon give way to rock and roll music. The Sheffield  concert, where twenty-eight hundred people waited for him to come on stage, would  highlights Elvis' drawing power. In a series of concerts that also included Little Rock and  Camden, Arkansas, and Tupelo, Mississippi, Elvis Presley drew more than fifteen thousand  customers.

The Sheffield concert was held in an area that included the towns of Florence, Tuscumbia,  and Muscle Shoals. Later, in the sixties, the Muscle Shoals recording studio would blossom in  the area, as would the Florence Alabama Music Enterprises - the FAME studio. At the time  Elvis Presley visited the Muscle Shoals area in 1955, Dan Pen, Rick Hall, Billy Sherrill,  Spooner Oldham, and Buddy Killen were lust local boys coming of age or working quietly in  the music industry.

Like many locals, they went to see Elvis' Sheffield show, which was a longer one than usual.  This was due to the fact that Sheffield had a population of 100,000 people with a reputation  for hard-drinking, music-loving, country necks. W.C. Handy and Sam Phillips were from  Florence, and the area teemed with musicians. There is no doubt that Elvis Presley picked  up a good deal of his Southern soul sound at concerts in places like Sheffield.

According to Wade Patterson from Town Creek, ''It was mid-July, and me and my old brother and two cousins were shelling peas in the backyard. We lived on a farm. We pulled the car up so we could listen to the radio, but we were not paying too much attention to it, until here comes this guy singing ''That's All Right''. We briefly stopped shelling peas. We were stunned. It was Elvis Presley. Later on, we found out that he was performing with other entertainers, including Johnny Cash and Webb Pierce, who were supposed to be the main attraction. Now, mind you Webb Pierce was coming of 18 straight number 1 hits. They were coming to the Sheffield Community Center. We had to go see this guy Presley. We arrived early and parked behind the center. The first thing we noticed was Webb Pierce's black four-door Cadillac. The show started, and I don't recall who came on first. We were close to the stage, and he was wearing black pants and a pink sport coat. Now here's something that happened to him that I have not seen written about him on his trips to the community center. When he made his first stroke with his picking hand, a string broke as it curled up at the neck. He looked stunned for just a moment, and then he started playing without it. We could not tell the difference. He replaced it at intermission. Oh, and by the way, 'Webb Pierce left at intermission due to the cool reception he was getting''.

Elvis Presley visited with disc jockey Tommy Van Sandt in the afternoon, and with Scotty and Bill he performed ''Maybellene'' live on the radio as promotion for the show that night.


AUGUST 3, 1955 WEDNESDAY

The same group, minus Johnny Cash, but with local favorite Sammy Barnhart as an added  attraction, continued with a show in Little Rock, Arkansas, that drew an estimated crowd of  3,000 country fans. The 8:00 p.m. appearance at AR-Robinson Auditorium cost $1.00 for  adults and half-price for children.

According to Ernest Hackworth also known as disc jockey Uncle Dudley says, ''Once in Little Rock they held Elvis until last, and when they introduced Elvis he didn't come on stage. They introduced him again and he still didn't come on. They found him sitting backstage with his mother, talking to her. His parents had come to see him perform''.

 Gladys and Vernon Presley were remembered to have  been on hand for this show. They drove to Little Rock specifically to meet again with Colonel  Tom Parker at Elvis' insistence. As an extra incentive, the Colonel brought along Whitey  Ford, the Duke of Paducah, who happened to be the Colonel's neighbour in Madison,  Tennessee. As mentioned earlier, the Duke was a favorite of Gladys. After all this attention  the Presley's still did not sign a contract with Colonel Parker that would have allowed him to  become Elvis' "special advisor".

On stage, Scotty Moore, Bill Black, and D.J. Fontana quickly set up, but where was Elvis  Presley?. "Elvis! Elvis! Elvis!!! Where are you?". A quick search found him seated backstage,  his mother, Gladys, sitting in his lap. Told he was late on stage, he politely put Mama Presley  on her feet and hit the stage running. It was that night Elvis Presley introduced his parents  to Tom Parker.

An unidentified witness says, ''I will never forget, he wore a purple outfit. We went backstage to visit, and I talked with him. He was a unique person. His skin was very hit with acne, it was healed up, but hit! I asked him what he was going to do next, and he mumbled that Chuck Berry had out a song called ''Maybellene''.



Elvis Presley and Bill Black on stage, Municipal Auditorium, Camden, Arkansas, August 4, 1955. >

AUGUST 4, 1955 THURSDAY

The attendance totalled 2,000 for two Webb Pierce and Elvis Presley shows in Camden,   Arkansas. The group appeared at 7:00 and 9:30 p.m. at the Municipal Auditorium, and   tickets were only $1.00 in advance. Wanda Jackson and Charlie Feathers were part of the   opening acts.


"Me and Tommy Ratliff and a disc jockey named Charlie Horse sponsored the August shows",   said Cliff Davis. "Elvis used to drop by the radio station and hang around a lot on his way to   and from his Louisiana Hayride performances. Sometimes he'd hang around until five in the   morning".

"To promote our shows, we had one of those speakers on the top of our car, with a   microphone inside, and we drove all around Camden and even as far away as Monroe,   Louisiana, promoting the show, talking about it, playing' Elvis' music, trying to get people to   come".

"When Elvis arrived that night, he was wearing a pretty belt buckle and a pink baseball cap. I   told him, 'I'd sure like to have that belt buckle'. And he told me, 'I can't give it to you. If I   did, my pants would fall off'. So he took off that pink baseball cap and gave it to me. He was   eating a hot dog at the time and some mustard from that hot dog came off on the cap. I've   got that cap in a frame now and it is still has the mustard stains on it".

Lucille Huneycut was at that August concert. She said before the concert, Elvis Presley had   driven up and down the streets of Camden in his pink Cadillac, waving at the girls and   inviting them to come and hear him sing that night.

"I took my kids, who were then in high school", said Lucille Huneycut. "The teens all liked to   sit in the balcony. One by one, the other entertainers performed, then they brought out   Elvis and he sang "Only You" and I sat there thinking to myself, 'My god! That kid, all he   needs is a break!' When he began singing that song, a hush fell over the place. After the   show, all the kids were trying to touch him. When he talked to me, he called me 'ma'am'".

According to Hames Ware, ''The first time I ever heard of Elvis was around 1954. My uncles took me to see Red Sovine and Webb Pierce. Elvis was the last act on the program bill behind Wanda Jackson. Of course it was just Elvis, Bill Black, and Scotty Moore, but they made more noise than anyone else. It was pure rock and roll, rockabilly, or whatever you wished to call it, but the crowd went wild''.

The Camden new report:
ELVIS PRESLEY, Young and handsome Elvis Presley will be among the top country stars coming to Camden Thursday for two shows at the Municipal Auditorium. The All-Star Jamboree of country entertainers, featuring two of the top names in the rural rhythm department, is coming to Camden for two shows at the Municipal Auditorium tomorrow night at 7 and 9:30 p.m.

Webb Pierce, consistently, voted the nation's number one star of country music, will highlight the big attraction. Pierce, who once appeared on the Louisiana Hayride and later of the Grand Ole Opry, had a great string on consecutive record hits with ''In The Jailhouse Now'' and ''I Don't Care'', his latest top hits. Pierce, and the Wondering boys are coming in from a TV appearance in New York.

Elvis Presley voted the year's number one star by Cash Box magazine will feature his Western Bop type of singing, including his new record release ''Mystery Train''.

Other stars marked for the appearance include Red Sovine, a Decca Record artist, formerly of KWKH in Shreveport, Bud Decklelan, MGM recording star, Charlie Feathers, and Miss Wanda Jackson, Oklahoma City's contribution to Folk Music.  Advance sale tickets are now at South Arkansas Music Company.

The next day, the Camden News report: Jamboree Draws Record Crowd.
Over 2100 people attended the all star Western Jamboree which lasted well after Midnight Thursday evening at the municipal auditorium. This was the largest group to gather in Camden for any single event this year. The show drew people from all over Quachita county and miles around including El Dorado, Magnolia, Warren, Hope, Arkadelphia and Fordyce. Special police were assigned to direct the heavy traffic between the two performances.

The first show at 7 p.m. was a sell-out with around 1200. It took around an hour to clear the auditorium an hour to clear the auditorium and seat the second crowd.

With the second performance staying around 10 o'clock, lasting until 13:30. A number were turned away at the first performance. The show was has consistently been voted the nation's number one star of country music. His renditions of such top hits ''In The Jail House Now'' and ''I Don't Care'' drew a roaring round of applause from the audience.

17-year-old Wanda Jackson and 19-year-old Elvis Presley stole the show. Each received encore after encore. Miss Jackson of Oklahoma was the only girl on the show of around 16 top hillbilly performers. She thrilled the audience with the record hit of ''You Can't Have My Love'', long with others. Elvis who has saved until the very last of the show was at his best featuring his ''Bop'' type of western singing.

Red Sovine, an old timer in the Western music world, directed the first portion of the performance. The loud shouts and applause after each of his numbers showed he still holds his place as a popular favorite. Other stars who appeared on the show were: Charlie Feathers, Bud Deckelman, and Scotty and Bill. The Wondering Boys gave wonderful instrumentals and accompanying. Pierce and the Wondering Boys came here from a TV appearance in New York.

The group put on a short program over Radio Station KAMD Thursday afternoon at 6:45. They arrived in Camden yesterday afternoon and spent the night at the Hotel Camden. They left early today for Memphis, Tennessee.


Overton Park Shell, Memphis, Tennessee, August 5, 1955. >

AUGUST 5, 1955 FRIDAY

At 8:00 p.m., Elvis Presley played his third and final gig at the Overton Park Shell in  Memphis. He performed second on the bill of Bob Neal's "Eighth Anniversary Jamboree" at  the open-air show. Headlined the extravaganza was Webb Pierce, which included guest  appearances by newcomer Johnny Cash, Wanda Jackson, Gene Simmons, the Miller Sisters  and Red Sovine.


Also appearing was the same cast from Camden, along with Carl Perkins,  Sonny James, Bud Deckelman, Jim Wilson, and Bob Neal's band, the Neal Boys. Texas Bill  Strength, a Memphis disc jockey, also made an unadvertised appearance.

This three-hour  extravaganza appearance was reported at the time to be the largest country jamboree ever  held in Memphis, pulling in an "overflow audience" of 4,000 fans despite the threat of rain.  According to the Memphis Press-Scimitar, "several hundred" music lovers had to be turned  away at the box office. Advance tickets were $1.00 until 4:00 p.m. on the day of the show.  When the Overton Shell box office opened at 6:30 p.m., seats were $1.25 reserved, with  general admission $1.00 and children 50-cents.


Elvis Presley and Memphis disc jockey Bill Strenght, Overton Park Shell, Memphis, August 5, 1955. >

Bob Neal also booked rockabilly singer Charlie Feathers. While waiting to go on stage, Elvis  Presley and Charlie Feathers talked about the show. Feathers pointed out that Billboard had  sent a reporter, a prospect that excited Elvis Presley because Sam Phillips was preparing to  debut Presley's latest record.  Bob Neal, personal manager to Elvis Presley, reports that the Louisiana Hayride youngster  and his show play a series of Mid-South dates next week, opening Monday with a big outdoor  jamboree at Forrest City, Arkansas.

The package played Bona, Arkansas, Tuesday, and moves  to Sikeston, Missouri, Wednesday, Clarksdale, Mississippi, Thursday up in McComb,  Mississippi, Friday. In addition to Presley, unit features Johnny Cash, new Sun record artist;  Bud Deckelman (M-G-M), and Eddie Bond, new on Ekko Records. From McComb, Presley's  men drive to Norfolk, with Elvis flying in from the Hayride to join then Sunday to start a  series on the West Coast.


Johnny Cash recall, "Well, you know, there've been several kinds of booster moments,  booster nights that made me just keep going, made me keep loving it more than ever. I guess  the first time was soon after my first record was released''.

''I'd been on tour with Elvis Presley  in Texas and on Saturday night we both went to Shreveport to be guests on "The Louisiana  Hayride". "On the Hayride you would do two songs, then get off, and then somebody else  would do two songs and there'd be a radio commercial - that kinda' thing''.



''Well, that night  Carl Perkins was there and Elvis was there and I was there and Johnny Horton was there.  Elvis - I don't remember who followed who - but Elvis, Carl and I made appearances one after  the other and from the time one of us hit the stage, the audience was on their feet''.

''It was a  very young audience because of the names that were on the show at that time, and they  were on their feet and just climbing the walls, and it was the first time I'd ever experienced  that. Of course, the audience was caught up in the high of the night, and with Elvis probably,  but I shared in that and it made me very excited about the business I was in and the future. I  guess I felt safe also, being in the company of Carl and Elvis, but I felt like I was really a part  of it and was accepted. That was before we were putting music in bags and categories. It was  music just for the music's sake. I felt like I was there to stay".

Wanda Jackson recall, "Well I don't remember that being the first one on Overton Park Shell.  It was a couple of months after I graduated from school. I remember though that Elvis ' stage  show was pure excitement from the very first note".


Memphis Press-Scimitar AUGUST 6, 1955

AUDIENCE PULLERS .....Overton Park Shell was jammed with an overflow audience last night  for the wind-up of the eight annual Bob Neal country music jamboree series.

Several hundred who wanted to hear in person Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley and Webb  Pierce and some 22 ether country music and comedy performers had to be turned away,  while 4000 more lucky people enjoyed the show. The company also toured Little Rock,  Arkansas, 3000 listeners; Camden, Arkansas, 2000; Sheffield, Alabama, 2800; and Tupelo,  Mississippi, 300, this week. Both Cash and Presley record for Memphis' own Sun Record  label.


AUGUST 6, 1955 SATURDAY

Elvis' fifth and final single for Sun Records, "Mystery Train"/"I Forgot To Remember To Forget"  (SUN 223) was released. Just prior to pressing copies, Johnny Bernero's drums had been  added to the b-side to enhance the country music feel.

Bernero, discussed in an earlier  interview, worked across the streets from the Sun studio at the Memphis Light Gas & Water  Company, and he had sat in for Phillips' on numerous occasions. Although he was at first  uncertain about adding the drums, Sam Phillips liked Bernero's light touch and went ahead  with the new version.

A brief article in Billboard mentioned that Elvis Presley and the Browns had just returned  from a West Coast trek and would appear in Detroit on September 2nd and 3rd. (Both pieces  of information are wrong). Billboard's "Spotlight" said: "With each release Presley has been  coming more and more to the forefront. His current record has wasted no time in  establishing itself. Already it appears on the Memphis and Houston territorial charts. It is also  reported selling well in Richmond, Atlanta, Durham, Nashville, and Dallas".

Elvis Presley  performed in Batesville, Arkansas at  the River Stadium.  He appear at this 12th Annual White River Carnival elicits an indignant letter from local  promoter Ed Lyon, who writes to Tom Parker that Elvis was guilty of unprofessional behavior,  told off-color jokes, and ''stormed off stage'' after singing just four songs, thereby ''ruining''  the show. Lyon demands an ''adjustment'', and the Colonel swiftly complies with a refund of  450, writing Bob Neal a scathing letter on August 22 about the necessity of establishing  professional standards. Elvis is ''young, inexperienced, and it takes a lot more than a couple  of hot records in a certain territory to become a big-name artist'', the Colonel lectures Neal,  whom he blames both implicitly and explicitly for this foul-up in the education of a young  artist.

The Colonel used the issue to send Bob Neal s devastating letter reprimanding him: ''I just can't have anymore comedy on Elvis' part of the program''. The Colonel argued, in spite of Neal's statement that this was the first time Elvis had ever been criticized, that he had heard this all his sources, connections, friends, and customers. ''Smutty comedy is the issue'', the Colonel concluded.

In Batesville, Elvis had been infuriated when confronted with a demand to return some of his fee, but he eventually gave back half. None of the known witnesses remember anything wrong with Elvis' performance noting he sang more than four songs, and was definitely not drunk. The whole incident was miraculously convenient in Colonel Parker's attempt to discredit Bob Neal's management skills.

According to Una Smith, ''We had a water carnival here, just a little celebration on the river. After the show I went backstage, I just had to meet that guy. I made some small comment about the show, and he said, 'Honey, I'm mad as hell'. I said, 'Why'? and he said, 'Because the lady asked me for the money back. She didn't think we put on a good show'. Elvis told me he had ended up giving her half back (Mrs. Grey, she had been in charge of booking the talent for the water carnival). He put on a wonderful show. It never even occurred to me that it was suggestive. To me he was just moving with the music and having a good time. It didn't seem vulgar to me at all. He did a lot more than four songs. I remember he did ''Maybellene'' that night. We hung around for a long time. It was only Elvis, Scotty, and Bill. They walked us back up to our cars, hung around, and talked to us like guys do. My sister had a Ford. It had a kind of revolutionary design, kind of a sports car, pale yellow with a green top, and Elvis remarked, 'That's the prettiest car'. He had on a black shirt, open down the front, and white pants. He was so handsome he didn't look real. His skin was so smooth. I guess he had Creole blood, such a pretty color''.


Elvis Presley at Magnolia Gardens, Houston, Texas, August 7, 1955. (See: Video Elvis    Presley 5). >

AUGUST 7, 1955 SUNDAY

In the afternoon, Elvis Presley, Scotty Moore, and Bill Black performed in Houston, Texas, at the Magnolia Gardens (afternoon show), 12044 Beach Street, Houston, Texas. There was actually an ad for this appearance at the time, were in the audience that day and Jim and Lois Robertson were trying out a new 8mm home movie camera with color.


They didn't really know of Elvis at the time and Lois Robertson only seemed to recall about 20 to 25 people in attendance. She filmed parts of the performance and after the color film was developed the Robertsons watched it once or twice, then put it away. 

That evening, he moved over to Cook's Hoedown Club. This is the only Magnolia   Gardens/Cook's Hoedown appearance mention in a local newspaper.   As discussed earlier, Elvis Presley played these two Sunday gigs regularly following a   Louisiana Hayride show on Saturday.

Bob Neal reacted instantly to the lack of August bookings by arranging a week with Tom Perryman in northeast Texas, following the last scheduled show at Magnolia Gardens. There were changes to the band. Elvis had wanted a regular drummer, and D.J. Fontana had played many shows with them since the previous November. Staring this week, D.J. Fontana would become a full-time member of the band. However, unlike Scotty and Bill, who each got twenty-five per cent of the income, D.J. was paid a weekly salary.


Elvis Presley on stage at the Mayfair Building, Tyler, Texas, August 8, 1955. >

AUGUST 8, 1955 MONDAY

Elvis Presley began a week-long tour of the Gladewater, Texas, area with Jim Ed and Maxine   Brown. During this time, Elvis Presley was interviewed on the KSIJ radio in Gladewater by   disc jockey Tom Perryman, who also booked the shows this week. All performances were at   8:00 p.m. and tickets were a uniform $1.00 for adults and 50-cents for children.


Finally,   Bonnie Brown, the younger sister of Jim Ed and Maxine Brown, joined the act. The unwieldy  billing of Jim Ed, Maxine and Bonnie Brown would soon change to just "The Browns".

Tonight, Elvis Presley and the Browns appeared at the large Auditorium in the Mayfair   Building on the fair grounds in Tyler, Texas. Admission $1.00 for adults, children 50 cents.

With the Hayride booking office, Bob Neal secured a week's worth of additional Texas touring at the end of August. The reaction from Colonel Parker was another letter complaining about lack of co-ordination, again enraged over the ''milking a territory'' situation that he felt Neal was guilty of. The Colonel suggested another meeting, this time in Memphis with Elvis and his father present. The Colonel took the issue further and wrote Elvis' father, mentioning that he couldn't get hold of Neal, and consequently a good deal for Elvis was being help up.


Bill Black & Elvis Presley, Reo Palm Isle Club, Longview, Texas, August 11, 1955. >

AUGUST 9, 1955 TUESDAY

The tour moved on to the outdoor Rodeo Arena on the Laneville highway in Henderson,  Texas. According to Red West, ''Hey was on a flatbed truck in this rodeo arena. We had the pink Cadillac then, I remember, 'cause after the show was over, he drove around in the arena knocking dust up in the stands, and people just loved it''.

AUGUST 10, 1955 WEDNESDAY

In Gladewater, Texas, Elvis Presley and the Browns performed at Bear Stadium, the home of  Gladewater's semi-pro baseball team. Elvis Presley arrived in a pink Cadillac and the show  was staged from a flat-bed truck parked at second base.

The number of people attending is  estimated by Buzz Long, now Mayor of nearby Big Sandy, at only twenty people. Elvis Presley  appeared upset at the poor turnout and during the first half of his show he barely moved a  muscle. During intermission, Buzz could see Scotty Moore and Bill Black trying to pump up  Elvis' spirits. It worked, and Elvis Presley lived up to his "Fireball" reputation during the  second half of the show.


AUGUST 11, 1955 THURSDAY

In the evening, Elvis Presley was back with the Browns at the Reo Palm Isle Club in   Longview, Texas. Their show began at 8:00 p.m. and was followed by country dancing until   midnight.

According to Red West, ''The Reo Palm Isle in Longview, Texas, was a wild-ass Texas night club. I remember a bunch od sailors came in, I don't know where the hell the sailors came from. We got in a hell of a fight, and I was just trying to protect Elvis. The show was going, but finally stopped.

The parking lot outside the Reo Palm Isle, Longview, Texas. ^

Scotty and Bill were starting to protect their instruments, and I said, 'Elvis, let's get the hell out of here'. So we were working our way through the fight, and these little girls were asking, 'Can I have your autograph'? and Elvis said, 'Yeah'. We got in the parking lot, there was like an acre of parking lot, and they were fighting, and I remember, certain things stick in your mind, I looked over a few cars and I saw a guy holding a guy, hitting him with a damn bottle, Bam! Bam!, pounding the shit out of him. And these little girls wanting autographs and Elvis saying, 'Okay, okay, watch out honey'. So we got in the car, left, and I looked back. The whole parking lot was a battleground. We didn't know where Scotty and Bill were''. 



Louisiana Hayride, Shreveport, August 13, 1955. >

AUGUST 12, 1955 FRIDAY

Elvis Presley worked this evening with The Browns at Driller Park, another large baseball  field in Kilgore, Texas, drew so many people they might could all have fit in the back of  Cowboy Jack's pickup truck! "At the time, most people weren't too excited about Elvis  coming in town", wrote van Craddock in the Longview News Journal.


"The big event townfolk  were talking about was that weekend's performance of the Kilgore Junior College  Rangerettes and the Ranger Band at Chicago's College All Star football game. Some 75,000  turned out to watch the Rangerettes' Chicago performance, which was about 74,900 more  than turned out to see Elvis shake his pelvis in Kilgore".

Paula Lane was one of that handful. "I remember it was very hot and Elvis had on a peach  colored sport coat", said Lane. "He performed right in front of home plate. We were  screaming, but I don't remember anyone else getting excited. It was mostly an older crowd  there".

''This cat came out'', recalled future country star Bob Luman in later years, ''He was wearing  red pants and a green coat with pink shirt and socks, and he had this sneer on his face and  stood behind the mike for about five minutes, I'll bet, before he made a move''. Then he hit his guitar with a lick, and he broke two strings. Hell, I'd been playing for ten years, and I hand't broken a total of two strings. So there he was, these two strings dangling, and he hadn't done anything except break guitar strings''.  Then the  girls started screaming, and Luman, a high school student at the time, felt cold chills run up  his back, as he knew his life's course was set.

Meanwhile, Colonel Tom Parker frustrated by what he sees as Bob Neal's incompetence and  not above capitalizing on it, writes directly to Vernon Presley, because, he explains, he has  been unable to reach Neal and wants Vernon to know right away that he has a ''very good  deal'' pending.



Mimosa Room on Lake Gladewater, Gladewater, Texas, August 14, 1955. (clockwise around the table  from bottom left) Floyd Brown and Birdie Brown celebrating their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary,  Norma Brown, Jim Ed Brown, Scotty Moore, Bill Black, D.J. Fontana, Floyd Cramer, Red West, Tom  Paul, Jimmy Day, Elvis Presley, Billie Perryman, Vicki Perryman, Marilyn Perryman, Maxine Brown, and  Bonnie Brown. >


AUGUST 13, 1955 SATURDAY

Elvis Presley appeared again on the Louisiana Hayride in Shreveport. Following the show, he  drove back to Memphis. ''Baby Let's Play House'' it was number 5 on Billboard's ''Most Played by Jockeys'' country and western list.

AUGUST 14, 1955 SUNDAY

Elvis Presley attends Jim Ed and Maxine Brown's parents' twenty-fifth wedding anniversary  party in Gladewater, Texas. A photograph of the group includes 1955 Humes High School  graduate Red West, who has been going out with the group occasionally throughout the year,  and Elvis sometime accompanists, piano player Floyd Cramer and steel guitarist Jimmy Day.

Bob Neal arranged for a photo shoot the following week to fill out Hill and Range's song portfolio, when by now had taken on an almost fanzine look. On a more serious issue, Neal had to inform Scotty and Bill that, going forward, they would have to work for a fee as opposed to their orginal twenty-five per cent share. Most of the week was devoted to leisure, but it also marked the end of Elvis' romantic relationship with his favourite girl, Dixie Locke, whom he had been dating since the spring of 1954.


Louisiana Hayride, Shreveport, Louisiana, August 13, 1955. >

AUGUST 15, 1955 MONDAY

On August 15, 1955, Colonel Tom Parker and Elvis Presley signed at his house on 2414 Lamar Avenue  in Memphis, a one-year contract for Parker to act as Elvis' "special advisor"  while Bob Neal remained as manager. (Family friends say that was the beginning of the end  for Gladys. Her life revolved around Elvis; now she was losing him). The contract allowed  Parker to pick up two additional one-year options.


It also granted Parker exclusive territorial  rights to no less than 47 cities in the United States including such current hot spots for Elvis  Presley as Dallas, Houston, Lubbock, Jacksonville, Tampa, Richmond and Cleveland.

The list  also set aside for Parker the lucrative markets of New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Chicago,  and Philadelphia. Finally, there were the towns that would make up Elvis' first major swing  outside of the South and Southwest in May 1956: Des Moines, Minneapolis, St. Paul, Omaha,  and Dayton. In each location, Parker could book Elvis Presley and pay him only $200 per  show, including musicians.

As an added bonus, the agreement gave the Colonel the exclusive right to negotiate any  renewal to existing contracts in Elvis' behalf. This included Elvis' contracts with Sun Records  and the Louisiana Hayride.

Colonel Tom Parker was not the first person to which Elvis Presley turned to take the  managerial reins from Bob Neal. Tom Perryman in Gladewater, T. Tommy Cutrer in  Shreveport and Bill Randle in Cleveland were each approached by Elvis Presley to become  his manager. In each case, the matter never got beyond the inquiry phase, as all three men  were reluctant to assume more responsibilities apart from their successful radio work.

In August, when Elvis Presley had with Bill Haley during his appearance in Cleveland with Bill  Randle, they spent a great deal of time backstage talking about rock music, and had sung  "Rock Around The Clock" together. Colonel Tom Parker also takes at length with Haley's  manager, Lord Jim Ferguson, prompting the Colonel to recommended that Elvis Presley  record songs that local audience were purchasing. Bill Haley also urged Elvis Presley to  develop his stage personality to its fullest. When Haley was a dynamic performer and the  audience responded with vigorous applause. It was as if Bill Haley was rising to the challenge  that he knew was coming from young Elvis Presley. For his part, after thinking about the  positive reaction to "Rock Around The Clock" that he had witnessed, Elvis Presley began to  include Haley's signature song in his own act.

Meanwhile, the Colonel's pal booking agent A.V. ''Bam'' Bamford, remains dubious about Elvis'  future conceding in a letter to the Colonel that he made be ''hotter than a firecracker'', but  reminding Parker that this is true only in certain areas. Bamford says he will consider  booking Elvis into new territories if he can pair those bookins with ones in established  towns. He mentions that KXLA, the only country and western station in Los Angeles, doesn't  play Presley at all.


Bob Neal and Elvis Presley at the Union Avenue office with the August 13, 1955 edition of The Cash Box. >

AUGUST 17, 1955 WEDNESDAY

In a letter to Julian Aberbach of Hill and Range, Colonel Tom Parker explains that he now has  a three-year representation deal with Elvis and Vernon Presley and is close to making a deal  with a major label. Through reliable sources he has learned that Elvis' 1955 record sales are  a little more than 100,000 copies. 


This letter appears to be a follow-up to an earlier request  by the Colonel for financial support from the Aberbachs in purchasing Elvis' contract from  Sun, which may in turn have been a follow-up the folio.

According to Bob Neal, ''The money situation was always set up to the effect that it would be divided into four parts. Two parts go to Elvis and one part each to Scotty and Bill. And sometime here in 1955 it became obvious you know that this was not fair and not the best way to go and so on, because Elvis was the star regardless of the fact that they contributed largely to it. So I recall we had quite a crisis in coming to the point, and I had to handle that and then announcing to Scotty and Bill that we were no longer going to operate like that, that they would paid a fee per day that we would agree on. But that they would not participate in the overall thing. You know, I remember that there was quite a bit of unhappiness at that time, plus threats that maybe they would quit and so on. But as it worked out they went ahead in that particular situation. Things were beginning to break to the extent then that there was getting to be a pretty good amount of money involved in a lot of the dates. And Elvis, well actually, from a pure physical point he was having to buy the cars and buy his wardrobe and things of that type and supply transportation. So naturally, it was more logical. They were part of it, but people came to see Elvis. They didn't come to see the others two bos''.

The acceleration of costs was further emphasized the day after the meeting with Parker. In conjunction with orders for merchandize from Elvis Presley Enterprises, their credit was examined, revealing that ''Elvis Presley was a minor, and that his manager, Bob Neal, did not have 'too good' a credit either''.

AUGUST 20, 1955 SATURDAY

Billboard, in its "Review Spotlight" section, examined "I Forgot To Remember To Forget",  predicting the single would be "This disk is certain to get strong initial exposure", and ''Presley is currently on the best selling charts with ''Baby Let's Play House'' and the wide acceptance of this side should ease the way for new disk. Flip, ''Mystery Train'', is a splendid coupling, with the guitar outstanding''.

Elvis Presley dropped  in on the Louisiana Hayride for his weekly performance. On this show he sang "Baby Let's  Play House", and "Maybellene". After two false starts, he was able to complete a torrid  version of "That's All Right".


© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

During the late part of August 1955 and unbeknownst to Colonel Tom Parker, Bob Neal was already  negotiating with Horage Logan a renewal of Elvis' Hayride contract. The current first year contract was  going to an and on November 12, 1955.

All decisions, with respect to Elvis' career, had to go through the  Colonel's office according to an agreement signed in the previous month, naming Colonel Tom Parker as  ''Special Advisor''.

On this particular occasion, Bob Neal decided to take it upon himself to obtain some  security for Elvis, but also more than likely, was asserting his indepentdence from Colonel Tom Parker.

The contract was prepared and signed during the first week of September as reported in the Shreveport Times  on September 8, 1955. Once again his parent's co-signed the contract as Elvis was still under the age of 21.  The Hayride would now pick up the Presley option for $200 an appearance which was a fair increase  compared to his current contract that paid the union scale of $18 a show.



The contract also stipulated that, ''...artist is given the right to miss one Saturday performance during each 60  day period''. Horage Logan alse added a sideline note that $400 must be paid to the Hayride for every  additional show Elvis would miss.

All this was done very much to the objection of Colonel Tom Parker. He urged Vernon Presley (Elvis' father)  not to sign the agreement, as he felt that there was no need for a committed contract.


He was close of a new  recording contract with a major label. However, in Vernon's mind wanting some kind of financial security, he  signed the agreement that took hold on November 11, 1955, just as Elvis present contract would end.

LIVE BROADCAST RECORDINGS FOR ELVIS PRESLEY
FOR KWKH'S LOUISIANA HAYRIDE, SHREVEPORT, LOUISIANA, 1955

MUNICIPAL AUDITORIUM, 705 GRAND AVENUE AND
MILAM STREET, SHREVEPORT, LOUISIANA
SESSION HOURS: SATURDAY 8:00 PM AUGUST 20, 1955
VIEWING TIME TV-STATION KWKH 1 FAIRCHILDER TAPE RECORDER
PRODUCER - HORACE LOGAN
RECORDING ENGINEER - BOB SULLIVAN

01 – "INTRO/BABY, LETS PLAY HOUSE" - B.M.I. - 3:17
Composer: - Arthur Gunter
Publisher: - Fort Knox Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None
Recorded: - August 20, 1955
Released: - 1983
First appearance: - Louisiana Hayride (LP) 33rpm NR-8973 mono
LOUISIANA HAYRIDE
Reissued: - November 2011 Memphis Recording Service (CD) 500/200rpm MRS 30001256-13 mono
THE COMPLETE LOUISIANA HAYRIDE ARCHIVES 1954-1956

02 – "INTRO/MAYBELLENE" - B.M.I. - 2:39
Composer: - Chuck Berry-Frato Reed
Publisher: - Arc Music Corporation - Isalee Music Publishers
Matrix number: - WPA5-2536
Recorded: - August 20, 1955
Released: - 1983
First appearance: - Louisiana Hayride (LP) 33rpm NR-8973 mono
LOUISIANA HAYRIDE
Reissued: - November 2011 Memphis Recording Service (CD) 500/200rpm MRS 30001256-14 mono
THE COMPLETE LOUISIANA HAYRIDE ARCHIVES 1954-1956

In the early 1950s Chuck Berry performed Bob Wills's song "Ida Red" in his nightclub act, imitating the popular country singers of the day. After signing with Chess records, "Ida Red" was Berry's first recording. He reportedly recorded 36 takes before a version was judged suitable for release. The title was changed to "Maybellene" after Berry remembered a cow named "Maybellene" in a childhood nursery rhyme. "Maybellene" (Chess 1604) became a number one rhythm and blues hit in 1955. It also did well on the Top 100 chart, peaking at number 5. Sales exceeded one million copies.

03 – "INTRO/THAT'S ALL RIGHT" -– B.M.I. - 2:31
Composer: - Arthur Crudup
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated - Arthur Crudup Music
Matrix number: - None - False Start 1 - False Start 2
Recorded: - August 20, 1955
Released: - 1983
First appearance: - Louisiana Hayride (LP) 33rpm NR-8973 mono
LOUISIANA HAYRIDE
Reissued: - November 2011 Memphis Recording Service (CD) 500/200rpm MRS 30001256-15 mono
THE COMPLETE LOUISIANA HAYRIDE ARCHIVES 1954-1956

04 – 'LOUISIANA HAYRIDE OUTTRO'' - 0:44
First appearance: - November 2011 Memphis Recording Service (CD) 500/200rpm MRS 30001256-23 mono
THE COMPLETE LOUISIANA HAYRIDE ARCHIVES 1954-1956

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Elvis Presley - Vocal and Acoustic Rhythm Guitar (Martin Dreadnought 18)
Scotty Moore - Electric Lead Guitar (Gibson ES 295)
Bill Black - Acoustic Upright Bass (Kay Maestro M-1)
Dominic Joseph Fontana - Drums (Gretsch Round Badge Kit)

In closing out the Sun era, it's important to remember the part of Sam Phillips. But it's just as important to know that Elvis, Scotty, and Bill would also be working on innovative ways to make this music successful.

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©


Elvis Presley backstage in Bryan, Texas, with disc jockey A.J. Winn, August 23, 1955. >


AUGUST 21, 1955 SUNDAY

Sometime during the summer Elvis appears in Mount Pleasant, Texas, at the American Legion  Hall, very likely on this date, or a week later.


AUGUST 22, 1955 MONDAY

Elvis Presley began a week-long tour across the middle of Texas. He headlined a group of  Louisiana Hayride performers including Johnny Horton, Betty Amos, David Houston, Sonny  Trammell, Ray Gorman, Tillman Franks, "Woody Birdbrain" Dalton and Lula Joe, and Horage  Logan who acted as emcee.

Tonight's show was at 8:15 p.m. at Spudder Park, the local semi-pro baseball field in Wichita  Falls, Texas. Tickets for this show were only a quarter in advance and 50-cents at the gate. A  special stage had been constructed on second base by using a flat-bed truck. Opening the  show was Bill Mack and his band. For the show Elvis Presley wore a black shirt and pink  trousers. In the audience, Bill Mack's mother felt that Elvis' mischief on stage was vulgar.  After the show, Elvis Presley offered to drive Scotty Moore, Bill Black, Bill Mack, and Tillman  Franks to the Toddle House for hamburgers. However, during the show he left the lights on  and the battery of his latest Cadillac was dead. Elvis had left his lights on. A gentle push from a farmer's pickup got  them on their way.

After the show Elvis signed autograph as usual and answered questions from some fans. Some girls from Stamford asked Elvis ifa new song they'd heard on the radio was his. Elvis informed them it was a Chuck Berry song. ''Mr. Berry is black and I am white'', said Elvis. As Elvis leaned on his cadillac, he overheard Bill Mack talking about going to the hospital to see his newborn. Elvis asked if he could tag along and jumped into Bill's new Pontiac. Making a quick stop at Berverly's Drice-In for a bite, they drove to the hospital, where Elvis baby-talked to the infant. The whole incident made Elvis hungry, so he and Bill headed for the Toddle House Restaurant.

AUGUST 23, 1955 TUESDAY

The tour stopped for a show in Bryan, Texas. The performance was said to be at the Saddle  Club, but a check with the locals determined that there never was an establishment by that  name. It may be that the Saddle Club was a rodeo organization and not a nightclub.



Scotty Moore, Elvis Presley, and Bill Black, on the flatbed truck, Conroe, Texas, August 24, 1955. >

AUGUST 24, 1955 WEDNESDAY

Elvis Presley was scheduled to play in Conroe, Texas. He arrived early in the day and had his   pink Cadillac washed at a local service station. To promote the evening's show, several of the   entertainers performed briefly on the courthouse sets in the afternoon.


The stage for the   evening's show was constructed by parking two-flad-bed trucks side-by-side on the football   field of Davy Crockett Hi School F.B. Stadium from Conroe High. Appearing as an opening act   was 16-year old Mary McCoy of Conroe, a singer who also appeared earlier in the year on the   Louisiana Hayride and who performed with Elvis Presley several times in Houston, Texas.

The show was an hour and a half old before Elvis Presley made his entrance. As he came   bounding up the makeshift steps to the makeshift stage, he tripped and banged his head.   Dazed but ever the showman, Elvis Presley gave the packed stands about forty minutes of   blazing rock 'n' roll. After the show, Elvis Presley rested at the Blue Bird Motel on North   Frazier.

According to Bob Watkins, ''When it came time for the announcers to introduces Elvis, the stadium was filled with anticipation. At the mention of Elvis' name, the modest crowd cheered and looked expectantly at the parked Cadillac. Then Elvis quickly crawled out of the back seat, pulling his guitar with him, and ran for the stage''.

''He jumped onto one of the benches and was about to bounce onto the stage, when the bench toppled over under the sudden shift of his weight. Elvis crashed down hard onto the flatbed truck, and the resulting thud could be heard clearly in the stadium. There was a collective gasp from the crowd and then total silence. Elvis just lay there, face down on the truck bed with his guitar clasped tightly in one hand off to the side. No one moved. He must have stayed motionless for a complete minute. Then Elvis jumped up and almost bounced to the microphone on stage, whipped the guitar strap around his neck, assumed his classic pose with the feet spread apart, shook his head and that long black hair, and said, 'Whew'! Whit that, and to the great relief of the crowd, he began to play his first song, despite a very large and obvious red knot on his forehead''.

Mary McCoy says, ''He stepped out in a red sport coat, white lace shirt, and lime green trousers, and stripped on the stairs to the flatbed truck and hurt his head. It was raining. He sang '' That's All Right'' and ''Maybellene''. It was a wonder he wasn't knocket out. He had a big lump on his head. What was so bad about it was some people were jealous, and news travelled that he was drunk. But that was not true, he wasn't drunk''.


AUGUST 25, 1955 THURSDAY

Elvis Presley and the Hayride group performed in Austin at 8:00 p.m. at the Sportcenter, 501  Barton Springs Road. Tickets were 75-cents in advance and $1.00 at the door. Children's   admission was 50-cents.

The stage was low, and when Elvis Presley begins his portion of the   show, teenagers got out of their chairs and rushed up front to sit on the floor. One song that   Elvis Presley sang on this date was "I Forgot To Remember To Forget".


Elvis Presley, D.J. Fontana, and Bill Black on stage, Austin, Texas, August 25, 1955. ^

As soon as the show  finished, teens scrambled on stage to get his autograph, at the same time pushing Elvis   Presley against the fake fence backdrop. Later, it was reported by the Austin Statesman   (September 29, 1955) that "enthusiastic fans (mainly teenage girls) practically ripped him   apart before he even got on stage".

According to JoAnne Phillips, ''We had seats fairly close to the front. The stage was only about three feet high, with a fence background. As soon as Elvis walked on stage, there was a mass exodus of teens to sit on the floor directly in front of the stage. It was as close as we could get without being arrested''.

''Elvis was wearing a narrow belt with the buckle about halfway between his side and front. That was cool in 1955. I remember him singing, ''I Forgot To Remember To Forget'' because he looked at Melba, (Joann's cousin), smiled, and winked, and he promptly fell over my lap. She couldn't afford to really faint because she'd miss a second of seeing Elvis''.

''When the show was over, we all started up on stage to get our hands autographed. Everybody was pushing and shoving, and I got pushed jam up against Elvis. It was a little panicky. He was pushed against the fence and I was jammed against him. I could hear the fance creak. I was really afraid it would fall over, and everybody would either fall on us or trample us. It held. Elvis autographed our hands. Melba's mom said, 'C'Mon, JoAnne'. We started moving through the crowd, holding our hands up, as if under arrest. As we left Elvis reached up and caught me by the hand, squeezed it, and said, 'Goodbye, JoAnne'. With what little breath I had left, I could only manage a weak 'Bye'''. 


Austin, Texas The American Statesman, Newspaper Article. >

AUGUST 25, 1955 THURSDAY

CHANCE RECORD GIVES PRESLEY START TO TOP

Elvis Presley, a young man whose boppish approach to hillbilly music has made him one of  the hottest performers of the day, will be headlining a troupe of Louisiana Hayride stars  when they stage a Western music jamboree Thursday at 8 p.m. in the Sportcenter.


Appearing with Presley will be guitarist Scotty Moore and bassist Bill Black, his recording  partners, plus a dozen or so headliners from the nationally famed Louisiana Hayride show in  Shreveport.

Included on the bill will be such folk music specialists as Johnny Horton, Betty Amos, David  Houston, Dalton and Lulu Jo, Sonny Tremmell, Ray Gomer, Tillman Franks, and Willie  Birdbrain, the hillbilly comic.

During his comparatively short career in the music world, young Presley, the star of the  show, has made a spectacular climb to nationwide popularity.

About a year ago, Presley, Moore and Black were teaming up to make a personal record  when they were accidentally heard by a recording manager. Impressed by the rocking style  of Presley and his friends, the manager contracted the group to make a pressing whose  immediate success started the 20-year-old Presley on the way to his present position of  prominence.

Since that first disc - "That's All Right", - Presley has applied his half-bop, half-Western style  to such tunes as "I Don't Care If The Sun Don't Shine", "Good Rockin' Tonight", "You're A  Heartbreaker", and "Milk Cow Blues Boogie", each of which has enjoyed wide popularity  throughout the country.

Sparks.....Bob Neal, currently working with Col. Tom Parker on promotion for the Hank Snow  show in the South, reports that he has Elvis Presley, Martha Carson, the Carlisles, Ferlin  Husky, J. E. and Maxine Brown and Onie Wheeler set for a week's trek beginning May 29.  Neal, who is Presley's personal manager, says the latter has a new release on Sun, "Baby,  Let's Play House" b/w "You're Right, I'm Left, She's Gone". Disc jockey’s may receive a copy  by writing him at 160 Union Street, Memphis, Neal says.



AUGUST 26, 1955 FRIDAY

The week-long tour ended with an 8:00 p.m. show in Conzales, Texas, at the city's semi-pro  Baseball Park and was sponsored by the Gonzales Quarterback club. Admission was seventy-five cents in advance and $1.00 at the door with  children allowed in for only a quarter. Headliner on the bill Elvis Presley with Scotty and Bill. Also on the bill, Johnny Horton, Betty Amos, Dalton and Lula-Jo, David Houston, Willie Birdbrain, and many others,


AUGUST 27, 1955 SATURDAY

Elvis Presley, along with the rest of his group of performers, was back on the Louisiana  Hayride in Shreveport.

For Charles ''The Cat'' Canfield, August 27 became a career highlight. Just out of the Navy, Charles was writing and performing traditional country songs in the style of Hank Williams. One night, he persuaded some local musicians to go with him to a recording studio after their gig, and during the night, they recorded a handful of Charles songs. When released, the A-side, ''Cry, Cry On'', got enough attention on the jukebox in Monroe for the Louisiana Hayride's Horace Logan to take notice. He called Canfield and invited him to be a special guest on the August 27 Louisiana Hayride show as an an emergency for Billy Walker, who had a car accident and couldn't be there. Charles got a spot in the first hour, beginning with ''Tennessee Saturday Night'', which led into Hayride star Jim Reeves' first appearance of the night. Johnny Horton had already brought the house down with a rendition of Bill Haley's ''Rock Around The Clock'', and Charles got the chance to close the first hour of the show, singing, ''Cry, Cry On''.

Jeanette Hicks opened the second hour, but what most of the audience was waiting for was the next artist, a young man dressed in pink and black, the same colours as the Cadillac he had parked outside. Charles thought he looked like a teddy bear when he came out ob stage, instantly going into one side of his brand-new record released, ''Mystery Train''. Like the rest of the cast, Elvis' slot was a two-song performance, followed by Dobber Johnson, Buddy Attaway, and Hoot and Curly. Elvis returned at 10:45 p.m. with two more songs, ''Blue Moon Of Kentucky'' and Chuck Berry's ''Maybellene'', the song that Elvis had insisted on doing at every show during August.

When it was all over, Charles Canfield savoured his ''fifteen minutes'', sitting next to Presley and signing autographs for fans.


AUGUST 31, 1955 WEDNESDAY

Elvis, Scotty and Bill were interviewed by Elvis manager, Bob Neal, over WMPS radio in  Memphis, Tennessee, as a plug for Friday night's show in Texarkana. The interview had  originally been set up to publicize an appearance that Friday night in Texarkana, Arkansas,  but Elvis Presley spent most of the time talking about Colonel Tom Parker's plans for his  career. There was a sense of urgency and a gleeful tone in Elvis voice as he excitedly  described his bright future. "We want to invite everybody out to the show", said Scotty  Moore.

"And they've all been asking about the drummer who we had up there last time, D.J.  Fontana. He's going to be with us. He's a regular member of our band now...".


''Tell you what",  says Bob, "Before we call over some other folks here to talk, Elvis Presley, how you doin?".  "Fine, Robert, how you gettin' along?". "Oh, doin ' grand, I know all the folks down at  Texarkana been raising such a whoop and a holler for you come down and whoop and holler  at 'em that they got this great big double show scheduled for Friday night at the auditorium  down there. What do you think about it?". "Bob, I just wanted to say one thing. Friday night  we'll be down there, and I'll have a brand spanking new pose of Elvis for a picture, and  they'll be selling at the same old price of only a quarter. And I'll have about four or five  million of them. if anybody would like to have just one, why, I'll have plenty of 'em, before  the show, during intermission, after the show, the fact is, I may sell them out there all night  long. That's all I got to say", said Elvis Presley.

"I would like to invite everybody out Friday night to see our big show", he declares, "because  I don't know when we'll be coming back that way... It'll probably be a pretty long while  before we can come back to Texarkana", he concludes.

BOB NEAL – was born to his missionary parents in the Belgian Congo on October 6, 1917 on  the continent of Africa. He spent his early years traveling between Africa and Europe as well  as the United States.

In the late 1940s, he had his own program on WMPS, "The Bob Neal Farm Hour". On that  show he featured nothing but country music.

Along came 1954 and Sam Phillips of Sun Records called Bob Neal and told him he had a new  act on his label and asked Bob if he could get him on a show. Bob put him on a show on  August 10, 1954 and in one interview, Bob said he was suprised at the great audience  reaction to a newcomer. Later on, he asked Elvis if he had a manager. That led to Bob  managing Elvis for about a year and a half.

Neal was said to have given Elvis a free ticket to attend a Jordanaires concert at Ellis  Auditorium. Bob introduced Elvis to the Jordanaires. He also arranged for the Speers portrait  photos of Elvis that were mass produced and sold at venues. He then accompanied Elvis and  his group to Cleveland for what was their first ''Northern'' personal appearance. From there,  he flew to New York with them for the failed Arthur Godfrey TV show audition in March  1955.

At some point in 1954, he arranged a tour for Elvis, the Louvin Brothers and Jim Ed and  Maxine Brown.

Like any new singer, getting the word out about them is part of the overall effort. In 1955,  Bob was able to prime the two main music publications of that era, Billboard and Cash Box  with plenty of material to use to help promote Elvis and generate interest in his career.

Johnny Cash told readers in a 1958 biography type article how Bob Neal came to be a part of  his life. It was around 1955; Bob was the manager of Elvis Presley in addition to his disc  jockey duties at WMPS. Johnny had just written and released a new tune called "Cry, Cry,  Cry". He had gotten the inspiration from a WSM disc jocky by the name of Eddie Hill. It seems  Eddie was frequently telling his listeners every show, "...Stay tuned, we're gonna bawl,  squall and run up the wall''. Johnny's first inclination was to make it a novelty song and call  it "You're Gonna Bawl, Bawl, Bawl'', but didn't like that and wrote his legendary classic.

Bob called Johnny one day and told him his record was getting a lot of requests at the  station. He also wanted to know if Johnny would be interested in doing a short tour with  Elvis, Webb Pierce and a few others. Johnny was so ecstatic about that offer that it wasn't  until after he had hung up that he realized he hadn't asked how much Bob was going to pay  him on the tour.

Bob's talent agency was known as Stars, Inc. In 1956, he was putting together a package of  shows that would take several artists on a tour through Florida during September and  October. The roster of entertainers was to include Johnny Cash, Sonny James, Roy Orbison  and the Teen Kings, Johnny Horton, Faron Young and others. That same 1956 column told  readers that Elvis played to a crowd of 14,000 at Russwood Park in a July 4, 1956 concert in  Memphis. It was a benefit show for the "Milk Fund''.

At the time Johnny's career was getting started, he was being managed by Dick Stuart,  another Memphis disc jockey. Dick arranged an audition for Johnny with the Louisiana  Hayride over KWKH out of Shreveport, Louisiana. One thing led to another - appearances  around the country and eventually leading to Nashville. On his debut appearance at WSM's  Grand Ole Opry, he sang "I Walk The Line". By that time, Bob Neal had become his manager.

Another aspect of the relationship with Elvis was a business partnership they formed that  became the original "Elvis Presley Enterprises''. The offices for their endeavor was at the  office Bob rented at 160 Union Avenue in Memphis. His wife, Helen the secretary.

When Bob took Johnny to the Louisiana Hayride, it may have led to other endeavors on his  part as well. In 1958, one article reported that Bob Neal was the new owner of radio station  KCIJ in Shreveport.

While managing Johnny, he gave his career a different turn. He wasn't the first singer to try  it - a movie role to broaden his audience appeal. Elvis had done "G. I. Blues" around that  time. Johnny found himself in "Five Minutes To Live".

A 1963 article notes that Bob had a hand in the Wil-Helm Talent Agency that was created by  the Wilburn Brothers and Don Helms; whether this was a business arrangement or friendly  professional assistance wasn't clear. However, a later article glossing through the historical  events over a period of time noted that Bob "left" the Wil-Helm agency in 1963 to form his  own agency.

In 1966, Bob handled the bookings for the Compton Brothers on the East Coast. Around that  time they had signed to be regulars on the WWVA Jamboree over in Wheeling, West Virginia.  The OMAC agency was to handle their bookings on the west coast. That's the same group  that handled Buck Owens.

Early in 1966, Bob included a news item in Country Music Life describing the success his  agency saw in 1965. It was his best year since he had moved operations to Nashville and  stated that he would have to limit the number of artists he represented to be able to offer  them the best effort of his agency. At the time he was representing Carl Belew, Tommy Cash,  Stonewall Jackson, Sonny James, Warner Mack, Johnny Paycheck, Pete Drake, Connie Hall  and Jimmy Martin.

In 1966, he began to book Jack Reno who had just left his disc jockey position at WXCL in  Peoria, Illinois.

We continue to see evidence of how Bob was able to get his roster of talent included in the  news of the day. Another 1966 article notes that Bob had Stonewall Jackson heavily booked  for a couple of months, including a 15-day tour to Japan in May.

When Johnny Paycheck released his Little Darlin' record, "The Lovin' Machine" in 1966, it set  off a flury of activity for Johnny. After finishing a tour in the northeast, he was set to work  with the Jayne Mansfield show in Florida for a 29-day tour in the southern part of the USA.  Bob and Aubrey Mayhew were also trying to put together a syndicated television show for  Johnny as well.

Late in 1966, he added Montie Lee (the older brother of Melba Montgomery) to his stable of  artists that he was managing. And showing no signs of slowing down, he later added Ruby  Wright, then on Epic Records, Clyde Pitts of Columbia Records and Warner Mack, on Decca at  the time.

Again late 1966, his agency made the news by arranging to have Conway Twitty and the  Lonely Blue Boys make their first appearance in Nashville after Conway's switch to country  music. The appearance was to be at the Nashville Police Department Show on October 15  and 16, 1966.

Bob was proving to be quite an astute business person at promotion. In an August 1966  article, he announced he had a 37% increase in gross bookings over the same five month  period in 1965 and expressed satisfaction that gross commission earnings were up for the  Bob Neal Agency. He noted that 1966 was shaping up to be the best year yet for his agency.  Bob Neal died on May 9, 1983.


© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

INTERVIEW FOR ELVIS PRESLEY
FOR WMPS RADIO MEMPHIS 1955

WMPS RADIO, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
112 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
RECORDED: AUGUST 31, 1955
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER – BOB NEAL

01 – "INTERVIEW WITH BOB NEAL'' – 5:30
Matrix number: - None
Recorded: - August 31, 1955
Released: - 2003
First appearance: - Gear Productions (CD) 500/200rpm ESP 0703 mono
IN THE EYE OF THE STORM
Reissued: - August 3, 2012 FTD Records (CD) 500/200rpm 506020-975049-3-32 mono
A BOY FROM TUPELO – THE COMPLETE RECORDINGS 1953-1955

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Elvis Presley, Scotty Moore, Bill Black
Interviewed by Bob Neal

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©


SEPTEMBER 1955

There is a rumour that Elvis Presley performed in Hope, Arkansas, during the late summer at  the town's Watermelon Festival. It turns out, the Festival - now a very successful event - was  discontinued in the 1930s and was not reinstated until 1977.

There are no indications that Elvis worked during the early part of the week. He did cut a radio promo for Jim Le Fan in Texarkana, and the most certainly got ahaircut. The Colonel had managed to find Elvis a place on a show at Pontchartrain Beach in New Orleans, where disc jockey show host Red Smith had listen ''Baby Let's Play House'' in his top ten for weeks.


SEPTEMBER 1, 1955 THURSDAY

Elvis Presley, the fourteen year old Ann Barhanovich and the "Fireball Star of Records and  Louisiana Hayride Fame", performed at the "Second Annual Hillbilly Jamboree" at the Lake  Pontchartrain Beach amusement area in New Orleans for 23,000 fans.

The show was a  celebration for disc jockey Red Smith of WBOK radio. The entertainment began at 7:00 p.m.  with the Flying LaVals as well as Risko and Nina.


The Louisiana Hayride Crew. From left: Scotty Moore, Jack Cardwell, Roy Parker, Jimmy Swan, Ernie Chaffin, Mrs. Jimmie Rogers,   Al Terry, Jim Reeves, Jeff Bidderson, Lawton Williams, Luke McDaniel, Joe Clay, Elvis Presley. In  front: Ann Raye with Red Smith. >

At 7:20, everyone enjoyed the Miss Hillbilly  Dumplin' Contest featuring "lovely, luscious teenagers" who competed to win an allexpenses- paid vacation to Ocean Hills Resort in Biloxi. The musical portion of the  entertainment began at 9:30 p.m. Prior to Elvis' portion of the show, Mrs. Jimmie Rodgers  made a personal appearance, followed by Jim Reeves, Al Terry, Jack Cardwell, Jimmy Swan,  Ernie Chafin, Ann Raye, Ray Parker, and Hillbilly Evans. The show was open to everyone at  the fairgrounds, and rides, including one of the world's largest roller coasters, were $ 1.00  for adults en 50-cents for children under twelve. That night, Joe Clay sat in on drums, because D.J. Fontana wasn't feeling well.

"That was the first time I'd ever seen anything like that", said Ann Barhanovich. "I sang on  the same bill with Elvis Presley in quite a few places, from Florida to Louisiana, that  summer. We performed together May 26 in Meridian at the Jimmie Rodgers Celebration.  That was my birthday".

Later that night, Elvis Presley appeared at the Golden Cadillac Lounge on St, Clade Avenue  near Poland Avenue, The Cadillac was a white club with a black band. Danny White and the  Cavaliers were the house band during its heyday. The booking agent, Keith Rush, was a  wheeler-dealer on the New Orleans music scene, and he envisioned big profits because of  the popularity of Presley's records.

The night that Elvis Presley appeared at the Golden Cadillac, it was filled with excited  spectators. His show was truly unique. After opening with "That's All Right", Elvis  interspersed rhythm and blues songs with his Sun recordings. Elvis Presley knew that the  audience was an rhythm and blues one, and he tailored his song selection to include tunes  like "Shake A Hand" and "What'd I Say". A local New Orleans rhythm and blues singer, Bobby  Mitchell, was in the audience. Mitchell was stunned by Presley's "black sound".

The night at the Golden Cadillac is a microcosmic example of how Presley's small club  dates helped to sell his records. Responding to customer demand, Johnny Vincent, the  owner of Ace Records and distributor for Sun Records in New Orleans, immediately told his  chief employee, Joe Corona, to order more Presley records. At Joe Assunto's One-Stop  Record shop, there was a run on Elvis Records. All disc jockey’s played Presley's music after  he appeared at the Golden Cadillac Lounge. On WJMR, WNOE, and WWEX, Elvis' Sun records  were carving a territorial nice for his music.

As usual, as a result of his uncontrolled energy and passion for music, Elvis Presley combined  his performing with the interest of a fan, and so drove out to Rampart Street and looked in  on the Astora, Blue Eagle, and Tiajuana clubs before calling it a night in New Orleans.



Elvis Presley backstage Pontchartrain Beach, New Orleans, Louisiana, September 1, 1955. >

Frank Barhanovich said once when Elvis Presley and his daughter, Ann, were appearing on a New  Orleans television interview show, "he told Ann, 'How about being my girlfriend?'. And Ann  told Elvis, 'You're like a sailor. You got a girl in every port'. At that time, he asked me to  manage him. I told him I had a career in the insurance business and I was devoting a lot of  my time to me daughter".


He said, also, he felt managing both young singers would have been a bit uneasy. Ann had  made up to seven hundred and fifty dollars when she was only fourteen and he was  dedicated to advancing her career at that moment.

"I had an opportunity", he said of Elvis'  offer, "but I passed it up. My daughter had never appeared in a night club. I wouldn't do it.  One time we were booked with Elvis Presley in Lafayette, Louisiana. The contract called for  her to go to the Moulin Rouge night club, but I told the manager, 'We don't take our daughter  into a night club. You can take Elvis, but not my daughter". Elvis, he said, was not the first  name entertainer to ask that he become a manager. Hank Williams had asked earlier. "I just  felt like it would be a conflict of interest", he said. "If he would have let me manage him in  addition to my insurance business, it would have been OK, but I would have had to travel all  over". Barhanovich said he never felt regrets about his decision later. "I think I made a
career out of my business", he said. He later became a district manager before retiring from  the insurance profession.

Martha Ann Barhanovich Ebberman, Barhanovich daughter, remembers her New Orleans  introduction to Elvis Presley quite well. "I hardly knew who he was, what he looked like",  she said. "I was singing in quite a lot of high schools in the area at the time. Dad was booking  me with a lot of older singers. I mean, they may have been twenty-five or thirty, but when  you're fourteen, that's old! I was at that point I would have given anything if dad would just  book somebody young".

According to Shirley Fleniken, ''On September 1, my whole family went to New Orleans to see Elvis Presley. He was playing at Pontchartrain Beach, for a Labor Day Show. Elvis, Scotty, and Bill had to walk quite a way on the sand to get to the stage where they were performing. There were policemen walking with them, to keep the crowd back. The show was absolutely wonderful. I didn't think Elvis could get any better, but he was!. Afterwards, we attempted to go backstage but were turned away by the police. It was a bittersweet moment, feeling so proud of Elvis and happy for him that he was doing so well, but a little bit melancholy that I couldn't just to talk to him like the other times I'd seen him, but I would get over that. Yes, those days were over. The main thing was, Elvis was going places! He deserved it, he put his whole heart and soul into his performances, because he cared about us, his fans. My mother summed it all up, after seeing Elvis that day, she said to us, 'You all better take a good look at him, 'cause you won't be seeing him around here anymore, he's going to the top'''.

Joel Scarborough says, ''I knew Red Smith when I was 14 years old. He allowed me to hang around the radio station of WBOK on Saturday mornings to pull requested records for his radio show. I met Elvis when he and Scotty Moore came to the radio station before the Pontchartrain Beach show. I was a poor kid from the St. Thomas housing projects and Elvis noticed that the soles of my shoes were flopping. They took up a collection and gave me $11 to buy a pair shoes. Elvis also gave me an autograph copy of ''Mystery Train'' on Sun label''.


Scotty Moore, D.J. Fontana, Elvis Presley, and Bill Black on stage in their driving clothes, Municipal Auditorium, Texarkana, Arkansas, September 2, 1955. >

SEPTEMBER 2, 1955 FRIDAY

In the early morning hours, while driving from New Orleans to Texarkana, Elvis Presley was  once again ticketed for speeding. In the late afternoon, someone other than Elvis Presley  (probably one of his cousins) was behind the wheel as they were headed north about fifteen  miles from Texarkana. 


A man named Robinson was in his pickup truck going south when he  unexpectedly turned in front of Elvis' car. No one was seriously hurt, but damage to Elvis'  three-month old 1955 Cadillac was estimated at more than $1,000. The incident made news  broadcast from Florida to Texas. (This information is from Ailene Ray who lived on Highway  71 at the site of the accident).

According to Elvis' manager Bob Neal, ''They had done a show in New Orleans, got paid off late, got a speeding ticket on the way. Time came for them to show, and they weren't there, so the other performers kept working. Then Elvis called and told about their having a wreck about seven or eights miles from town. Scotty was driving, passing a pick-up truck, which pulled to the right, then made a left turn. Scotty chose a ditch. No one was seriously hurt''.



Carl ''Cheesie'' Nelson, center, performs after intermission with Elvis' band at the Arkansas Municipal Auditorium,  September 2, 1955. >


Elvis Presley and his band were booked to perform in Texarkana with Johnny Cash, Charlene  Arthur, Floyd Cramer and Jimmy Day at the Arkansas Municipal Auditorium. The first show  began at 7 o'clock, to be followed by another at nine. 


When it was learned that Elvis Presley  would be arriving late, a call went out for Cheesie Nelson, who was located with Pat Cupp at  Lee's Drive Inn where they had gone following their High School football game. The pair  rushed to the Auditorium. When Elvis Presley failed to arrive for his entrance, Nelson  entertained the crowd for about thirty minutes.

He was backed by Scotty Moore and Bill  Black, who apparently were travelling ahead of Elvis Presley and knew nothing about the  accident. As soon as Elvis Presley showed up, he was rushed on stage in the same clothes he  had been wearing in the car.

Elvis Presley informed the crowd: "I've had a few surprises recently, now here's one for  you...". Elvis Presley than began to perform a cover version of Faye Adams' 1953 rhythm and  blues hit, "Shake A Hand". An interesting sidelight to the evening is the fact that Floyd  Cramer played the piano during Elvis' appearance. The show, however, was generally  lackluster, with Elvis Presley showing signs of fatigue. Obviously under great strain, Elvis  Presley complained to Johnny Cash that the price of sudden fame was becoming  burdensome. As his tour continued, Elvis Presley betrayed visible signs of the strain brought  on by constantly being in the public eye.

That night in Texarkana, Elvis Presley and Bill Black went out for something to eat. It was  unusual for Elvis Presley to hang out with Bill Black, and it was obvious that young Presley  had something on his mind. Elvis Presley was having misgivings, and wondered if he was  headed in the right musical direction. Tired and anxious, he asked Black whether country  music was the road he should follow, or whether he should continue to mix his songs.  Country music audiences were often critical of Elvis Presley, and he was concerned about his  future. Bill Black did his best to reassure Elvis Presley. After telling young Presley a string of  jokes, Black had a serious talk with him, advising Elvis Presley to just perform his songs and  forget about the opinions of other people. In effect, Bill Black became a temporary surrogate  father figure and helped to nurture Elvis Presley through a difficult period. Ronald Smith and  Kenneth Herman, too, recalled that Elvis Presley was reassessing the state of his career  after returning his Shreveport dates.

The primary evidence for this performance is the date and location of the accident and the  recollection of the people who were there. One other piece of documentation is a recording  from late August. Elvis Presley, Scotty Moore and Bill Black were interviewed in Memphis by  Bob Neal before a Friday night Texarkana show. The interview, which was either tape  recorded or made into a transcription disk, was sent to Texarkana radio stations to promote  the show. During the conversation, the foursome mention Elvis' "I Forgot To Remember To  Forget" and Charlene Arthur's "Kiss The Baby Goodnight", both of which were released in  August 1955.

There exist a late August 1955 interview done to promote the September 2, 1955,  Texarkana gig. This interview sheds some light on Elvis' appearances here. The five-minute  recording includes the voice of Elvis Presley, Scotty Moore and Bill Black, and Bob Neal.  During the discussion, the foursome said that the upcoming show would be their first in  Texarkana in four months (making the last one in April or May), their fourth or fifth time in  Texarkana altogether (good guess!), and the second trip for D.J. Fontana (it would appear  so).

All Texarkana shows are in the main body of text even though in some cases the exact date  is, at best, an educated guess.


The true story of the Tale of two friends: Inspired by Elvis, Cheesie Nelson’s impersonation    now a part of local history    by Jim Williamson, published in the Texarkana Gazette, November 24, 2011.

A car crash near Fouke, Arkansas, in September 1955 created one of the earliest Elvis  Presley impersonations. The circumstance added to the legend of Carl ''Cheesie'' Nelson,  who stood in for Elvis at the Arkansas Municipal Auditorium. The friendship of Nelson and Pat  Cupp, a Texarkana rockabilly artist who was later inducted into that music genre’s hall of  fame, added to the story of the highway of rock and roll, U.S. Highway 67. The chain of  events started with the crash involving Elvis’ car, delaying his scheduled performance and  creating a 30-minute performance of Nelson imitating Elvis.

''Cheesie did his perfected impersonation of Elvis for 30 minutes'', wrote the late Jerry  Atkins, a local music historian, in an article ''I'm a Long Gone Daddy; The Music of Pat Cupp''.  Cupp was a guitarist, and shortly after Elvis’ first song, ''That’s All Right'', was released,  Nelson and Cupp learned the song. It was Cupp's influence that helped develop Nelson’s  skills. ''Pat Cupp was the musician, and he helped develop Cheesie’s singing skills'', said  Tamar Nelson-Pennington, Cheesie's widow.

The first time Nelson-Pennington saw her future husband, he came to her school, Texas  High, to entertain the students. He brought Cupp with him and he performed the song ''My  Babe''. She remembered the song had the lyric ''When she’s hot, she tells me to cool her'',  which Nelson sang. The crowd gasped about the forbidden implication. The high school  principal banned him from a return engagement. He continued his performances in other  venues and bought the Elvis single record. He and Cupp worked out songs to perform for  their friends.

The fateful collision near Fouke that created one of the earliest Elvis impersonations  occurred about 8:45 p.m. Friday, September 2, 1955. It resulted in slight injuries to J.B.  Wiley, 54, of Fouke, according to the Texarkana Daily News article published September 3,  1955. According to the Arkansas State Police, a car driven that evening in September 1955  by Scottie Williams, a steel guitar player in Elvis Presley’s band, hit Wiley’s pickup about one  mile north of Fouke on U.S. Highway 71 as the truck was preparing to make a left turn. The  truck was knocked back several feet by the impact. Both vehicles were heavily damaged.

The car was owned by Elvis Presley, and he was a passenger. Officers said the car was in  passing position at the time of the accident. Presley and Williams were traveling to  Texarkana to appear at the Arkansas Municipal Auditorium. Elvis' car was taken to Bert  Getty’s Auto Shop for repairs.

Jim LeFan of radio station KOSY had sponsored a group of performers at the Texarkana  Municipal Auditorium, and when Elvis was late for the show, he started to panic. He knew  Nelson and asked him to perform until Elvis showed up. Other students at the concert said  Nelson had performed in a student assembly imitating Elvis. That was good enough for  LeFan.

Nelson was forced to go on stage when members of the Arkansas High football team lifted  him up from the floor and placed him on the stage. ''Cheesie sang, and Elvis got there and  walked on stage in the middle of a song'', Nelson-Pennington said. Someone in the audience  reportedly yelled, ''Oh, Elvis, let the boy sing''. So Elvis let Cheesie have the stage.

Decades later, at least one local believes Nelsons willingness to stand in gives Texarkana  some unique bragging rights.'''We’re taking claim for having the first Elvis impersonator.  Until someone can prove us wrong, we’re calling Cheesie the first Elvis impersonator'', said  Mark Shoptaw, a former president of the Arkansas Municipal Auditorium Commission. Nelson  became a regular part of Elvis' Texarkana experience. The two were known to have jam  sessions at the auditorium after concerts.

When Elvis performed in DeKalb, Texas, Nelson rode with Elvis to the show. He witnessed  the promoter paying Elvis ''either $10 or $15 for the show'', Nelson-Pennington said. She  never met Elvis and didn’t see him perform. ''I learned to like him'', she said. ''I was a snob  in 1954 and 1955. I studied piano and thought of Elvis as a hillbilly. I wrote a letter to a  girlfriend in Dallas and said this singer was coming to Texarkana and he was a hillbilly named  Elvis Presley. Then I saw him on the Ed Sullivan TV show the next year and changed my  mind'', Nelson-Pennington said. ''He excited teenagers, and his music made you feel good.  When you’re a teenager, everything can excite you and make you feel good. I'm 72 now, and  I don't feel as good as I used to'', she said.

Cupp grew up in Nashville, Arkansas. His home was a musical environment, where his father,  Burton, played ukulele and drums and mother, Ruth, played the piano. His brothers, Skippy  and Mickey, and sister, Bea, also played music. Pats part in the musical family was singer and  guitarist.

By 1953, the Cupp family was living in Texarkana, where music was always popular. Cupp  and his band, The Flying Saucers, made their first recording in 1956 at the Radio Ranch,  KWKH in Shreveport, Louisiana.

Cupp left the rockabilly world but served in the Air Force from 1957 to 1961. When he was  discharged, Cupp came home to Texarkana, married, raised a family and worked as an  engineer at Lone Star Ammunition Plant, wrote Atkins in his musical history of Texarkana.  Atkins was also music director of radio station KTXK in Texarkana, Texas.

Cupp appeared as an extra in the 1976 film ''The Town That Dreaded Sundown'', starring Ben  Johnson. He was a police officer in the film and wasn’t paid for his performance. The story  was a true story of several murders in Texarkana during the late 1940s that remain unsolved.  Cupp was honored in Hemsby, England, 150 miles north of London, during a rockabilly  festival in October 1995, recognizing the first-generation rockabilly artist from 1954-1957.  The show was his last stage performance before he retired from music.

His retirement was attributed to a hearing problem that started in 1978. Cupp had lost  nearly all of his hearing.

''I have lost 90 percent of my hearing, which has made music almost impossible'', wrote Cupp  on an electronic page on the Rockabilly Hall of Fame Website. ''I hurt my hearing when I sold  public-address systems to rock bands in the area. I did not wear any protection against loud  music and did damage that cannot be helped'', Cupp said. ''It took me out of the music  business for good in 2007, after a show in France'', he said. Former Arkansas Govener Mike  Huckabee honored Cupp with a reception at the state capitol in Little Rock and a letter July  8, 2000, congratulating him for his induction into the Rockabilly Hall of Fame.

''I have always admired the people who dedicate themselves to music and commend you for  the recent induction to the Rockabilly Hall of Fame'', said Huckabee in the letter. The Elvis  influence also motivated Cupp. ''I heard Elvis here in Texarkana and wanted to get involved  in the kind of music he did. The music was exciting to the young and quickly became  popular'', said Cupp in a recent email to the Texarkana Gazette. ''I was raised in a musical  family, and they helped me live my dream. I also liked the music of Carl Perkins and wrote  the same kind of songs he did'', said Cupp.

The trio of Elvis, Nelson and Cupp converged on the Texarkana auditorium stage by accident.  When the shows in 1954 and 1955 ended and the curtains went down, the men walked out  of the auditorium to the beats of different drummers. The path for Nelson would be  education, where he would eventually become the president of Texarkana College. Cupp  would form a band called Pat Cupp and the Flying Saucers and followed the rock ‘n’ roll  highway 67 out of Texarkana. Elvis would become a worldwide entertainer.

After 1955, Elvis never performed in Texarkana again. His career created a separate industry  of Elvis impersonators. However, Nelson may have been the first impersonator.

Years later, Cheesie said, ''I've been a president of a college and have done a lot of volunteer  work. But I'm always going to be known as an Elvis impersonator'', Nelson-Pennington said.


SEPTEMBER 2-9, 1955 FRIDAY / FRIDAY

Chuck Berry arrived at Brooklyn's Paramount Theater in New York City for Alan Freed's Big  Rock And Roll Show, he checked into the Alvin Hotel and went over to Manhattan to Meet  Alan Freed. It was from Freed that Berry heard the gossip about Elvis Presley. Berry told  Freed that he was already aware of Elvis. Not only had Elvis played St. Louis, Berry's  hometown, but Chuck had heard about him all over the South.

The conversation about Elvis Presley was all but forgotten as Berry performed his first show  at the Paramount. "I realized during those shows that my music and Elvis Presley's records  were creating a new sound", recalled Chuck Berry.



The Browns: Maxine (left), Jim Edward, and Bonnie in the Mid-1950s. >

SEPTEMBER 2-3, 1955 FRIDAY / SATURDAY

The same August 6, 1955, item in Billboard that referred to Elvis Presley returning from the  West Coast, mentions the following items of interest: "Casey Clark, Detroit, has the same  unit (Elvis Presley and the Browns) set for September 2-3, 1955, with other dates in the  Motor City area pending".


It is unclear whether Clark had "set" Elvis Presley for Detroit,  Michigan, which would seem to be what is implied, or whether the bookings were  elsewhere. At any rate, Elvis Presley reportedly played the Big D Jamboree on September 3  and, so far as can be determined, did not play Detroit until May 1956.



On stage, Big D Jamboree, Dallas, Texas, September 3, 1955. >

The band were now in desperate need of transportation, as the pink Cadillac needed serious repair work. Either before the trip to Dallas, or on the way back, Elvis bought a yellow Cadillac Convertible for $4,995 in Texarkana. Due to the three accidents Elvis had already piled up to date, Sam Phillips ended up having to put the new vehicle on his insurance policy.

SEPTEMBER 3, 1955 SATURDAY

Elvis Presley appeared on the Big D Jamboree in Dallas, Texas. Each ticket also allowed fans  a free bus ride home. Tommy Sands remembered that Elvis Presley looked worn out.


Elvis  Presley discussed his feelings with Sands, and went on at length about Bill Black's idea that  Elvis Presley should record more country songs. "Elvis had a weary look to him", Sands  remarked. "The strain showed in his face and his clothes hung on his thin frame. Elvis  weighed about 160 pounds and appeared haggard in concert", Sands noted. When he  graduated from Humes High, Elvis Presley had weighed 185 pounds. The road was taking its  toll, but he drove on relentlessly in pursuit of stardom.

Starring this night also the Belew Twins, Helen Hall, Jimmie Collie, Lafawn Paul, The Big D Gang. Show broadcast on KRLD at 8:30 midnight CBS Saturday night country style, coas to coast.


Dallas newspaper article says:  FOR JAMBOREE
The Big D Jamboree country music show at the Sportatorium Saturday night will feature one of the brightest new stars in the field when Elvis Presley returns for a special guest booking.

Presley will have Scotty and Bill as sidemen to back him up on his latest tunes, three of which are listen in the top 10 on the country music charts.  Presley hit first with ''That's All Right'' and followed with ''Baby Let's Play House''. His latest which has got off to a good start sales-wise, is called ''Mystery Train''. 

Presley, now 21 years old, has his largest following in the bobby-sox field.  A special feature of the Jamboree starting this Saturday will be the show's new policy of paying bur fare home for patrons.


SEPTEMBER 4, 1955 SUNDAY

Elvis Presley appeared at the Round-Up Club, 2005   South Parkway in Dallas, Texas.  There was often virtually no  profile of his audience available to Elvis Presley when he was booked into new places like  the Round-Up Club until he arrived, although this ended up being an important part of his  musical training.  Adapting to the crowds, which were now invariably large, continually  tested the limits of his versatility. Changing his song selection, he experimented on this  occasion with some old country standards, "Old Shep" and "Uncle Pen".

Round-Up Club, Dallas, Texas. >

After the show, Elvis and the group  traveled to Forrest City, Arkansas and make a stopover in Marshall, Texas.

Washington D.C, based promoter, Connie B. Gay says that a 19-year-old boy named Elvis  Presley will be the next sensation of the country and western (hillbilly) music field, it was  announced in the "TV and Radio People" column of a Tidewater newspaper on September 4.  "Presley has crossed bebop with country music and", according to Gay, "is the hottest thing  in the hillbilly field". "All the disc jockey polls and fan magazines showed Elvis Presley rising  to the top of "the folk music world, not through picking, yodelling, or balladeering, but by  belting out his numbers in a rock 'em sock 'em rhythm style".

It was a week of more or less familiar locations in the areas where Bob Neal's radio show was popular.

The behing-the-scenes haggling between the Colonel and Bob Neal reached new heights during the week. Bob Neal and Elvis were upset about the fee Elvis would get for the upcoming tour. Neal argued that he had a firm $500 offer for Elvis in Richmond, and that the $250 fee negotiated by the Colonel was unacceptable. Neal additionally pointed out that several of these towns were already established Elvis territory from the May tour. Neal went on to say, ''I can make well over $200 for Elvis and the unite playing small towns near Memphis''. Neal additionally quoted Bill Reilly in Richmond saying that ''Baby Let's Play House'' was the biggest selling record he had ever had, even surpassing any of Hank Williams' records. The Colonel countered that this was a two-week package tour, some of the places were first for Elvis, but ended up basically saying that he'd behappy to dissolve the relationship for a flat fee of a $1,000, and all expenses paid.

The Colonel wrote: ''I'm sure you can pick up single dates in localities, where I have promoted Elvis, at $350, $400, and possibly $500''. Colonel Parker completely ignored the fact that, with a few exceptions, the only areas where Bob Neal and his connections hadn't done the groundwork, were Florida and the Carolinas. The nature of the Colonel's promotion was basically to include Elvis on the show, pay him modestly, and Elvis would then himself do the real promotion by stealing the show. The Colonel did get Elvis $5000 for each of the Norfolk dates, but those dates included two shows per day. Bob and Elvis' protests did, however, make some impression, as the colonel was quick to come back with a deal to bring in $300 per show for five shows in Cleveland and St. Louis. The shows were actually arranged by promotion man Oscar Davis.


SEPTEMBER 5, 1955 MONDAY

This week, Elvis Presley headlined another travelling roadshow. The Jamboree also featured   Johnny Cash, Bud Deckelman, Eddie Bond, with Floyd Cramer on piano. Guitarist Jimmy Day   also appeared, but ads for this evening's show mistakenly listed his name as "Tommy Day".   These performers continued with Elvis Presley through September 9.

A crowd of 3,000 was expected for Elvis' 8:00 p.m. headline performance as part of the   "Gala Labor Day Celebration" at the St. Francis County Fair and Livestock Show in Forrest   City, Arkansas. The appearance was outdoors in Smith Stadium at Forrest City High School.   Tickets $1.00, with children seats half-price. Proceeds from the show went to construct a   fence around the Fair Grounds. The show was booked through Bob Neal, who advertised it   over his WMPS radio show.

This was the first time Elvis Presley had worked professionally with Eddie Bond since their   honky tonk days in 1953. At this time, he was recording for Ekko Records in Memphis. Bond   soon began filling in as a parttime disc jockey at KWEM in West Memphis. By 1957, he was a   regular on the Louisiana Hayride and had formed a talent agency, going into business with   Uncle Richard (Dick Stuart) also of KWEM.

A local musician and sometime drummer for Roy Orbison, Ollie Warren, a high school student at the time, recalls meeting Gladys   Presley at this show as she sat in the Crown Victoria parked behind the flatbed trailer on   which Elvis was performing. Warren says, ''Elvis was playing on a flatbed trailer at the football field when I was in high school at Forrest City, Arkansas. My best friend Bobby White and I had just finished high school band practice, and decided to walk over to the football field to see what was going on. We saw a pink and white Ford Crown Victoria parked behind the flatbed. As we stòod there admiring it, the field lights were reflecting off the windows and we couldn't see inside, so I put my face up to the window to shield it from the light. Gladys Presley was looking at me from the other side, 'Honey, can I help you\ ? I told her I was just admiring the car. She told us that Elvis was her son and asked if we'd ever met him. We said we hadn't, and she invited us to sit in the back seat until he finished his set and said she'd introduce us to him. In a few minutes, he showed up. We talked for a while, he autographed a picture for me, and then he headed back for the next set. Gladys hugged us and invited us to visit them in Memphis. She was really a nice person''.


From left: Buddy Smith, Elvis Presley, Ernest Goodon backstage Bono High School. >

SEPTEMBER 6, 1955 TUESDAY

In Bono, Arkansas, population 311, Elvis Presley and his show drew a reported 1,152 paid  admission for their 8 o'clock appearance at the Bono High School Gymnasium. Elvis' play list  included "Milkcow Blues Boogie", "Blue Moon Of Kentucky", "Mystery Train", "I Forgot To  Remember To Forget", "Blue Suede Shoes" and "Amazing Grace".


Also on stage were Eddie Bond, Johnny  Cash and Carl Perkins. Outside the building, cars were parked on both sides of U.S. Highway  63 all the way to the city limits, and when Elvis Presley arrived he had difficulty finding a  place to park his Cadillac. According to Larry Donn Gillihan, an aspiring rock 'n' roller from  Bono at this time, the crowd was double the normal capacity of the small gym, and the floor  began to sag near the front entrance. Elvis Presley performed wearing black pegged pants  and matching shirt, with a rust-colour jacket. During the show, he complained that his pants  were too large and teased the younger women that they might fall down at any minute.

The show came about when, as with so many other shows at the time, a school class looked for a way of raising funds for their senior class trip. Glenn and his classmate Betty J. Craft were discussing the idea of bringing a country show to their school. Betty's father owned a company called ''Craft Pride of Dixie Syrup Co''., and was a regular sponsor of a country music show on KLCN in nearby Blytheville. Betty was a very determined young lady, and in a matter of days, she and Glenn obtained the permission from their school and drove down to Memphis to make a formal deal with Elvis' manager, Bob Neal. When the posters arrived, the classmates split the area between them, making sure there were posters at all the right places, and definitely at the high school of the area, including the one in Nettleton, where Elvis had performed before. 

On the day of the show the kids had to take care of everything, from making sure that there was enough candy and cokes to ensuring that the dressing rooms were ready, and that Bob Neal's wife was not left alone to work the ticket booth. With the class taking 25% of the door that night, it was a resounding success on all levels. The money enabled the ''Class of '56'' to make a senior trip to Florida and New Orleans.

"I was working at the telephone company and my younger sister was an Elvis fan", said Doris  French. "When she first heard an Elvis record, she thought he was a black man. When he  came into that gymnasium, he bumped into her and to this day that was the thrill of her  life''!

"I was talking with Carl Perkins's brother and Carl walked up behind me. I stepped back for  some reason and stepped right on Carl's blue suede shoes, and he told me, 'Don't step on my  blue suede shoes'".

"The girls had come to me and said they wanted to bring Elvis over to raise funds for their  senior class trip", said Phillip Shewmaker, then principal at Bobo High School. "I called Bob  Neal and we worked out a sixty-forty deal - we'd get forty percent of the door. When Elvis  arrived, he told me he had just bought his Cadillac the day before and he was afraid  someone would scratch it up, so I had him park it in my yard across the street and my wife  watchdogged it while he was up at the school playing".

"Man, we really had a crowd that night. People came from Jonesboro, Walnut Ridge,  Newport, Swifton, Bald Knob, Batesville College and even from as far away as Searcy. I'd say  we had about eleven hundred people packet all over that little gymnasium". At the time,  Bono's population was less than 300, though now it has grown almost to the point the natives  could fill the gymnasium all by themselves.

"In the beginning of the show, when Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins were playing, the crowd  stayed in the bleachers on both sides of the floor", said Shewmaker. "When Elvis got started,  they jumped out of the bleachers and crowded onto that floor, and the gym floor buckled  and sank in one section. You wouldn't believe a gym floor would have done something like  that. After the concert, we had to go in there and jack the floor back up. That cost us more  than we got (from Neal) at the gate". After the show, Phillip Shewmaker guarded the door to  Elvis dressing room.

"I'd let one or two girls at a time go back there to see him", he said. "I'll never forget how  really bashful Elvis was at the time. We talked about some of the places he had been and he  was really concerned about pleasing people and drawing crowds. But to tell you the truth, I  never thought then that he would hit it really big". Don Douglas, fourteen and "diddling in  music at the time", remembers Elvis Presley wearing an orange outfit at the Bono concert  and scarring up the floor with his shoes.

"I remember when that floor caved in", said Glen Swindle. "Elvis was up there banging away  on that guitar and he just looked out at all that mess, like wow!, and kept right on playing".

"I thought that was the most exciting thing I'd ever done and I guess it was about the most  exciting thing to come to Bobo", said than twelve-year-old Joan Richey, who would grow up  to become Bono's mayor. "I was stepped on, pushed, shoved that night. Little did I know  what the future would hold that night in 1955. Our gym still suffers from that night. You can  still see where the floor sags from that concert".

"We all pounded down to his dressing room after the show. I got in and he autographed a  picture for me. I look back at that time of my life and my heart skips a beat because it was a  wonderful era, to have enjoyed one-of-a-kind music. We began trying to make the circuit  whenever Elvis, Johnny or Carl were playing. I've carried that event close to my heart all  these years and some part of me is still twelve years old''!

Patricia Hanks went to the Bono concert and said, "Because it was something to do; wasn't  anything good on TV that night. I had never seen Elvis Presley, but he had playing around  here, in Egypt, Arkansas, the C&R, Bob King's Place. I had heard him on the radio. I knew he  was a young rock and roller, that's about it". "Thought everybody had gone nuts. They were  screaming and yelling, just like they would still be doing today if he were still alive. Elvis has  always been my daughter's favorite. She calls him, 'My Elvis'. And there was a lot more going  on in Bono that night than just Elvis singing. I heard there was a baby born from that night".

After the hundreds had finally filtered down two-lane U.S. 63 and left town, Elvis Presley  and Glen Swindle walked across the street where Elvis climbed into his brand-spanking shiny  new Cadillac. A couple of the locals pulled up on their Harley Davidson motorcycles and  began talking with him.

"Someday, I'm gonna get me one of them", Elvis told them. "While he was talking to them",  said Swindle, "a right pretty girl in a flowery dress opened the right front door and slid onto  the seat beside him". "Hop out, missy, I've gotta go", Elvis told her. "Not until you take me for  a ride", she replied. "It looks like I'm gonna have to take her for a spin", Elvis told the boys.  "We watched him as he drove up the street a ways, then pulled off into a cotton field with  her. We never saw him again that night. A little later, the Jonesboro Sun printed a story  about a maternity suit involving Elvis and some Bono girl, but that story got hushed up real  quick like".

Gwen Swindle and Ernest Goodon began following Elvis Presley around in northeast Arkansas  following the Bono concert - to Nettleton, Jonesboro, Newport, Swifton, and Brookland.

"I kept the door at Porky's in Newport", said Goodon. "We had music up there on Friday  nights and illegal gambling on Saturday nights. Elvis wore a shirt with ruffles the night he  played Porky's upstairs. It was dry back then, but people brought their own liquor and put it  right out on the table. I also saw Elvis a time or two at the Silver Moon in Newport".

"But going back to Bono, a little later the Gamble Brothers played there and someone threw  a big wad of snuff into the fans. Can you imagine what would have happened had they done  that the night Elvis was there?".

Jimmy Day, the steel guitarist, remembers Elvis showing off a newly purchased yellow 1954 Cadillac Eldorado  convertible at this date. Day says, ''A few months after buying the '55 Cadillac, he bought a Cadillac Eldorado convertible, used, but just a year old. I rode back with him from Bono to the Holiday Inn in Memphis''.

According to Glenn Pfeifer remembers that it was Eddie Bond who introduced Elvis Presley that night, ''Elvis ran out and slung on his guitar, then looked at the girls. As that Elvis grin popped out of the corner of his mouth, the crowd roared. As I recall, he wore dark pants with white, long-sleeved shirt and a rust colored jacket. Several times he referred to his pants as being too big, with his grin seeming to say: 'they might fall down', and he would grab them and pull them upwards. There seemed to be a touch of magic in the air mixed in with a little shyness, as Elvis' grin would set off giggles that turned into screams and shrieks while he jumped about''.

''Elvis performed all the music that he had recorded, beginning with ''That's All Right'' and including ''Blue Moon Of Kentucky'' and ''Milkcow Blues Boogie''. At one point, as the floor group bounced and swayed to the beat of the rocking music, the floor suddenly sank six inches in front of them, with Elvis hollering, 'Whoa'! Laughter broke out, and then on with the show. He spent a lot of time laughing and joking with the girls, as they would scream at every move. He closed with a gospel song''.


Elvis Presley backstage, Sikeston, Missouri, September 7, 1955. >

SEPTEMBER 7, 1955 WEDNESDAY

Elvis Presley and the rest of his group: Johnny Cash, Bud Deckelman, Eddie Bond, Floyd Cramer, Jimmy Day,  performed at 8:00 p.m. in Sikeston, Missouri, at the  National Guard Armory. Tickets were $1.00 for adults with children half price. Before the  show, Elvis Presley had dinner with an unidentified sixteen-year old Sikeston women, a  relative of one of the performers.

In anticipation of the upcoming expiration of his one-year contract with the Hayride, a  completely new document was drawn up on September 8.

It was probably signed in Memphis  as Elvis Presley passed through en route from Sikeston to Clarksdale. There were three  major changes. First, the contract was only for Elvis Presley and did not include Scotty  Moore and Bill Black, who signed separate contracts. Second, the clause in his original  contract allowing only one missed performance every three months was altered to allow him  to miss one show each 60 days without penalty. Finally, Elvis' fee jumped from union scale  (418) to $200 per show. The contract, was effective November 12, 1955, and ran for 52  consecutive Saturdays. As in November 1954, this document was co-signed by his parents  since Elvis Presley was four months shy of his twenty-first birthday.

According to Earl Wade, ''When Presley returned on September 7, attendance topped 1,100 at the Armory, with some even turned away at the door. Johnny Cash also appeared with Presley. This time, Presley was dressed a little better and arrived in a Cadillac. His parents, Gladys and Vernon Presley, were also along''.


SEPTEMBER 8, 1955 THURSDAY

Elvis Presley returned to Clarksdale, Mississippi, for an 8:00 p.m. show at the City  Auditorium. Prices for tickets were $1.00 for adults and 50-cents for children.

In Houlka, Mississippi, if there were special events at the local High School at night. The  yellow county buses would go out to the farms and bring the students back to the event.  Elvis Presley was the "something special" this night at Houlka High School, and Glenda  Hatcher, despite objections from her parents, boarded a bus and headed for the high school  gym.

James A. Lindsey, Irby Hazzard, Elvis Presley, Jim Blaylock, Robert Marks, and William Harkins from   Merigold, Mississippi at the show in Clarksdale's Civic Auditorium, September 8, 1955. ^

"None of our parents wanted us to go", recalls Hatcher. "Elvis was something new and  they didn't very much approve of him. But the place was packed and we screamed all the  way through his performance. Afterward, we went down and talked with him and he was so  down to earth".

Vernon and Gladys Presley, she said, sat right behind her during most of the show. Despite  the money his school raised with the show, the school principal was miffed with Elvis Presley  because of all the shoe marks left on the gym floor.

Bob Neal complains to Tom Parker that Elvis' fee is too low and receives a scrathing telegram  in return. Parker informs Neal in no uncertain terms that he can either accept the older  man's expertise or go his own way. It might be possible, he lectures Neal, to get $500 for  certain scattered dates, but it is impossible to get this sum every night of a two-week tour.  Parker is paying Elvis $250 in locations that he has already played and can be counted on to  draw a crowd, and $175 for shows in new territory. ''I would like to have a telegram from  you immediately'', Parker concludes, ''which way do you want it to go: your way, the way  Elvis wants it, or the way I have set it up? It is immaterial to me''.

According to singer Dixie Lyons, ''When I was with him on the show in Clarksdale, he had just gotten a new Cadillac convertible, and during the intermission, he wanted me to see his car. He was so proud of this car. I was a very shy 15-year-old girl, and I remember him kissing me while we where outside. Lots of girls would have given an eye or their teeth to have been kissed by Elvis, but it scared me to death''.

Bobby E. Moore says, ''He was here three times. The first time, there were very few people there. The second and the third time, it was packed. Elvis used to hang around a drive-in called ''The Ranchero''. It used to have carhops coming out. He was sitting backstage on a piano and everybody filed by, and he was singing autographs. They sold pictures in the intermission time. He said, 'If you buy pictures, I will autograph them when the show is over'. I don't remember if it was pink jacket and white pants or the other way around. In the auditorium we had these old, big Shure mics with the big stands, and he would roll them around, and tangle them all up, so the engineers would have to redo all the mic chords after the show. He would sing, and then turn his back to the audience, and he'd pull the comb out''.



SEPTEMBER 9, 1955 FRIDAY

A receipt from Plastic Products Company, the pressing plant for Sun Records, to Binkley  Distribution Company in Jacksonville, Florida, shows the strength of Elvis' records. The  Florida company ordered fifty 78s and a hundred-seventy-five 45s of "That's All Right", fifty  78s and a hundred 45s of "Good Rockin' Tonight", fifty 78s and a hundred 45s of "Milkcow  Blues Boogie", and a hundred 78s and three hundred 45s of "Baby Let's Play House".


McComb, Mississippi, played host to the "Folk-Music Fireball", as the quarter-page  announcement in the local paper referred to Elvis Presley.   Still touring with Elvis Presley  were Johnny Cash, Bud Deckelman, Floyd Cramer and Jimmy Day. The show, which was  promoted by Ralph Mathis, was held in the McComb High School Auditorium at 8:00 p.m.

Following the show, Scotty Moore, Bill Black and D.J. Fontana took the instruments and  drove east toward Norfolk, Virginia. Elvis Presley travelled west to Shreveport.

McComb is the most famous native of this southern Mississippi town, 20 miles from the  Louisiana border, was born Elias Bates McDaniels on December 30, 1928. As a child he saw  adults play a strange custom-built instrument, little more than a piece of wire stretched  against a door and bridged in the middle by a stone, which they called a didleybow. He  inverted the word to get "Bo Didley", which he used both for his stage name and for the title  of his 1955 debut single, a Top 10 rhythm and blues hit.

Lynyrd Skynyrd's Convair 240 plane was on its way to an emergency landing at McComb on  October 20, 1977, when it crashed in a swamp 8 miles from the airport at Highway 568, near  Gillsburg, and a good distance from the nearest road. A dirt track had to be cut through the  underground to remove the wreckage from the accident, in which singer Ronnie Van Zant,  his sister, and guitarist Steve Gaines were killed. There is no maker for the site.

According to Smithie Buie of Magnolia, ''The musicians thought the school would have a P.A. system, and of course it didn't. At that time, I ran a Saturday night jamboree, broadcast on WHNY. The guys were about thirty minutes late and had no sound equipment. They came here with guitars only. So, I ran down to Magnolia to get the P.A. system I had. I was running sound. Buie remembers the door receipts totalled $635.

Sam Miller says, ''I was eighteen, I think. I met my first wife by going to that thing. I remember how silly the girls were acting. We laughed at them. We saw Elvis when he came out of the side door. We were awed at the way the girls were acting so stupid over Elvis. We hated him. He had on a pink shirt''.

And Curtis Wilkie who played with the Summit High School football team that night, wanted to go hear both Johnny cash and Elvis Presley, he says, ''After our game was over, a carload of three couples went down to the auditorium and pecked in through the window and saw the last number. I don't remember if it was Johnny Cash or Elvis. Then we went out and cruised around, as kids will do. Later we decided to swing back by there and see if we could meet Johnny Cash or Elvis. We got there and the musicians were loading up and we said, 'Is Johnny Cash here'? They said, 'He's done gone, but Elvis is here'. We said, 'Can we meet Elvis'? Somebody hollered at Elvis, and he came over to the car, very politely, and talked to us. Well, there were three cute little high school girls in the car. He talked to us for a few minutes and was very pleasant. I remember, I asked him where his pink Cadillac was, and he said, 'I wrecked that one up the road, but I've got a nice yellow one here'. He autographed our arms with a red ballpoint pen. I got home that night, and got in a later than I was supposed to. My mother was up, and we explained we were out with Elvis Presley. She wasn't too impressed. She saw it, the autograph on the arm, and told me, ; Go wash that off''''.

Bobbie Moore, Scotty Moore's wife says, ''I had to drive home from McComb, Mississippi to Memphis that night. Scotty and them were playing down there. So Scotty was supposed to ride with Bud Deckelman down there, something got mixed up and he didn't show up, so I had to take Scotty down. Bob Neal was down there, he was going to fly back, and when he found out that I was driving back, he decided to ride back with me. He went sleeping. We came back to Memphis about six o'clock the next morning, and he had to go to the radio station''.

Scotty Moore, Bill Black, and D.J. Fontana, loaded up the car and took the long drive up to Norfolk for the scheduled show on Sunday, while Elvis headed for Shreveport to do the Saturday Hayride show on his own, then fly onto Norfolk.



Elvis Presley backstage at the Louisiana Hayride, Shreveport, Louisiana, September 10, 1955. >

SEPTEMBER 10, 1955 SATURDAY

Billboard, based on the intensive chart action of "Mystery Train" and "I Forgot To Remember  To Forget" placed the single in "This Week's Best Buys" section, reporting that "Presley has  been coming more and more to the forefront. His current record has wasted to time in  establishing itself".


Billboard placed "I Forgot To Remember To Forget" at number 1 in Memphis. "Mystery Train"  was number 4 in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and number 5 in Houston.

The chart gains were  due to the promotional efforts of the Big State Record Distributors, which concentrated upon  Tennessee and Texas, where Elvis Presley was a strong regional act, but also had field representatives in Louisiana, Missouri, and Virginia, something which paid off in large record  sales in these areas. In New Orleans, "Mystery Train" was number 8 on the local charts.  "Baby Let's Play House" was number 4 in St. Louis, and number 8 in Richmond, Virginia.  Billboard placed "Mystery Train" number 14 and "Baby Let's Play House" number 15 on the  Country and Western charts. In terms of radio airplay, "I Forgot To Remember To Forget" was  rated 10, and "Baby Let's Play House" number 15.

Also by September, Music Merchants in Philadelphia had inquired about Presley's records.  Since 1952, Elliot Wexler's Music Merchants had been one of the premiere record jobbers in  the country, setting up record racks in drug stores, supermarkets, and variety stores. Given  a small amount of space, Music Merchants guaranteed local stores a profit. After ordering a  small quantity of "Mystery Train", they began marketing it in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and  Virginia, where it sold well. Safeway and Woolworth stores, two of the chains that Music  Merchants serviced, sold Presley's records in large numbers. After signing a management  agreement with Elvis Presley, Colonel Tom Parker kept in touch with Elliot Wexler, from  whom he learned a great deal about merchandising.

Elvis Presley returned to the Louisiana Hayride without the Blue Moon Boys. Following his  performance, he took a commercial flight from Shreveport to Norfolk, Virginia.

Tom Parker writes Tom Diskin to tell him te remind Elvis how difficult it is to get enough  dates to make up a good tour. In a second letter Parker tells his lieutenant to be sure to  ''talk to Presley alone, take him to lunch or get him in your room'', so as to convey two  linked ideas: first, that Parker is doing more for Elvis than he would for anyone else,  unless he was being paid ''big dough''; and second, that while ''we are going ahead with  great plans.. if we are to be checked every time, we better work out a finish''.


Newspaper Virginia Post advertisement, September 11, 1955 >

SEPTEMBER 11-12, 1955 SUNDAY / MONDAY

In Norfolk, Virginia, Elvis Presley joined another leg of the "Hank Snow All Star Jamboree"  tour. However, according to the advertisement in the Virginia Post, this time Elvis Presley  was the headliner.  The remainder of the Snow aggregation featured the Louvin Brothers and  the Alabama Sand Dusters, Cowboy Copas, Jimmie Rodgers Snow, and Hank Snow's Rainbow  Ranch Boys.


This "Return Engagement" in Norfolk by Elvis Presley was "By Popular Demand". There were  two shows on Sunday at the Norfolk City Auditorium, at 3:00 and 8:00 p.m., and one show,  at 8:00 p.m. on Monday. Portions of at least one performance were broadcast over WCMS  radio, which promoted the show. According to Sheriff Tex Davis of WCMS, the show "broke all  attendance records for the town". Reporting on the crowd's reaction to Elvis Presley, Davis  told Billboard that "the teenagers went wild when he went into his act. The girls mobbed  him afterward and literally tore his cloches apart for souvenirs". Admission was $1.50 with  Children only $1.00.

An easy going atmosphere was evident during this performances, and this encouraged Elvis  Presley to experiment with his song selections. During the tour, Elvis Presley tried out "Blue  Guitar", a 1954 song written and recorded by Sheb Wooley. It is likely that Elvis Presley  recorded a demo of "Blue Guitar" at Sun Records, but a tape has never surfaced.

Witnessing the pandemonium of Elvis' performance from the audience was Eugene Vincent  Craddock who had recently been released from Veteran's Hospital with his left leg in a cast,  the result of a motorcycle accident. He would win an "Elvis sound-alike" contest in April 1956  sponsored by Capitol Records. The top prize was a recording contract. Thus the career of  Gene Vincent was launched. His manager was Sheriff Tex Davis. "I wasn't influenced by his  voice, except that he was obviously young like me and I was encouraged by this, 'cause I was  just a shy kid". There is no doubt that Elvis Presley affected Gene Vincent's career. Much like  Eddie Cochran, Vincent saw his own rock and roll future after watching Presley's stage show.  Gene Vincent's band, the Blue Caps - Jack Neal, Cliff Gallup, Willie Williams, and Dickie  Harrell - also watched Elvis Presley, Scotty Moore, Bill Black, and D.J. Fontana with great  interest. Impressed with Elvis' band, they felt reassured that they, too, had a future in the  music business.

The battle for control between Colonel Tom Parker and Bob Neal continued. In a letter dated September 15, Bob Neal told the Colonel that Elvis' calender was full until November 19, and a tour that Colonel Parker proposed, with Elvis as part of a Hank Snow package, would have to wait until the new year. Neal concluded that ''the best thing in view of Elvis' own opinions'' would be an arrangement, where the Colonel would just buy Elvis for future shows, like any other promoter.

Two days later, Bob Neal wrote Colonel Parker to inform him that he was withdrawing from their arrangement. The Colonel immediately sent Elvis the correspondence trying to secure his relationship with the young, indecisive artist, inviting him to stop by his Madison office after the last show of the current tour and get the speaker the Colonel had for him.

Whether Elvis accepted the Colonel's invitation to visit on his way home is not known. two days earlier, Bob Neal had invited Colonel Parker and Tom Diskin down to Memphis on the weekend so that they could ''settle the matter'', and then Jamboree Attractions could go back to being just another talent buyer. Although it seems such a meeting never took place, there's indication that this was indeed the arrangement until October 18.



GENE VINCENT - (1935-1971) Rockabilly singer born Vincent Eugene Craddock in Norfolk,  Virginia. Vincent was born on February 11, 1935 (just thirty-four days after Elvis Presley).  Discovered by disc jockey Bill Randle, Vincent was one of the early rock and roll artists,  reaching the charts in 1956 with "Be-Bop-a-Hula" (Capitol 3450).

Before 1956 Vincent  served in Korea with the Navy.  He won an Elvis Presley impersonation contest sponsored in  1956 by Hollywood's Capitol Records, who hoped to find another Elvis Presley.

He became  the first singer to perform in black leather. Capitol Records signed him to their label,  hoping he could compete with Elvis. Vincent's backup group was called the Blue Caps. 

Tommy Facenda, who had the 1959 hit "High School U.S.A." was once a member of the  Blue Caps. (Members of the Blue Caps were: Galloping Cliff Gallup, Wee Willie Williams,  Be-Bop Harrell, and Jumpin' Jack Neal). The group had named itself after President Dwight  D. Eisenhower's favorite blue golf cap. In 1968 Gene Vincent recorded the song "Story Of  The Rocker" (Playground 100) and (Forever FR 6001), in which he mentioned Elvis Presley.  Gene Vincent died on October 12, 1971.


SEPTEMBER 1955

The Presley's moved from 2414 Lamar Avenue, just around the corner, to 1414 Getwell   Street. The house was a relatively simple one on a busy street. The rented Memphis house in  which the Presley's resided from December, 1954 to May 11, 1956, their telephone number was 48-4921, and was listed in the Memphis phone book, and he was generally accessible to  his fans and loved the fame and adulation. Elvis Presley loved to cruise around downtown  when he was not on tour. At this point in his life, neither Elvis Presley nor anyone else   thought of him in mythic terms - when not on stage, he was basically no different than his   fans.

To some observers, there were signs of change in Elvis' life, however. Ronald Smith   remembers Elvis' circle of friends tightening. "One night Elvis wanted to go roller skating. It   was too hot and muggy", Smith recalled. "So Kenneth Herman and I decided to do something   else. Before we left, George Klein stared hostilely at us". Smith was perplexed. Klein seemed   abusive and aggressive. "If Elvis wants to go roller skating, guys", Klein stated, "then we go  roller skating". In disgust, Smith and Herman left Elvis' inner circle - they couldn't believe   the sycophantic behaviour of some of Elvis' superficial friends, and were annoyed about the   way Elvis' so-called friends were simply using him to meet girls. "Elvis also had a dark side",   Smith recalled. "He was a wonderful guy, but the pressure from his friends changed him".


Former home of Elvis Presley, 1414 Getwell Street, Memphis, Tennessee, now an industrial area. >

1414 GETWELL STREET - By mid-1955 (September), Elvis Presley was making enough money to move the  family again, a little farther east, to 1414 Getwell Street. The family lived here until May 1 956, but because of increasing numbers of performances Elvis Presley was seldom home.  The family life here between January and March of 1956, Elvis Presley appeared on the  program "Stage Show", hosted by big band leaders Tommy Dorsey and Jimmy Dorsey, six  times.


On April 3, 1956, Elvis Presley was a guest on "The Milton Berle Show" broadcast from  the deck of the USS Hancock, then docked in San Diego. Gladys and Vernon Presley, and  Minnie Mae were home at 1414 Getwell Street watching Elvis Presley and Milton Berle   perform.

In 1989 the house was moved to make way for a Chief Auto Parts Store. A few years ago the  intersection where the Presley's house stood was zoned for business. However, the   neighbourhood retains the flavour from when they lived there, clearly an improvement from  their Lamar Avenue home. The owner tried to restore it as a tourist attraction, but all  attempts to preserve the Getwell house failed when it burned in 1994. This location is now a business in a strip of shops on Getwell.



SEPTEMBER 13, 1955 TUESDAY

Elvis Presley split off from Snow, headlining his own group of performers. Working the next  few shows with Elvis Presley were Cowboy Copas and the Louvin Brothers. This evening, the  Shrine Auditorium in New Bern, North Carolina, was the site of their 8:00 p.m. show.

Elaine Lawton took her grandparents, ages seventy-eight and eighty, to this concert at  Shrine Auditorium, not to see Elvis Presley, but to see the Louvin Brothers.

"They enjoyed  the Louvin Brothers", said Lawton, "but when Elvis came on, all bedlam broke loose. "Granny  said to me, 'If these people would sit down and quit screaming' and hollerin' and hush so I  can hear and see him, he might be right good'". They didn't. He was.

In order to be certain that Elvis and the band are fully covered (and Sun Records does not  suffer any undue liability exposure), Sam Phillips takes out an insurance policy on the yellow  1954 Eldorado that Elvis purchased earlier in the month. Phillips lists himself as ''named  insured'', and 2414 Lamar (Elvis' residence) as the principal place of garaging, though within  a matter of weeks the Presleys will move around the corner, to 1414 Getwell Street, where  they will pay $85 a month in rent.



SEPTEMBER 14, 1955 WEDNESDAY

The Elvis Presley group moved on to Wilson, North Carolina, for an 8:00 p.m. show at   Fleming Stadium. Elvis Presley was brought to Wilson by Slim Short (real name Bob Allen), a   local disc jockey on WGTM. Tickets for the show, which were only $1.00 in advance and   $1.25 the night of the show, were badly oversold. Some 2,000 fans crowded the stadium.   Elvis Presley came on stage last, following Cowboy Copas, the Louvin Brothers and the   Alabama Sand Dusters.


When he bounded up the stairs to the stage, he slipped and fell. His  composure was rattled, and he told a few jokes while he got his bearing. Following the show,   Elvis Presley ate at Cliff's Drive-In.   Slim Whitman said in an interview that he and Elvis Presley played in Rocky Mount, North   Carolina, presumably in 1955. It is possible that Whitman confused the similar-sounding High   Point or even the nearby town of Wilson.


SEPTEMBER 15, 1955 THURSDAY

The Elvis Presley group rejoined the Hank Snow Jamboree when they played the American  Legion Auditorium in Roanoke, Virginia, at 8:00 p.m. Elvis Presley was billed as "extra  special by popular demand", and the Roanoke Times referred to him as the "Hillbilly Frank  Sinatra".

Tickets were $1.00 in advance from the Roanoke Record Shop or $1.25 at the door.  The show was sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce, which was raising money to support  the children's sandlot baseball program.

Probably American Legion Auditorium, Roanoke, Virginia, September 15, 1955. ^

As the Hank Snow tour progressed, Elvis' charismatic touch was repeated in city after city.  There were signs at all the concerts of a special feeling between Elvis Presley and his fans,  who threw flowers, notes, and assorted gifts onto the stage. The feeling of love and  identification with the music seemed to go far beyond previous concert scenes. Such a  feeling was evident between September 11 to 22, 1955, as crowd grew larger and more  boisterous, and audience cheered Elvis Presley while ignoring the other acts.

The promoter who brought the Jamboree to town - who was also the owner of the Roanoke  Record Shop and was not only unable to keep Presley's records in stock - quickly ran out of  dollar concert tickets as well.

There was an air of excitement on September 15, 1955, when the Jamboree opened in the  American Legion Auditorium. There were whispers backstage that Hank Snow was unhappy  with the way that Elvis Presley had upstaged him during the tour. It was to Colonel Parker's  benefit to initiate bad blood between Elvis Presley and Hank Snow. Since Hank Snow was a  fifty-fifty partner with Tom Parker in Hank Snow Enterprises, he would be entitled to half of  Elvis' future royalties if young Presley signed with their company rather than going with  Parker personalty. During the tour, much to Parker's satisfaction, it was very uncomfortable  backstage. There was also common agreement among the performers that the crowds turned  out to see and hear Elvis Presley.

Although all decisions with respect to Elvis' career must by contract go through Parker's  office, Bob Neal negotiates a new one-year contract with the Hayride, at $200 a  performance, a raise of over 1000 percent. Vernon Presley signs the agreement, which goes  into effect November 11, 1955, and carries a penalty of $400 for each missed performance  beyond the one every two months allowed. One can only surmise that this represents one  last attempt by Neal to assert his independence and that it is endored by Vernon out of an  ingrained hunger for financial security and an almost desperate uncertainty about the  future.




City Auditorium, Asheville, North Carolina, September 16, 1955. >

SEPTEMBER 16, 1955 FRIDAY

The Hank Snow caravan stopped for an 8:15 p.m. show in Asheville, North Carolina, at the  City Auditorium. Emcees for the show were Red Kirk and Ken Marvin. Tickets were $1.25 for  adults and 50-cents for children.


The Asheville newspaper ad read: "Grand Ole Opry Will Play  Here Tomorrow Night. A none night showing of the Grand Ole Opry will be held in the City  Auditorium beginning at 8:15 p.m. tomorrow.

Highlighting the program will be Hank Snow, Louvin Brothers, MGM recording stars, Cowboy  Copas, Rainbow Ranch Boys, Scotty and Bill, Alabama Sanddusters, Ken Marvin, Red Kirk and  Elvis Presley. Tickets may be purchased at the record counter of J.J. Newberry's Store, 41  Patton Avenue".

According to Lois Angel, ''It was a beautiful September day; I'd looked forward all day to being with my friends and going to the big show. Hank Snow Jamboree was performing that evening. My date and I were especially fond of the Louvin Brothers, a popular group at the time. We were anxious to see them perform live and in person. We got with our friends and set out together to see the show. The tickets were a whopping $1.00 or 1.25 for adults, more than the price of a movie at that time. We had center seats near the front and close to the stage. Only one person in our group had ever heard the name ''Elvis'' and none of us knew anything about him. We'd never seen him or listened to him on the radio. Unknown to us, he had performed in Asheville a few months earlier and was back by popular demand. So, when the group of girls seated behind us started screaming his name all during the show, we wondered, 'Who is this Elvis'? We actually laughed a little at the unusual name''.

''As the show progressed act after act, the girls behind us continued to scream for Elvis. They saved Elvis, Scotty, and Bill for last act of the show and, finally, the time arrived. I was getting prepared to laugh at this character with the strange name. I thought he must be a comedian. The music began, the curtain opened with Scotty and Bill in their places on the stage. The screaming grew louder as Elvis burst onto the stage in his rose red suit, white bucks, and pink shirt. His brownish hair bounced around on his forehead as he moved so gracefully onto the stage. He was tall, slender, and very handsome. He appeared to be in complete control and totally comfortable with what he was doing. His mannerisms were just smooth and wonderful. One of the first things he did amidst the screaming was to walk over to an old piano on stage, take a big wad of chewing gum out of his mouth and stick it on the side of the piano. He turned to the audience and said, 'Don't let me forget that'. They had us laughing at their antics. Elvis pretended to forget the names of the songs as he told us what they were going to do next. He'd scratch his head and turn to Scotty and Bill for help with the song titles when he obviously knew exactly what he was doing. They made us laugh, they made us clap and scream as they played, and Elvis sang and played, ''That's All Right'', Shake, Rattle And Roll'', and a few other songs, which titles I no longer recall. Bill got excited and started riding that bass fiddle around the stage as the audience clapped and screamed. The sounds they made together were absolutely magical. They were perfect together. The audience loved them''. 

SEPTEMBER 17, 1955 SATURDAY

Elvis Presley had one of his biggest weeks on the Billboard chart for the week ending   September 7th. On the Country and Western Territorial Best Sellers", "I Forgot To Remember   To Forget" was number 1 in Memphis; "Mystery Train" was number 4 in Dallas-Fort Worth, 5 in   Houston and 8 in New Orleans; "Baby Let's Play House" was number 4 in St. Louis and 8 in   Richmond. On the National Country and Western charts, "Mystery Train" was number 14 and  "Baby Let's Play House" was number 15 in sales, while "I Forgot To Remember To Forget" was   number 10 and "Baby Let's Play House" was tied for number 15 (with Carl Smith's "There She   Goes") in radio airplay.

Beginning this evening, Elvis Presley, the Louvin Brothers and Cowboy Copas split off from   the main Hank Snow unit for the rest of this tour of the East Coast. This evening they   performed in Thomasville, North Carolina. There was no local newspaper advertising, but   residents recall that the show was at the High School Auditorium.

The bickering between Tom Parker and Bob Neal continues. After being pushed mercilessly   by Parker, Neal pulls out of their joint arrangement, terming his withdrawal a ''pleasant   parting''. Parker immediately sends copies of the correspondence to Elvis, expressing the   hope that they will be able to work together again in future and concluding somewhat   disingenuously, ''Sincerely, Your Pal, The Colonel''.


SEPTEMBER 18- 19, 1955 SUNDAY / MONDAY

Elvis Presley, again headlining the smaller unit, began a two-day stand at the WRVA Theater's  Old Dominion Barndance in Richmond. Tickets were $1.00 before each show and $1.25 at  show time. Children were 50-cents. Tickets were marketed as far away at Thalhimere and  Petersburg. The show was promoted by Bill Railey. Performances on Sunday were at 2:20 and  8:30 p.m. On Monday the group entertained at 8:00 p.m. It was later reported by a fan who  was in attendance that only about fifty people attended the Monday show.

A Richmond newspaper artikel says: ''Elvis Presley, the 20-year-old headliner from the Louisiana Hayride, will come to the WRAV Theater for performances at 2:30 and 8:30 p.m. on Sunday, September 18, it was announced yesterday by Bill Railey under whose auspices the show will be presented.

Presley was here with the Hank Snow in May, and was given the greatest ovation ever accorded a hillbilly performer here. Since then his records have enjoyed great popularity with the local patron and his newqest recording ''Mystery Train'', is reported as a best seller in its field.

Other headliners on the two-hour shows will be Cowboy Copas and the Louvin brothers''.

SEPTEMBER 20, 1955 TUESDAY

Elvis Presley was second on the bill behind "The Nation's Number One Gospel Group", as the  Louvin Brothers headlined this evening's "Grand Ole Opry" show at 8:00 p.m. in Danville,  Virginia. This local barn dance was held at the Danville Fairgrounds and was broadcast over  WDVA radio. Following the concert, there was round and square dancing until midnight to  the music of Clyde Moody and his Woodchoppers. Admission for this abundance of  entertainment was only $1.00.

Artikel in the Danville newspaper says, ''The greatest hillbilly show ever to be presented in Danville is coming to the WDVA Barn at the Danville Fairgrounds this Tuesday evening. It's the big Grand Ole Opry Show, a mammoth hour-and-a-half of solid entertainment! Be on hand for songs by the popular Louivin Brothers, the Nation Number One Singers of Gospel Songs, with their Alabama Sanddusters; handsome Elvis Presley, the 17-year-old hillbilly sensation of Louisiana Hayride; and famous Cowbow Copas! Following the show will be round and square dancing 'til midnight, to the music of Clyde Moody and his Woodchoppers! This double-header brings you all this entertainment for just $1.00, tax included.

SEPTEMBER 21, 1955 WEDNESDAY

Elvis Presley, the Louvins, the Alabama Sand Dusters, and Cowboy Copas appeared at the  Memorial Auditorium in Raleigh, North Carolina at 8:00 p.m. Tickets in advance $1.00. On  sale at Thiem's Record Shop, Ambassador Theatre Boulevard. At door $1.25.

The Raleigh newspaper reports, ''Elvis Presley, the 20-year-old fireball from the Louisiana Hayride Show, is coming in Raleigh Memorial Auditorium for a personal appearance on Wednesday at 8 p.m. Presley combines country music with bop. Some of his hit records have included, ''That's All Right'', ''Blue Moon Of Kentucky'', ''Good Rockin' Tonight'', and ''Milk Cow Blues Boogie''. His musical sidekicks are Scotty Moore, playing the hot guitar, and Bill Black, thumping the bass.

SEPTEMBER 22, 1955 THURSDAY

Elvis Presley's tour of Virginia and North Carolina came to a close with an 8:00 p.m. show at  the Civic Auditorium in Kingsport, Tennessee. Admission was $1.25 with children being  admitted for 50-cents. The Louvin Brothers opened the evening's entertainment and were  followed on stage by Elvis Presley, who reportedly kicked off his portion of the show with  "Rock Around The Clock", followed by his regular fare as well as three frequently performed  tunes: "Mystery Train", "Milkcow Blues Boogie", and "I Love You Because". Cowboy Copas  closed the show.

According to Vince Staten, ''Elvis opened with ''Rock Around The Clock'', followed by ''Mystery Train''. My notes say he sang all his Sun Records hits. While playing ''Milkcow Blues Boogie'', he broke a guitar string. While he was restringing his guitar, he took off his jacket, to the swoons of the girls in the crowd. He closed his segment of the show with ''I Love You Because''

When it was all over, Elvis Presley and his band loaded their vehicles and truck out for  Shreveport.



ROCK AROUND THE CLOCK - "Rock Around The Clock" was written in 1953 by Max C.  Freedman and Jimmy De Knight (real name: James E. Myers).

At the time, Freedman was 58  years old! The title first considered for the composition was "Dance Around The Clock".  Freedman and De Knight reportedly based the tune on an old rhythm and blues song called  "My Daddy Rocks Me With A Steady Roll".



"Rock Around The Clock" was originally recorded by Sonny Dae and His Knights (Arcade 123)  in 1953. The following year, on April 12, 1954, Bill Haley recorded the song in the same  session as "Shake, Rattle And Roll". The famous guitar breaks was played by Danny Cedrone.  When first released, "Rock Around The Clock" (Decca 29124) sold poorly.

The label listed the  song as a fox-trot! It wasn't until the 1955 movie "Blackboard Jungle" hit the theatres that  "Rock Around The Clock" gained popularity. The song served as the film's opening and closing  theme.

"Rock Around The Clock" reached number one on Billboard's Top 100 chart, where it stayed  for eight weeks. Over the years, it has been on the charts for a total of 43 weeks. The song  also reached number 4 on the rhythm and blues charts. Sales of over 25 million copies  worldwide are claimed for Bill Haley's release. It was the first record in England to become a  million-seller. Because it was used as the theme song for the TV series "Happy Days", "Rock  Around The Clock" re-entered the Hot 100 chart in 1974, reaching number 39.



All-Night Singing, 5000 attend the Blackwood Brothers singing at the Ellis Auditorium, Memphis. >

SEPTEMBER 23, 1955 FRIDAY

Elvis Presley returned for one day to Memphis, he found that Colonel Tom Parker had been  working diligently to secure a recording contract for him. Elvis Presley called Tom Parker  shortly after coming home to inquire about negotiations with the major record labels.


The  Colonel didn't have good news. It appeared that many of the labels were still unsure about  marketing Elvis Presley, although there was strong interest from RCA Victor.

Back home, Elvis attends an All-Night Singing put on by the Blackwood Brothers at Ellis  Auditorium. When James Blackwood discovers that Elvis has purchased his own ticket to get  in, he sends his apologies along with a refund check.

SEPTEMBER 24, 1955 SATURDAY

Elvis Presley headlined an appearance on the Louisiana Hayride. Also appearing on this  evening's broadcast were Jim Ed and Maxine Brown.

Newspaper advertisement now lists Elvis Presley at the top of the bill.


SEPTEMBER 26, 1955 MONDAY

Elvis begins another tour booked by Bob Neal in familiar territory. It is possible that Elvis played in Houlka, Mississippi, during this week.

Elvis Presley started a West Texas tour with Johnny Horton, Betty Amos, David Houston,  Sonny Trammell, Ray Gorman, Tillman Franks, and "Woody Birdbrain". The first show was in   Wichita Falls. Later, Elvis Presley performed at Gilmer, Texas. The show was held in the Junior High Gymnasium.


Scotty Moore, Elvis Presley, and Bill Black on stage, Junior High School Gymnasium, Gilmer, Texas, September 26, 1955. >

The librarian in Andrews, Texas informed that the librarian in Big Spring had given her the   information that Elvis Presley had appeared in Big Spring at the Ritz Theater. Upon checking   with the librarian in Big Spring, she did not know where that information came from and she  was unable to come up with anything concrete. Too bad - its an open date.

The Gross receipts for touring in September totaled $3,300, it would be the last month for the original 50-25-25 split between Elvis, Scotty, and Bill. As of October 1, Elvis' band, including D.J. Fontana, got weekly salaries of $200 when they were working and $100 when they were not.

_______________________________

Gilmer newspaper article with a headliner says, ''Lion Club Brings ''Louisiana 
Hayride To Gilmer for Monady Night Show''

''Radio's famed Louisiana Hayride is coming to Gilmore, next Monday night for an appearance at 8 p.m. in the Junior High School Gym. The Gilmore Lions Club will sponsor the show and the Lions urge everyone who is planning to attend to buy tickets in advance. Most of the club's profilt will come from advance ticket sales. Each Lion has tickets in sell and they have been distributed to most schools in the country. Price is $1 for adults and 50c for children.

The club will use the money for work with cripped children including the Lions cripped children camp at Kerrville, and to help Upsher County childrens who need glasses or have other vision handicaps.

Elvis Presley, popular ''Hayride'' singer, will be on hand along with Scotty and Bill and two other stars, J.E. and Maxine Brown. The gym will ring with such numbers as ''That's All Right'', ''Heartbreaker'', ''Looking Back To See'' and ''You Thought What I Thought''.


September 26, 1955 Elvis backstage at Gilmer Junior High, Gilmer, Texas >


JOHNNY HORTON - Horton was from Tyler, a town in East Texas, and had a rabid local  following. Like Elvis, he also appeared on the "Louisiana Hayride", and was an accomplished  honky-tonk singer. Horton's vocals featured a growl borrowed from T. Texas Tyler, and his  rockabilly signature song, "Honky Tonk Man", was a crowd pleaser.  Rising to the challenge, Elvis Presley unleashed Scotty Moore's strong, angry electric guitar  for some extended solo play. Moore's guitar licks, like Horton's, borrowed elements of Onie  Wheeler's lead solos. Elvis Presley smiled at Horton as he left the stage; the healthy  competition added some spice to the evening's routine.

Although he was relatively unknown at the time, Johnny Horton's abilities were not lost on  Elvis Presley. With a style similar to Onie Wheeler's, Horton employed primarily acoustic  instrumentation, but from time to time he used a driving lead guitar hook-up in his  rockabilly songs. "Honky Tonk Hardwood Floor" was the best example of how Johnny Horton  could harness a growling electric guitar. Elvis Presley thought that Johnny Horton's sound  was too hillbilly, and opted for straight-ahead rockabilly.

Billie Jean Williams, Hank Williams' ex-wife, had married Johnny Horton in 1954, and she  was along on the tour. Billy Jean had given Elvis Presley some food money during one of his  earliest performances on the "Louisiana Hayride", and they remained close friends.


SEPTEMBER 27, 1955 TUESDAY

The tour stopped for a show in Bryan, Texas, at the Saddle Club.

SEPTEMBER 28, 1955 WEDNESDAY

Elvis Presley returned to Gobler, Missouri's B&B Club. There were no local advertisements  this time, but a contract for this date does exist. According to Gerald Burke owner of the B&B Club, ''The last time, the place was packed, the parking lot full, and my five waitresses couldn't even move around to wait the tables''. And J.G. McCuin, musician in the band of Jimmy Haggett says, ''I knew he was gonna make it big, 'cause that last time we played, the girls at the club jumped up and started tearing off his shirt, and he borrowed my coat to wear out to his car''.

UNKNOWN DATE SEPTEMBER 1955

Elvis Presley performed in Cardwell, Missouri at the Rebel Club, a local hangout. William C.  Clark, now the Mayor of Cardwell who was the principal at Southland High at the time,  visited the club with two other men. Clark, who was also the football and basketball coach  at Southland, did not enter the Rebel. He was fearful that he might see one of his players  and be forced to drop him from the team for visiting such an establishment. Further  research has uncovered that the opening acts were two local boys, Jimmy Smith and Jimmy  Blunk. It is presumed that Elvis Presley performed here either right before or right after his  September 28 appearance in nearby Gobler.

SEPTEMBER 29, 1955 THURSDAY

The tour played a show in Austin at the Sports Arena. A photo of Elvis Presley on file at the  Austin History Center is identified as coming from Dessau Hall, September 29, 1955. Elvis  Presley was definitely in Austin on October 8, and it would be unlike for him to appear in  Austin twice in the space of a week. It may be that the photo is mis-captioned. On the other  hand, Elvis Presley was not booked anywhere else on September 29. Serious researchers  believe that Elvis Presley played Dessau Hall much earlier than September 1955, but there is  nothing more to go on.


SEPTEMBER 30, 1955 FRIDAY

Actor James Dean, killed in an  automobile accident while driving his 550 Porsche Spyder. He crashed into a Ford sedan  driven by Donald Turnupseed near Salinas, California.

In September 1955, Country Song Roundup published a nationally-circulated article on Elvis  Presley entitled "Folk Music Fireball". The article was a complimentary piece of journalism  extolling Elvis' unique talent, and helped to break his music in a number of northern  markets.


1955 Porsche 550 Spyder. ^

SEPTEMBER 30, 1955 FRIDAY

The week-long tour ended with a show in Gladewater, Texas.  A resident recalls that Elvis Presley broke down and cried in Gladewater, Texas, when he   heard the news that James Dean had died. In the finest tradition, he was still able to "go on   with the show". This makes a nice story, and Elvis Presley is conveniently idle that day.

The piece presented the picture of a wholesome, boy-next-door entertainer who  had a talent which excited his audience. The article, which included a photo of Dixie Locke  seated next to Elvis Presley during the interview, was followed by a 1955 Hillbilly popularity  poll. The feature article was "Hank Snow's Journey to Fame".

Colonel Tom Parker and Hank Snow had been instrumental in setting up this piece of  publicity, hoping that it would promote increased ticket sales for Elvis' upcoming tour with  Snow. The magazine, distributed widely in the east and Midwest, did just that, but also  helped "Mystery Train" to creep onto playlists in Chicago, Detroit, Boston, Cleveland, and  Philadelphia.



JAMES BYRON DEAN - Actor born in Marion, Indiana, on February 8, 1931. After a short, but  successful, movie career during which he became a cult figure. During the years 1954 to  1956, Elvis Presley was one of the three rebels on the scene. The other two were James  Dean and Marlon Brando.

Elvis Presley once remarked to producer Hall Wallis about an  observation he had made, that successful actors in films never smiled, e.g., James Dean,  Marlon Brando, and Humphrey Bogart.


There have been a number of comparisons made between Elvis and Dean. Elvis Presley took  over where Dean left off; he was referred to as "the musical James Dean". Actor Nick Adams  was a close friend of Dean's (he even dubbed a part of Dean's dialogue in the 1956 movie  "Giant"), later becoming a good friend of Elvis Presley.

Actress Ursula Andress had been romantically involved with both Jeames Dean and Elvis  Presley. Elvis Presley's favorite movie was Dean's 1955 film "Rebel Without A Cause", from  which Elvis Presley had memorized every line. Dean's love interest in the film became Elvis'  real-life love interest, actress Natalie Wood. Both Elvis and Dean have been the subject of  many books, magazine articles, and songs. Country singer Jimmy Wakely recorded four songs  in tribute to Dean, "Giant"/"His Name Was Dean" (Coral 61706) and "James Dean"/"Jimmy  Jimmy" (Coral 61722). After Dean's death on September 30, 1955, he was killed in an  automobile accident, Elvis Presley reportedly wanted to star in the film "The James Dean  Story". Producer David Weisbart, who produced "Rebel Without A Cause", the film ended up  as a documentary.

A modest Elvis Presley once said of James Dean: "I would never compare myself in any way  to James Dean because James Dean was a genius. I sure would like to, I mean, I guess a lot  of actors in Hollywood would like to have had the ability that James Dean had, but I would  never compare myself to James Dean in any way".


SEPTEMBER 1955

COUNTRY SONG ROUNDUP - Second magazine to feature an article about nineteen-year-old  Elvis Presley, titled "Folk Music Fireball", in their September 1955 issue. Previously, Country  Song Roundup had been the first magazine to feature an article on Hank Williams, for which  he dedicated to the magazine a new song that he had just written, "Moanin' Blues". Country  Song Roundup held a contest to win a date with Elvis Presley in their August 1956 issue. Both  Elvis Presley and Carl Perkins were shown on the cover of that edition.



Country Song Roundup September 1955 >


FOLK MUSIC FIREBALL - Elvis Presley  Every so often a newcomer to the Country music scene stirs up a fuss with a different kind  of record, an unusual singing style or a 'gimmick' of one sort or another. The latest sensation  these days is a 19-year-old Elvis Presley, a handsome, strapping Mississippi boy who's a ball  of fire when it comes to putting over a tune.


Recording on the Sun label and a regular  member of the KWKH Louisiana Hayride, in Shreveport, young Presley is enjoying the reality  of his life's dream: to sing for people and hear the spontaneous applause that means he's a  hit.

When Elvis was a youngster down in Tupelo, Mississippi, folks used to stop him on the street  and say, "Sing for us, Elvis". And he would...standing on the street corners, in the hit  Mississippi sun... or in church... or at school... anywhere someone wanted to hear him, he'd  sing. Now the same thing is happening all over again. When he's recognized on the street or  at any public place, people call out: "Sing for us, Elvis".


"That's All Right" and "Blue Moon Of Kentucky", Elvis first Sun waxings, were also his first  professional work of any kind. He's a self-taught musician and worked out his unique style  while listening to records and picking out the tunes on a cheap ($2.98) guitar.

One day he  drifted into a Memphis recording studio to make a personal record - just to get an idea about  how he sounded - and was heard by Sam Phillips, prexy of Sun Record Company, who  thought that with a little work and polish the boy might make the grade as a commercial  artist.


Several months of hard work did the trick, and "That's All Right" and "Blue Moon Of  Kentucky" had an astounding reception all over the nation. The disc also represented  something new in records: the unusual pairing of an rhythm and blues number with a  country standard.

Just 19, Elvis has been out of High School but one year - and the big (6-footer) blonde guy  likes nothing better than to spent an afternoon practising football with some of the  youngster in his neighbourhood. Other hobbies of Elvis' include movies, listening to records -  and eating! Stories of the singer's appetite are many. His girl friend, Dixie, declares that  recently, at one sitting, he ate 8 deluxe Cheeseburgers, 2 Bacon-Lettuce-Tomato sandwiches  - and topped it off with three chocolate milk shakes.

Since the release of his two-sided hit, Elvis has been making personal appearances and  bringing the house down every time. As the featured entertainer at the grand opening of a  new business arcade, he played to a wildly enthusiastic audience of more that 3,000 who  couldn't restrain themselves and started dancing and jitterbugging when Elvis sang "That's All  Right". At the recent Jimmie Rodgers Day Celebration in Meridian, Mississippi, Elvis was  called back for encore after encore, singing such tunes as "Milk Cow Blues Boogie", "You're A  Heartbreaker" and his latest pairing: "I'm Left, You're Right, She's Gone" and "Baby Let's Play  House".

There's no doubt about it - this youngster is a real "Folk Music Fireball".


SEPTEMBER 1955

NEW POLICY COMBINES POPS-COUNTRY AND WESTERN

New York - Colonel Tom Parker of Jamboree Attractions, one of the nation's major bookers  and promoters of country and western talent, instituted a new policy when he presented a  combination of popular and country and western music on a recent one-nighter tour.

Parker teamed Bill Haley and His Comets with Hank Snow for an extended tour, which  opened in Omaha Oct. 10. Jimmie Rodgers Snow replaced his father on the show in Lubbock  and Amarillo while Hank hopped to Nashville for an appearance on the Grand Ole Opry TV  show. Elvis Presley joined the Snow-Haley tour in Oklahoma City.

SEPTEMBER 1955

The band's gross income for September is $3,300, with Elvis still getting only 50 percent of  the net, and Scotty and Bill 25 percent, after the new drummer has been paid. This is the  last month that this arrangement will remain in effect. At the Colonel's instigation, as of  October 1 Scotty and Bill are put on a fixed salary of $200 a week when they are working,  with a retainer of $100 when they are not.


OCTOBER 1955

Sam Phillips buys out Jud Phillips's share of Sun Records and becomes sole owner again. Sam  also opens WHER radio in Memphis with Roy Scott and Clarence Camp of Southern  Amusements.

Malcolm Yelvington has "Yakety Yak"/"A Gal Named Jo" issued on Meteor 5022. It is released  under the pseudonym Mac Sales and the Esquire Trio since Yelvington was still under  contract to Sun Records.

Ekko 1015 "Talkin' Off The Wall" is released by Eddie Bond, who had already auditioned, and  been turned down, by Sun Records.



Louisiana Hayride, Shreveport, October 1, 1955. >

OCTOBER 1955

There were serious negotiations, and the prolonged dealings served only to heighten  interest in Elvis Presley within the record industry.

This again worked to Colonel Tom  Parker's advantage, because he dutifully alerted RCA Victor to the overtures he had received  from its potential competitors.

Despite the pressure, there was the problem of finding  suitable financing for Elvis Presley's contract as far as RCA Victor was concerned.

The $40,000 purchase price that Sam Phillips had asked RCA to pay included a $5,000 bonus  to cover past royalties owed Elvis Presley by Sun Records. Initially, RCA Victor management  balked at this high price. The figures were bandied about for the press by Colonel Tom  Parker, but RCA wouldn't settle. A means had to be found to raise the money for Elvis'  contract.

OCTOBER 1, 1955 SATURDAY

Elvis Presley returned to Shreveport for his regular appearance on the Louisiana Hayride at the Municipal Auditorium tonight on 8:00 till 11:30 p.m.  The guest artist on this date was Billy Walker, a Hayride semi-regular, Buzz Busby and the Bayou Boys, Johnny Horton, Hoot and Curley, Betty Amos, Jack Ford, Jimmy and Linny, David Houston, Werly Fairburn, Jeanette Hicks, Buddy Attaway, Jimmy Day, and many others. General admission, adults $1.00, children 50 cents, tax included. Tickets on sale at Harbuck & Womack.

The bookings for the week came trough Tillman Franks and the Hayride office, and the towns played were all in the East Texas area where the Louisiana Hayride has its strongest following. Elvis and his band would spend all of October without drummer D.J. Fontana, who had to recover from an illness. Elvis didn't have a show on October 7, so he used the free time to accept an invitation to see Bob Wills at Cook's Hoedown in Houston.


© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

LIVE BROADCAST RECORDINGS ELVIS PRESLEY
FOR KWKH'S LOUISIANA HAYRIDE, SHREVEPORT, LOUISIANA, 1955

MUNICIPAL AUDITORIUM, 705 GRAND AVENUE AND
MILAM STREET, SHREVEPORT, LOUISIANA
SESSION HOURS: SATURDAY 8:00 PM OCTOBER 1, 1955
VIEWING TIME TV-STATION KWKH 1 FAIRCHILDER TAPE RECORDER
PRODUCER - HORACE LOGAN
RECORDING ENGINEER - BOB SULLIVAN

Here Horace Logan introduces at the Louisiana Hayride on Saturday, October 1, 1955 the fabulous three, Elvis Presley, Scotty Moore and Bill Black with their live version of ''I Forgot To Remember To Forget'' . Horace Logan indicates ''I Forgot To Remember To Forget'' has been doing well for weeks.

01 – "I FORGOT TO REMEMBER TO FORGET" - B.M.I. - 3:17
Composer: - Charlie Feathers-Stan Kesler
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None
Recorded: - October 1, 1955
Released: - 2012
First appearance: - On Internet YouTube video-sharing website
Reissued: April 16, 2016 MRS Records (2LP) 33rpm MRV 40001256 mono
THE COMPLETE LOUISIANA HAYRIDE ARCHIVES 1954-1956

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Elvis Presley - Vocal and Acoustic Rhythm Guitar (Martin Dreadnought 18)
Scotty Moore - Electric Lead Guitar (Gibson ES 295)
Bill Black - Acoustic Upright Bass (Kay Maestro M-1)

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©



OCTOBER 3, 1955 MONDAY

Elvis Presley kicked off the week playing small venues in Texas, headlining a seven-act touring group calling itself the Louisiana Hayride Jamboree. Featured, along with Elvis  Presley, were Jimmy and Johnny, Johnny Horton, Betty Amos, David Houston, comedian  Willie Birdbrain, and Daldon and Lulu. Also on hand were Tillman Franks, who booked the  tour, and Horace Logan, who acted as emcee.



Tonight there was a 7:30 p.m. concert in College Station at the G. Rollie White Coliseum on  the campus of Texas A&M University in Bryan, Texas. The show was sponsored by the Office of  Student Activities. Advance tickets cost 35-cents for children and 75-cents for adults. At the  show, seats were 50-cents and $1.00.

Elvis was dressed in a pink dinner jacket, black open-collar shirt, pink socks, and red shoes. He stood there with his chin thrust forward, sneering. Like a sledgehammer, his right hand crashed across the guitar strings, splintering two. He sneered some more and glared at the crowd.

When Elvis rolled onto campus that evening of October 3, the Aggie footballers couldn't believe their eyes, much less their ears, as hundreds of squealing girls wiggled and cavorted like Elvis himself. The girls had gone gaga over the man onstage. Some pulled their shirts mid-high, seeking approval, while others went further, removing their panties and throwing them onto the stage.

Elvis needed to look no farther than the front row to know it wasn't a normal college crowd. There stood military officers, sabers on their hips, shoulders-to-shoulder facing raucous fans. No one had ever seen anything like it at A&M. But, for the most part, the kids seemed to be having fun, until Elvis did the unthinkable. He spit his gum onto the stage floor.

In the blink of an eye, the crowd rushed to the edge of the stage. Corps members moved in waves, shoving their dates aside. They shook their fists and cursed the swivel-hipped rocker. ''You desecrated our stage''! they screamed. ''Somebody knock that sonofabitch off of there''. Swords were suddenly drawn. A company commander grabbed the microphone and began barking orders; 'Men, get back to your seats'! This boy didn't mean any harm. We've already picked up his gum. Everybody get back. Now, goddammit''.

Amazing, the cadets retreated. Elvis held his arms above his head and apologetically smiled. 'Sirs and ladies', he said, 'I'd like to say I didn't mean anything by it. I'll try to do better'. With those two strings still dangling from his guitar, Elvis went into ''Shake, Rattle And Roll'', a song made famous by Bill Haley and the Comets. Even the cadets started moving to the music. By the time he tried ''Good Rockin' Tonight'', the audience was his once more. He even returned for encores, including ''Maybellene'', a song made famous by Chuck Berry.


Elvis Presley dressing room City Auditorium, Greenville, Texas, October 5, 1955. >

OCTOBER 4, 1955 TUESDAY

Tonight's performance was in Paris, Texas. The show was held in the Gymnasium of the Boys  Club and was sponsored by the Paris Optimist Club. The day after the show, the Paris News wrote, ''A standing-room-only crowd filled Boys Club Gymnasium here Tuesday night for the Optimist-sponsored Louisiana Hayride Show.


Sponsoring Optimist Club officials said the seats were filled and standing room tickets were being sold 20 minutes before the starting time.  Hundreds of persons were turned away because there was no room. Elvis Presley, the Western 'bop' king of Louisiana Hayride, headed the show that drew heavy applause and floorpatting from the crowd. Jimmy and Johnny stole the show, however, with their country music and imitations of famous stars. Their best was a take-off on Liberace and his brother, George''.   The Optimists counted 1,285 paid admissions for the show.

_________________________

The Paris News from October 3, 1955  wrote in an article:  Western Bop King Heads Show in Paris Tuesday.

''The King of Western Bop, Elvis Presley, head the Louisiana Hayride show that appears in Paris, Tuesday night. Presley and company will appear at 8 p.m. at the Boys Club Gym, under the sponsorship of the Paris Optimist Club. Advance tickets for the show are now on sale. They may be obtained at Corner Drug No. 2. Boyers Printing Shop or from any member of the Optimist Club.

Profits from the show will go into the Optimist Boys Work Fund. A sell-out crowd is expected. The advance tickets are 75 cents. Admission at the door will be $1. Ten performers will make up the Louisiana Hayride cast, coming here from Radio Station KWKH in Shreveport. Presley heads the group, which includes Scotty and Bill, Jimmy and Johnny, Johnny Horton, Betty Amos, Dalton and Lula Jo, Comedian Willie Birdbrain and Master of Ceremonies Horace Logan.

Elvis Presley, ''the king of Western bop'' is a 20-year-old youngster who has set the field on country music to talking with his unusual combination of folk music spiced with a rock and roll beat. His Sun Records are in demand by folk music fans coast to coast.

Presley was born in Tupelo, Miss. and moved to Memphis, Tenn. at the age of 12. A natural sence of rhythm along with a unique voice quality benefied from his childhood surroundings in which country music and negro blues were everyday music to him. But aside from a few non-professional efforts while in high school in Memphis, his first real work was done when the Sun Record Company of Memphis heard his voice on a personal record and encouraged him to make his first release, ''That's All Right'' and ''Blue Moon Of Kentucky''.

Since he started his career with the Louisiana Hayride in Shreveport, Presley's career has come along by claps and bounds. He has drawn record crowd in Texas, Tennessee, Arkansas, Florida, Virginia, as a matter of fact, all through the South.

Elvis is 20, his birthday being on January 8. He is unmarried. His main interest are his cars a 1955 Cadillac Fleetwood sedan in a striking pink and black color, and q 1854 Cadillac convertible collections of unusual and flashy clothes any artists owns, preferring the 'cool cat' type of dress rather than Western apparel. When near water, Elvis is an avid water-sking fan, having learned at Memphis this summer.

_________________________


OCTOBER 5, 1955 WEDNESDAY

The Greenville City Auditorium in Greenville, Texas was the site of this evening 8 o'clock  Elvis Presley show. Along with Elvis, Jimmy and Johnnie, Johnny Horton, Betty Amos, David Houston, Daldon and Lula Jo, Willie Bird Brain, and the master of ceremonies, Horace Logan. Advance tickets, adults 75 cents, and children 35 cents. Tickets for sale at Clark's Drug Store. 


Ad for the Skyline and Dessau Hall in Austin Statesmen (left) and Elvis Presley at the Skyline Club,  Austin, Texas, October 6, 1955. >

OCTOBER 6, 1955 THURSDAY

Today there was another double-header. In the afternoon, the group played at Sam Marcos College Auditorium of the  Southwest Texas State University In Austin, Texas.. Replacing David Houston for both shows  were Sonny Trammel and Ray Gomer.


In the evening, "the King of Western Bop" and his review moved north thirty miles to Austin   and the Skyline Club, owned by Warren Stark. The local ad did not mention tickets prices,  but if one were so inclined, reservations could be made by calling GL-3-9089.

An article announcing Elvis' appearance said the show would feature "a full load of hillbilly music and   performers as its cargo". Tillman Franks of the Louisiana Hayride was specifically mentioned   in the ad as scheduled to make an appearance the show's M.C.

On Friday, while the rest of the group relaxed in Austin, Elvis Presley took a "busman's   holiday" as he literally caught the Greyhound with Franks and Logan for a trip to Houston to   catch Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys as they performed at Cook's Hoedown Club.

According to musicians Leon Carter, ''He came back, to Austin, and played the Skyline Club, and I used my whole band to play behind him and other Hayride artists. My rhythm guitarist, who played with Elvis that night, said they had played a show at Sam Marcos. They did a double show that night. He didn't have his guitar with him, and he borrowed my rhythm man's guitar. He wanted to hire my drummer, and he broke two or three guitar strings, and he got a little upset about that, and my guitar player said, Ýou're gonna have to buy me some strings', and he said, 'Well, I'm gonna get you some when my guitar gets here'. After a while, the rest of the show came in, and Elvis gave me the strings to my guitar player. He had a pink Cadillac sittin' out front almost at the back door where he unloaded his stuff. We got through playing, closed the doors, and everybody was loading up their equipment, and me and Elvis was standing at the back door with two or three musicians talking, and we opened up the back door and people were stealing hubcaps off his car. He said, 'I don't guess that these people know I have insurance on it. I guess they just like to have something off my car. I'll let them, and buy some more'. He just laughed about it''.

Tillman Franks remember, ''While in Sam Marcos, Elvis stopped by the garden club's plant sale and loaded my car so full of plants, (he purchased to take to his mother back in Memphis) that the rest of the band had to take a separate car to their next gig in Austin''.

_________________________

An article in the local newspaper says: Hillbilly Ace Will Appear At Skyline.
Elvis Presley, high-riding young hillbilly hipster who has become an overnight sensation by combining country and western music with bop rhythms, returns to Austin Thursday night to headline a big Louisiana Hayride show at the Skyline Club.

Backing up Presley, now rated the no 1 attraction in the hillbilly field, will be Scotty and Bill, who accompany him on his recording dates and personal appearances tours.

Also on the bill at the Skyline will be such popular Louisiana Hayride stars as Jimmy and Johnny, the country vocal duo, Johnny Horton, Betty Amos, Ray Gorner, Sonny Tremmell, the steel guitar specialist. Tillman Franks and Horace Logan, whe'll emcee the show.

Presley's Thursday night appearances will be his second local stand in as many months, his last being a record-breaking date st the Sportcenter. The 20-year-old Memphis singer, whose fans have labeled him ''the king of western bop'' first came to the public's attention with his recordings of ''That's All Right'' and ''Blue Moon Of Kentucky''.

Since that debut, his unique rhythm style and flashy stage manner have combined to make him one of the hotest young personalities to hit the country and western field in several years.

In the last few months, however, Presley's popularity has become as strong in the rhythm and blues field as it is among fans of hillbilly music.


Tillman Franks >

OCTOBER 7, 1955 FRIDAY

Tillman Franks and Elvis traveled by Greyhound bus from Austin to Houston that day, while the band made its way in the Cadillac. After registering at the Holiday Inn in Houston, they got a call from disc jockey Biff Collie, who invited them down to Cook's Hoedown that night. According to Tillman, Elvis and Bob met, neither one impressing the other.

OCTOBER 8, 1955 SATURDAY

Elvis Presley remained in Houston as the Louisiana Hayride moved it's broadcasting location  to the City Auditorium (Jesse H. Jones Hall) located at 615 Louisiana Street, for the evening. The Holiday On Ice Revue was booked into the Shreveport Memorial  Auditorium.

Ballad-singing rhythm and blues heartthrob Johnny Ace blew his brains out in a game of  Russian roulette backstage on this City Auditorium on December 23, 1954; he died the  following day. Some reports claim that he was trying to impresses a girl sitting on his lap at  the time. The hall, now renamed houses the Houston Symphony Orchestra.

OCTOBER 9, 1955 SUNDAY

Elvis Presley may have performed Cherry Springs Tavern in Cherry Springs, Texas. Admission $1.50. Also on the bill Jimmy and Johnny, Johnny Horton, Betty Amos, Dalton and Lula Jo, Billy Birdbrain, emcee Horace Logan, and many others.



Cherry Springs Tavern, Cherry Springs, Texas. >

CHERRY SPRINGS DANCE HALL – Located at 17662 North, Highway 87, Cherry Springs, Texas 78624,  16 miles North West of Fredericksburg in Gillespie County. Circa 1889, German heritage dance hall.  Currently not open for business. The dance hall was established along the old Pinta Trail in 1889 as a stop for  cattle drives. It was originally run by Herman Lehmann, son of German immigrants, Apache captive and  adopted son of Comanche chief Quanah Parker.


Cited by the State of Texas Music Office as "one of the most  historic dance halls in the world'', the venue has played host to some of the greatest legends of country  music. Hank Williams once played here, as did Patsy Cline, Buck Owens, Webb Pierce, Ernest Tubb, George  Jones, and many others.

It was here on October 9, 1955, that the Louisiana Hayride Tour played, with Elvis  Presley, Johnny Cash and others, on the cusp of international fame for the performers. Geronimo Trevino III  in his book Dance Halls and Last Calls - A History of Texas Country Music Dance Halls in Texas, 1800s- Present day likens the talent who have played there to "The history of country music''.



Wanda Jackson and Elvis Presley backstage Memorial Hall in Brownwood, Texas, October 10, 1955. >

OCTOBER 10, 1955 MONDAY

Elvis Presley headlined his own "Elvis Presley Jamboree" with featured guests Jimmy  Newman, Porter Wagoner, Bobby Lord, Johnny Cash, Floyd Cramer, Jimmy Day, and Wanda  Jackson. The bill remained the same through October 14. The tour was booked by Bob Neal.


Tonight the group appeared Brownwood, Texas, in a show presented by the Brownwood  Volunteer Fire Department. The 8:00 p.m. performance took place at the Soldier's and  Sailor's Memorial Hall. Tickets were $1.00 for adults with children half price.

Wanda Jackson recall, "I have a ledger that tells me my dates... my daddy kept that for my  book-keeping. It tells of the tors I worked with Elvis, and the last tour we did together was in  early 1956. I'm not sure where it was. I think it was in Colorado, but it was right before he  went to Hollywood. I think he'd already done his TV things. We may have been up in  Oklahoma... we worked Tulsa and Oklahoma City".

"I think of him on stage. I didn't miss his shows at all when I worked with him. I'd stand in the  wings and watch. I'd get a kick out of watching the girls, and afterwards we would have to  fight to get through the crowds. He had to finally stop autographing because they were  afraid people would get hurt".

"Another thing, and my mother remembered this and reminded me, she said, 'Don't you  remember when you used to rush home everyday from wherever you were. You used to  make sure you were home by 4:30 because that's when Elvis would call you'. I told her, 'Now  that you mention it, I do remember that'. Everybody knows that he was a gentlemen. He  always called a lady "Ma'am". "He was a real gentlemen. He truly loved his fans... he loved  people, you could tell he genuinely loved people. Elvis was easy to be with... like an old  show! Like a pair of old shoes!".

"He never put on any airs or grazes and he was always kind of fidgety. He used to make me  nervous because I'm a relaxed person. Nowadays you would say that he was hyper, but we  didn't have a word for it back then. But he'd sit there and click his fingers and tap his feet  and I'd say, 'Keep still! You're making me nervous'. I just remember liking him very much. He  had a soft voice and a soft manner".

According to musician, Harry Marlin, ''His (Elvis) trouble started after the concert when he went to Chisholm's Chicken Hut to eat. He took his coat off and hung it on a coat rack. It didn't hang there long. A group of high school boys thought it would be great to take the coat as a souvenir, and they did. I was a member of the Brownwood Police Department at the time, and we always got our man, woman, or boy, as the case might be. Our efficient police department quickly rounded up the usual suspect and got the coat back and took it to the police station where Elvis came to get it. At that time, he had not yet attained the fame and fortune he would later have heaped upon him. He was glad to get his coat back. He needed it. No charges were ever filed. After all. it was just a bodyhood prank''.

_________________________

A Brownwood  newspaper article says, Presley Healines Show Here Monday.
Members of the Brownwood Volunteer Fire Department will present an outstanding entertainment program here Monday night at Memorial Hall.

Healining the show will be Elvis Presley, renowned radio entertainer. Other featured artists will be Jimmie Newman, Johnny Cash, Floyd Cramer, Jimmie Day and Wanda Jackson of the Louisiana Hayride show, and Bobby Lord and Porter Wagener of the Ozark Jubilee.

The program will begin at 8 p.m. Monday. Admission will be $1 for adults and 50 cents for children under 12.



From left: Roy Hendly, Elvis Presley, and Jim Price, Abile, Texas, October 11, 1955


OCTOBER 11, 1955 TUESDAY

Elvis Presley as the Western Bop and his band of musical gypsies appeared at 7:00 and 9:15 p.m. at the Fair Park  Auditorium in Abilene, Texas.



Guests were Jimmy Newman, Jean Shepard, Bobby Lord,  Johnny Cash, Floyd Cramer, Porter Wagoner, Jimmy Day, and Wanda Jackson. Tickets were $1.00. Tax included.


Elvis Presley and his pink Cadillac, Midland, Texas,. October 12, 1955. >

OCTOBER 12, 1955 WEDNESDAY

The Elvis Presley Jamboree moved on to Midland, Texas, where they played the Midland High  School Auditorium at 7:30 p.m. Tickets prices were $1.25 in advance and $1.50 at the door and at The Record Shop, 2507 West Wall, Midland, Texas.


OCTOBER 13, 1955 THURSDAY

At 8:00 p.m., Elvis' show was sponsored by KZIP when he played one performance at the City   Auditorium in Amarillo, Texas. Adults were $1.25 in advance and $1.50 at the door. Children   were 50-cents, either way.

"I was thirteen and in the eighth grade", said Glenda Eschle. "My sister didn't want to go, but   she got her boyfriend to take me. We sat up in the balcony, above the crowd, but you   couldn't hear Elvis singing for all the yelling. After the concert, my sister's boyfriend too me  to dinner. He really treated me royally, and I'. still an Elvis fan today", she said.

The advertisement refers to Elvis as "the king of western bop," but notes that "his wardrobe   runs to the 'cool cat' type of dress rather than western apparel."


LaCreta Counts (lower left) and other fans with Elvis Presley at  City   Auditorium in Amarillo, Texas, October 13, 1955. >

OCTOBER 14, 1955 FRIDAY

The tour stopped for shows in Odessa, Texas. According to Roy Orbison, Elvis Presley and   Johnny Cash appeared on Orbison's local show on KOSA-TV to promote the evening's entertainment. There were no ads in the Odessa American for this show, but the information was part of a tour list in Billboard, October 8, 1955. 


The other eight specific dates in this  brief item in Billboard were accurate. The show was held at the High School Fieldhouse 8:00 p.m.. Also on the bill, Bobby Lord, Jimmie Newman, Wanda Jackson, Porter Wagener, Floyd Cramer, and Jimmie Day. Tickets $1.25

According to Mary Hale, ''I was a sophomore at Odessa High School in 1955 when Elvis was performing there. I heard his first songs ''That's All Right'' and ''Blue Moon Of Kentucky'', on the radio stations. They were also on some of the jukeboxes in the local cafes. I still have a ticket stub to the one at Midland High School on October 12, 1955. He performed in a pink suit, and my redheaded boyfriend was so jealous, he vowed he would use his next paycheck to go buy a pink suit! Elvis signed our 8 x 10 black and pictures on the top of his Cadillac. Elvis stayed at a very modest motel in Midland, on Highway 80, I think, while he was doing that show. We drove all around it trying to see him before the show. He also came to a small record shop on North Grant in Odessa one afternoon before one of his shows. He talked to everyone, boys and girls, and was very very nice. I remember him wearing a watch with blue stones on it. He was 'gorgeous'! When my girlfriends and I left the shop, he walked us out to my parents '51 green Chevy and opened the car door for me. He chatted with us a few minutes, then said he would see us at his show that night. I can't tell you how very polite and well mannered he was. We were all on cloud 9 the rest of the day. I begged my parents to remove the door handle on that car before they sold it the next year''.

Dub Hollowell says, ''I had a small four-piece hillbilly band at the time. Our small band was the second to perform, and I do remember I was scared out of my pants. When Elvis came on, he twanged his guitar so hard that he broke all but two of his strings. At the time, I was playing an old Sears Roebuck $49.95 electric guitar. Elvis asked if he could borrow it, and I gladly let him have it. It was returned to me with my strings broken and a very nice 'sorry fellow' and a warm handshake from Elvis. I remember at the time Elvis had a pink stretchy web type belt on and he pulled it off and threw it out to the crowd. I think that the belt never did hit the floor because the girls had cut it into a million pieces''.

Joyce Weathers, of the Holifield's record store in Odessa says, ''Elvis came back to Odessa with Johnny Cash. That day, Elvis drove his pink and black Cadillac into Odessa. When I closed up the shop, I found Elvis sitting outside. I asked, 'Elvis, what in the world is wrong'? and Elvis said, 'I'm so homesick that I just like to chunk it all and go home'. When he came out after the show that night, the girls had stripped that car of everything that you could remove. He was quite heartbroken''.


Fair Park Coliseum, 1012 Avenue, Lubbock, Texas. >

OCTOBER 15, 1955 SATURDAY

On the final night of this "Elvis Presley Jamboree" tour, Elvis Presley and his group  performed at 8:00 p.m. at the Fair Park Coliseum located at 1012 Avenue in Lubbock, Texas.  Buddy Holly and Bob Montgomery - Lubbock's own "Buddy and Bob" - had opened the show.  Bob Montgomery was a country music star and industry figure with limited success, and  Holly, of course, was destined to become a rock and roll legend.


At the time, though, Buddy  and Bob were simply another act looking for a record contract. Hi Pockets Duncan, a country  disc jockey on KSEL, remembers that the weekend was an exciting one for Holly.

Not only  was he able to play on the same bill with his idol, Elvis Presley, but Buddy Holly had played  with Bill Haley and the Comets the night before Elvis Presley came to town. Dave Stone, the  owner of KDAV, allowed Buddy Holly to open the Haley show. Jimmie Rodgers Snow, Hank's  son, was one of the acts appearing with Haley, and he spoke glowingly of Holly's talent. A  Nashville talent agent, Eddie Crandall, accompanied Snow, and was struck by the commercial  possibilities of Holly's material. In fact, Crandall was so impressed with Buddy Holly that he  began negotiations that led to a Decca recording contract.

After the show, Elvis Presley stayed backstage signing autographs and talking with the other  musicians and told them he never dreamed he would become this big, not in his wildest  imagination, and he said he loved what he was doing. "There were probably two hundred  girls backstage and he autographed everything, including a few body parts!", said Bill Myrick.  "Each time he was in the area, he would drop by the station and we would go down to the  Club Cafe and have hamburgers and fries and he'd drink a Pepsi and we'd talk about music",  he said.

Kay Grimes, twelve at the time, attended at Fair Park Coliseum. "My friend's mother took  us", she said. "Just as we were arriving, a long, white Cadillac convertible drove by. We  thought that was him. I had never heard or seen him before, so I didn't know. The guy at the  door let us in and we got on the front row before the show started. The band, Scotty and  Bill, came out and talked with us. When Elvis Presley came on stage, he was surrounded by  policeman. He was wearing a burgundy coat, black pants and black and white shoes".

Gloria Maples, a sixth grader when she went to the Fair Park to see this new star, came away  with one impression: "The thing that stuck in my mind was how dark his eyes were", said  Maples. "It was a raw show. The crowd was rowdy".

Following this show, and leaving the Hi-D-Ho Drive-In, Elvis Presley and the group were paid  an additional $400 to entertain a late-night show at Lubbock's Cotton Club as guests of the  Western Swing Kings. The opening act at the Cotton Club was the locally popular group,  Buddy and Bob.

"We had gone to fair Park in my girlfriend's pink Cadillac convertible", said Carole Kelley. "I  was seventeen and a freshman at Texas Tech at the time. After the show, Elvis asked us  where to go to party in Lubbock. I called a friend who had a band, but he said he was  studying and we couldn't come there".

"We went to the old Tech Cafe on Broadway - me, June, Jean, Elvis, Scotty, Bill and D.J.  Elvis ordered two cheeseburgers and two orders of French fries. He talked a lot about his  mom. We were sitting there eating and Elvis got up, walked around the table to me and  kissed me. I told him, 'You've got the neatest touch'. I hadn't considered myself a fan, until  that moment. I cut classes the next day and drove to another town to see him again. And  after that show, he invited us to keep going with them, telling us, 'We've got room for two  more'".

Though only in junior high school at the time, Rosemary Leftwich, convinced her date,  Richard Weisen, to take her to the Cotton Club to see Elvis Presley. "My sister came with us  and when Elvis came in, I left her at the table and walked up toward the bandstand", said  Leftwich. "Elvis saw me and said, 'Hi, baby'. He was flirty. He asked me if I would go out with  him and I told him I already had a date. After the show, we saw him standing by his Cadillac  and I said to my sister, 'Is he ever the cutest thing I ever saw". She would meet Elvis Presley  once more, at a dinner party for Petula Clark in Las Vegas, Nevada.

It seems that bare-breast autograph Pat Hankins had heard about at the Cotton Club was  more than just someone's fantasy gone wild. Confidential magazine, in its January 1956  issue, printed a photo of a young girl fan dropped her dress below her shoulder and Elvis  Presley approaching her, pen in hand, at the Cotton Club. Confidential magazine, a  forerunner to today's supermarket tabloids, reported this was not an isolated incident.  Here's the way Lou Anderson reported it in Confidential magazine:

"Elvis "The Pelvis" Presley had just finished an undulating show that still had a lot of kids  wriggling. making his way down the bandstand steps and through the fans hovering around  him. Elvis drops into a chair for a few minutes rest, then, picking up a cluster of friends, he  heads for the front entrance and one of his famous Cadillacs. 'Oh Elvis!' he hears, 'wait  forme!".

Turning, he watches as a pretty young girl rushes toward him. "Would you please autograph  me", she shrieks. "And with that, she pulls a sheer blouse off her shoulder, revealing a low  cut bra. Older and wiser entertainers might have hesitated at having a three-quarters-bare  bosom thrust at them for a signature. But not Elvis. With a flourish, he hauled out his  ballpoint pen and signed just above the dotted Swiss line".

"Elvis" on the righty, "Presley" on the lefty. A rarity? Far from it. The incident was just one  more example of how free the Pelvis is with his ink around the pigeons. You've never read it  in your local gazette, but reporters in the know can tell you there are any number of chicks  who've sported Presley's print on their superstructure. They can't cash themselves in, like a  check, but it's fun while it lasts. It's nice pen-pushing if you can get it and just how this  newest wacky stunt got its start is anyone's guess. Probably only penman Presley could gave  the real answer. But there is more than one Elvis club that requires a chest stencil for  membership!".

"Presley wound up a jump-and-gyration show in Lubbock by going driving with a couple of  chicks who should have been in bed at that hour. Around and around they drove, until finally  they wheeled into State Park on the edge of town and parked the car. Elvis was sitting in the  middle. The radio was on. Expertly, he'd flip the dial till he picket up one of his own  recordings; them he'd tell the cute kids how good it was. The babes agreed. They were  enjoying themselves, too. How were they to know scribbling time was coming up?".

"One of them just sat there while Elvis nuzzled the girl driver. Now and again he'd roam a  little too far, but after all, everybody's heard about the Pelvis' technique. Finally Presley  wearied of that game and reached for his pen. The babe had heard about Presley's  penmanship before. She just giggled as Elvis flicked the point into position for notations.  Then, with one grab of his hand, Presley peeled the top of her strapless dress, leaving  enough space to write the Gettysburg Address!".

"Recovering from his work, he went to work scripting. Wiggling only when it tickled, the girl  allowed him to inscribe "Elvis" on the right and "Presley" on the left. Embarrassed? You'd  never have known it by the chick's reactions".

"Next, the three drove around for another hour, then Elvis and the signed siren dropped the  extra girl off at her house. What happened after that, only they can say. But it must have  been a memorable evening because at three in the morning the unautographed girlie got a  call from her chum, asking if it would be okay to come by and have her autographed bosom  photographed".

It was reported several girls in the Lubbock area had similar autographs and, to preserve  them, would paste band-aids over the writing so it wouldn't wash off in the shower. When  these gals wore peekaboo blouses, it looked for a moment like an epidemic had hit town!



OCTOBER 16, 1955 SUNDAY

Elvis Presley closed out the Lubbock, Texas weekend by appearing at Hub Motors, the local  Ford dealership, singing from a hastily construction stage on the used car lot. The subdued  crowd of curious onlookers was thoroughly entranced. Mac Davis, then a young high school  student, had seen Elvis Presley in Lubbock. Inspired by what he saw, Mack Davis wrote his  first song, "Mau Mau Mary", complete with Elvis Presley's rockabilly inflection.


That day Elvis appearing at the Municipal Auditorium, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, at 3:30  and 8:00 p.m. For one night Elvis joins yet another Hank Snow tour, this one costarring Bill  Haley, whose ''Rock Around The Clock'' is in its fifth month at the top charts.

The  phenomenal success of Hayley's 1954 record, released when the song was used over the  credits of the movie; The Blackboard Jungle'', in some ways certifies the success of the new  music and validates its name once and for all as rock and roll. In subsequent weeks Billboard  will note the clever strategy of ''Colonel Tom Parker of Jamboree Attractions, one of the  nation's major bookers and promoters of country and western talent (who), instituted a new  policy when he presented a combination of popular and country and western music on a  recent one-nighter tour''. It might further be noted that Bill Haley and Elvis Presley are  advertised on the top half of the poster, above Hank Snow.

According to Bill Haley, ''The first time I remember talking to Elvis was in, Oklahoma City. He was standing backstage, and we were getting ready to go on. And he came over and told me he was a fan of mine, and we talked, an awful nice kid. He wanted to learn, which was the important thing. When I came back after doing my shows, he was kind of half crying in the dressing room, very downhearted''. Elvis was very competitive, and with Haley's success at the time, he had not been able to steal the show from the current top name in the business. Haley had an auditorium full of fans, and Elvis very few, if any. Haley sat down with Elvis, encouraged and comforted him, saying, ''Look, you have a lot of talent''.

_________________________

An article in The Daily Oklahoman says, Young Star On Bill Today
Elvis Presley, a 20-year-old fireball from Louisiana Hayride, will be an added starter Sunday when Bill Haley, Hank Snow, and many other top-notchers put on two western music hoedowns at Municipal Auditorium.

Shows are scheduled for 4 p.m. and 8 p.m.. Admission at the door will be $1.75 with children under 12 admitted for 50 cents. It is hard to pick an individual standout from the array of stars scheduled for appearance Sunday, but Presley might be the one the teen set will be watching most closely. His combination of country music and bop has captured the fancy of the younger set in a way few stars have managed, and his extreme youth and good looks add to his popularity.

However, Presley will have plenty of competition on the two shows today. There will be, for example, Bill Haley and his Comets, a rock and roll aggregation that is another major sensation with the younger set. The troup includes six young whizzes in vocal and instrumental arrangements, and is making recording history.

After the show's appearance in Omaha, Nebraska, early this week a reviewer noted: ''The spectators really cut loose when Bill (Shake, Rattle And Roll) Haley and his Comets took over the stage. These seven musicians produced some of the wildest jazz Omaha has ever heard, and the Arena practically shook with the screams, whistles and applause.

Hank Snow and the Rainbow Ranch boys, Little Jimmie Rogers Snow, Sleepy McDaniel and others also are tabbed for steady appearance.


OCTOBER 1955

It seems most likely, certainly possible, that Elvis could have gone home to Memphis after the El Dorado show, before leaving for Cleveland, as suggested in a flurry of activity starting on that day.

Colonel Parker's meticulous collection of correspondence shows nothing in writing between him and Bob Neal  since Neal's letter of September 21, where it was basically confirmed that Parker was now just a talent booker  for Neal and Elvis. The lack of communication would be only natural under these circumstances, as no Colonel  Parker bookings emerged during these weeks. On October 18, however, Colonel Parker wrote to Neal saying that  he understood that Neal had told Elvis to ''advise me to go on with our present contract'', implying he had talked  to the Presleys earlier in the day and they had reached a decision to move ahead with the Colonel in the driver's  seat. This shift of power didn't come about without hard work from the Colonel. Ever since the break at the end  of September, Parker had bombarded Elvis and his parents with phone calls, emphasizing that they had to see the  bigger picture (a new record deal and national TV exposure) and that he, the Colonel, would be able to deliver  the goods. It's clear Elvis and his parents were impatient, as nothing much and changed since the August meeting,  least of all the grueling schedule of live performances. Elvis had been on the road for almost two months solid,  and at various points he felt lonesome, tired, and generally pessimistic about his situation. The checks were a  little larger, but so were his expenses, both travel costs and the addition of drummer D.J. Fontana, and  something drastic seemed necessary.

From the Colonel's point of view, the urgency was even greater. In the past month, he had lost his grip on the  situation. Parker knew Elvis' ambitions and his own were unfulfilled under Bob Neal's management. It was Elvis or  his father Vernon who told Neal of a change, while not letting him know that Parker was clear to negotiate a new  record deal. Neal was definitely frustrated, wrote to the Colonel of a ''loose nut'' in the set-up, meaning Elvis,  Vernon, or both. On Saturday, he called for a meeting in Memphis the following Tuesday not knowing that Colonel  Parker would already be in New York, for a four-day stay at the Warwick Hotel with his wife.

The Colonel now made his definitive move. Armed with a document, signed by Elvis' parents, he was now  authorized to negotiate a new recording deal for their son.


Bill Haley advertisement for October 16, 1955.

OCTOBER 17, 1955 MONDAY

At 8:00 p.m., Elvis Presley and his band headlined the "Free Hillbilly Amateur Show" at the  Memorial Auditorium in El Dorado, Arkansas. The Chitling Switch Roadrunners opened the  show for Elvis Presley. The Chitling Switch Roadrunners consisted of the brothers Bobby  Dwitght, Gary Bird and Mickey and Lavon Davis. Mickey later joined Malaco Records in  Jackson, Mississippi, as a session fiddler and there founded the Jackson Strings. The group  continues performing today, but now under the name of Union Kun-tree. On August 19,  1996, the governor of Arkansas gave them an award for their enduring impact on music on  the Wonder state.


The Jaycee-sponsored the appearance in El Dorado and was promoted locally over KDMS  radio as part of "Oil Progress Week". Prior to Elvis Presley taking the stage, there was an  amateur talent contest with a first prize of $75. Ads promised at least fourteen local acts.  Admission was free to anyone presenting a folder that could be picked up at local auto  service stations.

After performing at the Jaycee stage show in El Dorado, Arkansas, Elvis Presley drove his  pink Cadillac to Cleveland, Ohio, for two shows with Roy Acuff and two daytime high school  performances that were being filmed for a movie. Little did Elvis Presley know that his drive  to Cleveland probably represented the last moments of privacy and obscurity in his career.

According to Bobby Bird, ''The second time we olayed at the football stadium, the Memorial Stadium, Elvis was in the Cadillac signing autographs, and I said, 'You need to tune the guitar'. And he said, 'Yes'. And I tuned it to Scotty's guitar and Bill Black's bass. No drummer in El Dorado in October. The high school boys were so jealous, because their girlfriends were just literally going bananas. I'm talking about 50 or 60 girls passed out. The boys got so mad that when Elvis was on stage, they let the air out of all four tires on his Cadillac. They had to get one of the local service stations down here with a compressor on the truck to blow the tires up. Everybody was laughing about it, even Elvis''.


Elvis Presley live at Cleveland's Circle Theater, October 19, 1955. >

OCTOBER 19, 1955 WEDNESDAY

Elvis Presley opened for Roy Acuff in two shows, at 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. at Cleveland's Circle  Theater. Also on the bill were Kitty Wells, Johnnie and Jack, Benny Martin, Shot Jackson and  Lester Wilburn, the oldest brother of the family that produced the Wilburn Brothers, Teddy  and Doyle. Later that afternoon, Elvis Presley appeared on the Brooklyn High School,  Cleveland.

After this second concert, Elvis Presley and Pat Boone backstage and they talked  briefly about their musical interest. Boone's first impression of Elvis Presley was "real slinky,  you know, with his coat a little too big and his pants a little too long".


Pat Boone urged Elvis Presley to sing faster rockabilly songs. Boone commented that Elvis'  enunciation was weak. Roy Acuff, although he praised his interpretation of Bill Monroe's  "Blue Moon Of Kentucky", urged Presley to accentuate his songs with a country swing.  The observations of Pat Boone are particularly interesting, inasmuch as the press attempted  to make much of the differences between the two singers. Boone remembered that Bill  Randle predicted quick stardom for Elvis Presley, although Boone himself wasn't so sure. He  could hardly understand Elvis Presley, and was sceptical about his clothing.


Elvis Presley live at Cleveland's Circle Theater, October 19, 1955. ^

"Elvis Presley was just starting to prove himself up north, when we became friends", Boone  recalled.


Elvis Presley on stage Brooklyn High School,  Cleveland, Ohio, October 20, 1955. >

OCTOBER 20, 1955 THURSDAY

Remaining in Cleveland, Elvis Presley took part in the filming of a movie short-subject  centered on Bill Randle, a disc jockey at Cleveland's WERE and New York City's WCBS. The  film project went through several name changes. At this time it may have been referred to  as "Top Jock". Later, it was given the unwieldy title "The Pied Piper of Cleveland: A Day In  The Life Of A Famous Disk Jockey". 

In addition to Elvis Presley's musical talent for the film  included Bill Haley and the Comets, Pat Boone, and the Four Lads.  The primary reason that  Elvis Presley was on the show was because Arnold Shaw had convinced Bill Randle that Elvis  Presley could boost his credibility as a disc jockey. Universal hoped to use this short  promotional movie to break rock and roll music in its films as well as aid in shifting Randle's  popularity to the lucrative New York market, where he aspired to become the heir to Alan  Freed's rock and roll crown.

The two performances were to be spliced into a short documentary. At 1:00 p.m., Elvis  Presley, Pat Boone, Bill Haley and His Comets and the Four Lads performed at a "staged"  assembly in the Auditorium of Brooklyn High, 9700 Biddulph Road, in the Cleveland suburb  of Brooklyn. Elvis Presley sang "That's All Right", "Blue Moon Of Kentucky", "Good Rockin'  Tonight", "Mystery Train", and "I Forgot To Remember To Forget". For his part in the film,  Elvis Presley, Scotty Moore and Bill Black (photos shot by Tommy Edwards of the event do not  show D.J. Fontana) were reportedly paid $350.


Bill Randle, Scotty Moore, Elvis Presley and Bill Black rehearsing backstage Brooklyn High School, Cleveland,  Ohio, October 20, 1955. >

"To the best of my memory it was probably something we were conned into", recalled Scotty  Moore. "We didn't go up there knowing about it - we went up there to do a show... I don't  know what they called it back then, but it'd be like a pilot show Bill Radall was trying to get  on TV - that's what I remember. How factual that is, I don't know! I remember some talk  about it afterwards... but nothing ever came of it".


After this concert, Elvis Presley and Pat Boone backstage and they talked briefly about their  musical interests. Boone's first impression of Elvis Presley was: "Real slinky, you know, with  his coat a little too big and his pants a little too long".

Pat Boone remembered the concert  well and, in a later conversation with Dave Booth, shared some trenchant insights into the  way Presley was perceived on his early forays into the North. "Bill told me, "I got a guy who's  gonna be the next biggest thing - Elvis Presley". I said, "oh yeah?" I had lived in Texas and I  had seen his name on some country jukeboxes and I wondered how in the world a hillbilly  could be the next big thing, especially with a name like Elvis Presley, Anyway, Elvis came in  wearing some odd-looking clothes. I said, "Hello, Elvis, I'm Pat Boone". He just said,  "Mrrrbleee mrrbleee". Anyway, I was to follow him on stage, so I was watching from the  wings. Elvis looked like he had just gotten off a motorcycle. He sang his first song and the  kids loved it. I was really surprised. Then he opened his mouth and said something and he  sounded so hillbilly that he lost the crowd. Then he sang another song and won 'em over  again. As long as he didn't talk he was OK. It took me a long time to win that crowd".


Elvis Presley and Bill Haley backstage at Brooklyn High School, Cleveland, Ohio, October 20, 1955. >

FROM COLLECTORS WEEKLY
by Ben Marks

On February 26, 1955, a Cleveland deejay named Tommy Edwards became the first music  promoter to book a Southern singing sensation named Elvis Presley north of the Mason-Dixon  line. The event was the Hillbilly Jamboree at Cleveland’s Circle Theater.


That fall, Edwards  brought Presley back to the Cleveland area for several more shows, including one on  October 20, 1955, at Brooklyn High School. On that date, Pat Boone was the headliner  (''Ain’t That A Shame'' was his big hit), with Elvis, Priscilla Wright, the Four Lads, and Bill  Haley’s Comets rounding out the bill.

At some point during the proceedings, Edwards snapped a now iconic color photo of Haley  and Presley  shaking hands (above). Haley’s 1954 cover of ''Rock Around The Clock'' was one of the  genre’s first monster hits. He was the established star while Presley was still the young  upstart, but in Edwards’s photo, the bow-tied Haley resembles someone’s doughy uncle  compared to Presley, who looks like the sort of boy you’d definitely want to keep your  daughter away from.

By 1956, Edwards was showing this and his other color Ektachrome slides at the dances he  promoted around town. While a slideshow may sound dull to 2011 ears, in 1956 there was  no Facebook, television was black and white, and the exposure given to pop music by the  mainstream press was downright stingy. For some of the kids dancing the night away in their  local high-school gymnasium, a 12-foot-high blowup of Elvis Presley was as close as they  would ever get to the future King.


Elvis Presley signing autographs backstage at St. Michael's Hall, East 100th Street at Union Avenue,  Cleveland, October 20, 1955. >

OCTOBER 20, 1955 THURSDAY

Later that day, the same performers also appeared at St. Michael's Hall on East 100th Street  at Union. The exact time of this show is not known, but it is believed to have been about  7:00 p.m.  Film footage of this show reportedly does not include Elvis Presley, and it is  possible that he did not perform at St. Michaels, although Randle remembers that he did.

Both shows were among Elvis' tightest live performances. This was largely due to director  Arthur Cohen, who not only handled the assignment professionally but tried to impart some  key tips to Elvis Presley. When Elvis Presley refused to listen to Cohen's advices Cohen  recommended that the filming be suspended. Bill Randle stepped into the hostile situation  and calmed everyone down. After restoring a sense of order, the film was completed, and  Randle paid the camera people and the crew.



Elvis Presley on stage at St. Michael Hall, October 20, 1955. >

The Cleveland movie was never released due to a technicians' strike and to a change in  Universal Studio's attitude concerning the commercial value of rock music. When the movie  was shelved, everyone breathed a sign of relief. Both the camera crew and the director had  no idea how to film the concert portions of the show to best effect. Colonel Tom Parker,  worried that a poorly made movie might expose the flaws in Presley's musical act, was not  unhappy.


Bill Randle tried vainly to edit the footage, and a brief clip of it aired in 1958 on  WEWS-TV, but the complete film was doomed without the fourteen union clearances it  needed qualify for release.

Later that evening, Elvis Presley appeartly found time to honour his contract at the  Cleveland's Circle Theater and in a country music jamboree with Roy Acuff. In Cleveland,  three country music clubs vied for the attention of local crowds. Cleveland's best country  palace, however, was the Circle. Billboard had just reported that Mike Michaels of KDMS in El  Dorado, Arkansas, called Elvis "just about the hottest thing around these parts. His style  really pleases the teenagers". This comment certainly described Elvis' performances at the  Circle Theater, where the young crowd was louder that evening than during any previous  country music show.


Elvis Presley backstage at St. Michael Hall, October 20, 1955. >

Although he was unaware of it at the time, Elvis' Cleveland performances were witnessed by  a number of recording company executives and television talent scouts, as well as covered  extensively by local newspapers.

The Circle Theater concert persuaded the "Arthur Godfrey  Talent Scouts" television program to grant Elvis Presley another audition.


While Elvis Presley  performed in Cleveland, Bob Neal placed a number of ads in trade publications to solicit  bookings. The ads resulted in a series of new concerts dates, and served to further publicize  Elvis' growing popularity.

Colonel Tom Parker at almost exactly this time took fate into his own hands, went to New  York and ensconced himself at the Warwick Hotel, where, armed with an immensely long  and improbably detailed telegram from Vernon and Gladys Presley authorizing him to  represent their boy, as well as his agreement with Bob Neal, he for the first time formally  entertained offers for an artist whose contract he did not, strictly speaking, formally  possess.

This was, finally, too much for Sam Phillips. "I was pissed off. I got so goddam mad, I called  up Bob Neal and I said, 'Bob, you know what the hell you doing to me?' He said, 'Aw, Sam, I  ain't doing nothing', and I said, 'Goddammit, you're associated with Tom Parker and he's  putting out this bullshit, after all of what I've been through to get this guy going, he's putting  the word out to my distributors that I'm gonna sell Elvis' contract'. I said, 'Man, this is killing  me, you're not just messing with an artist contract here, you messing with my life, man. You  just don't deal with these people unfairly. They're in this damn thing, too'. I had worked my  ass off, driven sixty-five to seventy-five thousand miles a year to gain their confidence, not  only on Elvis but going back to the first damn releases on Sun. I said, 'This could cost me the  company'. I said, 'This has got to stop'. "So I called Tom Parker at the Warwick Hotel in New  York, and he said, 'Sa-a-am, how you doin?'. And I said, 'Well, I an't doing worth a damn. Who  is it that every distributor I got says that this man is on the block?'. I said, 'Look, Tom, this  has been going on now basically for three or four months, but I thought nothing of it, 'cause I  couldn't get confirmation from Bob Neal that you good friends of mine would be trying to do  me in, advertently or inadvertently'. He said, 'Oh, noooo, Sam, no I don't understand  thaaaat'. And then he said, 'But would you be interested in selling Elvis contract?'. And I said,  'Well, I just might could be'. 'How much you think you want for him?'. He didn't say how  much he was thinking, just how much would I take. So I said, 'I hadn't really thought about  it, Tom. But I'll let you know'. So he said, 'Well, look, think about it, and let me know'. And I  thought about it about thirty seconds and called him back".

An article from a disc jockey in the Cleveland, Ohio about the Cros Country Jamboree that  read: It certainly was a real pleasure to get the first edition of the Country and Western  Jamboree magazine last month and I know that many of you folks out there, are well  pleased with the magazine devoted to pickin'; and singin' folks. This past month we've had  many of the big names in the business stop in and play and sing for use here at the Circle  Theatre in Cleveland. One of the highlights was a visit from Roy Acuff, Kitty Wells and  Johnny and Jack. Quite a few of the folks in the Cleveland area are originally from West  Virginia and Tennessee, and it's just like old home week when some of the famous country  folk come through. You can just imagine how they appreciate seeing people like Roy and  Kitty. One of the very popular stars who just made an appearance with us was Ferlin Husky  of the Grand Ole Opry. His records have been riding at the top of my top ten lists for the past  several months. Bill Carlisle and his troupe shared the bill along with Martha Carson. Other  stars we've enjoyed have been the Davis Sisters, Yorek Brothers, Wilburn Brothers, Elvis  Presley, Sonny James, Justin Tubb and Faron Young.



THE LOST FILM - Universal Pictures originally planned to produce the 15-minute featured,  but withdrew their financing. Randle continued on, even to the extent of paying the costs  for the filming on October 20, including $600 for Wendell Tracy's orchestra. He also hired, at  a total cost of $450 two veteran short-subject film makers, director Arnold Cohen and  cinematographer Jack Barnett. In November 1955, Randle was set to continue filming in New  York City, where he hosted a daily WCBS-radio show. Once again, Universal was involved and  Harry Cohen was the producer.


October 20, 1955: Brooklyn Highschool - Elvis appears on stage and is filmed for the "Pied Piper of   Cleveland". >

However, on November 26, 1955, the new York cameramen's  union shut down the project just as more footage was about to be shot. Acts lined up for this  second "concert" included the Crew Cuts, Bill Haley, Johnnie Ray, Patti Page, Alan Dale,  LaVern Baker, Tony Bennett, Mindy Carson, Mitch Miller, Felicia Sanders, Roy Hamilton,  Gloria Mann, Delores Hawkins, the Chordettes, Archie Bleyer, Joni James, Bill Hayes, Betty  Madigan, and the McGuire Sister. The film was never completed.

A few weeks after the concert, a 48-minute rough cut of the 35-millimetre of The Pied Piper  of Cleveland was shown at Euclid Shore Junior High School. Through the years Randle kept a  print of the film and in 1956 even aired a portion on "The Bill Randle Show", a Cleveland  television program on WEWS-TV, Channel 5. However, the master negative of the film  remained "lost" in the vaults of Universal Pictures for 37 years. About 1977, the Merlin  Group of Great Britain became involved in a search for the film at Universal. The missing  negative was finally unearthed in 1992 in a film canister filed under "A Day In The Life Of A  Famous Disc Jockey". On July 3, 1992, Randle, who still officially owned the film, sold the  18-minute portion containing Elvis Presley singing the five songs listed above, along with  sixteen more cans of unedited 16mm film, for the widely reported sum of $1.9 million to the  Merlin Group. (Randle and a spokesman for Merlin both suggested that the actual selling  price was considerably lower). Merlin immediately resold their rights to the film to  PolyGram, a European music conglomerate, for a reported $2.2 million. Polygram proudly  announced plans to include the footage in a 1993 television special. When the special failed  to materialize, it appeared that the film might be "lost" again. While the whereabouts of the  missing master negative was no longer a mystery, in the years since this 1992 flurry of  transactions and announcements, not another official word on the subject has been heard.


BILL RANDLE – was an American disc jockey, lawyer and university professor. He was born  William McKinley Randle Jr. on March 14, 1923 in Detroit, Michigan. In Detroit, he hosted a  popular show on WJLB-AM radio (now WDTK) called The Interracial Goodwill Hour, featuring  rhythm and blues music and hot jazz. As a pioneering disc jockey at radio station WERE in  Cleveland, Ohio he helped change the face of American music.  In the 1950s, Time Magazine  called Bill Randle the top disc jockey in America. His popularity and huge listening audience  allowed him to bolster the careers of a number of young musicians, including The Four Lads,  Bobby Darin, and Fats Domino.

Nicknamed "The Pied Piper of Cleveland", a 1955 musical documentary film was made about  him titled The Pied Piper of Cleveland: A Day in the Life of a Famous Disc Jockey. The film  includes a Cleveland concert at Brooklyn High School on October 20, 1955 featuring Pat  Boone and Bill Haley & His Comets with Elvis Presley as the opening act. It is the first film  footage of a Presley performance.

Curiously enough, Randle almost did not survive early radio. One Thanksgiving, he played an  unusual version of "Silent Night" sung by gospel and blues artist Sister Rosetta Tharpe. Many  persons called in to complain and the station manager, longtime radio and television fixture  Sidney Andorn fired Randle. The next morning, WERE owner Ray T. Miller, the chairman of  the Cuyahoga County Democratic Party, rehired Randle after he learned he had so many  listeners to Randle's program, and fired Andorn instead.

While working in Cleveland, Randle would travel back to Detroit for some radio programs. In  the late 1950s, Randle would fly back and forth from Cleveland to New York where he  produced radio shows in both markets (at WERE and WCBS-AM, respectively). He sat  alongside other top DJs of the era including Carl Reese, Phil McLean and Howie Lund.

Many songs that Randle championed on-air ended up as commercial hits, the most successful  of which was an edited 45 rpm single of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir's "Battle Hymn Of The  Republic." That version, which Randle suggested to and arranged with Columbia Records  (then owned by CBS and a sister property to WCBS-AM) was an unlikely hit in 1959; it ended  up on the Billboard charts for 11 weeks and reached as high as number 13 on Billboard's "Hot  100" that autumn. In addition, the album "The Lord's Prayer" hit number 1 and stayed on the  charts for 80 weeks, and the choir won the 1960 Grammy Award for Best Performance by a  Vocal Group or Chorus.

A wealthy Bill Randle left Cleveland radio in the 1960s to enhance his education. During the  1960s, Randle appeared on the local CBS affiliates in New York City interviewing celebrities.  He obtained an undergraduate degree from Wayne State University and a law degree from  Oklahoma City University. He went on to earn a doctorate in American studies, a master's  degree in sociology from Western Reserve University, a master's degree in journalism from  Kent State University and a master's degree in education from Cleveland State University. He  also has an honorary doctorate from Bowling Green State University. Randle also studied  history at Columbia University under Richard Hofstadter. While away from radio, Randle  taught communications at Kent State University and the University of Cincinnati.

At age 64, he passed the Ohio State Bar exams and opened a law office in Lakewood, Ohio  where he practiced bankruptcy and estate planning law for sixteen years. He also was  knowledgeable in energy and zoning law. In addition, Randle became an educator, and  taught sociology and mass communication classes at several universities.

During the 1970s and 1980s, Randle resurfaced on several different Cleveland radio stations,  even hosting a talk show on WBBG 1260-AM back in 1977. In the 1990s, Randle joined the  airstaff of the now-defunct WRMR 850-AM, anchoring the "Big Show" on Sunday afternoons  and an late-afternoon program. His success in afternoon drive prompted station management  to move him to morning drive time in April 1998. While the station's format was adult  standards similar to the Music of Your Life satellite network, Randle's shows bucked the  mold, featuring a unique combination of big band standards, early rock and roll, and new  artists such as Norah Jones, Michael Buble, N Sync, Jewel, Sarah Vaughn, Dido and the  Backstreet Boys.

Following an ownership, format and frequency swap in 2001, Randle retired from full-time  on-air duties at WRMR. However, he would rejoin the rechristened WCLV 1420-AM a year  later with a Saturday night music show, which would ultimately move back to Sunday  afternoons as the "Big Show." (WCLV would revert to the WRMR call letters in 2003.)

Dr. Bill Randle died of cancer in Cleveland on July 9, 2004. In a sad irony, WRMR was sold off  the day before, and signed off two days later with Randle's final broadcast, which had been  prerecorded via voice-tracking. His wife of 51 years, Annalee, with whom he had a daughter,  Patricia, predeceased him in 2000.


BILL HALEY - Country singer turned rock and roll star of the mid-1950s, born William John  Clifton Haley Jr. in Highland Park, Michigan, on July 6, 1925. Bill Haley performed many  rhythm and blues hits with an uptempo country beat. After growing up in Michigan, Haley  moved to Pennsylvania where he was heavely influenced by black music.

From 1948 to  1950, Haley recorded country songs for Cowboy Records, Center Records, and Keystone  Records with little success. Haley looked, dressed, and acted like a drugstore cowboy, but he  loved black music.


Bill Haley and The Comets^ 

Before he became one of the first rock and roll performers, Haley headed a country band  called the Saddlemen (The name of Haley's group was first the Downhomers, then the Four  Aces of Western Swing, then the Saddlemen, and finally the Comets consisting of Johnny  Grande (Keyboards), Dick Richards (Drums), Franny Beecher (Guitar),Joey Ambrose (Sax),  and Marshall Lytle (Bass), which played boogie-type country music. In 1951 Bill Haley  covered his first non country tune when he recorded the rhythm and blues song "Rocket 88"  for Holiday Records (Holiday 105), which was originally recorded by Jackie Brenston at Sun  Records and released on Chess Records (Chess 1458). (Ike Turner, future husband of Tina  Turner, played piano on the song. In actually it was Turner's band on the record, but  Brenston got the credit because he was the singer). Haley's version is considered by some  music historians as the first rock and roll recording by a white artist.

In 1952, Bill Haley signed with the Philadelphia-based Essex label and recorded an uptempo  song, "Rock The Joint". It was a moderate hit and Haley, with his new group the Saddlemen,  began playing clubs in the East and Midwest. One night, Haley found himself, of all places, in  a black blues club in Chicago. The audience response was so positive that it made it easy for  Haley to turn in his cowboy outfits for "cat" clothes.

In June of 1953 history was made when Bill Haley and His Comets placed the first rock and  roll record on the Billboard charts with "Crazy Man, Crazy" (Essex 321) on Philadelphia's  small Essex label, reaching number twelve. (It was on the Essex label that Bunny Paul  recorded a cover of Clyde McPhatter's "Such A Night" (Essex 352) in 1954, a song that Elvis  Presley would also recorded in 1960). Haley's style and sound were far ahead of anything  any other white artists were doing at the time, although his biggest hits, "(We're Gonna)  Rock Around The Clock" (Decca 29124), "See You Later, Alligator" (Decca 29791), and "Shake,  Rattle And Roll" (Decca 29204), were all covers of other artists, Sonny Dae and His Knights  (Arcade 123), Robert Charles (Chess 1609), and Big Joe Turner (Atlantic 1026), respectively.

Bill Haley and Elvis Presley first met on October 20, 1955, at Cleveland's Brooklyn High  School Auditorium, and again when Haley was touring Europe. Elvis Presley, Red West, and  Lamar Fike went to see him and his Comets perform in Stuttgart, West Germany, on October  29, 1958. Haley died on February 9, 1981.

Bill Haley and His Comets recorded a version of Little Richard's "Rip It Up" (Decca 30028) in  July 1956, while Elvis Presley recorded the song in September 1956. When Elvis Presley  recorded "Shake, Rattle And Roll" in 1956, he returned to Joe Turner's sexier lyrics, although  one verse was the same as Haley's sanitized version. It is Bill Haley and His Comets' 1955 hit  "(We're Gonna) Rock Around The Clock" that is considered to have been the first record of  the "Rock Era", which began on July 9, 1955, when the song went to number one on  Billboard's Hot 100 chart. Elvis Presley's "Heartbreak Hotel" would be the tenth number-one  song of the rock era.

"Now this was a long time before he was a big hit, you know", Bill Haley recalled to  interviewer Ken Terry. "He was a big tall young kid. He didn't have too much personality at  that time... The first time I remember talking to Elvis was in, I think, Oklahoma City. He was  standing backstage, and we were getting ready to go on. And he came over and told me he  was a fan of mine and we talked, an awful nice kid... He wanted to learn, which was the  important thing. I remember one night he went out and did a show and asked me what I  thought. I had watched the show, and told him, 'Elvis, you're learning too much on ballads  and what have you. You've got a natural rhythm feeling, so do your rhythm tunes'... He had  the attitude which most young kids do that he was really going to go out there and stop the  show and knock Bill Haley off the stage, which at that time was an impossibility because we  were number one. And he went out and he was facing Bill Haley fans... When I came back  after doing my show he was kind of half crying in the dressing room, very downhearted, and  I sat down with him and I told, 'Look, you got a lot of talent', and I explained to him a lot of  things. He and I buddied together for about a week and a half after that".



Missouri Theater, 634 North Grand, St. Louis, Missouri. >

OCTOBER 21-23, 1955 FRIDAY / SUNDAY

The Roy Acuff Jamboree with Elvis Presley moved on to St. Louis for three evenings of music  at the Missouri Theater. In addition to Kitty Wells and Johnnie and Jack, the 7:00 and 9:30  p.m. performances also featured such local luminaries as Pap and His Jug Band. Tickets were  a nominal 75-cents in advance and 41.00 at the door for general admission. Children were  admitted for only a quarter. 

Showtime on Saturday were also 7:00 and 9:30 p.m. with three  performances scheduled on Sunday at 2:00, 5:00 and 8:00 p.m.


Elvis Presley backstage at the Missouri Theater, St. Louis, Missoury, October 23, 1955. >

Jud Phillips, aside from being an equity partner in Sun Records, was a promotions assistant  to Acuff, and was the key to Elvis' participation in the show. Elvis Presley spent the  afternoon listening to KATZ radio, and was surprised that the station broadcast local concerts  from small clubs.  Shreveport fans were disappointed on Saturday when Elvis Presley failed to make that  evening's broadcast. He had been advertised in the Shreveport Times as scheduled to  appear.


According to an article in the Pine Bluff, Arkansas, Commercial, September 11, 1977, Elvis  Presley appeared at the Shamrock Corral Club in St. Louis, which was operated by Uncle Bob  Hastings. The only time that Elvis Presley appeared in St. Louis while he was still playing  nightclubs was with Hank Locklin in October 1955. Hastings' only specific recollection of  Elvis Presley was that "he couldn't play (guitar) worth a plugged nickel". He also said that his  band had to back Elvis Presley. This is an indication that Scotty Moore and Bill Black did not  go to the club, and Elvis Presley may have just dropped in.

Elvis Presley was fully aware that Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys song "Ida Red" had  provided Chuck Berry with his inspiration for "Maybellene", his first hit. While in St. Louis,  Elvis Presley heard the flip side of "Maybellene" a song entitled "Wee Wee Hours". It was a  blues song that Elvis Presley came to love, and one which prompted him to remark on one  occasion that Chuck Berry was more of a bluesman than a rocker.



Following his performance, Elvis Presley went to the Cosmopolitan Club at 17th Street across  Bond Street in East St. Louis to listen to the local musicians.

The area, in the center of St.  Louis burgeoning black music community, was the same in which Chuck Berry, as part of the  Sir John's Trio, had started his career and playing this club in the early 1950s. He almost  decided to quit rock and roll to become a painter/decorator when he earned $450 for  painting the club, more than he got for performing in it..


Cosmopolitan Club, 17th Street across Bons Street, St. Louis, Missouri 1970s. ^

After his visit to East St. Louis, Elvis Presley was confident that his music was moving in the  right direction. The jukebox at the Cosmopolitan Club had "Mystery Train" inside, and it was  not Little Junior Parker's version - the playlist credit clearly read "Elvis Presley". "Curiosity  provoked me to lay a lot of country stuff on our predominantly black audience", Chuck Berry  recalled about his own days at the Cosmopolitan. He remembered overhearing the idle talk  about him on the street, "Who is that black hillbilly at the Cosmo?". What Berry's comments  suggest is precisely the reason that Elvis Presley and other musicians were drawn to the  Cosmopolitan Club: black blues and rockabilly music were merging into something else,  something that sold records.

An article in the local newspaper read: NEW FROM ST. LOUIS. Roy Acuff and his Smokey Mt.  Boys, Johnny and Jack, Kitty Wells, Lester Wilburn, Elvis Presley and many others were  here, Oct. 21, 22 and 23, and did we have a time! I had the pleasure of appearing with them  on each show, along with my d.j. buddy Dwight Gordon.

I'd like to let your readers know I've moved to another station, as I hear from a lot of people  thru COUNTRY SONG ROUNDUP. I'm on WEW- "First In St. Louis, Second in the Nation". I have  4 1/2 hours daily (6:00 to 9:00 a.m. and 1:00 to 2:30 p.m.) of Country, Western and Hillbilly  records. We play 'em all day. Dwight Gordon and Don Phillips do their share of spinnin' 'em  too. Be glad to play any records; just see that I get them.

Sure want to thank all the disc jockey for spinnin' my latest MGM release, "Sweetheart Of My  Best Friend", backed with "I May Be Lonesome".

Following his stay in St. Louis, Elvis Presley drove leisurely to Alabama, where he was  scheduled to begin a rigorous month of concert appearances. Although his popularity had  brought him to the brink of stardom, many of Elvis Presley's concert venues were still small  and relatively insignificant.

The latter months of 1955, in fact, were spent in obscure dance halls, small clubs, and local  fairs. To Elvis Presley, the October-November concerts were just one last chance to polish  his stage act. Although he knew that a recording contract with RCA Victor was very close, he  could not have known at this point that it was absolutely assured, nor that, after signing  with RCA, he would receive enough television work in early 1956 to make his a superstar on  the national entertainment scene.


OCTOBER 21,1955 FRIDAY

Elvis perform at Missouri Theater in St. Louis, Missouri at 7:00 and 9:00 p.m.

OCTOBER 22, 1955 SATURDAY

Elvis perform at Missouri Theater in St. Louis, Missouri at 7:00 and 9:00 p.m.  Bob Neal, manager of Elvis Presley Enterprises, Memphis, advises that disc jockey’s copies of  Presley's latest Sun recording, "Mystery Train" b.w. "I Forgot To Remember To Forget", are  available to those who write to Neal at 160 Union Avenue, Memphis.

OCTOBER 23, 1955 SUNDAY

Elvis perform at Missouri Theater in St. Louis, Missouri at 2:00, 5:00 and 8:00 p.m.  Elvis arrived late for the 2:00 p.m. show on October 23, Sunday. He had forgotten his wallet at the hotel and drove back to get it. Arriving late for his performances, Roy Acuff did not let him go on stage and, with the Colonel's consent, deducted $125 from his paycheck.


END OCTOBER 1955

Colonel Tom Parker was now settled at the Warwick Hotel in New York, with the sole agenda of signing Elvis to  RCA. He worked with the knowledge that someone like Bill Randle, or any other entrepreneurial agent, might  move in if he didn't on his promises to Elvis and his parents.  Bob Neal was no longer a problem, but Parker faced  a much bigger obstacle trying to persuade RCA to buy a recording contract that wasn't his, and might not even be  for sale.


The latest single was doing better than the one before, which had done very well. Who was to say that Sun  couldn't take a sixth single even further, and make Parker's mission even more complicated en expensive? The  relationship with Sam Phillips had a bad start at the initial meeting back in February, when the Colonel  insensitively outlined the shortcoming of a small record company like Sun Records. Since then, Nothing positive  had developed. For months, Parker and Diskin had discussed how they got no favours from Phillips, and Sam for  his part had not involved himself with the ''two Toms''. His assistant, Marion Keisker, had never heard Sam say  anything negative about the Colonel, but still believed that Sam did not like the abrasive businessman.

The momentum of Elvis' career was definitely there. The disc jockeys were all behind him, and popularity polls  now listed Elvis at the very top. However, Colonel Parker didn't have offers from any of the major record  companies, several of which had backed out in June when a potential contract would have been more affordable.  Colonel Parker's real credibility in the record business was with RCA. Previous client Eddy Arnold, and current  partner Hank Snow were with the label, and Parker knew many of the executives.

In the early morning of the 24th, Colonel Parker sent a telegram to Sam Phillips informing him that he had a  mandate from Elvis' parents to sell Elvis' contract, and asked Sam what his price would be.

According to biographer Peter Guralnick, Sam instantly called the Colonel and complained that Parker and Bob  Neal had gone behind his back, bitterly reacting to what he saw as a conspiracy to deprive him of not only his  artist, but also his good name, and eventually his whole company. Colonel Parker maintained his innocence, and  Sam said that he would think about it and call him back. Parker went over to RCA for a meeting, and between the  two parties they came up with two models that they would propose to Sam Phillips.

When Sam Phillips called the Colonel that night, the price he named was $35,000 plus an additional $5,000; the  amount owed to Presley in back royalties. Although Sam did not want to let Presley go, he was only too aware  that he needed the money, with bills piling up from pressing the latest single, the costs of opening his new radio  station, an upcoming lawsuit, paying his brother Jud off, and further developing the career's of both Carl Perkins  and Johnny cash, both of whom he had a lot of faith in.

The next morning, Colonel Tom Parker called RCA lawyer H. Coleman Tily, III and relayed the new numbers. Tily  made a deal memo summarizing RCA's offer, and that's where it was left when Colonel Parker started the drive to  his home in Madison. At this point, what happened behind the scenes was seemingly more important than what  happened on stage. RCA's Bill Bullock, head of the single division, confirmed to Colonel Parker RCA's final offer.  The deal was basically the same $25,000 offered in late July, with $20,000 being recoupable against future  royalties, and a non-refundable $5,000 bonus, the amount Sam Phillips owed Elvis in royalties. The key  difference this time around was that the royalty offered was now 5% of retail price, double of what they offered  in July, and 2% more than Elvis got at Sun. What was not included in the new bid was a guarantee of a national TV  appearance, an assurance that Colonel Parker needed, as it was part of what he promised Elvis' parents.

The following Saturday, Colonel Parker and Tom Diskin decided to go to Memphis to discuss the matter with Sam.  A heated discussion took place at the Holiday Inn restaurant. Bob Neal attended without any other perspective  than possibly hoping that Parker would lose it all. Diskin, in his support of the Colonel, ended up offending Sam  and was told to shut up. The Colonel was forced to accept that compromise was nowhere in sight. It was all up to  him to get Sam the money he asked for. For $5,000 the Colonel finally bought the right to sell Elvis' contract, a  sum that he would lose if a new recording contract weren't agreed upon by November 15. Sam, on the other  hand, walked away with sincere doubts as to whether he had done the right thing.


OCTOBER 24, 1955 MONDAY

Elvis Presley, billed as "The King of Western Bop", appeared as the headliner at the Silver  Moon Club on Highway 67, north of Newport, Arkansas. The 9:00 p.m. show cost $1.50 and  the only other act on the bill was Sonny Burgess and his band the Moonlighters from  Memphis, who later also recorded for Sun Records.  When Elvis Presley came to the Silver Moon Club, Sonny Burgess organised the supporting  act, and put together Newport's version of a supergroup combining some of Punky's men and  the Moonlighters.


Silver Moon Club, Newport, Arkansas. ^

According to Sonny Burgess, Elvis Presley tried to hire Punky and Kern  Kennedy that night to flesh out the meagre sound of Scotty Moore and Bill Black. Also,  according to Sonny Burgess, Elvis Presley got the idea to record "One Night" from the Pacers,  who often performed it as much as five times a night. For his part, Elvis Presley's  contribution to Sonny's career was to implant the idea of going to record at Sun.

The newspaper advertisement promises: "If you like GOOD Western Music (and who doesn't)  You'll enjoy Elvis Presley and the Moonlighters singing and playing your favorite western  tunes." Show time is "9 til''?

According to Alfred McCullar, manager of the Silver Moon, ''They called me about two weeks earlier and said they had an open date on the way back from a show, if I could fit them it. That night, they had even more people, than the night they had Louis Armstrong there''.

Colonel Parker telegrams Sam Phillips from the Warwick Hotel in New York to inform him  that he has been authorized by Elvis' parents to handle all negotiations for the sale of Elvis'  Sun Records contract. Putting the horse somewhat after the cart, Parker asks Phillips to  name his price. The letter read: ''Dear Sam'', ''Elvis Presley and his parents Mr. and Mrs. Presley have requested and authorized me to handle all negotiations on an exclusive basis towards affecting a settlement of the Elvis Presley recording contract with you and the Sun Record Company... Please advise me your best flat price for a complete dissolution and release free and clear''.

''I was pissed off'', said Sam Phillips. ''I got so goddamn mad, I called up Bob Neal and I said, 'Bob, you know, what the hell you doing to me'? He said, 'Aw, Sam, I ain't doing nothing', and I said, Goddamnit, you're associated with Tom Parker and He's putting out this bullshit, after all of what I've been through to get this guy going, he's putting the word out to my distributors that I'm gonna sell Elvis' contract'. I said, 'Man, this is killing me, you're not just messing with an artist contract here, you messing with my life. You just don't deal with these people (the distributors) unfairly. They're in this damn thing, too'. I said, 'This could cost me the company'. I said, 'This has got to stop''.

''So I called Tom Parker at the Warwick Hotel in New York, and he said, 'Sa-a-am, how you doin'?'. And I said, 'Well, I ain't doing worth a damn. Why is it that every distributor I got says that this man is on the block?'. I said, 'Look, Tom, this has been going on now basically for three or four months, but I thought nothing of it, 'cause I couldn't get confirmation from Bob Neal that you good friends of mine would be trying to do me in, advertently or inadvertently'. He said, 'Óh, noooo, Sam, no, I don't understand that'. And then he said, 'But would you be interested in selling Elvis' contract?'. So I said, 'I hand't really thought about it, Tom. But I'll let you know'. So he said, 'Well, look, think about it, and let me know'''.


Newspaper advertisement, October 23, 1955. >

OCTOBER 25, 1955 TUESDAY

Kay Wheeler organized and founded being the President of the first official Elvis Presley Fan  Club in Dallas, Texas. She remember a yellow 8" x 10" poster she had stolen from the Melody  Record Shop in downtown Dallas, so she examined it and saw in fine print: Bob Neal,  Manager, Box 417, Madison, Tennessee. Assuming, naively, that Neal would send her a stack  of the poster, she wrote him, telling him that she's formed the Elvis Presley Fan Club and  needed some pictures.

The reply she got back, dated October 25, 1955, was from the  Thomas A. Parker Exclusive Management at the same address. It said:

Dear Miss Wheeler:

Thank you for your letter regarding Elvis Presley. Elvis is just one of our many  attractions and the present time there are no fan club facilities for him. And we have no immediate plans for any. Hank Snow and the Carter Sisters, among others, are our main attractions and Col. Tom  Parker has advised me to tell you to 'do anything you want to in regard to forming a fan club for Elvis  Presley'. Bob Neal is no longer Elvis Presley's manager; so all correspondence should be directed to  Col. Tom Parker's office.

We appreciate your interest and if there is any way we can help you, please let us know. Enclosed is a  photograph of Elvis for your use.

Sincerely,
Carolyn Asmus

Secretary to
Colonel Thomas A. Parker


Although Kay Wheeler wasn't to know it at the time, that letter was typical of Colonel Parker  in that is exaggerated the reality of his relationship with Elvis Presley. In fact, a contract  drawn up on August 15 of that year between Elvis, Bob Neal and Colonel Parker  (representing Hank Snow Attractions) had made Colonel Parker the 'special advisor' to Elvis  Presley and Bob Neal, still his manager at that time. Not until November 21, 1955, a good  few weeks after Parker had written to Kay Wheeler, would that agreement be updated to  make the canny colonel Elvis' 'sole and exclusive Advisor and Personal representive', with  Bob Neal's contract not lapping until March 15, 1956.

Kay Wheeler ^

However, not knowing this at the time, Kay Wheeler was thrilled to receive the official  looking letter on Colonel Parker's gaudy stationary. It was printed in red and blue, with a  drawing of an old pioneer wagon-train in the upper left-hand corner and the name "Thomas  A. Parker" in bold lettering across the top of the wagon, along with a wavy red banner  stating, 'WE COVER THE NATION'. Kay Wheeler studied it repeatedly, hardly believing it was  real, amazed and thrilled to realise that Elvis Presley had no other fan club and that her's  would be the first one authorised by his manager. Now being the President of the official  Elvis Presley Fan Club, she was all set to meet the man himself.

OCTOBER 25, 1955 TUESDAY

Elvis Presley wrapped up his three-day engagement at the Prichard Fair. Before these   concerts, Elvis Presley and promoter Jack Cardwell, a WAIP disc jockey, submitted to a   lengthy radio interview plugging his latest Sun release, "Mystery Train". During this   interview, Elvis Presley talked about his future with a major record label. There was no   doubt that Elvis Presley knew that Colonel Tom Parker was on the verge of closing the RCA Victor   recording contract. In a relaxed manner, Elvis talked about black music and its impact  upon his style.

According to Pat Eddington, editor of Hi-lites the local high school paper, ''Once a month the newspaper, on a Wednesday, was in charge of an assembly, which meant that from 10:00-10:45, the students either had to go to study hall or attend an assembly that was used for all sorts of things. We had the assembly and could use it any was we wanted to, but we usually used it to make money. As I was the managing editor, I was in charge of funds, but I couldn't come up with a fundraising idea, I had used up everything I could think of''.

''So I went into the principal's office on Tuesday, 'Mr. Laird, the students will just have to go to study hall because I have not come up with an event for tomorrow'. A young man in my class by the name of Delance Durror was standing there. He said, 'I might be able to be of some help. I was at the Prichard radio station, there's a man by the name of Elvis Presley, who is performing at the Greater Gulf State fair, and he was in the radio station wanting extra work, wanting to make some extra money. I'll bet that he'll come'. And I said, 'For as little as we can pay'? Delance went straight to the telephone, and called Jack Cardwell, who contacted Elvis, and called right back and said 'yes'''.

According to Jimmie Nell Donaldson, ''I played basketball. A bunch of basketball girls arranged to go to Houston to play. Parents wouldn't have given permission to teenage girls to drive the 30 miles to Houston at night. Bobbie Moore (Scotty's wife, who I had talked with in Bruce) had written me and told me that she was coming down to the show with Scotty, and if I could, I should come over there. When we got there, it had already started. We went down and sat at the first row as if we owned the place, and Scotty recognized me. Scotty came down and said, 'Bobbie couldn't come', and he then took me backstage, and I was feeling so great. So when the show was over, they would go out the side door, and we would go out with them. Elvis had these glossy pictures, and he have each one of us one and wrote, 'Love, Elvis' on them''.

Local disc jockey Bobby Ritter, who had already handled several Elvis shows in the area, booked the show.



OCTOBER 26, 1955 WEDNESDAY

Elvis Presley performed as part of "Prichard-Chickasaw Day" at the Greater Gulf Fair on  Blakeley Island near Prichard, the northern suburb of Mobile, Alabama. The show was  sponsored by the Prichard Chamber of Commerce and held at the Greater Gulf States Fair.  Appearing with Elvis Presley were local entertainers Jack Cardwell of WAIP radio, the  Andrews Brothers, Little Jackie Hill, Luke McDaniels, and Bill Lewis. 


The fair itself was  sponsored by the Mobile Jaycees. Admission to the fair was 50-cents for patrons over twelve  and a quarter for those younger. Service men in uniform were 35-cents.

Elvis Presley agreed to play a freebie, a short program during assembly period at Vigor High School . He was on stage whipping it up, and the teenagers were eating it up, but Elvis  got carried away and began telling risque stories. And at that point where he said something  like he would "never get married, milk is cheaper at the dairy", the school principal walked  up, took the microphone away from Elvis, said, "Thank you, Mister Presley", and motioned  for Elvis to exit, stage left, which he did.

Billboard (October 29, 1955) states "Elvis Presley plays the fair at Prichard, Alabama,  October 26-28...". This would certainly seem to indicate that he performed in Prichard for  two additional days. However, the article in the Mobile Register (October 21, 1955) for this  appearance is very specific when it states, "a special show featuring Presley will have a oneday  stand - Wednesday". Elvis' whereabouts for the next two days is not known.

Francis Cawthon was the president of the Prichard Jaycees and says, ''The Mobile Junior Chamber of Commerce were to be in charge of the entertainment of the fair for a three matinee and night show that day. The day would be called Prichard-Chickasaw day. They would have a hamburger stand, and we could make the money for the club. A member of our club was Jack Cardwell, a local hillbilly country singer and personality. I had asked Jack if he would suggest the entertainment for that day. About two days later he come by my office and said he had just the man. He has a couple of records that are doing great on the charts. He is going to make it big in show business'. I said, 'Who is this party'? He said, 'Elvis Presley'. I said, 'Who the hell is that'? He said, 'Believe me, he is good, and it won't cost the club more than 250 dollars'! My wife's first cousin ran the record department of the largest music store on Dolphins Street in downtown Mobile. I called her, and she assured me that we really couldn't make a mistake because he was coming on strong into the recording field. The club agreed, and I committed us to the contract. Cardwell contracted Elvis for several days of appearances''.

At the day of his appearance at the fair, I met him and the others. We had a conversation when we sat in the Cadillac before showtime. I was the MC of the shows. He indicated that he would like for us to sign him for the following year's fair. George McNally of the Mobile Jaycees and I decided that was a little premature. I was not overly impressed by the performance, but they were good, and the crowd liked them. And I recall, it was a little embarrassing. Scotty announced that they would sell 8 x 10 glossy pictures from the corner of the stage for 25 cents at the end of the show. I didn't expect much of a response, but they had a line a block long at each show, and he autographed them. All we had were bleachers. It was free. We had a trampoline act that preceded him. A 20 by 25 foot long platform, that was the stage. It was raised off the ground, maybe 36 inches. It had a set of steps going up the backside of it. We had no dressing rooms. He drove that Cadillac to the corner of that stage. The trampoline act had a big trampoline net, we would turn up on its side towards the back of the stage about 6 feet from the rear of the stage, and we hung a mirror on it. When we were ready to go on stage to hide from the public, we would go up on the stage behind the trampoline net. I stood behind Presley when he was combing his hair. He had long hair, it was greasy, and I thought this is really a raw bone country boy, just trying to make it''.

And for Lillian Smith Snow, seeing Elvis was unplanned, ''I was in the fifth grade. two of my friends and I decided to go to the Fair. We stopped for just a few minutes to watch this person sing. He was dressed horribly, and evidently his pants were too short, because you could see his white socks, and he was doing all these gyrations. We all said, 'Oh, he's awful', and turned and walked away. Thought he certainly would never make it''.

According to Pat Eddington, ''No more than 15 minutes ahead of time, he drove up, in his pink Cadillac. He had the members of the band with him, and their instruments were in the trunk of the car. We stood out there, and told him where to park. He stepped out to meet Delance and me and introduced himself. They opened the trunk, and each of them got their instruments out. We had a mike all set up, and he went and tested it, and in just a few minutes the students came in''.

We had a pretty full house. We only charged the students a dime. He was to get a nickel, and the newspaper got a nickel. We told all the kids that we were going to have some guy with a guitar who was going to come sing and entertain them. So everybody turned out, for a dime, most of the kids had a dime. Sometimes we charged a quarter, but this was an unknown entity, so we charged a dime. I did not introduce him. I believe if the principal didn't, then Delance Durror did. I had a friend save me a seat at the aisle, right in the middle, so after I left backstage, I walked out and took my seat. Well, we were very conservative, very good kids. We all went to church, and Sunday school, and choir in the afternoon, prayer meetings on Wednesday and Saturday nights''.

''Elvis got up and then started doing this shaking. I had never seen a body move like that, neither had anybody else. I thought, 'I'm going to just die'. And I sat there, and said, 'Oh no, please don't let this happen to me. Oh, God, I can't believe it'''.


Fellow student Joy Turner says, ''When Elvis stepped out on stage and started his music and moves, my heart just about stopped. He had on a light lavender suit, and I thought 'WOW', lavender! Is that too cool? He was good, gorgeous, exciting, and of course, the auditorium full od teenagers responded to his performance with full gusto''!

Elvis had started with ''That's All Right'', ''Blue Moon Of Kentucky'', and then ''Milkcow Blues Boogie''. Eddington says, ''And then he told a joke. It was very tame. It was something about a cow and an udder. At that point the principal, Mr. Laird, walked onto the stage, I never met a more straight-laced person in my whole life. He walked on to the stage and quietly said the show was over and asked Elvis to leave''.

Beverly Strickland was a teacher at Vigor and attended the show not out of preference, ''Elvis already had a questionable reputation at that time. At least, his kind of music did. I was a little hesitant to tell my husband and my parents that I had seen the show. I had no choice because teachers had to go to programs. I was not surprised that Mr. Laird stopped it, because in addition to the new kind of music, it was loud, loud, loud. Also, from where I sat, Elvis' trousers (not jeans) were leaving little to the imagination when he danced. It was also a new kind of dance, to me at least. Some of the lyrics were statements too bold for the early fifties in the south''.

Joy Turner says, ''When we went back to out classroom, Principal Laird came on the P.A. system and apologized for having an act such as this at our school. I don't remember all of his wording, but what he had to say was not very kind or nice. I thought the interesting thing about his was several people were in the dressing room with Elvis after the performance, and Elvis heard what the principal had to say over the P.A. system. The ones that were with him said Elvis cried. Needless to say, when word got out that Elvis cried at our school for being treated so poorly (the students, especially the girls, had immediately fallen in love with him), did not sit well with some of the schoolmates. The next morning upon arriving at school, every place imaginable, windows, doors, mirrors, lockers, etc., was plastered with ''Elvis'' and ''Elvis, we love you''!

Pat Eddington says, ''Elvis left immediately without taking his cut of the 10 cents, and got in his car and drove away. He didn't even complain. I ran for the little girls' room and hid. I think I skipped my next class because I thought they'd come after me, thinking, I will never graduate. I stayed out of Mr. Laird's way for months after that, but fortunately I wasn't kicked out of school''.

Barbara Dreading had graduated from Vigor High School in 1954. She says, ''I still had a lot of friends in the '55 class. So they called me when they got out of school and said, 'Barbara, you need to go to the fair tonight and see this fellow named Elvis. He was at the school today doing his singing, and Mr. Laird closed curtain on him'. And I said, 'Why'? They said it was because he got to shaking, and Mr. Laird just told him don't come back to Vigor High School again. And they said, 'He's wonderful, you'll love him'. I had a car at that time, I gathered up a bunch of my girlfriends, we went over to Blakely Island, over to the fair. They had this little stage, and he came in his pink Cadillac and took a ride up by the side of that stage. When he started doing his show, I'm only 5 feet tall, so I wanted to get a better look, 'cause I couldn't see, we were all standing, no place to sit. So I kind of eased down the side, and I came to where his car was. So I motioned at his fender, and Elvis gave me a 'thumbs up'. I jumped up on the fender, and I sat there and watched him doing the show. I didn't get to talk to him after the show, because other people started to crowd him. A good crowd, mostly young people, and I think most of them had come from school because of what happened there''.

T.W. Jockisch, twelve years old that time says, ''Elvis sang several songs, one of them being ''This Ole House''. The crowd wend wild. He played his guitar so hard and fast that he broke one of the strings. While he was playing, he would run his fingers down the broken string and give the audience that cross-eyed look. We were standing up against the stage, and Elvis leaned over the side of the stage and handed me the guitar string and said, 'Keep this son, I'm gonna be famous one day'. While he was singing a very fast song, he was shaking and moving so fast that several coins fell out of his pocket. After he finished the song, he told the audience to please wait just a minute. He couldn't afford to lose that change''.

According to Johnny Vines, ''We bumped into Elvis, Scotty, and Bill at the Greater Gulf State Fair, October 26, 1955 at his 7:30 p.m. performances. My wife and I were just married, June 4, 1955, in Richmond, Virginia, and shortly after moved to Prichard, Alabama. Sometime at the performance, either at intermission, or possible after the performance, we rode the bumper cars nearby, along with Elvis, Scotty, and Bill, and just had a grand time, they were so much fun. They were just kids as we were''.


OCTOBER 27, 1955 THURSDAY

Elvis Presley to perform at the National Guard Armory in Jackson, Alabama. Also on the bill Shorty Sullivan and his Green Valley Boys. Showtime 7 p.m. Admission for adults $1.00 and children under 12 50 cents.

Bob Neal learns for the first time (from Sam Phillips and the Presleys virtually  simultaneously) that Colonel Tom Parker is in the midst of selling Elvis' contract and writes to   Parker, demanding a meeting to straighten things out.


Original deal memo from RCA's in-house lawyer Coleman Tily to RCA President Bill Bullock, October  25, 1955.

OCTOBER 28, 1955 FRIDAY

In Madison, Tennessee, Tom Parker got a telegram from W.W. Bullock, RCA's singles division  manager, that $25,000 was as high as RCA was willing to go for Elvis Presley's contract. This  is a reiteration of what Steve Sholes has written to Parker the day before.



The First All-Girl WHER Radio Staff ''The Brainchild of Sam Phillips''. Front (left to right) Teresa Kilgore, Becky Phillips. Back row (left to right) Dotty Abbott, Marion Keisker, Dot Fisher, Pat McGee, Denise Howard, Barbara Gurley, Laura Yeargain, Memphis, Tennessee, March 1956. >

OCTOBER 29, 1955 SATURDAY

A groundbreaking radio station hit the airwaves at 1430 on the AM dial in Memphis. This  station was known as WHER, which was all-female and the first of its kind. The station was based in Holiday Inn on South Third Street.


WHER was the  brainchild of one Sam Phillips who used a portion of his profits from the sale of Elvis  Presley’s recording contract to RCA Records to finance the station. Holiday Inn founder  Kemmons Wilson provided the remaining necessary amount, as well as the stations first  home, in a part of the third Holiday Inn ever built. WHER was staffed almost exclusively by  women and even the station got a make-over. One early report stated that the entire studio  was feminized.

The women referred to themselves as jockettes, the studio was called the  “doll’s den”, murals of fashion decorated the equipment room, and the stationary was  perfumed. Women read the news, conducted interviews with local celebrities, played music,  sold and created commercials, and acted as the producers and directors of programming.


Dotty Abbott >

As Assistant Manager and Program Director Dorothy Abbott (aka ''Dot Holiday'') was quoted  saying, ''We are not trying to prove that we can get along in a world without men. We are  simply trying to prove that when a group of women make up their collective minds that they  are going to do something successfully, no force on earth can keep them from it''.  As of 2008, the 1430 kHz frequency is occupied by WOWW, a radio Disney affiliate. (For more information See  1955 Sessions 2).


Bill Bullock advises by wire telegram of RCA's top offer, October 28, 1955. >

OCTOBER 29, 1955 SATURDAY

Elvis Presley appeared on the Louisiana Hayride in Shreveport. Also featured tonight were  George Jones, Johnny Horton, and David Houston. Also on the bill: Jimmy Newman, Jack Ford, Hoot and Curley, Buddy Attaway, Werley Fairburn, Buzz Busby and the Bayou Boys, Jeanette Hicks, Betty Amos, and many others.  Elvis Presley sang Chuck Berry's  "Maybellene".

A small but important step towards finalizing the sale of Elvis' contract also occurred in late  October 1955. Colonel Tom Parker began to threaten suit against Sam Phillips if Elvis' back  royalties weren't paid.

As a result, Sam, who had just paid his brother Jud Phillips $1400 for  his partnership interest in Sun, thereby making Sam the sole proprietor, didn't have the cash  or the time he'd hoped for to continue holding out for the top-dollar figure currently being  considered (and rejected) by RCA. The urgency for Colonel Parker was that Bill Randle had  been attempting to intercede in hopes of making a record deal for Elvis Presley himself, this  undermining Parker's position. As he was determined to keep total control of Elvis' recording  and touring career, Colonel Tom Parker pressured Sam Phillips with a suit in order to get Sam  to lower his asking price.

During October, the bidding for Elvis' recording contract became very heated. Mercury  Records offered Sam Phillips $10,000. This was beaten by Columbia's* bid of $15,000.  Finally, Atlantic Records, a leader in the rhythm and blues field, offered $25,000.

Mitch Miller showed interest in obtaining Elvis Presley for Columbia Records, but when Bob  Neal told Miller that the bid was up to $18,000, Miller said, "Oh, forget it, nobody's worth  that music". With Miller's attitude toward rock music and his refusal to envision the future of  music, it is just as well that he did not bid on Elvis. Mitch Miller had also turned down Connie  Francis for Columbia Records. He did sign singer Anita Bryant, whom he met when he was a  judge at one of her beauty contests.

Harry Kalcheim of William Morris suggests to the Colonel that Elvis would make a good  subject for a Hollywood short, but Parker remains unimpressed by Kalcheim's New York  vision, informing him that he is in the middle of making a deal.


OCTOBER 30, 1955 SUNDAY

Elvis returns to his new home on Getwell Street in Memphis.

During the week Elvis goes into the Sun studio one last time to record a B-side for "Trying to  Get to You." There appears to be some mix--up in communications, because the session  breaks off in the middle after several attempts at "When It Rains It Really Pours," a Billy "the  Kid" Emerson blues, and drummer Johnny Bernero comes away with the clear impression  that this is because Elvis' contract is about to be sold.

Sam Phillips set off for Houston, Texas, with Marion Keisker for a preliminary injunction  hearing in federal court on his lawsuit against Duke Records.


NOVEMBER 1955

Sam Phillips was on the point of going bankrupt. The banks would not lend him money  against the dubious assets he had accumulated. The pressing plants were screaming for  money and he owed publishing royalties, artist royalties, an unrecouped advance to Chess  Records, unrepaid funds from the buyout deal with his brother Jud... and probably more.

During the first week of November 1955, RCA quietly finalized arrangements with Colonel  Tom Parker and Sam Phillips to purchase Elvis Presley's Sun recording contract. RCA then set  its publicity machinery in motion to make Elvis Presley into a superstar. On top of all the  other factors influencing RCA's decision to sign Elvis Presley, there was finally a corporate  consensus that he could be a moneymaking act.

It was becoming clear that rock and roll music was bursting onto the scene with such vitality  and intensity that the profits from a standout exponent of this new musical form were  potentially enormous. All the major record labels were aware of this trend, and were  eagerly seeking out new rock and roll tunes.

NOVEMBER 1955

Started Fernwood Records, a Memphis record label located on 158 Fernwood Drive, founded  by Truck driver Slim Wallace (who previously fronted a hillbilly band in Memphis called Slim  Wallace's Dixie Rambles). Scotty Moore was production chief, with the studio located in the  Wall garage. Some of the most sought after honky-tonk and rockabilly recordings of the  1950s were cut in this garage in Memphis. It was Scotty Moore who selected the song  "Tragedy" for Thomas Wayne to record. The tape was brought over to Sun Records, where  Scotty Moore added an echo on Sun's tape recorder. Jack Clement also produced some  records at Fernwood.

WHBQ disc jockey Dewey Phillips even recorded for Fernwood Records, cutting "Beg Your  Pardon"/"If It Had To Be You" (Fernwood 115).

NOVEMBER 2, 1955 WEDNESDAY

Bob Neal was involved in an auto accident, but he was not seriously hurt.

NOVEMBER 4, 1955 FRIDAY

RCA Victor entered the bidding for Elvis' contract with Sun Records, offering $35,000 to Sam   Phillips and $5,000 as a bonus to Elvis, which would cover the back royalties due him.



© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

This final session at Sun Records, Elvis recorded "When It Rains, It Really Pours", but the session never finished because the session was probably broken off due to the imminent sale of his contract to RCA Victor. Elvis is back on familiar ground: once again, we hear him confidently singing the blues, though this time, seemingly, with far more knowingness than the innocent nineteen-year-old of just one year earlier could ever  have assumed.


STUDIO SESSION FOR ELVIS PRESLEY
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1955

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION 11: BETWEEN NOVEMBER 1-4, 1955 SUNDAY
MOST LIKELY NOVEMBER 20, 1955
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS

01(1) - "WHEN IT RAINS, IT REALLY POURS" - B.M.I. - 1:37
Composer: - William Robert Emerson
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated - Riverline Music
Matrix number: - None - Incomplete Take 1 - Tape Box 11
Recorded: - November 1-4, 1955
Most likely November 20, 1955
Released: - August 3, 2012
First appearance: - FTD  Records (CD) 500/200rpm 506020-975049-2-36 mono
A BOY FROM TUPELO – THE COMPLETE RECORDINGS 1953-1955
Reissued: - 2016 Memphis Recording Service (CD) 500/200rpm MRS 10053055-2-17 mono
ELVIS PRESLEY - THE COMPLETE WORKS 1953-1955

01(2) - "WHEN IT RAINS, IT REALLY POURS" - B.M.I. - 2:11
Composer: - William Robert Emerson
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated - Riverline Music
Matrix number: - None - Rehearsal + Take 2 - Tape Box 11
Recorded: - November 1-4, 1955
Most likely November 20, 1955
Released: - August 3, 2012
First appearance: - FTD  Records (CD) 500/200rpm 506020-975049-2-37 mono
A BOY FROM TUPELO – THE COMPLETE RECORDINGS 1953-1955
Reissued: - 2016 Memphis Recording Service (CD) 500/200rpm MRS 10053055-2-17 mono
ELVIS PRESLEY - THE COMPLETE WORKS 1953-1955

01(3) - "WHEN IT RAINS, IT REALLY POURS" - B.M.I. - 1:59
Composer: - William Robert Emerson
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated - Riverline Music
Matrix number: - None - LFS Take 3 - FS Take 4 - Tape Box 11
Recorded: - November 1-4, 1955
Released: - August 3, 2012
First appearance: - FTD  Records (CD) 500/200rpm 506020-975049-2-38 mono
A BOY FROM TUPELO – THE COMPLETE RECORDINGS 1953-1955
Reissued: - 2016 Memphis Recording Service (CD) 500/200rpm MRS 10053055-2-18 mono
ELVIS PRESLEY - THE COMPLETE WORKS 1953-1955

01(4) - "WHEN IT RAINS, IT REALLY POURS" - B.M.I. - 2:01
Composer: - William Robert Emerson
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated - Riverline Music
Matrix number: - NPA5-5826 Master Take 5 - Tape Box 11
Recorded: - November 1-4, 1955
Most likely November 20, 1955
Released: - August 3, 2012
First appearance: - FTD  Records (CD) 500/200rpm 506020-975049-2-39 mono
A BOY FROM TUPELO – THE COMPLETE RECORDINGS 1953-1955
Reissued: - 2016 Memphis Recording Service (CD) 500/200rpm MRS 10053055-1-23 mono
ELVIS PRESLEY - THE COMPLETE WORKS 1953-1955

01(5) - "WHEN IT RAINS, IT REALLY POURS" - B.M.I. - 1:39
Composer: - William Robert Emerson
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated - Riverline Music
Matrix number: - None - Rehearsal Take 6 - FS Take 7 - Tape Box 11
Recorded: - November 1-4, 1955
Most likely November 20, 1955
Released: - August 3, 2012
First appearance: - FTD  Records (CD) 500/200rpm 506020-975049-2-40 mono
A BOY FROM TUPELO – THE COMPLETE RECORDINGS 1953-1955
Reissued: - 2016 Memphis Recording Service (CD) 500/200rpm MRS 10053055-2-19 mono
ELVIS PRESLEY - THE COMPLETE WORKS 1953-1955

01(6) - "WHEN IT RAINS, IT REALLY POURS" - B.M.I. - 1:39
Composer: - William Robert Emerson
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated - Riverline Music
Matrix number: - None - LFS Take 8 - Tape Box 11
Recorded: - November 1-4, 1955
Most likely November 20, 1955
Released: - August 3, 2012
First appearance: - FTD  Records (CD) 500/200rpm 506020-975049-2-41 mono
A BOY FROM TUPELO – THE COMPLETE RECORDINGS 1953-1955
Reissued: - 2016 Memphis Recording Service (CD) 500/200rpm MRS 10053055-2-19 mono
ELVIS PRESLEY - THE COMPLETE WORKS 1953-1955

01(7) - "WHEN IT RAINS, IT REALLY POURS" - B.M.I. - 4:03
Composer: - William Robert Emerson
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated - Riverline Music
Matrix number: - NPA5-5826 - Master Spliced from Take 3, 5, 6, 7 - Tape Box 11
Recorded: - November 1-4, 1955
Most likely November 20, 1955
Released: - November 1983
First appearance: - RCA Victor (LP) 33rpm CPL1-4848 mono
A LEGENDARY PERFORMER - VOLUME 4
Reissued: - August 3, 2012  FTD  Records (CD) 500/200rpm 506020-975049-1-27 mono
A BOY FROM TUPELO – THE COMPLETE RECORDINGS 1953-1955

Steve Sholes Session Notes

Box 11
1. When It Rains, It Really Pours Take 1 (Part) 5 IPS
2. Breakdown - Long Rehearsal Bit (When It Rains)
3. When It Rains, It Really Pours Take 3 (2:00)
4. Breakdown
5. Breakdown
6. Rehearsal 1:20 Breakdown
7. Breakdown 0:19 FS
8. LFS 1:40


RCA Victor (LP) 33rpm CPL1-4848 mono A Legendary Performer - Volume 4 >

Billy ''The Kid'' Emerson wrote and recorded this song as "When It Rains, It Pours" at Sun Records in late 1954. His recording (SUN 214) was released the same day on January 8, 1955 as Elvis Presley's "Milkcow Blues Boogie"/"You're A Heartbreaker" (SUN 215).

Sam Phillips approached sessions with one overriding concern; to keep things simple. He can be heard on this tape again, telling the musicians not to overplay. 

On this outtake of "When It rains It Really Pours", Sam Phillips warns Scotty Moore, hardly prone to overplaying anyway, "Scotty, don't get too damn complicated in the middle there". He also wanted the vocals to be direct and honest. "I wanted to feature the person who was supposed to be featured and set up the atmosphere that got the best result (for Presley)", he said later.

02 - "WE'RE GETTING GLOSER TO BEING APART"* - B.M.I.
Composer: - Stanley Kesler-Charlie Feathers
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - BOX 11
Recorded: - November 1-4, 1955 - Probably Rehearsal
Most likely November 20, 1955
Released: – Sun Unissued - Probably Tape Lost

Johnny Bernero remembers this session shortly before the RCA deal was consummated. "We had cut one side and started on another", recalls Bernero, "when Elvis went up into the control room with Sam. They were up there about thirty minutes. We were just sitting around on the studio floor chewing the fat. Then Elvis came back down and came over to me and said, "John, we're not going to finish this session, but I really appreciate you coming over". "He gave me fifty dollars. The next thing I knew, Sam had sold his contract".


 Original session reel box. >

The songs that were to be used for Presley's sixth Sun single are a matter for some conjecture. Sam Phillips undoubtedly wanted to use his own copyrights, and Elvis Presley had started work on Billy Emerson's "When It Rains It Really Pours".   For a country flipside, Elvis Presley was being pressured to perform another Kesler-Feathers song, "We're Getting Closer To Being Apart". A curiously muffled Sun rehearsal tape of "When It Rains" was discovered by RCA's Gregg Geller on one of his rummages through the vaults, but "We're Getting Closer To Being Apart" has never surfaced.

Johnny Bernero never saw Elvis Presley again after the aborted rehearsals for the sixth single. "He called me over at the Light Gas & Water Company one day", recalls Bernero, "and asked me to come on the road with him. I was really tempted. I had been with the Light Gas & Water for ten years and wanted to go, but I had five children at that time. The wife and I talked it over and we decided that it wouldn't have been the best thing for me". As it happened, Elvis Presley soon picked up a drummer, D.J. Fontana, from the Louisiana Hayride.

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Elvis Presley - Vocal and Acoustic Rhythm Guitar (Martin Dreadnought 18)
Scotty Moore - Electric Lead Guitar (Gibson ES 295)
Bill Black - Acoustic Upright Bass (Kay Maestro M-1)
Johnny Bernero - Drums (Gretsch Round Badge Kit)

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©



BILLY ''THE KID'' EMERSON - William Robert Emerson was born on 21 December 1925 in   Tarpon Springs on Florida's gulf coast. During the early '30s, his mother encouraged him to   sing in church and he says he can barely recall ra time when he wasn't singing. But, he   underlined to researcher Jim O'Neal: "My mother never sang any blues, never sang any   around me.   The only way I could hear a blues was from extra gang guys railroad repair   workers - or somebody come round singing a Bessie Smith song. A lady had an old  graphaphone and she had a lot of blues records - Doctor Clayton, Memphis Minnie, Tampa   Red, Hutterbeans and Susie''.

Billy told, matter of factly that "my family always were musicians'', and that his father   played piano: "I got into music through him and through my uncle, John Hannon (or Hannah),   who was a church pianist but used to play a little boogie-woogie''. Then he started listening   to his next door neighbour, a man named 'Shine' who had played with the minstrel shows: "I   used to watch Shine play the blues all the time when I was young. This was in the 1940s.   Shine knew all the old classic blues''. It seems that these informal lessons took the place of   the more formal lessons Billy's mother planned for him, but which he had no patience for at   that time. The official lessons cost a quarter, but 'a quarter was hard to come by because it   was during the Depression''.

The process of thinking back to the 1930s and 1940s animated his conversation. He   emphasised: "What inspired me, mostly, was the blues. And I was born right into the boogie   era and the swing-jazz. Lunceford and Chick Webb and those guys. Louis Jordan, too, I was   influenced by him and I liked his performing style a lot''. On the same theme, Billy told Jim   O'Neal: "When I was a kid, the blues singer that / really liked better than anybody else was   Buddy Johnson, Buddy and Ella Johnson. They were the most unbelievable group that I've   ever known in the field. He had his own style of doing them, and Ella had her own style of   singing too. I was about 14 and I heard their song called ''This Life Just Ain't Worth Living   Without The One You Love'' and I say. You know what? If I ever get to be a singer I want to   sing the blues like that''.

Emmerson's planned career as a blues singer was put on hold in April 1943 when he found   himself in the Navy helping the war effort. He served for three years, shore-based within   the U.S.A. The good side of this time was that there was always a piano somewhere on the   naval bases: ''...so I learned how to play fairly well while I was in the service''.

When he got out the service in 1946, Emerson took the opportunity to finish High School in   Clearwater and to sing with a band led by Mickey Maxwell. Then he joined what he called ''a   little old four or five piece band '' back home in Tarpon Springs. He told me: ''That was when   I really took up the piano. My first jobs were when I was still going school, in 1946. They   were with a jazz trumpeter back home, the Billy Battles Band''. Although Emerson was not   very experienced, this was nevertheless a serious band; Billy Battles had played trumpet   with Lucky Millinder's band, drummer Solomon Hall had worked with Lionel Hampton's band,   and the other members, George Battles, Willie Lyons, James Thomas and Henry Mathis, all   had to teach Billy.

Music was not the young Emerson's only talent though. The years 1948 to 1951 found him in   college at Florida A&M on a football and sports scholarship. According to Billy, he was "quite   an athlete in those days.'

Nevertheless he continued his musical education, playing with the George Cooper Band in St.   Petersburg at the High Stepper club, singing with Manzy Harris and with Charlie Brantley,   whose band recorded on King Records. The St Petersburg area produced many top class   musicians, some of whom like Oscar Dennard and Frank Foster went on to play with   nationally known big bands. Billy remembered: "I saw all the bands, Louis Jordan. Roy   Milton. I saw Wynonie Harris and Roy Brown. I was singing those Wynonie Harris songs in St.  Petersburg. I was hollerin', people used to say on a clear night you could hear me clear   across the bay in Tampa''.

For a while, Billy had his own band in St Petersburg at the Corral Drive In. He told Jim   O'Neal, "The man bought us uniforms and he bought us these pistols and cowboy hats and   everything so we could look like the waitresses – this was a white place, you know. When   we'd get off at night, we'd still he dressed up in these uniforms, and erybody'd holler 'Here   comes Billy The Kid'. And the name just stuck''.

By the early 1950s, Billy considered himself a professional musician, but he knew he was   still learning a lot, particularly from a pianist who later joined the Lionel Hampton band:   "Dwike Mitcheli taught me practically the style that I play. I/ used to go over to his house all   the time, every day in the summer of 1952. I did learn a few things from Oscar Dennard,   too. You know, those two lived only 20 miles apart. We were all in the same Baptist Union   together.

The same year. Emerson found himself back in the forces helping with the Korean war   effort. He was in the Air Force for a year, stationed mainly in Mississippi. He continued to   look for opportunities to play music and it was there that he met a very different character   who would have a significant influence on his musical direction. He told me, "On November   25. 1952. This was when I met Ike Turner. I was stationed in Greenville, Mississippi and Ike  Turner was from Clarksdale and would let me sit in with him and Little Milton and I started to   play with Ike's Kings Of Rhythm band when they were in Greenville''. Emerson was   discharged in September 1953. He went back to Florida, "and soon after that Ike's band   came on a tour down there. They were at Sarasota one time and Ike got sick so I took over in   the band and Ike asked me to join the Kings full-time. I went up to Clearwater and joined   them there''. He elaborated on this to Jim O'Neal, confirming that Ike was playing down  around Bradenton, Florida for promoter Buddy May. Not only was Ike sick but his wife and   pianist, Bonnie, had left him. Apparently, Turner told Buddy May that Emerson was based in   Florida and to get him to finish out the engagement. Billy recalled. ''I was playing guitar at   the time. The band was Jesse Knight, Willie Sims, and Johnny O'Neal. I brought the band   back to Mississippi where Ike was. Ike was still sick and so I stayed on and played with therm.   The man who was really responsible for me becoming a professional singer was Ike Turner.   Ike was truly the one that showed me technique in singing, and he taught me how to deliver.   Not only how to, but how not to. He taught me to project myself instead of projecting Fats   Domino or Roy Brown.

Although Billy Emerson spent a lot of time in Mississippi and Memphis through the latter part   of 1953 and the first half of 1954, and would return for periods during the next few years,   he never became an integral part of the local music scene there. He has described playing   not only with the Turner band but also with other musicians including Dennis Binder and Earl   Hooker, and he told that he played at least one show on Beale Street: ''iI didn't play too   much in Memphis, you know. When it did, I played the big Hippodrome on Beale, a dance   hall". He also told that he was in Memphis as a stepping stone; he knew he could get himself   on records there, but he didn't see it as his real base. In the summer of 1954, he travelled to   Chicago with Dennis Binder, Bob Prindell and Bobby Fields, staying briefly and returning   south to collect singer Billy Gayles. Then, "We went to Cairo, Illinois and picked up Charles   Smitty Smith, Luther Taylor, and Bennie Moore there. We had a band at the Club Playtime in  Cairo, and we put that band together and we came to Chicago with it''.

By November 1955. the time of the last Sun session, Sam Phillips had noted in his logs that   Emerson had left his Cairo address. and he listed instead three Chicago addresses as contact   points, first one on Prairie, then on 55th Place, and finally Ellis Street. He may or may not   have known that on 22 November that same month, while he was still under contract to Sun.   Billy had already made a session in Chicago for Vee-Jay Records. This was to be the start of   some pretty convoluted recording wrangles surrounding Emerson over the coming years.

According to Billy, he had been in Chicago in the early summer of 1955, working at a club at   55' and Prairie, owned by Frank Taylor, and When It Rains had been out for some time. He   said: "I went by VJ which was on 45th and Cottage at that time, and t asked Calvin Carter   there 'Can I look at some of your 'Billboards' to check what if was doing? He saw 'When It   Rains' listed in Dallas and New Orleans and so on Carter said 'Man that record's been out a   long time and everybodys looking for the guy who recorded it'. Say. 'there `s a reward out   for Billy The Kid'''. Emerson went out on tour for the summer but remembered this exchange   after his last, apparently acrimonious, dealings with Sam Phillips in November. ''By December   1955 my contract with Sam was out. I called up Ewart Abner at Vee-Jay and said 'If you give   me S1000 I'll sign with you'. So they brought me in and recorded me''.

After recording for several smaller labels, he formed his own Tarpon Records in 1966,   releasing Denise LaSalle's debut single as well as his own records. He also continued to play   in clubs and on European blues tours. In 2005 he was reported as having a church in Oak   Park, Illinois, as Reverence William R. Emerson. Emerson was inducted in the Rockabilly Hall   of Fame.


NOVEMBER 6-8, 1955 SUNDAY / TUESDAY

Elvis Presley reportedly played an engagement at Sie's Place in Biloxi, Mississippi. This may   have been an impromptu walk-on for Elvis Presley at a club he was merely visiting. At this   time he was booked at Biloxi and Keesler Air Force Base, but he often went out after-hours   to check on the competition.  A return visit to Biloxi was a well-paying bonus enterprise, at $300 per date for the regular shows, Elvis picked up additional money with two late shows at the Hambone Club.


On the very early morning of November 9, local residents in Houlka could see a pink Cadillac parked at the gas station, waiting for it to open. Two feet were sticking out of one of the rear windows, as Elvis took a nap while they were waiting.

According to Pat Lally, who had not only been at the March 25 Dermott show, but also brought Elvis to her home for a teenage party, ''My father worked at Keesler. Some of the boys I went to school with called and asked if I wanted to go and see the show. And we are out there jitterbugging, it was a dance, and we were dancing, and the music got slower and slower, and he was up on the stage, and we made eye contact, and suddenly he comes running up to me, and I thought my heart was going to jump out of my chest, and I thought, Oh my God, he remembers me, and he came up to me and said, 'How is your mother'? And I thought he remembered Me'! 

The airmen were allowed to bring dates. No officers were admitted. The program ran sixty to ninety minutes, with an intermission.

''The Cherry Girls'' returned for another visit, again after seeing him backstage the night before. They followed him to the Hambone Club. It was a place for country music, it had a liquor license, but Elvis had nothing stronger than a 7UP. Elvis went dancing with one of the girls. He had noticed her the night before, wearing a strapless dress, but whereas she liked his singing, she was in no way impressed by his dancing.

NOVEMBER 6, 1955 SUNDAY

Elvis Presley performed two benefit shows for the Daily Herald's Doll and Toy Fund to buy  Christmas gifts for needy children in Biloxi, Mississippi. The performances at 2:00 and 8:00  p.m. were held at the Community House and were also sponsored by the local Lion's Club.  There was a dance following Elvis' two-and-a-half hour evening appearance. Also on the bill  were Ernie Chafin, Eddie Camp, Dan Seals, Jim Owen, Betty Ashley (of nearby Pascagoula),  and others.


Entrance Keesler Air Force Base, Biloxi, Mississippi. >

NOVEMBER 7, 1955 MONDAY

Elvis Presley took his show to Keesler Air Force Base (outside), Biloxi Mississippi. It was  reported that Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, and Carl Perkins played Amory, Mississippi, about  this time. Carl Perkins and Charlie Boren, disc jockey and show promoter in Amory, recall  that Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and Gene Simmons played Amory.


Johnny Cash opened the show with excellent versions of "Cry, Cry, Cry" and "Hay Porter".  After acknowledging the applause, Cash continued with traditional country songs.

Carl  Perkins was the next act, and he sang "Let The Jukebox Keep On Playing" and "Gone, Gone,  Gone". The former was a hillbilly song, while the latter was classic rockabilly. The audience  loved it. When Elvis Presley came out to finish the show, he took up the challenge offered by  his Sun Records cronies. He did ten songs over the course of the next hour in a set that left  the audience in ecstasy. Elvis Presley received the loudest applause of the evening, and the  crowd left delighted with the show.

It was at the same concert in Amory that Carl Perkins showed the music for "Blue Suede  Shoes" to Elvis Presley. Perkins even said to Presley that he wrote "Blue Suede Shoes" the  song on the back of a potato sack while at home in Jackson. (Perkins also said that he wrote  "Blue Suede Shoes" following an appearance with Elvis Presley in Parkin, Arkansas). As Carl  Perkins sang the song for Elvis Presley, Presley paid close attention to the way it flowed,  later allowing him to record one of the most soulful and commercial versions of "Blue Suede  Shoes" - modelled on Carl Perkins' demonstration performance! Indeed, after Elvis Presley  first heard "Blue Suede Shoes", he told Ronald Smith that he felt like the song had been  written for him, so taken with it was he.

According to Boren, the package cost him $600, of which Elvis Presley received less than  $200, which would seem to date the show prior to late 1955 and certainly earlier than  January 1956.

There are no notice for this appearance in the Keesler News. The previous June, when Elvis  Presley visited Keesler AFB, he played the Airmen's Club, and it may be presumed that he  returned to the same club this time.

Johnny Cash suggests that Carl Perkins write a song based on a saying he had heard in the  chow line while he was in the service, "don't step on my blue suede shoes". A few nights  later Carl Perkins is playing in Jackson, Tennessee and he sees a dancer in the crowd trying  to keep his girlfriend away from his new blue suede shoes. It connects with the idea that  Cash had given him. At 3 o'clock the following morning, Carl Perkins awakes with the genesis  of the song in his head. He goes downstairs and writes out the lyrics in pencil on an empty  potato bag. "Suede" is spelled "Swaed".


THE KEESLER NEWS

Louisiana Hayride Star Booked for Club

Elvis Presley, 20 year-old vocalist from the Louisiana Hayride show, is slated for personal  appearances at the Airmen's Mess next Monday and Tuesday from 6 to 10 p.m.

Presley's success has been attributed to the fact that he offers his country music in the  fastest selling style available and appeals to crowds of all ages.


He came upon his career quite by accident when a recording manager heard him making a  personal record. He immediately signed Presley to a singing contract and some of his  following recordings of "Blue Moon Of Kentucky", "That's All Right Mama", Good Rockin'  Tonight". Presley also does a number of novel and rhythmic tunes on his show that he has  not recorded. Providing accompaniment for the singer is Scotty Moore on the hot guitar and  Bill Black thumping the bass.



NOVEMBER 8, 1955 TUESDAY

Elvis Presley played the NCO Club at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Mississippi. When Elvis  Presley arrived in Biloxi, he found himself a cheap motel room. The six nights at the NCO  Club paid only $85, so Scotty Moore and Bill Black had returned to Memphis, leaving Elvis  Presley to play the engagement as a solo act.

Actually, it was much like playing the Eagle's  Nest in Memphis. As Elvis Presley into the bar he with Jim Russell, the person who had  booked the previous week's act, Bill Bennett.

Russell, who had recently moved to New  Orleans from Pittsburgh, was a thirty-six-year-old disc jockey/promoter who had once